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Old 10-13-2010
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Shorten mast and rigging

Hello, I just wanted to bounce an idea of someone to see if this makes sense;

First off, I am looking to move up to a slightly bigger boat. I have my eye on a few different 27 footers that I think will do. I currently have a 35' slip at a wonderful marina 5 minutes from the open ocean. Unfortunately, there is a bridge that has a chart indicated 35' vertical clearance at Mean High tide between my slip and the ocean. I have tied up right next to the clearance marker for most of the day and recorded clearances ranging from 37' to 43'.

Of all the boats I am considering, the lowest bridge clearance on any of them is 38' 6". So, i m trying to figure out how to make this work. I am not interested in the complication of a tabernacle. Nor am I interested in hanging off the boom to heel the boat. What I am considering is cutting 1 1/2-2' off the bottom of the mast, shorten the rigging and have new sails made for the new dimensions. Is this feasible? I have google searched for hours and came up empty. From what I can think of, the effects would be the same as reefing the sail. The center of effort would move forward, the boat would heel less and require reefing at a higher wind speed. The downsides would be less light air performance. Am I missing anything?

The way I see it, on a Catalina 27 standard rig, taking 2' from the mast height would give me roughly 36' of clearance. Basically allowing me to pass under the bridge 95% of the time without any hassle. Plus being on the Ocean, there is rarely a shortage of wind, so the downsides are actually pluses for me. I do not race and am not concerned with long distance passage making so the small loss of speed are insignificant.

Does this make any sense? Can it be done? What are the dangers or other downsides i am not seeing? Thanks, AR.
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Old 10-13-2010
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Can it be done? Sure, anything can be done if you can spend enough to make it happen.

The biggest issue with this sort of thing, esp with an oh-so-standard boat like the C27, is you'll create an odd ball off-beat that will be not quite really be a Catalina 27 when you eventually come to sell her.
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Old 10-13-2010
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Slow down

What you are going to do will of course change the dynamics of the boat
But i have as a surveyor seen it done to a more drastic level. Nice thing is you do not have to have new sails made ,,just have the old ones cut down by any competent sail-maker...and have the rigging shortened by a good rigger...But most of all seems rather then here it would be better to contact Catalina direct They are nice and accommodating and the engineers there seem to love figuring out new ideas (think they get a little restless sometimes).
It may take two or three calls but someone will figure out the new dynamics and safety factor.
Hope this helps
Capt.Joseph
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Old 10-13-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanr77 View Post
Hello, I just wanted to bounce an idea of someone to see if this makes sense;

First off, I am looking to move up to a slightly bigger boat. I have my eye on a few different 27 footers that I think will do. I currently have a 35' slip at a wonderful marina 5 minutes from the open ocean. Unfortunately, there is a bridge that has a chart indicated 35' vertical clearance at Mean High tide between my slip and the ocean. I have tied up right next to the clearance marker for most of the day and recorded clearances ranging from 37' to 43'.
I wouldn't do it. It would make far more sense to either get a boat with a mast that can be easily lowered and raised or to change where your slip is located—so that there are no low-clearance bridges between your slip and your sailing area.

Quote:
Of all the boats I am considering, the lowest bridge clearance on any of them is 38' 6". So, i m trying to figure out how to make this work. I am not interested in the complication of a tabernacle. Nor am I interested in hanging off the boom to heel the boat. What I am considering is cutting 1 1/2-2' off the bottom of the mast, shorten the rigging and have new sails made for the new dimensions. Is this feasible? I have google searched for hours and came up empty. From what I can think of, the effects would be the same as reefing the sail. The center of effort would move forward, the boat would heel less and require reefing at a higher wind speed. The downsides would be less light air performance. Am I missing anything?
The center of effort probably wouldn't move forward, but down. That makes the boat less tender, since you wouldn't be shortening the foot but reducing the luff/leech lengths on both the jib and mainsail. Losing the weight aloft and shifting the center of gravity downwards also increases the boat’s stability.

This would make the boat a lot slower in light air, since you're taking the material from the top of the sail where the winds are usually the strongest.

Also, how would you shorten the mast. Would you take the top 2' off, the bottom 2' off, or a bit on each end. Doing the first is the simplest, since it would only affect the masthead truck and the tangs, but the mast's geometry would be off and the spreaders and tangs might need to be replaced or repositioned to fit the new spar height properly. Doing the latter would require the most changes, and again might require you to adjust or relocate the spreaders and tangs. The intermediate choice might require moving exit slots, re-doing the mast step as well as adjusting the spreaders and tangs, depending on whether the boat is keel or deck stepped.

Quote:
The way I see it, on a Catalina 27 standard rig, taking 2' from the mast height would give me roughly 36' of clearance. Basically allowing me to pass under the bridge 95% of the time without any hassle. Plus being on the Ocean, there is rarely a shortage of wind, so the downsides are actually pluses for me. I do not race and am not concerned with long distance passage making so the small loss of speed are insignificant.
Yes, but it can be really tricky to figure out if you're going to make it when the height is close to your new mast's 36'... and if you make a mistake, you're going to really damage the boat's mast and rigging.

