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Old 08-15-2008
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Stepping the mast

I have a 16' sailboat with a 25' mast. The mast needs to go through the deck and then sits in a base on the keel. The thing is I've never put it up, the boat is brand new to me (see my thread Identify my boat for pictures of it). While I can weight lift the mast, raising it up is going to prove interesting, it's very unwieldy.

I'd like to go through this exercise a few times before I actually launch it which means I'll be doing this mast raising while it's on the trailer and in the yard. I assume that I would also raise the mast while the boat's on the trailer when I actually go to sail it for the first time.

I was thinking that I could get a 1" wood pole of the right length that would fit up inside the mast, put it in through the hole on the deck and rest it on the mast base on the keel. The pole would stick up out of the deck 3-4 inches and this would give me something to set the base of the mast in before I play Iwo Jima. As I raised the mast the pole would simply slide up into the mast and be "stored" there while sailing. I was also thinking I'd probably want to use the stays in some manner to prevent it from going over and crashing to the ground. I'm also real curious as to how to reverse this process and take the mast down.

I don't think this is a one person exercise, it doesn't look like it although I'd love it if someone could tell me how to do it by myself.

Any suggestions? Links to videos of someone doing this on a boat like mine would be excellent. I might try my hand at making such a video too once I figure out how to do it.

Rich
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Old 08-15-2008
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There are lots of systems for raising the mast on trailer sailors...

Catalina 22 Mast Raising Items
Flying Scot mast raising system.

but these aren't keel stepped. Don't keel; stepped have to be stood straight up and then dropped into the hole?

I can solo step my 22' mast, but it hinges in a base on the cabin top. I would think a jointed mast with a tabernacle would be the safest wayto raise a keel stepped mast solo, but I am not sure.
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Old 08-15-2008
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Yeah, I'm definitely going to have to pretty much raise the mast up straight and then drop it in. I haven't checked this specifically yet but I'm thinking maybe the hole in the deck is a bit oversized so one doesn't have to put the mast up exactly straight before it drops in. Ought to be interesting considering the arthritis in my hands has been acting up the last few months.

HEY! I just checked out your link to the Catalina 22, using the trailer winch is a great idea! Nice and controlled. It provides the muscle, I provide the guidance.

Any other ideas?

Last edited by RichNH; 08-15-2008 at 10:01 AM. Reason: Update response.
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You could make a hinged base for the mast, that would hold it in place as you raise it and allow you to lower it down through the deck in a controlled manner. I plan on making a base like that for my friend's newly acquired Javelin.
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For solo winching, I have seen people mount a winch on a 2x4 that they strap to the base of the mast and then got to a block on the forestay chainplate. After that, it's pretty much like that Catalina 22 link shows. You may also want an A frame on the foredeck with another block so that there mosre of an upward component in the pull from the cable. You will find pcis of those all over the place also.

If you are going to do it solo, I really would look into a tabernacle conversion. I did a quick search and I see that is not uncommon to do.
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Old 08-15-2008
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This is deck stepped but its a pic. with the shrouds and forestay attached, my friend guides the mast left and right, and as it gets higher, the shrouds get tighter. Then I just attach the backstay. The actual time "stepping" it only takes about 1 minute.
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Old 08-15-2008
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Obviously with a keel stepped mast one cannot attach shrouds and forestay before raising. Perhaps you could use a couple lines somewhat longer than the shrouds, or even rig a couple long 2x4's with a collar around the mast, which will keep it from falling sideways. A crane, a gin pole, or even a bridge works best, lifting the spar with a pulley overhead, lowering it straight down the deck opening, attaching the shrouds before letting the overhead lifting line loose!
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Looks to me like two guys should be able to takle that no problem.
My opinion..... we are over thinking again.

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Yup; when he said "keel" I thought he meant he had a keel boat with some serious ballast, a bunch of canvas and a substantial mast.
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Hey thanks guys, Some great ideas, I think the winch one will work great. I appreciate it and will try to try something this weekend. Pics to follow hopefully without blood... :-)

I'm making an assumption that the deck can take my weight (200lbs). It is covered with a gray mat of some type that looks like its meant to be walked on. I have to assume that it's designed for that since to change sails at the forestay while under sail you'd have to walk on it in order to do the job.

I am getting VERY excited, only a few hours to go before the weekend arrives.... YEA!

Rich
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