Mast Refit, Roller furling, Topping Lift, Easy Jacks, VHF Antenna

I’ve known that there was something wrong with the main halyard sheeve in the top of the mast for a while.. It has been hard to pull the mainsail up and the halyard has been gradually fraying where it goes over the sheeve.. Well we (Richard, BIlly, Breck and I) pulled the mast down today and found that the sheeve is totally gone. The halyard has been being pulled up over the bare stainless shaft of the bolt that went through the sheeve..


The sheeve that was there was a used one that Richard had around and installed this past November not long before I bought Sea Puppy from Patty. The moral of the story is not to put old used sheeves that you have to modify in as replacement parts.. I bought replacement sheeves for the mast and boom a few months ago and now that the mast is down will replace all of them.

here is picture of base of mast with new sheeves in.


While the mast is down

  1. I am also going to run the new topping lift internal to the mast and back to the cabin top.
  2. I will run the 2nd reef line internal to the boom.
  3. Install the vhf antenna and coax on and in the mast
  4. install cheek blocks under spreaders on mast for lazy jack system
  5. install small blocks under spreaders for running up flags or lamps etc..
  6. maybe install new end of the boom so I can switch from slab reefing to single line reefing..

I spent a lot of time on friday working on the mast with Miriam helping me. I have to give her credit for being willing to spend a day out in the grueling sun workin on my mast with me.. It would have taken much longer with out her help.


I put new sheeves in the base of the mast and a new main halyard sheeve in the masthead. The jib halyard, topping lift and spinnaker halyard sheeves looked to be in very good condition so I left them in.

Next was installing the cheek blocks just under the spreaders for the easy jacks, I decided not to use stainless screws threaded into the mast and just go to aluminum pop rivits. It seems to work very well and be very strong. I am hoping that it will be less suceptible to galvanic corrosion of the mast with the aluminum on aluminum.


After the lazy jack cheek blocks I installed the topping lift. I hung a block from the mast head between the backstay and the main halyard.


Then I installed an entrance plate about 24 inches below the cap shrouds on the starboard side of the mast. The exit plate is located between 5 and 6 feet up from deck level on starboard.

(It is scary cutting holes in your mast for entrance and exit plates.. its one of those no second chance things. If you mess up just kiss your “A**” goodbye.. oh sorry I meant “Mast” goodbye)


I’m using 1/4 inch line for the topping lift and it comes down to a block mounted to a u-bolt attached through the deck on the starboard side of the mast. It then leads back through the (6 sheeve harken) deck organizers I installed a couple of months ago with this in mind. It terminates at the aft edge of the cabin top on starboard at a cam cleat.
At this point I went ahead and pulled the new main halyard and topping lift with the old main halyard as I pulled it out. I also ran a leader line for pulling the rg-8x coax for the vhf antenna with them. The only tough part of pulling the new lines was that I had to pull the main halyard and leader up to the exit plate for the topping lift and then fish it out there to attach the 14 inch topping lift line.. Pull it back in the mast and up to the topping lift entrance plate at the top of the mast and pull the topping lift line out there and then finish pulling the main halyard out the top of the mast with the leader line for the coax which I would be installing on saturday with Mike.

The last thing I did before calling it quits for the day was to install the new fram 1/2 wave marine antenna at the mast head. I drilled and rivited the bracket on at the front port starboard side of the mast just under the mast head. It just clears the windex by an inch or so.


After going out on Pirate Girl racing with Miriam and Patty, I met Mike back at the marina to install the coax for the Vhf Antenna. I had met Mike the previous weekend sailing on Pirate Girl.. He is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator that also teaches classes for ham radio in the local areas. I had gotten into a conversation with him about radios and such and mentioned that I was installing at vhf antenna on my mast and he volunteered to give me a hand with soldering the PL259 ends on and pulling the cable.

What actually happened is that he not only helped me do the work but he brought the parts and the coax also. It wouldn’t have happened sunday without his help. Originally I was going to use some coax that Richard gave me but we found out that it was about 3 feet to short for the run up the mast. This was a last minute discovery two days before we were going to pull the cable. I had not bothered ordering any coax online because I had thought there would be enough out of what richard gave me. No one but west marine has (RG-8x) 50 ohm coax in the local area.. everyone carries 75 ohm cable used for cable tv and video applications. I finally tracked down at the ocean isle radio shack a 50 ft length of pre-made cable for 39 dollers (which is much cheaper than what west marine sells it for but still pricy.) Before running up I had to touch base with Mike and he told me not to worry he was bringing a spool of RG-8x with him. (He had gotten a big spool at a ham fest for 15 dollers ๐Ÿ™‚ nice deal) Anyway he brought a monster soldering iron and PL-259 ends and we pulled the cable and Mike soldered the ends on. Then did a continuity test on it.. ๐Ÿ™‚ good job everything worked. In the end he wouldn’t even let me pay for the coax or ends just said he was having fun doing it.
So thank you Mike ๐Ÿ™‚ you are a champ.

