I have searched and read numerous threads on mast stepping, but have not found the definitive answer I've been looking for. The answers such as " it works for me", or "I'm 71 and can do it solo" just dont cut it.
I am setting up a winch to raise my Nacra 460 mast; the goal is to be able to raise & lower it solo. Like many cats the mast needs to be rotated 90 degrees to raise/lower. I have figured out how to stop the swing by attaching the trap wires to the front beam, however I have not figured out how to keep the mast at 90 degrees while raising and lowering it. Sadly, I have found that the mast post is bent from me or the previous owner stepping the mast incorrectly.
At this point I dont want to go the gin pole route or the Hobie mast stepper.
I thought of adding a pad eye, above the hounds, to the side of the mast and leaving a rope permanently attached to it figuring if I pull from the side of the mast it wont rotate when raising or lowering.
What is the most common/easiest way to overcome the mast rotation while using a winch and raising the mast solo? Note: the mast does not have rotation control arm.
Well, I'd take the opposite approach as follows: First pin the shrouds at their loosest setting, so it doesn't take any rig tension at all to pin the headstay. Second, put a temporary pulley somewhere forward and centered, maybe to the jib bridle, maybe to the trailer tongue if it's on a trailer. Third, tie a line to the jib halyard to extend it, run it through said pulley, and back to you at the mast. Raise the mast by hand, lean against it with your shoulder as you take the slack out of the temporary line and tie the line off. I don't know our boat setup, maybe there is a cam cleat facing forward you can use rather than tying a knot. In my Inter 20 the spin halyard clutch works. Pin headstay, then tighten shrouds and pin them. No winches or other stuff involved. Anything you can do to temporarily make the stern higher than the bow makes this easier.
I know you don't want to go there but I step the masts of all my boats (2 of my own and 2 friends) using the Hobie Mast stepper 3 gin pole setup. It takes a bit of work the first time and it isn't as quick as just heave ho but compared to the danger and strain of hoisting it yourself its absolutely painless. With some carabiners for quick connections I can step a mast in under 15 minutes. Not having to worry about dropping a mast on myself and others is priceless.
1981 Nacra 5.2 "Lucile"
1986 Nacra 5.7 "Belle"
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
I just received a gin pole setup from aquarius for my Supercat 19x (33 ft mast). It took awhile to fanaggle the rigging of it, trap wires and such. That all should be set now. I can raise the mast with one hand and using the mainsheet and blocks i can cleat and easily pin the forestay. I honestly dont know why i heaved up the mast on my other catamaran.
Thanks for the replies.
I can raise the mast with the winch and a second person who assists in the first few feet of raising the mast and prevents the mast from rotating. I need to be able to hold my mast in the rotated position so I can raise/lower it solo.
I have not ruled out the Gin Pole. I think I can over come the need for one by extending the height of my winch pulley. I've got a few ideas and will work on that this week. It should be far more cost effective.
I have a Hobie Wave and it's a snap to raise the 20' mast and cleat it off with the halyard while I pin the front stay. This Nacra mast is a beast compared to the Wave's and it's small compared to a 33' mast...
I'll get it worked out soon enough. I'd just like to get it right without a lot of experimenting.
A mast rotator might work. On a boomless boat it should point forward, therefore no risk of damaging the tramp. I would try with somebody on the tramp the first time though, not sure if it would work smoothly. I never use mine for sailing but it's quite nice to prevent mast rotation on a buoy or on the trailer if you move it around with the mast up.
Here's a few things to keep in mind. For spreader rigs...the Supercat mast goes straight up so it's much easier than a Nacra since you can rest it on the beam if needed. For Nacras, H20s, or any spreader rig that goes up rotated you can't really lay it down unless you have a rear support that is fairly tall.
Now I think the 450/460 does not have spreaders. Going up is the easy part. The mast will more or less "unrotate" itself as it goes up. Going down you MUST keep it rotated or you will bend the DS rod.
When I had a 4.5 I used a gin pole. To keep the mast rotated I added a clam cleat to the gin pole. I had a line going from the mast slot to the clam cleat keeping it rotated 90 degrees. Very simple solution I learned after bending my first DS rod.
Side note-- I think you will see lots of Nacras with a bent DS rod.
Collierville (Memphis), TN
Supercat 15--sold :(
Vanguard 15--traded for...
Hobie 14–sold to make room for...
I've got my mast stepping pretty well dialed in. I made a mast support for the rear of the trailer and that aids me in the stepping by starting the mast higher than the tramp. I slide the mast back on the rear support until I can get the base pinned. A rope from the hounds goes to my winch rope that is on the front trailer mast support. The trap wires attach to the front beam for lateral swing. I then crank the winch and up goes the mast, attach the bridal and I'm done. Takes 5 min or less. I usually get rigging hung up someplace during stepping, once I get that sorted into a process I'll be set. The mast auto rotates out of the initial 90 position. No spreaders to worry about.
To lower the mast I reverse the stepping process, but I have to rotate the mast 90, so I attach a rope (the bow line) to a pad eye on the bottom of the mast and pull, turning the mast 90, while lowering. It takes both of my hands to lower it.
I have video of lowering, but no video of raising the mast. I'll see if I can post it to YouTube and film the raising process.
Edited by tradisrad on Sep 03, 2017 - 01:04 PM.
The mast support is made of two aluminum extrusions. The upper part is, obviously, removable and slips into the lower section and is pinned in place. The lower section is bolted to the trailer.
Overall it's 52" from the rear beam of the trailer to the bow stop the mast rests on. From the rear cross bar to the mast is about 30".
I now need to find a place to store the mast support on the trailer while the boat is on the water. Currently I stick it in the car and I fear that I will eventually damage the interior. I may get another section of extrusion and bolt that to the trailer tongue or frame and slip the support into that... I still need to think about it.
The video of the mast being lowered. Sorry, no editing or music. It will waste another minute of your life......
Edited by tradisrad on Sep 03, 2017 - 02:27 PM.