Mast decision for winter storage

Published on September 23rd, 2021

by Darrell Nicholson, Practical Sailor
You may have noticed that each winter that there seem to be fewer masts in the rack and more still standing upright in boats in the yard. Obviously, there are savings in not unstepping a mast, plus there is the potential for damage when it is unstepped and stepped in spring. (Not to mention the problem of misplaced clevis pins, etc.)

But what about the forces placed on the boat during the winter when a boat is rigid in a cradle? If a boat is in the water you can see it heel at a mooring on a windy day. But when it is on the hard, and the rig is taking the full force of winter storm—how does that impact the rig?

And what about the impact of drastic temperature change on the rig and hull if your mast is left up? How are the masts and hull impacted by the changes in hull shape caused by the cold in winter? How should the rig be tuned to adjust for these changes?

We often wonder it is only us dinosaurs who still have the yard take the mast down for winter.

If you are like us, you may feel strangely guilty about leaving a mast up in winter. In our case, it is probably those old wooden spar days calling. Ideally, wooden spars need to come down and be sheltered and coddled at regular intervals. Aluminum masts really don’t, and the sky is actually a decent place to store them.

It’s cleaner than lying them across barrels or in racks, where they tend to collect all sorts of dirt and dreck, even if they’re under cover. But you are right about the potential for damage when they’re being stepped or un- stepped. It’s not uncommon. – Full story

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