GORDON WEST REPLIES
First, with this kind of job, be sure to number each and every wire coming down from the masthead. Do the same on the wires they presently connect to, so you don’t accidentally reconnect them incorrectly. NMEA 1.6.1 advises that slide on/butt splices are not recommended in salt air. Go instead with a common terminal block and stainless steel screws. Use blade slide-on lugs, properly sized, for an easier way to connect and remove the connections when pulling the mast. If you first crimp each shiny wire and then solder the crimp connection, you are assured of a positive lug contact. Don’t crimp any wire that is green with corrosion. In fact, such a wire may need to be totally replaced, as the capillary flow of saltwater can contaminate its entire length. Use the old wire to pull a new one through. Be aware that the VHF masthead antenna may have a barrel connector. As long as the connector is not sitting in water pooled at the base of the mast, you can easily un-screw this connection and then reattach it after stepping the mast.