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Old 21-12-2008, 08:33   #1
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I thought a mast must got o the keel to be a serious offshore cruiser?

I was taught as a kid that to be considered a serious offshore contender a sailboats mast must go all the way to the keel.
With the great offshore reputation of the Westsail 32 I am puzzled why the mast stops at the deck.

What makes this possible when masts stop at the deck?
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Old 21-12-2008, 08:57   #2
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My guess, depending on how old you are and research, is that things change.
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Old 21-12-2008, 08:59   #3
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You need a good compression post that transmits the compression of the mast directly to the keel. That's what I had on my Westsail 32 and it worked fine.

You do have to be careful on the Westsail 32 kit boats to make sure the people that finished off the kit put a good quality compression post in the boat and that it was the right length.

My Westsail 32 was factory completed, and had no compression post problems. I remember one Westsail 32 that had a short compression post and the coach roof in the main salon was visibly lower than on a factory completed boat. The length and strength of the compression post is one thing that you need to get right. It's worth examining the compression post to be sure that it is in good shape in older yachts. Sometimes the base of the compression post or the wood or composite that it sits on can be damaged.
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Old 21-12-2008, 10:07   #4
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As noted the compression post serves the purpose on a deck stepped mast. I'm not of the opinion that a keel stepped mast is a requirement. I've had boat and never had a problem with the deck stepped mast but have had leaking problems with the keel stepped mast. The deck stepped mast does not need to deal with the drainage you get coming either inside the mast or at the deck joint on a keel stepped mast. Even at that there are ways to handle that issue too.

My guess is that if it can down to two boats you were looking at the mast being keel stepped vs deck stepped would not be the reason to pick one over the other. I would be more concerned with the standing rigging and mast itself since any boat may have those issues to deal with.
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Old 21-12-2008, 11:28   #5
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The advantage to a keep stepped mast is only that if it breaks off somewhere above the spreaders it is more like to remain for jury rigging and carrying on. The notion being that a dismasting will take the entire mast of a deck stepped. The keel step can stand without rigging and the deck stepped can't.

And then there are the disadvantages of water coming through the mast partners and water entering the bilge at the bottom of the mast... both of these you live with the entire life of the boat even if you never loose your stick.

When you do that calculus, you might want the dryness and avoid the dismasting. Ha?

And I didn't even mention the heat loss from that cold aluminum.
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Old 21-12-2008, 12:12   #6
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The advantage to a keep stepped mast is only that if it breaks off somewhere above the spreaders it is more like to remain for jury rigging and carrying on. The notion being that a dismasting will take the entire mast of a deck stepped. The keel step can stand without rigging and the deck stepped can't.

And then there are the disadvantages of water coming through the mast partners and water entering the bilge at the bottom of the mast... both of these you live with the entire life of the boat even if you never loose your stick.

When you do that calculus, you might want the dryness and avoid the dismasting. Ha?

And I didn't even mention the heat loss from that cold aluminum.
Have you ever noticed heat coming from the aluminum in hot climates?
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Old 21-12-2008, 12:29   #7
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I don't have a mast in my cabin, but it likely would act like a heat sink so in the hot sun it would rise in temperature and radiate it to the air in the cabin if the air were cooler and it would feel warm.

In the winter it would conduct the heat in the warm air to the colder aluminum mast so it would feel colder.

There would be a gradient depending on the heat of the surrounding materials. You can cool a cup of tea faster by letting the spoon conduct some of the heat to the air. Same applies to a mast.

The important notion is gradient as the surface of the "cold aluminum" will be almost what the surrounding air is, but as you go below the surface it will be different, like the wall of a house is about room temperature on the inside surface and outside temperature on the outside surface. A thermal break such as insulation prevents heat transference.

Different materials conduct heat differently and those that conduct heat well will feel cold to the touch since they are at room temp but have the property of conducting heat from your skin (or the air).

This is why aluminum frames of hatches and ports have condensation on them in the winter.
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Old 21-12-2008, 12:32   #8
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Thanks,
guess i asked the right person.
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Old 21-12-2008, 13:14   #9
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I think Najad and Hallberg Rassy are deck stepped as are Catalinas, all the french production boats, Elan, Hunters, even Island Packets are deck stepped.

So its probably one of those things that the advances in techonlogy have let you have a cabin with a slim compression post, no water probelms and still have safety at sea.
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Old 21-12-2008, 13:57   #10
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You do not necessarily need a compression post for a deck stepped mast design. Our old Hunter 34 was built with a compression post and her prior owner suffered leaks, rot, etc. He removed the post and installed a transverse steel I-Beam tied into the the hull with glassed-in uprights (not a project I would like to tackle). But, this is a common modern design and we never had a problem with it. As to whether this is suitable for blue water sailing - dunno.
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Old 21-12-2008, 14:24   #11
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I will go out on the limb here and say this....A lot of things are said in books. We tend to take them as gospel. I got to thinking about that one day. If I was walking in my home city downtown area and a bum staggered up to me and said I was a fool for believing a deck stepped mast was safe, I would shake my head and do a round about detour of the person. Yet if that same person wrote it into a book...all of a sudden it's right and written in stone. My hat is off to you for bringing the topic up. It shows you question stupidity. My Ingrid had no compression post but rather a compression bridge. It was a little un-nerving until I got into some large pitching seas. Not a creek or a groan could be heard and no flexing. My Olympian 34 was the same way. My Tartan Blackwatch 37 had a keel step. I had to remove the mast and cut away 1 1/2" of aluminum rot on the bottom. Another advantage to deck step is ability to Tabernacle.
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Old 21-12-2008, 15:10   #12
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No,Island packets are definitely keel stepped.And Beneteaus are not all deck stepped.
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Old 21-12-2008, 15:18   #13
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I think one major reason we are seeing more deck stepped boats is because they are easier and cheaper to produce.
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Old 21-12-2008, 15:47   #14
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No experience or expertise here either way, but I have heard the opposite - that if you really get whacked, it's better to lose the whole mast at the tabernacle rather than lose part of the mast and take damage to the cabin top with the keel-stepped rig.
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Old 21-12-2008, 16:51   #15
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I think one major reason we are seeing more deck stepped boats is because they are easier and cheaper to produce.
It cost much more in labor and F/G materials to beef up a cabin top, fabricate a tabernacle out of Stainless or Aluminum and build in the wood structure internally for the compression post than the extra 6 feet of Aluminum extrusion of the mast...IMHO.
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