Noisy and cold aluminium masts

  • 25 Jun 2011 03:18
    Reply # 629985 on 596717
    I am pleased to say that I seem to have solved most of my noise issues, though I have yet to experience wind over 25 knots.  I took off the clunky wind indicator for a start and got rid of the metallic rattle.  I then tied a dozen swifters in the rigging to keep all the ropes away from each other as well as the mast and this worked fine, except that I did not like having all that string to unravel.  Then I got wise, following advice from the Wise Owl, and replaced my single whip topping lifts and mast lift with single, standing lines as recommended in PJR and hey presto, no more noise and only a couple of swifters required.  Knew a thing or two, that Blondie...  And now all I have to do to be happy - to digress from the topic -  is to tame my new cambered sail which seems strange beast compared to the flat sail I rigged up a couple of weeks ago for a trial sail.  I'll report back on that issue in a separate string soon.
  • 29 May 2011 01:42
    Reply # 604220 on 596717
    'Katzenjammer' - what a wonderful word!

    Before I bent on my sail, I took all the bits of string out to the guard rails because they were driving me dotty.  Now I can hear a little tap, tap when the wind is from astern which I believe is the mast lift wobbling its shackle.  That is only a recent phenomenon - I slackened the lift to try something and haven't hoisted the sail since, so couldn't get it quite as tight as I wanted when I re-tied it.  Generally, I think you can set up most of the lines so that they don't flap, but the fall of the halliard certainly needs to be dealt with.
  • 26 May 2011 16:15
    Reply # 602209 on 596717
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Stavanger, Thu

    On my last boat, Malena, her wooden mast could oscillate quite a bit on windy days in harbour. I wonder if it was the lazy jacks that started it; I don’t know. The oscillation wasn’t visible outside, on the mast, but when sitting in the cabin one could feel it. The annoying thing was that it felt like trembling – and that it was not the mast, but I who trembled! Even so, I would much rather have this trembling than the noise ("Katzenjammer") from the stays and shrouds that the Bm rig generated.

    In my present Johanna I have not experienced this. The halyard is tied aft to the lazy jack in harbour and the mast lift doesn’t seem to touch the mast. The cable tubing inside was of course clamped to the mast wall prior to closing the two (dug out) halves. Together this gives a very quiet rig.


  • 25 May 2011 03:20
    Reply # 600761 on 596717
    Deleted user
    Most freedom's unstayed (carbon fiber) masts will oscillate at some wind speed.  Twenty knots sounds about right to me.  If the wind builds further, it also seems to stop.  On Flutterby, it is more a matter of shaking the whole boat a bit than of making noise.

    I really wouldn't think that any sort of wind indicator would rattle the whole mast that much, but I've not seen yours.

    Good luck!
  • 24 May 2011 22:14
    Reply # 600421 on 596717
    Deleted user
    I tie everything together at anchor. Mast lift, around halyard at yard, halyard at the mast and back to halyard at the yard. Everything is absolutely quiet, even during a hurricane. Easily untied with a slip knot that lets the single piece of line run free when we want to get the sails up.

    We used foam camping mats on the foremast and a piece of carpeting on the main mast to take care of the cold and occasional noise issues. Nothing inside the masts to rattle so this has kept the outside noises at bay along with the cold shocks the main mast used to give us at night as we stumbled to the head.
  • 23 May 2011 06:45
    Reply # 598762 on 596717
    Thanks for all your comments.  I did try tensioning the main halyard, cranking it up on the winch but it didn't seem to make much difference.  I can live with the vibration but will be delighted if I can stop or reduce the noise.  I don't have any cables inside my mast so the noise is either the shackles rattling in the mast cap lugs or more likely the wind direction indicator, which I intend to remove as soon as I can get a friend to haul me up the mast. There is no vibration below 20 knots, it seems to happen when the wind suddenly gusts to 25 - 30.  Perhaps it will only happen in that particular wind range as per David's experience.  I guess I can learn to live with it.  I once lived next to a railway line where goods trains screeched down the hill in the early hours of the morning and I got used to that.  It was always amusing to see the reaction of overnight guests!  I suspect that when my sail finally arrives and I hoist it for the first time I won't give a damn!  Everything is ready to go now, as soon as the sail comes I can bend it on and sail off.  That may be a few weeks away yet as my sailmaker friend is working on it slowly between paid projects and I am trying to be as patient as possible.
  • 22 May 2011 07:18
    Reply # 597549 on 596717
    I took the precaution of designing a rig that didn't put the mast through my bed, as I didn't want to cuddle up to it at night.    On Badger, the mast used to  tremble (rather wimpishly) in about a F4, but settled down and leant into it in higher wind speeds.  Fantail's mast seems to be very nicely behaved in that respect.  At anchor in rough conditions I can feel it moving (don't want to get anything sensitive caught between mast and bulkhead) but the noise has not been an issue.  I bought some camping mats, rolled them into tubes and stuffed them up the alloy part of the mast.  The main halliard can be sorted by bringing the part between masthead and deck back to the yard and snigging it round the shackle.  Badger's mast lifts did have a tendency to slap and if it became irritating, I'd fasten a swifter between it and the lazy jack.  Tweaking the tension would probably sort it out.

