I'm still rolling around ideas for the mast issue, leaning away from what I mentioned yesterday, leaning towards an idea I that occurred to me, but which I had forgotten, that windy day at the ramp in Rumbley.
For the record, the Jim's - Jim, JimB and Jim Vibert - are unanimous in their recommendation of going to a tabernacle mast. I appreciate the input from you guys, plus a handful of people who contacted me directly by email. It is very nice of everyone to share their thoughts.
There is Spartina, ready to be launched in Rumbley. You can tell from the JW pennant that the wind was blowing pretty good. You cannot tell how frustrated I was about 30 minutes earlier when I could not raise the mast. After trying for a long while to lift the mast in the wind I decided to stop and think about it. Thinking did not help, but a brief lull in the wind did.
I've long been aware of the uses and benefits of a tabernacle mast. I saw it first hand on day three of the Tag Team sail with Paul and Dawn. We were passing through Dipping Vat Creek from Bonner Bay to Pamlico Sound, a narrow creek with obstacles including fishing nets and a partially raised gate (which was not visible from the satellite photos I had used for research). Bruce and I barely got past the gate, with the mast touching the upper reaches at one point before backtracking and sliding by with inches to spare. I wondered how Dawn Patrol would make it through. I turned around to see that they had simply lowered their tabernacle masts and motored through without a second thought.
Spartina's mast is a hollow bird's mouth mast with plugs at the top and bottom to deal with the pressure points. It seems to me it would be a lot of work to re-engineer the mast to accommodate a tabernacle mast. The mast would need to be cut once for the tabernacle, and possibly cut a second time to add a plug for stress above the foredeck. Should I do all that when having a tabernacle mast would have helped me just three three times in six years of sailing?
Plus there is something I like in the simple elegance of the once piece 18 foot tall mast. I tend towards simple things - simple things for simple minded, you know. You can ask Bruce about this. He has, over the years, suggested many changes, alterations and ideas to make the boat more comfortable. In just about every case I have said "I see your point but no, let's keep in simple." Bruce smiles and says "well, ok."
Paul sent me the photo above, which reminded me of a thought I had had at Rumbley while struggling with the mast. At first I mistook his photo for a tabernacle. But he explained it was a tool to guide the mast through the deck hole. That reminded me of trying to put the foot of the mast into the deck hole that windy morning and walk it forward. It did not work, there was not enough space to get the angled foot of the mast into the deck hole. But I thought that if I had just an inch or two more room it might have worked. I thought then about extending the deck hole aft a few inches, with maybe a plug/cap to fill the extra space. That would have done it.
So that is what I'm looking at now. Elongate the deck hole a few inches, a much simpler cut that the full slot, and make a cap that fits in place. Paint it white, to match the deck, and most people would not even notice it was there.
I need to think about it for a while more.
This photo is from the end of the first day of the Wet and Windless trip. I'm showing it here to remind me how much fun sailing can be, even on a trip when it seems to rain all the time.
I did not go sailing today. I rethought my plans of a dawn launch when I saw that there was another freeze warning for the night. Later in the morning, when I had the trailer hooked up, I checked the weather and saw a forecast of 30 knot gusts. I'm glad I did not go. The forecasts, by noon, were accurate. The wind was howling.