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 lowering the mast
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bradminda
1st Mate

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USA
38 Posts

Initially Posted - 10/27/2011 :  00:46:45  Show Profile
The time has come to pull the boat and put things away and do needed repairs. I have a standard rig mast and for the last 20+ years have lowered and raise the mast from the front. One person on the dock holding the mast as high as possible, 2 people to do the lifting and one working the main sheet attached to a halyard. To drop it just reverse the process. Well this time i for see less available people for the lowering process. I wish to use a lowering fulcrum attached as would be the boom with a halyard attached and the main sheet doing the lowering. How long should the fulcrum bar be, how strong, how to attach to the base of the mast and how & where to attach lines. I am sure someone used this process and probably has a name for it. any help would be appreciated

JimGo
Admiral

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USA
962 Posts

Response Posted - 10/27/2011 :  04:39:11  Show Profile
The Tech Tips section has some plans, and if you search "A Frame" and "gin pole" you'll find lots of good info. A member here has two great videos on Youtube, too. Just search "mast stepping catalina 25".

- Jim
Formerly of 1984 C25 named Dragon Wing

NOTE: In my case, PLEASE don't confuse stars/number of posts with actual knowledge. On any topic.
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cshaw
Captain

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420 Posts

Response Posted - 10/27/2011 :  05:56:58  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by bradminda

Well this time i for see less available people for the lowering process. I wish to use a lowering fulcrum attached as would be the boom with a halyard attached and the main sheet doing the lowering.


I also lower my mast (tall rig) forward, and I simply use the boom as the gin-pole. With such a long gin-pole and lowering forward, I have never needed the A-frames others use when lowering aft. For strength, I attach the main halyard to the end of the boom and take up the slack rather than trust the topping lift, and I unreeve two of the 4:1 passes the mainsheet makes to have enough mainsheet line.

You already know you have to remove the aft lowers, and then remove the backstay after you get the gin-pole(boom) rigged and taunt. Tie the boat up very snugly so she does not move around during the lowering/raising.

I have done this alone, but its better to have one person up by the mast to steady it from side to side sway as it gets low. I am in the cockpit and steady the boom side to side by guiding the mainsheet.

We did it this way out on the water one time when I lost a halyard just before a race. I don't recommend doing it out on the water, since its hard to steady the mast with the boat moving, but we were lucky and everyone else about dropped their teeth watching the show!

Have fun and be careful!

Chuck

Chuck Shaw
Confetti
Cat 25, hull#1
1976 FK/TR

Edited by - cshaw on 10/27/2011 05:58:50
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Sloop Smitten
Master Marine Consultant

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Response Posted - 10/27/2011 :  08:15:51  Show Profile
Chuck,
Once you get the mast down how do you manage it single handed? I would think once you undo the step bolt you will have quite a beast on your hands with about 15 feet of mast extending out past the bow pulpit. I have never been able to handle the mast by myself once it is down. I take it you don't have a furler either.

Joe Wergers
Utopia
Fleet 7/Oceanside, CA
78 C25 FK/SR #381
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
5566 Posts

Response Posted - 10/27/2011 :  09:11:05  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by Sloop Smitten

...I take it you don't have a furler either.
A furler? Chuck Shaw? Bite your tongue!

Dave Bristle
Past member, USCG OUPV, and Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
DPO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.
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Sloop Smitten
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
1173 Posts

Response Posted - 10/27/2011 :  09:19:41  Show Profile
quote:
Bite your tongue!

I can't do that with my foot in my mouth!

Joe Wergers
Utopia
Fleet 7/Oceanside, CA
78 C25 FK/SR #381
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OJ
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
4059 Posts

Response Posted - 10/27/2011 :  10:10:13  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by cshaw

. . . I also lower my mast (tall rig) forward, and I simply use the boom as the gin-pole. With such a long gin-pole and lowering forward, I have never needed the A-frames others use when lowering aft . . .


