Author Topic: Safety tip when stepping the mast  (Read 5702 times)

Offline harrys

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Safety tip when stepping the mast
« on: September 21, 2010, 10:04:17 PM »
I would just like to pass on my experience which could literally save someone's life.  My wife and I were out for only our second or third sail on our HC so everything was new to us.  I watched the video on stepping the mast and found that the easiest method was to simply hand raise it rather than set up a gin pole and line.  We get out into the bay and there is a lift bridge between the bay and the main part of the lake.  Smart Harry decides he doesn't have to wait for the lift bridge.  He can just lower the mast and scoot right underneath.  This works fine the first time. 

On the way home, it was dark and there was a slight ripple on the water.  Again we arrive at the lift bridge and since it worked so slick the first time, let's take the mast down again.  We had to trailer load the boat on the other side anyway.   I get up to the bow and get all set up to lower the mast.  I have the lines all tucked away and put the hinge pin in the appropriate slot.  I now bend down to unfasten the forestay.   I remove the retaining pin and all of a sudden I feel the stay leaving my hand as the mast starts its decent all on its own.   There was nothing that I could do but yell duck.  My wife was in the cockpit and the mast just missed her head as it went crashing right through the gallows.  Apparently the hinge pin worked its way out from the slight rocking of the boat as I was busy removing the forestay retaining pin. 

We have now adopted a new method of raising and lowering the mast.  I have attached the "gin" line permanently to the forestay and run it back to the cockpit through the line clutch.  This way, the tension on the gin line stays taunt and the clutch remains closed until I am in position to hand lower the mast.  We use this method even when we are on land.

My knees still go weak every time I think of what could have been.

Offline shamblin

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2010, 09:42:09 AM »
thanks much for the heads up. bill

Offline CaptRon28

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2010, 11:28:03 AM »
It has a bend in it and, in theory, it shouldn't have come out if it was inserted at least half way in with the bend at the top. The other solutions involve looking at that pin occasionally (especially when lowering or raising the mast) or replacing it with something that has a positive lock to hold it in place.

It's a good idea to give the entire rig an occasional eyeball inspection every time you sail the boat. I've seen some dangerous things out there, especially when I sail with a friend or on a delivery. How about a missing cotter pin on the forestay on a brand new 40 foot boat? The clevis was nearly out of the hole. Would not have been a pretty site if it moved another 1 mm.
Ron Marcuse
2007 Horizon Cat (no name yet)
2008 Telstar 28 "Tri-Power"

Offline Rahn

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2010, 06:09:46 PM »
This happened to me with my second Suncat. The first Suncat I owned, the pin was held in tightly and never fell out, so I never checked it. On the second Suncat, the pin was loose and fell out, but I wasn't used to checking it and the mast fell and smashed through the boom gallows.



Needless to say, I make sure the pin is in when I take off the front stay on my HC.

Offline Joseph

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2010, 06:28:18 PM »
In my SunCat the safety pin at the mast-hinge is a u-shaped pin with one of its ends folded onto itself to make a hole for the line that holds it attached to the mast. The  weight added by the extra metal at the end folded onto itself often causes it to slide off when heeling. Hence, pending a better solution I have temporarily replaced it with a padlock (no need to lock it, as the padlock stays in place even if opened).

J.
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SunCat 17 #365

Offline ontarioSuncat

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2010, 10:11:57 PM »
I found a pin with a spring and toggle on the end. The Store Mason sell them for about $5 each. They come with a SS wire teather and pressed eye to attach to the mast. I have used mine for a few years now with no problem. The one they have is a bit too long so I added a small snap tie around the shank to give a bit of tension to the spring. If you want I can get some and mail them around. I was going to send one to Gerry to try and use on all models. It is a much better solution.

Offline Salty19

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2010, 10:46:12 AM »
Guys and gals,

This topic is hugely important so it's now a "sticky".

Harrys, thanks for sharing this.   Someone should talk to Hutchins about it as well.
"Island Time" 1998 Com-pac 19XL # 603

Offline David

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2010, 03:03:21 PM »
I found a pin with a spring and toggle on the end. The Store Mason sell them for about $5 each. They come with a SS wire teather and pressed eye to attach to the mast. I have used mine for a few years now with no problem.

