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-   -   Mast Step Leak (http://www.sailnet.com/forums/general-discussion-sailing-related/29766-mast-step-leak.html)

Uncle 02-28-2007 05:32 PM

Mast Step Leak
 
I have a deck-stepped mast with a compression post in the cabin. A leak seems to have formed at the mast step. Water comes through the cabin roof just forward of the compression post after heavy rains. I'm not sure if the water is coming through inside or outside the mast. Any suggestions on the best way to stop the leak would be welcome. I'm hoping I may not have to take the mast down!

Thank you...

Cruisingdad 02-28-2007 05:36 PM

Well, are you sure it is not coming from inside the mast? You can try putting some silicon around the plate and seeing if that stops it. Really quick and easy temporary fix to see where it is coming from. Have a friend spray a waterhose on it and see if you are getting the leak from there. Just my thoughts, but my DS has never leaked.

What type of boat?

- CD

Uncle 02-28-2007 05:43 PM

Thanks for your help CD!

Its a hunter 310 (1997). I have tried to spray the MS with a hose while watching below, and couldn't get the leak going. I'm not sure if this was because we were only spraying the MS foir a few minutes (like I said, the leak only occurs after long, heavy rains). If the water is coming through inside the mast, does the mast have come down? I have never seen the sealing system inside a mast step, what is going on in there?

Cruisingdad 02-28-2007 05:51 PM

My guess is that the leak is from the mast. Obviously you will have wire leads, etc, making their way from the top of the mast through the deck. THat is about the only weak link i can think of on a DS (which is one of the best reasons to buy them, incidentally). Hmmmm. I am racking my brain trying to come up with a solution to not demast. If your wire leads go through the cabin top versus down the comp post see if that might be leaking (I doubt it).

If the leak is not too bad, I would live with it. Try calling Hunter. I have no idea what type of Cust Service they will give you. I would start there. Check with the Hunters forum too. But my guess is that through a line lead or the top of the mast of both, a hard driving rain is making it way down the mast and through a wire run.

Cam and SD are often good at creative solutions. PM them for help. Not sure if I was much help, but good luck.

- CD

sailingdog 02-28-2007 05:54 PM

If it is a deck-stepped mast, then the leak can't be coming through the deck via the mast... you may have a leak at one of the bolts that holds the mast step to the compression post... if that is the case, you may have some water entering the core of the deck as well. Does the deck at the mast step have any crazing or spidering? Does it look like it is depressed at all? If so, the compression post may be failing. The wiring may also be a problem.

The other thing is that many leaks on the interior are nowhere near where the water is actually entering the boat...so you need to be sure that the actual leak is at the mast step. If it takes some time to show up, it may be because the water is migrating across the cabintop liner and appearing at the mast step, where there are holes for it to leak through. On one friend's boat... the leak near the starboard forward bulkhead actually started at the chainplates, and went about six feet forward to the bulkhead, before it became visible on the interior of the boat. It drove her crazy, since she had taken the bulkhead and that area apart and rebuilt it earlier, and was pretty sure it couldn't be the source of the leak. Took a while for us to trace it back to the chainplate... baby powder is your friend when trying to trace leaks like that... :D

Uncle 02-28-2007 06:06 PM

Thanks to both of you for your input...

There isn't any spidering at the deck step, and there doesn't seem to be any problems with the integrity of the surrounding fiberglass, but if there is a possiblity of the leak coming in through the thru-bolts then better safe then sorry I suppose. I'll take the mast down when it gets a little warmer here in NY...

Just one more question. Is there an internal sealing system in a deck step that could be failing?

sailingdog 02-28-2007 06:31 PM

Uncle-

While it is definitely worth checking out the mast step and the bolts for it...and if they're not potted properly, potting them with epoxy is a cheap form of insurance against future problems. However, it is very likely that the leak is not at the mast step at all. Given that you've tried to spray down the mast step area and gotten no results... it is far more likely that the leak is elsewhere on the deck and travelling along the interior of the cabin to appear at the top of the compression post.

Also, is the compression post aluminum, wood or steel? And what is the compression post seated on? If the leak is coming to the top of the compression post, it is likely travelling downhill to it...meaning that the compression post is lower than it might ought to be. The center of the cabintop is generally the highest part...and for the water to be leaking at the top of the compression post... it has probably been depressed a bit past what the factory specs are...

Most deck-stepped mast seats are wholly external to the boat, and the only thing that connects them with the interior of the boat is usually the bolts that hold them in place. In some cases they are through-bolted to the top of the compression post, in others, they're not.

gc1111 02-28-2007 09:12 PM

I'm betting on the leak being where the wiring comes below. Does it exit the mast above the deck and come through an external fitting, or does it come down through a hole within the outline of the mast? If the second, I am sure you will have to drop the mast.

k1vsk 02-28-2007 11:29 PM

This is a fairly common problem not unique to Hunters but the mast base is prone to water intrusion. The deck plate is flat and has at least one hole intended to drain water running down the mast. First, make sure that drain hole is clear and will allow any collected water to exit above deck. If thats not the problem, the other typical cause is water running down the internal wires which go straight into a collar through the deck and into the boat. This is the more likley source and unfortunatley, can't be fixed without stepping the mast to do one of two things:
1. carefully fill any void spaces between collar and wires with sealant (not usually effective), or
2. make a turn in all cables prior to entering the collar to promote water dropping off the cables before they pass through the deck plate.

It's usually fixed by simply clearing the drain hole above deck so no worries, yet.


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