Our weekend was spent in a whirlwind of boat projects, and the marina was a busy place. We are planning on adding radar to our mast next spring, so we needed to get the mast down now and store it on the ground over winter or else we wouldn’t be able to get to that project until the sailing season next year. I want to have the all finished by the time we go in the water next year though. So the mast had to come down now. We started our day on Saturday by removing the boom from our mast. Tying up all the lines and securing them so it wasn’t a tangled mess was easier than I thought it would be. Once the boom was removed, we removed our Bimini so we could get at the back-stays. As we removed the stainless steel Bimini framework, two pieces of the stainless hardware fell off and into the water on either sides of the boat. It happened so fast we just had to laugh, we had no time to react. As we are planning on updating it, I suppose it’s not the worst thing to happen. I just don’t like to lose stuff overboard. Bad form! Anyways, we got it off and removed the back-stays. The mast remained standing because we have a B&R rig with the aft angled spreaders, but I moved the main halyard to the stern rail just because I can’t stand the look of no back-stay there. It gives me the willies!
We then moved the boat into the well where the Gin-Pole was waiting, and Dave our Marina Owner went up the mast to attach the hoisting rope above our first spreaders to lift the mast. Once down, he took up the slack and we removed the side-stays and fore-stay. Once free the mast was lifted about 6 inches so we could see what was going on under there with the wiring. All the wires on our boat are routed through a short piece of pipe into the cabin below. I went below and found them on the inside just in front of the compression post. It was a bit of a rats-nest of wires and connections. I ended up just cutting all the wires because I’m planning on replacing everything anyway and the mast was lifted free. Three of us moved the roller furling foil and drum alongside and aft as the mast was slowly lowered and we moved it off of the stern of the boat onto land. I still don’t know how much it weighs, but we moved it with 5 people and I would guess in the 250-300 lb. range. We walked it over to a spot where it can stay for the winter and placed it on large Styrofoam blocks. Later, Marge and I removed the spreaders and secured all the lines and rigging with rope ties. I was sure to take lots of pictures and I also drew up a map of where each of the wires goes so hopefully it isn’t a puzzle next spring. The mast is down, safe and sound for the winter. We also loaded the boom onto our trailer and brought it home so we can do some work on it over the winter. There is a line in there for the reefing system that is all messed up and I’d like to get that sorted out.
After the mast was down and secured, we topped up the fuel for winter. I wanted to warm up the engine to change the oil so we took her out for a little ride in the bay. It was very foggy and we could hear other boats in the bay blowing their fog horns, so we got out ours and blew the horn every couple of minutes as we’re supposed to. We couldn’t see anyone, but from the sounds of the horns we could tell that there were at least two other boats out there in the fog with us. After about 30 minutes, we came back into the marina and I changed the oil. One less project to do next week. It was very odd taking the boat out without a mast or sails. I like the idea that no matter what happens with the engine, I always have the option to raise a sail and get back.
The rest of the weekend was spent building a wood framework over our boat to replicate the boom as we will need that to hold up our winter cover when we pull the boat next weekend. I came up with a plan that was about as simple as I could figure out and bought all the lumber and screws. It’s only for this year and I didn’t want to make it more difficult than it needed to be. I think that all went as well as planned and should hold our winter cover just fine.
The end of the season is near. All-in-all, the marina was a hubbub of activity and it was good to see everyone busily working on boats.