Shortening a mast

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by doug572008, Jun 19, 2016.

  1. doug572008
    Joined: Jun 2016
    Posts: 1
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Chesapeake Bay

    doug572008 New Member


    Currently sail a 40ft Jeanneau (fractional club)on the Chesapeake
    Have sailed offshore a few times
    Retiring and moving to Fl Panhandle
    Wife and I sail often and want to be able to get under 50ft bridges in the area as well as occasional trips to Keys and Bahamas
    Want to purchase newer (2005 ff) boat in the 34-35 ft size.
    Probably will go with "production boat"
    Will be our long term retirement boat so I am not really concerned about resale impact.
    Plan to purchase in the next 6-12 months.

    Most of the boats we like have mast heights around 50-53 feet.
    I have read extensively and talked to people at the sailboat show in Annapolis and still don't have a good "feel" for the option of shortening the mast anywhere from 2ft (minimum) to 4ft (maximum).

    Is this doable from a practical standpoint?
    Impact on performance (can I reduce the sail area at the top to reduce loss)? We are cruisers - not racers
    Guesstimate of costs (both initial and long term if any)
    Anyone with real world experience with doing this (greatly appreciate this) especially if in the Fl Panhandle area.

    Thanks for taking your time. I hope I have given sufficient information for your reply.
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 496, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum.

    If you shorten the mast significantly, the panel layouts for the rig also need to be redesigned, so loading is addressed. This means if you just cut the top off the mast and reinstall the masthead crane, the uppers and caps now have a short upper panel and unfair panel loading.

    Costs can be all over the place, depending on an equal amount of variables, like how much sweat equity are you going to put in, the yard or shop rate, materials, parts, etc.

    I'd recommend you find a boat with a rig height you can live with, rather than doing major surgery to an existing rig. A 40' sloop will push the 50' free height need, but a 35' yacht will have many that fit below this requirement. You can also consider a ketch, which is a far better rig for a cruiser, than a sloop IMO.
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