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We are looking to buy a boat in the Northeast for day and weekend sailing for two couples. We're very interestes in a 1994 Hunter 36 Vision. It has a free standing mast which is something we haven't seen on many boats. I can see the pros of this system - no standing rigging to gwt in the way or break down, large main sail for easier sailing. What's the down side? Could anyone give their opinion on this kind of setup? Thanks!
 

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From a cruising standpoint there really isn't much of one. They have to be bigger and heavier than a stayed rig, they don't go to weather (assuming the same sail plan) quite as well... More expensive to build initially. You can't tune them for the conditions.

None of which mean anything for the average cruiser.

The upside is that you eliminate a lot of potential problems and simplify the processs of going sailing. I am all for them unless upwind performance is critical.
 

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Kynntana (Freedom 38)
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I don't know anything about the Hunter, but I love having a free-standing mast. A few months after I bought my Freedom (which included a survey, for what that's worth) and was out on SF Bay, the forestay broke. There had been a funny shimmy during one of the tacks, then I kept on sailing in 18 knots of wind. It's true that she can't point as well as others in my rating. I ascribe that to my tiny, self-tending headsail. It might be better if I were to hank on a genoa, but then it wouldn't be the easy sailing Freedom that I prefer :)

The best part is heavy wind sailing. It remains well balanced without a reef in up to 22 knots of wind. The mast will bend off and dump wind so I don't get those knocks that other boats get when there is a strong gust. And I'm single-handing so can't afford to be over-powered.

The other downside is that you would not want to install cleats or radar or other things unless you figure out a bracket system that doesn't interfered with the mainsail. You also need to figure out how to deal with the boom when you lower your sail because there's no back stay. I have lazy jacks that I loosen when sailing and then use the main halyard when in the slip to hold up the boom and get tension off the lazy jacks and my dodger. Anyway, there seems to be an easy fix to the downsides that I've encountered. Definitely they were not significant enough for me to have any qualms with recommending a free-standing mast. Good luck on your decision.
 

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Freedom 39
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Like Gamayun, I have a Freedom as well. Mine just happens to be a ketch with two freestanding masts. I really enjoy sailing my boat. Upwind is not where it's very happy but it tacks so easily that I find myself doing it on every header which helps make up for windward performance. On a conventional boat in the same situation, daysailing/cruising, there's no way I'd be tacking that much! Off the wind and especially down wind, having the ability to put the booms out without limitation of rigging makes a huge difference.

As mentioned above, the Freedom rigs will bend to depower in puffs making for a great ride in gusty conditions. I assume the Hunter will do the same.

About the only downside I'm still getting used to is not having shrouds to grab on to when going forward. It's silly but I'm just used to grabbing them at midships on every other sailboat...
 

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Freedom 39
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You also need to figure out how to deal with the boom when you lower your sail because there's no back stay. I have lazy jacks that I loosen when sailing and then use the main halyard when in the slip to hold up the boom and get tension off the lazy jacks and my dodger. Anyway, there seems to be an easy fix to the downsides that I've encountered. Definitely they were not significant enough for me to have any qualms with recommending a free-standing mast. Good luck on your decision.
Why don't you install a rigid boomvang? I put Garhauer's on both my booms and love them. The previous owner used the lazyjacks to support the booms and I just wasn't very comfortable with that idea. Garhauer Marine Hardware -8300487

Garhauer even has a stainless mount for Freedom masts that clamps around the base of the mast. It's very slick.
 

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Kynntana (Freedom 38)
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Why don't you install a rigid boomvang? I put Garhauer's on both my booms and love them. The previous owner used the lazyjacks to support the booms and I just wasn't very comfortable with that idea. Garhauer Marine Hardware -8300487

Garhauer even has a stainless mount for Freedom masts that clamps around the base of the mast. It's very slick.
I did get the rigid vang from Garhauer along with the clamp around the mast, but I used the boom bracket from the old vang, which is too close to the mast so the vang doesn't hold it up like it should. A friend suggested putting a block of wood inside to shorten the angle, but I'll probably just rivet a new vang bracket on the boom.

I definitely did not want the weight of the boom to be on the lazy jacks because there had been some chafing on the mast where the lines attach. This wasn't good.
 

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Freedom 39
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I did get the rigid vang from Garhauer along with the clamp around the mast, but I used the boom bracket from the old vang, which is too close to the mast so the vang doesn't hold it up like it should. A friend suggested putting a block of wood inside to shorten the angle, but I'll probably just rivet a new vang bracket on the boom.

I definitely did not want the weight of the boom to be on the lazy jacks because there had been some chafing on the mast where the lines attach. This wasn't good.
I riveted new vang brackets on both of my booms. There was a lot of experimentation before drilling to determine how far out from the goose neck to rivet the bracket. I ended using a lot of line and a large C clamp to temporarily mount the bracket with the vang attached before gently transferring the weight of the boom onto the vang to confirm it could support the boom off of my bimini. The previous owner had installed a vang using the same attachment location as the soft vang. It couldn't hold up the boom in that location and didn't address the issue I was trying to solve. Good luck!
 
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