Sunday, March 2, 2014

Things to do while the mast is down

In the SailNet forum recently I responded to the question: Things to do while mast is off:

I said:

  • Drink
  • Party
  • Make Friends

Then I saiid: Oh, you mean on the boat...

1. Take all of the standing rigging apart. If the spreaders come off take them off. Take off the spreader end caps. Look at everything. The last time I took my mast down I discovered a crack in one spreader. Look at the bushing holding the spreaders on, etc. etc. etc. This is the easiest and best time to check your standing rigging. put on a cotton or rubber glove. Slide along every inch of rigging wire looking for snags.
2. Remove the sheaves. Check the axles. Check the sheaves. Lubricate with lithium grease. Reassemble.
3. Make a list of everything you might put on the masthead: tricolor/anchor light, wind instrument (electronic), wind instrument (manual), radio antenna, lightening rod, TV antenna, etc. Pre-wire everything. In all probability you should replace both the radio antenna and the coax down lead.
3a. Remember to put in a messenger line. you will thank me!
4. Consider everything you might want to fasten to the spreaders and mast. Signal halyards, lazy jack attachment points, spreader lights, radar reflector, deck lights, mood lighting, etc. pre-wire anything you might want in the future. If it doesn't take wires but does attach drill and tap your future attachment points.
5. Look at the mast and the boom. Is a whisker pole in your future? Mount the track. Do you have halyards banging against the mast? Put in line guides. Do you have enough attachment points for reef lines? Vang? Do you want to run a wire out in the mast for a cockpit light that hangs from the boom? Do it now!
6. Do you want mast steps? (I am a huge fan, I solo sail, I sail far offshore, I want to be able to get up and fix things without any help.) They are expensive and time consuming to install but the first time you need them in an emergency you will thank me for installing them.
7. Look inside the boom. Do you have a wire/rope outhaul? Look at the wire - it is part of the standing rigging. If you have reefing sheaves in the front and back of the boom do the same work you did on the top of the mast. Yes, you can do it with the mast up but it is much easier with the mast down.
8. Further to 7 - this is a good time to replace any running rigging that runs inside the mast. It is just a heck of a lot easier now.
9. Consider the electrical connections at the bottom of the mast. I replaced all the wires I had to cut with plugs. Easier to take apart, easier to put together.
10. REPLACE THE COTTER PINS! (I am shouting!) Don't use the old ones...

Hope this helps.

Fair wind and following seas.

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