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So this spring and summer we’ve been steadily plugging away at items on our long todo list.  We’ve accomplished a lot.  The bowsprit and most of the standing rigging is replaced and a great many leaks have been stopped.  But boat refits always turn up some unexpected stuff that you have to deal with and that time has once again fallen up us.

Last week Dani pulled down the headliner in the head area which is directly under the mast compression post and noticed there was rotten wood around the mast step bolts.  Not good to say the least.

Besides the standing rigging we’ve just kind of been ignoring the mast.  I mean heck, just look at all the junk that is typically scattered around it during our work.

Current mast step is rotten

But with this obviously leak it was time to take a lot closer look.  And things don’t look so hot.  The mast step is obviously compressing and the wood underneath it is almost assuredly rotted out.
Closeup of the mast step

So what exactly does this mean for us?

First of all the obvious.  We have to rebuild the mast step.  And to do that we have to pull down the mast.  We’d been doing the project thus far with the mast standing, but now we have to take it down.  So with that knowledge we’re going to halt the rest of the standing rigging project until after this issue is resolved.  This unexpected snafu will result in us hauling Sundowner out onto the hard once again.  In the interim we’re going to shift gears a bit to leak stopping.

Last weekend we caulked the outer seam of the cap rail in the stern quarter of the boat.  I was unimpressed with how that went.  It didn’t help that we still had a leak in the area after completing that job.  We’ve decided not to try the “easy” way and take off most of the rest of the caprails and caulk the hull joint as we did before with about half of the boat.  The only problem is that the stern side of the caprails are a lot harder to get off because the genoa track is through bolted on top of them.  Its almost impossible to access all the nuts.

To deal with this I’ve decided to drill out the screws, pull up the tracks, then when we’re ready I’ll redrill new holes about an inch forward and tap the holes then put in screws with no backing nuts.  I’ve spoken to Bud about this and many boats have done it without issue.  So we’ll hopefully fully seal all the leaks in the hull joint permanently.

Before that though we’re going to install the last portlight (which was the first one we removed).  Then we’re going to take EVERYTHING up off of the deck and cabin top and rebed.  No matter if we think it is leaking or not.  Since we’re in a holding pattern on the mast step we might as well make good on this time.  So that is what is coming in the next few months.   I think we’ll haul Sundowner onto the hard to rebuild the mast step in October or November when the weather has cooled off a bit to maximize our effort in the boat yard.

As to the mast step itself…. The plan is to cut the top skin of fiberglass and gelcoat off then dig out all the wood underneath.  I’m going to replace it with primarily G10 material and fill the voids with epoxy and high density filler.  While on the hard I’ll also tear all the stuff off the boomkins and finish up the standing rigging project.  At least that is the plan.

So the best laid plans of mice and men…  I guess we won’t be ready to sail in Fall like we had hoped.  But this is the reality of owning and refitting an old boat.  There are a lot of setbacks.  Sometimes you just have to smile and roll with the punches.  So I apologize readers, but you must prepare yourself for a lot more of the same in the interim.  I promise one day we’ll have something more interesting to tell you.   =]