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Mast dropping costs vs ATN climber

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dj2210

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Feb 4, 2012
337
Catalina 30 Watts Bar
I have a few things to do that require access to mast head (wind instrument replacement , furler replacement, etc). My marina wants to charge about $700 to drop the mast, lay it in the yard, and set it up again. That is with me removing the sails and boom. Seems kinda expensive to me. I would do all the work on the ground then. I was considering the ATN mast climber and doing everything myself without dropping the mast. For the furler I would replace the stay and assemble the new furler from the bottom up. The ATN is about $350 which is half the price of dropping the mast. It would be easier to do everything while it's lying on it's side I would think. Comments? Did I answer my own question?
 

wise4

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Nov 10, 2011
27
Depends on what you need to get done... Major overhaul at the top of the mast is best done on the ground.... For smaller tasks such as installing an antenna, changing a bulb or installing a wind vane it's worth it to go up the mast.....

I've used several mast climbing systems but finally settled on the block and tackle with a bosuns chair method.... Easy, quick and safe... I just installed a sailtimer wind vane on Saturday.... And then my 14 year old son went back up after I was done to replace a cotter pin at the top of the backstay.... (I noticed it when I was installing the wind vane)

Have fun...
 

wise4

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Nov 10, 2011
27
BTW - depending on the age of the boat... Some of those large pins can be so stuck in place.... There is pretty much no way to pull them without dropping the stick.. When I overhauled the mast head... I had to grind off all the large pins and hammer out the remaining metal... The job sucked even on the ground....
 
Dec 6, 2010
50
Catalina 30 City Island
350 for the mast climbing rig sounds a lot. You can pick up a utility climbing harnes for probably 40, if you want to climb a rope you can use 2 Prusik knots and a couple biners, probably 20$ total, halyards as lifelines, if you want to climb the mast itself, what I do, I don't trust my wire rope halyards, 2 ft webbing runners thru bicycle inner tubes 2 to inchworm up and one as a sliding safety. In both cases you need foot loops which can be just webbing. As mentioned here it you have a lot of work to do, some jobs are best done on the ground. I've always climbed the mast on my mooring, none of my marinas or yards would let me climb on their property. If you climb tether your tools. You can get everything you need at a climbing shop, and avoid the marine markup.
 
Jan 22, 2008
878
Fed up w/ personal attacks I'm done with SBO
Maybe costs are regional. A few years ago I removed my mast for complete refurbishing. I had it trucked to my house for the work so there was no yard time involved. Round trip by the yard crane was $150.
 

jakez

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Nov 19, 2012
25
Catalina 36 Santa Monica, CA
I just completely rewired my mast, replaced VHF and sheaves on my mast. I hired my own tech to help and did some of the work myself. The yard charged me $175 each way plus $40 per week day and didn't charge for weekend lay days. Just as a cost reference... I think your marina is charging a bit much.
 

dj2210

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Feb 4, 2012
337
Catalina 30 Watts Bar
I'm not sure what to do yet. I can see this turning into a $3-4k project if I replace the furler. Once I drop the mast I'm going to want to do as much as possible while its down.
Since my old furler still functions I may wait until I need a new genoa and do the whole thing at once. I guess I could still go to the top of the mast to replace the wind instrument. I could have the marina do that also at 75/hr.
Thanks for your replys
 

jrowan

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Mar 5, 2011
1,291
Catalina 30 N/A
Generally going up the mast will always be cheaper then dropping the mast.
Plus you have to assume that in dropping the mast there's a good chance that rigging will get damaged, or you'll feel the need to go ahead & replace something that is questionable. That is not such a bad thing & a wise investment to replace worn turnbuckles or mast head parts that look corroded. Most good quality bosun's chairs don't cost more then $150. or so, & the benefit is you get to keep the chair for future use. Dropping the mast is really for major maintenance items. I have been wanting to replace my aged wooden spreaders since I bought my C 30, 3 years ago. Like most sailors, when the mast comes down, its time for an overhaul. Usually that old worn aluminum mast needs to be sanded & repainted, a $500 invnestment for professional paint, etc. Replacing old halyards & adding a spinaker halyard & block, $350+, replacing wooden spreaders on a C 30: $800? more or less. Then there's the removal & reset fee & costs. That's why most of us wait on dropping the mast until we have the money, time, & the materials to do the job right, or not at all. My advice is to buy a decent bosun's chair, find someone you trust to haul you up with your mast mounted winch, & do it yourself & save money. I hate going up the mast, as any wave action movement it 10 times rockier when up 40 feet high. But the satisfaaction of doing it yourself is worth more then money saved.
ps. If your furler works, then why replace it? We had a "new" design Harken Furler that was a total piece of junk that jammed no matter how it was rigged (multiple configurations). Don't fix it if its not broke. Put your money into replacement items that are necessary. My 2 c.
 
Dec 1, 2011
75
Catalina 1984 C30 Tall Rig Bow Sprit MD
The yard at the marina I am at charged me $1,300 to unstep the mast and restep it. I recommend people go somewhere else for yard work due to the extremely high rates here.
 
Mar 11, 2010
292
Catalina Tall Rig/ Fin Keel Deale, MD
The yard at the marina I am at charged me $1,300 to unstep the mast and restep it. I recommend people go somewhere else for yard work due to the extremely high rates here.
Look into Shipwright Harbor down here in Deale. They charge a basic fee for the crane plus a reasonable hourly rate for labor. You bring it around to the haulout, loosen the rig to where all they have to do is pull cotter pins on the turnbuckles and it's off.

You must reckon with how you will deal with the mast wiring ahead of time. If you're redoing it onshore, they'll just snip it. If you're trying to preserve it, consider installing a high quality, waterproof plug connector (Deutsch or similar) after they pull it.

