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Homemade mast stepper

Jul 25, 2019
52
J 24 1979 Honolulu, HI
Here a few pics of the mast stepper I made, fairly closely adapted from $tingySailor's blueprints. So, thanks to him.

I'll have to check my receipts for exact cost, but less than $100, probably about $75. I plan to use it this weekend, so I'll report any catastrophic failures.

It's about 10' high at full extension.

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89klz6blRg2r5HPXLYfBkg.jpg
6r6WUkopTdGiS875s7YI+Q.jpg
aDvrD8X0RsqME0Flc1u48g.jpg
 

greg_m

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May 23, 2017
692
Catalina Jaguar 22 Simons Town
Hmmmm.... the file lying on the desk without a handle.... hmmmmm!
 
Mar 20, 2015
1,896
Catalina 22 New Style SHSC, Lake Winnipeg
You will find that shrouds and lines will have a tendency to hang up on those ears at the top. Especially being so big.
 
Apr 11, 2017
540
Catalina C22 Solomon's Island, MD
Looks good. I've had an issue with shrouds hanging up on the snap connectors for my pop-top tent, which are mounted on the side of the cabin, by the head of the cockpit. One thing that has helped is pre-cutting and tying together the ends of a loop of shock cord, and stretching it between the top of the life line stanchion and the halyard cleat on the top of the cabin, adjacent to the head of the cockpit, and companionway. I stretch 2 of these shock cord loops tight, looping one end of the loop around the top of the stanchion, and the other end of the loop on the cleat - so the shock cord is stretched tight - 1 on each side. When the mast is down, the shrouds rest on this stretched shock cord, and can't get down low to hang up on anything on deck, or the snap connectors for my pop-top tent. If you are raising your mast, and it seems like it does not want to come up, be sure to carefully check that none of the shrouds are hanging up - that is usually the root of the problem. If you try to force it, it's possible to kink the shrouds on the mast crutch, or part of the boat, so it's a good habit to visually follow the length of each shroud before raising, and make sure there is nothing they can catch on as they are raised up. If you have any problem with the ears of the mast crutch, it will just be a simple matter of shortening them up a bit. Those long exposed bolt ends connecting the ears to the post might also be a hang-up point. If it's a problem, just shorten them up with a hacksaw. Basically, the shrouds generally want to hang up on anything available to them - in a big way. Good luck-
 
Last edited:
Aug 3, 2012
2,542
Performance Cruising Telstar 28 302 Watkins Glen
My experience with several crutches used in mast raising has been that any “ears” used to keep the mast in line are sure to catch stays, shrouds, and halyards. I have found that a wider roller works better than having any ears at all. My current crutch has no ears and a very wide roller, and it works well without getting involved with rigging.
 
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Jul 7, 2004
7,104
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
What is the roller for? Are you 'pushing' the mast up instead of 'pulling' it?
 
Mar 20, 2015
1,896
Catalina 22 New Style SHSC, Lake Winnipeg
What is the roller for? Are you 'pushing' the mast up instead of 'pulling' it?
Once the mast is up on the support pole, you then push the mast aft so you can connect it to the mast step.
The roller on top allows the mast to easily slide aft.

The support holds the mast high to allow a line to pull the mast vertical
 
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Apr 11, 2017
540
Catalina C22 Solomon's Island, MD
When you are pushing the mast down the roller, it can help if you support the mast crutch by tying a non-stretch line in a "V," connecting the top of the mast crutch with 2 line ends tied tight to the jib cleats, by the winches. This can help counter-act the natural force of the mast trying to bend the mast crutch backward, toward the stern, as the mast is pushed along it. It should also help to take some of the stress off the rudder gudgeons as well. It's not needed, but a lot of backward force is put on the top of the crutch, and it's not unknown to have problems with the mast crutch bending in the middle, due to the lever effect of the long mast crutch.
 
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Jul 7, 2004
7,104
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
Do C22 owners typically go this route? MacGregor uses a gin pole setup that is literally a one person operation. I adapted the M version to my S.
mast_raising_small.jpg
 
Jul 7, 2004
7,104
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
Justin, does one not need the baby stays using the "M" method?
"Need", no, but I did use them as insurance against a gust pushing the mast sideways until the side stays kicked in. They came with the kit I ordered from BWY.
 
