Stepping the Mast

  • 15 May 2020 08:49
    Reply # 8970453 on 8959047

    When I stepped the 9.5 metre, 40Kg mast in Weaverbird, it cost me more than £200 to hire a HIAB, mainly because it was an hour's drive each way to get to Ravenglass for ten minute's work. When I come to unstep it, I'd do better to buy a 5 metre aluminium tube at about £50, for a one-leg derrick.

    When Tystie first gained a 11.5 metre mizzen mast, I used the long yard from the original sloop rig as a one-leg derrick. That went OK, but it took three of us - one to hoist, two to keep control of swinging and swaying, and lift and guide the heel of the mast into place.

  • 14 May 2020 07:27
    Reply # 8967743 on 8959047

    Certainly as the boat and spars get bigger the job needs better slinging. On my overgrown dinghy a half hitch above the cog, another half way down with the tail cleated at the base, once under tension wasnt going anywhere. The big advantage for me was once the mast is stepped just loosening the tail and wriggling will enable the sling to be lowered to the deck.

  • 14 May 2020 02:53
    Reply # 8967469 on 8959047

    This is the one I use and have never had a problem with. The only difference I put an extra turn around the spar before making the tucks under the turns. https://survivial-training.wonderhowto.com/how-to/tie-halyard-hitch-knot-177169/

  • 14 May 2020 00:18
    Reply # 8967201 on 8959047

    David D. - Raising a 34’ free-standing mast with no assistance from a tabernacle, is a bit more of a proposition than mast-raising on a trailer boat, so be careful using temporary derricks, and remember also the compression forces imposed on a single leg, or on a bipod.

    As a one-off measure, I think I could make a one-leg derrick on my Pelorus motor-sailer, by leaning the existing BM mast forward and using the existing rigging (minus the forestay). Similar to what Alex is doing routinely on his trailer yacht. But I haven’t actually done it yet.

    I have many times raised and lowered a heavy 30’ solid timber mast which had a strong, hinged heel fitting – not really a tabernacle but proved good enough when lifting with a gin-pole, 2:1 tackle and the power of an electric capstan anchor winch. That works surprisingly well, (unexpectedly, even without lateral support and even on the water (provided some oaf doesn’t rock the boat)) – but you need a decent fore-triangle (preferably including a bowsprit) and junk rigs don’t give you that.

    Annie has described stepping the mast in Fantail using a neighbouring boat alongside – not so easy to get things lined up, but they got the job done safely.

    I used to own a couple of hiab trucks and pulled quite a few moderately big masts in and out of boats on the hard. I try to avoid marinas these days, but if there is a dock with road access somewhere you could tie alongside, and hire a crane-truck for half an hour, that might be worth considering and perhaps the safest, easiest, and in the end the cheapest way.

    Roy: Icicle Hitch?  I'm not a member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers, so I can't advise - but it looks as though the icicle knot would be good for lifting from the top, but the wrong way round for lifting from the bottom of a pole. 

    Last modified: 14 May 2020 01:01 | Anonymous member
  • 13 May 2020 18:12
    Reply # 8966273 on 8959047

    I have to lower unstep and step my masts on my Benford badger and have been trying to think of a cheap way.  34 feet long so CG is probably about 16 feet from base of mast.  I had thought of a bipod or tripod of scaffold but they don't seem to make it that long.


    Whereas a single stayed pole, like your set up works.....as long as one has the chainplates left over for support.  But good thinking!


  • 13 May 2020 16:36
    Reply # 8966003 on 8965063
    Anonymous wrote:

    Maybe someone will chime in again with that information - a "timber hitch' I think it might have been.)

    Icicle Hitch?
  • 13 May 2020 03:50
    Reply # 8965063 on 8959047

    That’s right. For easy setting up and dismantling (and also possibly because of limited crane height), it is often easier to lift from the bottom, with just a loose restraining loop  around the mast up at the crane top. After the mast is secured in place its easy to let this loop slide back down to where it can be undone. Unless you have more courage than me and a strong second pair of hands, this loop must be above the centre of gravity of the mast – and better if above the COG with a bit of a margin.

    You need to be careful doing that, though. For practical purposes, the not inconsiderable weight of halyards, lazyjack lifts etc all need to be considered as being concentrated at the top of the mast. If the mast rotates a little from the vertical, anything hanging from the top will be trying to turn the whole thing upside down, which can happen, as I know, so keep that restraining loop well above the COG just to be on the safe side.

    (This has been discussed before on the forum and I believe there are proper knots you can use for tying off the lifting line near the lower part of your mast. Maybe someone will chime in again with that information - a "timber hitch' I think it might have been.)

    Treat your mast-raising as a crane operation, which it is – and always be aware of other cars, people standing around etc at the launching ramp. Oh – and always (always) look up to make sure there are no overhead power lines. People have been electrocuted raising masts.

    It is also worth noting that you could shorten your old mast down, for convenience, as the crane only needs to be tall enough to get the lift point (or the said restraining loop) above the COG of your mast. Hoisting from the hounds, you obviously you already know that

    Here's another one: A mast leaning forward, supported by two backstays, makes a "one-legged derrick" - the simplest of all cranes. It is very easy to adjust and position the load directly over a target. 


    Possibly not quite right for a trailer boat crane, but could work on a bigger boat with chainplates in the right place, as the old mast step will be aft of the new one and the crane can lean forward and be easily adjusted to get the new mast hanging directly over the target (the partners).

    (Ideal for placing and driving piles in the mud as I know - got the idea from wonderful old boat designer, Brian Donovan)


    Last modified: 13 May 2020 06:24 | Anonymous member
  • 13 May 2020 02:54
    Reply # 8964997 on 8959047

    Hi Graham Sounds like a great variation on the theme, of course your spars are probably twice the size of mine. I used a fairly light line for the sling with half hitches around the mast, a couple spaced out and tied off at the base. If the top one is above the centre of balance the lifted spar will behave better I believe. But you probably know this already

  • 11 May 2020 00:35
    Reply # 8959964 on 8959047

    You are onto it.

    I had planned, with my 26’ Pelorus conversion (currently stalled), to leave the original rig in place until the time came to step the new mast. And then to use the new mast to enable me unstep the original BM mast. Anything to avoid having to visit a marina and hire a hiab.

    Last modified: 11 May 2020 00:37 | Anonymous member
  • 10 May 2020 14:54
    Message # 8959047

    Having built the mast for my Farr 5000 using info from PJR, JRA and Arne I was faced with the dilemma of placing it in the boat and its a bit of a monster compared with the original spar. This operation needs to be carried out without assistance. After a badly planned, poorly executed failure I had a brainwave. Use the old mast as a crane. This very light mast, stripped of any excess rigging, hinges on the old maststep, still insitu and goes up very easily and attaches to the original chain plates which I have not removed . The JR mast lying beside the boat is then attached to a 3 in 1 tackle from the hounds by a sling, the top part being above the centre of balance. As it is raised the new mast becomes vertical and is easily slipped through the partners. Once the JR mast is in place the old mast is easily lowered and parked. Not very hi tech but it works well and may be of interest to anyone facing the same problem

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