Another demasting, mast damage

Thread starter #1
Was just reading Caerus posting about snapping a shroud and suffering deck damage at the mast step. I had a similar event last weekend - my starboard side shroud snapped and of course the mast went over to port. I had recently installed a Hobie mast float so there was no threat of losing the mast totally, and we were able to recover the sail and mainsheet without problem. Also we got a tow to shallow water and I walked it back to the dock.

However, unlike the other stories I have read, I did not suffer any damage to the deck. Both ears of the mast step completely bent over, and the through bolt holding the mast base tore the aluminum mast. Not repairable I think. I've attached a photo.

So, has anyone ever heard of shortening the mast?? Seems like I could simply cut off about 5 inches, re-drill a through hole at the mast base, and reposition the shroud attachment pts. The boom would be 5" lower, but seems like it might be doable. Am I overlooking something? I'm sure a purist would never consider it, but I just sail a few times during the summer. So do I have to buy a new mast?

Like the other stories I read on this forum, my failed shroud had a brownish look at the failure site - rust. Where does one buy replacement parts - shrouds and, if needed, a mast?


Bummer. I think a new mast is about $500-600 from Catalina plus shipping. Order the new shroulds from Catalina or your local Catalina dealer if you have one. For the mast, advertize for one on your local . Somebody might have an old one sitting around that they'll sell cheap (long shot but it does happen). If you just daysail the boat, you could just cut the mast you have the 3-4" that are bad , redrill the hole for the support bolt, get shorter shroulds and tune the traveler lower. A good rigging shop could get the shrould lenght right for the shorter mast. those are some of my Monday morning ideas.:)
Yikes! That looks nasty. I've been thinking about shortening my mast on our C-14 for a couple reasons. I'll never race it (probably) and it's the first sailboat I've owned that didn't require ducking to jibe or come about. A shorter mast would lessen healing forces without significantly affecting sail power. Hmmmm.

That said, you could unbolt the existing step and raise it up on a wooden block, or fashion a new step with elongated vertical sides to make up for whatever mast you trim off to clean bottom. This would leave you with the official mast height and cost a lot less than a new mast.

Sorry if I muddled the issue...;)
I forgot something. Maybe you know this trick. If so, forgive me.

The best way to lay out the cut line for trimming your mast is to wrap the mast with a piece of printer paper (or longer if need be) so the same long edge aligns across where the ends overlap. Slide the paper so the long edge is in position where you want to make the cut and tape it in place so the tape doesn't obscure the cut line. Then wrap several layers of tape around the paper to protect the mast in case you slip with the hack saw. Cut a hair off the paper edge and then file to the paper edge. Assuming the paper edge is straight, the cut will be square.

Hope this helps,
Thread starter #5
Thanks Fan, JGM

Thanks for the feedback. Never thought of elongating the mast step ears - good idea. Thx for the idea on how to cut the mast square.
After reading your posts it also occurred to me that a short aluminum adapter piece could be designed & machined to sleeve into the base of the shortened mast and extend to the proper length. Requires a machine shop, but I can find that. Will mull this over and eventually report out results to the forum.

JOHNINCT: I like your idea of a sleeve, and wonder if putting it on the outside might be better? Probably could fill any void between mast and sleve with an epoxy. RK
Thread starter #7
external sleeve idea

rkrebill - thx. Good idea. The more I listen, the better (and easier) the ideas get. After your post, my thinking now is to work at the top of the mast where the cross section is undamaged. Thinking about using clay to fill in the slot where the sail cord goes, and filling in the thru hole for the pulley thru bolt. Then, with a smooth cross section, spray with mold release, and use it as an internal plug to wrap perhaps .100" thick layer of fiberglass or carbon weave / epoxy resin. After cure, it should slip off easily, and become the blank from which I can make the external sleeve as you suggest. I think then just a through hole to bolt it to the base of the mast, and the through hole to mount it to the mast step, and I should be all set. I don't think the sleeve will see any real bending load, just compression, so its not a demanding application. Sounds easy enough ... we'll see. When I finally get to do this I'll post some photos & report on results.
Thanks for the idea.
johninct said:
Then, with a smooth cross section, spray with mold release, and use it as an internal plug to wrap perhaps .100" thick layer of fiberglass or carbon weave / epoxy resin. After cure, it should slip off easily...
I don't know what kind of resin you'll be using, but my experience has been that resins tend to shrink slightly when they cure. You might find it difficult to remove the sleeve regardless of mold release. If so, you could slice the sleeve along the bolt rope channel and still have a usable wrap if you apply another layer of cloth after removal.

I'm curious though... did your mast have a pot metal plug in the bottom that got ripped off during the accident? Mine came with one which prevents mushrooming of the mast where it sits on the step. If you have the plug, it would really help in absorbing wear at the bottom of the sleeve. If not, I would suggest ordering one from Catalina.

Not wanting to further muddle all you have to consider, I've been thinking that a good replacement for the lost mast height would be to fashion some sort of universal joint to take it's place. This joint would swivel both directions - not only aft to stern but starboard to port, so the next time you break a shroud, the mast would simply lay down without damage.

Just an idea.:)