Dismasted out in the ocean today

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Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby zeroready » Sat Nov 14, 2020 4:56 pm

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We were about 3 miles off shore. Beautiful day. I had the whole crew on board, my wife and two kids (7 and 4). We were on a close reach, the wind at about 12-15 mph. The port shroud snapped clean right at the turnbuckle. The crew performed admirably, I'm not even sure the kids realized what was going on. My wife is an officer in the Coast Guard, she's a natural leader and very calm under stress. So the whole thing went about as smoothly as it could have. As soon as the mast fell we pulled in the main, detached the boom from the mast, and while I rolled the sail around the boom she took the jib off the stay it and we threw the boom and jib into the cuddy. I removed the tiller, put my big PVC pipe mast crutch on the transom, and together we were able to haul the mast up out of the water pretty easily using the rigging and get it secured in the crutch and the bottom tied to the bow cleats. Luckily the motor started right up (never know with a 40 year old Mercury, but I trust that thing with my life now) and we made the long ride of shame back to the dock. So if you've never dismasted before, don't stress it's not as bad as you'd think it would be.

I have no idea how old the standing rigging was, or why it snapped like that. Now my mast is broken though and I don't know what to do. It was a two piece mast with a tabernacle. The tabernacle and upper part of the mast is fine, but the screws ripped right out of the lower part of the mast. Do I have to order a whole new mast? Can I just get the bottom part? If I get a new mast will I have to cut it and install the tabernacle myself? Should I even worry about the tabernacle or just keep it as one piece? It's a trailer sailer, so I have to step the mast by myself at the dock every time I take it out, I've gotten really good at doing it by myself with the tabernacle. Would I be able to step a solid mast by myself if I don't want to use a tabernacle going forward?
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby Alan » Sat Nov 14, 2020 6:53 pm

Wow. Congratulations on the safe recovery.

From the photo, your mast looks like a Dwyer DM-284, which was common on the DSII. Dwyer sells lengths of mast tubing by the foot, so you can replace just the damaged piece. I did that a few years back when it dawned on me that the boom was hitting me in the head because my mast was shorter than specifications.

I'd talk to their customer service people to confirm which mast you have, but the curved inside portion of the sail slot that shows in the photo tells me it's likely you have a DM-284. Here's the link:

https://www.dwyermast.com/families.asp? ... Name=Masts
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby GreenLake » Sat Nov 14, 2020 7:21 pm

Wow I'm envious. I don't rate Coast Guard officers in my crew!

Glad you survived this one without damage to yourselves and with your kis experiencing two capable parents in control.

The kind of damage to your shroud is super typical for sailboats of any age. Stainless steel is given to crevice corrosion, especially in the presence of salt. Common locations are just as in your case, the top of the turnbuckle, where saltwater can pool and keep out oxygen (the latter helps the stainless steel remain stainless).

It's worth repeating this as a warning to others: go and replace your standing rigging, definitely after a decade or so if used heavily and on the ocean. In the meantime, inspect, and look for any signs, like slight staining or cracks (in chainplates/turnbuckles).

You can get replacement standing rigging for the DaySailer from DR Marine. Feel free to mail or call them if you can't figure out what to order.

Now for the damage to your mast. It's actually not as bad as it seems. (You might find that suprising).

The bottom part of your mast isn't really acting as a mast - it's simply a compression post. You could replace it by a 2x4 and as long as the tabernacle is attached to the top, the top part of the mast wouldn't be any wiser.

So, you have a number of options.
  1. You could saw off the top 1" or so off the top of the damaged lower part, drill new holes and reattach the tabernacle. That would leave your mast short by 1" and you'd need to get shorter stays. And the boom would be lower as well, reducing the space for a vang.
  2. Same as previous, but you'd add a "shim" to raise the bottom of the lower part by the same amount you cut off at the top. Any type of corrosion/rot proof but incompressible material will do. The challenge may be in the details of how to connect the mast to the shim and the shim to the mast step.
  3. If this a Dwyer mast you can supposedly order mast extrusion by the foot. You could rebuild your lower part that way (you may have to transfer any bottom cap to the new extrusion. That's more expensive than adding a shim, but there's less to figure out. @Alan just gave you the link.
  4. Get an entirely new mast. Yes, it's an option but, why? I can see it, if you wanted to use the occasion to switch to a single piece mast, but then the reason would be that, and not the need for the repair.

I hope this short list gives you something to mull over. I wish you good luck with a speedy repair and with getting back on the horse and out on the water again, soon. (Including your wife and kids, and for a good time, next time).

This kind of thing does happen, to the best of us. Happened to some of my most experienced friends when they borrowed someone else's boat. That must have been an embarrassing conversation with the owner; but they are all still the best of friends. I have a single piece mast and managed to bend it by attaching the shroud incorrectly to the chain plate and not spotting that. It bent the clevis pin allowing the shroud to come apart. In that case, we were able to reconnect the shroud, pulling against the bend, and sail home. (I always have a spare clevis pin on my key chain).

So, you are in good company. Let us know which option you've decided on and how it's progressing.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby zeroready » Sat Nov 14, 2020 8:56 pm

Alan wrote:Wow. Congratulations on the safe recovery.

From the photo, your mast looks like a Dwyer DM-284, which was common on the DSII. Dwyer sells lengths of mast tubing by the foot, so you can replace just the damaged piece. I did that a few years back when it dawned on me that the boom was hitting me in the head because my mast was shorter than specifications.

