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maintenance progressions

mast work: sanding and painting!

By now I have spent a LOT of time with my dear Coconut’s mast. Because of this, I have named her Stella. She is getting her groove back, yo! There was SO. MUCH. WORK. to be done, so I’ll publish the posts in the order the work occurred.

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Stella is a six year old, 41′ tall Sitka spruce mast. As far as I understand it, wooden masts need to be pulled for inspection semi-regularly. The paint was flaking off on the rounded corners as you can see in the image above, not to mention the standing rigging was original (40 years old!). If there were any boat work I dreamt about doing when I was out of commission for 2 years, it was mast work.

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First things first, I marked the rigging before the mast came down. This simply means loosening the turnbuckles and placing white electrical tape on top and bottom of the turnbuckle. This lets the riggers know how long to cut the wire. Then the magic happened. I put on a hard hat and just like that, the mast came down!

The standing rigging was rushed off to the riggers den. Everything would be remade exactly was it was, with the exception of the lower shrouds. A couple of riggers had mentioned how they appeared to be undersized, so up a gage they went.

I quickly got to work scraping all the paint off the mast. I’d point the heat gun at a small area, wait for the paint to bubble up, and then scrape scrape scrape with a paint scraper. Heat gun, bubble up, scrape scrape scrape. I could only manage two hour shifts because it was just too much for my flimsy arms to bear. I was making too much of a mess with the paint scrapes flying all over the place in the mast area, so the yard moved Stella into a shed where it would eventually be spray-painted. We were blocked from the wind, and the sun! #blessed

Once I had scraped all the paint off (all 4 sides) I then sanded… all 4 sides.

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After I got the mast down to bare wood, Arturo, who was going to be painting the mast, sprayed on a primer coat. I took a two part epoxy and filled in all the cracks and holes in the mast. That’s the green stuff in the photo below. After, Arturo sprayed a thin layer of black stuff which showed all the imperfections. I sanded it down again (yay) but this time with a #240 grit sand paper until it was nice and smooth.

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I have no idea how many hours I spent scraping, sanding, and filling in the mast but by the end of the sanding my arms were as strong as noodles. It probably took a month all in all. It didn’t help I was in school full time (5 classes!), so time and energy was precious. The good news is I only found a pea sized area of dry rot. The wires were also confirmed to be easy to replace, as they were in a PVC pipe and were moving which was a good sign. So far, none of the wires had actually been connected to anything… 🙂

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After I got it as perfect as I could. Arturo sprayed Stella with three coats of Eggshell White. Oh Stella was shining! I shouldn’t forget to mention the boom as well as two spreaders were in this shed with us. I used the fancy kind of paint which should last 7-10 years provided I buff it once a year. I haven’t buffed it yet but keep telling myself that I will one day. I’m terrified of heights. I probably won’t do this and will pay someone else to do it.

Now that this is completed, I will show everything else mast related in my next post. I added a spare halyard, had new shivs made, etc.