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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 12-30-2007
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rotating wing on a cruiser

I'm looking for a cruising catamaran to buy and because I'm specifically not looking for luxury accomodations by default the field is narrowed to mainly performance cruisers. Two on my short list have rotating wing masts. One is aluminum the other is carbon/epoxy. I've read mixed reviews from experts. Does anybody in this vast deep knowlege pool of Sailnet have first hand experience?
1) Is the managing the trim line going to seem like more trouble than it's worth?
2) Maintanance burden?
3) Durability compared to conventional mast?
4) Is the presumed increased sail efficiency more noticeable in light air or stronger winds.
5) I've heard they sail at anchor somewhat as monohulls will.
6) Can one heave to with no canvas up?
7-10) Questions I don't know to ask.

Thanks, Dick
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Old 12-30-2007
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One problem with rotating masts is the masthead tricolor. Since the mast rotates, you can't use a normal tricolor... the most common setup to deal with this is two different tricolor lights, one set up for the mast on a port tack, and one set for the mast on a starboard tack.

Rotating masts are more maintenance, since they have moving parts.

I think a fixed mast would be easier to repair, lower maintenance and more durable.

Generally, the rotating masts will be more efficient than a fixed mast.

If you use a bridle or anchor via one of the hulls, you can get minimize the sailing at anchor. Generally, it is less of a problem than it is with monohulls.

Heaving to depends on the wind, wave and boat specifically, so I can't really say.
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Old 03-24-2009
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I had a rotating mast....

At one time I owned a cruising cat with a rotating wing mast. I also had a Corsair 31 with rotating wing mast. I like rotating masts because they are so much more efficient. A rotating mast produces a superior mainsail shape compared to a non-rotating mast, which translate to a more efficient rig with either more speed for the same sail area or the same speed for a smaller sail area. If you want to optimize sail trim you will have to tend to the rotation angle, but the work required to adjust the rotation angle can be limited by simply living with "good" rather than "perfect". Most rotating masts have a cup in the mast base which fits onto a deck mounted ball (think trailer hitch) so maintenance is not typically an issue as this is a relatively dumb system. In the corsair fleet there was a significant handicap given to boats lacking a rotating mast....it is much more efficient (limits or eliminates the separation bubble that renders the forward part of the mainsail useless on conventional masts)....but I can't say if it is more effective in lighter or heavier air. I have no experience heaving to with a rotating mast. Multihulls use a bridle while at anchor so the boat does not dance around with or without a rotating mast.
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