cracks at mast bracket

Older and ?Wiser

I now agree with Roger Lowhrey in recommending sticking to the 4 screws approach of mast step attachment rather than using bolts. Last weekend, one of our old Model 1 boats had a shroud come loose so the mast came down, sideways, Damage was limited to bending the heck out of 2 screws and popping the other two. Very little deck damage, though screw holes were reamed out a bit. With help of our safety boat people we were able to get it back into operation without going back to the dock. In another boat demasting of similar cause on a friends boat last winter, the step bent and bottom of mast cracked, though the deck was mostly undamaged. A third case of another friend last year where the step was too secure, led to ripping apart the deck a bit, requiring a more major fix. What I think I've learned: Secure the step into the deck which should have firm wood beneath the fiberglass, but use screws and don't use bolts. And by all means check your shrouds for cracks, broken wires, or any other weak points such as non springy cotter rings before every sail session. Loss of cotter rings seems a common problem, perhaps because they can get caught by quick moving jib sheets, or bounsing associated with trailering and raising/lowering masts, or just get old and weaken like the rest of us

17 K-- You sure did a pretty job--looks better than new! RK
Wow nice work...

I gotta hand it to you.. You took the best of everyone's suggestions, and incorporated, made it better, and I think you have a lifelong repair done there... Kudos to a job well done, and that is NOT an easy repair.
See the pic below for a neat little mod to the mast step. Just cut a slot with a hacksaw across the top of thr bracket. In the event you drop the rig, this will bend and release the mast before any damage to the deck or mast (hopefully)
My forestay got loose at the dock and the mast broke off the step last week during vacation. Only one screw pulled all the way through although my mast was entirely down. The screws have dime size washers on the end and the washer pulled through the wood making a dime size hole. That's the only hole that goes all the way through. It took about a 3"x1"x1" chunck of wood out of the mast step. It's a red wood. Douglas Fir? It looks like a 2"x4" was used to build it. There was a thin coat of fiberglass/gelcoat. I cleared out all the damaged material. Bought epoxy and new screws and an quarter size washer to replace the dime size washer that pulled through. I reused the old washers on the other 3 screws. I banged/bent the bracket back in shape with a hammer and a vise. I mixed the epoxy and filled the gouge. I duct taped some sand paper under the hole so the epoxy didn't all pour out of the hole before it hardened. Waited overnight for the epoxy to cure. Sanded it down flush. While I was at it I sanded the teak wings and treated them with teak oil. Drilled two new holes for the screws because the repair job encompassed two holes. Put some silicone between the bracket and the boat (I noticed it had a thin layer of silicone underneath the bracket when I disassembled the bracket). Secured the 4 washers along with lock washers and I was back in business. 2 more days sailing on the lake!

My take away:

I would fix your mast step like I fixed mine if the 2"x4" used in the mast step still has most of it's integrity. Picture trying to break it over you knee or something. If you think it would break over your knee then replace it or brace it with another 2"x4". The mast bracket does look like it was designed to break away. The screws are thin. The diameter of the washers are small making it able to pull through the wood without cracking the whole 2x4 in half. If you supported the mast plate with bigger washers or with another plate underneath the mast plate in the cuddy the whole center part of your boat deck around the mast step would pull up causing severe damage.

I read the back and forth of the thread a month or so ago. It helped me to formulate a plan to repair my boat. So thank you.