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Vino the Dog 05-04-2014 21:33

Anyone Pull their own Masts?
Anyone pull their own masts on a 38 foot plus sailboat using rigging and jin pole?

I know this is done, but most everyone advises it is impossible or too risky. I am interested in hearing technique and experiences from people who have done it. Pulling mizzen off the main, or pulling main with rigging. Techniques diagrams, videos photos?


BentP 07-04-2014 01:33

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
All the time, but always using a mast crane in the marina. Is this not an option for you?

You can find good tips here:


oceannavigator 07-04-2014 04:27

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
Same here. Pull my own all the time. 55 ft mast. But always with a crane.

capt-couillon 07-04-2014 05:23

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?

most everyone advises it is impossible or too risky.
Good reason for that....

That being said, I have pulled a keel stepped mast using both a shore mounted gin pole, and a local bridge. Both in emergency situations. Only time I used a deck mounted gin pole rig, the mast was significantly reduced from its original height. Never want to do any of them again.

Problems observed.
"Typical" mast and associated attached gear is going to weigh 250-350 lbs. Pick point is going to be around the spreaders for any sort of control. Figure 6 ft lift for keel stepped stick. Means looooong strong gin pole. Hard to find, and hard to secure. Can be done, but safely is another question. Shore mount rigs (or the bridge) are more secure, but vessel movement during the pick, (wind or wakes) can cause unexpected and/or undesirable movements of the load.

Not many situations I can think of that could not be solved (at least temporarily) by a trip aloft. Always a bad day when the repair causes more damage than the original situation.

Vino the Dog 07-04-2014 17:05

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
A site found yesterday, showing detailed photos of pulling & hoisting a mast using only ropes and dock help. This is a deck stepped mast, but keel stepped would only be added mechanism, like A-frame to hoist up to clear deck.

Scary if you don't know what you are doing. I bet it is (as these guys say) "piece of cake" to people who DO know what they are doing and take their time doing it. Seems to me the key to how these guys did it is to tie the boat up perpendicular to the dock so they could get good angles on lines attached to the mast as it was coming down/going up.

Grand Mast Erection 02-28-09

SkiprJohn 07-04-2014 17:27

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
I once saw a video of unstepping a mast on a Westsail. I think it might be on the internet somewhere if googled.

If your boat is a ketch and the masts are deck stepped I'd lower the main first using the mizzen and then lower the mizzen.

Horror Hotel 07-04-2014 17:42

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
My 2 cents,

1st - You need help, that link mentions 6 people as a good safe number. My friends have valuable time and rounding up a crowd to do work is not high on their list. Especially if I could pay to have it done and not waste their time.

2nd - Gin poles work great, if you have the hands, a pole, and lots of line. To properly rig a tall gin pole you need 4 to 6 guy lines. (100') plus the block and tackle line (300') and a few lines to guide the mast around. If you have to buy even a few of these lines, plus beer and pizza for your friends, your going to quickly surpass any savings.

I Pull 2 masts (ketch) twice a year (fall& spring) going in and out of a lake. Marina prices vary hugely, some do 1 for $100, others want near $700. Picking a place that does lots of steping/un steping is going to be cheaper. The Florida yards get a lot for it cause it's rarer, no need down there. Up north it's super common and considerably cheaper. It's a tit job with a crane, but Ive meet southern sailors who've never had their mast down and think of it as a big project. Nice travel lifts have a crane built on, some yards call a crane (more expensive).

My questions is why not use a marina? It's quick and easy. How frequently are you going to do this ?

SkiprJohn 07-04-2014 17:53

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?

sailr69 07-04-2014 18:19

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
pulling a mast is very easy, we pull ours every year. all sorts of boats. heavy mast multiple spreaders etc. in most cases less is better for helping hands. one to lower the mast and another to hold the lower end while lowering. we use a simple gin pole the yacht club built years ago. the gin pole needs to only be half the length of the mast or there about. frac's are a little top heavy so some care is needed to keep the mast from tumbling over. I have removed the mast on my Abbott 33 with just my daughter and I. cost? free at the yacht club, was $25. at the working mans yacht club on the Hudson river. ( you did do it by yourself though). never thought twice about dropping the mast. common sense should prevail.

Vino the Dog 07-04-2014 18:30

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
Reply to all you who question why would I want to (do/learn) this.. why not use a crane, etc.

I know about cranes. I know about easy, safe ways. I know about pay the professional because (you/me) are incapable of doing it yourself. I like to know about self-sufficiency. One thing that endlessly annoys me about my home country is how many people ridicule any interest in learning things, regardless if one uses the knowledge or not.

Thank you all who have provided your experience and/or links to knowledge. To those who believe in "throw money at it" solutions, good luck when you have a serious problem offshore.

To you who post experiences of how to do it yourself, please continue. More people than me will benefit

Stumble 07-04-2014 19:32

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
All it takes to pull a mast is a secure lifting point that will remain above the lift point on the mast and two guide line (for big masts). But just because I know how to pull a rig from a bridge doesn't mean I would ever recommend it.

Talking down to people who answer a question with their best advice on an Internet forum dedicated to actually going out and cruising isn't just rude, it sorely misses the point. And the condescension about what will happen "out there" is just ridiculous. The right answer to a problem is to use the correct tool for the job. When offshore in an emergency I would use whatever is necessary, when a marina is nearby I use a crane.

Viking Sailor 07-04-2014 19:43

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
I have helped pull a heavy carbon fiber mast using two other boats in slips on either side. This mast was keel stepped and rotated on a large locking bearing. It didn't even have spreaders to lift against. We just lined up the masts of the three boats in side-by-side slips, looped the main halyards around mast to be lifted, anchored the loops to cleats on the mast (under the spreaders will work too,) and lifted it out then back-in with the halyards.

Nicholson58 07-04-2014 19:54

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
At 80 ft & 1500# its not an option without a crane & crew.

The best pre-meditated set-up I ever saw was on a custom built 74 foot sloop. The mast was deck stepped on a huge, hinged swing bracket. The shrouds and chain plate pins lined up with the mast hinge pin. The anchor windlass was used to swing the mast down onto gallows over the wheel house. The cruising couple, in their 70's, could drop the mast to run the ICW in 20 minutes. Really nice vessel.

Horror Hotel 08-04-2014 08:07

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
Vino so what's the scoop? Why you need to do it? Seasonal storage, seasonal voyage, maintenance, paint? Like I was saying, if it's a one time thing maybe doing it yourself would be a good way to save a few bucks and yours get to know your mast better. If it's got to go up and down all the time a crane would save some hassle. Another point is although most marinas have a set price to pull masts, most don't put a foot on your deck. It's assumed that you will unhook everything, tie off the halyards, and guide the mast down. Sure they could do it all but then it's labor per man per hour. A lot more expensive. It's usually just the crane operator, so we ALL do it ourselves weather crane or home rigged gin pole. My point was in you have to buy $500 worth of line to do it is it worth it. I have a rope fetish and love to buy line, but still would be a little shy of all the lines on a nicely rigged gin pol.

The castleton boat club on the Hudson River NY as a do it yourself crane (not a gin pole in my opinion) and charge $50 a use. No help is given and running the winch is handled by you.
Most options are DIY, you just don't need to rig up a pole of sorts.

I am tradesman and do absolutely everything myself, I hate paying for services because usually I can do a better job, exactly to my likening. So no I don't throw money at anything, but I do sub things out when it's more efficient and quicker than getting involved with. Time is money after all.

BentP 08-04-2014 08:24

Re: Anyone pull their own masts?
Well don't mention it Vino, always glad to help....

Bent, S/Y Karma

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