I'd talk to their customer service people to confirm which mast you have, but the curved inside portion of the sail slot that shows in the photo tells me it's likely you have a DM-284. Here's the link:

https://www.dwyermast.com/families.asp? ... Name=Masts


Great thanks Alan. I'm going to try to cut off the damaged part and reattach the tabernacle first, if that doesn't work for some reason then I'll order a new lower mast mast piece.
Last edited by zeroready on Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby GreenLake » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:15 pm

If you can shim the bottom, you'll avoid all sorts of small headaches which a shorter mast would entail. (In my listing, I forgot the option where you move the attachments for all the stays up one inch; that at least allows you to use the same length forestay, but still, your boom would be lower).
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby zeroready » Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:22 pm

Thanks so much GreenLake, as always. I talked to my dad about it and I think we're all on the same page, I'll just cut off the damaged part and reattach the tabernacle. I hadn't thought of that when I posted earlier until I spoke to my dad. So I'll give that a go and see what happens. I'm going to replace all the standing rigging, and the tabernacle as well. It looks really old, and showing signs of wear.

One thing I am curious about is the attachment of the tabernacle to the lower mast piece. You can see the bolt holes through the mast in my picture where mine was ripped out. Is that really all that is supposed to hold the tabernacle in place and keep the mast together? I mean there was just those two little bolts going through aluminum and nuts and that was it. In terms of the structure of the boat, are the shrouds and forestay really doing all the work, and those little bolts are just there to keep it all in place while I'm rigging it up? This new tabernacle https://www.drmarine.com/proddetail.asp?prod=DS208 has those two beefy looking bolts that mine didn't have.

Image Here is the lower part of mine. You can see the bolts on the side that were holding it to the mast. Is that how it's supposed to be?
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby GreenLake » Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:25 pm

Your guess is correct: the tabernacle's function is primarily to allow the hinging of the mast while raising it. Once the mast is up, the tension in the rig will prevent the mast from lifting up (or the tabernacle fittings from pulling out of the mast profiles). Very little is needed to ensure that everything stays aligned.

The two bolts you see in the other design do not connect top and bottom, they just connect the plate for each piece to the casting. Yours doesn't have a casting, only some SS tabs that appear welded to the plate. In your photo, I don't see any of those "signs of wear" that you seem worried about. So, unless there's something visible only by looking at the actual part, I'm not sure I'd see the need for a replacement. If you see signs of weld failure or cracks, that would concern me, but, absent those, or something like a hole that's been worn out of shape by a pin or something like that, I would think you are better off with using the same part that you have in the repair rather than a similar part (only to discover that it requires additional work to make it fit - like yours is already drilled to accept the U bail for a vang, it looks like).
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby zeroready » Sat Nov 14, 2020 11:12 pm

It's the clevis pin holes in mine that are a concern, they are not quite circular, it looks like they are stretched a bit on the tops. My wife inspects boats a lot for work, she's pretty picky about these things, so it was her suggestion to get a new one.
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby GreenLake » Sun Nov 15, 2020 12:17 am

It's your call, but my understanding is that they are loaded that direction on raising the mast, not underway. (Note, while I do own a boat with a deck-stepped mast, it's one that has a mast-step directly on the deck, not a tabernacle. However, best I recall, not having sailed that boat for a bit, is that the mast just slots into a bit of an opening, with no pins etc. to hold it in - just the tension from the rig).

There's also this: as long as your wife is happy with whatever parts you end up using or replacing, you'll be happy.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby Shagbark » Sun Nov 15, 2020 6:09 pm

I've been sailing my DSII with a tabernacle that is not even secured by any hardware to the lower portion of the mast. I just have it pushed down in the mast section and it holds fine. After several years, I have not had any problems with this system. I use to have a system where the tabernacle was held by screws but when the raising of the mast goes even slighlty off-kilter, it damages the aluminum. By not having any hardward holding the tabernacle in, it is free to pop out when raising, eliminating damaging the aluminum.
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby Leob1 » Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:23 am

This also happened to me this season(thanks 2020), except it happened because the turn buckle backed out and came apart. Luckily it happened at the dock. The lower part of my mast ripped just like yours, but my tabernacle got all bent out of shape and had to be replaced.
What I did was to cut off the damaged part of the lower mast section by 1 inch, then I added a 1 inch shim on the cuddy floor, with the mast step on top of that. I used a square piece of epoxy coated PT pine. As it was, I had to fix the cuddy floor and compression post before this happened, so there was a nice strong reinforced place to screw the shim to.
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby zeroready » Sat Nov 21, 2020 6:15 pm

Alright thanks everyone for the help and advice. I got all new standing rigging and new tabernacle from DR Marine. Rudy is a lifesaver! He even called me after I ordered to double check that everything was going to match my boat, and recommended that I upgrade the chainplates to the newer, more heavy duty version. I just had to drill out the screw holes in the bottom brackets to accept the bigger screws.

I cut off the upper part of the mast step where the tabernacle tore through. To shim the bottom up I cut a piece of white oak, shellacked the hell out of it, and put it under the mast step. Just finished replacing all the steel cables and tabernacle today and she's ready to sail tomorrow, wind permitting. I'm really happy I didn't need to replace the whole mast, so is my wife lol. So all in all not too bad of a repair job. I feel much better knowing that the shrouds and forestay are new, beefier cables now. And the new turnbuckles are really nice.

Also my dad got me the tiller clutch from wavefront marine for my birthday, I just got that installed as well. It seems to work great in my backyard on the trailer. Between that and the screw I found on my outboard that tightens the steering down, raising the sails singlehanded should be a lot easier now. Before it was a real pain having to run up front, hoist a bit, run back and straighten the motor and tiller, hoist some more etc.

Weather is looking perfect tomorrow. I can't wait to get back out there.
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Re: Dismasted out in the ocean today

Postby GreenLake » Sat Nov 21, 2020 7:08 pm

Congrats. Hope next outing delivers for you!
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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