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Time is Fluid (mast re-hab, part 3 of 3)

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At Christian’s recommendation, I called Buzz Ballenger and asked about his “spar seal” product. This is basically a polymer-based sealer that protects the pores in an anodized spar and keeps it looking nice, too. Per his guidance, I lightly scrubbed (the entire spar) with some “bon-ami” on a sponge, wiped it down with a bit of acetone, and then applied the sealer. Overall, I’d say this stuff is …. Good, not great. It goes on with a damp sponge, and has a propensity to show streaks and such; I found (after some experimentation) that if I lightly buffed it with a clean diaper while it was still slightly wet, it smoothed the surface nicely. I put on three THIN coats over the course of a couple of days, and while it doesn’t look quite like the “just Armor-alled” look Buzz described, it does look pretty nice.

If I were to do it over again, I might just decide to have the mast stripped and painted instead – I already had all the fittings off, and I’m told that if I did the prep there's a local shop that would paint it with LP for about a grand, plus the cost of the paint. Maybe next time.

Time to start putting stuff back together. Reinstalled the headstay- and backstay toggles using new clevis pins; reinstalled the halyard guard and halyard restrainer using all new fasteners, bedded with Lanocote and isolated with TefGel or Durolac. Installed a new Windex. Etc.

And then re-ran the halyards. I have to confess to a bit of OCD here, I hope Christian will forgive me… but the boat had a red halyard to port, a green halyard on center and no halyard to starboard. As an ex-foredeck guy… that would have bugged me. Center halyard *has* to be blue, it’s the law. And green means starboard-side spinnaker halyard, whether it is ever used for that or not. So I swapped things around – used (what had been) the main halyard – blue - as the new center halyard, with a captive-pin shackle spliced onto it; and spliced a new snap-shackle onto the green halyard before running it as a new starboard-side spin halyard.

A little bit of a challenge to make sure the new halyard was “fair” inside the mast (let me tell you, even a 1000-lumen flashlight doesn’t let you see very far up inside a 47-foot extrusion). But it’s in, and none of the halyards rub on each other, or wiring, or anything else as far as I can tell. One thing that is super-handy on these spars is Kenyon’s use of “T-lock” terminals at the upper ends of the shrouds – it gives one a bunch of windows through which you can see whether or not halyards are running fair.

Just about done? Yup. At this point, about 80% of the things on my list were done, which apparently means about 80% of the job was left to do. I cleaned, polished, bedded and re-fastened all the fittings. Re-installed spreaders, standing rigging and topping lift. Had a local rigging shop come out to inspect all the swages for cracks or other concerns. Cleaned and serviced the furler (upper and lower bearings). Cleaned and reinstalled the Kenyon sail-track, and then the Tides strong-track.

Disassembled, cleaned and lubed all the turnbuckles, and pre-set the length for re-stepping the rig. I had measured from top-of-swage to center-of-pin for each turnbuckle when I had the rig pulled, so I had an idea of where they needed to be when the rig went back in.

Inside the boat, I cleaned out the mast step, shaped the casting with some epoxy putty to (hopefully) help funnel water out from under the spar, and bedded a coin inside the mast step with a bit of epoxy. Because… tradition.

Installed new spreader-tip boots. “bundled” the standing rigging so that it wouldn’t drag on the ground on the way to the crane. Tied halyards out of the way. Pre-positioned wrenches (taped to the turnbuckles), clevis pins and cotter rings so that they would be handy when the rig went back in. Remembered to put those PVC turnbuckle-sleeves onto the uppers to help jibsheets not snag on the shrouds. Wrapped the exposed coax at the masthead with self-amalgamating tape.

And probably a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting. Or maybe I’m just blocking the memories.

At the end of all that, the rig was all ready to go back in… and pretty much looked exactly the same as when it came out. Not sure what to think of that, except that I now know this rig as well as Christian knew the wires behind the breaker panel when he was done. And that’s a good feeling.

The crane guys at the Port of Everett did a great job of lowering the mast into the boat on the morning of May 3rd. It took about 15 minutes to get it secured in place and out from under the crane, about an hour in a guest-slip to get the masthead centered over the boat and the rest of the spar acceptably in column underneath it. Reassembled the furler drum, reinstalled the boom, ran all the running rigging and led the halyards back through their paths along the deck.

Bent sails on Saturday morning and – finally – had a sailboat again. Went for a lovely sail Saturday afternoon, light breeze and blue skies on Puget Sound, it doesn’t get much better than that.

So… on to the next project. I have yet to get the name applied to the side of the boat, nor have I installed the AIS or swung the compass or polished the sheer stripe.

Hopefully none of those will take four months to do.
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Updated 05-19-2016 at 05:21 PM by bgary

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  1. Christian Williams's Avatar
    Very nice. I am two months behind you on mast issues on my new boat.

    These projects can be like reading a good book. You find yourself slowing down to enjoy it. You have come this far, and you know that extra step would never be done by anybody who hadn't, but since you have the whole thing apart it's-- what the hell. Maybe we sense subconsciously that this sequence in life that won't be repeated, and for the moment there is no judge other than you, and the standard is your own. The need to finish fades, the nature of the work becomes the goal, the imagination is engaged. We grow with the process. We become it.

    Everyone thinks in terms of completion. It's a misunderstanding. The job at hand is the end and the meaning. Most of the time we hurry toward oblivion, as if the goal of life is to reach the end, and be dead.
  2. MarineCityBrian's Avatar
    Agreed on Christian's comment regarding the process being the point of enjoyment. Then the finished product is almost that much sweeter in the end.

    As to the issue with running the halyards 'fair' in the mast, I had luck having the mast on its side, with the spreaders off. While the T-Lock holes are very good to see what's going on within, the holes left by the spreader supports that go through the mast are even better (much larger). I was able to tug on each halyard, and stand staring down one of the spreader holes in order to see if the tug on one halyard affected another in some way; if so, try to see which one and determine which way it might be wrapped around the other. Then unwrap, and repeat the process until a tug on any given halyard or the topping lift does not yield any movement from another. It worked fairly well, and as you mention, "from what I can tell" all of the halyards and topping lift are now running up the mast true and unencumbered. Then of course one must be very careful to have the halyards pass the spreader support on the proper side when re-installing the spreader supports. Also cleaning/polishing the stainless rod used to prevent chafing while I had the spreaders off.

    Love the blog and the write-ups, and just wanted to share a quick tidbit that helped me in an effort to potentially help others. Keep up the great work!