Early the next morning I went and cleaned up the roller furling unit and scrubbed the bird shit and pine sap off it from it being stored in pattys back yard for the last year and a half. Soapy water and a kitchen pad was good for the bird poop but it needed a stainless scraper to get the pine sap off. It looked much better for being scrubbed. I also went up and down the length cleaning out the two luff slots on the foil and ran water at pressure through the length of the furler to wash as much grit and dust out as I could. I then attached the furler and neatened up all halyards, lines and shrouds so it would be ready to carry to the boat and mount. I also sprayed the length of the slots with mclube sail kote.

About 1 or 2 a-clock Richard met me and Breck down at the dock and we stepped the mast Ok this part was a bear… normally putting the mast up isn’t that bad on sea puppy.. however we had only done it on the trailer which is a fairly steady platform compared to sitting in the slip. When we took the mast down we almost dropped it when the boat wobbled under us. Talk about a heart stopping moment.. So keeping that in mind Richard and I went out to his shed and got a couple of 20 ft lengths of 3 inch? maybe 4 inch PVC pipe that he had bolted together at one end and had lines run on to make a A Frame for putting masts up and down on his boat flimsy flier. It sounds easy in concept but proved a bit harder in execution.

So the the legs go one on each side of the boat forward of the chain plates and get tied to the toe rails. then using a line run forward to the bow and bringing it back the the winch aft the A-frame is lifted up to just past vertical. The two big lines attached to the top of the a-frame are led aft two to blocks on the toe rail and tied off at the jib sheet winches. So picture it an A straddling the boat with one line leading to the bow and two leading back on either side of the boat. At th apex of the a frame is a block with a line coming down that will be tied to the mast just under the spreaders and used to lift the mast up.

This is the theory and actually how we did it the second time around. The first time the port leg slipped and the a-frame fell as we were putting it up..(just the a-frame .. the mast wasn’t on the boat yet, thank GOD! ) Did I say already that I was the one on that side pushing up on that leg to help raise the a-frame. Did I mention that I had my wallet, knife, <strong>PHONE</strong>, and keys in my pockets. Next did I mention that as it fell it carried me over the side of the boat and into the harbor with it? Ahh I guess I forgot to mention that… So here I am going Oh Shitttt! as it drags me over the side. I’m thinking “damn the second phone for flounders this year” I’m also scrambling like crazy to grab something .. anything.. to keep from going all the way in the water and save the phone. The only thing to grab is the a-frame which is still attached to the boat with the end dangling over and into the water…I grabbed it and splash hit the water and just as quick was climbing it like a monkey. I got most of me out of the water in a fraction of a second.. not quick enough to avoid being totally soaked but quick enough it turned out that the phone didn’t get more than surface wet. I’m hanging there upside down by one hand digging my phone out with the other going .. someone grab this will you… ohh and just behind me my check book is floating away…. This all happend quick.. Breck and Richard are still running across the boat to see if im ok worried that I have been injured.. When they get there, I am hanging out upside down from the fallen a-frame half in the water with my phone in my hand. I guess it was a pretty funny sight. lol. the phone survived.. no damage was done to the boat or me..

After that we got the a-frame up and tied down.. then eased the mast down from the bulk head over the dock and out over the boat and under the a-frame.. Using the line and block at the top of the a-frame we tied it to the mast just under the spreaders and then used the main halyard winch to lift it up and hold it in place as we stepped it and attached the shrouds, forstay and backstay.. Big problem… the roller furling unit is supposed to have a little U shaped terminal between the chainplate and the forstay fitting.. It doesn’t use the plates that the normal forstay uses. for now we just left the roller furling unit resting on the deck and used the jib halyard as a temporary forstay. Richard got out his circular saw with the metal cutting blade and we cut down the stainless adjusting plates that the stock forstay uses to adjust rake. We installed this and it seemed to work.

Oh one major fubar during all this. The pin that holds the mast base to the mounting plate on the cabin top went missing. I set it somewhere safe after taking the mast down and when looking for it with the mast hanging there spent 20 minutes of frantic searching but couldn’t find it .. we finally used a 16 penny nail and then replaced that with a 1/4 inch stainless bolt and nut… (two days later I found the pin exactly where I had first looked for it thinking I had put it there. It was one of those cases where I must have looked right at it and not seen it.)

ok we were all pooped and decided to quit for the day.. the mast was up and all stays and shrouds loosely connected and holding it secure.

The next day
I got up early and started tightening up and tuning the upper and lower shrouds.. There is no adjustment on the roller furling unit. It is a fixed length. I set the uppers and lowers at the same poundage that I had her tuned to with the stock forstay and found that I was pulling the mast into a curve forward at the top of the mast.. This is a very bad thing. I also had massive aft rake compared to the just a very lot of rake sea puppy usually has. I spent most of the morning messing with it with no good results. Miriam showed up late in the afternoon while I was working on it and gave a hand also. Finally I started manufacturing new connecting plates for attaching the roller furling unit to the chain plate at the bow. A good drill for the holes and a roto zip with a metal cutting blade did a good job of creating the new plates.. lol at least they did after I got my measurements right. here is a picture of the installed furler with the new plates we made showing.


