What to do about a low bridge? - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > General Discussion (sailing related)
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Old 04-23-2010
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What to do about a low bridge?

I have relatives who just bought a house on the water with an unused dock, and the family is considering buying a sailboat. However, a nasty bridge with just 11-14 feet of clearance (depending on the tide) stands between the house and open water. Since no sailboat in existence that I know of (not even a sunfish) has a mast that short, is there anything that can be done about this?

A mast that could be raised and lowered while underway?

Would it be possible/practical to tip a small boat over and get it under the bridge that way? Or is that crazy

Any advice/suggestions would be much appreciated as we would love to get a sailboat, yet this bridge poses a serious problem.

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Old 04-23-2010
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Europe is full of low clearance bridges and many of the sailboats there have masts in 'tabernacles' that facilitate easy lowering and raising... there's even a week-long regatta somewhere in England where the racers have to do this several times a day!

Such setups are rare in North America, but certainly do-able.
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Old 04-23-2010
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Old 04-23-2010
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Old 04-23-2010
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Mast tabernacles are pretty practical on any mast up to 30'.

30' is a number I chose arbitrarily. Seems like the biggest mast I would want to singlehandedly raise or lower with a good one-man system.
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Old 04-23-2010
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I agree with faster, yes you can get or make a tabernacle for a mast, and ck with trailer sailors on quick ways to step and raise the mast.
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Old 04-23-2010
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set up an A frame. Raise/lower the mast using the winch.
watch the rigging video on MACGREGOR 26 HOME PAGE

Last edited by whroeder; 04-23-2010 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 04-23-2010
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Leave the mast tied to the bridge!

When you come back from sailing have someone on the bridge reach out with a pole to grab the mast at/under the speaders. Use quick release toggles on the rigging to release it from the boat.

Then slide the mast over to one side of the bridge so other boats will not hit it and cover it with half a plastic light standard. Works best if the light standard covering matches others in the area.

Get fancy and have the speaders fold down and no one will know. Spot the mast in this photo:



Even the radar looks like it belongs!
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Old 04-23-2010
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cabin stepped mast and mast stepper

Catalina Direct: Mastup Mast Stepper
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I have seen a Seawind 1000XL set up so that the mast can be lowered to deck level and then raised back up while under way. The owner was showing the boat in San Diego, CA. last year.
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