Aug 3, 2012
2,542
Performance Cruising Telstar 28 302 Watkins Glen
A C22 mast is light enough that you can guide it by hand. I used to step mine by hand, just pin the base, extend the crutch, and walk the mast vertical. Then I take the forestay to the forestay chainplate. I am 5’8” and 160 lbs. It is easier with a ginpole and even easier with baby shrouds to keep it in line.
 
Mar 20, 2015
1,896
Catalina 22 New Style SHSC, Lake Winnipeg
You use a gin pole with the c22 also.
Baby stays are a nice addition.

Using a mast crutch makes it easier to lift, and, at least on my new design, you cannot install the pin to attach the mast to the mast step with the mast sitting flat.


In my experience the macgregor mast (and rigging) is MUCH more lightweight than a c22, but this really has little to do with NEEDING a mast crutch.
But that roller makes it much easier to push thr mast to the stern to attach it to the step.

The c22 mk2 comes with raising setup that has a hole cut in the base of the mast.
 
Mar 20, 2015
1,896
Catalina 22 New Style SHSC, Lake Winnipeg
A C22 mast is light enough that you can guide it by hand.
If you have a new design (which has a more robust mast extrusion) that has a headsail furler... It can by touch and go. If you aren't reasonably strong. I have done it solo but if things go bad halfway up, it goes bad quickly. Eapecially on a windy day.
 
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Apr 11, 2017
540
Catalina C22 Solomon's Island, MD
If you have a new design (which has a more robust mast extrusion) that has a headsail furler... It can by touch and go. If you aren't reasonably strong. I have done it solo but if things go bad halfway up, it goes bad quickly. Eapecially on a windy day.
Ain't that the truth. I think there's a large difference in weight and unwieldiness between C22 mast without a roller furler, and one with a furler. IMO it's like a 50 lb floppy wet noodle, and the tendency can be for the furler to want to migrate out along a spreader - imparting massive twisting forces to the mast, just as you're trying to raise or lower it. Worse, it usually happens at a low mast angle, before the stays come into play. Add in some gusty side wind - and like has been said, there can be some real exciting moments. Dollar signs start flashing before your eyes... but not in a good way. Still, it's possible to raise & lower the furler rig, with the genoa still furled, and get by pretty easily doing it solo. There have been some other threads that talked about different techniques, and all combined were a big help when I was getting set-up with it.
 
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Aug 3, 2012
2,542
Performance Cruising Telstar 28 302 Watkins Glen
If you have a new design (which has a more robust mast extrusion) that has a headsail furler... It can by touch and go. If you aren't reasonably strong. I have done it solo but if things go bad halfway up, it goes bad quickly. Eapecially on a windy day.
Totally agree. I would hate to lose control of a mast. When I sold the boat, I showed the new owners the use of a ginpole to step the mast.
By the way, doesn’t “baby stay” seem like a misnomer?
 
Jul 25, 2019
52
J 24 1979 Honolulu, HI
Took the collective advice and cut down the ears and the excess length of the bolts to hopefully prevent hang-ups. Thanks to everyone.
I'm a little concerned about the "wet noodle" effect of the furled jib. I'm planning to attach the main sheet to the forestay and have my wife assist with the lowering by keeping some tension on that while I manhandle the mast.
As far as baby stays: I hadn't planned to use them, unless that seems like a big mistake.
 
Aug 3, 2012
2,542
Performance Cruising Telstar 28 302 Watkins Glen
I would attach a block to the forestay chainplate, attach a line from the toggle on the base of the furler drum forward through the block for your wife to haul. A 4:1 with a cam cleat (I use a boom vang setup) would help. Attach your upper, lower, and aft shrouds, and your backstay. Only stays and shrouds forward of the mast are unattached. All attached turnbuckles are adjusted out to their loose settings. Make sure your stays and shrouds are uninvolved, untangled.
Haul and lift together. Trust the backstay and aft shrouds. Move it with determination if you do not use a ginpole. Using a ginpole means you can easily stop and untangle the rigging. It can be harrowing if you tangle something and have no ginpole.
 
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Jul 25, 2019
52
J 24 1979 Honolulu, HI
Hmmmm.... the file lying on the desk without a handle.... hmmmmm!
In my defense, the bastard file I was actually using has a handle attached. That file just ended up there as part of the general accumulation of workbench detritus. ;)
 
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