Mast Head Float

I've sealed my mast (still seems to leak) and installed a cheap mooring buoy, even purchased a Hobie 'bob' (it's pretty big though.)
So, how about an affordable, instant-inflating, mast head float?
I see them for sale in Europe. Can't find them here.
Guess I could just run a self0inflating life vest up with the headboard of the main.
Or maybe this:
https://throwraft.com/pro…INAQHY1CPKKML2aPu0nL0c2o
Hmmm.

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Prindle 16
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I used something like a buoy in the past, the problem is that, compared with other options, the buoy will float farther from the mast tip if attached at only one point, so the tip will (or may) sink more. This makes a significant difference for righting the boat. Think of the extendable shroud adjuster that helps with righting (forgot its name), this would make the opposite effect. With the self infating float it seems that you would have a similar issue. I installed a fender on my mast, adding an eyestrap for a second attachment point. I reseal the rivets every once and then (as well other rivets on the mast), and forget about it. A real mast float was above my budget but also it seems heavy enough to play against you when righting the boat.
Adding this extra safety gives me peace of mind, even if I also make sure to keep the mast sealed, I sail in the ocean with rather dangerous rocks and waves in most of the shore, that I don't intend to ever approach..



Edited by Andinista on Feb 12, 2021 - 10:36 AM.
I think the first question to ask is "has anyone turtled a cat?" I have never witnessed it and have capsized countless times. If you get on that lower hull and lean a little the mast will stay afloat. If it leaks you may never get it up. A buoy will not fix that. Dunk the mast in a pool and locate leak(s). Its only the hounds, diamonds, and head that require sealing. Everything at the base will allow water to exit if it does get in.

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Robert
81' NACRA 5.2 "Chris's Flyer"
Previously owned H18, Trac 14, G-Cat 5.0, H14T, H16, N5.0
BYC, Mobile, AL
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I had cats go turtle on me. It's no fun. This is all about sealing the mast. You don't need a pool. Remove the base of the mast, angle the mast head down with the hound facing down and fill it from a garden hose to past the hound.
The water will find a way out of every hole. Personally I like to bed down my mast hardware with 3M 5200. After the last time I sealed up my mast it held positive pressure from the sun heating it up. The section on a SuperCat is bigger than a lot of other cats. The boat's designer, Bill Roberts, stated that this gave the mast enough buoyancy so as to not need a float. I guess I'll find out if I flip it.

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'82 Super Cat 15
Hull #315
Virginia
Previously owned: '70 H14, '79 H16, '68 Sailmaster 26, '85 H14T
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QuoteIf it leaks you may never get it up. A buoy will not fix that

with a float only the tip of the mast will sink and the float will keep it from sinking more and taking more water. If waves are big it may take more water but the process is certainly slowed down.
I have seen both Prindle 16s and Hobie 16's turtle fully and come up with mud. If it sticks into the bottom of the lake, it's really hard to upright. My friend on the Prindle was solo and forgot to throw the righting line over the top hull, and spent himself futilely pulling himself toward the Dolphin striker until the mast sank. I threw two friends overboard to help him.

I have been sealing every rivet and seam with silicone. The 3M 5200 would work incredibly well, but we don't need the adhesive. For bedding, I have moved to butyl rubber which seems to last indefinitely, while the 5200 seems to eventually crack.

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Tom
NACRA 5.7 (1984 Sail 181)
Pennsylvania
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I personally think mast floats look ridiculous but if they keep the boat from turtling and give you peace of mind that's what's most important. I have heard of stuffing the mast with a water "noodle" which would certainly give it flotation but I still think the best way to go is keeping the mast sealed and refining your righting techniques. Make sure your crew understands to get onto the down hull as soon as possible while you make sure the sheets are uncleated. With the righting line tied around the mast step you should be able to throw it over the up hull while standing on the down hull and leaning with your back out towards the sail. Two people should be able to right a Prindle 16 quick and easy. If you single hand a lot you may want to consider a different method. Just don't capsize! It should be reflex to head the boat up and/or uncleat the main. Always have your mainsheet in your hand with just enough tension on it so you can uncleat in a split second, it gets tiresome sailing with it uncleated.

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Bill Townsend
G-Cat 5.7
Sarasota
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rch701I think the first question to ask is "has anyone turtled a cat?" I have never witnessed it and have capsized countless times. If you get on that lower hull and lean a little the mast will stay afloat. If it leaks you may never get it up. A buoy will not fix that. Dunk the mast in a pool and locate leak(s). Its only the hounds, diamonds, and head that require sealing. Everything at the base will allow water to exit if it does get in.


In a big blow, a cat can go turtle quickly due to wind force on the bottom of the tramp, regardless of sealed mast, good technique, etc. In big air I've had my 16 turtle quicker than I could unhook trapeze and/or check to make sure crew wasn't trapped/drowning (first things first).

Don't know about the P16, but at least some of the Hobie masts have foam plugs near the top and bottom. If they aren't properly sealed (along with tang, etc.), water/mud can easily get trapped inside. If the bottom plug holds but the top leaks, gahamby's leak detection method would not work, and the mast would not drain on it's own when righted. I mention this just to point out that, as with many issues, what works for one person/boat is rarely a universal truth.

OP: It's been discussed from time to time, but I don't know of anyone who's used a auto-inflating mast float. Is your Hobie Bob a Baby or Mama? The smaller Baby Bob is sufficient for the P16. We use one on my daughter's H14......works great. There's something about the H14 (hull volume, platform geometry, or such) that makes it turtle easier than a lot of other boats. That's bad juju on our local shallowish, muck-bottomed reservoir.

