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post #1 of 9 Old 10-31-2007 Thread Starter
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Storing mast on deck

I will be going down the Champlain Canal next spring into the Hudson River and into LI Sound. I need to step the mast of my 30 ft Tartan 3000 and I would like some advice on how to set up a support system for the mast to store it on deck during the canal trip and any other advice on the process. The mast is keel stepped and about 45ft long with two sets of spreaders, radar mounted on the mast and a roller furler. Do I need to remove the spreaders? The canal trip takes about 2 or 3 days.

Thanks for the help.
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-31-2007
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Have done it many times. If you're lazy like I was when I began you can just lay the mast on the pulpit and pushpit on 2x6's. If you're a bit more energetic ,as I became because the mast was too low this way and I couldn't put my dodger up, make a crutch out of plywood and 2x4's for the stern. Clamp it to the rails. Make a horse for the bow, this'll sit on the foredeck. If you feel you need some intermediate support put some wood blocks at the mast collar. Just make sure you lash it well. No need to take the spreaders off. Don't take your main off the boom, just bundle it and lay it on deck. Don't remove the jenny from the furler, just lash the works to the mast. This save a lot of time and also you usually don't have enough space to store the sails so just leave them on. Oh, one other thing, always put the butt end forward.

Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.

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Last edited by Vasco; 10-31-2007 at 11:20 AM.
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-31-2007
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On our 40ft boat, when we came up the canal this past May, we created 3 X's out of 2x6's (could have gotten away with two) and a square frame for the stern (also 2x6's). The three X's were placed: 3 feet or so from the bow, over the mast boot, over the companionway (we would get rid of this one in the future) and the square stern brace was, well, on the stern. We heavily strapped the X-braces and the square frame to the boat (anywhere solid) and we also did the same with the mast (from the spreaders). You can leave the spreaders on.

I'll differ from Vasco here. Don't be casual about this. Even with everything tied down, we hit some rough square waves on Champlain on the way up and our mast still shifted slightly. Make sure the stick is very secure. Put your boom down below. Leave the mainsail on if you want. Also, make sure you remove your genoa from the furler. The extra weight of the sail makes a big difference (at least it did for us - it was huge, and we almost damaged the sail by leaving it on). Also, prior to leaving (so you don't have to deal with it the day of), catalog, mark, etc. all the wires going through the mast boot as well as all of the rigging. Put tape around turnbuckles where each of the standing rigging connects so you know how far to screw it on. Get extra cotter pins for when you reattach everything. Make sure all antenna wires and other wires can be disconnected from the mast (or the backstay too, in our case). Know the path your running rigging takes.

By the way - if you leave in early May (right when the canal opens) there is little traffic. It took us about a day and a half to get through the entire canal. Tell the first couple of operators that this is your first time and they will help you out.

A few recommendations:

Each lock will have a flag. Look at the way the wind is blowing. Go to the side of the canal opposite where the wind is blowing. If the flag is out to the right, pick the left side. The wind does a loop when it enters the canal. On one side, the wind will push you towards the wall (preferable). On the other side, you will be pushed away from the wall (and will have to hold on for dear life).

Don't underestimate the number of bumpers you need. Always have extra. You will be pushed up against the wall. We bought fenderboard adapters allowing us to put a 2x4x10 over the side. A bunch of bumpers would have been fine.

Have port and starboard bow and stern lines ready - long ones that can reach up the (sometimes) 20' walls of the locks. You won't need them unless there is an emergency (except for the very last lock - the federal lock), but you'll be glad to have them just in case.

The federal lock in Troy (the first or last, depending on upstream or downstream) is a pain. All of the state locks have lines hanging down that you can grab a hold of. The federal lock has long vertical bars every 15-20 feet. You'll be lucky if you can grab just one of them. Run a line from the stern to the inside of the bar. Run a line from the bow to the inside of the bar. Then pull on the lines using the bar as a pivot point. This is the only lock that is really a pain.

