Daniel McNeil, Evadne, #301

I put a system on my Triton several years ago to raise and lower the mast. The basic idea is to attach a hinge to the base of the mast and use the topping lift/main sheet as the block and tackle. It was easier than I thought it would be. I got the idea from a Fred Bingham book.

The system uses the upper shroud as a stay system to prevent the mast from falling over port to starboard. On my boat the shroud has a natural hinge just above the turnbuckle. You want to create same at about the same plane as the hinge is on. This allows the mast to go up and down while being supported side to side. The other shroud(s) are disconnected. I replaced the topping lift with spectra to maintain the light weight aloft but increase the strength many times over. If you don't have a topping lift it is also easy to connect the main halyard to the end of the boom (which becomes the fulcrum of the system).

The other main part is to have lines from the end of the boom to the "hinge" on the bottom part of the upper shroud mentioned above. This prevents the boom from swinging from side to side. It may be easier to draw the system but I hope you have the general idea. I raise and lower the main over the bow. This may seem strange but is actually better on the Triton due to the fact that the mast rests on a part of the cabin that is lower than the main cabin making raising/lowering more problematic over the stern. For the hinge I bought a heavy duty stainless steel hinge from McMaster/Carr that was 6" wide {along the pin} and 2" long by 3/16" thick . I had my welder weld on additional ss material so that the final hinge is 6" wide and 9" long, plenty to cover the mast "footprint". I bolted 1/2 of the hinge to the casting on the bottom of the mast (you may need something to insulate the ss hinge from the aluminum casting) and the other half to the mast step/deck. An alternative to this is the more traditional tabernacle for the pivot point. That would work as well.

I simply lay the mast base on the deck and the masthead on the roof of my pickup truck which is situated on the launch ramp (I launch the boat myself from a custom trailer - you could just as easily lay the masthead on a right angle section of the dock or whatever other solution you come up with). I then line up the hinge parts and drive the pin in place. I hook up the upper shrouds to the chain plates (loosely - we aren't sailing, just raising. No need for tension, just to prevent the mast from falling over) and then the boom at the gooseneck and swing it up into place tying the boom "stays" to the shroud hinge at the turnbuckles (I use 1/4" 3 strand line - it has a bit of stretch, needed to address any differences between the mast hinge and the shroud hinges). I attach the topping lift (or halyard) to the boom and the sheet assembly to the boom. My sheet is attached to the end of the boom, not further forward, but I think the boom can handle the stress of raising the mast even still. You could also attach the halyard or topping lift to the point on the boom where the sheet attaches, as well. I then attach the forestay (or a headsail halyard if you have roller furling) and take up the strain using the cockpit winches. Once the mast is up I attach the backstay and then attach the forestay/roller furling and begin tuning the rig.

I have done this for several years on my boat. The mast is a fairly heavy extrusion and is about 35 feet long and although I have never had it on a scale it must weigh nearly 200 lbs. I attract quite a crowd since the Triton is larger than most sailboats (with a fixed keel) that is launched from a trailer at this marina and most have not seen a 35' mast raised in this manner. I have got the system down so only 2 people are required. With some extra equipment (a dolly for the mast so one can move it around) you could do all (launching/stepping,etc) with just one person.

I am more confident in my own abilities and know, firsthand, the quality of the work of some boatyards and so have become more independent of them in the past years. I also save myself a bundle in yard fees for launching/stepping/unstepping/recovering. Since I live in a more northerly climent I can not leave the boat in all year (more's the pity) and since the boat is stored inside I don't leave the mast up as some do.

If you want more info just let me know. I may be able to make a drawing of the system to clarify points, if necessary. However, if you can find Fred Bingham's book "The Sailor's Sketchbook" (1983, McGraw-Hill, 1-800-922-8158, PO Box 547 Blacklick, OH 43004) it has wonderful drawings and descriptions, Just look on pages 32-36. It works great!

I don't leave my mast connected to the step during transit. The hinge is not strong enought to take those kinds of sideways loads. Currently, I remove the mast and bring it alongside the trailer after I pull the boat out of the water. I set the mast on 2 sawhorses and dismantle the rigging. I then have to slide the mast onto the trailer along side the hull - very tricky since you have to bend over and pick up the mast and slide it along inside the hull supports. NOT FUN. I am looking into removing the mast and then setting it on top the sawhorses on the deck and securing it to the deck that way. Easy enough while the boat is in the water and the dock is at the same level as the deck.

Ray Alsup, Pegasus, #256

When I removed Pegasus's mast for restoration, I replace the fixed mast step with a hinged mast step but have yet to have a reason to use it. However, our previous boat had a 30 foot mast and I raised and lowered it by myself many times. We had just purchased the boat, tailored it home and decided to practice raising the mast in our yard prior to screwing some thing up in a parking lot. We followed the previous owners instructions to the letter and after raising the mast about a foot we let it down and said "never again." we were both extremely nervous and did accomplish nothing. I told Jo that we would not practice anymore until I had a chance to think the entire process through and make a few "sure proof" aids to help us.

Basically, I came up with the same method Daniel described above although I employed the help of a small 12vdc winch (purchased many years ago) that I temporarily attached to the transom with a snatch block. They cost about $75 - $100 and can be found at most auto parts or hardware stores.

To raise the mast, I would slide it into position and insert the hinge pin connecting the mast step plates together (I added a small section of track near the base of the mast that I can attach the boom while using it as a fulcrum for raising/lowering.) I would then connect the upper shrouds and fore stay to their chain plates; attached the boom stays, main halyard (I use 7/16" Spectra) and winch cable to the back of the boom then attach the boom to the lower section of track. Its important to position the deck end of the boom stays at or near the shrouds on the same plain with the mast step. I then let out the winch cable and pull in the halyard until the boom is standing straight up or slightly forward then cleat the halyard. The boom is now secure and supported at 4 points (aft by the winch cable - forward by the main halyard - on both sides by the boom stays.) I would check and recheck all connections then Jo or I would just push the "Cable In" switch (on the winch's remote) and the mast goes up without a problem. I keep an eye on the rigging as the mast is raising and if I notice a potential problem I just stop the winch, go forward and make the necessary corrections. If needed, I would lower the mast back down to make corrections just by pushing the "Cable Out" switch.

I would attach the back stay and forward/aft shrouds then disconnect the boom and move it to its normal location, remove the winch and boom stays and tune the rigging. The entire process took me about 45 minutes to an hour with most time spent in preparation and tuning. Simple but effective and secure.

To Lower the mast I just reversed the process.

A couple of tip's:

> Check and double check that there are no trees or over head power lines between you and the launching ramp. Twice I've seen owners damage their rigs on the way to the ramp.

> Never raise or lower the mast in high cross winds. If high winds are present, point into or down wind.

> Keep a close eye on your rigging during raising process. These winches are small but very powerful and you could damage your rigging if something gets tangled or twisted.

Sorry, no pictures however I tried my hand at computer drawing below to give you an idea of my setup.