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Old 19-02-2009, 09:29   #1
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Tabernacle mast- love and hate

I'd like to hear from those on both sides of the subject. I have a friend looking at a boat with one and I have no experience with them. Besides going under low bridges (never been a issue I've had to deal with), how often do you drop the mast? I like the idea for dry storage in hurricane prone areas. Can you get around having to climb the mast to do work on top, or it not worth it?

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Old 19-02-2009, 11:00   #2
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I think that a tabernacle on a modern sloop over 25' would'nt make much sense. On such a rig you will probably have to remove the sail and boom, making it alot of work just to go under a bridge. Also with the mast being so tall, you would have to disconnect it from the tabernacle because it would be sticking out two far to travel much on the inland waterways. It would also be difficult to lower such a long spar from deck. However for a boat like the Amphora (you can see pics of her rig in my albums), that I rigged as a gaff ketch motorsailer with both spars on tabernacles, they are great. On one trip north we lowered the mast on the Hudson, raised them when we got to Oswego, had a great sail across Lake Ontario (yes she would sail off the wind), and lowered them the next day to go into the Trent-Severn waterway. I designed the rig so that I did not have to remove the mainsail, gaff and boom to lower the main, and It could all be lowered from deck.

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Old 19-02-2009, 12:27   #3
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Most of the early Westsail 32s came with a tabernacle mast made by LeFiel. 43' stick designed to tilt forward using the mainsheet. Most boats probably would be best tipped backwards using a spinnaker pole and removable tackle. The impetus for the design came from a boat that had a slip above the bridge at Santa Cruz, CA. Supposedly easy to drop the mast but we never did. You had to add a link plate to the cap shrouds so the pivot point for the mast and shroud lined up. Never saw a W32 with the link plate so doubt they were used. It was a nice to have feature that would have come in very handy for cruising canals or just working on the masthead. I wouldn't pay for one unless I had a need but they are handy to have.

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Old 19-02-2009, 13:00   #4
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We had a WS 32 for 15 years and dropped the mast at least 4 times and lowered it enough to get under a bridge at least 6 more times.

When I added mast steps to the spreaders I dropped it and worked on it while it was hanging in front of the boat. I needed some welding done on it and I dropped it in our slip in our back yard and 3 guys and I hauled it off the boat for the welding.

It pivoted at the tablernacle and using a double turnbuckle we lined up the middle pins with the turnbuckle pin. A pair of guy wires went from the turnbuckles to the end of the boom. We had an 8 to 1 tackle on the mainsheet and only need the Winch to get it part way up then we could just haul away otherwise.

I know of one Westsail 43 that had a tabernacle but that put one hell of a load on the rig and boat and the new owner scraped it. Used a windlass motor I think to lower it.

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Old 19-02-2009, 21:11   #5
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Formosa 51 ketch with tabernacled masts

Bought my ketch from a guy who lived in Channel Harbors CA, kept the boat at his house. The masts havee an electric motor that lowers them to 30 ft to pass under a bridge. It works well, though I have no need for it. I have always thought it could come in handy if I need to work on the mast head at somepoint. Thye appear to be structuraly very sound, I have done several long transits through heavy seas with no issues.
Bob Mathews
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Old 19-02-2009, 21:43   #6
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I have never enjoyed going up the mast. I'm wondering if I would find going up the mast easier than stepping it. If it is easier, one might also disense with mastclimbing gear. As I wrote that line, I tried to think about the possible need to go up while out on the water. Then I thought "Nah".

If a mast is set up to drop just for a bridge, I would think it would be easier than climbing. Did I mention I hate climbing?

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