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 Is climbing the mast of a Catalina 25 a thing?

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Oneday Posted - 06/10/2022 : 17:21:41
Can one safely climb the mast? I have a swing keel. Thanks Dan
17   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Stinkpotter Posted - 09/20/2022 : 22:26:56
(15 years, I'll say...) Well, I only owned her for six, and only lowered the mast, ummmmm... zero times. (It was removed a couple of times at Norwalk Cove for the winter and new rigging.) So What do I know?
Voyager Posted - 09/20/2022 : 07:24:02
Yes Dave, I’ve raised and lowered my mast about a dozen times in the past 16 or so years. Sometimes with another person, sometimes solo and it’s always a royal P.I.T.A. I’ve always used an A-frame to manage the weight and clumsiness of an 85 lb, 30 ft spar.
It would be a lot nicer if it only weighed 50 lbs.
Stinkpotter Posted - 09/17/2022 : 21:02:43
Yes, there is new stuff out there... Yes, the designers in 1975 had fewer choices. They picked what was probably known to be over-robust, since the C-25 was not being designed as a racer or a real "trailer sailer" even like the C-22. But I can't imagine re-engineering that rig by changing to a mast extrusion different enough to make stepping and lowering the mast substantially easier. Will it?? Do you know what changes in the geometry Catalina would have made?

Bruce: You have a standard rig. (How did I know? ) Not a tall rig like Steve had. People have lowered those masts for over 45 years--some to sail off trailers or even go under bridges every time out. How much are you willing to invest to change the process from a three person job to (maybe) just two while forever wondering whether your selection will stand up to unexpected conditions as well as the one chosen by the marine architects for Catalina? (Note: That's how it works... A designer like Frank Butler creates the design, and a marine architect, maybe under contract, decides what is required--hull laminations and structural components, ballast and its locations and attachments, rigging components, etc. Are you comfortable stepping in on that?)
Steve Milby Posted - 09/17/2022 : 07:30:50
In 24 years, I never climbed my TR mast. It was easier to just take it down. When I needed to take down the mast, I removed the boom with the mainsail still on it, disconnected the forward lowers, slightly loosened the uppers, attached a line to the jib halyard to use as a control/safety line, and then walked down the dock and found 2-3 helpers and we just walked it down. Raising it was equally easy. Our docks were always teeming with people on weekends who were willing to help. If help wasn't available, then it could be done more shorthanded with an A frame. I could take it down, change the light bulbs and put it up again in under an hour.

Raising and lowering the much shorter, lighter mast on my C22 still required 2 people. It took one person to walk it up or down and one person to connect and disconnect the forestay and tend the control/safety line. The only real difference is that it took 2 people to walk up or down the C25 mast, instead of only one.

We can only speculate on why Catalina chose this mast extrusion 43 years ago, when they started building C25s. Maybe it was the only extrusion available at the time that was suitable for a 25' masthead rigged boat. Maybe any lighter mast extrusion available at the time would have looked cheap and thus reflected poorly on the boat's build quality. Unquestionably, the heavier mast is more robust. Probably they had other reasons we haven't considered.
Voyager Posted - 09/16/2022 : 21:14:21
Well, but with a thinner mast, you’d never have to go up there, you just take it down. That’s the point.
You’d only have to loosen the toggles and walk it down…
I checked Dwyer Mast today, and many of their masts’ cross sections are a lot thicker than a Coors can. They have a 4”x2.65” spar that weighs about 1.4#/ft, which is beefy, there are others that are less. At 32 ft that’s only 45 lbs, not 85 lbs like the Catalina. Even with rigging, masthead and spreaders, it would still be manageable for one person to take down. I wonder whether I could find something at a salvage center?
Stinkpotter Posted - 09/16/2022 : 13:28:59
...and I recall the C-25 tall rig mast is even heavier (or at least larger cross-section dimensions) requiring a different tabernacle. I also recall someone saying it's the extrusion that was used for the C-27 mast.

I witnessed a Hunter (backstay-less B&R rig with a tapered, bendy mast) backing out of a slip, brushing a shroud against a piling, and having the mast buckle just above some struts that supported the base. The upper section ended up on the dock in front of the boat, where I helped the owner move it back onto his deck. The extrusion at the point of the break looked like a Coors can--nothing like my C-25 (now Bruce's). I'm sure the engineers were proud of their lightweight, bendable mast and backstay-less rig... After what I saw, I wouldn't go up one in a bosun's chair.
Steve Milby Posted - 09/16/2022 : 06:26:36
Originally posted by Voyager

Dumb question, but one worth asking: why it the Catalina mast so thick and heavy?

Alerions have fractional rigs, which are, by design, more slender than masthead rigs. Fractional rigs are meant to be easily bendable, to help shape the sails. The masts of masthead rigs are intended to be rigid, not bendable. Masthead rigs have to support much heavier loads created by much bigger jibs, and a stronger mast is in order. San Juans have masthead rigs, like C25s. I can only guess at Catalina's reasoning for choosing the C25 rig. They had to choose between a lighter rig and a stronger rig. They opted for a stronger rig. I'd guess it was just a judgment call.
Voyager Posted - 09/16/2022 : 05:52:49
Dumb question, but one worth asking: why it the Catalina mast so thick and heavy?
Looking around the boatyard, most of the big boat masts are 40ft or more, and their diameter isn’t a lot bigger than mine.
Many other 21-24 foot boats have 28-32 ft masts, but they’re nowhere near the thickness and girth of my mast. For example, there’s a San Juan and an Alerion 22 with masts that I could take down solo without any jigs or rigs.
Has anybody ever replaced their “lead pipe” with a skinnier one? What do you think originally drove the selection of this mast, was it based on an engineering assessment of wind forces?
Would be nice to have a lighter mast to assist with maintenance.
Erik Cornelison Posted - 09/14/2022 : 18:03:02
Seen it climbed a bunch at our marina, not a worry (for the boat).
Lee Panza Posted - 07/06/2022 : 09:41:12
I'd like to append something to this thread, based on the last comment from the previous posting.

