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.

The evolving riddle of Duet’s mast rake… Part 1

June 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm
Weather Helm
  1. a tendency in a sailing ship to head into the wind if the tiller is released.

So, Duet has awful weather helm. Her steering is really heavy as she wants to point into the wind all the time and you have to counter-act that with the tiller and rudder, which in turn causes unnecessary drag and slows her down and causes unnecessary fatigue on the helmswoman.

In fairness, a little bit of weather helm is desirable so that in gusts her automatic response is to luff up (or turn into the wind) and de-power, rather than turn away (from the wind) that could cause the boat to become over-pressed and difficult to steer and control (dangerous!).

Now, Hurley 22s do have a tendency towards weather helm, due predominantly to the rudder being a little small.  Later examples (like Duet) have a different rudder design though are supposed to be improved.  Another simple way of improving them is to put a reef in the main so that more of the power is coming from the genoa in front.

However, I had noticed that someone (a previous owner?) had actually cut a notch in the tiller stock, presumably to give it more purchase and to help with her really heavy steering. However, the effect of this is that the tiller then hangs really low in the cockpit and it’s uncomfortable to steer anyway! Clearly not good, and clearly to be improved.  I want to play with sheet to tiller steering this summer and the boat needs to be as balanced as possible for that.

I had also become aware that Duet has an uncomfortable looking mast rake (the angle at which the mast bends backwards) so after polling a few other owners in the yard I took a picture and posted it to the Hurley Owners Yahoo Group.  The verdict was that it didn’t look right, and the mast on a Hurley 22 should be pretty much upright. Someone also suggested that it might cause weather helm, and a little lightbulb went on in my head…

Hurley 22 Mast Rake Weather Helm

(Left) Duet’s bent back mast (Centre and Right) The notch cut in the tiller – I put the screw in last season as the tiller hangs too low in the cockpit!

The reason that mast rake (and reefing the mainsail) impact weather helm is all to do with the balance between the centre of resistance of the hull, and the centre of pressure (of the sails).  If the centre of pressure is astern of the centre of resistance to the hull then there will be weather helm (the boat will want to turn into the wind) and if it is in front of the centre of resistance then there will be lee helm (the boat will want to bear away from the wind)

So on Duet, the mast rake is effectively moving the centre of pressure backwards, and putting it behind the centre of lateral resistance.  Similarly, putting a reef in the main makes the sail behind the centre of resistance smaller and moves the centre of pressure forward again counter-acting the weather helm.

There is other stuff that impacts the centre of resistance of the hull like the size of the rudder, and also the amount of heel on the boat (and her underwater profile) but let’s not complicate stuff any more at the moment:  Its pretty clear to me that we need to pull the mast upright again.

However, it wasn’t to be that easy… The rake of a mast is controlled by the rigging, in particular the forestay (the front wire).  Unfortunately Duet’s forestay is as tight as it will go, but luckily (and a bit bizarrely) the split backstay is loose.

Standing Rigging Hurley 22

(Left) Forestay as tight as it can go (Right) One of the split backstays, looks adjusted but is actually quite loose

This can only mean one thing: the mast has to come down and I need to take off the roller reefing and have the forestay shortened.  Which is quite complicated.#sadface

Also, there is clearly something going on with her rigging…

Sitrep 13/6/14

June 13, 2014 at 9:07 am

Situation Report for 13th June 2014

Duet Hurley 22

I’ve been busy… Have spent pretty much the last 2 weeks down at the boat and have done alot, but there is still much to do.

It’s a matter of priorities now: what has to be done before launch and what can possibly wait: what is necessary for safety and what is a ‘nice to have’.

So the inside is finished, painted and carpeted… Bar a bit of finishing off.

And the bottom has had its 4 coats of epoxy, and one of antifouling (just needs another one). To be honest it looks better than I ever hoped!

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that the mast is down. That’s a long and complicated saga, and I’m going to do a whole post on that when I get a minute (and some video of inside work too).

Nonetheless, here is the list of remaining works that must be done before re-launch (hopefully at the end of next week). This concentrates on the basic essentials of rig, hull, engine and navigation.


  • Fit new cap shrouds (being made up now)
  • Fit new spreaders (being made up now)
  • Replace all clevis pins
  • Re-rivet foot of mast and cap (rigger to do)
  • Replace VHF cable in mast.
  • Re-tape electrical connections (have already been tested and work)
  • Step mast
  • Adjust rigging


  • Finish antifouling
  • Refit one through hull and seacock (one already done!)


  • Make sure lights work
  • Make sure depth/log/gps work
  • Install new VHF
  • Sort out anchor
  • Buy new outboard and get it aboard!

The rest, I think can be done on route. After all, they do say that cruising is just boat maintenance in new places…


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