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taking the mast down

Apr 15, 2019
Hunter 26.5 Grosse Ile
We recently bought a Hunter 26.5 but want to move it closer to home. It was stored all winter in the yard on a cradle with the mast up. We want to rent a truck and trailer. And drive it across the state to a new destination. My husband and I have seen several examples of how to take the mast down without a crane on a boat this size. The marina says we can't do it ourselves because it violates the terms of their insurance. So they want to put the boat in the water, take down the mast with a crane, take the boat out of the water put it back on the cradle, and then load it on our trailer for $600. I haven't even spoken to the destination marina, and possibly facing another $600 charge at the other end is daunting. I was even wondering if we could have the marina load it on our trailor, then trailer it with the mast up, baring any obstructions to an area outside the marina to take the mast down ourselves, and complete the journey. We were also wondering about retrofitting a tabernacle to make things easier next time. Thank you for any help and insight.
Oct 19, 2017
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Curious, where is the storage marina in relation to your home marina? Once she's in the water, how hard is it to sail her away?
What is the charge for just putting the boat in the water at the marina? What are the charges for having a nearby competitor take her mast down and set her on a trailer, if the marina is really ?!$$!%€ you off?
I don't know how your dry storage setup looks, but it probably isn't a good idea to drop the mast with the boat only support on jack stands, unless a crane was used to support the mast so there was no way it could twist and fall off center and torque the boat off the stands. So, you likely want to pay to have her put in the water for the operation, unless you can put her on the trailer first and drop the mast from there.

-Will (Dragonfly)
Nov 6, 2006
Hunter 34 Mandeville Louisiana
First, Welcome to the group!!
I don't know the yard's basis for objections, but it seems like they could pull the mast while the boat is in your cradle (much more stable than stands).. if the crane is a mobile one .. then load the boat onto the trailer and then load the mast .. If you have any distance to go at all, you won't be able to trailer with the mast up..
If they have to pull the mast with the boat in the water, (cradle to water, pull mast ) then from water, either go motor to a good ramp where you can drive the boat onto the trailer (then go back for mast), or have them load from water direct to trailer.. They hold the cards so best to not demand but rather ask them for ideas to better do the job with fewest lifts/crane time. They are probably looking at crane time which is in the range of 3 hours min for your job.. Good luck with them!
Oct 19, 2017
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Vidalia, I completely missed that you are new here.
Welcome. You have chosen well in coming here. These guys are experts and as free with their advice and willing to help as one could wish for.
It is good to have you join us.
Kloudie makes an excellent point and I'm a little embarrassed that I failing to think like that. Approach this problem and the yard line you are partners in trying to figure this problem out. Recruit them to your cause. They are the professionals, you need them to want to make this work for you.

-Will (Dragonfly)
Jan 1, 2006
Marblehead Skiff 14' Greenport, NY
I don't think the yard will put the boat on a trailer with the mast up and I'd be surprised if they let you drive said trailer anywhere on their property. Around here it's $10 to $12 /ft. of the mast to take down and the same to put it up again. $600 doesn't sound like an unreasonable price to me. I guess your choice is to launch it and take it somewhere else. Launch is usually included with winter storage. Be aware that transient dockage fees are often charged if you keep your boat at their dock for longer than the proscribed by contract time if you do not have a dockage contract. That could be a couple of bucks / ft. every night.
Oct 29, 2016
Hunter 41 DS Port Huron
Welcome @vidalia, by your description sounds like the boat is on the West side and you are down river, while its a long trip it is a beautiful experience, take a couple, few weeks and sail her to her new home, that is assuming she is sea worthy.
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Jan 11, 2014
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Based on the rates here in Central NY, $600 to put the boat in the water, take down the mast, and put the boat on a trailer is not out of line.

The mast is probably heavier than you think, probably in the 150 to 200 lbs range and about 28' long. That is a lot of weight to support and maneuver, especially if you have never done it before, and certainly not something to do while on the hard. If your boat was stored next to mine and you started talking about taking the mast down while next to me, I'd be having a discussion with the marina management.

Also consider the time and effort you will need to put into doing this yourself and the manpower you will need. If the Marina staff is experienced with unstepping a mast, it will take less than 2 hours from the time they pick up the boat until the time it is on the trailer. It will take you a lot longer to rig an A frame to unstep the mast.

