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Mast & Rigging

In October 2006, still firmly on the steep part of the learning curve we planned a short coastal trip.


We were already aware that the sails were well blown and needed to be replaced.  Even in moderate breezes it was difficult to de-power the top of the main and we were suffering a lot of lee helm and far too much heel for the design of the hull.


At approximately 37° 42.35'N 0° 41.68'W with a breeze abeam freshening to only 16 knots we decided to put the first reef in to the main.  Whilst we had tried the somewhat manual reefing technique before, this was the first time we had reefed "in anger".


A minute or so after completing the reef, there was a dull thud and then silence - we had lost the mast.


Fortunately, we were in very benign conditions and close to a safe haven.  After hauling the mess of rigging and splintered wood aboard and strapping the remnants of the mast to the starboard rails, in complete serenity, we started the engine and made for the nearest port.


With hindsight the demasting was inevitable.  Fortunately, it happened in benign conditions and no one was hurt.


The cause was threefold.


The primary cause was a corroded rigging screw (turnbuckle).  The shroud had broken cleanly at this point. Clearly this is something we should have checked!

The shattered mast showed how the glue between the sections of the mast had dried. The bonds were very weak or non-existent.

Around the based of the mast there was a ring of rot where, many years ago, the fixing screws for the mast boot had been.

Most probably, when we reefed the sail, we moved the centre of force to a position where it had not been for many years a small gust was all that was needed for these three problems to manifest themselves dramatically.


Sadly, it was not just the mast and rigging that suffered.


Several of the stanchions had been pulled out of the deck as the mast and rigging came down over the lifelines.


[Note that at that time, the stanchions were simply coach screwed in to the deck and the longitudinal frame. In general they were very poorly fixed.  When we replaced the deck see Deck Replaced, the stanchions were through bolted on the inside fixings and much longer substantial screws were used in to the frames]


Fortunately, all pieces of the mast and all fittings were present. The only loss was the navigation top light, which annoyingly had been replaced a few days earlier.


We now had the task of stripping down the mast, documenting it and drawing up plans for a replacement.


We did briefly consider an aluminium mast, anodised in bronze to look as close as possible to a wooden mast.  This we rejected, in spite of the cost savings, as we felt that it would change the character of the vessel.

Right - are the photos documenting the original mast.  You can find drawings and information on the new mast here.


Whereas the masthead and crosstree irons just needed polishing, the boom and mast tracks were badly twisted or broken and had to be replaced.


We took this opportunity to fit LED navigation lights and a new windvane instrument sensor.


Pulling the new cabling through the mast was a challenge, inspite of a channel and cable-pull being built in for the purpose.  With hindsight, PVC conduit would have facilitated this job.


Nevertheless, we eventually pulled through three 12m runs to the head and a further run to the streaming light near the crosstree.


All 12V cables were to ISO6722 marine specifications with tinned conductors.

Newmast4 Newmast2 Newmast1

The new mast ready for the crane.

Rigging the mast.

The rebuilt mast head with all fittings except the Windex and transducer arm

Full details of the new rigging may be found here.



The mast was treated with 6 coats of JOTUN Benar UVR.  


This product is an oily varnish and keeps the wood from drying out and protects against UV damage.


We apply a further coat of JOTUN each year.

Magwhite Magblue Wood