South Coast Sailboats

Raising and lowering the mast

Going Down - trickier than going up

1. Release the two outer side stays and open the inner turnbuckles as much as you can (leaving at least 3/8" in each end). This will help you to guide it down, should it want to travel port or starboard.
2. Now tie a long rope to the back stay, the person hanging on to the back stay will have to loosen and then release the turnbuckle by pulling out the clevis pin or bolt (prep this step before dropping the mast so you only have to remove the pin when you are ready). Keep continuous tension on the backstay. When the person up top is ready to receive the mast, begin to lower slowly. After the mast is down to 45 degrees, there is no more you can do from the ground. Move to the top of the boat to release the mast from the tabernacle (quickly!)
3. The person up top can use minor tension on either of the two side stays to keep the mast centered as it comes down. Top person should then shoulder the mast as it comes down and lower it to the pulpit making sure that the base of the mast does not come out of the tabernacle.
4. The bottom person then must come up top and put pressure on the base of the mast to keep it from flying up uncontrolled. While adding downward pressure, remove the mast from the tabernacle and ship the mast to the stern. It helps to have the mast prop ready to put in place down in the cotpit.

Other thoughts:
Leave front and two inner side stays in place when setting the mast up for travel, this speeds up the time required to set it up in the other direction.

Make sure your turnbuckles do not disappear during travel, temporary black tape can keep them from coming apart at the wrong time. Also, carry at lease 1 spare turnbuckle.

Most important - always double check turnbuckle tension on all turnbuckles after raising the mast (every time). First tighten then tune after raising the sails. A loose or less that tight turnbuckle can cause a mast to collapse or buckle from the spreaders under wind pressure. I know this from experience.

Info on how tight should the turnbuckles is set
Fairlee tight but not too tight is my rule of thumb. This gets me out there, and then under sail, I get too the base of the mast and look straight up to the top. First, check the mast on a port tack and then starboard or vice versa. Use your sight to determine if under a load in one direction if the mast is straight. If not then tune using the turnbuckles on the high side (inner & outer) to tune mast to straight position under load. Then reverse direction of the boat and repeat tuning on the other side. This will balance out the load on the mast, and keep you from inadvertently bending you mast under wind load. Always think through each step before making any quick decisions.

When sending up the mast, slow and steady will do it, the biggest problem I run in to is the stays catching on something the base man should be ready to free any tangles the happen, sometimes a boat pole can be very handy when trying to do this from the ground. Good luck and don't let the up and down thing keep you from getting the most out of your boat. After the first couple of times it is not so difficult.

Some additional other thoughts:

When I had to rebuild my mast and mast base with a thicker mast I changed the direction in which it drops (it now drops to the cotpit). I did this because it allows you to stand further back from the mast base to carry the weight of the mast with less leverage. Also, standing in the cotpit carrying the weight of the mast was more confidence inspiring than out on the front deck doing the same trick. I do recall that with the original mast I could fly it myself (the newer heavier mast makes the a thing of the past).


Another SC 22 owner suggests:

I have an sc 22 and putting up the mast is easy as pie. After putting the bolt in the bottom of mast. I take a rope that is tied off at the front cleats and is long enough to reach the mast base. I then lift up the mast by myself and hold it up and tie the mast up with the rope. Pull the rope as tight as possible, then walk to the front of boat and hook up last cable. I leave all the cables ready to go so all I have to do when hook up the front and go.

Hints - Do not put motor and rudder on after putting up the mast this limits the places to catch the cables.

And another SC 22 owner suggests:

I have found that connecting the shrouds and the backstay before lifting helps matters immeasurably. I also have wooden steps that I place in front of the cockpit cabin hatch that I use to 'walk' the mast up. This gives leverage to a point where I use the jib halyard run through a block attached to the foredeck and just take up the slack while I lift the mast into standing position. I secure the jib halyard onto the cleat located on the mast near the boom, which will keep the mast standing until I secure it with the forestay. This can be done alone.

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