Leaky Mast

Thread starter #1
I have an older Sunfish (70's) which I just acquired this summer and which I capsized a few times as I was learning to sail it. There is a very small hole in the mast at the gooseneck level which leaks water out once I get the boat righted. However the water below this hole obviously does not get out. Does water normally get into the mast when capsized, and if so, where? I can't believe it all came in that small hole. Secondly how can I close the hole? Another problem I had was a broken bridle. I ordered a new one from from Yankee Boating and it broke the first time I used it. I made my own from 1/4th inch cord and it seems to work fine. Is it necessary to get a wire bridle and does it matter whether it is a 2 loop or 3 loop bridle. I love the boat and want to get it ready for next summer. Any info is appreciated.
 

Wayne

Member Emeritus
#2
I have an older Sunfish (70's) . . . There is a very small hole in the mast at the gooseneck level which leaks water out once I get the boat righted.
Any indication of what made the hole? Right away there's a strong suspicion the mast is corroding from the inside out. In that case failure is probably not too long down the road.


However the water below this hole obviously does not get out. Does water normally get into the mast when capsized, and if so, where? I can't believe it all came in that small hole. Secondly how can I close the hole?
Usually the top cap fits snuggly enough to keep water out, but sometimes they need sealing.

Caps are held in place with either a pop-rivet or a 1/16" pin. Remove the keeper, pop off the cap, dry the inside of the full length of the mast very very well, put a very fine seal of marine silicone at the step of the cap where it meets the edge of the mast tube, re-install the cap.

Note: To remove the 1/16” pin, push it inward with a small punch until it is clear of the mast’s wall thickness. This leaves it still stuck in the cap and easy to locate when the cap is removed.

You can cement the cap in by sealing the entire surface that fits down into the end of the mast ... or ... by using a super sealant like 3M 4200 or 5200, but then if you ever need to remove the cap you'll end up destroying and replacing it in the process.

The hole in the mast can be closed using a drop of epoxy..., or even a dab of your silicone sealer.

Conversely, another school of thought is to drill a 1/4" hole in the middle of the mast's base cap as a drain.


Another problem I had was a broken bridle. I ordered a new one from Yankee Boating and it broke the first time I used it. I made my own from 1/4th inch cord and it seems to work fine. Is it necessary to get a wire bridle and does it matter whether it is a 2 loop or 3 loop bridle.
Sounds like Yankee Boating owes you a replacement. Very uncommon for one to break so quickly.

A piece of line works just fine. Whether you use a sliding clip or a running knot or you add a center loop for a fixed attachment point is up to you. The sliding style has some minor advantage in sail positioning, considering the off-set boom arrangement.


Should you join the racing class and compete, review the rule book on bridle types allowed.

.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#3
Although the wire bridles are missing from both of my boats, I think a wire bridle might be an improvement for keeping the mainsheet off the water—which causes drips and unnecessary drag while "ghosting". IMHO. :eek:
 
#4
Leaky masts have me wondering too - should I seal the bottom, or drill a drain hole? After breaking my mast in a strong breeze in August (age and corrosion being the cause, I'm guessing), I bought a brand new mast (it has a LaserPerformance sticker on it) that just happened to be in stock at the local boat store. I gave some thought to fabricating a mast from the appropriate diameter/gauge aluminum - but hey, vacations are short. The new mast filled up to deck level with water on its maiden voyage! Didn't drain so well, so I wound up punching the pin out and taking the bottom cap off.

With the cap off, one can see that the new masts have the reinforcing sleeves installed in them...so this one shouldn't snap!
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#5
Why did the mast fill up?
It might be a good idea to locate the leak and plug it. And be sure to put the plug back in the next time you go sailing.

PS: Also wash out the innards of your mast to prevent corrosion.
PS#2: I don't want you to get nervous, but masts with sleeves have also snapped (in very high winds; think Curacao)
 
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