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Shorter mast

minifish2

Active Member
I need to clear a 7' bridge with my sunfish. Anyone have experience cutting down the mast?
Sure, but not that much. i have had a couple break at deck level over the years, so after the ragged ends were cleaned up and recapped they are 9 foot masts and not seven. The nine foot is equivalent to a jens rig, and is useful in very heavy air.

What you might try before jumping into this and cutting anything, is tieing off your mast in an extreme jens setting at the seven foot height, and see what you think about its sailing characteristics. it's easy enough to try, and you will get a feel for what shortening the mast that much will be like under sail.

If you still want to do this -if it were me -I would keep the regulation mast as-is and pick up an already busted mast for cutting down. The masts are expensive to replace and cutting a good one seems a shame, for both resale and for normal use in other venues.

If you do test out the three foot jens I'd be curious what you think about the handling. Somebody here must have a more clever approach to that bridge.
 

minifish2

Active Member
I need to clear a 7' bridge with my sunfish. Anyone have experience cutting down the mast?
You didn't mention that you are trying to do this cut-down sunfish rig thing in a Laser!
http://sailingforums.com/threads/sunfish-rig-on-laser.29283/#post-136226

in that case, do what the laser kids do when they are showing off. Using your Laser rig, heel to windward so you are sailing balanced on the Laser gunwale with the mast parallel to the water and the boom pointed up. the boom will almost, but not quite, clear so as you are ducking under the bridge like that let it out even further 'by the lee' so that you can clear the 7ft. As you come out the other side of he bridge, swing the boat up to normal, and sail on. Be sure to have someone filming this for all of us on youtube.

Since you have a Laser, dig out (or borrow from someone on the Laser Forum above) some twelve year old copies of Laser Sailor with photo sections of some youth world events, for photo illustration of this technique.
 

srej

New Member
Yes, what I have today is a laser. Desperately trying to find a solution to get out through the bridge. i.e. cut down a SUNFISHmast rig and use a jenks configuration.
My sailing skills are certainly not up to par with the 12 year olds but just to make this even more complicated the bridge width is under ~16' and is arched!!!
What I need is someway to lower and raise the mast to clear the bridge....
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
First, a Sunfish mast is a much smaller diameter than a Laser mast, so it will be very sloppy in the step. Secondly, the center of effort for a Sunfish sail may or may not line up with the Laser's C/E. Hopefully by adjusting the gooseneck you can get the boat to handle. Finally, why not just drop the Sunfish rig and paddle under the bridge? A sunfish with the mast two feet shorter, per Minifish2, may or may not sail acceptably. You can't drop a Laser rig on the water and put it back up, but with a Sunfish you easily can.
 

srej

New Member
I did some searches and read 2.25" (sunfish) compared to 2.5" laser so I thought is was close (coudl use a sleeve). Understand the C/E issue. Not sure what you mean by dropping the rig. The bridge clearnace is ~8.5-9' from the water line so even with a droped rig the sunfish mast won't clear (I belive it's 8'-9' long) which is why I would need to cut it down ???
 

danpal

Well-Known Member
I think what BB is referring to, is to unstep the mast and then step it when you get to the other side of the bridge.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I did some searches and read 2.25" (sunfish) compared to 2.5" laser so I thought is was close (coudl use a sleeve). Understand the C/E issue. Not sure what you mean by dropping the rig. The bridge clearnace is ~8.5-9' from the water line so even with a droped rig the sunfish mast won't clear (I belive it's 8'-9' long) which is why I would need to cut it down ???
I thought the Laser mast step was oval, so there would be quite a bit of slop with a Sunfish mast in the elongated hole. If the Laser step is round there would not be so much slop.

