Mast top coat 1

Today has been less certain when it comes to rain than we had hoped.

However, this morning we sanded the masts with 400 grit, then washed and dried them.

In the end we waited until 3pm for painting in the hope of more certainty about it staying dry.

This time rollers are not recommended (or at least need to be followed by a brush). So we went for brushes only.

We changed the way of supporting the masts so that they are “balanced” on the sail track with as few points of contact as possible. We then painted everything else. When it comes to the 2nd coat we will rotate them 180 degrees and so the areas where they are supported will all get one coat. This avoids a long wait between painting sides and reduced the chances of resting the mast on bits that are not fully cured.

One tin is supposed to be enough, it certainly didn’t feel that it would go far enough as we were painting the main mast, but in fact it was plenty for both masts (we are going to get extra paint for the spreaders and mizzen boom all of which we can do in the garage at home).

The results:

Despite the name of the International Paint we are not expecting Perfection in terms of finish πŸ™‚ However, they should be good from a distance and certainly better than they were before we started. Of most importance to us is that we have dealt with all the corrosion and should have a well protected mast for years to come (we can work on any small areas where there are problems over coming years to ensure that the protection lasts).

Should be another part of the boat that will outlast us πŸ™‚ That has to be good for sustainability πŸ™‚

End of holiday mast painting race

Tuesday was the last day of our holiday and so was always going to be busy packing up all the tools and materials that we have been using for just over two weeks.

However, our biggest decision and challenge was where do go next with the painting of our masts.

By Tuesday morning the 2nd coat of two part epoxy primer was nicely cured. It was ready for over-coating although that could wait for upto 6 months. The problem was that this left 1 coat of undercoat and 2 coats of topcoat still to do. These have stricter over-coating times of roughly between 20 hours and 3 days. We figured that finding 3 or 4 days in a row when we could be at the boat with dry weather in the next 6 months was next to impossible (and as temperatures drop the time to be able to over-coat increases).

So after checking the forecast constantly we decided to paint the undercoat on Tuesday hoping that we could come for Friday and Saturday with good enough weather to put on the topcoats.

An extra challenge has been to find the best way to support the masts while painting to give good access and be able to also paint the areas where the supports are.

So Tuesday started with sanding the primer (and filler that had been put on between the primer coats) with 120 grit paper. Then with the masts on their sides we painted the first side before lunch. Then back to packing up.

Eventually we decided the paint was dry enough to rotate the masts and paint the second side. That painting started at about 6.30pm.

We eventually left to go home well after 8pm, which was much later than we wanted (and then the journey was delayed by lots of road works). We decided to buy some sandwiches from a garage on the way rather than taking longer with fish and chips, however, the first two garages we stopped at had completely sold out. Got home just before 11pm.

Still the masts looked good πŸ™‚

The forecast had been a 10% chance of rain so we took a chance in the way we loaded the trailer for home.

As usual a 10% of chance of rain in Beaumaris means it will be dry. However, we got home to a 10% chance of rain which in Manchester means it will rain and it did. Fortunately not too much and the wood protected the tools πŸ™‚

All in all a productive and enjoyable summer holiday. We had time with family, time on the water and have made lots of actual progress on the bow roller, masts, dyneema rigging and starboard settee/sea berth plus lots of sorting out plans for the foredeck, forecabin, batteries, water tanks and more.

More mast progress, filling and primer

Jane has now filled all the areas of the main and mizzen masts where we have removed corrosion.

The plan is to sand the filler and then put the 2 part undercoat on tomorrow.

Meanwhile I removed all the fittings from the mizzen boom (we have a new main boom), sanded and then painted the 2 part epoxy primer onto the mizzen boom and mizzen spreaders.

Now just some tidying up, wash the dinghy and rest before our last day here for this holiday.

Masts are epoxy primed!

Today has been long and hard work. However, we have managed to sand/grind, wash, clean with acetone and then paint with Epoxy Primer both our masts.

Part of the challenge is that for the primer to stick to aluminium you have to paint very quickly after sanding. At least within 8 hours/the same day. With the amount of sanding preparation our main mast (in particular) needed this was a big ask.

