Mastless in Monroe

by Chuck February 11, 2005

Tonight after work I started my project to replace the halyard blocks at the top of Odyssey's mast. The first step is to unship the mast and move it to my work area.

On any other sailboat, "unship the mast" would mean a huge undertaking, involving cranes, great big mast bolts, and probably a team of professionals to make sure nothing went wrong. On Odyssey I just undid the turnbuckles for the backstay and the side stays and slid it over her side and onto the ground. Yet another advantage of a trailerable sailboat.

After I had the mast off the boat, Dana came out and helped me carry it down to the barn. The 26-foot mast takes up an impressive amount of space in the barn alley. I laid it on the floor to start with, but when I work on it I lift the part I'm working on up to a sawhorse.

The first order of business was to remove the old blocks for the main halyard, the jib halyard, and the topping lift. While I was there, I went ahead and took off the block that is shackled on for a spinnaker halyard, since it will be a few more years before I can afford to buy a 'chute.

The spinnaker halyard block came of the easiest. It was attached to a padeye on the mast with a clevis pin. I just removed the split ring and the clevis pin slipped out and so did the block. The block is in pretty good shape, so I'll keep it around for a while and see if I can put it to use.

The jib halyard block was next. The bolt that holds the forestay to the mast went through a hole in the block, so all I had to do was undo the lock nut, slip the bolt out of the block, and re-tighten the lock nut. Again, simple, once I'd found the right tools. It took me longer to find my 7/16 socket than it did to take the block off.

Finally, I removed the cheek blocks for the main halyard and topping lift. I had to drill out the rivets that hold them in place. Not hard, the rivet heads popped right off, but the rivets remaind proud of the mast body and I can't figure out how to get them the rest of the way off. I figure I'll post on the Cascadia list, someone there will know.

All told it took about half an hour to get the old blocks off. Tomorrow I'm off to Harbor Marine, Popeye's and West Marine to find replacement blocks.



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