How not to lower the mast on a Hurley 22 yacht

June 15, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I needed to shorten the forestay, and the mast needed to come down for that.

Hurley 22s have their mast stepped on a tabernacle; effectively their mast hinges on a bolt on the cabin top so presumably all you need to do is undo the front stay and lower it gently to the ground. Sounds simple enough, and the mast only weighs about 40kg though at just under 9 metres it is a *bit* awkward…

So I rounded up a couple of friends, and proposed we used the method described on the Hurley Association website: to take a line (the spinnaker halyard) from the top of the mast, forward to a block and then back to the cockpit and round a winch.  One person would steadily lower the mast while another ‘catches’ it under the spreaders with a long ladder and the whole lot is safely and slowly lowered to the deck.

However they weren’t happy to lower it onto themselves and wanted to do it from the ground in front of the boat with a turn around the pulpit. Someone still had to be up by the mast to give it it’s first shove on its way and guide it down straight.  Guess who that person was? Yep, me.

Lower Mast Hurley 22

I don’t really think this warrants a caption, other than simply “Don’t do it like this”

So, I won’t go into detail but yes it did come down with some form of relative control, it was pretty quick but no-one was actually maimed or died, and ultimately the boat wasn’t damaged …so I guess you could call it a success?  To be honest though, that was probably only by luck rather than skill, and I probably wouldn’t choose do it like that again… Anyway, we propped the end of the mast up on a piece of wood, cushioned the cabin roof with a spinnaker bag and took off the roller reefing foil so I could get the forestay off to be shortened.  It looks a bit precarious so I don’t want to leave it like that for long, or it would probably start to bend the mast (more than it already is…) Hurley 22 Mast However, what we (I) hadn’t considered was how to raise the mast back up again (step the mast), but sometimes you just have to start the journey without knowing exactly where the destination is, right?  More on that next time then…

Oh, and this post is filed under Anarchy.