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Old 15-06-2008, 06:42   #1
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Retrofitting a wood mast vs current metal mast

I am purchasing a old Cheoy Lee 31. I am a wood nut and wanted to restore the boat which is in surprisingly good shape into better condition. I have a wooden boom but was thinking a trying to have the yard put a wooden mast back on the boat. Is this a stupid idea ? Any idea where one would purchase a wooden mast ?


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Old 15-06-2008, 08:16   #2
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Nothing wrong with wood.. not sure where you are but on the west coast,
Spaulding Wooden Boat Center....

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Old 15-06-2008, 08:21   #3
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Any wooden mast right now will be an expensive custom job unless you do it yourself. Part of the problem is also the hardware you need to attach rigging to the mast is not as readily available these days.

If I were my boat I'd stick to a nice aluminum stick. If you want a wood mast look, consider painting it a yellow-orange colour to mimic wood from a distance. I've seen carbon fiber masts that have even painted to resemble wood grain with streaks of colour and all but that is even crazier IMO.
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Old 07-08-2008, 17:58   #4
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A late reply.

I met a fellow with a 41' wood Ketch, in an anchorage. I think it was an Island Trader.
He had replaced the sticks with aluminum ones, and said it totally changed the boat. He wasn't terrified any more when the wind picked up.
I believe he said he took 800 pounds out of the boat. Weight up high. Thats equal to adding lots of keel weight.
Maybe someone knows the ratio. Years ago a friend told me that removing 1 pound of weight at the mast head, effects the boat the same as adding x pounds to the keel. I'm sure it would depend on mast height, but I'm sure there is a ball park ratio.
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Old 07-08-2008, 19:16   #5
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Aloha Over et al,
Wood masts do not generally weigh more than aluminum masts if they are constructed properly. In some cases they even weigh less. Boxed Sitka Spruce is light and strong.
I see wooden masts offered frequently at boat yards because folks are trading them in for aluminum. They might need a splice or two but generally are very strong but just need a little more checking and maintenance.
Kind regards,
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Old 07-08-2008, 19:31   #6
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There are few benefits to a wooden mast unless you consider dangling 40' in the air with a varnish brush in your hands, a fun experience. Wooden masts should be varnished not painted so you can see the condition of the glue joints, and check for rot. That's a whole lot of maintenance in the tropics. Getting hardware for the mast is a major issue as well. No more bronze foundries around the corner in evey boating center.

If you do decide to go wood, haunt all the sources of used hardware and collect as much of the hardware as possible before the mast is built. Have the builder shape the mast to the hardware that you find. I foolishly had a wooden mast made for my Westsail. Unfortunately, the mast builder didn't educate me to the problem of finding hardware and somehow got it 4' too short. Took me months to either track down used hardware and/or have it fabricated. The mast was considerably heavier than an aluminum stick, that in conjunction with it being shorter really hurt the performance of the boat. After mucking about with it for six months trying to put it all together, sold it because of the performance hit. Had the aluminum stick delivered on Monday, left for the Marquesas on Friday. Fortunately got a good price for the mast and mainsail so ditching it didn't hurt too much.

Peter O.
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Old 30-08-2008, 03:14   #7
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You want to swap mine for yours if you want to come to Australia
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Old 07-09-2008, 21:44   #8
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I've gotten a wooden stick (spruce, 45') on the hard right now getting some repairs done. The thing about needing to varnish them nonstop is silly; you can epoxy->paint them and consider it done. I've never heard of an epoxied and painted mast rotting away. You'll need to repaint it eventually, and just knock around for hollow spots and feel for punky wood.

If it was free, I'd switch to aluminum. Wood isn't that bad, but I like to cut down on things I need to manage when I can.

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