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 How To Drop the Mast Forward (With Rigging Photo)

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
sethp001 Posted - 10/02/2017 : 18:03:22
Dropping the mast aft with a gin pole is popular. There is another way to drop the mast, which is forward. Rumor has it that Catalina intended for the mast to be dropped forward, which is why the factory specification for the length of the mainsheet is so long. In a recent thread on mast step damage, an engineer suggested the damage could have been caused by dropping the mast aft. Dropping the mast forward is also convenient if you have a bimini over the cockpit.

If you want to drop the mast forward, you do not need any additional hardware. You use the boom as a gin pole. The mainsheet tackle provides enough leverage to ease the mast down and raise it. In fact, you can do this without using the mainsheet either, just using the guy lines (see below), if you have winches for your jib sheets. However its nice to use the mainsheet too for redundancy.

You must run guy lines from the aft end of the boom to your jib sheet winches to keep the boom vertical as the mast comes down. If you do not run guy lines, the boom will flop to one side of the boat as the mast comes down. The guy lines should be eased or trimmed to keep them taught as the mast lowers, and the same as it rises.

You must also prevent the boom from sliding in the track on the mast. I use a Davis track stopper above the boom and the downhaul cleat below the boom.

Also, when you drop the mast forward, you disconnect the aft lower shrouds. This is unlike dropping the mast aft, for which you disconnect the forward lower shrouds. You also need to loosen the upper shrouds 7-8 turns or so.

A word of caution: make sure your topping lift is in good shape, or secure the end of the boom to the pigtail on the backstay.

See photo below, showing rigging with guy lines. I'm the one taking the photo while wearing a shirt.

15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
redeye Posted - 08/07/2019 : 10:55:11
I dropped forward three times. I was uncomfortable with the mast movement side to side as it dropped and once I'd found I had bent several of the stay turnbuckles. I'm not sure how I had done that, but obviously they were not loose enough. That was an easy way to do it though, with one person on the foredeck and one on the dock to catch the mast as it drops.

The person on the dock finds it unnerving if they are catching the mast by themselves, but it's really not that heavy... Two on the dock make it much more manageable.

I also added a line on each side to the end of the boom to keep the boom straight.

I've dropped the mast 3 times aft with an aframe I made of wood sections I can fold up to put in the trunk of my car. Subsequently I've read one of our users had seen wood aframes self destruct under loads, so forward is suddenly looking better.

The other impression I've had is how much easier it is to get around the boat after dropping forward. It leaves the rigging out of the way ( except for the dock ) but you can get around the cockpit and the cabin with it forward.
Leon Sisson Posted - 08/06/2019 : 18:05:35
Re: "...was wondering if any one else used this method."

I've lowered both tall and standard Catalina 25 masts towards the bow, using the boom-as-gin-pole method.

I tied the boat so that the bow was pointing straight towards the seawall or shore (but not grinding against the seawall).  I put a ladder on shore to support the lowered mast.  I usually had an assistant guide the mast onto the ladder.  I use PFD seat cushions to pad the mast contact points.

To steady the boom amid ship, I used light guy lines to the shroud chainplates, as I recall.  Obviously that geometry isn't ideal.  I don't remember now how I compensated for that, but I made a mental note to come up with a better guy line arrangement next time.

Maybe a combination of port and stbd guy lines led through blocks as close as practical to the chainplates for upper or aft lower shrouds, and from there aft to the primary winches, as described above.  That would reduce the amount of guy line adjustments which would need to be done while simultaneously operating the mainsheet.

And speaking of controlling the mainsheet, this operation goes a lot smoother using a ratcheting mainsheet fiddleblock.

