New standing Rigging

New standing Rigging

8. April 2019 Off By Søren

I cling on to the bottom of the mast. Above me, in the mast crane, hangs a 200 kg new mast and wires, and normally it would be under full control. Nevertheless I’m struggling to keep the mast steady, avoiding the masthead to hit the mast crane over and over again. “I can’t keep it steady”, I shout to the professional rigger, who will adapt and install the new mast on the boat. Calmly he explains that the profile of the mast works like a sail, so the wind moves the mast around. Somehow I’m not able to adapt his calm. At the ground there is no wind, but 10 to 15 meters up, the wind is blowing around 11 m/s. “We better abort” he says, and I’m relieved to see the mast become steady as it is lowered back down.

This experience happened friday, where we should have finished the work with the mast. today, monday, the weather behaves much better, and I have early off from work. This time we should be able to get the new mast on Carpe Diem. But why did we end up with a new mast, and not the mast that was bought with the boat?

We have decided to start the refit of Carpe Diem with the rigging, i.e. the mast and wires, aka. the standing rigging. The running rigging – halyards, topping lift, etc. – was changed last year in Carlingford (see here). Changes to the mast can influence the sails and hardware on the deck, so before investing any money and time on these, we needed to be certain of any changes to the mast.

There are many things on a boat that needs to be working 100 %, both functionally and safety wise. If we make it simpel, there are 3 things that must be ensured: Keep the boat floating, keep propulsion of the boat, and keep the crew happy.

The rigging, with the sails, is our most important source for propulsion. And if things go completely sideways, 200 kilo metal falling down on top of you and the boat is dangerous, obviously, and can in worst circumstances sink the boat. Not to forget that the mast is a quite expensive part of the boat. As I wrote in the previous post, the maintainance nowneeds last more than just the next leg of our journey sailing Carpe Diem home to Denmark.

Because of this, we have engaged a professional rigger to inspect and service the mast – and I am learning a lot during this. I was quit anxious welcoming him and showing him the mast. “That’s an Isomat”, he said. “An old french mast, which is out of production, but spare parts can still be found.” He inspected the mast and seemed quite positive. “Phew” I thought, “we kan still use the mast”. Even though we are prepared to replace the mast, it is a lot of money that we wouldn’t mind using on something else, for example sailing more.

Cutting off the wound.

The mast showed sign of corrosion at different places, which I was told how to clean and protect. However, at the bottom of the mast the corrosion was quite bad, as shown in the picture below.

The solution to this was to have a blacksmith weld the aluminium to reinforce the area with corrosion. The day after the inspection the rigger contacted me, as he couldn’t quite find piece with the welding solution. When the mast is stepped, the column pressure is bigger than the weight of the boat. At the bottom of the mast this pressure is biggest. The rigger guessed it would be at least 15 ton, and the question would then be if welding a reinforcement would be strong enough.

His suggestion was to instead cut off the “wound”, which would take away 12 cm of the mast. New exits for halyards had to be milled, and different brackets and the boom needed to be moved as well.

Not easy to live with

Things started to add up. 2 things bothered me: We were spending an increasing amount on an old mast, and the rig is already a little smaller than it could have been. The latter being ok for an ocean cruising sailboat, but… there must be limits…

I’m sure living with me these days have not been easy. I wanted to take the path with the new mast, but it is a real expensive solution. We haven’t sold are house yet, so we might have to postpone a new mast until it is sold.

While my head was spinning with “on one side…” and “on the other side…”, the rigger found a mast at the storage of Seldén. It had been delivered to another boat as a keel-stepped mast, but the measures for the part of the mast underneath the deck was wrong. This other boat had approximately the same dimensions as Carpe Diem – at least those that matter when dimensioning a mast: Beam, draft, displacement, weight and keel weight. The latter two we had to estimate, as we unfortunately don’t know them. And the prise for this “new-second-hand” mast was more eatable, combined with a reuse of our furlex, boom and spinnaker pole. With this solution we have an up to date mast, which we can get parts for all over the world. And as a bonus: It is 90 cm higher so we are not as under rigged as before. The new mast emptied the account for the refit, so all other major work has to wait until our house has been sold. Hopefully soon…

Stepping a new mast

Now the mast is hanging above me in the mast crane again. I’m excited to see how the mast is stepped, when all wires isn’t ready for fitting the the chain plates, as we don’t know the exact length. Luckily, and as planned, today the mast is steady in the crane, and lowered onto the mast step.

We have 4 halyards from the top of the mast. 2 in an angle going forward, and 2 in an angle going backwards – and still with the mast attached to the mast crane as safety. The cap and lower shrouds has been measured and cut into exactly same length, so we measure the average length between the spreaders and the chain plates, and cut the wires so they still have the exact same length. This way we ensure the mast will be exactly perpendicular to the boat. The riggers car is just next to the boat, so when a wire has been shortened to the correct length, the terminal is fitted using a special tool for this.

The lower shrouds are fitted first, then the cap shrouds. The intermediate shrouds between the spreaders are trimmed last as it requires going up the mast. The backstay is fitted as loose as possible. The hard part is the headstay with the furling system on. There is nothing to adjust the length of the headstay, so it must be made the exact right length, giving the mast a 1° rake. I think it was a success. Because of the furling system, the rigger had to go aloft to mount the headstay.

Finally the rigging is trimmed. I’m quite curious about how hard the shrouds and stays are tightened. I have heard, that you should always tighten more than you think, but how much is that? With measuring tools fitted to the wires, and use of tables to figure out how much should be tightened to reach 15 to 20 % of the breaking strength, the rigging was trimmed. Unfortunately the tools are around 2500 DKK each, so it is not something I will invest in.

Cut up for recycling

And just like that, the mast is stepped. Remaining work is mounting the boom, getting electrical cables through the deck, etc., but the hard part is now done.

And the old mast? It has been cut into peaces and put on our trailer. We will sell the mast as aluminium for recycling, I guess we can get around 4 DKK pr. kilo, so maybe we will get around 600 DKK. Not much compared to the cost of the new mast, but every crown (krone) counts in the total budget for refitting Carpe Diem.