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Old 05-10-2021, 18:13   #1
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Freestanding mast opinions wanted

I am a novice, and aspiring single handed sailor. I live on the New Hampshire coast and am planning to buy a freestanding mast sailboat that is capable of offshore sailing. After a couple of seasons of becoming one with my chosen vessel with cruises locally, Maine to Mass, I would like to be able to cruise the Canadian maritime, or south to Florida, where I realize a shallow draft would be important. If all goes well I would like to take the same boat across the Atlantic to Ireland.
So my question to those with experience aboard Freedoms, Nonsuch, Innovator, Tanton and the like, is which particular model am I looking for.
Also opinions on wishbone vs. standard boom. Two smaller sails or one large on?
Thanks, and I will be responding to any input.
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Old 06-10-2021, 20:12   #2
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

Hi Clemson, welcome to CF. I bought a 1988 Freedom 38 almost 10 years ago as a newbie who had recently took up sailing. I'm not familiar with the other boats you are considering. I am also a singlehander and soloed with Kynntana from California to Hawaii and back in 2018. She's a perfectly capable boat for ocean crossings except for maybe the Southern Ocean and similar. With boats this age, you'd need to repair/upgrade and check on the condition of the mast and the balsa core deck, but these things are probably typical for anything that's three decades old. Happy to answer any questions you might have. All the best in your search.
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Old 06-10-2021, 21:04   #3
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

Highly recommend a Freedom as well. Well built and very easy to sail shorthanded and the best reputation in the freestanding mast class.

Best of luck
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Old 07-10-2021, 03:04   #4
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemson View Post
I am a novice, [...] and am planning to buy a freestanding mast sailboat that is capable of offshore sailing.
Sailboats for cruising with a free-standing mast are rather exotic, and this for many good reasons. The most important question is: Why do you want such a boat?

If it's because you love the look and are willing to make a lot of sacrifices to get one, this is a very valid reason. No further discussion is needed, it's your dream. It's just like people into wooden boats, junk rigged boats or boats without engines. Go and live your dream!

However if you think it's because a free-standing mast gives you any benefit / makes it easier to sail / is safer, please forget about this requirements. There's a solid 100% chance that whatever you think / read about the benefits of of the free-standing mast can be achieved quite as well or better with other boats too - probably in a more easy manner. And if not, the benefits of the free-standing mast are minimal. As a novice you'll most like have no clue where the real challenges lie.

For example single-handing a well set up regular bermuda rig isn't that much more effort that the solution offered by freestanding mast boats. Sometimes a little more hassle, sometimes easier, but overall it's about the same or easier with a bermuda rig.

Never forget, not all people sailing regular boats are idiots, so give them a little credit that they have good reasons, why they don't chose this kind of boat. Better learn first, what tradeoffs you're getting into with these exotic boats.
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Old 07-10-2021, 03:26   #5
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

Lots of Nonsuch around here. I wouldn't take one further offshore than it took to get to Maine. I don't think they're designed for oceans.
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Old 07-10-2021, 05:35   #6
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

"...Never forget, not all people sailing regular boats are idiots,..."
& if only because the choice of boats with freestanding masts is VERY limited, VERY!
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Old 07-10-2021, 08:04   #7
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joh.Ghurt View Post
Sailboats for cruising with a free-standing mast are rather exotic, and this for many good reasons. The most important question is: Why do you want such a boat?

If it's because you love the look and are willing to make a lot of sacrifices to get one, this is a very valid reason. No further discussion is needed, it's your dream. It's just like people into wooden boats, junk rigged boats or boats without engines. Go and live your dream!

However if you think it's because a free-standing mast gives you any benefit / makes it easier to sail / is safer, please forget about this requirements. There's a solid 100% chance that whatever you think / read about the benefits of of the free-standing mast can be achieved quite as well or better with other boats too - probably in a more easy manner. And if not, the benefits of the free-standing mast are minimal. As a novice you'll most like have no clue where the real challenges lie.

For example single-handing a well set up regular bermuda rig isn't that much more effort that the solution offered by freestanding mast boats. Sometimes a little more hassle, sometimes easier, but overall it's about the same or easier with a bermuda rig.

Never forget, not all people sailing regular boats are idiots, so give them a little credit that they have good reasons, why they don't chose this kind of boat. Better learn first, what tradeoffs you're getting into with these exotic boats.
I'm curious if you've ever sailed a Freedom? I agree they're considered "niche" and I didn't buy my Freedom because it was free-standing but I have since been surprised to discover the benefits of an unstayed rig. One is how it bends and depowers in high wind so I can carry more sail for longer and easier than stayed rigs. I also know more people who have lost their stayed rigs when standing rigging has given way than I can find on free standing masts. I understand the probability statistics in such a statement given the number of boats with rigging; however, int he few that I've found, it mostly seems to happen with the addition of furling jibs or backstays that weren't meant for such a bendy stick. I'm not suggesting that these boats are the end-all-be-all for new sailors but I have found over the years that the people who make the biggest arguments against them are those who've never actually sailed one. The OP needs to do their due diligence (posting here is one way) and do their best to understand the type of sailing they want to do, which I believe, helps narrow down the many, many great choices out there.
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Old 07-10-2021, 08:28   #8
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

related:
http://boatbits.blogspot.com/2021/10...facts.html?m=0
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Old 07-10-2021, 08:40   #9
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
I'm curious if you've ever sailed a Freedom?
Never sailed on a Freedom, had some experience with a junk rigger. But that wasn't my point.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
I agree they're considered "niche" and I didn't buy my Freedom because it was free-standing but I have since been surprised to discover the benefits of an unstayed rig.
Never said freestanding masts don't have benefits, but overall the benefits don't exceed the trade-offs. For example the mast of stayed rigs can be a lot thinner and lighter for the same height. At the same time, a stayed mast can carry more sail area. As everything on sailboats is a tradeoff, the saved weight and budget can be allocated to other areas benefiting the whole experience. As freestanding masts are so rare, most designers / manufacturers and customers prefer the advantages of a stayed rig instead of the reaping benefits.

