Tropical Storms – Solo Mast Raising & Lowering

On September 3rd, I had to make a trip to Mobile Yacht Club and pick up Cricket, due to impending Tropical Storm Gordon.  The problem, I had waited to the last minute and lowering the mast between the rain bands would be interesting.

I had planned on leaving the boat at the marina, but Captain Doug said I should reevaluate my decision as the possibility of 5′ water surge would have my boat floating.  His suggestion was to make sure it was securely tied to the trailer, that way when we found the boat in Dog River the trailer would be with it. Yes, he was laughing as he made the suggestion.

However, with my wife, Janice and Captain Doug, we got the mast lowered, tied down and the boat/trailer moved to higher ground. But, this whole process, of having multiple people to raise and lower the mast was not what I wanted in a boat.

If you notice my previous posts, you will see a common thread…Solo.  If I could not figure a way to raise and lower the mast solo, the boat would have to go. Drastic decision, I know, but the reason we bought a smaller boat was for situations like this.  Tropical Storms and Hurricanes are a way of life in this area and I wanted and needed something simple.

The Mariner Class Association group has collected a wealth of information on all things, Mariner.  I joined the group before we bought Cricket just so I could get their information of what to look for in buying a Mariner Class boat.  One of the discussions among the members is how to rig the boat for Solo Mast Raising and Lowering.

I had already started putting together a plan based on the Mariner Class Association forum discussions and purchasing the equipment needed for Solo operation.  All I had to do now was put the plan into action.

Today, I put all the pieces together and attempted a Solo Mast Raising.  While I did have my wife standing by for safety, and operating the remote for the winch, we proved the concept and it worked.

Items needed.

  • Power Winch with Remote Control – Harbor Freight
  • Battery Pack to Power Winch – Harbor Freight
  • 1/2 of Door Hinge – Or, Gooseneck if you have a spare.
  • 2 – 5′ sections of 1/2″ Electrical Conduit. For building Mast Stabilizer.
  • 2 – Bolts w/Wing Nuts – Attaching Door Hinge to Conduit
  • 2 – Eye Bolts at Base of Conduit to secure Stabilizer to Cabin Top.
Remote Power Winch and Battery Power Pack.
Mast Stabilizer made from Electrical Conduit.
1/2 of a Door Hinge to act as a Gooseneck for the mast.
Attaching Conduit with Eye Rings to the Cabin

We hooked the Main Halyard to the Winch and took up the slack with the winch, rechecked rigging and lines, lifted the mast (for a short distance – by hand) to make sure the stabilizer (with door hinge) would slide freely up the mast, then we took up the slack even more to check the stability of the mast.  Once mast stability was verified, the winch was activated in one continuous pull until the mast was in the full upright position.  With the winch line still tight, we reattached the forestay.  After we verified all standing rigging was properly attached, we unhooked the Main Halyard from the Winch.

While we only raised the mast, I am confident lowering the mast will be just as simple as the mast stabilizer was extremely steady and rigid.  Also, the articles from others using this type system, agree with the stability of this process.

This system is a combination of articles, post and videos I found while doing research for a Solo Mast System.  Thank you, for all who took the time to post this research information in order to help their fellow sailors.  And, especially, the Mariner Class Association for providing an excellent group for the Mariner fleet.

This system worked for me, but since every situation is different, you will need to do your “due diligence” to make sure it will work for you. Adequate precautions are needed to protect you and your boat from damage or injury.  This post is for informational purposes only.


1st Solo Drop and Pick-up

08/27/2018.  Today, I had one objective.  Drop and Pick-up Cricket…Solo.  While I would have liked to take a 1st quick sail, the tides were not very cooperative.

At Mobile Yacht Club, the hoist area can have a lot of water due to tides.  So, I decided to wait until the tide started to recede before proceeding with the solo launch. This delay would have me going past sunset, but I was determined to get this done and get it behind me.

My first solo attempt could not have been smoother.

The Stewart Marine bridle is heavy-duty, giving you confidence the boat is secure during the hoisting process.  Picking up the boat was smooth, the hoist swung around to the water…Solo Drop complete.

Since I was timing the procedure, I removed the hook from the hoist and removed the bridle.  This would allow me the experience of attaching the bridle from the water and re-hooking the hoist.

Now that Cricket was in the water, I thought this would be a good time to start the new Honda 2.3 outboard motor.  Three pulls and it cranked.  No surprise there…it’s a Honda.

Just as I was getting ready to reverse the process, I just happened to look toward the west…another beautiful sunset.  So, I took a few minutes to enjoy a little of God’s handiwork.

The pick-up went a smoothly as the drop.  Cricket was easy to line up and secure to the trailer.

My friend, Captain Doug, thinks all of this practice is a waste of valuable sailing time.  But, then again, he has done this drill hundreds of times during his life and to him, it’s second nature.

But with my aviation background, I just consider this as some extra Sim-Time. I bet he will really get a kick out of my Drop and Pick-up checklist…laminated and color coded.




Centerboard Pin Break

08/13/2018.  As I said before, the prep continues.  We were successfully in getting Cricket in the water for the first time.  I was planning on motoring out of the harbor, but when testing the Centerboard operation, the knob that’s used to lock and unlock the centerboard, broke. 

After using some spray lubricant to free up the pin and a little J. B Weld to secure the knob, the Centerboard is working again.

The dark area you see, I believe, is where a small lock-out pin was installed so the pin could be pulled out and rotated while the centerboard was being lowered or raised.  This would keep the pin from accidentally locking back into the reel.   For now, it is not a problem as the pin is not spring loaded and it is easy enough to hold while changing centerboard positions.  Especially, since I only plan on using the boat for cruising, not racing.

So, a successful pick up and drop in the water…then, picked back up and put on the trailer.  No sailing yet, but the bridle from Stewart Marine takes the worry out of hoisting.

Prep Continues

Preparation continues in getting Cricket ready for the water.  I have finished with checking everything, but I have a few items to purchase before launching.

A friend, Capt. Doug, says I overthink everything.  His view is simple, put the plug in, load the sails, hang the motor…then drop it in the water.  Therein, lies the problem.  Capt. Doug has done this countless times  and me…well, if we count the first time I put Cricket in the water…that would be one.

Until now, the only other sailboat we owned, stayed in the water.  Just load the supplies, do a check on the essentials and throw off the lines.  Now, with the plan of getting the boat in the water in place, I realized, I haven’t thought through getting the boat out of the water and back on the trailer.

Today’s high was 94 with a heat index of 102 and calm winds. Certainly, not the time to hoist a boat for the first time.

Well, it’s back to work tomorrow, so Cricket will have to wait a few more days.

One of the great pleasures of getting Cricket ready is being at the marina with my camera.  Yesterday, I had the chance to take a few photographs of boats and birds…but especially, the sunset.


Photo 1: Sunset from Mobile Yacht Club Marina, Mobile, Alabama.
Photo 2: Mobile Yacht Club from the pier.

Coming Soon – Adventures for Cricket

Coming soon, the adventures of Cricket, a 1965 O’day Mariner.

The photo you see is where Mariner #272 was making her way from Nockamixon, PA to the Gulf Coast of Alabama.  The trip was smooth and uneventful and she handled the road just like, I suspect, she will have the Gulf Coast waters.

For now, I am getting ready from the first voyage in her new home.  Just ordered a new bridle to help put her gently in the water.

So, stay tuned…this should be a blast.