Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If it takes longer then 4 hours to raise your mast... is a bad thing.

Odessa is in position, the wind is down and the mast is as ready as it’s going to be. It’s mast stepping day and Odessa will cease being a motor boat and return to her former state as a sail boat.
The process of stepping a mast is not complicated in itself and with a smaller rig it can quite easily be a do-it-yourself job. But, as usual, Odessa being originally built to go fast, has many quirks and complications. Add the fact that we took a risk and changed to new synthetic Dynex rigging with all new fittings, and relied on my ability to measure everything correctly, and you have a recipe for some issues.

FKG Rigging in St. Maarten are handling the job and I must say that I feel very confident in their ability to make it as smooth as possible. FKG is used to handling far more complicated rigs and their huge experience should solve the issues that were bound to encounter. 

Chris from FKG is a quite man, thoughtful and very helpful when asked, we have enjoyed working with him and tapping into his knowledge and experience. He works with Paul and as a team they have a confidence inducing rapport, a quite communication that really helped me keep my cool through the whole process. 

And up she went... it’s quite amazing to see the 75’ long spaghetti of mast and rigging get hoisted in the air and swung into place. Hanging still just above Odessa, who moves under the influence of the water and wind. Slowly the mast drops through the deck, it”s maneuvered through the fixtures below to finally rest on the mast plate (the step). Then there’s actually a bit of a buzz as the lowers and various lines are attached to stabilize the rig. 

This is when I fully realized just how flexible masts are, wobbling like a limp noodle this huge 75 foot pole slowly begins to firm up as rigging is tightened. I was feeling very good about the whole thing, and this is when our first issue arose... everything is very tight and the 4 shrouds are way too short.

Being tight is ok because we should get some stretch out of the rope rigging which has been sat in storage for 6 months, but the “way to short” part is another story. I checked my measurements, looked for a solid alibi, but there was no denying it... I have made a 12” mistake 8 months before.

We lashed the fittings that are too short and tightened everything up to put it under load. With over 3000 lb. of pressure on each line it should work out any stretch and we will be able to attach the lines that are tight in a couple of days. The 4 shrouds that are way too short will need a solution... which I'm sure will come to mind after lunch.

We were on a deadline... leave the yard by Friday to get to our new staging dock at Puerto Cupecoy at the far end of the lagoon. The final solution would have to wait until after the weekend which would also give the rig time to work out any stretch. We spent that night full of happiness listening to the rig sing in the wind, the problems melted away and we cooked a wonderful diner on deck. Even though we're only a third of the way to having a fully functioning rig, it suddenly felt a lot closer than yesterday.

Next stop is Cupecoy, a new luxury resort providing amazing rates to fill the marina while they build their reputation. Quite a contrast from the ship yard and the kids have orders to be on their best behavior. There turns out to be advantages and disadvantages to living the high life for a while... we'll get to that in the next post.

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