If you have read this blog from the start, you know that I am a firm believer that if you want to get a project done on time and on budget then the best way to do this is not deviate from the designer’s plans. As soon as you make a change to one little thing it causes a whirlwind of changes to the other things required to make the first thing work. I call it the Law of Compounding Changes. Another builder friend of mine calls it the Law of Compounding F&%$ups. Sometimes I think his is a more fitting description. In the end, after all the bugs are worked out of your system caused by your first “great idea” you have to ask yourself, was it worth it? More often than not the answer is no. I believe this, but I am really bad at following it.
I’m lucky to have several friends in the area with sailboats with the vast majority of them being “trailer sailors”, West Wight Potter, Hobie Cat, McGregor etc. One thing you pick up pretty quickly when you are sweating on the ramp rigging your boat for launch is the faster you get in and out of the water, the more fun you have. My goal is to have the boat rigged and in the water in 15 minutes. To do this I had to make some changes. The original plans for the main mast on the pathfinder calls for a 5.4 meter (17.5 foot) aluminum main mast that is lifted up and inserted through a hole in the main deck and plugged into a mast step on the floorboards. I had already deviated by deciding to build a wooden mast, that adds weight. Trying to maneuver a heavy 18 foot stick covered in sails and ropes on a windy ramp into a little hole in the deck does not sound like a fast or safe way to rig a boat. I had to figure something else out. I decided quite a while ago to build a birds mouth hollow spar (R&D August 2017) so I figured the problem would most likely work itself out as the main spar was built. Off to the table saw!
The staves where milled out of douglas fir.
The clamps held them tight while a whole bunch of glue was applied.
The wiggly sticks were forced into shape
With a power planer, block plane, and sanding tube it went from 8 sided to 16 sided, 32, and then finally round.
A coat of glass later and the mast was done. Now it was time to figure out how to rig it.
The traditional way to speed up rigging and striking the mast is to add a hinge at the deck line called a tabernacle. Here is a picture of a tabernacle on a CLC Pocketship I pulled from the web.
That looked like a decent place to start so it was off to the table saw to build a lower block for the hinge.
I drew out the hinge and then cut a block of douglas fir to make a block to transition between the round mast and the square section tabernacle hinge.
The block was glued to the mast and wrapped in shrink wrap and staves to keep it straight. While this cured I set about designing the lower section of the tabernacle. It was during this time I came across something on the web that caused me to deviate from the deviation. I know, I’ll never get done at this rate.
So this is the final build.
This is a mast hinge from Dwyer Mast (www.dwyermast.com). It is the same part that my buddy Jason has on his West Wight Potter. I like this because it is low profile, easy to use, and I do not have to do any invasive modification to the structure of the boat. If this mod doesn’t pass sea trials all I have to do is make another mast, no harm will be done to the structure of the boat. I did make a white oak transition plate and glued it to the deck making sure it was level with the lines of the boat.
A compression post was necessary to transfer the load from the mast to the step block in the bottom of the boat.
I attached the hinge plate to the bottom of the mast with 8″ stainless lag bolts installed wet with epoxy. I also reinforced the area with fiberglass to keep the wood from splitting out around the bolts. If this was a free standing mast I do not think it would work but since the mast is supported in three points by the stays I am hopeful the whole setup will last. I will report back once I get it out in the water. Until next time.