It seems taking the mast down is a better alternative than having a sail with likely poor performance with a very short mast. Also, if you need to move the rig back relative to the mast to balance the c/e, you could easily end up with the aft end of the lower boom being angled down instead of up, which I don't think will be good for performance (not to mention all the unsupported upper spar which will tend to bend way off if it is windy.) If you diagram out a Sunfish sail with short mast, you will see what I mean about it possibly ending up angling down. Taking the mast down to paddle seems like minimal annoyance. BB
 

minifish2

Active Member
I did some searches and read 2.25" (sunfish) compared to 2.5" laser so I thought is was close (coudl use a sleeve). Understand the C/E issue. Not sure what you mean by dropping the rig. The bridge clearnace is ~8.5-9' from the water line so even with a droped rig the sunfish mast won't clear (I belive it's 8'-9' long) which is why I would need to cut it down ???
A Sunfish rig on a Laser - well, ask the Laser folks above what they think of that - let alone a shortened one..... if you are still bound to try, wrap the sunfish mast at the base and just below deck level with several layers of duct tape so the sunfish mast is seated adequately in the larger diameter laser mast step.

if you have 8.5, maybe 9 feet of clearance, that's a different story from 7 feet. i would check for sure before you cut anything. again, i would also try out any contemplated arrangement by testing first with a jens. it's a quick and easy way to see what works as far as sailing goes.

I know what I would do in your situation, though. I'd leave the laser and sunfish behind, for this route, and just take the minifish. if after measuring the actual bridge clearance i still needed some mast length reduction, i might just cut the least amount necessary, if anything was. with the minifish you have a boat that would still sail appropriately, wouldn't look lame, and might not even need adjustment.

i'd run the halyard to a cockpit accessible cleat and not even get off my backside the whole time. that way you can glide under the bridge sitting comfortbly in the cockpit with your feet still up on the deck and not risk spilling your beer.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
I like Minifish's idea. But the other choice would be to cut a hole in the bottom of the Laser maststep. When you approach the bridge, lower the Sunfish sail on its halyard. Then lower the mast down through the hole til it clears the bridge above. Paddle under the bridge, bring the mast back up through the hole, and rehoist the sail on its halyard. You will need some means of holding the mast in its "up" position, and you will need to be sure to waterproof the hole thru the hull so it does not take on water. If you do this correctly, with lines led to the cockpit, you can accomplish all this while seated as Minifish2 suggests. Your fellow sailors will be amazed!!
 

srej

New Member
Well I'll start looking for a minifish and try the paddle route for now. I still think there's some hinge type solutions that could at least help step and unstep the mast. Doing it on the water seems very hard, but yes I suppose I could just go to shore after clearing the bridge and step the mast, but that is what I was trying to avoid.
OK one more attempt: Anyone ever try a windsurfing rig on a laser ? I've got a nice 7 sq meter WS sail
 

minifish2

Active Member
OK one more attempt: Anyone ever try a windsurfing rig on a laser ? I've got a nice 7 sq meter WS sail
If you have one anyway, throw it onto the Laser and give it a try. You will really want to use something around the carbon fiber windsurf mast at the mast step or you will chew up the mast and maybe crack it at the step. Wrap it enough at the mast base and just below deck level.

Not sure how this will work on a Laser - I wouldn't risk my windsurf rig on a Laser, or Sunfish for that matter - you will always be wondering which will give way first, the hull over the water or the mast in the step. But by all means you could give it a shot with yours.

However, I did once sail with a windsurfing setup on a Minifish hull (the boat was about 75 pounds hull weight). The results were interesting.

First off, as you know, if your rig is carbon fiber the entire rig can be lifted easily with one hand. Putting it up and down on the boat is relatively easy. The rigged fully battened stiff sail is flat, and light wind sailing is manageable but not ideal. You still need to use the windsurf boom for the sail to keep its shape, which means you need to modify your mainsheet arrangement as you only can only really attach at the end of the boom, unlike with Laser or Sunfish booms.

I'm sure someone somewhere has tried his on a Laser. On the Minifish, the most interesting thing was the onlooker reation. It's kind of embarrassing for an adult to be sailing like this in sight of other adults, but kids thought this was the best idea ever. The younger the spectator the more positive the reaction.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
I still think there's some hinge type solutions that could at least help step and unstep the mast.
Low bridges are everywhere in Britain. There are some mast-hinges available from Britain, that cost $1500; however, you don't have to spend "Schaeffer-quality" kind of money. Here's a mast hinge for a daysailer—at www.daysailor.orgprobably less than $100:
 

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