You really don't want to be playing chicken with a bridge like that. For instance, say you've got the clearance of 37', with an air draft of 36'... and just as you're going under the bridge a power boat goes zipping by and wake rocks your boat... lifting it two feet with the wake... what do you think is going to happen to your boat's mast??? If the mast falls, there's a pretty decent chance of you getting seriously injured.

Quote:
Does this make any sense? Can it be done? What are the dangers or other downsides i am not seeing? Thanks, AR.
Also, a bastardized rig like this would have serious impact on the price and marketability of the boat should you ever need to sell it. It would greatly reduce the price, since many buyers would want to restore the boat to factory specs, and have the price adjusted accordingly or look elsewhere.

Some boats, like the Telstar 28, which has an airdraft of 43' or so, have masts that can be lowered relatively easily, though most are not as easily lowered as the mast on a Telstar 28. This makes going through low-clearance bridges much simpler. However, this kind of defeats the fact that your slip is FIVE MINUTES from the ocean, since you'll lose quite a bit of time lowering and raising the mast to clear the bridge.

In fact, I'd bet if you found a slip that was 20-40 minutes from ocean, and it didn't require you to drop and raise the mast, you'd probably end up getting out sailing quicker than you could being at your current slip.

Finally, the changes to the mast are really going to cost you a fair bit of money...
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Last edited by sailingdog; 10-13-2010 at 11:46 PM.
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Old 10-14-2010
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Heh. There's an easy way to do this without messing up a standard yacht's rig and getting a sensational yacht to boot: Buy an old gaffer.

Something like this: Spindrift of Medway, gaff cutter for sale

Forget about plastic tea-cups - a 36' mast should be heaps on a REAL 27' boat!!
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Old 10-14-2010
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Thanks for the replies. I am just brainstorming some ideas. A few of us have been sitting around the table discussing this and I just figured I would add more thoughts to the table. I hear of lots of people creating longer masts to increase performance but never shortening it. Looking at the mast on my current Catalina, there is really nothing that needs to be moved on the bottom of the mast if I were to cut a foot or two off the bottom. By making everything shorter, it would simply make everything smaller. The Geometry would be the same as long as everything was shortened the exact same distance. i don't see how this would negatively effect the boat as far as mast strength, or general sailing ability in 10-15 knots.

regarding the monetary value of the boat, I build lots of custom stuff, from bikes to cars. I am not really concerned with affecting the resale value of a "oh so common" Catalina...I wouldn't do this to anything valuable or one off.

What I am additionally asking is; would the boat still sail normally-except in light air?
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From what I can see, cutting off the bottom would be easier and better because the original masthead plus hardware would stay intact. I may have to raise the position of the goose neck and halyard cleats by the same distance that I removed. The vang would have to be repositioned, but as long as everything was moved the exact same distance, everything should stay the same, only smaller....
To me, this would be like putting a C-25 mast on a C27. I do not see how it would be dangerous. What am I missing?

In the responses, remove the resale or monetary considerations from the equation as they are unimportant to me. I am looking at the technical aspects of it only. Thanks for you help, AR.
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Old 10-14-2010
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This is probably not the case, even if you think it is. The boom gooseneck at a minimum would need to be moved unless you can stand the boom being two feet lower than it is currently. The mast winches might need to be moved to keep them usable. The in-mast wiring might need to be adjusted to allow for the shorter mast, etc...


Quote:
Originally Posted by alanr77 View Post
Thanks for the replies. I am just brainstorming some ideas. A few of us have been sitting around the table discussing this and I just figured I would add more thoughts to the table. I hear of lots of people creating longer masts to increase performance but never shortening it. Looking at the mast on my current Catalina, there is really nothing that needs to be moved on the bottom of the mast if I were to cut a foot or two off the bottom. By making everything shorter, it would simply make everything smaller. The Geometry would be the same as long as everything was shortened the exact same distance. i don't see how this would negatively effect the boat as far as mast strength, or general sailing ability in 10-15 knots.

regarding the monetary value of the boat, I build lots of custom stuff, from bikes to cars. I am not really concerned with affecting the resale value of a "oh so common" Catalina...I wouldn't do this to anything valuable or one off.

What I am additionally asking is; would the boat still sail normally-except in light air?
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 10-14-2010
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isn't there another marina that can accomidate larger boats nearby? that would make the most sense to me.
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Sailingdog, I agree with the gooseneck being moved. Though on my C-22, the mast and Bimini are much lower than on the 27. I like it thay way as it keeps the sun off is better. Regarding the change, the way i see it, if I spend time and money changing the boat and I enjoy it for a few years, it is completely worth while to me. I just can't see how it would seriously detract from the boat in any way. Oviously I would have to shorten the halyards and wiring, all of which is easy to me. Thanks for the relies so far.AR
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