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Jerome Vaughan
Hobie 16
Clinton, Mississippi
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Quote If the bottom plug holds but the top leaks, gahamby's leak detection method would not work, and the mast would not drain on it's own when righted. I mention this just to point out that, as with many issues, what works for one person/boat is rarely a universal truth.

Well you can't have a bottom plug in the mast and use the method I described. You would have to fill the mast from the head down to check the base. The idea is to have the entire mast sealed. If you go turtle, a hole in the base is going to admit water into the mast. If you have the Hobie foam plugs at the top and bottom of your mast how could it drain?



Edited by gahamby on Feb 14, 2021 - 03:47 PM.

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'82 Super Cat 15
Hull #315
Virginia
Previously owned: '70 H14, '79 H16, '68 Sailmaster 26, '85 H14T
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QuoteI have been sealing every rivet and seam with silicone. The 3M 5200 would work incredibly well, but we don't need the adhesive. For bedding, I have moved to butyl rubber which seems to last indefinitely, while the 5200 seems to eventually crack.


I like the adhesive property of 5200 as an enhancement to the fasteners. As the base and headlock on my mast fit into the extrusion, I am not confident that I would get a proper seal with butyl rubber tape as opposed to semi liquid caulking.

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'82 Super Cat 15
Hull #315
Virginia
Previously owned: '70 H14, '79 H16, '68 Sailmaster 26, '85 H14T
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QuoteIf you have the Hobie foam plugs at the top and bottom of your mast how could it drain?


It won't....that was my point in reply to rch701's statement that everything at the base will allow water to exit if it does get in. Likewise, trying to fill the mast from the top or bottom wouldn't necessarily reveal a leak at, say, the mast tang if the mast has plugs top and bottom.

The OP's P16 may have no such plugs....I don't know. Just wanted him (and other's who may read all this) to consider that some of the leak detection and mast sealing techniques discussed in this thread may or may not get the job done on their particular boat.

Wasn't trying to start anything. I believe we all intend to be helpful here, and I very much appreciate that. However, we (I know I'm guilty) tend to write things that read as if they apply across the board when in reality they may only apply to our zone of experience and/or particular boat.

Peace,

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Jerome Vaughan
Hobie 16
Clinton, Mississippi
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I own a Nacra 5.2 bought it with a fender for a mast bob looks like crap works great I looked up stuff for sale on this website and got a hobie baby bob put it on it looks pretty good and works great
Quote
In a big blow, a cat can go turtle quickly due to wind force on the bottom of the tramp, regardless of sealed mast, good technique, etc. In big air I've had my 16 turtle quicker than I could unhook trapeze and/or check to make sure crew wasn't trapped/drowning (first things first).

+5
I’ve turtled the N5.7 , N5.0 & my H18. As Dog says, when you go over in a big wind, the force in the tramp drives the mast under before the Cat can ever begin to swing into the wind. With the H18,(Magnum, with wings), as the boat goes over, the wings dig in, creating a pivot point, & help it turtle.
The good thing is with a strong wind, it’s generally easy to get the line around one hull, & pull it back on its side. The Nacra skeg hulls are a bit tricky, as no ones shins are tough enough to move out to the bow on those skeg bottoms. I start on the front cross beam, & either “bum bump” to the bow, or, standing on the hull bottom, lean back a bit, (with support of the righting line), then walk carefully to the bow.
Once, I moved back to Center as the boat came from turtle to its side, kept hiking, & it came up from turtle in one smooth motion.

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Hobie 18 Magnum
Dart 15
Mystere 6.0XL Sold Was a handful solo
Nacra 5.7
Nacra 5.0
Bombardier Invitation (Now officially DEAD)
Various other Dock cluttering WaterCrap
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QuoteI have heard of stuffing the mast with a water "noodle" which would certainly give it flotation but I still think the best way to go is keeping the mast sealed and refining your righting techniques.

foam will eventually get water logged from condensation - and be a pita to ever get out

QuoteI like the adhesive property of 5200 as an enhancement to the fasteners. As the base and headlock on my mast fit into the extrusion, I am not confident that I would get a proper seal with butyl rubber tape as opposed to semi liquid caulking.

what happens if you ever need to service the base and or headlock (whatever that is)?
5200 is for "forever" - not parts that may need service later
2 things from my history both Hobie and Farrier

1. My 1st cat was this solid AMF cat (i.e. solid across middle, no tramp) and at the top of the sail was built in flotation to prevent turtling. I kindof worked but the boat did turtle once but then again it was easier to bring back to horizontal due to the flotation at the top of the mast.

2. Hobie or Murrays used to sell this flotation foam that would be affixed to the front leading edge of the mast and I used this on my H16 simply because I solo sail 100% of the time. Again, the boat did turtle once or twice but that flotation again helped in getting it back to horizontal.

Corsair/Farrier sailors discuss mast head inflatables every few years but no viable solutions ever present themselves.

Returning to #1 above we have seen the introduction of inflatable battens in our sails. Combining this introduction with the above mentioned top sail flotation approach could... maybe have some promise?????

This summer I am hopefully moving lakes and the target lake is much shallower. I have a "Bob" and never wanted to use it but I also turn 60 and nobody wants to see a 60 y/o standing on a turtled boat with the mast stuck in the mud - :)

James