Foward? Using the boom as a gin pole, interesting idea! But I'm with Joe, what the heck do you do when the mast is about to touch the bow pulpit - with 20' of heavy tall rig mast hanging over the water or roof of your tow vehicle?



1989 C25 TR/WK, #5822
1973 McVay Minuet 19
1975 Jester 12
1981 C25 SR/SK, #2428
1981 C22 SR/SK,
Tanzer 16
Sunfish

“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Kenneth Grahame

Edited by - OJ on 10/27/2011 10:16:05
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cshaw
Captain

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USA
420 Posts

Response Posted - 10/27/2011 :  17:43:49  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by Sloop Smitten

Chuck,
Once you get the mast down how do you manage it single handed? I would think once you undo the step bolt you will have quite a beast on your hands with about 15 feet of mast extending out past the bow pulpit. I have never been able to handle the mast by myself once it is down. I take it you don't have a furler either.



Hi Joe!

I do wrap the bow pulpit with some padding. I have had better luck with lashing a short piece of carpeted 2x4 across the top of the pulpit. The mast simply lays on the 2x4. I "straddle" the mast while pulling the hinge pin (so the mast does not pop up), and start walking aft with the mast under me. I have thought about adding a roller like on boat trailers to the 2x4/carpet to make the mast move aft easier, and also thought abnout adding a couple of blocks on the 2x4 to keep the mast centered securely on the 2x4, but with even one other person to help, those extras do not seem to be needed.

I do have to stop once along the way aft to tie off the mast and then go forward to lift the mast and scoot it aft to get the steaming light aft of the bow pulpit/2x4.

Doing this single handed is certainly not the approach you should take if you can find even one other person to help you. With two people it is really not hard at all. You just take it slow and easy and not let things build up any momentum no matter how many people you have to help.

I am uneasy with heights, even though I enjoy flying upside down in open cockpit airplanes...but put me on a 10 ft ladder and you cannot drive a nail up my rear end its so tight!!! wierd, huh? So I find it less scarey for me to step and unstep the mast with the boat in the water rather than way up high on the trailer

Stinkpotter obviously knows me well.... No, I do NOT have a roller furler... <grin>. I just helped Tom Curran lower and raise his C-25's mast using this approach, and we actually had 3 of us (the 3rd person was out in front and made sure the mast laid on a sawhorse that was sitting out in front of the boat.

Tom's boat does have a roller furler, and we disconnected it and carried it aft so the foil would not bend as the mast was lowered. Before disconnecting it we took a halyard and secured the mast to the stem fitting "just in case"

Raising the mast is actually more tense (for me), since I tend to get things tangled up and don't find out about that till we are about 3/4's the way up. So now I pay a lot more attantion to making sure things are laid out on deck cleanly where they pay out without snagging. I also use kite string (so it breaks easily) to raise up and hold the shrouds to the lifelines to help the toggles on the lower end of the turnbuckles to not be "kinked". A little masking tape around them as sort of a "splint" would do the same thing.

Just take it easy and sit and do it mentally a couple of times beforehand!!!

Cheers!

Chuck

Chuck Shaw
Confetti
Cat 25, hull#1
1976 FK/TR
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Sloop Smitten
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
1173 Posts

Response Posted - 10/28/2011 :  08:38:11  Show Profile
Very good advice about using kite string, or tape, to attach the shrouds to the lifelines. I think proper shroud alignment is one of the harder aspects of raising the mast. I made an A-frame and can lower my mast to the rear. That works well for me as I also made a mast crutch with a roller that attaches to the gudgeons. I use an old set of pintles to attach the crutch to the gudgeons. All that being said, I find the best way to raise/lower the mast is with one friend to help lower the mast once it reaches 45 degrees and another to help with the weight and align it to the crutch roller. Raising it they both help with pushing it up. A lot less work than using the A-frame and I think safer due to the third person aspect.

Joe Wergers
Utopia
Fleet 7/Oceanside, CA
78 C25 FK/SR #381
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Jan Briede
Navigator

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USA
114 Posts

Response Posted - 10/28/2011 :  15:01:28  Show Profile
send me your email address if you like to see how I constructed my a-frame ... it worked like a charm (albeit it was pretty heavy).

