Mast Raising System

Back to Projects Completed   Back to Planned Projects   Back to Technical Tips Home

The Poor Man’s Version

This system, appropriately named the "Poor Man's" version, costs practically nothing to make, and is quite effective.

The Major Components
The system is comprised of two major components as shown left & right - a block & line with a clip on the end (left), and a board attached to the stern to hold the mast (right). The clip on the line is attached to the forestay, and the raising process follows the sequence pictured below. The upper and rear shrouds are left in place along with the backstay.  Only the forestay and the front lower shrouds are disconnected.  It takes about a minute to raise and secure the mast
Mast Raising Sequence
(1) The mast is slid back along the stern brace into position and (2) the bolt is secured to the tabernackle. (3)The mast is bench pressed from the cockpit while the line connected to the forestay is pulled.
(4) I leave the lower board on the cabin cover in place to give me a leg up on to the cabin top.  The raising line is now doing most of the work as the mast raises into position. The rear stays are becoming taut (occasionally they will get snagged on something). (5) When the mast is nearly upright ,and now holding only the raising line, I move forward to the tack and carefully grab hold of the forestay and pin the turnbuckle to the tack. I leave the raising line clipped to the forestay and usually wrap the line around my foot while I secure the forestay.  This gives me a margin of safety in case I loose my grip on the forestay. (6) Done !

With the forestay securely fastened, the mast is no longer in danger of falling. So, I can go about the business of securing the remaining two lower shrouds and making final adjustsments to the rig.

Remember - the penalty of failure is quite high -  I use the utmost caution while raising and lowering the mast !!!

Enhanced System (for 2004)

I wanted to improve the mast raising system over my current "Poor man's" version, just to make things a little easier. I have been using my original system for 5 years now, and it seems to work pretty well. The only difficult things are:

  1. Trying to step up onto the cabin top while lifting the mast requires a lot of agility and strength,
  2. having to clear the lines as the mast raises, as usually something gets snagged.

If I used a pole on the mast for leverage, rather than lifting the mast myself, I cold avoid the need for agility and strength. Also if I had the ability to temporarily lock the system in a partially raised position, I could easily clear any snagged lines. The two main approaches to mast raising 'systems' are (1) Gin Pole or (2) "A" Frame. They both work in about the same way, they differ in the way they get stability. The "A" frame (pictured below) is a stable shape in itself, whereas the gin pole needs to be stabilized with a couple of lines. I was originally going to build an "A" Frame design, but decided to go with the Gin Pole approach, figuring the gin pole would be easier to store when not in use.

Mast Raising System Design Diagram ("A" Frame version)

I took a look around the garage and in the tool box to see what I could come up with for parts. I found a pure cedar 2 x 4 (8 ft), a cam cleat, a single block and a couple of brass clips. It seemed like I had enough material on hand to build a simple gin pole system and I could buy what ever else I needed. I took a couple of key measurements, namely the distance from the mast base to the tack fitting on the bow, and the width (diameter) of the mast. The tack was just under 8 feet from the mast, so my 2 x 4 piece of lumber would be just right for the job. The cam cleat would allow me to lock the system in a partially raised position.

I built a "gin pole" out of the cedar 2 x 4 and did a bit of 'engineering on the fly'. It turned out that I needed to lift the mast slightly in the initial stages, but the gin pole quickly gained enough mechanical advantage to lift the mast. I did a couple of practice lifts and made some design changes along the way. Pictured below is the system and the mast raising sequence.

Gin Pole made of Cedar Gin Pole with mast raised
Gin Pole in position for raising the mast Another view of mast raising setup


Back to Projects Completed   Back to Planned Projects   Back to Technical Tips Home