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Old 08-21-2010
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Getting your mast in column

I have both seen pictures and read descriptions of getting your mast in-column by hanging a weight from your main halyard and then suspending that in a bucket of water to supposedly dampen any swinging....Its position tells you instantly where the head of the mast is in regards to the partners.

I was going to try it and then quickly found a major problem using this method...and that is very few boats sit dead level in the water in the first place....Mine is on the hard and a little kilter in the jack stands.

So her you are trying to hold this bucket of water and get this as accurate as possible all the while the boat may be canted off to port or starboard.

I find a better way is to use that same halyard as a measuring devise by first bringing it to one toe rail and then the other, 180 degrees away or another antipodal fixture such as the chain plates.

This still isnt perfect as the halyard can be stretched so pulling at the same tension is difficult....but I still favor it over the bucket method as it will not matter what angel of heal the boat may be lying at, from either water or fuel tank weight issues or what ever reason.

As far as measuring pre-bend...I find sighting up the mast to be pretty darn accurate...if you have a 12" deep mast and sighting up the track grove reveals 1/2 the mast head its pretty logical and accurate to say that there is 6" of pre-bend in the mast.


What say you?...How do you make sure your mast is in column?
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Last edited by Stillraining; 08-21-2010 at 02:35 AM.
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Old 08-21-2010
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... to the toe rail as you described to center, and the 'bucket/weight' method for rake/pre-bend.
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Old 08-21-2010
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I measure to the toerail (end of my jib sheet tracks) using the halyard to ensure it's in column, and then hang a lantern off the halyard and see that the swinging halyard is somewhere between 4 and 6 inches aft of the aft edge of the mast.

As you can see, I don't bother with a bucket and it doesn't take much longer to complete the setup than it took for me to type it out. Obviously the 4 to 6 inches is appropriate for my boat (mast length) but you get the picture. Once it's that close, anything else is fine-tuning while sailing.
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Old 08-21-2010
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I also use the halyard held to the rail method and sighting up the sail track. In addition, with my split rig, I stand off the stern on another dock or off in my dinghy to sight the allignment of my main with mizzen. Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 08-21-2010
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I'd point out that the halyard method will always be just a little off, since most halyards are not centerline on the mast, and will be slightly closer to one side than the other.
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Old 08-21-2010
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I have a little tool that works quite well.

It has a straight edge and two little glass tubes that are partially filled with liquid. Use it in conjunction with a glass of beer. What you do is hold the straight edge against the mast and place the full glass of beer on something that should be level.

Then check the level in your beer glass and the position of the bubble in the tube. When the level of the beer and the bubble are in the right spots, the mast is in column.

If you want to check the curve in the mast, hold a mirror at the base looking up the mast.

Or you could use buckets and halyards . . . . .
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Old 08-21-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
I'd point out that the halyard method will always be just a little off, since most halyards are not centerline on the mast, and will be slightly closer to one side than the other.
You are correct for twin shived mast heads SD...but us old boat owners with single shives fore and aft, they are indeed centered.

The difference in twin shives would me minimal though...1/2" maybe....but good thinking just the same..
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