Jan Briedé
Beagle
1979 SR#1242 FK
Yorktown, VA
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blanik
Navigator

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Canada
184 Posts

Response Posted - 10/29/2011 :  09:51:11  Show Profile
hi, i will have to unstep my mast for the first time next week in order to get my boat to the repair shop (either by land or by water depending on which shop the insurance company chooses) i was planning to fold it towards the back but this "towards the bow" method sound more interesting (no need for an A-frame, the mainsheet's line and blocks seem strong and long enough to allow full travel), my questions are: with the 2/3 of the mast hanging past the bow pulpit there must be a strong pulling moment on the mast step and it's bolt, can it rip it out of there?, ans how much does the mast weight? will we (just me and a friend) be enough to take it down from the boat after? (the boat is a full keel on a cradle)

thanks

(edit: it's a standard rig)

and second edit, here's how i plan to do this, maybe i have something wrong, correct me if i do:

1) fixing a piece of 2X4 with carpet on the bow pulpit

2) i'll take the mainsail halyard and attach it to the boom's end (with a piece of line, as i have the steel wire halyards and they can't go all the way to the boom's end), there,s also a topping lift, i'll leave it there for redundancy

3) tie the jib halyard (with a piece of line for same reason as above) to the bow and untie the furler

4) bring the furler to the mast and tie it there so it's not in the way?? it'll be longer than the mast, what could i do with it so i don't damage it?

5) untie the back lower shrouds

6) should i also loose the other shroud turnbuckles? (if so, how loose?)

7) putting a friend on the front deck with a gaff pole to guide and ease the mast down

8) releasing the back stay and lowering the mast with the mainsheet

9) once the mast rests on the pulpit, applying weight on it's lower end to ease upward pressure (would it be necessary to send the helper at the other end to remove some of the weight with the gaff?)

10) removing the step bolt and pulling the mast towards the back or slowly letting the front lower so helper can catch it on the ground? (seems safer to pull it on deck then lowering it with two lines side by side)

something i missed?

it just dawned on me that the step and mast bolt could be submitted to a shearing force, should i remove the bolt first? :-/ i was "counting" on that bolt the keep the mast aligned during lowering...

1984 C25 FK/SR #4593
Lake Champlain


Edited by - blanik on 10/29/2011 10:36:31
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cshaw
Captain

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USA
420 Posts

Response Posted - 10/29/2011 :  10:37:39  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by blanik

with the 2/3 of the mast hanging past the bow pulpit there must be a strong pulling moment on the mast step and it's bolt, can it rip it out of there?, ans how much does the mast weight? will we (just me and a friend) be enough to take it down from the boat after? (the boat is a full keel on a cradle)

(edit: it's a standard rig)



I normally just sit straddling the mast facing aft while I pull the pin, and there is not a "huge" torque trying to lift me up. As to whether it could pull out the large screws holding the tabernacle down onto the deck, I suspect the answer depends whether the screws are into good material or not. As long as there is tension on the mainsheet there is no "lifting" force, but you would have about 1/3 of the weight of the mast/rigging/spreaders, etc creating an upward force.

Since you are going to be on a cradle, be sure to lash a padded 2x4 across the pulpit with some side to side stops on it. That way you do not have to "lift" the mast to slide it fore and aft till the spreaders and the powering light require lifting the mast over the blocks.

If you are in a marina with long pilings, you might want to still lower to the aft while still in the water, and simply rig a bridle up high on the piling between the forward pilings to take a line from the mast to the bridle and thru a block back to a winch on the boat.

