Progress, but not Southerly
29 October 2010 | Still at Catskill on the Hudson
Today was another day of work. This retirement thing is not what it's cracked up to be! We started before 8. We moved the boat into the slip where the crane is to lift the mast. We took the leaf off the dinette table and then pulled the table and set it off to the side to keep it out of the way when the mast is placed. The boat has a metal piece bolted to the top of the keel where the mast sits. It's actually called the step, I think. Anyway, we have always had trouble getting our mast tuned right (that is getting it held up straight and centered on the boat). Bud and I both looked down at that step and thought it was crooked. Mind you, we could have looked down at that step at any time since October 16, when the mast was unstepped. But no, we waited until an hour before it was scheduled to be put back up to decide that it was crooked and really needed to be fixed. We scrambled and got the step loose, cleaned it and the giant screws that held it in place and put it back in with new caulk. We broke the caulk gun doing it. Bud thought he might have been able to move it a little bit, as the screws went through slots on the step. The slots were actually fore and aft, and we needed to move it a bit side to side, so we're not sure if we changed anything, but we felt better for trying.
Shortly afterwards the marina folks came and set the mast. It all went very smoothly. Once the mast was up off the center brace, we had to partially disassemble it to get it off the mast pulpit and out of the way. Then they dropped the mast down through the hole in the deck and we had to take the tape and bag off the bottom and uncoil the wires and feed them through the holes in the side of the mast near the bottom. I did that, so I was below when Sean, who runs the marina, put the mast in place. I couldn't believe how they did it. Their crane does not move from side to side. They had tied the boat off so the hole for the mast was pretty close to directly under the crane. Once they had the mast suspended and down through the hole on deck to within an inch of the step, Sean tells them to move the boat, just a little aft and a little in towards the dock. They did, and they dropped that mast exactly in place! I would never have thought they'd move the boat instead of the crane, and I'd never have thought they could be so quick and accurate.
Next we had to pin back all the shrouds and the two forestays and the aft stay to hold the mast in place. If you're not a sailor, these are all the metal cables that hold the mast. After that, we could move the boat out of their slip so they could do the two other boats that were waiting.
For Bud and I the fun was just beginning. First we had to tighten all the shrouds. As I said, we've not been satisfied with the way our mast was set, so we wanted to do a really good job. I read one of our cruising how-to books and we carefully followed those directions. We tried to center the mast from side to side by tightening and loosening the top shrouds first, the cables that go all the way to the top of the mast. Our mast seemed to be leaning quite a bit to port, so we tightened the shroud on the starboard side to try and bring it over. After over half an hour of adjusting, we looked up the mast from the base where it was obvious that only the top of the mast was moving to starboard. The mast had a distinct bend in it about two thirds of the way up. This is not good. Anyway we loosened things back up, literally pushed the mast over where it came up through the deck and put some wedges in to hold it, and tightened some of the lower shrouds until we had it straight. We also took up on both of our head stays (the ones that run to the front of the boat). Since both of those having furling drums on them that involved a lot more work. While Bud finished those up and then tightened everything up evenly all around, I went down and reconnected the wires from the mast. I had to hook up the radar, TV antenna, Windex, tricolor light on the top of the mast, white anchoring light on the top of the mast, steaming light and deck light. Hallelujah, everything works! Then there was the boom, and the main sail to get back on. We ended up having Brittany and Scott help us with the main. It all came off so easily, still in the stack pack, but getting it back on was another thing entirely. Of course it got windy as soon as we started to work on the sail. At the end of the day, Bud hoisted me up the mast and we reattached the lazy jacks, lines that keep the main on top of the boom as it is lowered.
We finally quit after dark, which is when I took the picture. It's hard to see, but the mast, boom and mainsail are back in place. Bud was exhausted. We still have to reattach our reefing lines, put on both our headsails and hook up the backstay antenna to the SSB radio. I'm guessing the way things go that's another three or four hours of work. But then we can SAIL...SOUTH...where it's warm. (Did I mention it was pretty cold out there today?)