Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mast installation

Along with no ice on the boat roof, and a break in the weather, I decided to install the mast. Unlike most things boat building, this particular phase of the project actually went fairly smooth and took about as long as I figured. Getting all the parts and gear loaded on the truck took as much time as the actual installation.

I don't know what the  mast weighs, but I'd have to guess around 150 lbs. Getting it up on top of the boat was a simple matter of leaning it against the boat above the swim platform and with me on top, and with my helper lifting from the bottom, we quickly had it on the roof. The layout work for the pins and bushings was spot on, so it was a simple  matter of first installing the upper pins and bushings, heavily tack welding the bushings ( with the pins in place ), standing the mast up, then heavily tack welding the lower bushings in place. Once everything was tacked in place and I verified the pins were not in a bind, it was final welded with a stick machine.

If push comes to shove, a stout person probably could step the mast by himself.  Once the mast is standing, it's just a matter of getting the fore and aft thing just right so the bottom locking pin can be pushed home. I should probably turn a pin with a heavy chamfer on it so it's self aligning and can easily be driven home while one person both holds the mast up and drive's the pin home. For the sake of safety, it's a two person job, but like I said, if push comes to shove, one person probably could handle it.
Having never really been on a boat with a mast before, once we had it welded and standing in place, it seemed ginourmous. I know 20' isn't squat when talking about sailboats and  mast, but standing on my roof while looking up at the mast, it seemed to be way up there. With the mast standing unstayed, and me pushing on it, there was a little flex in the framing. The turnbuckles I used were capable of taking up 6". Pulling the cables as tight as we could by  hand, then swagging the thimbles to the turnbuckle eyes left what appeared to be a decent sag in the cable. Once we had the three stay cables rigged, I was impressed by how little it took to tighten them up. I should  have probably measured, but I don't think we took up more than 1 1/2" before the cables were as tight as I thought they needed to be. I'd like to hear from one who knows about how tight these cables need to be, but to me they feel pretty comfy. The two shroud cables are about five degrees off of 90 degrees to the mast, so the fore stay cable pulls against the shroud cables. Shrouds are athwart-ship while stays are fore and aft. With the cables tensioned, the mast now felt rock solid.

Having spent the last three weeks fabricating in the shop and dry fitting everything together, getting the boom in place and rigging the electric winches took practically no time at all. Using a spare battery from the shop to temporarily electrify the winches, we were finally making things go up and down. We played around for a short time and hoisted the 200 lbs generator to the roof and back down. The winches are remote controlled, and have different frequencies, so that's going to make things easier.

Because of the winch location the boom cannot be raised plumb to the mast. The  boom goes to within maybe 5 degrees of being plumb to the mast, and that's plenty high enough. When the boom is about as high as it can go, when moving it to starboard, it will hit the boom winch. This is really not a big deal as the boom will probably never be this high while lifting a load, but it's something to be aware of.

To  wrap up this project, I need to build a dedicated battery box and decide how I'm going to charge the battery. All the solenoids, and fuses for the winches will go in the battery box. I'll probably build the box big enough to hold some tools slings for lifting.  I'm leaning towards a dedicated winch battery vs pulling heavy wires from the main distribution panel.

A wire chase is already framed from the wheel house to the mast step, so getting wires to that point will be easy. I have a 6x6 splice box already on the mast step, and this will be my transition from interior to exterior. I'll make water tight connections in the splice box and bring cord out of the splice box using cord grips. I don't think I'll be able to do this with the radar cord, so a custom split cord grip will have to be used.

The heavy work is finished on this project and I'm pretty  happy with how it's turned out. I'm going to finalize fabricating the wiring harness's for the winches and getting a battery box built so I can use the hoist for the hand rail build. most of the hand rail will be fabricated and welded in the shop so I'll use the boom to hoist the three sections along with holding them in place while I weld the rail to the roof. It will also be nice being able to hoist the welder to the roof. Heck I might even bring the big MIG welder down to do this job now that I can get it along with the large tank up top.

I'm liking this project.




  1. Nice work Conall. I'd definitely go with a dedicated winch battery (series 31 or bigger). A 10-15 watt solar panel will keep it charged nicely I would think. Certainly save on running heave (and expensive) battery cables from a charger below. I'm thinking of something similar to that for my bow thruster/windlass battery.

    Keep up the good work.


  2. Any suggestions on a solar set up Rick? A plug and play deal?


  3. G'day conall, she is really looking great with the new mast. I really hope you were able to get all those sparks and filings off before they start causing a problem.
    It is Australia Day here today down under, so will be dreaming big about being out on the water. Anyway, cheers mate and keep up the good work and the blogs,

  4. Happy Australian day Warwick. Last year I had to re paint the decks because of my lack of attention to sweeping up sparks and not being careful grinding. I'm paying closer attention to it now that I know what happens.

    The mast is a good project, but I wish I had spent some more time on it in regard to paravane pole rigging and some other things.

    I stumbled and tripped while up on the roof the other day, so I've decided to get the handrail built next. It's 18' from the roof to the gravel lot below.


  5. That's brilliant! Welding is indeed a bit of a work there, since there's also the aspect of safety and physics that will come into play, being it a ship and all. It really kind of raise the stakes, but those are good challenges, which will ensure that that kinds of menial work do add up to a worthy purpose. Thanks for sharing that! All the best!

    Arthur Greene @ Central MM

  6. Hi Conall,

    Nice work! Great to see the last few projects coming along well. What are your cruising plans for the summer?

    Also, when it comes to rig tension, I normally hand tighten the wires 'til they're taut, add a couple more turns with a screwdriver lodged in, and leave it at that.

    Good luck with the last of the build....


  7. Hi Nathan,

    Good to hear from you.

    Norm gave me some good advice on how to tension the rig. He suggested hoisting a load and paying attention to how slack the down side gets. Adjust tension until the downside does not slacken.

    This summer we're taking her to Kentucky Lake for a few weeks. It's about an 800 mile round trip so we'll get to put some hours on her. This fall I plan to move the boat to the northern gulf coast and winter her in the Destin area. We want to do a long winter break and explore the big bend area of Florida. The kids school schedules will let us get three weeks in December. That's the plan for right now...we'll see.


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