Friday, April 13, 2012

Stick in the Mud...

Shortly after we hauled out our boat, we decided that the mast needed to come down so that we could finally get to replacing our chainplates and standing rigging.  As you've read from previous posts, we are a case study for crevice corrosion.  After removing and inspecting all of our chainplates, we have discovered that we have cracks in all of them.  YES....all of them.  We decided to ship them all in one shot up to Dutchess Metal in NY to have them re-fabricated out of 316 stainless steel so as to avoid any future dismasting. We have read one too many articles and books about failure in rigging and chainplates being the root cause of a fallen stick and this is a fear that intimidates the hell out of the both of us, so the decision to replace these was not a hard one.  It is also recommended that all standing rigging should be replaced every 10-15 years, and as far as we know, ours is original to the boat so another thing to add to our ever growing shopping list.

Using a piece of wood as leverage for removing the chainplates

Prepping the mast for unstepping was a relatively straight-forward ordeal that involved meticulously labeling and taping off where the turnbuckles were tuned prior to loosening them.  This way, when the new rigger makes the new stay, they can see where it was tuned to and can make the proper adjustments.  After taping them off, prepping the mast involved labeling the wires that go the electronics on the mast and making sure that it was all disconnected from the base.  The intricate part of this involved snaking our radar wire through the boat and into the base of the compression post.  We were initially a little concerned about having to cut and re-splice this wire to a busbar, but luckily after a day of acrobatics throughout the boat, I was able to successfully get the wire out without having to cut it.  A real achievement as far as I'm concerned!

Marking where they are turned to prior to loosening 

We then loosened all the turnbuckles to make sure that they weren't seized up when the crane came. With a little help from PB Blast, a lubricant similar to WD-40 but far stronger, any seized turnbuckles were loosened with slight force.  I then removed the cotter pins that held the clevis pins that connected to the chainplates so that it was a matter of just popping them out with a ball peen hammer.  When the crane arrived the next morning, it was matter of being pulled up the mast and securing a strap above the center of gravity so when the mast hangs from the crane, the majority of the weight stays to the bottom, allowing the mast to stay fairly upright.  Luckily for us, we had a friend on another boat at the marina stepping his mast an hour before ours so we were able to help each other out thus avoiding having to pay a premium fee to the boatyard workers for the same help.  With the help of 3 friends at the yard, we were able to get the mast off safely without any injuries, though when it finally popped loose from the step, it jumped about 2 ft into the air with a loud bang, keeping us on our toes and nearly ruining my underwear.

Unnerving moment

Our mast is now on stands, stripped of all her hardware and halyards, and is sitting patiently as we prepare her for a makeover.  We are looking to repaint it as there are some areas where the paint has flaked off.  We are also sending out the rigging and replacing the tangs as soon as the engine is back in the boat so we'll keep you posted as to how all of that goes.

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