Last spring we were working on the mast when we noticed there was a dent in it. It was clear that something compressed the upper tang, causing a dent. The upper tang looked normal, so it must have been pulled out again. We hadn’t noticed it when the mast was previously unstepped, but maybe we simply didn’t see it. Regardless, it doesn’t matter when or how, it was there.
We decided to ignore it for the season and deal with it later. We weren’t planning on intentionally sailing in rough conditions nor out on the high seas, so we figured we’d take our chances. But when we unstepped the mast last month, we knew it was time to address the situation.
We’re big on DIY, but we also know when to step back. Initially I thought we would need a new mast, so I started researching where to get one. Dwyer Mast Company is located in Norwalk, CT, but they didn’t have any that were our size. Then I tried contacting Rig-Rite in Rhode Island. Their customer service ended up being so lousy that I decided I would only use them for anything if I had no other option.
After I posted on the Bristol Facebook page and the Bristol Yahoo groups, Sound Rigging Services in Essex, CT was highly recommended by several people so we contacted SRS. Within a few days I was standing by the mast racks at Shenny with Chuck and John. I explained our future cruising plans to Chuck and braced myself, fully expecting him to say that we needed a new mast.
“Well, if it were me I wouldn’t just let it go, but you don’t need a new mast. We can fix this.” Chuck explained that they could press the dent out and rivet two 12″ long x 6″ wide doubler plates (one on each side) onto the mast. It would be stronger than new, and much less expensive than a new mast. Yay! Then he started looking over the rest of the mast, picked up a piece of our standing rigging, and pointed out a crack in the swage. Boo!
The standing rigging holds the mast up, and we were planning on replacing it before we left – ideally next winter. However, with a crack in the swage that project immediately was pushed forward to now. The only thing to decide was whether to use swages again or switch to swageless fittings. Fortunately we had already started researching this issue awhile ago.
Swageless fittings are more expensive, but they are reusable so that when you need to re-rig you simply install a new cable. Re-rigging with swaged fittings requires a new swage, which means you need a machine. We decided we’d rather be able to carry some spare cables and do a replacement ourselves rather than risk having a broken stay somewhere that doesn’t have a swaging machine, so we’re going with swageless Hi-Mod fittings by Hayn Marine.
Swageless fittings are definitely something we can DIY, but this time around we’re leaving the measuring and installation to the pros. Chuck suggested that we come down to the shop when the parts come in so we can watch him install a few, and then we’ll also install a few ourselves under his supervision. I really liked that idea, and was glad that he proposed it without my having to ask. He’ll also give us a detailed list of all of the parts, measurements, etc. so we can keep it in our file for any future replacements. We’ll have new cables, new fittings, new turnbuckles, and replace anything else that looks suspect. The whole process won’t be cheap, but for us it is definitely money well spent!