Have any of you tried using an A-frame made of PVC pipe for stepping a Catalina 25 mast?  How about an A-frame which can be disassembled small enough to conveniently store on board?
Voyager Posted - 08/04/2019 : 06:06:09
One issue or concern for many is to not cause damage to the base or foot of the mast as you tip it either forward or back. The stainless steel tabernacle will bend up the square base of the mast unless youíre careful.
A couple of tips:
Loosen the bolt and make sure it can travel up and down in the slot in the tabernacle. Just has to be loose enough to slide.
If you can once you loosen stays and shrouds, tip the mast a little and drive a thin softwood wedge underneath the base. Let the wood get eaten up, not the aluminum.
If itís too windy, go sailing instead. The force of a gust even on bare poles can really ruin your day.
john.adlam Posted - 08/02/2019 : 12:15:24
So glad to see this topic brought back to life! It was great to see the photo and read the description because I just picked up a boat that is set up for mast raising/lowering from the forward position. My last C25 was set up with an A-frame so I have only ever done it that way. I am prepping the boat for my first launch and I'm going to give this forward method a go. Looks like it may require a helper versus my a-frame which I was able to do myself. Looks like a great setup though if you needed vertical clearance while underway to get under a bridge or something.
cudamank Posted - 08/02/2019 : 10:56:26
Thank you Steve!
Steve Milby Posted - 08/01/2019 : 14:52:57
A number of different methods have been discussed here. Some lower the mast forward and some aft. Some can be done singlehanded, with the assistance of extra hardware, and some require 2-3 helpers. Probably the "best" way is the method that uses an A frame and lets you raise it shorthanded or singlehanded, because you are often shorthanded when traveling and launching from a trailer, but, if you have enough helpers, other ways are faster. The method you should use depends on your needs and your preferences. Any way that works without damaging the boat or hurting anyone is a good way.

At the lake where I used to sail, there were a lot of C25s, and there were always a few people on the docks during any weekend. An owner would prepare his boat to lower the mast, and then round up 2-3 helpers and lower it in 4-5 minutes, and then, after it was repaired, round up another 2-3 people and raise it in another 4-5 minutes. If you can find 2-3 willing helpers, lowering or raising a mast on a C25 can be done quickly. Practice helps. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
cudamank Posted - 08/01/2019 : 10:56:19
I realize this is an old thread, however, was wondering if any one else used this method.

sethp001 Posted - 03/04/2018 : 14:33:37
Originally posted by Lee Panza

Seth, can you follow up on this with what happens next for stowing the mast for trailering (or storage)?

We lashed the mast to the pulpit and pushpit while I worked on the sheaves and replaced incandescent bulbs with LEDs. I used some sheet foam pieces to prevent scratching the mast or the pulpit and pushpit. I suppose one could do the same for trailering or use Catalina Direct's mast cradles.

Originally posted by Lee Panza

Does the pulpet make contact beyond the midpoint of the mast, so it doesn't tip forward when the weight of the boom is removed and the pivot bolt is withdrawn?

Good eye, Lee. The top of the mast will tend to tip down when the pivot bolt is withdrawn. I sat on the mast while removing the pivot bolt, which was enough weight to prevent the mast from tipping. I also lashed the mast to the pulpit before removing the bolt, to make sure it wouldn't slide laterally into the water, but that may be unnecessary.

Originally posted by Lee Panza

How do you move the mast from that position to its stowed position supported fore and aft? And how do you reverse the process for stepping it when you reach the next launch ramp? Thanks.

I was able to walk the mast back so that the base rested on the pushpit without disconnecting any additional spreaders or other rigging. My helper lifted the mast off the pulpit so nothing would get scratched as we went along. In the end, we had the top of the mast resting on the pulpit and the bottom of the mast resting on the pushpit.
sethp001 Posted - 03/04/2018 : 14:18:56
Originally posted by cudamank

So the backstay is released, the boom on the pig tail and tie up the backstay to follow with the boom?

Yes, exactly.

But if someone doesn't have a pigtail on the backstay, they could use the topping lift instead.
Lee Panza Posted - 03/01/2018 : 23:16:52

Seth, can you follow up on this with what happens next for stowing the mast for trailering (or storage)? Does the pulpet make contact beyond the midpoint of the mast, so it doesn't tip forward when the weight of the boom is removed and the pivot bolt is withdrawn? How do you move the mast from that position to its stowed position supported fore and aft? And how do you reverse the process for stepping it when you reach the next launch ramp? Thanks.

cudamank Posted - 03/01/2018 : 15:49:27
So the backstay is released, the boom on the pig tail and tie up the backstay to follow with the boom?
OLarryR Posted - 02/06/2018 : 04:13:53
Thanks for the details. We should save this in the technical tips of the Forum !!
Stinkpotter Posted - 02/05/2018 : 15:46:55
Is an NFL defensive tackle (shirtless) part of the required rigging? I didn't have one of those, so I used a crane.
jerlim Posted - 02/05/2018 : 15:19:07
cshaw Posted - 02/04/2018 : 15:04:37
Excellent article Seth. I lower Confettiís mast forward also. I usually just have someone stand by the mast stepnto keep the boom from flopping to the side. I like the idea of the jib sheets to keep the boom up!


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