Make sure you have AT LEAST two people on board. Someone will be focusing on the engine play while another person will have to be forward to grab a hanging line (with the boathook). If your stern starts drifting away from the wall while you are working the engine, you'll be in a closed area with a huge stick hanging over your bow and stern, and you will need to figure out a way to get back to the wall. It's not tough, but just takes some teamwork.

Most lockmaster's don't monitor the radio. The Lake Champlain/Hudson River cruising guide has a list of telephone numbers for all of the locks. Most often, the lockmaster's are hanging out outside by the lock itself. They call from lock to lock to let them know you are coming up. At the end of the day, they'll start asking you how far you intend to go.

Lock 9 (I believe) has a huge tie up area on the south side of the lock. That's where we overnighted. A few of the other locks also have places to overnight. The NYS Canal Authority ( has a cruising guide to the entire canal system. It's a bit helpful, although the charts don't mark depths.

Take a look at your mast while it's down. Replace lights (even if they work - and keep the working ones as spares). Clean the spreaders and the boots. Take advantage of the timing.

Lots of stuff, but I figure other's may be looking to do the Champlain Canal system and this MAY help them out a bit. If we don't sell our boat over the winter, but DO buy a new boat in Annapolis, we'll be bringing our one boat south to Annapolis and picking up our new boat to bring back north... should be a good month!

Have fun, and let me know if you have any other questions!

s/v "Pelican" Passport 40 #076- Finished Cruising - for the moment -
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Last edited by labatt; 10-31-2007 at 04:31 PM.
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-31-2007
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I would concur with Chris. Error on the side of too much tying and support. Should you have rought weather, remember that a crane put that mast into place. You and you're team on board will not likely have the ability to move that mast around so easily should something become dislodged and....its a long way to the next crane if something does happen. I too brought my Passport up the river this past summer and it was very comforting knowing that the mast was well secure when the wind and waves did pipe up. Also...keep it as low as you can tolerate, still allowing you to keep a dodger up.
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-31-2007
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I'd have to agree that you want the mast held in place very securely. A 45' aluminum battering ram can do a lot of damage to your boat if it should work its way loose..


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post #6 of 9 Old 11-01-2007 Thread Starter
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Thanks for your help. I appreciate it very very much.
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post #7 of 9 Old 11-01-2007
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Did the Erie canal a few months back, from the south. The place we had the mast taken down (Hop O'Nose yard, Catskill), were great at organising supports for the mast, and did the job for <$100 including the wood. To my surprise they set the mast really high up, so we could get round the deck easily under it. That was really useful for smart boat handling, and worked perfectly.

So leave the problem to the guys who do this every day of the week, I would say.
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post #8 of 9 Old 11-02-2007
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The 2x4 crutch method worked very well (cheap) for me. I was also able to use my hard dodger for support, but remember if you use 3 supports care must be taken they are all the same hight. I left all rigging on, and as my mast is decked stepped I tried to loop the stays as gently back to the boat; not a prob for you. I also had to have my mast diagonal to the centerline to avoid my windvane. I remember having more problems with my old 16foot trailer boat mast than I did with the 30.
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-07-2010
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storing mast on deck

I'm getting long-term loan of a Bavaria 0cean 38 from an older friend and will be sailing up the Hudson early Sept., stepping mast near Albany, and continuing north as far as we can, into St. Lawrence if we can and heading downriver. Your comments are very helpful to me as I had to sell my C&C of similar length and am not used to this one including it's in-mast sail. You even told me about Catskill marina that knows mast-stepping, and looks like they'll build the supports so I don't have to schlep all my portable tools from Buffalo to Eastern Long Island where we pick the boat up.
Can and would someone tell me 1) do I get to Hudson River from Long Island Sound by going down East River at right time for tide direction? 2) will my 6' 5" keel sneak through the canals between Albany and the St. Lawrence River? 3) does anyone happen to know a good marina east of Quebec for possible winter storage so we can continue trip in spring?
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