So, What’s Up with our Mast?

I am sure you all know what a mast is right? It’s that big stick that goes up in the air that holds our sails. In our case, we have a furling mainsail which means the main sail rolls up into the mast like a vertical window shade. Inside our mast is a furling mechanism called the furling foil that holds the sail in a slot and then rotates so the sail can wind around the foil. See the photo below.

So, the problem is that we stored our mast outside last winter and it was placed in a horizontal position on a mast rack. Unfortunately the aluminum furling foil must have gotten some water in it and froze. This freezing caused the furling foil to crack. When we tried to raise our main sail at the start of the season, the sail would only go up so far and then it got stuck – this was our first clue that something was wrong as this should not happen. Well, it was stuck pretty good because we also could not get the sail back down. We had to go up the mast in the bosun chair to see if we could see what the problem was and see if we could get it unstuck. Mark was finally able to hammer is down so it was no longer stuck.

Once we were able to inspect the mast more closely, we were able to see that there was about a foot long crack in the aluminum foil. It hard to see in the photos but the crack looks like this. Not really very impressive is it.

What this means is that the furling foil will need to be removed from the mast, replaced and put back in place inside the mast. This means we have to have the mast taken down after it was just put up on the boat. Now that foil that is cracked is one long continuous piece of aluminum that is about 50+ feet long. At first we thought we might have had to replace the full 50+ foot long piece. When you think about shipping a part that is 50+ feet long, we are not talking about your standard UPS or FedEx shipment here. If we had to ship a 50+ foot piece that would require special shipping and a special truck. That might take awhile!!

We spent time with several phone calls and conversations with both Manitowoc marina service staff and Sparcraft, who manufactured our mast. We were able to learn that we could have the damaged section of the foil spliced with a new section to address the crack and they could ship a new section that is less than 8 feet long and that could be shipped standard UPS. This is good news since that difference in shipping just saved us about 4 weeks waiting for a new part to arrive!

Next step – have marina service staff remove the furling foil so that it can be repaired. Here is a photo of the actual foil coming out of the bottom of the mast so that a new section can be spliced together where the cracked portion is.

The marina staff had a bit of a challenge getting the foil out of the mast and had to place several calls to Sparcraft to understand how this was put together and how it should come apart. Unfortunately, one of the rigging guys had a bit of an accident as one of our side stays came out of the top of the mast as they were taking the mast off the boat and with gravity assisting the metal side stay fell down and hit him on the top of the head. It sent him to the ER to get some stitches in the top of the head. Ouch!!

Once they were able to get the foil out of the mast, they spliced in the new section and removed the damaged section. That was the easy part! Then they had to put it all back together! It seems it went back to together easier than it was to take it apart, so that’s all good.

Mark and I were sitting in the cockpit yesterday morning enjoying our coffee and Gary the service manager walks down the dock. Evidently, we missed hearing several calls from him that they were ready for us to put the mast back on the boat! Yeah!!! We didn’t know what to expect in terms of a timeline to actually be a sailboat again, so we are pleasantly surprised that they are ready to go!

Most of Tuesday was taken up with getting the mast back in the boat, tuning the rig, putting sails up and generally becoming a sailboat again!

We are happy to be a sailboat again! Now we can think about when we will be departing Manitowoc and heading out on our long awaited adventure.

3 Comments on “So, What’s Up with our Mast?

  1. Wow! That could have turned out very differently. I’m glad it worked out for you two. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m excited to follow along your journey.


  2. Oh, man. Glad everything turned out okay. That could have caused a headache the size of Texas. Looking forward to hearing all your sailing adventures.


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