The Three Day Mast Project

Looking Down the Mast
Tomorrow will be two weeks and two days since I arrived at Sailcraft Service Boat Yard for my three day mast project. Like most yard periods it took a lot longer than expected and the bill (that was fair) a lot more than I wanted to spend.

An aside: I travel a lot and have been in and around a number of different boat yards. Sailcraft was the best yard experience in my four years of cruising and my 6 years of owning Reboot prior to moving aboard. They are knowledgeable, they take care of your boat, and they bill for what they do. Now, billing for what they do may sound normal. At Sailcraft they work hard. A job that might get billed in another yard at one hour gets billed at 15 minutes. Believe me, that makes quite a difference. They are also a combination of a full service yard and a Do It Yourself yard. Several times it was suggested to me that I prep or finish up a project to keep the cost down. This is possible because there is more than enough skilled work waiting for the staff.

Why did my three day project take two weeks plus? Part of it was weather, in the afternoons it got very hot, so hot in fact that I would burn my hands on the tools left out in the sun. We also did get a couple of days of on and off rain. But the major reason was that going over the mast in detail after four years (the last time it was down was after transiting the Erie Canal) I found lots of stuff to do.

The list:

  • Install 40 mast steps. Each step required drilling and tapping four screws. This was the original three day project. It took about one week.
  • Install a tricolor. This was the second half of the original three day project.
  • Repair the lower port spreader. The spreader had cracked at the junction to the mast. Dan fabricated a modification to the clevis pin setup that holds the spreader much more securely. He also repaired the spreader. This was the unexpected but big safety fix.
  • Replace the VHF antenna. When I touched it all of the insulation fell off.
  • Add guide block for the whisker pole hoist. The halyard would bang around in heavy wind, once hopes it will not more.
  • Replace a squash into it rope cleat with a true rope clutch for the whisker pole hoist. The hoist line was constantly popping out of the squash in rope cleat.
  • Secure the steaming light. Over time the locking mechanism has gone south. This keeps the light from being knocked loose by a flapping sail or halyard.
  • Reset the top of the man overboard pole to more securely hold the flag.
  • Put blocks on the backstay so I can fly the American Flag from my backstay instead of the overloaded stern.
  • Add reflective tape to the top third of the mast. I want to be seen at night, I think this well help.
  • Replace the burned out bulb of the working light.
  • Modify the electrical connections with quick disconnects and add the wiring for the tricolor.
I also received my repaired autopilot linear drive back from Raymarine. The motor, the clutch, and the gears were replaced. Just a small repair. Tim of Rhyddid helped by performing the necessary contortions to get the drive unit back in place and the electrical reconnected.

An open item is the gearbox. It has been leaking oil for the past several months. The Sailcraft engine mechanic determined that I was grossly overfilling the gearbox with oil. He suggested that having too much oil would cause it to blow past the seals when the gearbox heated up. I pumped a whole lot of oil out to get to what I now understand is the dip stick mark. Tomorrow I will take the boat back to Birdland at Fairfield Harbor. Since all the sails are in New Bern I will be motoring the entire way. This will be a good test of the gearbox.

Fair winds and following seas


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