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Old 04-10-2010, 13:05   #1
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Removing Mast - How Often, and Why ?

I read somewhere that every 5 years a boat's mast should be removed. I haven't done that, given the cost to do it and no problems to fix.

What have others done? Are there any reasons to remove the mast if there are no known problem?
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Old 04-10-2010, 13:12   #2
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Pulling your spar(s) every five years seems insane to me. It takes a lot of work.

I had mine off for a long time. It was wood and a lot of repairs needed to be done, then cables re-ran, then a lot of standing rigging was replaced. You also bang up the topsides pretty hard even if you do it really smoothly.

Thoroughly inspecting all the standing rigging should be done more often than every five years (I'd say every season or before every passage, which ever is more often) but yanking the spar completely just to stare at it seems ludicrous.
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Old 04-10-2010, 13:20   #3
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In Toronto most do it every year at haul-out. Very few haul with the sticks in.
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Old 04-10-2010, 20:34   #4
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Old 04-10-2010, 22:32   #5
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After the near heart attack I suffered from hauling my mast last time, I can't understand why you would ever do it more than necessary. We replaced mast step so obviously had to remove it. But watching an inexperienced crane operator put a flex in the mast trying to force it into position was almost fatal (for me and the crane operator!)
I am in no way an expert, but removing the mast made running new wiring for masthead lights and antennas an absolute breeze.
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Old 05-10-2010, 03:42   #6
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Almost anything can be done on a bosuns chair.
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Old 05-10-2010, 04:23   #7
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Old 05-10-2010, 04:57   #8
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Almost anything can be done on a bosuns chair.
Exactly. We put the mast up. God takes it down.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:02   #9
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The longer you leave it in place, the harder it is to get if off the mast step. After 5 years, you should probably look for excuses to take it down and look/work on it.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:09   #10
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With a wooden mast, every 2 yrs. Alum or carbon every 5-6. I read that in a sailing mag somewhere recently
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:24   #11
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With a wooden mast, every 2 yrs. Alum or carbon every 5-6. I read that in a sailing mag somewhere recently
That's crazy talk. Someone doing a circumnavigation has to find a place to pull a 50' spar (and do rigging work) wherever they are in the south pacific (if they left from California) and spend a month going over the stick?

The Pilgrim (Richard Henry Dana's ship circa 1850's) spent more than two years at sea (rounding Cape Horn twice and sailing uncharted waters while in the hide trade).
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:42   #12
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They never need to be removed.

For what reason (apart from layup in cold countries)?
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Old 05-10-2010, 11:47   #13
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So many nays & yahs on this one!

For me, doing periodic inspections would determine whether a mast should come down. If it's rigging related then high work would resolve that. Wiring and halyards can be re-run with the stick up.

Although, some mastheads or spreaders can be a problem and warrant a pull down. Or prior to a ocean crossing/circumnav. IMHO
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Old 05-10-2010, 12:51   #14
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Unless the mast itself has a defect, I can't see it.

  • Wiring and halyard replacement is easier spar-up. gravity helps.
  • Standing rigging is about the same either way. I've done both and would not pull the spar for that.
  • Mast step could be a good reason, though I have done that in the boat (we rigged a collar to grab the mast and jacked it up a few inches. Easier than pulling it.)
  • Masthead. Same. Make a collar then do it up.
  • Inspection. That's nuts. They don't pull bridges down. But frequent inspection of key areas is smart. Given that I have seen crack appear and caught them, I think annually is a good starting point. But if I am the inspector (and I do tank and equipment inspections) I would not want it down; many rig problems have to do with the tuning, placement of pins, or running rigging.
Not to say that you cannot pull the stick, but it very seldom required.

As for pulling every winter in the Toronto, that requires explanation. I think we would all like to hear it. It seems proper drainage of spreaders and good blocking would do. Water getting in the hull is a problem, I'm sure.
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Old 05-10-2010, 14:01   #15
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Here in the north winter lasts seven months by international standards. Lakes and seas will be frozen solid for a good part of the winter, so boats pretty much have to be taken to the hard. Prior doing to that, most people take the mast off. With most of the boats that is likely to be the right thing to do, as hull, spar(s), and standing rigging all compress quite differently when in extremely colds. It can easily drop to -35C / -30F here. With a bad winter it gets even colder than that.

With too much tension on the shrouds, there seems to be a risk of chain plates breaking off. With not enough tension and heavy winds, there is a risk of other kinds of rigging failure. Sure enough, it is also easier to cover the boat for snow when the mast is off.

Owning a steel boat, I do leave both of the masts up/on when the boat is lifted onto the hard. Alloy compresses more than steel when in cold, but the difference is very small. I do not have to adjust the tension of shrouds and stays at all. With a steel hull, I could leave the boat on ice as well, however, I do not want to worry about any hull inlets/outlets freezing over and failing and thus sinking the boat. It is safer to have it on hard. Every spring, there also seems to be something little to do with the hull, propeller, anodes, antifouling etc. so also that works gets done when the boat is not in the water.

The spars? They can be checked out with a bozun's chair - on annual basis as a minimum.
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