Friday, June 21, 2013

RE-Masting, Sail 2 Surf

The decision to remove a functional mast from my trimaran (the platform for the Sail 2 Surf project) and replace it with a different spar was a tough one.  The driving factors were 1) the existing spar, though strong and functional, was significantly shorter than design spec, thus sails and sail area were below design spec, 2) A new suit of sails is needed anyway, so might as well be of the correct dimensions and 3) with the goal of zero fossil fuel use, the boat needs to be able to move in light air, since roughly 50 % of cruising is done in winds under 12 knots.

I'd been saving up for this project for the last month and a half, working full-time doing finish carpentry and deliberating for ages about how to rig this mast on my boat such that it would be as functional, safe and strong as possible.

Design showing proper mast height.

Andy and Kent at Northwest Rigging Northwest Rigging, in Anacortes have proved invaluable in the project thus far, offering some yard space, product consult and ordering, swaging and shop needs, and expertise.  If you are doing anything with rigging I can't recommend them highly enough.  They are also DIY friendly--but do everyone a favor and have yourself sorted beforehand.  Also, plan to tackle your project before May, as most marine service businesses get swamped for the first couple of months of the boating season.

Nick Scoville offered to come up to Orcas, from Portland, and help sail the trimaran over to Anacortes, and help me out for a couple of days with the re-masting.  We decided to turn it into a bit of an adventure, so departed Orcas on saturday afternoon, sailing into Obstruction pass that evening.  A short hike away was a good friend's birthday party, and some new friends for Nick, then a moonlight paddle back out to the boat to crash.

The following morning dawned sunny and warm, but quickly turned cloudy and windy.  We hopped onto the strong ebb and made it to Anacortes in 3 tacks, a stomping sail averaging about 8 or 9 knots (with shamefully sloppy sail trim!).  We snuck into the lee of the penninsula which most of the town sits on, and felt our way closer to the docks in very shallow water.  I love the daggerboard and kick-up rudder for this reason.

After anchoring the boat, we reconned for a public dock to tie up to, and sort out where the lifting crane was.  Nick returned to Orcas for his truck full of my tools, and I made arrangement to pick the mast the following day.

Removing the older mast.

Nick proved to be pivotal in these first couple of days, and, though deeply appreciative of his generous time,  I was sad to see him go--the guy is an exceptional boater and waterman.  THANKS NICK!

The old mast after un-stepping with the "Figh-dollah crane"

We were able to remove the old spar, strip it of hardware which can be re-used, completely service the outboard engine, layout the new rigging plan on the new mast, and fortify the hull and decks with backing material to accommodate new rigging attachment hardware like chainplates, etc.

The next three days will be filled with getting the new masts hardware attached, bedded, and insulated (electrically), mast base plate attached, and (fingers crossed) the mast on the boat by late friday.

Like so much in life, this is one of those projects which can't be put on the shelf half-done...but as circumstances would have it, I need to be adaptive.


  1. It seems to be tough to handle this type of thing.your decision must be difficult and that design of the mast is so attractive for the boat.Cool.

  2. Congratulations to you that you finally working on this project this must be a tough one! the design of the mast looks amazing such a creative work.

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