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It’s great to have my little boat back in Tucson for the Summer. as I can simply walk out the front door to work on her. While the mast was down, I was able to check on the integrity of the forestay and the turnbuckle (perfect).

I put the forestay and furler back together and bolted the top of the assembly to the hounds. Installed the genoa sheets to the clew of the foresail, the main and spinnaker halyards to their respective blocks, and carefully slid the entire mast back until I could install the mast base bolt in the tabernacle.

It’s time to break out the gin pole.

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I made it from a galvanized fencepost, building a saddle to fit snugly around the mast from plywood, and a twenty-dollar winch. It cost less than forty dollars in parts, and allows me to get the mast up and down all by myself. 🙂

There are commercially available iterations of the gin pole out there, if you’re unsure about building your own.

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I also installed a band clamp on the saddle, but it’s not really needed if the fit to the mast is tight. The forces that come into play when raising the mast are mostly linear along the gin pole’s length.

Now I attach the spinnaker halyard to the top of the gin pole, at the same point where the opposing force of the winch will happen. It’s important to not introduce any substantial bending forces to the relatively fragile tube.

So I pass one end of the spin halyard around and through the U-bolt that also acts as an anchor point for the winch pulley, and tie the halyard to itself.

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The crocheting you see is just to make the excess halyard a little more manageable.

Then, the winch line is pulled tight and passed through an eye bolt I mounted just behind the foredeck cleat. It’s very well backed up with a five-inch aluminum washer under the deck. This eye bolt also acts as a fairlead for my spinnaker sock’s downhaul control line.

Tie the winch line to the foredeck cleat, and take out the slack.

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The cleat is also well-backed, because that’s where I cleat off my anchor rode.

The gin pole should end up being perpendicular to the mast when you begin cranking on the winch and the lines go taut. The shrouds should be laid so they won’t snag on anything during the mast raising. I just lay them over the lifeline, making sure the adjusters and mast connections aren’t fouled. The backstay can also get tangled up with the now-unused mast support in the cockpit, so there are a few things to watch on the way up.

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It’s now time for the scariest part. When you first begin cranking on the winch, there’s not a lot to keep the whole mast from swaying side to side, thus ripping out the tabernacle from the deck! Ay-yi-yi.
I believe that this very problem presented itself to a previous owner, causing yours truly to need to re-glass under the tabernacle when I first brought the boat home.

Some folks use what are called “baby stays”, which are lines that are attached to the outermost deck on either side of the tabernacle, and then to the mast about six to eight feet up. Their function is to keep the possible swaying to a minimum until the shrouds can take over the job. Their installation would be a whole ‘nother topic, with the accompanying geometry lesson. I don’t use baby stays.
If there’s a breeze, I park the trailer so the wind is coming over the port side of the boat, and grab the lower port shroud while cranking, balancing the mast against the wind.

It’s like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time, or flying a helicopter.

About 3/4ths of the way up, the shrouds will take over and allow you to relax a little.

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When the mast is vertical, I tighten the winch in small increments until I can pin the forestay to the chainplate.

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Piece of cake, no?

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4 Comments

  1. Looks like you are being very busy. Not so much here. Sharon had a knee replacement and then a stroke in the recovery room. So – kind’a tied up for this summer. We’ll see what the rest of the time brings. I am still thinking of making my boat into a pilothouse – but Sharon wants me to leave it alone and use it or sell it. Maybe next year I get to go to Mexico. Looks like you have been having fun down there.

    • Very sorry to hear this, Bob. I hope she and you are comfortable, and that she’s responding well to therapy.

      I know how much we depend on our wives for even the littlest of things.

      Pilothouse? Will you install engine, sail and steerage control from there? 🙂

      And yes, Mexico’s been a lot of fun. Especially not needing to tack every few minutes.

  2. no

    • Yah, I figured the nomenclature might trip some folks up.

      It’s a whole ‘nother language, innit? 🙂


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