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  #1  
Old 07-18-2007
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Mast in a storm

If you find yourself in an offshore storm severe enough to have to completely reef the sails, then how much of a liability is the bare mast as far as presenting a surface for the wind to push around? In other words, if one could quickly and easily demast the boat for the worst of the storm, would there be any benefit to doing so?
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Old 07-18-2007
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All I can say about this is that I can't count how many stories I have read that contained the words "under bare poles", usually preceded by surprise that they were making such good speed in a storm. Lots of storm stories talk about it, but I don't remember anyone saying that they thought they were moving too fast under bare poles, only that they were moving faster than they would have thought. So the mast and boom do contribute for sure.

At first when answered this I wrote that I basically thought this was crazy, but then I realized that you meant when you were anchored and trying to make it through a storm and not out on the water haha.

Last edited by wind_magic; 07-18-2007 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 07-18-2007
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And do what with the mast ??
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Old 07-18-2007
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I would suspect the dodger and boom, with it's furled mainsail, both create much more windage than the mast. If the storm gets that bad - remove those items - leaving just the mast would have little effect on windage.

The boat's stability on the other hand could be affected, since the center of balance of a keelboat will be lowered with the mast gone.
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Old 07-18-2007
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I don't see this as a feasible solution.
If your in a storm with a pitching deck........
I just can't imagine trying to drop the stick.

Forget about the physical aspects of it, you might need some sail power to get you out of a tight situation. What if your engine won't start and you got no sails. Well, you would be kinda screwd than wouldn't you.
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Old 07-18-2007
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When you get down to bare mast or masts, to were your storm and try sails are to much, then it is time to put out a drogue to keep your bow or stern into the seas. Unless you are off a lee shore and you have to power away from it. So keeping a sharp watch under storm conditions is very important.

But this is only about 3% or less of your time sailing and 90% of your sea tales.

Squalls don't really count here.

Last edited by Boasun; 07-18-2007 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 07-18-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailortjk1
I don't see this as a feasible solution.
If your in a storm with a pitching deck........
I just can't imagine trying to drop the stick.


Forget about the physical aspects of it, you might need some sail power to get you out of a tight situation. What if your engine won't start and you got no sails. Well, you would be kinda screwd than wouldn't you.
Agreed.

My experience is that sailboats sail better than they motor in a storm. THe motor can have some benefit, espcially when anchored in very bad storms/hurricane strength, but you are best off having the option to run a try sail or stom jib.

Regarding the windage, in a hurricane, I take off everything I can... including the roller furling. The mast will add a lot of leverage... but the reality of dropping it on anything but a tiny little day sailor in a storm is a joke. Any storm offshore I have been in, you are doing good to hold on. Trying to drop a stick (short of a piece of dynamite) would be an uncontrolled nightmare.

Don't worry.... if the storm is bad enough, it will take the mast down for you. You can just sit back and watch.

- CD
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Old 07-18-2007
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It also depends... some of the larger rotating masts have some significant windage. So do some of the masts that have had an aftermarket behind the mast furling system added to them.

Taking the mainsail, dodger and bimini down below is a good idea... but as Boasun has pointed out... at this point you're in survival mode and need to get the drogue or sea anchor out...and hold on...

I wouldn't recommend taking the mast down, even if you were capable of doing so. IIRC, in the Fastnet of 1979, many of the boats that had the worst problems were the ones that had lost their mast in a rollover. The mast provides significant inertia, and lowering it, removes that inertia and may adversely affect the boat's motion.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 07-18-2007 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 07-18-2007
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Well again, let me tell you from a little hurry cane exp, that mast has SIGNIFICANT Drag. You will be sitting with your rail in the water and the gear singing or howling, depending on your point of view.

My guess is that the wind 50 feet up is considerably stronger than down at sea level... we litterally sat with our rail in the water... until the eye passed. THen the other rail...

- CD
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Old 07-18-2007
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Yep..in extreme condtions you can get knocked down even with a bare pole...saw it happen to dozens of boats.
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