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Re: What to place on mast step...
The tradition, going back to at least classic Greek times, is that a boat is a daughter of Poseidon, and that if Poseidon is going to bless her marriage to her new captain, the captain must show proper respect for his bride by putting her dowry under the mast.
Stick two cents in there and Poseidon might take offense, as might your bride.
A purist would put a gold coin there. I think the smallest US gold coins are 1/10th ounce, which puts them at something like $130 to purchase.
On the other hand, you can find articles online about what they found under the masts when the USS Constitution was being refitted not so long ago. I think those were more like silver dollars.
A coin from the year the boat was made, or the year you bought the boat, might be fitting.
And you can simply melt some beeswax or canning wax, put the coin in that, and seal it over to prevent rattling or corrosion. Not a problem.