Make absolutely certain that anyone below you understands to move around on the boat - or on to or off of it - VERY SLOWLY, and to communicate with you before they do!

While much attention in this thread has focused on the leverage of your weight at the top of that long lever, it cannot be stressed enough that the weight of a single person stepping on or off the boat, or even shifting between the mid-girth and the side, has an enormous effect at the end of that lever. The person up there will instinctively grab the mast for stability, and this can result in dropping something important and completely disrupting whatever operation he's engaged in at the moment. It's also pretty "exciting" in a not good way.

I go up my mast from time to time (I've got a swing keel), as it's far easier and faster than dropping it. Inspecting something questionable, or replacing something important (ie. the windex or the anchor light), can't wait until I'm able to perform the operation of lowering/raising the mast - which takes several hours altogether. I've put together a climbing rig, using mechanical ascenders like we used when I climbed in Yosemite (there are good rigs commercially available). Being able to use a prusik knot on a second line adds an element of redundancy we didn't have back then, and I feel quite comfortable going up without any assistance. However, having someone down there, to pass me a tool I forgot to bring, via the bucket on the haul line attached to my waist, saves me having to go down and back up in the middle of an operation... as long as they move about the boat SLOWLY.

So, to the OP here, yes; climbing the mast on a Catalina 25 is definitely a "thing." Go for it!

CC83 Posted - 06/27/2022 : 10:54:34
I can only speak to a fin keel, but one can definitely go and work aloft on a Catalina 25 while at the dock. Aloft while underway would be a different animal on such a small boat...

I personally make a point to go up the rig before sailing anytime the mast is stepped and at least once a year. Gives me a chance to do a full inspection and tape up any pointy stuff for the spinnaker. This could be done with the mast down, but I'm a bit old school and enjoy the warm and fuzzy of looking over the rig with it up. No more than a 15 minute operation if done right. The best method for going up is a personal comfort decision. I wear a climbing harness.

This is more for any newbies who read the thread since I haven't seen this covered before, but general rules to live by for working aloft are:
-Always, always, always go up on 2 different halyards, both tied (NOT just shackled) to your harness/boatswain's chair.
-Never trust your life to just a clutch or self-tailor. If not actively being tailed by someone, tie the halyard off on a winch or cleat.
-Always climb and descend with the working halyard on a winch
-Wear a life jacket. It both protects you if you get swung into the rig by waves and could save your life if you fall.
-Tie all metal tools to your harness or boatswain's chair. Dropping an untied Leatherman = a hole in your deck or someone below you's head.
-A COMPETENT crew member is required to work the halyards, 2 desired.
-This isn't always possible, but try to make working aloft the "main event". At least one person should be a dedicated safety observer, other people shouldn't be getting on/off the boat, doing other significant boat work, etc.
bigelowp Posted - 06/16/2022 : 20:02:42
On our boats unstepping the mast is much easier than a boatswain chair. And, at the weight of the boat vs most of us . . . . .
Voyager Posted - 06/13/2022 : 21:43:20
Personally, I would not do it if I had to use a boatswain’s chair or if I had a swing keel. I probably would not do it even with a fixed keel and a mast mate system.
At my current weight (200+ lbs) I calculated the moment of the keel versus my weight at a leverage of 30-ish feet, and if the boat decided to heel a little, and my weight swung over the centerline a little too far, the math says that the boat is going over.
Maybe the math is off, but even if I climb up to the spreaders on a ladder to change the steaming light or adjust the shrouds, I can feel the sway of the boat under me, and it’s not a lot of fun.
A fall would either be fatal or debilitating.
Dropping the mast is a lot less stressful and much safer. You can still get bonked if things go wrong, but the consequences are a lot less grave. It’s not something that I want to do.
Derek Crawford Posted - 06/13/2022 : 15:07:25
Our original boat was a SK C22 and I was up the mast in the slip several times. On our C25 FK I had a friend free climb the mast just before the start to fix a jammed halyard.
It really is quicker and easier to climb the mast using a bosun's chair and a halyard than spend a couple of hours lowering and raising.
smd Posted - 06/13/2022 : 11:34:39
For another perspective, I find it easier and much quicker to climb the mast than to take it down. I have a mastmate system, which you might look into, but have also done it with a bosun's chair. That said, I keep my boat in the water year-round, so I'm not as adept with stepping the mast as some others.
Stinkpotter Posted - 06/11/2022 : 20:45:46
Use Search above--for "climb mast", all words, C-25 forum, subject only, include archived posts.
bigelowp Posted - 06/10/2022 : 19:10:00
Must ask -- why do you want to? Would thing that it would be easier to take the mast down to inspect, repair, check lights, etc. FWIW I remove mast each winter to reduce strain on standing rigging/chainplates AND to inspect.

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