Yikes! Lowering Our Mast


When we lowered the mast, it came to rest in a horizontal position, with the top of the mast at the stern. This photo shows the tabernacle (bottom of the mast) that attaches on the fly bridge, the spreaders on the mast, and the Raymarine radar antenna. The top of the mast is to the right and out of the photo.

We’ve been boating long enough to know that our plans are always subject to change, and the key word is “flexibility.” We had hoped to be underway by now, but it’s taken longer than we expected to get things ready to travel. Some of our projects have taken longer than we planned…one was changing the bulb in our anchor light.

On Sunday, we decided to fix the anchor light. The anchor light sits on top of our mast, and last fall we noticed that it wasn’t working. We couldn’t find any wiring problems inside the boat and suspected the 11-year-old bulb was burned out, and decided to deal with it in the spring when we took the boat out again.

Replacing the bulb requires lowering our mast, something we’ve never done. Jim rigged up some lines to stabilize the mast as we lowered it. We used the power winch on the boom to pull the mast toward the stern and start the process of lowering it. Jim adjusted the stabilizing lines as the mast came down, and guided me as I kept tension on a line holding the mast so that it didn’t come crashing down. It wasn’t pretty, but we did get the mast down and Jim was able to reach the anchor light by standing on a 4-foot stepladder. Turned out that the bulb was burned out and he replaced it with a new bulb. Yea! It works.


Jim, standing on the stern deck, prepares to re-rig the boom hoisting line.

While the rigging was down, we took the opportunity to replace the line that supports the boom. It was old and cruddy. After a trip to West Marine, Jim rigged the new line and got the mast and boom ready to raise again. Fortunately our friends Ann and Bob stopped by, and Bob helped Jim push up on the mast while I pulled it up and into its normal upright position. By this time, the wind had come up and it was gusting 15-20 knots over the stern, which blew the mast and boom around and certainly made things more exciting.

In the process, the wind caused the new boom lifting line to come loose from the top of the mast and we didn’t notice it until the mast was back up! It was too windy to consider lowering the mast again. Jim thought he could use a bosun’s chair to get to the top of the mast and reattach the line, so we decided to try that tomorrow. Bob and Ann own a sailboat and have a bosun’s chair (most sailboat cruisers have one of these), which they offered to lend to us. We had a bosun’s chair on our sailboat, but sold it with the sailboat when we got Phoenix.


Jim stands on top of the 4-foot ladder to re-rig the boom hoisting line.

On Monday, Jim rigged up a block and tackle system to use the bosun’s chair, but unfortunately we couldn’t come up with a rigging scheme that we thought was safe. So, our only option was to lower the mast again. It was a little easier this time…we learned a few things after the first experience. Once the mast was down, Jim re-rigged the boom raising line and we pulled the mast back up.

Our efforts to replace the anchor light took us the better part of two days! But now we know how to lower and raise our mast…and our anchor light works!


This shows the port side of the mast, with Jim finishing up the work on the masthead.

Yesterday we spent most of the day buying groceries. Stopped at both the local Safeway store and the Market at Anacortes. Spent $$$$$ at each store. At home, I buy groceries every few days, so I’m not used to buying so much at once. This week’s bulk shopping experience was a good reminder about how expensive groceries have become!

Still have a few more things to do, but we’re getting close!

2 thoughts on “Yikes! Lowering Our Mast

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