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Author Topic: Unstepping the mast  (Read 3364 times)

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Lance Jones

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Unstepping the mast
« on: January 17, 2014, 02:16:07 PM »

Ok, I'm in the process of getting ready to decommission Kitty's Cat for about 2 weeks. Part of this will involve stepping the mast. All of my other sailboats have had deck stepped masts. However, Kitty's Cat has a keel stepped mast. Other than disconnecting the electrical, standing and running rigging, vang, removing the boom, and removing the interior turnbuckle assembly inside the cabin, is there any other steps I might have overlooked?

I looked through Randy's great photo layout of his unstepping/stepping; but, I didn't see anything about the partners or the metal collar around the hole that the mast slips through. I have a month before the mast pull. Any help will be appreciated.
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Lance Jones
1988  C-34 Kitty's Cat
S/N 622

Ron Hill

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Re: Unstepping the mast
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2014, 02:58:49 PM »

Lance : I published a checklist for removing and reinstalling a keel stepped mast in the Mainsheet Tech notes in the late 1990s.

I wrote that article in conjunction with Phil Imhoff who lives in New York and did that task annually.

I say it again - great info in those old Mainsheet tech notes!! 
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Dave Spencer

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Re: Unstepping the mast
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2014, 03:24:23 PM »

Hi Lance,
Living in the Great White North, I have a fair amount of experience stepping and unstepping masts as we pull our stick every year before winter haul out.  There are no big tricks and you have identified the major points.  There are no hidden electrical disconnects in the mast.  The partners should pull out easily as the mast is lifted.  There is nothing to do with the collarÖ it stays fixed to the deck .
I havenít seen Ronís mainsheet writeup but hereís what I do for our boat and many others at our marine.
Once the sails are off, I follow this process each fall:
Disconnect all electrical connections at the base of the mast
Remove the turnbuckle and the padeye bolted to the mast in the salon
Remove the solid boom vang
Remove mainsheet and the boom
Unreeve all lines from the base of the mast, deck organizers and clutches.
Secure all loose halyard shackles to a convenient ring on the mast.  Snug them up and cleat off the bitter end.
Furl the excess bitter end of all lines that will stay with the mast and tie them to the mast with a bungee cord or a length of line
Loosen the shroud and backstay turnbuckles.  The mast wonít go anywhere since itís keel stepped
I remove the cotter pins from all of the shrouds, backstay and forestay, straighten them and the put them back in place to make removal easy without tools.
I am now ready to move to the mast hoist.
(Woe to the sailor who heads to the mast hoist without all of this done at our self service marina!)
Once at the hoist, secure the boat so the hoist is lifting straight up.  For most hoists, this wonít be a problem but at our small marina, I haul the bow in tighter to the pier so the hoist is directly in line with the mast and not at an angle.
Watch your masthead gear!
Instead of lifting on the spreaders, I loop a dockline though the lifting strap and cleat it off so the strap is just below the spreaders and the dockline is taking the strain.
Have at least two people on deck, one to hang onto the base of the mast and one to manage the furling.
Take up some light strain with the hoist without lifting the mast.
Remove all clevis pins from the shrouds backstay and furling forestay.  Tie the shrouds to the mast with a bungee cord or a length of line.
Lift slightly.  The partners should come free here.
If anything sticks, stop and look for the problem.
With one person at the mast and the second ensuring the furling foil doesnít kink, lift until the base of the mast is clear of the deck.
The mast will be bottom heavy so there is no risk the mast will flip over on you.
Rotate the hoist to position the mast over land and lower away hanging onto the base of the mast and walking it back as the mast is lowered on the dolly or saw horses or whatever you have.  The key here is to ensure the furling foil doesnít kink.

Good luck with your decommissioning.  I just got back for the Toronto International Boat Show and Iím already dreaming about our launch day in the spring.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 07:26:11 PM by Dave Spencer »
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Dave Spencer
C34 #1279  "Good Idea"
Mk 1.5, Std Rig, Wing Keel, M35A Engine
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People - London, Ontario

Phil Spicer

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Re: Unstepping the mast
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2014, 05:06:17 PM »

Lance,  You will have to unscrew the mast fitting that the interior turnbuckle is connected to so it will slide out as the mast is pulled. It will not clear the mast ring. Unhook the radio and lights and anything else that goes up the mast. Help feed all the wires past the mast ring so they don't get cut off as the mast goes up...Please keep your fingers clear when you do this. You may want someone on the furler so it doesn't drag on the deck. My yard stops the lift when the furler clears the deck and ties all rigging to the mast except the back stay.
  If you have lazy jacks, thread a line through them so you can rethread them when you put things back together. Secure lazy jack line & both ends of any & all running rigging to the mast cleats so nothing gets lost up the mast.  
 My yard has me remove the table so it won't get hit if the mast gets lowered in a hurry for any reason.
 Pull the wooden wedges when the mast is ready to go up. Your yard may do that. Good luck
  I see Ron & Dave has posted a note since I started this, so check out the tech notes too.
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Phil & Marsha Spicer-Dock at Sandusky Sailing Club-
 Sail Sandusky Bay,Erie Islands,& Western Basin of Lake Erie.
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Lance Jones

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Re: Unstepping the mast
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2014, 05:51:22 AM »

Great response guys! Mucho thanko! :clap
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Lance Jones
1988  C-34 Kitty's Cat
S/N 622

Ron Hill

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Re: Unstepping the mast
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2014, 12:27:00 PM »

Lance : I had some time so I looked up my article on "Pulling A keel Stepped Mast". 
It is in the May 2001 Mainsheet Tech Notes. 

Hope this helps 
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Ron Hill

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Re: Unstepping the mast
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2014, 12:36:55 PM »

Although I didn't mention it in my article, this is a great time to replace your mast boot if yours hasn't been covered by a sunbrella UV protection
(How to make a mast boot protector - another Mainsheet tech note article May 1992)

A thought
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 12:41:12 PM by Ron Hill »
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Lance Jones

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Re: Unstepping the mast
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2014, 02:13:55 PM »

Great idea Ron. Thanks
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Lance Jones
1988  C-34 Kitty's Cat
S/N 622
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