Two of us carry my tall rig spar easily weight wise, but it IS bulky and awkward to carry around and requires some forethought when moving it around or lowering it to the ground from up on a cradle

Chuck

Chuck Shaw
Confetti
Cat 25, hull#1
1976 FK/TR
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blanik
Navigator

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Canada
184 Posts

Response Posted - 10/29/2011 :  11:52:28  Show Profile
thanks for the tips, should i remove the mast/tabernacle bolt before lowering?
(the boat is already out of the water on it's cradle)

1984 C25 FK/SR #4593
Lake Champlain

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davidbloodworth
1st Mate

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USA
65 Posts

Response Posted - 10/29/2011 :  12:16:28  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by blanik

thanks for the tips, should i remove the mast/tabernacle bolt before lowering?
(the boat is already out of the water on it's cradle)



If you remove the bolt before lowering the mast the bottom of the mast will be loose and cause all kinds of mayhelm. As the mast breaks over the bottom will want to come aft and up and the mast will be hard to control. I know from experience with my dinghy. It does not have a tabernacle and the first time I let the mast down without the bottom attached to my mast step I almost killed my girlfriend that was helping catch the mast.

David B.
'84 C25 TR/FK #4301 "Synchronicity"
'70 18' Interlake
'78 14' Dolphin Sr
Lubbock, TX
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Dave5041
Former Mainsheet Editor

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USA
3094 Posts

Response Posted - 10/29/2011 :  14:09:44  Show Profile
Just loosen it.


Dave B. aboard Pearl
1982 TR/SK/Trad. #3399
Lake Erie/Florida Panhandle
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blanik
Navigator

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Canada
184 Posts

Response Posted - 10/29/2011 :  14:46:49  Show Profile
thanks, and how much should i loosen the shrouds turnbuckles? (the tall and lower front ones?)

1984 C25 FK/SR #4593
Lake Champlain

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OJ
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
4059 Posts

Response Posted - 10/29/2011 :  16:34:29  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by blanik

thanks, and how much should i loosen the shrouds turnbuckles? (the tall and lower front ones?)

Richard, don't take this the wrong way - but you very green to be trying an alternative method (lowering the mast forward) for a first attempt. I'd recommend lowering it aft. Loosen the stays until there is zero tension. If you are not using an A-frame or gin pole (which are not necessary anyway) use two helpers for a standard rig. If you have concerns about bending the foils - use the mainsheet system attached to the stemhead and bottom of the furler drum pin. You can only lower the mast so far before it falls - hence the two helpers to manhandle it as soon as they can reach it while standing on the cabintop. You will also walk the mast a shorter distance if you lower it aft.


1989 C25 TR/WK, #5822
1973 McVay Minuet 19
1975 Jester 12
1981 C25 SR/SK, #2428
1981 C22 SR/SK,
Tanzer 16
Sunfish

“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Kenneth Grahame

Edited by - OJ on 10/29/2011 16:49:33
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blanik
Navigator

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Canada
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Response Posted - 10/29/2011 :  16:57:28  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by OJ

quote:
Originally posted by blanik

thanks, and how much should i loosen the shrouds turnbuckles? (the tall and lower front ones?)

Richard, don't take this the wrong way - but you very green to be trying an alternative method (lowering the mast forward) for a first attempt. I'd recommend lowering it aft. Loosen the stays until there is zero tension. If you are not using an A-frame or gin pole (which are not necessary anyway) use two helpers for a standard rig. If you have concerns about bending the foils - use the mainsheet system attached to the stemhard and bottom of the furler drum pin. You can only lower the mast so far before it falls - hence the two helpers to manhandle it as soon as they can reach it while standing on the cabintop. You will also walk the mast a shorter distance if you lower it aft.




indeed i'm very green at this but the idea of lowering it towards the back without a gin pole or a-frame doesn't appeal to me, and none of my friends are big enough to "catch" the mast once the furler-mainsheet assembly reaches the angle where it won't hold the mast anymore (which i guess would be around 10-15 degrees)... this unstepping towards the front sounded good :-/


1984 C25 FK/SR #4593
Lake Champlain

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OJ
Master Marine Consultant

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Response Posted - 10/29/2011 :  17:33:10  Show Profile
Before we had a furler the admiral would keep tension on the forestay (wearing gloves) while I and a helper tilted the mast aft. Rested the mast on my shoulder while the helper removed the tabernacle bolt. No block & tackle, no a-frame, no gin pole, no pole to partially raise mast.