So by 9 pm sea puppy had new plates and still wasn’t tightened up.. again the next morning I got up and started tuning.. I still thought I had to much rake but when I put the boom on and bent on the mainsail… it actually was holding the boom higher I beleive than it was before.. which would tell me that I have less rake than previous… She seems solid and the mast is bending the right direction at the top. I don’t have as much pre-bend as with the stock forstay but there is an inch or two of it. I will definately put the baby stay back on..

So by about 2 pm all the lines are re-run


and I have tested the roller furler and run the main up and down… it is very hot…. I planned on just quiting for the day… but around then Patty called and arranged to meet me in an hour at the marina to go get a bite to eat. So I decided tostart installing the VHF radio while I waited. Did I say it was hot? I was dripping wet… I could have thrown my shirt at a wall and it would have stuck with a wet splat!.. I’m still amazed I didn’t just pass out with heat exhaustion.

Ok radio… I had gone and gotten a 5/8ths inch drill earlier in the day when I went to pick up Breck and bring him back to the marina to get his RV. It really sucks drilling 5/8th inch holes in your boat.. However I had bought a through hull fitting (PL 258 double ended barrel fitting about 1 and 5/8ths inches long.) that I installed just in front of and to starboard of the mast. It has two locking nuts on it one for above deck and the other for under the deck.. I also bedded it in 3M 4200 for water proofing. The picture above with all the lines around the mast also shows this connector just forward of the mast. The PL 259 fitting on the coax going to the antenna on the mast screws onto this and then a patch cable screws on underneath and runs to the radio where it uses a PL-259 fitting to screw onto the back of the VHF radio. To run the patch cable up in the space between the ceiling and the deck I had to fish a leader line from the access pannel in the roof of the head compartent to the access panel around the compression post. This took a while to get and then pulling the cable with the PL259 plug on the end of it was a bear…. PL 259 plugs are big and the space in there has a couple places that are just a little smaller than the plug. However gritting and a little brute force will solve most such problems.. and sometimes the parts still work afterward. ๐Ÿ™‚ they did this time… Next I surface mounted the radio that Billy had given me.. It is an older model “Standard Horizon Eclipse +” Marine VHF unit. After getting it mounted and everything connected I was able to do a radio check with someone in Ocean Isle more than 15 miles away. HURRRAYYYYY… Thanks go out to Billy Karl and Mike for the help, parts and radio.. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh the radio is a Standard Horizon Eclipse+ GX1250S It seems to have excelent reviews in the low end radios for signal strength and reception. Also Standard Hoizon Technical Support was very nice when I called in looking for a manual. Within 5 minutes of calling I had the manual for that model in my email. Thanks guys.
Actually a full list of people I owe thanks to for help and advice through out the whole mast taking down, working on and putting back up process are

Richard Truet, Breck Caine, Miriam, Billy Karl, Mike, Elizibeth for dockside cheering from under the umbrella and Judy for trying to help me move the roller furling off the trailer even though I got someone else to help do it before she got there. If you helped and your name isn’t here just smack me when you see me.. ๐Ÿ™‚ I blame it on heat exhaustion messing with my memory. Realy I wouldn’t forget you!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Finishing up the roller furling a few days latter
After breakfast I went down to the boat and started putting the fairleads on the stantions on the port side of sea puppy and also the turning block with cam cleat attached to the toerail on port to secure the furling line….

Finally I went to the hardware store and got the locking nuts I needed for the bolts to bold on the turning block with the locking cams. I didn’t install it this day.. the rain stayed well into early evening..

back to the roller furling.. here are pictures of the whole setup.. I finished installing it all the next morning.. Also replaced one of the port side stantion bases that had cracked.. I had to shear off the screw head that come through the toe rail into the threaded hole in the stantion side. It was stainless and the stantion base is aluminum.. it had permanently corroded together. I had to drill it out after that to get the base off of the stantion shaft. But it all went well. I even got a stainless bolt to replace the sheared and drilled one from richard after breakfast. ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks richard! It all went back together great I bedded the base down in 4200 between it and the hull and put silicone caulking on the stainless bolt before screwing it in. This should keep it from corroding again.

Here is the rear turning block with the cam cleat. Furling line already fed through it..


Looking down the side deck as the furling line goes through the fair leads


One of the two fair leads the furling line goes through


The forward stantion mounted block that is attached to the aft end of the bow pulpit.


You can see the furling line entering the furling drum at an appropriate angle here. Also you cand see the plates we manufactured to go between the furling unit and the chain plate. This is an older furlex furling unit.. It has twin slots in the aft edge of a foil shapped aluminum extrusion.


Side View. It looks as if the furler touches the forward pulpit leg but it doesn’t. The pulpit was modified by the original owner. Mike Butts to clearance the furling unit.


You can see in this shot the unit does clear the pulpit leg as well as see the jib sheets as the come up and wrap around the sail and furling unit.