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Old 15-10-2020, 23:33   #1
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Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

Probably a dumb question, so far I have only seen tabernacle mast on coastal sailboat, particularly catboats, but is it possible to have a tabernacle mast sailboat that is seaworthy, on the sense that safe to take it offshore?


Is there an example of a sailboat model with easily lowered mast of this kind that can cross ocean?
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Old 16-10-2020, 02:10   #2
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

...not so long ago you could discern boats with homeport Fremantle by their tabernacles & chainplates in axis with the tabernacle's axis...some of them rtw-ed...
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Old 16-10-2020, 03:14   #3
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

My boat is offshore-worthy (Cape George 31) and I have a tabernacle-mounted mast. I have had it offshore and would not hesitate to go there again. I can (and have) lower the mast at anchor using the boom as a gin pole. I don't know of any production boats with such masts, though. Mine is my own design and build.
My previous boat was an Irwin 27 on which I fitted a tabernacle. Of all the things to worry about on dark and stormy nights, the tabernacle was not on the list.
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Old 16-10-2020, 05:39   #4
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

Structurally, it should make no difference, and modifying an existing mast should even be possible (plugs above and below the cut, pins though the plugs). I did sail on a 26' catamaran with a tabernacle mast in the 1960's and it had a great advantage - the owner met a freighter off Jacksonville and took his boat to the Baltic as deck cargo.

I can fantasize only two problems. Minor, all that rigging in your face when the mast is down, and then, tuning the standing rigging when you put it up, which is not a problem in most boats that have them, since they tend to be low-tech.

My trawler has a tabernacle radar/antenna farm/kayak launch mast. It makes it easy to do masthead repairs and lowers the air height from 28' to 19'. I bring it down with the forward boom winch.
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Old 16-10-2020, 05:48   #5
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

I also built a 25' cruising cutter in the '90's with a tabernacle mast and sailed from the US West coast to the East coast. Never an issue. Never seen a production boat with one, but easy to convert one.
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Old 16-10-2020, 07:10   #6
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

I see, then it is possible to retrofit on a smaller boat with little or no disadvantage if it is done properly, and a custom job.
Never seen a offshore boat with one myself, but if it can be fitted on a 7 tonne Cape George, probably no problem for anything 30 feet and smaller.
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Old 16-10-2020, 08:44   #7
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

My production C&C 30 had a factory tabernacle mast
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Old 16-10-2020, 10:13   #8
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
Structurally, it should make no difference, and modifying an existing mast should even be possible (plugs above and below the cut, pins though the plugs). I did sail on a 26' catamaran with a tabernacle mast in the 1960's and it had a great advantage - the owner met a freighter off Jacksonville and took his boat to the Baltic as deck cargo.

I can fantasize only two problems. Minor, all that rigging in your face when the mast is down, and then, tuning the standing rigging when you put it up, which is not a problem in most boats that have them, since they tend to be low-tech.

My trawler has a tabernacle radar/antenna farm/kayak launch mast. It makes it easy to do masthead repairs and lowers the air height from 28' to 19'. I bring it down with the forward boom winch.
Don't plug your mast. A compression post perpendicular to the mast for the hinge bolt to pass through is good. Water has to be able to drain out of your mast, especially salt water.

I saw a mast in a boat yard that had been plugged to prevent water draining into the bilge of keel stepped mast. The plug was diagonal with a drain hole. It was badly corroded where the plug met the mast wall - it had failed structurally. Even with the drain hole water sat in the mast and quickly wrecked it. Never put anything in your mast that prevents water from draining completely.

Anytime you see a badly corroded mast step it is because water is not able to drain properly.
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Old 16-10-2020, 11:14   #9
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

There are a lot of Pacific Seacraft Flickas out there that have crossed oceans, and I believe they're all tabernacled.
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Old 16-10-2020, 11:50   #10
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

LeFiel made a tabernacle base for the mast on a Westsail 32s for a sailor in the inner harbor in Santa Cruz which has a bridge problem. It was so popular became a standard feature of their masts. The one on ours is still going strong after nearly 50 years, 3 trips to SoPac, and daily use as a dinner cruise for a couple of years.
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Old 16-10-2020, 12:11   #11
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

LeFiel CA, is there any other manufacturer that made good system for say a boat under 30 feet and under 5 tonnes that can easily retrofit-able?
Or I see if I can do a custom job by plans.
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Old 16-10-2020, 14:36   #12
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

1950s Zeeland yawl was a production boat in steel with a tabernacle, built very solid.
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Old 16-10-2020, 17:02   #13
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

Wckoek tabernacles are usually custom made from aluminium. I made our tabernacle by wrapping the base of the mast in masking tape, hot glued a plywood board on the end of the mast, waxed it up then laid up some fiberglass up on the mast and plywood until it was about 12mm thick. I then popped it of when cured and glued/glassed the tabernacle to the deck of our 32 foot yacht. 4 years later it still looks good. Now I can and have raised and lowered our mast with two spinnaker poles.
I did it this way because I had some fiberglass and resin laying around and the local fabricator quoted a crazy amount to build an aluminium tabernacle.
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Old 16-10-2020, 17:34   #14
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wckoek View Post
LeFiel CA, is there any other manufacturer that made good system for say a boat under 30 feet and under 5 tonnes that can easily retrofit-able?
Or I see if I can do a custom job by plans.
You might check with Ballenger spars in CA near Sant Cruz also. Great folks. I am just a happy customer, no stock in the company.
https://ballengerspars.com/
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Old 16-10-2020, 21:01   #15
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Re: Tabernacle mast - seaworthy?

I built a 52 ft LOA, 19 tonne boat in NZ in the 70s. My tabernacle was 3/8 inch thick steel with a 4 x 4 steel box section under it to the ballast. I had a steel mast. It was over-built but allowed me to rig the boat in a tidal creek without needing a crane. The tabernacle was mounted on the coach roof. I have a pic of the tabernacle from the 70s plus the math involved as a JPEG. The lateral stability was by handing the shrouds. The windlass supplied the muscle. Not sure how to upload to this site but will respond if anyone is interested to my e-mail address :"gbowen360@gmail.com We saw plenty of rough weather including 2 hurricanes.
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