But forewarned is forearmed!


1989 C25 TR/WK, #5822
1973 McVay Minuet 19
1975 Jester 12
1981 C25 SR/SK, #2428
1981 C22 SR/SK,
Tanzer 16
Sunfish

“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Kenneth Grahame
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cshaw
Captain

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USA
420 Posts

Response Posted - 10/29/2011 :  21:38:05  Show Profile
quote:
Originally posted by blanik

indeed i'm very green at this but the idea of lowering it towards the back without a gin pole or a-frame doesn't appeal to me, and none of my friends are big enough to "catch" the mast once the furler-mainsheet assembly reaches the angle where it won't hold the mast anymore (which i guess would be around 10-15 degrees)... this unstepping towards the front sounded good :-/




The concerns you have in your reply were the same ones that led me to lower forward. However, my mast is a Tall rig spar, which is heavier than a standard rig. As far as lowering forward being an "alternative" approach as OJ commented, well, (and I truely mean no disrespect OJ!!) I guess thats a matter of perspective, eh? <grin>. I have always lowered Confetti's spar forward using the boom, and also lowered my Catalina 27 forward using the same technique. I had a Venture 24 many many years ago, and it was a one man job to step the mast raising it from the aft, but it was a much lighter spar than even a standard rig Cat 25. Before that my Thistle and before that a Windmill both did not have tabernacles. We just grabbed the spar and set it into its mast partners (we were also younger then also!!)

I guess what I am trying to say is there is no "right or wrong" approach. Its whatever you are comfortable with. Thats harder if you have not done it before. Think about how many people you will have to help you, and how strong they are and simply think through whichever approach you choose to use. For example, if you lower aft, will the mast clear the hatch aft of the mast when lowered? (a good reason to build a mast crutch [A-frame, etc.] to catch the mast before its all the way down going aft. If your tabernacle has slots, it probably will. Mine does not have slots, its a simple hinged plate with a mast step bolted to it, and the mast is bolted to the step.Make sure the hatch is slid closed so no one falls in, etc

Lowering aft provides about 15 ft of boat to work with, but its a long step down from the cabin to the cockpit seats. The Mast crutch will be very near the center point of the mast when it is held in the crutch. Forward provides 10 ft of relatively unobstructed deckspace (albeit narrower towards the bow). The mast will have about 1/3 aft of the pulpit 2x4 cradle, and almost 2/3 forward. (I do not have problems with the mast in that config, but it does require sitting on the spar since its not balanced. Lowering aft allows you to simply pull the tack pin on a roller furler, lowering forward needs to have the roller furler unpinned and lead aft of the mast so the foil is not bent as the mast goes forward, etc. etc. etc.

Another thought that is similar to tieing a bridle to pier pilings would be if you have a friend tied up nose to nose , see if they would use one of their forward halyards to lead over to a forward halyard on your boat, and control it going down aft and also hoising back up that way.

There are lots of ways to do this, and it is really pretty routine whichever approach you use once you have thought through it.

I do recommend you have plenty of help for the first time you unstep your mast, no matter how you do it, and each person knows exactly what will be the order of events and what their piece of the action is. For example person #1 lowers and steadies the boom side to side via tending the mainsheet, #2 stands just aft of the mast to push on it to get it to start lowering and also can steady the boom to help keep it from flopping to the side (assuming you are using the boom as a gin pole) along with #1, If you have a #3, that person is up near the bow, and reaches up and helps to guide the mast onto the pulpit cradle (the lashed 2x4). If no #3, then #2 slowly walks forward and continues to steady the mast from side to side. Go slow and talk to each other as you do it, and once it starts to lower, keep it moving! Have your tools prepositioned by the tabernacle to pull the pin (and have it pre-loosened)

Sounds intimidating, but after you are done I suspect you will grin at how straight forward it really is......

Cheers!

