Reinforce mast step or not?

Thread starter #1
My daughter is a junior who sails out of the Richmond Yacht Club, and is moving up from El Toros to Lasers. We have a Laser that I am putting back together, and being inspried by her competetive drive, we bought another Laser so I can sail with her, and perhaps try my hand in the local fleet.

We picked up a 1980 boat, race rigged, for a good price. It's stiff, and the mst step does not leak. However, there is an access port next to the daggerboard trunk, and the inside does smell musty. We are drying the hull out, and are going to do a leak test in a few days.

My question is this: should we beef up the mast tube/hull joint as a matter of course? I know it adds a bit of weight, but I am thinking it will give us some longevity and peace of mind. I've attached a photo. It looks like some of the donught is missing?

Thanks for the advice,


Rob Hair

Active Member
I certainly would do it. Search for posts with photos of the damage done by a failed mast tube and I think you will agree. It's not a big job and since the work is hidden, looks don't matter much. The peace of mind was worth it to me.


Well-Known Member
The "doughnut" sure looks small and even incomplete compared to other examples, but that's good news as you have less of it to remove for the preventative repair. The weight of a couple of layers of fibreglass in that small area is trivial. You even have an inspection port already there. I'd go for it.

Thread starter #4
Thanks for the replies. I'm going to go ahead and do it.

One other question: the gelcoat at the bottom of the mast tube is worn away. Iis it class legal to epoxy in one of those metal discs? Or should I just pour in some thin epoxy to replace the gelcoat?
While you wait for the mast step repair to dry, end to end your top section (whether is bent or not).
We sail pretty much every week end at RYC; come on by and join us.


Well-Known Member
the gelcoat at the bottom of the mast tube is worn away. Iis it class legal to epoxy in one of those metal discs? Or should I just pour in some thin epoxy to replace the gelcoat?
Just add a layer of fresh gelcoat (or epoxy) to restore the tube to its original length & shape. Then you can throw in a 1 mm thick loose disk (of any material) on top of that.


Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
Easy enough to beef up the step... glass rope & trimmed cloth pieces will do the trick. Remember that cloth your family put around the base of the Christmas tree when you were young? Like that, only tidier, with cloth also wrapped around the tube itself. :cool:

If you want to check the upper joint from inside the hull, use a small cosmetic mirror and a flat LED lamp from "Harbor Fright"---you can set the small lamp inside the hull, then use the mirror to inspect the tube. :rolleyes:

Usually, incipient cracks in that upper joint will be visible topside, but meh, why NOT take a look at it? Moi, I'd reinforce both ends of the step tube, flipping the hull between tasks to let gravity do much of the work. :confused:

And then, just to rile some paint-haters, I'd bust out the LP... ;)

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Thread starter #8
Making progress here!

Today, after my daughter and I tested for leaks with the "bubble test," using a jig saw cut the access port at about the seven o'clock location to the mast, 10" away. Here is a shot of the mast tube/hull joint (notice the dead wasp and broken flotation):

I'm going to go ahead and beef that up a bit, but frankly, I don't think it needs to be done. There is no bondo, and that donut is actually fiberglass tabbing. I poked around with a scribe and the wood it totally encased in fiberglass, and is rock solid. (FWIW, this is a 1980 San Rafael built boat). This is very different than our Pearson '91 hull that had a huge dollop of bondo, which I was able to dremel away with almost no effort. The 1980 boat seems heavier, by the way, and I will weigh both hulls when I can.

The boat came with wasp nests--we have been kiling these things since we brought it home. My daughter was going to name this yellow boat "Monkey Business" but I think she has settled on the "Flying Wasp".

The next two shots are of a wasp's nest resting on broken flotation, and one of the dazed insects before it met its inglorious end.

I'll post more shots of the mast step reinforcement as I make it.

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Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
Too easy to strengthen & improve, the alternative is to watch the deck flex after the step fails... always fun when you're five miles offshore, perhaps a little farther. Meh, maybe the wasps can do the work, just give 'em a quick course in fiberglass repair. You'll probably get air bubbles, but the hexagonal construction technique might make up for 'em---Nature leans toward hexes for strength, same way Yvon Chouinard leaned toward hexes for certain technical rock climbing hardware. Give the wasps a day in court... worst that can happen is ya go for a long swim through shark-infested waters, and exercise is good for you. :rolleyes:
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