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Old 01-06-2020, 09:54   #1
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Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

I've been recently looking at Cat Ketch vessels for sale with freestanding Carbon Fiber masts. They all have some level of crazing. Some deeper than others.


Question is, what level is acceptable and how long before one should look to replace a CF mast?


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Old 01-06-2020, 10:08   #2
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

I've wondered this also. I looked at an old Freedom 33 years ago. The mast was black CF, but appeared to be degrading to me. was starting to get that fuzzy fiberglass look and feel to it.... but slightly different.
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Old 01-06-2020, 10:41   #3
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

General inspection comments carbon masts

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/295030/carbon_masts_and_spars_guidance.pdf

Visible damage is typically the paint film , carbon is bonded with epoxy , epoxy is vulnerable to UV deterioration
If the epoxy bond fails , the carbon fails

Galvanic corrosion is also an issue ,,carbon and aluminum yacht hardware are enemies

Failure points are goosenecks , spreader root bases Mast step and rigging attachments

A good rigger surveyor can visually spot these defects
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Old 01-06-2020, 11:33   #4
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

It may be just the external varnish.


I used carbon spars in surfing and they always deteriorated externally if left exposed out of the shed. But they never failed.



Plain carbon masts will last 'endlessly'. Ban a manufacturing failure. But such failures are commonly known brand-wide - simply ask other owners of the same design.


I would not be troubled by what it looks like in the two images. I see no trouble brewing there.



But I would consult other owners of the same style of boat. Also: google for "type of boat + carbon mast failure". Such a simple search by google tends to bring up all and any past discussions on owner's forums, etc.


If nothing negative comes up, assume innocent.



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Old 01-06-2020, 17:11   #5
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

If you are looking at Freedoms you should check out the Freedom Owners forum, there's lots there on this. According to the engineer who designed the carbon masts for the Freedoms, they actually have uni fiberglass wrapped around the carbon, kind of like an ace bandage. That crazing is in the fiberglass and considered cosmetic.

I attached a PDF written by Spoonberg, the engineer, about the problem and how to repair it. FREEDOM YACHT MAST REPAIR.pdf
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Old 01-06-2020, 17:13   #6
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

Well, maybe it didn't attach. Just google "Eric Spoonberg and repairing free standing masts", he also has it posted at his website.
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:29   #7
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

Mine is 36 years old and is fine.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:07   #8
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

My Freedom32 CF mast is 35yrs old and fine.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:07   #9
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaramanga F25 View Post
Mine is 36 years old and is fine.
Same here, my first Cat, copied an Aerorig. These cracks seem to be in the Topcoat, we used PU-Paint, no cracks. Most single-part paints, when applied to thick, develop these cracks.

But his experience comes from painting metal roofs.

Carbon fiber is bonded with epoxy, epoxy is UV-sensitive, Carbon fibre not at all, it blocks UV rays, Any damage can only be in the top layer and is probably cosmetic only.

Suggestion for the TS: Check what is this topcoat, remove it and paint with a good quality Polyurethane paint.

If you are scared, X-Ray and other modern non-destructive methods will help, you might even find other voids in the structure ;-)
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:02   #10
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

Carbon fiber, if properly cared for will last indefinitely. The problem with carbon is impact damage. While externally, any damage incurred may not be visible to the naked eye, internally is where the trouble lies. Carbon needs to be NDT'd, possibly with eddy current to detect internal damage. Personally, I'd stick with aluminum and leave the carbon to the professional sailors. Just sayin'
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:55   #11
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

1987 Freedom 30. Carbon fiber is great. Love the boat!
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Old 02-06-2020, 15:51   #12
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

What brand cat ketch are you looking at? I also have a 1988 Freedom. The mast was overbuilt. A few superficial cracks but solid overall.
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Old 09-06-2020, 23:49   #13
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Re: Carbon Fiber Mast Longevity

Hi, the good news is that a carbon fibre mast is easily repaired ( The American cup boats repair their masts repeatedly). An Aluminium mast is usually scrapped. Those cracks or crazing looks skin deep you can grind or sand it to see how deep. The white surface is to protect the carbonfibre fro UV. I think your mast is OK.
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