Chuck

Chuck Shaw
Confetti
Cat 25, hull#1
1976 FK/TR

Edited by - cshaw on 10/29/2011 21:43:19
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Jan Briede
Navigator

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Response Posted - 10/30/2011 :  15:30:39  Show Profile
Oh do agree with most/all of the advise. I was (and still am after only one time) very green at this as well. I had four helpers so this first time we were with 5 guys lowering and raising the mast while the boat was afloat. I had a guy aft to "catch the mast with a 2x4 that was 10 feet long with a plywood V in the top. He was there as well when we raised it and the sweetest words in my ears were "I don't have it anymore", when he was not holding the mast any longer. I am not sure if I needed it, but it is a nice insurance. Next time I would try it with three people, but you are better off having many and pay them off with home-made pizza and beer.

Personally I think it would be very difficult to lower the mast forward. I have a sneaky feeling the pulpit would be in the way and the stress of the mask trying to pivot there would make it impossible to take the bolt out of the step, and I can only imagine the havoc that would result when you would be able to get it out. I would definitively lower it towards the back.

Just my two cents worth.

Jan Briedé
Beagle
1979 SR#1242 FK
Yorktown, VA
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Sloop Smitten
Master Marine Consultant

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Response Posted - 10/30/2011 :  16:42:22  Show Profile
You don't need an A-frame or a gin pole to lower the mast to the rear or forward if you have sufficient hands to help you. The main purpose of both those devices is to reduce the number of people needed. One person on the forestay (or backstay) and two to assist with the mast will put you in pretty good shape.

Joe Wergers
Utopia
Fleet 7/Oceanside, CA
78 C25 FK/SR #381
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NCBrew
Captain

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USA
282 Posts

Response Posted - 10/31/2011 :  04:21:24  Show Profile  Visit NCBrew's Homepage
quote:
Originally posted by Sloop Smitten

You don't need an A-frame or a gin pole to lower the mast to the rear or forward if you have sufficient hands to help you. The main purpose of both those devices is to reduce the number of people needed. One person on the forestay (or backstay) and two to assist with the mast will put you in pretty good shape.



I lowered mine yesterday and used 2 people besides myself. I had my "Jib downhaul" snapped onto the forestay and eased it back from around the winch and rested it on my homemade crutch in the rudder gudgeons. The wind was gusting to about 30 but it did not present any problems. I don't see any need for A-frames if you have 3 people.

I will record it when I put it back up.


1977 C25 # 260
"BLACK PEARL" SR/SK
Ravaging
Albemarle Sound,NC
http://www.blackpearl.vacationinnc.com

I spent most of my money on boats and beer, the rest I just wasted.


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Tomas Kruska
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Response Posted - 10/31/2011 :  05:27:40  Show Profile  Visit Tomas Kruska's Homepage
This is the system used on almost every Poland sailboats because they have so many bridges on their biggest lake. Its called "dead man" and it is basically A-frame with the 4:1 or more blocks attached directly to the fore stay.

Here its a 21 foot sailboat but its also on larger boats.





Trick is that tubing extension to the upper shrouds so they are in the pivot with the mast step.






This is the mast support for lowered mast:



PO of Catalina C25 1978, High Anxiety, hull #701, SR, FK, L-dinette, inboard diesel Volvo Penta MD2010C w/saildrive. more info


My blog on the current sailing adventures We sail Phobos 21.

Edited by - Tomas Kruska on 10/31/2011 11:37:20
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dlucier
Master Marine Consultant

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Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)
7568 Posts

Response Posted - 10/31/2011 :  05:35:09  Show Profile
Slick!

Don Lucier

North Star SR/FK
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dmpilc
Master Marine Consultant

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Response Posted - 10/31/2011 :  11:11:52  Show Profile
Took the WORD right out of my mouth. That is a really neat system, especially the brackets elevating shroud turmbuckles.

DavidP
PO of 1984 C-25 SK/TR #4142 "Recess"
1975 C-22 SK #5459 "Shadowfax" Fleet 52
Percy Priest Yacht Club, Hamilton Creek Marina, Nashville, TN
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