Sometimes it is necessary to just bite the bullet and pay the marina for work. Not every job is a DIY job. Remember too, you are leaving the marina so there is little incentive for this marina to cut you a deal. If you were a long standing customer, they might be more inclined to cut you a deal.

The initial costs of boat ownership often exceed expectations. Annual costs tend to go down after a few years of ownership and as the DIY skills improve.

Good Luck and enjoy sailing!
Aug 2, 2005
Celebrity Class 19 Penn Yan, NY (Seneca Lake SP)
Hello Vidalia & welcome to SBO forums. The $600 charge might seem like a lot of dollars for something that appears fairly simple, however lowering the mast on any boat can be a challenge even if you have a small boat and have done it many times. Tangled rigging, errant lines, difficult to control long aluminum masts, wind conditions, and inexperienced crew can all combine to be trouble. Plus getting the boat and cradle onto any trailer would not be easy without a travel lift. My thought would be: Let the experienced yard workers do the heavy lifting.
Jul 24, 2005
Beneteau 323 Manistee, MI
I am not all that familiar with the Hunter, but I assume the mast is deck stepped. If the yard is using a travel lift that has the little jib crane on it, they should be capable of dropping the mast after putting the boat into the water. If not They will need to hire a crane if they don’t have one. In that case, the travel lift would have to be moved so that the crane would have access to the mast. It doesn’t seem to me that the quoted price is unreasonable.

Its worth it anyway to have the mast down so that the standing rigging can be inspected since the boat is new to you.

Anyway, welcome to the forum, enjoy the boat! Where are you home porting on the West side?
Nov 7, 2011
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
Welcome to the forum!
Heed the advice already given. I lowered the mast on my O’day 25 once. Three guys and we still almost lost it. Never again. Not worth the effort or risk on a boat that size IMHO. And the risk is not only to your boat but to injury or worse of others.
Something not mentioned so far is who owns the cradle? I’m sure the yard won’t let you borrow or rent for use outside of their control.
Mar 16, 2010
Beneteau 411 Oceanis Annapolis
See if the yard will credit you for the spring launch that came with the storage. This is what boat yard services are; specialized, skill based using big tools. You guys don’t understand any of that. Learn.
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Welcome @vidalia to the SBO forums. Lots of sailing and boat knowledge here. We are happy you are joining our little group.

Like the practical grand parent or uncle who doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear, the advice about “Taking a mast off a boat is not for the DIY first timer” is spot on. We all assume you want to avoid physical harm, and not damage your new “family member” boat in the process.

In the yard on a cradle your boat is already 8 to 10 feet off the ground, requiring a ladder to get up on top of her. The mast is some where around 35 feet in the air, top to bottom. It is made of aluminum and plenty strong for the job it has to do but not designed to be unsupported. So the practicality of the matter to lift the mast off the boat you need to grab it and suspend it from about 25-35 feet in the air (roughly from a point 1/4 from the top). This takes equipment and a few people to then manage the mast and get it down to the ground - not breaking it.

Putting the boat in water is because not every yard has the equipment to do a lift from 25-35 feet in the air.

While the $600 sounds like a lot for the task. Remember they are assuming the risk to do this task.

If this is the 26.5 Hunter from Onekama it looks like you are getting a nice boat. And yes the direct line from there to near Detroit looks like the shortest route, it comes with the expense of moving a boat across land. Perhaps the $1200 would be more enjoyably spent sailing your boat to Detroit. It would be a wonderful adventure.
Jan 22, 2008
Islander Freeport, 41 Ketch Longmont, CO
Out here in Colorado we regularly raise and lower our masts each season. We do have a gin pole so, it is easy, for boats up to about 30ft (tallest mast is about 46' on a Catalina 30). However, $600 to get the mast down and loaded on the trailer sounds like a very reasonable deal. I would rather do it on the hard than in the water (boat is stable and not moving, I can get all around the boat with the help of friends and ladders, etc.) but if someone is doing it for you then let them do it their way. Moving the boat with the mast up is a recipe for disaster even within the yard, so not recommended, except by trained personnel who know what hazards to watch for (trees, overhead lines, etc.)

Your 26.5 shouldn't be too hard to lower or raise the mast but,if you haven't done it you should probably let the professionals handle it. We also trailer launch our boats, so it is possible depending upon where you are going to do everything for only the $600. Watch what they do and then do the reverse procedure when you get to your new marina and launch the boat directly from the trailer for no fees. its a regular occurrence here where the marina is Sail club owned and there is no travel lift.

