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Old 13-11-2010, 18:14   #1
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Keel-Stepped vs Deck-Stepped . . .

Good day folks and be gentle with the new guy...

Old sailor for many years past though mostly in smaller <26' craft. I have been reading my a$$ off on this fine site as you might imagine.

It's time to consider taking the plunge (sorry) and going for the 32-38 foot cruising vessel (sail of course).

I've noticed some are deck stepped masts. This seems absurd to me, is that even a reasonable idea? I've not even considered a NON-keel stepped mast, why would I?

I have noticed in a LOT of photographs that there appear to be a piece of 'pipe' that runs from cabin ceiling to the cabin sole. Is THAT the 'bracing' for the deck stepped mast in an attempt to make it sound?

OR, on the other hand, would I be completely out to lunch here?

As you might imagine, I shall appreciate any and all thoughts, opinions, credentials, and well, you get the idea.

Jim
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Old 13-11-2010, 18:29   #2
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In my little 21ftr there's no 'pole' supporting the mast in the cabin.. it relies on the built in brace in the cabin roof.. older models such as Westerly used the saloon/head bulkhead as a support...
The modern larger boats with that bit more space and deck stepped mast do have a pole running from the base of the mast step to the keel.... step and pole are bolted together so when the mast needs to be lifted/lowered its a lot simpler than the keel step version.... but just as good tho...
Oh... plus no water running down the mast into the boat
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Old 13-11-2010, 18:30   #3
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There are advantages and disadvantages to both set-ups.

Go to the search and type in stepped mast. This subject has been on here may times, to length.
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Old 13-11-2010, 18:43   #4
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Many high-end (read very expensive) boats have deck stepped masts. It all depends on design so don't make any rash judgments as they are usually wrong. There are far more important considerations to purchasing a boat than the mast step/keel step type.
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Old 13-11-2010, 18:43   #5
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Is anybody building a keel stepped boat any more?
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Old 13-11-2010, 18:55   #6
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Is anybody building a keel stepped boat any more?
Yes, Beneteau for one.
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Old 13-11-2010, 20:26   #7
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Have often wondered why steel boats especially don't use deck-stepped masts exclusively. The supporting frames wouldn't be that expensive, compared to the extra length of mast.

Have also wondered why Cor-Ten steel isn't used for masts on boats. Is it simply unavailable in oblong tube form?
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Old 13-11-2010, 20:34   #8
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One advantage a a deck stepped mast (in theory anyway) is if you get dismasted in a knock-down you are less likely to loose your deck/house.
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Old 13-11-2010, 20:42   #9
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Have also wondered why Cor-Ten steel isn't used for masts on boats. Is it simply unavailable in oblong tube form?
Same reason it is not used to build aircraft: weight/strength
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Old 13-11-2010, 21:22   #10
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I just did the Harvest moon Regatta on a Pacific Seacraft 37 (deck stepped btw) and we had some near gale force winds heading down the coast. Here is a boat that had a problem with a keel stepped mast - Massive mast failure in Galveston to Port Aransas Race | North American Sailor

Not sure if it has been determined what the actual cause for the failure was, but it sure is ugly!

I can't comment on which is best, if one is or not, but your standing rigging is your friend. Oh, and the compression post if deck stepped.

Aren't most catamarans deck stepped?
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Old 13-11-2010, 21:59   #11
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There are advantages and disadvantages to both set-ups.

Go to the search and type in stepped mast. This subject has been on here may times, to length.
Absolutely. Many fine ships have one of the other... every boat, and every system on a boat reflects a series of compromises... best to look for the 'system' (entire package) that works best for you.
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Old 13-11-2010, 22:12   #12
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A keel stepped mast can use thinner wall, smaller dimension, lighter tubing specs and/or narrower shroud angles. Primarily a concern for racing types. A deck stepped mast is theoretically stronger because it is supported at the keel step and deck partners as well as the lower and cap shrouds. Not really a factor in a cruising boat, however.

One thing I really don't like about keel stepped masts is the amount of water that gets below from the stick. Have only owned one keel stepped mast and never again.
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Old 13-11-2010, 22:15   #13
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I have sailed off shore in both types [deck and keel stepped]. Like many things in boats, a lot of what is there in your boat depends on what you like and what makes you warm and fuzzy. My boats have all been keel stepped [and no, there was never water running down the mast into the boat because the making of mast collars/coats is gut simple]. Before I started building again, I looked at a lot of boats, considering buying because many were relatively cheap. Deck stepped with good support and rigging did not deter me, and I am a raging traditionalist.
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Old 13-11-2010, 23:33   #14
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The compression post takes the load of the deck stepped mast. All the compression loads are still transferred to the keel. So yes its needed. And it works- hence most modern boats are now designed this way.


IMHO I dont see the need for a keel stepped mast at all. They leak water either internally or through the boot and are an extra cost at purchase and a hassle when lifting the mast off for service.

Some race boats used to use Keel stepped with hydrolics attached to promote bend and rig tension. (too much hassle for not enough gain for a cruiser though) In a cruising boat I see no reason at all to have a keel stepped mast. A smaller unobtrusive stainless pipe looks a lot better than an aluminium spar cutting the view of the cabin in half.

Cheers
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Old 14-11-2010, 01:08   #15
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Same reason it is not used to build aircraft: weight/strength
But on larger, heavier cruising boat weight aloft can be a plus for stability. Also, there's no fatigue in steel like there is in aluminum, meaning if it was kept dry and electrically insulated, a cor-ten mast could theoretically be permanent(?). Aluminum is the most balanced material for ease of use, available expertise and familiarity and comfort, nobody would argue otherwise. But there seems to be an opening for corrosion-resistant steel in a limited segment of the marketplace (larger, heavier boats). Just seems that way to me. And with industries like yachting, things are awfully slow to change.
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