Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tanzer 16 Raising the Mast Single-handed - part 1 gin pole

Tanzer 16 Raising the Mast Single-handed - part 1 -- May 7, 2014 --  Six things can happen when  you step the mast, and five of them are bad:  You can drop the mast and break it, you can break the boat, you can be hurt, your vehicle can be wrecked, you can hit power lines, can successfully step the mast.  Come to think of it there are way more than five bad things.

If you are 6'3" and strong as an ox, you can probably skip these next few posts.  This is how I did it; it worked for me.  It's up to you to determine if you have the skills, knowledge, and strength to do this safely.

The Tanzer is a great boat, and part of that greatness is its simplicity -- non-tapered mast, no spreaders--but that mast is one heavy momma (31.5 lbs minimum) -- and it's long, about 24 feet.  At some point you have to get this thing up at the vertical, then pick it up at the bottom and drop it on the keel while it is spiraling around in mid air 20 feet above your head..  Luckily, I have never dropped it, but it has been close every time I try to get that 1.25-inch wide fitting over the top of that 1-inch wide keel piece. I see where my mast was once dropped and the head piece was repaired. Tired of the close calls and uncertainty,  I set out to devise a less tricky/dangerous way of getting the mast in place.  Did I mention that taking it down is even more difficult?

This is the story that unfolded over 2 1/2 days, and I will tell it to you chronologically so that if you decide to make a similar system for your boat, you might avoid some of the issues I had.

I looked up gin poles and mast raising.  I have seen this done so I had a general idea of how it would work. Before boom trucks were so plentiful, every carpenter, logger, and sailor knew how to use these handy devices. I decided on an A-frame design and made it up out of 2x2 stock, some plywood, and hardware.  It looked like this. The legs fold in so it will fit in the truck more easily.

The loose ends fit into the shroud chain plates.  The legs need to be as long as possible, but they need to be short enough so the finished frame will fit inside the forestay--so you will have room to fasten the forestay when the mast is up.

Number 10 machine screws fit nicely through the holes.  You will  need to dink around a bit to get the angle on the bottom of the legs right.  You need to keep the holes close to the bottom of the leg so it can rotate and not hang up on the deck.  Double check; make sure the legs can rotate without getting hung up on the deck.  If it can't rotate freely, you could punch a hole in the deck.

The top of the A-frame will need plates of plywood top and bottom.  I put a two by four cut to the angle of the legs on the inside.  I just wanted a bit of reinforcement, but it probably isn't necessary.  You need a loop of line on each side of the top plate.  One will fasten to the jib halyard, the bottom one will attach to the trailer winch.  I swapped out the wire on the winch drum for some softer poly rope.  I realized that at some point the line will rub on the edge of the boat.

The legs pivot on the bolts that go through the top and bottom plates.  I used 1/4-inch bolts.

I left a little extra rope on the halyard side so I could adjust the length.  This turned out to be quite lucky as I needed a tail to pull the A-frame.  In use the A-frame gin pole looks like this.  I thought I had it knocked at this point, but there were a few more things to invent--I'll show you why this first iteration was almost a good idea on the next post.  jim

The trailer winch is attached to the gin pole.  The jib halyard is attached to the top of the gin pole and cleated off of course. The taller the ladder you can have to hold up the mast, the better.

Today's cliche:  Necessity is the mother of invention, but assumption is the father of screw-up.

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