Fair winds,
Sep 24, 2018
O'Day 25 Waukegan
I lowered the mast on my O’day 25 once. Three guys and we still almost lost it. Never again. Not worth the effort or risk on a boat that size IMHO.
I did the same between myself and the previous owner of my O'Day 25. We were both nervous. We used two main halyards (one was not long enough) to slowly lower it forward. All went well until the boom suddenly flopped to one side. The mast came crashing down the last few feet and I nearly fell off the bow. We believe the mast flopped when I started to support it. Would I do it again? Yes, I have learned from our mistakes. Lines to prevent lateral movement are essential. Despite the mishap, we both found the job to be easier than expected

My yard is able to forklift my boat into the water. Some yards have forklifts that can handle a 40'+ boat I'm told. Forklift fee for me is only $100. Perhaps your yard has similar capabilities
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Dec 14, 2003
Hunter 34 Lake of Two Mountains, QC, Can
Welcome to the group. I'll throw in my two cents ! And I step and unstep 30 to 40 boat's masts at my club every Spring and Fall (22 to 35 feet boats). I even put on a course on how to do it. Please heed the advice given here. As a ''newbie'' (at least in mast movement) you do not want to tackle the job without someone experimented with you. And you DO NOT want to tackle it for the first time on the hard even with a boomtruck crane if the marina lets you ! As mentioned, launching is generally part of winter storage so you may get a break there. If you have the time, sail her to where you're going. Even if you motor the whole way it will give you a wonderful opportunity to get to know your new-to-you boat. And once at your new marina, if so inclined, you'll have plenty of time to check into ways to unstep either with a crane or a tabernacle. But again get someone experienced to help you however you decide to tackle the job. Good luck
Apr 15, 2019
Hunter 26.5 Grosse Ile
Thank you for all the thoughtful and quick replies!

The water route is over 400 miles, baring bad weather, I figured it would take us about 10 days to 2 weeks, and we still need to move the cradle, or otherwise dispose of it and buy a new one. Can't take two solid weeks off work, so we would need to pay transient dockage fees (not a big problem) but we would need transportation to wherever the boat was and back home to go to work for each leg (a big favor to ask a friend). Overland it is about 250 miles. I realize it is everyone's busy time of year, but I am having a lot of trouble just getting the marina and the transportation companies to call me back, let alone trying to coordinate everyone's schedules, including mine. I did anticipate that the marina might not be willing to even load it for us with the mast up, and they do sort of hold us hostage right now, so I am going to have the dance to their drummer :) ,and we are leaving, so they might be less willing to work with us. The initial launch is included in winter storage, and not part of the quote we were given.

The mast is between 80 and 100 lbs looking at known weights of masts on comparable vessels. The height is about 30 feet, and it is deck stepped. The marina does not have a mobile crane. I am thinking that taking the mast down to look at it is a good idea. It is the Onekema boat, and the previous owner seems to have really loved it and took great care of it, but the mast has probably never been down, and this might be a good time to inspect it and the standing rigging.
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
this might be a good time to inspect it and the standing rigging.
This is an excellent time for that task. You are likely going to want to replace all of the rigging. You can ask the previous owner when the rigging was last changed. If unsure you can pretty much expect it is original and a 1985 boat's rigging is now 30 plus years old. Even in the fresh water and northern climate rigging ages. If unsure about the status of the rigging get an inspection. Of equal importance is how the rigging attaches to the boat hull. Chainplates need inspection. Now is a great time.
Apr 15, 2019
Hunter 26.5 Grosse Ile
We planned on replacing all the running rigging. The previous owner kept a log of all her work! I suspect the rigging is original to the boat.
Oct 29, 2016
Hunter 41 DS Port Huron
If I was retired I may offer to bring it around for you, depending on how the boat checks out
Nov 8, 2010
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
As you are finding out, forget BUYING a sailboat, OWNING a sailboat is expensive! In particular when you have to pay things you cannot do yourself. Regarding your boat/mast. Your 'P' measurement is 30 feet, so your mast is probably close to 34 feet long. Not super tall, but near the limit of what is manageable by SKILLED people to get it up and down sans hardware help. Failure is a $2000+ mistake, and might total the boat from an insurance point of view. An on-trailer drop would be complex. You draw 3.5 feet with a large freeboard, so working on the deck is 7-8 feet above the ground. I'd pay.

Sailing it 'around the mitt' would be fun if you have the time and were up to it skill wise.
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