Mast Repair … or, if I don’t break it, I don’t have to pay to fix it

There we were. A beautiful day. On a mooring buoy in Montague Harbour. A few days into a two week trip through the Gulf Islands. The anchor light won’t light. We like to anchor. We are going to need that light. So …. I decided we needed to tip the mast down to check the bulb. Simple. That’s the way it always begins. Not the way it usually ends. At least for me.

Our mast had a bunch of “stuff” on it. Pretty heavy on the top end. Lowering takes a bit of work. Raising it, takes much more. The hinges are not built for all that weight.

All this "stuff" makes the mast pretty heavy.

A previous owner had installed a couple of those little gas struts people put on doors and hatches at the base of the mast hinge. I think the intent was to make it easier to lower the mast. I don’t know how old they were, but one had apparently seized.

We started slowly lowering the mast. Once the weight got going, the seized strut forced the mast down way off at an angle shearing the hinge and bending the safety railings on the flybridge. Not a good start to our trip. We are going to need the mast upright. You know, for radar and lights and so on.

On with the story … this was Thursday afternoon. We contacted Philbrooks in Sidney by cell phone sitting in the inflatable from the middle of the channel–where we finally found cell service. They would be able to help us Friday morning if we could be there early. We motored over there first thing Friday morning. The folks at Philbrooks were very helpful and fixed the mast enough for us to get it back up and functional. It took them about half the day, but then we were on our way.

Hinge repair. Not pretty, but good enough for us.

This spring, we set about fixing the mast properly. We contacted Grant McDonald at Yacht Services, LLC. Grant pulled the mast off the boat, took care of fixing the hinge, powder coated the mast, filled all the old and empty holes, replaced the lights, and took care of all the other stuff that needed doing. We also removed much of what was up there. We didn’t really need satellite TV or the old Furuno radar. Grant fixed us up good as new.

The repaired hinge and powder coating.

The only thing left to do is put up some new deck lights. You can see the wiring is there and ready to go.

Slimmed down and ready for the next trip.

All this because of the damned anchor light. It always starts small. It usually ends expensive. But, on the bright side, we did clean up the mast, removed the stuff we no longer needed, and generally fix it up for years to come.

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