Lowering the Mast

Regarding the DS3 only. Note that the DS3 is not a class-legal Day Sailer.

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Lowering the Mast

Postby bklein » Fri Sep 29, 2023 7:53 am

Hi All,

Soon to be new DS 3 owner here (and first time boat owner)! Hopefully going to pick her up next week, but as part of that process the previous owner indicated that he had never himself lowered the mast-- seems I'll be figuring out how to do that one on the fly.

Been poking around here for some guidance on how to do that, but unfortunately haven't been able to come up with anything my relative inexperience is able to make effective use of. If anyone has any guidance (or can point me to where other such instructions have been given), including any tools I would need, for what the process of derigging and lowering the mast on a 1990 DS 3 looks like, that would be much appreciated!

I'm including three pictures (2 within the cuddy, one up top) to help identify the sort of mast it is-- unsure whether it has a hinged mast or a tabernacle.

IMG_9081.jpg (35.6 KiB) Viewed 70663 times
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IMG_9079.jpg (45.05 KiB) Viewed 70663 times
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Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2023 7:42 am

Re: Lowering the Mast

Postby tomodda » Fri Sep 29, 2023 2:41 pm

Hello and welcome to the forum and to Sailing!

Careful, it can get addictive :)

As to lowering the mast, I hope I can help but I come from a DS1. Same thing, just a bit different and I'll be sure to write this in DS3 terms....

First, important to know, the mast weighs all of 40 pounds. If you can lift a medium-sized dog, you can lift the mast. The only problem is that it's 22 feet long, so a lot of moment arm (lever action!) if you pick it up wrong or if you let it start swinging while not in control. So the trick to lower it while maintaining control at all times. You have a tabernacle, which is the same thing as a hinged mast. It hinges at the cuddy top (aka on top of the roof), that double plate is the tabernacle itself. The tabernacle is just two plates attached to each other by two rods (fore and aft) which are themselves secured with wire pins - from the photo, I think you have cotter pins. There's many ways to do this, but here's what I would do:

1) Take the mainsail and the boom off the mast. Get your boat up on it's trailer. The procedure below CAN be done on the water, but is much, much easier on land. You will also need some sort of mast support at the rear (transom) of the boat. If you have a mast crutch, then set it up. If not.. well, I've used a big pile of boat cushions, but the DS1 has a transom deck, DS3 does not. You may have to get a helper to stand back there. Which means you'd better have the trailer firmly attached to your car/truck or the boat will tip over backwards. Anyway, you need something to support the mast once down. See step 6.

2) Start with the FOREWARD rod, you need to remove one cotter pin, can be either side. Easiest way to remove is with needle-nose pliers, but you can do it with a thin screwdriver as well. Insert in the little loop at the top, a cotter pin is a lot like a woman's "Bobby Pin", from the good all days before perms :). A small tip - if the rod wont come out of the tabernacle, give it a bang with a rubber mallet, works wonders. Also, try pushing forward on the mast itself (use your shoulder) to give you some slack on the front side of the tabernacle. It can be fiddly, but it's just two plates... Once you remove the forward rod, the mast is free to hinge backwards (around the AFT rod), but can't because of the stays, you are still in control. The whole thing operates much like the hinges in a door.

3) You need to undo the forestay from the stemhead (fitting at the bow, where it's attached) in order to hinge the mast back and lower it. So, how do you do that without the mast falling? Use the jib halyard! Simply take the halyard and attach it to the stemhead (it should have more than one hole, same as you'd attach it to the sail. Now pull down on the jib halyard till you get some slack in the forestay, then tie off the jib halyard. As soon as the halyard is tied off, you can unclip the forestay at your leisure, the halyard will hold up your mast. Go ahead and unclip it.. should have another rod, cotter pins, or something like that to attach the stay to the stemhead, figure it out. Remember, the halyard is holding your mast, so you can futz around with the forestay all you want till you get it right.

4) Once the forestay is off the stemhead, I usually attach it temporarily to a side stay, just to keep things neat. Doesn't matter how you do it - I clip it on, but you can use a bit of spare rope to tie it on, or electrician's tape, or whatever works. Just make sure not to tangle the forestay and the jib halyard. You can avoid a tangle by attaching the forestay to the sidestay that is opposite from where the jib halyard ties off on your mast. So, on my boat, jib halyard cleat is on the right (starboard), I clip the forestay to the left sidestay (port). Keep things neat.

5) Go stand in the cockpit, right behind the mast, right at the opening to the cuddy, same place you'd stand to raise the jib. Push the mast forward with one hand and uncleat the jib with the other hand (which hands depends on which side your jib halyard cleat sits). Now slowly let out the jib halyard with one hand as you guide the mast to your shoulder with the other hand. Once it's on your shoulder, you have full support again and can let go of the jib halyard.

6) From the shoulder position, you need to guide the mast down to the mast crutch / helper / mast support that you are using (Step 1). I do that by simply stepping aside and moving the mast onto my bicep, then forearm, then down (it's only 40 lbs, and you're not carrying all of it at this point). You can also just walk the mast down (easiest if you turn around, but you can walk backwards if you are comfortable. Only problem with walking the mast down is that you'll have to maneuver around the spreaders. Is why I prefer to just step aside and manhandle it down with my arm.

7) Once the mast is on it's rear support / Mast crutch, you need to undo the aft rod on the tabernacle. You do this the same way as the foreward rod -remove the cotter pin, push on the rod. And you can bang on it with the mallet or move the heel of the mast a bit, as needed. The only issue is that the mast may tip backwards (pivoting on the mast crutch) once you remove the rod. Personally, I just keep it under control with my free hand, but if you are nervous, then tie the butt end of the mast down somehow till you get everything in order.

8) Now I move myself towards the midpoint of the mast, lift it up (underhanded, you don't need to lift much) and maneuver it forward onto the mast support on the trailer. The mast should end up with the heel up on the trailer support, and the top end of the mast resting on your crutch. Your mileage may vary, depending on how your trailer is set up.

That's it! No reason to remove the side stays at all, I usually tie some spare line around them to keep them from flopping around. If you do want to take the mast completely off the boat, then do remove the side stays, secure all the loose stays and halyards, and ALWAYS lift from the middle. Think of a high-wire artist with his pole, how he holds it low with his hands on either side of his hips. That's how you want to hold the mast as you move it around. Don't move to fast, and mind the lever-arm. I know I put in a lot of steps and verbiage, but I wanted to cover every situation. In practice, it takes me about 5 minutes to lower the mast. Raising it is same thing in reverse, use the jib halyard!

Let me know if any questions,

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