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Old 11-11-2008, 07:16   #1
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Question Replacing/Updating Rig and Spars?

Anyone out there gone so far as to replace masts on their cruising boat (for whatever reason)?

If so can you relay the thought process you went through?

Here is why I am asking:

The Westsail 42 we are finishing out (see sig) is getting to the point that, if we are considering any changes to the rig, we should get an upated design done in the next year.

We have the original 30 year old masts (never used) that came with the boat and are debating whether to use those, or go with new ones. Now, a designer I talked to a while back said he thought the original sailplan was a bit conservative and she could probably carry more sail area. If we redesign the rig, the question of replacing the masts will need to be addressed as we can adjust height in the process.

So I guess the question is, should we stick to the originals? or go modern?

No doubt, modern aluminum masts are just as strong and lighter than the simple extruded masts of 30 years ago. Also a new mast offers a chance to go double spreader (original is single spreader).

This might ultimately boil down to costs, but we dont have a budget on the rig just yet.

Has anyone here replaced their mast? If so, what are your thoughts on such a decision?

Thanks!
-robert
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Old 11-11-2008, 23:03   #2
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Just opinions...

I *have* considered some rig modifications, and I spoke with two naval architects about it so far, but I'm not yet convinced that my currently sailing boat would be dramatically improved.

One of the NA's suggested I talk to a rigger, who thought there wouldn't be a major difficulty with re-rigging but as for design modifications, *he* suggested I talk to a sailmaker such as Carol Hasse of Port Townsend. Which I haven't done and may never since talking over the costs of the rig modification bring it pretty close to the cost of a replacement boat, well, more than half anyway.

But if the boat had never been launched...

My first complaint about the current rig is it feels to me as though the mast could be a few inches aft. Or the main is a bit long in the foot, though either/both may be due to needing a new main which has gone to bag. The second complaint is that it's not a gaff rig.

So my first thoughts would be to have the rig re-measured with an eye toward better balance. Then I'd want to talk with a naval architect, rigger, and sailmaker over dinner/drinks about rig options to suit my kind of sailing in my sailing area - not the kind of sailing I fantasize about but what I really do. If they stay with the marconi rig (most likely), then maybe some tweaks to make the rig easier to manage. If they think gaff could work on the boat, then I'd want to spend some money designing and implementing a modern gaff rig - maybe carbon mast and gaff, smart running rigging. I'd certainly work with a reputable spar manufacturer - perhaps I could do some of the rigging/wiring to save costs, but no cutting corners on the sticks themselves.

So, my thoughts on the matter are - get second opinions now, since you're even thinking about it and now is the right time. If you and the second opinions agree that it's worth rethinking the rig and sail plan, do it right with professionals doing the design. Building the spars, likewise, should be left to the pros, though kitting them out may be a part of your building process.

YMMV
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Old 12-11-2008, 07:32   #3
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Amgine,

Thanks for the thoughts. That helps. Yeah, *if* I do something, I figure I should do it now. The boat is a "clean slate". No chainplates, bowsprit. Even the main mast has about a 2 feet tolerance to where it can be placed (mizzen is pretty much fixed). I have no idea how adjustment of those, and mast height would affect things. If I want the boat to "be all it can be" then I have a hard time installing a 30 yo rig and mast design. I am even looking at the new synthetic rigging that it finding it's way onto cruising boats.

No, I wouldnt do this all myself. I would sub out most of the rig work.

thanks again for the response.
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Old 12-11-2008, 11:02   #4
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Aloha Robert,

If you have no other rigging other than masts then, yes, this is the time to consider going larger on your mainmast or going cutter. Of course moving your chainplates aft would require backup bulkheads unless your chainplates are a different configuration without backup bulkheads for the upper shrouds.

If you decide to change your rig let me know the length of your mainmast extrusion. I might be needing a newer (to me) 48 foot mast within a year or so.

Kind regards,

JohnL
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Old 12-11-2008, 11:27   #5
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The question you'll have to answer is how much light air sailing ability means to you and whether there are any technical advancements you might want to take advantage of. There was a tall rig option on the W43 which is the same hull as your W42. Don't know the dimensions of that rig but should be available from Bud Taplan. That tall rig will give you better light air performance but will mean reefing earlier and more often.

We recently got rid of our old external slab reefing boom for an internal slab reefing boom. The advantages of internal reefing is it's really easy to run your slab reefing lines back to the cockpit. We can now reef in one minute without having to go forward. There are the internal reefing booms but they are really spendy and not proven, in my mind, for offshore work. There is also in mast furling which I wouldn't consider because of their propensity to jam. If you really like to spend money, a Carbon mast will cut down on weight aloft decreasing rolling moment and ability to carry more sail longer.

Other than that, your old mast and boom will work just fine. For offshore work in the normal tradewind routes, figure force 4 winds as the all around average. The height of the stock w42 stick should do just fine in the majority of situations you'll find.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 12-11-2008, 13:49   #6
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We have considered a new rig on Insatiable; it currently has a fairly skinny racing setup: 3/4 fractional rig, 2 sets of in-line spreaders and jumpers/diamond, with running backstays, checkstays and colossal sail area - hardly ideal for cruising, especially 2-up.

Nevertheless, the boat is 25 years old and we have to be realistic about the value of the boat... putting in a new rig is an extremely expensive exercise and it would be easy to spend massive amounts of money for only a modest increase in value. Bear in mind that going from in-line spreaders to swept back requires a new ring-frame for the chain plates.