    I suspect that David's correct in thinking the sail will calm things down a bit, but I empathise with you.  These irritating noises can drive one to distraction.  Sometimes, once you realise that they are harmless, you can get used to them.  Otherwise all I can suggest is that you invest in some quality Scotch.  (Oh dear - we seem to be back there again!)

    PS you have finally explained to me the benefit of internal halliards.  It has always been a mystery :-)
  • 22 May 2011 00:18
    Reply # 597184 on 596717
    My masts vibrate a little at anchor, but only at a certain windspeed. The mizzen makes more noise, because there's a loose cable inside it, but it's well away from my bed. I think that your problem is made worse by a) sleeping next to the mast b) having a steel boat and c) not yet having the sail bundle in place, which will tend to bend the mast aft a bit. You can't alter a) and b), but could mimic c) by taking the halyard back to the sheeting points and tensioning it, until the new sail arrives. That might help.
    I find a 10mm foam camping mat taped around a mast to be a good insulator.
  • 21 May 2011 15:19
    Reply # 596959 on 596717
    Deleted user
    Hi Graham,

    We too have an aluminium mast and for almost a year lived with the racket of the cables inside it whacking against the sides! happily, that's now been dealt with when we replaced them, we used cable ties in a spiral and that's stopped most noise although if we bounce around too much, due to the wake from a homecoming gin palace, they do clatter a little for a while.
    Below deck, we wound 3 strand cordage around the mast - made it look a lot nicer and it was warmer although it took ages to do and used about 18lb of 8mm 3 strand!  What I did find was that if the burgee halyard is too tightly secured, the whole mast resonated with a most bizarre whining noise like a violin tuning up!

    Best of luck in curing the noise, we know what you're going through!
    Lesley and Rene
  • 21 May 2011 03:23
    Message # 596717
    A very Wise Owl once wrote that she did not like aluminium masts because they were noisy and cold.  At the time I first read these words, I had a deck-stepped mast so wasn't worried about how cold it was, and it was the quietest rig I have ever had, with internal halyards, t-ball terminals and streamlined spreaders.  I smugly said to myself, oh well, everybody has their prejudices.  Woe is me!  Now that my mast comes down in the middle of what used to be my double bunk, I am going to have to give it a little lace-on warmer, like those spoiled pooches wear on cold days.  Much more serious, I have discovered that my mast is extremely noisy (at anchor) when the wind goes over 25 knots.  It visibly vibrates about halfway from partners to truck and the vibration goes right through the steel hull as tends to happen with this hull construction.  Worse still it makes an infernal racket.  I am not sure if the racket is caused by the halyard and lift shackles rattling in their lugs or whether it is my somewhat agricultural wind indicator rattling.  If the latter, I can solve the problem by removing it, just leaving the vertical bolt to protect the masthead from shitting shags.  I have tried leaving the mast lines slack and also tightening them as much as possible without much variation.  There is also a bit of slap from the halyards and mast lift that I cannot seem to stop regardless of how far out I tie the preventers.  Is this vibration a a normal characteristic of unstayed masts?  Does anyone have any suggestions?  I find myself alternately nostalgic for my old rig and wishing I had followed my heart and built the mast and spars from timber.  I have little doubt about the strength of the spar for sailing, it is 200mm in dia. at the base, 110mm at the truck with a constant wall thickness of 5mm but this vibration has me foxed.  I have never read anything about this issue that I can remember.
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