If you have experience with sailing and decide an unstayed mast is the right solution for you, that's the way to go. In this case however, the original poster is inexperienced and somewhere got the idea a freestanding mast is the right thing for him. In this situation the best way for him is to stay with the wisdom of the crowd and go with what everyone does until he understands how things work.
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Old 07-10-2021, 08:40   #10
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

Here is a contribution to this debate that should be taken seriously:

https://www.ericwsponberg.com/free-s...-mast-designs/

Let us not forget that a thousand years ago and more (literally!) free standing masts were the norm. As the technology became available to build HULLS much, much bigger, it became necessary to "stay" the masts, i.e. to have "built masts", because the mast-building technology and available materials had not been able to keep up with the hull-building technology. And today we retain the stayed masts to a large extent as a result of "conceptual inertia" - intellectual laziness, if you will.

An unintended consequence of going back to free standing masts is that sailing such a boat is utterly boring because there are no strings to pull and to amuse you ;-)! For sail powered working boats, if any such still exist, it is the only way to go!

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Old 07-10-2021, 09:01   #11
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

I owned a Freedom. Very comfortable boat to sail in downwind. Spent a lot of time motor sailing to go upwind.
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Old 07-10-2021, 09:09   #12
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

I sailed on a Freedom 40 many years ago. It was one of the earlier models with aluminium masts. I really enjoyed it. The boat was relatively fast, except when beating up, very easy on the rudder. BIG center cockpit was very liveable. I also liked that she was a centreboard version, so little draft. Inside the boat was adequate I would say.

I would not hesitate to take one of these to any place in the world, definitely seaworthy and sea-kindly.

In my opinion the big advantage in free-standing masts is not so much as handling sails, that is not much easier than on normal rigs, but the simplicity of maintenance. Instead of having many separate parts under strain, from chain plates to wires to mast fittings, there really is only the mast. And they are designed to big safety margins.

The Freedom 40 is definitely on my top 10 list of cruising boats. I also like the "shippy" look of them.

Also looked at a 44, did not sail her. Nice interior, flush deck. Beautiful boat.

Not so sure about the balsa sandwich hulls, though. If they are dry, good.
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Old 07-10-2021, 09:24   #13
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

many will say "oh poor performance with an unsupported mast". I dont know about that. Many great cruising boats perform terribly with a normal rig. The light weight, simplicity and no need for rigging replacement etc is a big plus if you ask me.
My impression is that Nonesuch are a bit better built than Freedoms. But both are capable.
It seems that some prefer a regular boom as some change to that from a wishbone rig.

One problem I see with unstayed masts is the cost of a new mast when they get too old. How old is too old for that composite material?

The other is cored hulls (at least on the Freedom) They do them well though.

If you want to truck the boat all over as you indicate (maybe?) then an unstayed rig is a great idea!
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Old 07-10-2021, 09:29   #14
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

Three years ago I have been looking at several Freedom 45 for my future cruiser. I have been impressed with the quality of building including the composite made mast concept. I was looking for a good solution for a short handed crew (not solo though…). However, at the 45 model, it would have been challenging as furling main and headsail are not viable/practical upgrades with a freestanding mast while the main is much larger. I was totally convinced the freestanding mast is a great innovation - and still: for 30-38’ I wouldn’t hesitate as the sails are easier to manage. - Hence, would highly recommend to the OP.

Indeed the upwind performance has been an issue but not a dealbreaker - for a cruising boat.
Eventually purchased a more expensive, more complicated conventional cutter that has always been in my short list, a Selden complete rigging and all three sails original furlers. Retrospectively, the Freedom 45 could be even closer to my wish list of comfort and safety. Unfortunately, no builder took over the amazing Freedom production.
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Old 07-10-2021, 09:39   #15
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Re: Freestanding mast opinions wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joh.Ghurt View Post

If you have experience with sailing and decide an unstayed mast is the right solution for you, that's the way to go. In this case however, the original poster is inexperienced and somewhere got the idea a freestanding mast is the right thing for him. In this situation the best way for him is to stay with the wisdom of the crowd and go with what everyone does until he understands how things work.
Though I am a novice and the sailboat I buy will be my first, I have lived on the coast my whole life, my home is 2 miles from my mooring. I have crewed and I have a neighbor who owned 3 Freedoms. I also know how to research and until someone can explain why I don't want one then then I would like to redirect back to my original question, comparisons between freestanding mast sailboats, boom vs wishbone, keels, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your two cents, but I would rather this thread not become debate between Bermuda sloops and unstayed mast designed sailboats.
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