Mast and boom: Matching set for emergency dismasting

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by JosephT, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    A properly designed and maintained rig should handle a capsize. I have rolled over once and knocked down several times without losing a mast. I do sail hard.
  2. JosephT
    Joined: Jun 2009
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    JosephT Senior Member

    The key word is "should". The vessels in the GGR race were specifically chosen based off of their solid designs & long history. They're not the fastest, but they're solid. There are so many additional variables in very stormy (more like psychotic) sailing conditions.

    The next GGR race will introduce a steel hulled Joshua class. It's not fast either, but it is a very rugged boat. It looks like a tank all stripped down. Let's hope it fares better in the nasty conditions.The referenced article below offers a pessimistic view though.

    Retro Golden Globe One-Design Racer Gets Lost In Design Time. - Stephens Waring Yacht Design

  3. JosephT
    Joined: Jun 2009
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    JosephT Senior Member

    I found a good reference that provides guidelines for creating an emergency mast. I like it. It leverages a mast stump, boom or spinnaker pole and some extra gear. Three cheers to the author for taking the time to include this info. These steps will help future skippers prepare detailed instructions for their boats. If I were doing a long ocean passage or race no question detailed steps for this would be on my checklist.


    The normal cruiser-racer's mast should outlive its owner-assuming that its owner treats it with reasonable care. There are two common causes of dismasting. One is allowing the mast to bend to far, either sideways or fore and aft. If the mast is not straight, it goes out of column and loses much of its integrity. In rough seas, the mast must be as straight as possible and running backstays should be used to keep it straight. The second and by far most frequent cause of mast failure is a broken fitting-a collapsed spreader, a snapped shroud, or a parted turnbuckle.

    The crew's first response to a dismasting will be shock, but as soon as they recover they must spring to the broken spar and keep it from holing the hull. In rough weather, the mast will be jackknifed over teh leeward rail and every wave will slap the boat down onto it. If possible, drag the mess back on board. Otherwise you'll have to pull or cut the sails off, cut the halyards, pull the cotter and clevis pins out of any remaining turnbuckles, and allow the mast to sink before it holes the boat. In the next chapter we'll show how to rig cotter pins so they can be pulled out quickly in emergencies.

    You may be able to save the sails without their being torn too badly and later use them on a jury-rigged (improvised) mast. You can set a sail either from the top of the mast's stump or from a spinnaker pole or boom stepped as an emergency mast. some sailboats have made long passages under jury rigs.

    Broken stay. Should a shroud, the headstay, or the backstay break but the mast not collapse, immediately cast off all sheets to luff the sails and alter course so the broken stay is to leeward. A halyard might be rigged as a temporary stay, leading it over the end of the spreader if it replaces a shroud. Tighten the halyard as much as possible. Nurse the boat along gently, since the replacement is weaker than the original stay. Some modern-day rope is as strong as wire and can be used for this purpose.

    It's a good idea to carry a spare stay as long as the longest stay in the rigging with a terminal (eye) installed at one end plus a spare, large turnbuckle. Using bulldog clamps, you can fashion another eye or attach this wire to a shorter stay, taking some of the load with halyards."

    Ref: The Annapolis Book of Seamanship: Fourth Edition. By John Rousmaniere

    Keywords: dismast, GGR, Volvo, Vendee Globe, Clipper, Whitbread, BOC Challenge
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