It took a while to find the best technique. It isn’t always obvious how deep a scratch/corrosion pit goes. So I found it best to just tackle the worst with the grinder (using a ScotchBrite pad to avoid metal contamination). Then I sanded using the orbital sander (by keeping one battery on charge while using the other I was able to work continuously). I used 120 grit with with occasional 80 and 240. For any marks that didn’t disappear reasonably quickly I switched back to the grinder.

For some reason the starboard side of the mainsail track was much worse than the port side with lots of deep scratches. There were also lots of marks from shackles that must have been allowed to bang the past in several concentrated areas.

Jane hand sanded all the tricky areas like the masthead, tracks etc.

After sanding we washed the debris off with water and a sponge. Fortunately it was still very hot an sunny at that point (about 4:30pm) so it dried off really quickly.

Then a quick clean with Acetone, judging by the cloths we used for that it was well worth doing.

Next came the painting. International Paints give you a 10 minute rest once the paint is all stirred, mixed and then stirred again), this was very welcome πŸ™‚

Fortunately, even by the time we were finishing painting at about 7:00pm it was still warm enough for the first parts to be touch dry, so we were able to rotate the masts and paint the parts that they had been resting on.

Here are a few photos of the progress through the day.

For most of the day we didn’t really think we would get this far. But once you start you are pretty much committed or lots of the sanding will be wasted if the Aluminium is left long enough to oxidise. We had a very late lunch as Jane had to make an emergency run to Toolstation for more sandpaper, by then it didn’t feel like we had more than about 1/2 the main mast sanded.

Anyway, this feels like a huge milestone completed. There were a number of places where we felt that we had caught corrosion just in time, much longer and we would have had corrosion holes in the masts and a much bigger task.

Tomorrow, epoxy filling and then 2nd coat of primer (hopefully).

Mast preparation continued

With a beautiful day we had a nice slow morning with family and then got back to preparing our main and mizzen masts for painting (well we also washed the dinghy and equipment).

We now have all the wiring out of the main mast.

We have put messenger lines in for them all.

We have removed both winches (a single speed Lewmar 8 and a double speed Lewmar 16, neither self tailing) and all other fittings showing any corrosion.

I was a bit annoyed by the winch mounts. The winches has been fitted with bolts that were too long and so instead of beinfg simply bolted to the winch mount some of them has gone into the mast itself. That has caused more corrosion and extra holes.

So everything is off and the masts have had a wash including a wash of the inside with a hose.

We have decided we don’t have to do a perfect job immediately, so we have not removed anything that we still need and that isn’t showing any corrosion eg spreader roots, spinnaker pole track. Similarly we have decided not to remove winches and cleats from the mizzen (upgrades can come later).

Tomorrow, is clean with acetone, sand, clean and get a coat of primer on. Then we can fill holes we don’t need to reuse with thickened epoxy, then we can sand and clean before a 2nd coat of primer. That then buys us some time for the rest of the work as the aluminium won’t be able to oxidise.

Another task has been looking at all the hardware we need to fit to the masts.

We are now looking at re-purposing the existing Lewmar 16ST for our mainsail reefing. Then 2 Harken 20ST for the halyards. If we can find something suitable secondhand then we will go for that instead.

We are only going to fit 3 actual halyards and supporting hardware at the moment (Yankee or Genoa, Staysail, Main) but with messenger lines for 2nd headsail, trysail and spinnaker.

We are also going to upgrade from cleats to Rope Constrictors for these halyards, skipping all the generations of clutches. Rope Constrictors are about twice the price of a standard clutch but they don’t damage the Halyard at all. But a replacement Halyard is about three times the extra cost. We have found 2 sources Ronstan and Cousin Trestec.

We are going to replace the tired halyard exit sheeves with the newer, simpler plates (and go from 2 to 5 of them so we have support for all the halyards we will ever need.

We have decided to simplify the lighting. We don’t have a simple way to fit lights to the spreaders and get the cables into the conduit at the front of the mast. That means keeping the deck light and the steaming light on the mast Deck light is lower than the spreaders, steaming light is above. However, it looks even simpler to get a combination LED steaming and deck light. One less cable to run up the mast.

Anyway, painting and filling is the first priority. All the fittings can wait for a while.

