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Old 22-04-2016, 09:32   #1
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Keel stepped mast leaks

Hello all,

I lurk daily, post almost never, but as a 25 year racer (Frers 33), learn something interesting from all you experienced cruisers every day.

Issue: Every time it rains, water comes in through my keel-stepped mast. Not through the partners.

The mast head has a wind transducer, passive wind indicator, VHF antenna, & anchor light. No unused holes. There are main, 2jib, and a spi halyard coming out up there, and a topping lift 1/3 of the way down. My main sails are bolt rope, so no slugs in the slot.

Is it possible to either stop ingress of water in the mast, or deflect it before it enters the boat?

Looking forward to your responses...
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Old 22-04-2016, 16:37   #2
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

I have the same issue with my C&C 29. The partners are dry but water enters the top of the mast via the halyard sheaves and runs down the inside to the bilge. I did notice water running down the slug track, which runs all the way to the bottom of the mast and no way a boot will cover it. However I was able to stop it running down into the bilge by tapping a screw with a small wire ( 3 inches long ) into the track just above the boot. Works like a drip loop. Basically the water travels onto the wire via capillary action and then drips onto the boot instead of running down the back of the mast.

One of the things I really hate about keel stepped masts.
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Old 23-04-2016, 07:02   #3
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

If the rain runs down the inside of the mast doesn't it just drain from the mast step into the bilge? Are you expecting completely dry bilges? Are you getting a cup of water after a substantial rainfall or gallons? Rain always works its way down my mast and into the bilges, that's normal. I abhor leaks at the partners and do my best to keep the water out there.
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Old 23-04-2016, 07:34   #4
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

This days leaks by the inner section of the mast are a thing of the past, but its not cheap by any means , you need a inner plastic dam wall placed at the deck level inside of the mast, most mast makers have one for the specific mast section, the only issue is you need to unstep the stick to do that, but 100% guaranteed not a drop of rain water in the mast step or bilge...
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Old 23-04-2016, 09:00   #5
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

You can spray expanding foam in the mast above the deck. And have a drain hole above this plug. It will work, for awhile, but eventually...
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Old 23-04-2016, 09:17   #6
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

I sympathise.
I have the same problem and on a previous smaller boat ( 30ft ) solved it thus:-
We pulled the mast whilst on the hard one winter, and made up a wooden plug to the section of the inside of the mast, pushed it up inside till about 1/2 inch below the bottom of the lowest halyard slot. In those days the yard had a scotch derrick so we stood the mast up but at the right angle so the bottom of the slot was the high point and poured in a Sikaflex guu ( sorry I can't remember which and I had to ask Sikaflex advice in the first place ).
That worked well, the gu sealed the inside of the mast and any water drained out of the halyard slot.
Current boat, I've not had the mast out and can't work out how to insert a plug to sit the Sikaflex on. Polyurethane foam is tempting but I can't see an easy way of controling it. For me the problem has gone away because I'm selling that boat and buying one with a deck stepped mast.

A problem with a leaking mast is that with an older boat, the moisture causes corrosion around the mast step. Not a problem with a newish boat which is presumably why builders don't fix it during the build.
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Old 23-04-2016, 11:55   #7
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

Rainwater is good for your bilge if it doesn't collect anywhere.

I feel doubly (un)qualified to answer this since my boat has 2 sticks. Main mast no problem, all the rainwater just drains out a hole in the mast at it's very bottom where the mast sits on a large fiberglass support, then that water can drain into the bilge. As long as there is no accumulation of water that can affect any wiring, plumbing, etc, there is no problem. If there becomes a problem there I should add a small tube to direct the water farther downward into the bilge.

Mizzen mast was a major problem when I bought the boat. That mast was sitting on a metal plate that sat directly on the cabin sole, supported underneath by a wooden cross beam. Any water in the mast drained directly onto the floor of the boat in the aft head! Hard to believe so little thought was put into this installation by Morgan, but I found a way to correct it. Had to pull the mizzen and put a foam piece in the bottom to block and re-direct all the rainwater into a small hole in the very bottom of the foam insert where it now can exit to the bilge through a plastic pipe I installed.
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Old 23-04-2016, 12:50   #8
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

Relief! All these years I thought I was a really negligent boat owner having fresh water get into my boat's bilge when it rains. Yes, I thought my boat was always to have a dry bilge as a sign of proper and bristol care of her.

