avoiding mast step problems

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I'm buying a used laser this week, it's in great shape. In my shopping I noticed quite a few boats w/damage to the deck/mast step area. The boat I'm buying does not have this problem. I'm guessing this is a vulnerable area as the damage seems more common than not. I enjoy bigger winds and was wonder if there's anything I can do to avoid or minimize this from happening, either in the rigging or any other precautions. Is this a design flaw or abuse? I've been a sunfish sailor until now.

More a design/material issue.

It's very easy to reinforce the bottom of the step while it's still in decent condition to avoid future problems.
Since the General Sailing Talk forum is cross-posted, I just want to make sure you are asking about a Laser.

If you are, search the top forum for Mast Step repair, there are many threads about fixing them/reinforcing them.

In a nutshell, you want to make sure you have the SS disc on the bottom of the tube, and depending on the age/use of the hull, get an inspection port in the deck so you can look at the inside of the hull at the mast step, and if all good now, wrap a few layers of mat around the bottom of the tube and the mast base.
I've been thinking about this recently with regard to the Sunfish and Zuma.

I've read (on this forum, probably) that you want to be careful to keep sand out of the mast well (hole/receiver...thingy). I also try to keep water from sitting in mine. I've considered cutting out a piece of rubber-like foam matting (undercarpet type that a local carpet dealer sells, or exercise matting). I would not attach it to the rubbery nylon at the bottom of the mast, but leave it free.

Wayne recently mentioned the use of the special tape that's sold by (? apsltd.com?) that can help take up a bit of the slosh space.

A couple of days ago I got out my bargain Zuma after putting (what I thought was "temporary diagnositic patch glop") some "stuff" on the presumed location of a hull/db well leak. As I was looking over the mast, I realized that the bottom edge was very rough. The previous owner/s had been sailing it without some rubbery mast base cap fitting and the rough edges of the aluminum mast were scouring the bottom of mast step well. Okay if you're cutting powdermilk biscuits, but not for the mast well. I wondered about taking an old tire, cutting out pieces, gluing them together, carving out a routed out "mesa" and screwing it onto the bottom. Instead I took some exercise mat (I like this sometimes for keeping the dog from sliding around too much or for cushioning my bony butt). I fastened it with duct tape and set sail. Two layers. It was ground down nicely when I came ashore a few hours later.

Guess I need to order that $18 mast base part. The hull stopped leaking. Now to get the uncured (old silicone cauling) goop from the hull/db well edging so that I can fix it properly. I had used OLD silicone and it never set up; so instead of nicely peeling it away like shower surround caulk, I have to mechanically scrape it off, powerwash it off, then hope that acetone removes the rest. Blame the heat wave for making my bwain fail me.:rolleyes:


Upside down?
Staff member

You definitely want the bottom cap for your Zuma mast.

I am not familiar with the bottom of a Zuma mast tube, but if there's serious damage, you should consider pouring in a layer of epoxy. That's a very easy repair. :)
Indeed, Wavedancer. I'm going to order it now or as soon as I can find enough things I "need" from a single vendor in order to save on the shipping. Buy and Save!:D

Fortunately that was not where the leak was (not so far anyway). When I bought it and the fitted galvy trailer (great price) the seller had had it with sailing in no wind. He decently informed me that there was a leak somewhere between the sole and the hull. Yep. I'd get about 5-8 gallons of water draining out of it. I noted the night we picked it up that there was an abrasion at the very bottom of the Daggerboard well, along the bottom of the boat (that interface) and told the seller that probably someone hit the bottom and the db bashed into the db casing at the lower end (but fortunately, not inside).

My half-baked (silicone didn't cure up) diagnostic test "worked" sort of, because after I gobbed some of the silicone caulking around and into that area, then went for a robust sail, there was hardly any water at all when I drained it. Fortunately too, the mast well HOLDS water, so no leaks there.

If I could walk to a next door shop or drive to one to pick up that mast cap end piece, I'd do it. I hate to have to wait for delivery. Impatient (thus my half baked, literally half baked, silicone test). The Zuma is a hoot. I wonder how the original bottom mast cap came off? Hmm.