We have decided that, given our relatively modest budget, we will stick with what we have and work out ways to make it more appropriate for our needs. Your mileage may, of course, vary.
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Old 13-11-2008, 07:44   #7
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Thanks again for the replies. We are sticking with a cruising rig, ketch. We could switch to sloop/cutter, but this is more aesthetically motivated. Weyalan, you are spot on with "realistic about value of the boat". But in our case, that doesnt apply (who in their right mind would build out a 30 year old design anyway??lol) . Had any of the rigging bits already been installed, we would probably stick with the original rig/sail plan. But alas, it is a blank canvas, and IMHO it would be a lost opportunity to NOT consider rig/sailplan updates.

On the tall/short rig on Westsails. Yes, the main masts came in 50 and 55 foot lengths. Sloops often got the 55 footers, ketch/yawls got the 50s. I have heard of W42 ketches optionally getting the 55 foot masts, but I cant remember where I heard that. We have the 50 foot mast and the ability to go taller would be more motivation for new masts (though not enough to be the sole reason).

Another consideration, we will likely go with some sort of boom furler. And, we want clean, simple, decks with running rigging leading to the cockpit. How much of this impacts design on a rig, I dont know. I suspect mast "features" would be impacted. That is why we are considering talking to a designer.
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Old 13-11-2008, 08:09   #8
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I think I saw from your blog that you are in the Northwest. I haven't thought of repalcing my mast but while I was having my rig redone the rigger I was dealing with was consulting on mast replacements and building a bowsprit. Even though they were only doing the rigging they gave me a lot of good ideas on how to re-lead some rigging to improve efficency. I recomend talking to Dan or Lisa at Port Townsend rigging I always felt I got strait answers and found them easy to deal with. Not affiliated in any way just a happy customer.
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Old 13-11-2008, 14:45   #9
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If I were in your shoes, I would almost certainly use the exististing masts and original sailplan. The original design was based on this, and even if it is a touch conservative, the geometry of the boat (deck layout, mast positions, keel position etc.) will have been designed with this size of rig and sail area in mind. Don't forget that more sail area = more expensive sails. Also, bigger sail area = bigger loads, so you need to be sure that your deck hardware (and the supporting structure of the deck) is appropriate for these larger loads.

Once you have costed out an alternative mast & sailplan (and deck hardware, if necessary), and assuming that it is (significantly) more expensive you will need to ask yourself if the benefit in better performance is worth the penalty in cost.

Good luck whichever way you choose to go. I'm sure it will be a fun adventure either way
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Old 14-11-2008, 07:48   #10
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We certainly have a horizontal sail plan on our boat. What we loose in light air sailing we make up for when the wind begins to pick up. We are also very comfortable when it begins to get rough out there. We carry four sails. People kept saying when we first bought the boat, change the sail plan. I am really glad we did not do that. The four sails work well in conjunction with each other and give us lots of options for different sea states and wind strengths.
Of course there will be nearly as many opinions on this matter as there are boats and sailors.
Fair Winds
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Old 14-11-2008, 08:27   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V New Sensation View Post
I think I saw from your blog that you are in the Northwest. I haven't thought of repalcing my mast but while I was having my rig redone the rigger I was dealing with was consulting on mast replacements and building a bowsprit. Even though they were only doing the rigging they gave me a lot of good ideas on how to re-lead some rigging to improve efficency. I recomend talking to Dan or Lisa at Port Townsend rigging I always felt I got strait answers and found them easy to deal with. Not affiliated in any way just a happy customer.
Thanks for that. Yes, I think I spoke with Dan a year or so ago at the Seattle boat show. Nice guy. Very knowledgeable.
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Old 14-11-2008, 08:37   #12
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[quote=Weyalan;223499]If I were in your shoes, I would almost certainly use the exististing masts and original sailplan. The original design was based on this, and even if it is a touch conservative, the geometry of the boat (deck layout, mast positions, keel position etc.) will have been designed with this size of rig and sail area in mind. [/qote]

No argument there, but, apparently there are this same boat(s)/rig with taller masts out there. Some came from the factory with the short or tall rig, so it make me wonder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weyalan View Post
Don't forget that more sail area = more expensive sails. Also, bigger sail area = bigger loads, so you need to be sure that your deck hardware (and the supporting structure of the deck) is appropriate for these larger loads.

Once you have costed out an alternative mast & sailplan (and deck hardware, if necessary), and assuming that it is (significantly) more expensive you will need to ask yourself if the benefit in better performance is worth the penalty in cost.
Yes, but here again, we are talking a 30 year old plan. I suspect deck hardware for running rigging has improved in strength and performance in 30 years?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weyalan View Post
Good luck whichever way you choose to go. I'm sure it will be a fun adventure either way
Of course! It is all fun! No matter how much it costs!

I suspect when all is said and done, we could very well stick with the original masts. But, given the point we are at, the engineer in me NEEDS to know the options and their cost/benefits. Hence my solicitation of opinions (both public and professional).
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Old 14-11-2008, 08:39   #13
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Of course there will be nearly as many opinions on this matter as there are boats and sailors.
No doubt. That is why I hesitate before posting a question on boating forums .
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Old 14-11-2008, 08:49   #14
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awwwwwww we are a pretty friendly bunch, and I always like hearing others ideas. There is often useful stuff to be discovered, always nice to 'chat' with those of common interests.
Fair Winds
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Old 14-11-2008, 10:38   #15
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noodling

Yes, I'm still thinking about this in the back of my head, and remembering another ketch where the owner added a break-away forestay from the mizzen masthead to the base of the mainmast and in light airs flew a staysail sheeted, iirc, to the mizzen boom. When not in use (most of the time I assume,) it was secured to the toe rail, out of the way.

Sounded like a fiddly set up, requiring a fair bit of shifting about to tack/gybe, etc. But it added a big chunk of sail area and was reported to be easy to drop.

Conundrums like these are great for a rainy fall day.
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