My C&C 40 does have a very clean bilge although, it is often with some water in it when there is heavy dew or the "occasional" rain in SoCal. It comes down the mast but not from around the boot.

thanks for all of your confessions.
C Lady
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Old 23-04-2016, 14:28   #9
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

As said, it takes a dam and two holes. You can have yours next time in the yard.

b.
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Old 23-04-2016, 16:06   #10
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

Hi

You may already have a dam in your mast but it may simply be leaking.
Here's a suggestion as the sun goes down take a small powerful torch and take look inside your mast from the lowest exit block which will be just above the deck. There just below you may see the diaphragm. (The water is supposed to exit via the bottom of the exit block slot). If it's there then they may be a small perforation in that, or leaking around the edges? If you think it may be that then adjust your water tank level to get the boat to heal in the direction of that exit block then pump in some thick acrylic paint. I used Emmerclad on mine, it worked fine.
My mast has an conduit which is part of the extrusion. Any place where cables from your steaming light or your spreader lights enter is vulnerable to leaks not from outside the mast but from inside where water is running down inside the mast and then entering the conduit. If you think that may be the case then resell making sure to create a blockage in the conduit.
Mine is a wooden boat and of course the last thing needed in a wooden boat is rain water so I've been down this track. My mast was removed and re-rigged and from then had the tiniest leak in heavy rain, so annoying, above is how I solved the problem.
Good luck
Woody
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Old 23-04-2016, 16:26   #11
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

Quote:
Originally Posted by goodoldwoody View Post
Hi

You may already have a dam in your mast but it may simply be leaking.
Here's a suggestion as the sun goes down take a small powerful torch and take look inside your mast from the lowest exit block which will be just above the deck. There just below you may see the diaphragm. (The water is supposed to exit via the bottom of the exit block slot). If it's there then they may be a small perforation in that, or leaking around the edges? If you think it may be that then adjust your water tank level to get the boat to heal in the direction of that exit block then pump in some thick acrylic paint. I used Emmerclad on mine, it worked fine.
My mast has an conduit which is part of the extrusion. Any place where cables from your steaming light or your spreader lights enter is vulnerable to leaks not from outside the mast but from inside where water is running down inside the mast and then entering the conduit. If you think that may be the case then resell making sure to create a blockage in the conduit.
Mine is a wooden boat and of course the last thing needed in a wooden boat is rain water so I've been down this track. My mast was removed and re-rigged and from then had the tiniest leak in heavy rain, so annoying, above is how I solved the problem.
Good luck
Woody
We ran our lines outside of the wooden mast and blocked off the top(after suitable drying). Really is no need to run lines inside anyhow. We did leave the electrical wiring inside but sealed off all openings with silly cones.
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Old 23-04-2016, 22:18   #12
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

Ah Ha now I see the reason for the OP's concern about rainwater in the bilge. In my ignorance I didn't know or consider that the Frers 33 is a fin keeler. Should have known better since he said he was basically a racing type.

Yes, you want to have a very nice clean and dry bilge in a fin keeler. Any water there is a bit nasty when you heel too much, getting into the storage spaces and so on. Had that happen a few times when I sailed my Cal29.
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Old 26-04-2016, 15:18   #13
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

Small bilge, but will accumulate 3 or 4 gal from a big, solid rain. Otherwise it is dry.
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Old 26-04-2016, 15:46   #14
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Re: Keel stepped mast leaks

Thank you all for your input, experience, and ideas. Very helpful, and you're all correct in some way.

Everything that must go up the mast will stay inside - as noted, I am a racer. Leery of putting in dams and the like because of wiring to lights, transducers, & mast-mounted instruments (8 person crew need to see different info for different reasons).

I will try a screw & bleed wire above the partners.

thanks all.
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