A winter warning about stowing unstepped masts
Getting ready for the season is stressful enough but this year it escalated dramatically when my Najad 361, Lora
Mhor’s in-mast reefing mainsail refused to hoist beyond about half-height. I was winched up the mast to inspect and, for about 30cm before a join in the foil sections, the groove widened and then narrowed, and it was cracked. No wonder the sail jammed!
Frantically I called our local sail and rigging experts, Owen Sails, who sourced spares, unstepped the mast, fixed it, restepped and the mainsail was successfully hoisted within three weeks, saving my planned trip to Iceland!
Our rigger, John Grant, reckoned it was caused by water freezing in the groove when the mast was laid next to the boat. When supported by trestles at each end, there can be a slight bend in the middle that allows water to be trapped if the groove is not facing downwards.
I would advise all owners to check that their masts, in-mast furling or not, are supported at a sloping angle and that the groove is facing downwards. This should stop ice building up in the foil and causing expensive damage. The upside? The bill was less than I feared, John Grant was brilliant, Creran Marine were very helpful and my insurer, Haven Knox-Johnston, paid up promptly. Great service all round.
Stow your mast at a slight slope with the luff groove facing down to avoid damage like this