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.