Mast Step Repair


New Member
Thread starter #1
Good Evening Sailors...

I have another question regarding mast step repair. I've found a few threads on here already and want to put mine up here for documentation.

The boat is a 2002.

here it is:

I was thinking about grinding/chipping down the gelcoat the fiberglass, grinding away a section with a dremel or otherwise, and filling in with carbon tape and epoxy, and building back up. Would this be suitable? Or do you think there is other stuff going on?

I need to have this done and ready to ship by Wednesday afternoon!



Upside down?
Staff member
I have little experience fixing a problem such as yours, but it seems that your approach is sensible. Your problem is similar to the one I described a while ago, except my problem wasn't as serious:

All in all, it sure looks like a failure of the deck flange/mast tube 'joint'. Really a shame on Vanguard, the maker of your 2002 fish and my 2006 one.

PS: I don't know what carbon tape is, but a 'conventional' fix with glass cloth and epoxy might work as well, after you have prepared the area.


Upside down?
Staff member
It occurred to me (overnight) that the mast step may not be solidly connected to the hull anymore, putting undue stress on the flange area.
If you have an inspection port, I would certainly take a good look to either refute or confirm this hypothesis. Obviously, if the step is loose, a repair of the flange will break (again) after some 'heavy duty' sailing.

Although I indicated that one might use glass + epoxy to repair the problem area, you might want to consider MarineTex as well. It's easy to work with and has decent structural strength.


New Member
Thread starter #4
ok I got the flu so this might not make sense...

I am going to grind down tomorrow (its upside down now drying out as much as possible) and then marine tex. Hopefully it will get me through some 12-14 knot sailing, it's in a bay so hopefully no waves.

if I see flexing cracking through or lose my rig I will have to install an inspection hatch and then reglass around the top and bottom.

uhg! my nice new used hull. hey it needs fairing on the bottom anyways, may as well do it all at once! its actually a 2001 i noticed today.
BA34, hope you're feeling better. If possible please keep us posted as the repair comes forward. love to see how you do it, and how it holds up. I'm sure i'll be there someday too. best, Win ever.


Well-Known Member
Two photos show the same area: the damage is clearly getting worse. :confused:

All in all, it sure looks like a failure of the deck flange/mast tube 'joint'.
I agree: but an inspection of the mast step bond at the bottom—at the hull—would also be a good idea.

If it were an older Sunfish (like mine :eek: ), I'd epoxy a couple of layers of glass on the deck that surrounds the upper mast step.
Are Sunfish prone to the mast step coming loose at the base like the Laser? When you say older boats, could you clarify a year and was there different construction in some years that are more prone to problems with the mast step?

I am new and don't know anything about boats.But I do know fiberglass.Is there any way to open up the existing hole enough to repair it by sliding a fiberglass tube into the mast hole? It you push a solid fiberglass or carbon fiber tube into the mast hole it would be very strong.and you would not have to worry about sticking cloth to the old gelcoat.and you would not have to worry about making the hole to small then having to grind through the gel coat again
The pictures look very similar to what happened to my boat. My husband tried to do a patch job but it didn't work. He ended up doing fiberglass work on the mast step. Look at the following posts where I have responded to this issue before:

Ignore this one's title, it does talk about the mast step:

Good Luck!

BTW, I had trouble uploading the pictures that we took of the repair process.

I can try again....


Upside down?
Staff member
Thanks Cindy for that nice set of pictures and the referrals to the older threads.

I gather that my original idea of using MarineTex to fill the crack(s) won't provide a lasting solution.