It’s been a while since we’ve heard from The Resourceful Sailor. Since he lowered the mast on his boat Sampaguita last June, he’s been busy taking care of several boat projects. Now he’s back on deck and has sent us this detailed report on raising the mast.
What goes down must go up? After a rig refit, the mast of Sampaguita, a Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20, was ready to be raised. Still in her Port Townsend slip, the process was, generally, the opposite of lowering, presented in ‘Lectronic Latitude on June 16, 2021 — Lowering the Mast on a Small Sailboat with The Resourceful Sailor.
It required the same bridle setup. The boom, again, would act as a gin pole to gain the proper angle for leverage. The mainsheet block and tackle would do the heavy lifting. Rather than write the same thing again, I will focus on the differences between the two procedures and provide some previously left-out insights. In doing this, I will presume that you have read or will review the installment mentioned above.
For raising, only the cap shrouds and the headstay needed to be attached to their respective chainplates. Out of respect for Murphy’s Law, the other wires were secured tightly to the mast to mitigate their inclination to get snagged. Snagged wires like to kink, and whether new or old, it is unsatisfying, not to mention detrimental to their longevity and strength. The turnbuckles were wrapped in rags and secured to the mast, preventing them from scratching and banging into anything (everything.)
The bridle setup was more challenging to organize with the rig down than up. Since I had new wires, I needed to re-seize the stainless steel rings to the cap shrouds. It required holding up the wire to determine the proper pivot points with the mast. Then the opposing force lines to the lower stay chainplates were added, conceptualizing the rigid triangle necessary to maintain the pivot points. With the rig up, it is easier to build and see this. But down, it is a floppy mess. Then, a line was attached to each ring, ready to lead to a bail on the boom. A block and tackle served nicely for this on one side for ease of adjustment. These guylines will provide the opposing forces to keep the boom centered.
After that, I moved the mast to the tabernacle and pinned its base in the ready position. A final review of the halyard and wire leads and spreader orientations was done. A reminder: Always be on the lookout for snagging wires and lines whenever you move the mast.
The boom, as a gin pole, could then be added. When lowering, it was already in position and there was only the matter of attaching the bridle lines. However, with the mast down, the boom would be attached starting in a vertical position, which involved some boat yoga. I shackled the mainsheet and topping lift to its outer end. Lots of slack was fed into those lines, allowing for lifting it straight up. While holding it so, I pinned the mast end to the gooseneck. I picked up the previously-led guylines (the line and the block and tackle) and attached them to the boom bail. I tightened and adjusted the mainsheet, the topping lift, and the guylines until the boom was centered and vertical. The opposing forces held the gin pole in place.
With the correct bridle setup, the mast base in the tabernacle, and the gin pole in place, it was simply a matter of hoisting the mast. On a Flicka 20, the round bar traveler and the four-part mainsheet block and tackle are very accommodating to providing the mechanical advantage necessary for raising and lowering the mast. To a soloist, this advantage was indispensable. It took two hands and a bit of leaning to get it moving, but it became easier as it went higher. An eye was kept on the centerline alignment of the mast and boom, making sure the bridle prep was accurate, and watching that the wires did not snag.
The accompanying video shows the raising from a first-person view and solo. In contrast to lowering the mast, gravity is less of a friend, so the ascent is slower, with a bit more heave-ho. There is no shame in re-lowering the mast to adjust the bridle lines or sort out the wires. It is better to correct them early than to think something will be all right when it is not. Raising and lowering the mast is not rocket science, but 99% of the gig is proper preparation. If something goes wrong, it could be catastrophic, so double- and triple-check. It can be intimidating at first, but it is simple physics and simple tools at work. Remember, keep it safe and prudent, and have a blast.