Design for the new mast

First off all, I want to say thanks to everyone on the Sailnet C27 list who wrote to me described their spin poles and storage. I really appreciated hearing the real-life pros and cons. I've learned a lot from you wonderful folks, from my local rig shop, from my sailmaker, and from tech support at Forespar. Here's what I decided after listening to everyone's advice and considering our sailing style.

I had already ordered a new mainsail and working jib (which is what we'll use 9 months of the year because our winds average 20-30 knots around here) from Pineapple Sails. The boat came with a 120% (very approximately) and is in excellent condition, with a brand new sunbrella UV cover.

(I think the 120% actually a regular rig 135, which looks a little short on the luff on my tall rig, but will have to do for now. That'll be for sale sometime in the next year, but not right now)

I decided the next new sail we buy will be a cruising spinnaker, not a symmetric spinny. We can fly the cruising spinny with the 90% jib down wind all during the regular sailing season. I think we'll use it a lot more than a symmetrical spinny. So my first priority is a whisker pole, not a spinnaker pole.

We need a whisker pole that adjusts from 100% to about 140% of the J measurement of the tall rig. It has will be used with all the headsails -- from the 90% jib right up to a 150% genoa (and maybe even the cruising spinnaker?).

The J for a C27 tall rig is 12'-2.4". That means we need a pole that adjusts from 12'2" to at least 17' long. I've ordered a Forespar line-controlled, telescoping whisker pole with a trigger on one end and a standard latch on the other. The part number is 401107, and description is LC 10-18 EL. It telescopes from 10 to 18 feet. It is made of 2" and 2.5" tubing.

Line-controlled telescoping whisker poles are infinitely adjustable and made for boats from 25 to 55 feet. They are a bit heavier than twist lock poles because they must take the higher compression loads resulting from larger sails. Line-controlled whisker poles are adjusted to length via a fixed length control line that runs internally and externally for the length of the pole. It should be plenty strong enough for use with the cruising spinnaker (and maybe??? strong enough for use with a symmetric spinny????) . see for more info.

Compared to a line-controlled whisker pole, twist-lock poles are made for boats from 12 to 25 feet and are relatively lightweight. They use an internal off-set cam lock to control their length. All you do is twist the inner tube to unlock, pull the inner tube out to the desired length and then twist again to lock. They are infinitely adjustable from their minimum to their maximum lengths so they can be marked and set exactly to the sails requirement

Eventually, we'll want a symetric spinny, and that means a 2.5" 12 foot pole for the tall rig C27. That's a lot of pole to keep on deck. I decided to bite the bullet and spend the money to store it on the mast, off the deck, so I bought 12' of Schaffer 1.25" track. I don't ever want to be wrestling with a 12' pole on the foredeck, thank you very much ;). -- we'll be able to do dip-jibes!


For control blocks for the car on the track , I'll use Harken Carbo cheekblocks. They're very lightweight compared to other cheek blocks. I haven't decided whether to use cam-cleats or one-sided-clam cleats for the car control line.




A special car is required for pole storage (bigger than a standard ring). If you try to use a standard ring, you risk breaking the fitting on the end of the pole, because it doesn't provide enough clearance as you lever the pole down. The end fitting can press against the mast. (for more info, see So I chose the Forespar FC-125 Heavy Duty Car for the inboard end of the track. The FC-125 will also provide enough clearance and is strong enough to do dip-jibes. (for more info, see ). At the bottom of the mast, I'll install a rubber pole chock, Forspar MPC-200.

I want to keep weight aloft to a minimum, so as long as I'm completely rebuilding the mast, I'm doing everything I can to light things up. I'm replacing the original (?) heavy coax with much lighter weight RG8X, as well as a much lighter weight tricolor masthead light than the existing anchor light. I got a Davis LED hoistable for an anchor light. I won'd have any spreader lights, just one Forespare ML-2 combination steaming and foredeck light.

I'm installing a hinged mast step from Ballinger Spars for about $200 It's part number HMB M30, it's 1/4" thick SS hinge plates with punched flanges with 5 holes for attaching turning blocks , see

The trailer will be here sometime next month. It's a dual axle custom trailer for a Catalina 270 with a built in mast raising system and adjustable supports. It's on semi-erpmanent loan from a friend, who want to get relief from the $100/month storage fee he's been paying. I'll be taking the boat home and putting it in my sideyard for the rainy season to repaint and re-finish the interior, move tanks, replace bulkheads, etc.

I checked into buying a new mast, but it would have cost too damned much. A comparable new mast (with pole, track, HD cars, mast-hinge, etc) would cost me over $5000. A new mast, from Ballenger Spars starts at about $3500 (including delivery to Alameda Marina) with new spreaders and a single combo masthead light (but fewer internal halyards, no track, no pole, no antenna, etc). Catalina Direct sells just a mast or around $4000 or so, but not with all the features I want (and shipping from southern California would cost hundreds of dollars!).

To the cost of a new mast, I'd have to add about $250 for unstepping the old and stepping the new mast, $750 or $800 for all new new running rigging, and about $550 for a good whisker pole. That's over $6500!!!

Compared to $6500+, my final cost of $4100 (including a pole and new high quality halyards with new snap shackles) sounds good me.

I don't want any pitting or bubbling in the future, so I'm paying the yard to bead blast and spray it with AwlGrip LPU. I'd roll-and-tip-it by myself, but C-27 sailtrack is sooooo weird that I'm afraid of drips causing the slugs to bind. ( and I won't spray LPU myself- it's much too toxic.)

