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With the mast down it was time to address everything we can about it.  The findings were not what we had hoped but perhaps what should have been expected.  Massive corrosion and parts that had been worn far out of their given tolerances.  Some of these findings have provoked changes in mindset about certain pieces of kit we intend to bring on board for our cruising.

Lets start at the top.

Here we have the mast head.  The very top, which usually sits roughly 50ft above the water.  We have a VHF antenna, a tricolor light, an anchor light, a strobe, and a windex.

Mast top

When I touched the anchor light it broke.  It literally just started to crumble to pieces.  The top came off as pieces of the plastic lens just sort of disintegrated and fell to the ground.  The material reminded me of how really dry toast feels when you pick it up and dust and particles just go everywhere.

Masthead light

It appears there was only a single ground wire run to the mast head.  All the grounds from the lights were then brought back to this junction that obviously did not stand up well to the harsh realities of the marine environment.  In some ways, it is a miracle any of the lights worked at all.

Mast head corroded wires

True to form, there were also strange wire leads that just went to nothing.  Perhaps a device long since removed?  Perhaps something that blew away?

Wires to nowhere


Hard to remove the fittings on the mast head

I pulled off the backstay which was the last remaining stay that has not been replaced.  What I found was sort of incredible.

This is the Stalok fitting.  It is a 1/2″ hole for 5/16″ wire.  For reference, the pin in it for the photo is a 1/2″ pin.

Elongated backstay

The metal is so warped and elongated I’m shocked it didn’t break.  Its hard to see in the photo but the hole is now an oval shape instead of round. But the problems with the backstay did not end there.  I also got a chance to take an up close and personal look at the stay itself.  There are two insulators used to turn the backstay into an antenna for the SSB radio. This is what they looked like:

Corroded SSB backstay insulator

As you can see, that crack with the corrosion coming out of it does not inspire confidence.  This means we’d have to replace them and these parts are 200-250 dollars a pop.  500 bucks to replace and still we need to devise a grounding system for the SSB since the old one was shot.  Dani and I are considering not replacing these and switching to the idea of carrying a satellite phone for communications and weather updates instead.  I have to say that though it will probably cost slightly more in the long run, its very tempting to simplify the rigging as much as possible.

A bright spot in pulling everything apart is that the masthead sheaves and pins are in good shape.  I had no idea how these assembly worked but found it to be surprisingly simple.  There are two pins that go through the mast.  They will only come out of the starboard side as the hole on the port side is smaller than the pin.  They fit in and then a small plate is put over the end of the pin and screwed into the mast preventing it from coming out on the starboard side.  A small hole on the port side provides a place to tap them out.

Mast head sheeve bolt

The sheaves themselves seem to be in pretty good shape.  We’ll clean them up, lubricate with wool oil and then reuse them.

Mast head sheeves

The next bit of fun was getting the upper mast tangs off.  There is a pin/bolt that goes through the mast that must be removed.  The pin itself is sleeved.  This sleeve fits flush in the hole in the mast and serves to make sure the nut cannot be overtightened and compress the mast itself.  The only problem was that the upper sleeve was corroded inside the mast and would not come out.  I sprayed the heck out of it with PB blaster and despite all my struggling it just would not come out.  Finally our neighbor who is repairing  his fishing boat took pity on me and offered to lend me a small sledge and a massive punch.  Who am I to turn down the use of destructive tools?

Pin stuck in the mast head

Needless to say, it came out.

The lower mast tangs were a lot easier to get out as the pin just slipped right out.  Unfortunately, we found a crack in this mast tang.   If you look really hard you can see it just below the nut where there is a small crease in the stainless.  This of course is grounds to replace all the tangs as well as the pins.

Cracked tang

Continuing to work down the mast we ran into this glorious wiring for the spreader/steaming/deck lights.

Corroded steaming light

I going to ditch the steaming and deck light in favor of using the Bebi steaming light up higher and replacing the spreader lights with bright LED jobs that will light everything up.  Hopefully I can do a bit better job of wiring.

And the final insult.  The block on the flag halyard literally fell off when I moved it.  God only knows how it survived as long as it did.

Broken fittings

I think the only thing we may reuse is the old tricolor light.  Not strictly needed, its a good idea to have those lights way up high.  I’m going to take the guts of the anchor light, put them in the lenses of the tricolor and replace the old 25w bulb with a new LED one.  For some reason, rebuilding this old light, excites Dani to no end.  I think she has some sort of odd fondness for it.  So we’ll mend it.

Tricolored LED

Our poor old mast.  With all the stays and ropes and fittings removed, I could almost hear it breath a sigh of relief as we left for the night.

Clean mast

Maybe we should start a betting pool to see how much I spend on my next rigging order.