OntarioSuncat,   Can you post a picture of the above described retaining pin?   

Thanks,  David


Offline ontarioSuncat

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2010, 03:19:34 PM »
http://www.pilotnavigator.com/pin.jpg
Here it is
also at www.pilotnavigator.com/pin.jpg

SS wire is plastic coated
John

Offline Bremer Speck

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2010, 06:24:44 PM »
Hello Everyone!
Having joined a couple of days ago, this is my first post and I can add another angle to the story of a falling mast.
First of all, my name is Ronald Hiemann, proud owner of a 2004 Horizon Cat, which I bought in St. Pete this past Wednesday.
My wife and I went for our first sail on Tampa Bay on Saturday afternoon. Everything was great and we sailed for about 90 minutes, when, all of a sudden, the mast started tipping and fell into the water. The round safety pin had fallen out! Under sail!
I happen to notice it a second before the mast started to drop. There was nothing anybody could have done. Until that point, we were probably doing 5+ knots.
We were fortunate because being under sail, the wind pushed the falling mast away from us. It could just as well have fallen onto our heads.
We did actually question this pin during commissioning of the boat and were told not to worry. All the Com-Pac boats come equipped this way.
I have already contacted the mother yard and hope to talk to Jerry on Monday about this incident and about getting the parts I need to do the repairs.
I hope this 2ND report will give them something to think about. This pin should not have come out under any circumstances.
Cheers,
Ronald
a/k/a Bremer Speck

Offline CaptRon28

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2010, 06:57:59 PM »
The head stay and shrouds should be holding up the mast, not the safety pin. What happened to the stay? The only reason there is a safety pin is to give you time to set and then later detach the stay - without the mast falling down. The safety pin was never designed to hold up the stick while sailing. The mast would bend or snap if that was the only thing holding it up.

By the way - If it fell into the water it must have gone forward or to the side, possibly indicating that the swept-back shrouds were much too loose. If they were OK, then something must have happened to the mast hinge itself.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2010, 07:01:26 PM by CaptRon28 »
Ron Marcuse
2007 Horizon Cat (no name yet)
2008 Telstar 28 "Tri-Power"

Offline Bremer Speck

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2010, 07:37:07 PM »
Thank you for your comments, which I do fully understand, agree with and have been pondering about myself. The forestay was securely attached and so were the stays. I cannot say at this point whether the stays were too loose. They did not feel that way. I think the difference in my case was, that the pin which keeps the mast collar closed and the mast from tipping, fell out and since we were sailing in a good breeze, the force of the wind was enough to push the mast to the side and with an unsecured collar, the wind was strong enough to force the collar to open sideways and the mast down. I will attempt now to insert a photo which may help to explain the situation. Sorry, did not work and being new to this board, I do not understand yet, how to do this.


Offline CaptRon28

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2010, 11:58:04 PM »
Ron -

Something's got to be wrong with the hinge or head stay / shrouds for it to come down. The safety pin really doesn't do much at this point, but it's obviously better to have it stuck in there so it won't come down by itself when you loosen the stay. Which way did the mast come down - forward, sides or aft? That could give us an idea of what happened out there.
Ron Marcuse
2007 Horizon Cat (no name yet)
2008 Telstar 28 "Tri-Power"

Offline Bremer Speck

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2010, 09:21:25 AM »
We were on a broad reach and the mast fell over the side. I spoke to gerry Hutchins this AM and he will come to inspect the boat because he believes, as you do, that something else may have failed. I shall report the findings once I know more.

Offline Bremer Speck

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Re: Safety tip when stepping the mast
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2010, 04:08:39 PM »
The problem which caused the mast to come down was something entirely different. Gerry Hutchins arrived at the boat with a hunch and he confirmed his suspicion within 2 minutes. The cause is a rotted out mast foot base! The previos owner had drilled a hole into the base for a grounding cable. This hole allowed water to penetrate the glassed in base and the wood rotted out over time. So when we took the boat out for a sail, the base finally broke, making the mast drop 6 inches. With that, all the tension was lost and the mast came down.