The Cost of the Project
A Partial Parts List with representative "street" pricess

The Grand Total is about $4100.... ouch! This includes new running rigging, spinnaker pole gear and track, stepping and unstepping the mast, and $10/day for "lay days" on the mast dock.

Forespar Line controlled Whisker Pole #401107 - $566 from Sailnet

Forespar HD pole ring FC-125 $190 from Sailnet

Forespar 2" mast chock for pole storage #300070 - $33 at Sailnet

2 Harken Bullet Block cheekblocks ($9 ea )and two swiveling blocks for the pole car ($12.50 ea) at Sailnet, total $42

12' of Schaffer 1/25" track - about $120 at your local chandlery (it's too long to pay for shipping. but you could ship two 6' sections)

1/4" thick SS mast hinge with flanged organizer. $195 from

Davis Masthead Megalight with 12v plug about $39 at Sailnet

Forespar Combo light ML-2 $49 at Sailnet, $57 at WEst Marine

Perko Tri-color masthead light - about $50 at Svendsens

Aquasignal 5 pole thru-deck wiring connector part #?? - About $30 at Svens

Ancor thru hull double female coax connector part # - About $15 at Svens

38 feet of RG8x cable and two male coax connectors.

two runs of Ancor #14 duplex safety wire inside PVC mast conduit, totaling about 63 feet (two hot leads to combo light, two to mast crane with for a spare for future expansion needs.) about $45 at West Marine

two runs of Ancor #12 single wire ? (for ground) inside PVC mast conduit. totalling about 63 feet - about $15 at west marine.

Rubber grommets for wires exiting mast.

Two 6" open-base horn cleats, aluminum, by Schaefer, about $27 each at Sailnet. (I had to hacksaw the old ones off. The SS bolts were frozen to them)

Two cam cleats or clam cleats for pole ring control - betwen $15 and $45, depending

Dwyer mast tangs, about $35 at Svendesens

Miscellaneous bedding compounds, about $30

Main, jib1 halyard, jib 2 halyard, 5/16" Vizzion (wectran core, dacron cover), with eyesplices and Wichard halyard or snapshackles as needed. 5/16" XLS spinnaker halyard with eyesplice and snapshackle. Dacron/dacron pole lift with eyespice and snapshackle, Vizzion front reefing lines. I bought them at Svendsens while I had my "new boat discount" and they cost me about $700. The new boat discount is typically about 20% off what I'd pay for comparable stuff from Sailnet, so I'm guessing the "street price" on all the new running rigging would be about $875 at Sailnet.

40 feet of 1/4" XLS (comparable to StaySet X) for the pole car - about $0.30/ft at sailnet, $13

Pole lift halyard, dacron/dacron yacht braid, about $15

Stainless steel nuts, bolts, assorted eyestrap setc. These babies cost about $1-2 for each fastener. About $100 plus or minus

Yard bill at Svendsens for raising and lowering the mast was about $360, $240 for doubler plate fabrication. and $900 for mast painting. The cost of refinishing the mast was $588 for 7.85 hours at $75/hour of the painter's time, plus about $300 in materials (Alumiprep & Alodine for etching and chromating, epoxy primer, and Awlgrip topcoat, plus miscellaneous supplies).

They also charged me $288 for 28 days of lay days on the mast dock, at $10/day -- ouch! I took me 4 weeks to finish the work, not counting the three weeks they keep me waiting before they painted it.

Some comments on re-painting vs. re-anodizing a mast.

You CAN re-anodize a mast. The shop I use for anodiziing my custom parts, Metalco, will re-do a strpped clear-color anodized C27 mast for around 300 dollars, including cleaning all the corrosion off with an acid bath first. Re-anodizing won't make it look a pitted, unshiney mast look one whit better, but it will ensure that an old but structurally decent mast lasts another 15 years without significant further corrosion.

When you compare the final cost of reanodizing vs repainting with 2-part LPU (both will get you another 15-20 years out of a mast in a salt water environment), anodizing is $200-3000 cheaper. But if cosmetics are a concern, painting wins hands down.

The rest of the costs of re-anodizing are the same as painting (lowering and re-steppign the mast, removal and reinstallation of hardware, rewiring, etc. ) except for a couple of differences...

1) You have to add about the cost of round trip delivery by truck from the dock to the anodizing shop. My local full-service rig shop at Svendsens has a "mast rack" and a truck for doing that but they charge for it (probably, I'm guessing, about $100-$200 extra).

2) You can't reanodize without completely removing everything and re-installing it. The acid bath that must be done before re-anodization eats SS and wiring. YOu can paint over riveted fittings and you don't need to removing all the wiring. (The pre-wash and chromate-wash done before repainting is not done in a tank, i'ts scrubbed on and then hosed off, and you can leave wires and some fittings on the mast.)

Comments on repainting:

For a long lasting paint job, the painter should prep with both acid and chromating agents like Alumiprep and Alodine, then use primer specifically formulated for aluminum before applying the compatible topcoat of your choice.

Or you can repaint with a roll and tip method yourself. LPU lasts longer than one-part poly paints because LPU is much harder and bonds better. But LPU and compatible primer will add $125 bucks to the cost, compared to using a one-part poly.

If the anodizing is gone on your mast, the cheapest way to keep you mast structurally sound is to paint it yourself. Painting the mast yourself, either with one-part or two part poly, saves money. If time is more precious to you, pay somebody else to paint it.

If your anodized mast is in good shape and doesn't grow a coat of white fuzz every 6 months, don't do anything other than wax and clean it periodically. Remove through bolts/fittings that move and rebed with TefGel or Lanocote or BoatSeal every two-three years to prevent hole enlargement at "working surfaces"


Forward to page three, showing how I assembled the new mast

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