Remember that you'll never be able to pull new mast wiring down the compression post and into the boat unless you open up the post or make other accommodations for wire entry. We chose new wiring and having the connections inside the boat under the port settee (not in the dang bilge). I am hiding it behind teak trim and the existing dining table support block. If you remove that, you can cut a wire channel on the back side and then re-install it to route wires behind it.

Retuning the rig on re-installation is not hard. There's lots of articles on getting the mast straight and not too tight.

Rob
 
Last edited:
Mar 29, 2010
17
catalina 30' 1991 Long Beach CA
wind instrument install

dj: did you install your wind instrument?
just curious



I have a few things to do that require access to mast head (wind instrument replacement , furler replacement, etc). My marina wants to charge about $700 to drop the mast, lay it in the yard, and set it up again. That is with me removing the sails and boom. Seems kinda expensive to me. I would do all the work on the ground then. I was considering the ATN mast climber and doing everything myself without dropping the mast. For the furler I would replace the stay and assemble the new furler from the bottom up. The ATN is about $350 which is half the price of dropping the mast. It would be easier to do everything while it's lying on it's side I would think. Comments? Did I answer my own question?
 

dj2210

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Feb 4, 2012
337
Catalina 30 Watts Bar
No not yet. I actually bought some climbing gear; harness, ascenders and foot loops but haven't yet done the deed. I need to practice and make adjustments at home hanging from a tree before attempting the mast. Maybe I'll chicken out and pay the yard to do it. I am anxious to get it operational. The yard just did a bottom job, wax and installed new transducers so am paying that large bill off.
 

Joe

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Jun 1, 2004
7,111
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
get a bosun's chair and have a couple friends winch you up, it isn't that big a deal....You can google "how to climb a sailboat mast" or "how to use a bosun's chair" for various articles on how to do it. You can purchase an adequate bosun's chair for less than a $100.

$1,300 to drop the mast? You've got to be kidding. That sounds like a rigging company's quote to refurbish and tune ..... I got a quote like that from Pacific Rigging in Pt Loma... but it was a complete rehab.

At our local yard near the marina you can pull your boat up to the dock and they will bring the cherry picker over to lift it up or put it back up for less than a $100.

The other option is to hire an independent rigger... not a big company... but a local, self employed guy with insurance.... your marina will require that... tell him what you want done and ask for a quote. I found a guy working at the local west marine who said he was insured and would work for $50/hr, (min 2hrs. to come to the boat). I ended up going up myself, but I would consider him in the future.
 

dj2210

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Feb 4, 2012
337
Catalina 30 Watts Bar
Joe- it was $700 to drop and reset not $1300 but still expensive. I've been up in a bosun's before on my Morgan 34 but was a lot of work for the guy cranking me up. I could actually do that with the climbing harness also which I might do anyway. It would be nice to be able to get up there myself in case no ones around.
 

Joe

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Jun 1, 2004
7,111
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
Joe- it was $700 to drop and reset not $1300 but still expensive. I've been up in a bosun's before on my Morgan 34 but was a lot of work for the guy cranking me up. I could actually do that with the climbing harness also which I might do anyway. It would be nice to be able to get up there myself in case no ones around.
I had the same problem... lots of work for the grinder, even with two speed winch and 10 inch handle.... especially for a big guy like me... so I used my MOB hoisting tackle with a hundred feet of line threaded in 3 to 1..... whether you use the harness or a chair... that's the ticket.

$700 is still a rip off... I agree... you might look into the "A" frame technique for mast stepping.... I have the plans for a Cat 27... not sure if it's feasible for a 30 footer.
 
Sep 25, 2008
1,059
CS 30 Toronto
ATN is the way to go. My wife couldnt crank me up the mast anyway. Need to be self sufficient.

Be forewarn that your inner thighs will hurt for a few days.

There is a new one that feeds into the sail slot and you "walk" up like a ladder. Cant remember the name.
 
Jan 6, 2010
1,520
Catalina 30 Mark II John's Pass Florida
DJ,

A lot of good info from the guys here. By the way, I have the ATN. I'm only 5'-7" so it takes me 47 lifts to get to the top. It's a workout. The one big advantage is you are higher than the masthead. Great for working on top.

That being said, I & my boat neighbor had a very good rigging mobile company come out. I let them go up. They added a new halyard, & topping lift & charged less than $150.00. I supplied the stuff.

I would go this route pal. If you do, give them a camera to take pics of everything. You can compare them to see if other work needs to be done, or if there is damage.

The last time I used the ATN & was at the top, I discovered the masthead crane had a vertical crack in the forward sheave section on both sides. You know the one my halyard was using...........

CR
 

TLW

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Jan 15, 2013
271
Oday 31 Whitehall, MI
Just checked local marina on Lake Michigan: Take mast down & re-step - $135. / 30' boat.
 

dj2210

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Feb 4, 2012
337
Catalina 30 Watts Bar
I 've see the c27 A-frame thing and have considered it. Since I have a tall rig and c30 mast seems more substantial than the C27 I'm not sure I would attempt it at our marina with our floating dock layout. Maybe at a private dock.
 

gpd955

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Feb 22, 2006
1,164
Catalina 310 Cape May, NJ
There is a new one that feeds into the sail slot and you "walk" up like a ladder. Cant remember the name.
Mast Mate. A friend has one and he loves it. Still should be in a harness on a halyard with someone taking up slack as you climb in case you fall. Easier than hoisting someone, though.

I have the ATN climber and it works well also. I have a dedicated ascending line that goes on the halyard. I forget if that was recommended or if i I didn't think my halyard was big enough for the ascenders to work properly. With the mast mate you just have to get the proper sized slides. He has a set for his boat and i bought a set for mine just in case I need to use his!
 
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