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Old 11-22-2016, 06:47 PM   #1
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Default Wooden Mast Repair / Replacemet

Hello all. New to sailing so excuse me if my question seems dumb. Is it worth considering buying a boat with a broken mast? The mast is made of wood, boxed, and appears hollow. Probably around 55 feet tall. Is it very costly? Looking on line it appears that they can be repaired but is it practical? Would changing to Aluminium make more sense. Any ideas, suggestions, advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 11-23-2016, 01:30 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome. There is no doubt that wooden masts have a much more pleasant look. It is my experience that boats with wooden masts, deserve wooden masts; and that often, an aluminium spar can look out of place.

However, it is an issue much like that of teak decks. Beautiful, but one must be committed to their maintenance. If it was my decision, I would assess the damage to the mast and repair it if it was economic and safe to do so.

Aluminium masts require relatively little maintenance (providing the fixtures and fittings are fixed and fitted correctly...usually on a bed of barium paste) and can look a bit industrial unless painted...and with painting comes increased maintenence.

Aluminium masts are also noisy. Halyards slapping against the wall of the spar (both from the inside and outside) can drive you nuts. On a wooden mast this is not so much the case...but a halyard fitting against an aluminium mast generally will scuff it over time. On a wooden mast, it could erode the surface over the same time.

A replacement aluminium spar will be expensive, especially with fittings. Your timber mast should be fully equipped and should, providing it can be effectively repaired, be cheaper to get you out onto the water and sailing...and will have sailors saying "Look, that boat has a wooden mast", because people notice these things.

So to the choice of purchase or not. I would consider why the mast was damaged. Also what is the general condition of the rest of the boat...and why would the current owner choose to sell a boat with a serious flaw, rather than have it repaired and sell it for far more than the cost of the repair might be?

If the boat hasn't been repaired because the owner has a lack of funds, it is probably fair to expect that lack of funds has manifested itself in poor maintenance generally. With your maritime history, I am sure you will spot poor maintenance problems in major components such as the hull and deck. Have someone else look specifically at the sailing 'bits', perhaps even a surveyor with major sail boat experience and make your decision from there.

Is it a classic boat? What is it's construction? If it is a classic, one of our members with great experience in such things (Redbopeep) will be a fine resource for you.
Best wishes and keep us informed.
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Old 11-26-2016, 10:19 AM   #3
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Auzzee - Thanks, I do like the look of the wood mast. Its a mid-80's, Leaky Teaky. Do not know if that's considered a classic! I'm new to sailboats, have only owned power boats, so this is going to be a experience, an expensive one I'm sure. Also its going to be a steep learning curve. I am looking for a yard that works on wood masts on the west side or panhandle of Florida.
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Old 12-03-2016, 06:18 PM   #4
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If the boat was poorly maintained there may be many problems -- as Auzzee notes. It is a relatively simple task to keep a wood mast in good shape indefinitely but if they have let rot there may be significant repairs needed. Repairs to wood masts are actually quite simple for a person who has a mast bench (for big repairs) or is a knowledgeable wood worker with spar experience. In Florida there are often problems with termites as well as rot -- if termites are the reason for the mast to break (break is a big word!) Do you know why it is broken?

Our wood masts are round but were built up with a box construction (like yours) and they are 85 years old. They have been repaired a couple times over the years and when we purchased the boat (2006) we re-did a couple repairs just to make sure they were properly done. One was, the other was not. It's not rocket science but the spar makers or wooden boat repair people with the experience to do the job do tend to charge a pretty penny for the work to be done. Whether it is worthwhile to rebuild or repair the masts yourself comes down to your patience and space as well as tools, existing woodworking experience, etc.

The whole 70's and 80's era of "leaky teaky" decked fiberglass boats leaves one with a lot of question...

If you're considering purchasing this vessel, you know it is STILL a buyers market and you are likely to find a boat with good spars easily.

Fair winds,
Brenda
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Old 12-03-2016, 06:41 PM   #5
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Old 12-03-2016, 06:44 PM   #6
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Old 12-10-2016, 03:25 PM   #7
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So it's a ketch with a rotted mast? That's a cute little mast, too You actually should be able to find a similar mast (in the USA, used from a boater who just wanted to replace with aluminum...happens all the time) reasonably priced among the boatyards and riggers. If the mast was rotted (and looks that way) you may want to really inspect other maintenance related aspects of the boat -- the tally could be high (other mast, spreaders, chain plates, deck core (if stanchions and other deck penetrations aren't re-bedded from time to time) and so forth. Best of luck!
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