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Storm damage to mast - need advice
Fellow sailors, before asking for help, about me and my boat:
The boat is a 1981 Cal 2-25, sailed in Lake Michigan its entire life. Originally out of St Joseph , MI, now in Chicago. I am a newer sailor, in my second season and I am having a blast with my boat. I love sailing and I actually enjoy fixing things. Anyhow, enough about me, on with my dilemma.
Warning: This is a long post. Mostly me venting and story telling. The meat and potatoes are down in the last paragraph. Feel free to skip down to the end.
On the Friday morning of the 4th of July weekend I receive one of the most dreaded of phone calls for a boat owner. “Mr. Smith, this is the harbor master’s office calling, you need to get down here right away.” Now a call like that is bad, really bad, but its even worse when you are 200 miles from home with a car packed full of kids singing “99 bottles of beer on the wall” (really loud) on your way to your cabin for a long holiday weekend. I couldn’t go back. It would have taken me a few hours even if I could. The young lady on the other end of the line explained to me that my jib had come unfurled during a storm the night before and that it was flailing wildly as another storm was approaching that morning and winds were picking up again. So I called up one of my employees. A guy with the hand eye coordination and mechanical inclination of a sloth on Dramamine. No one else was available. He arrives at the boat 20 minutes later and calls me from his cell phone. I’m expecting to calmly explain how to furl the jib. When I answer I hear the wind howling and a very frightened man yelling into the receiver. “JIB…WHICH ONE IS THAT?…WHICH ROPE?….WHATS A CLEAT LOOK LIKE?…YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?” Its like the wind and rain made him forget everything. I have sailed with this man before and I know he knows what a jib is and a cleat. At this point (kids are STILL singing 99 bottles) I realize its just easier to have him drop the jib and stow it in the cabin. I will spare you the details of that, you can imagine, but he gets it down and safely stored below.
I am bummed out but hey, I’m on my way to the cabin. Going to have a great weekend with the family, and I do. What I didn’t know (and I don’t know how he didn’t notice this) was there was a lot more damage to the boat. I returned to find the jib had three 6 inch tears along the leech. The jib halyard was allowed to run up to the mast head. The shackle that connects the main sheet pulleys to the traveler broke. The gooseneck-to-mast pin had broken. THE BOOM WAS LAYING ON THE CABIN TOP! When it came down it ripped one of the sail track cars right out of the sail. Worst of all, as it was laying there, still supported in the rear by the topping lift, it swayed back and forth grinding a horizontal groove into the mast. All weekend long. And that is why I am here. I need some advice on the damage to the mast. The sails are down and on their way to the sail maker for repairs or replacement pending his assessment of their condition. I am replacing the shackle on the mainsheet traveler and a stainless steel bolt and nylon locking nut will re attach the boom to the bracket on the mast. I have already ordered up some climbing gear to go up the mast and will be retrieving the halyard myself. Costs about $200 to have someone come out and go up the mast. The gear cost me $250 and I figure I will need it again sooner or later and now is as good a time as any to grow a pair and go up the stick.
Meat and Potatoes:
Below are pictures of the damage that the swaying boom caused to the mast. I really want opinions as to whether this amount of damage warrants stepping the mast and taking it to a shop that can weld or patch the damage. The sailing season here is extremely short and that would probably mean very little, if any, more sailing this year for me. I took photos from a bunch of angles so you could get a feel for the depth and size of the groove. My options as I see them, listed in order of worst for me to best:
1)replace mast with a new one (yeah, right - not happening.)
2)locate a used mast in good condition and replace with that (good luck)
3)step mast and take to a metal worker for welding and/or patching
4)bend a piece of plate steel or thick aluminum to match the profile of the mast and rivet on myself
5)do nothing and keep sailing it until the stick falls off
Right now, I am leaning towards doing nothing. I mean, there is an access port cut right into the mast, a rectangular hole about 3 inches by 5 inches. If that did not affect the structural integrity of the mast how can a little groove, not even all the way through, cause it to fail, right? Am I crazy? Am I risking catastrophic failure of the mast? Any insight is much appreciated.
Last edited by Dawghouseagain; 07-12-2011 at 11:30 PM.