Stepping the Mast

Last weekend we raised the mast. The mast that came with the boat was a small affair made of two chunks of wood bolted together. It was gathering dust in the shipwright’s workshop, but it did have a real gem – it was topped with a fairly new (and fairly expensive) LED anchor light. The anchor light is a white 360 degree light that sits on the very top of the mast and is to be lit when you are anchored up.

The new mast is a repurposed mast from a salmon troller called the Saga Wind. It was sitting around at the welder’s shop for several years, Uncle Patrick had it and was going to use it on the Kay. It wasn’t quite big enough for his boat, so he had a new one built. He offered the Saga mast up for the Carlyle and I had Welder Dan (Dan Lais Equipment Surgery) in Eddyville make some modifications.

The chief quality of the new mast is that it is built of old-growth aluminum.

First we installed the base that Dan built.


Then I carefully raised the mast and held it in place with temporary lines. This was a near disaster several times over. I had a couple of long aluminum poles at home that I turned into the “A” frames to give the mast more stability.


These are held to the cabin roof with stainless brackets.


I must have had those brackets for years and years. I found them in the shop and they were marked for will-call pickup.


It’s been three years since Angus died. I still miss him every day. He would have loved this boat. Here he is resting in the sun on the foredeck of the Henrietta W.

Angus Boat

Back to the mast. The next job was to hook up stainless wire stays, instead of the temporary lines holding her up. Here’s the hookup at the front of the boat connected to the bow iron:


Once the mast was properly stayed, the heavy boom could be added. The boom came down from Canada on the BC Troller, now known as the Jessica A. The boom will eventually be rigged to lift our tender on and off the back deck trunk cabin roof, so we can row to town if we are anchored up somewhere.


Then it was time to add the masthead light. These lights are rated for 2 nautical miles. All of the navigation lights are from Aqua Signal and manufactured in Bremen, Germany.


To change a bulb, just undo the hand screw at the top and drop a bulb in…


The bulbs are $50.00 each. so I hope I won’t be changing them too often. There are cheap incandescent versions available, but I opted to use the LED versions which are rated for a huge amount of hours, and have about 1/30th the power draw. Power draw becomes very important on a boat.


The next step was to get some new VHF radio antennas up there. I stopped in the middle of this operation and went to the hardware store and bought a ladder. It’s not high enough to get to the top of the mast, but I can reach the antenna bases. I’m getting too old and fat to be hanging upside down from the crosstree trying to hang on and tighten nuts and bolts at the same time.

Eventually the antennas went up and even the anchor light on the very top. Not one tool was dropped into the bay during this operation, but some bad words were said…




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