Foredeck and Forecabin plans update

We have done a lot of thinking about our foredeck (mostly related to anchoring, sail plan and dinghy storage).

During one of the lockdowns we did some thinking about how to use the forecabin beyond the anchoring plans in terms of layout. We checked a lot of those measurements when we were able to visit, however, we didn’t really check the forecabin as it was full of stuff.

Now that we have cleared space we were able to see how the plans above and below the deck can work together.

Length is our key challenge, above and below decks.

On deck we want to store our 2.9m rib upside down on deck in front of the mast. Actually we can store it so that the two tubes slightly surround the mast, but to get it on and off the deck it is going to be a million times easier if the gap between the dinghy and the inner forestay is at least 2.9m.

Starting from the bow we need to cut the existing locker hatch so that the forward part becomes part of the fixed base for the bow roller extension.

Aft of the bow roller will be the electric windlass. We will need to cut the aft section of the locker lid so that becomes part of the base for the windlass. The windlass needs to be far enough aft that we can have a small opening to the locker below (just to store ropes). The opening to this locker space is critical as we need to be able to get our arm and head in to be able reach 5 nuts (3 from the deck, 2 from the bow) that need to go on the bolts holding the bow roller in place. On the other hand if the windlass is too far aft it will interfere with the inner forestay and the dinghy being on deck.

In the end we have decided on a compromise πŸ™‚ The windlass will be directly on to of the existing chain pipe. We will cut the locker lid to position the windlass here and we will add a glassed in network of wood beams under it that the windlass will be bolted to. The aft section of the existing lid will end up sandwiched between the windlass and the network of beams. The middle section of the lid will be refitted with hinges and a latch. If we find we can’t get good enough access to all the bow roller nuts then we can unbolt the windlass and remove the aft section of the old lid to give us more space.

All of that leaves little space to attach the inner forestay. However, as we do not want a low tack point or a low foot for the staysail or storm jib (because they have to be above the dinghy when it is on deck) we have a little more freedom. So we are going to use a bridle, one leg connected to the deck each side of the tail of the windlass. The tensioning of the inner forestay will happen between the top of the bridle and the bottom of the shroud (which is where the tack of the sail will be attached). Conveniently this means the bridal legs are attached (using the same system as all our chainplates) right next to the bulkhead that is the aft end of the existing anchor locker. We will strengthen this to handle the extra loads with the network of glassed beams for the windlass.

So, we are confident that we can fit everything on deck. There will still be room to move when needing to raise/lower/reef the staysail and for anchoring.

Below decks we have reached a new set of compromises. First, the acceptance that the existing forecabin was never really suitable for two adults. The longest measurable bed length is 6 feet, that assumes you have your head right in the aft outer corner and your feet taking the opposite corner at the forward end.

So rather than try for a substandard double bed that puts limitations on what we can achieve for anchoring we are going to put in a much better single berth that will allow us to improve the chain storage and fit some crash bulkheads.

To achieve this we will move the ply foot board from the V-Berth. Approximately, 100mm forward of this (which is just forward of the where the chain drops down from the windlass) we will put in a watertight crash bulkhead (with little inspection hatch). This means the berth will be 100mm longer, so more full adult size.

With just one full length berth on the port side we can bring the chain down inside a low friction tube that curves to the starboard side (so the berth can be a more comfortable width) and brings the chain much further aft to a carefully shaped “bin” that is the correct proportions for the chain to self stack behind the current anchor locker.

This frees up what was the chain locker and the route to it for an additional watertight crash bulkhead. This is the area most likely to be damaged by hitting a floating object and will give us some protection. It also moves the weight of the chain about 1000mm further aft than it actually was (about 500mm aft of where it should have been).

We will change the current floor level of the forecabin which provides a tiny space with headroom with a too small awkward step so you can get on the bed (which is then too tall compared to the floor to use as a seat). Instead there will be a new floor at the right height to sit on the single port bunk. You will climb up onto this from the heads compartment (which becomes your entrance/dressing area) as you enter the cabin. The reason for this change is that under that new floor, running full width, right down to the hull and forward to the new chain locker will be a built in GRP water tank (to make up for the loss of the water tank in the bilge which is now for our batteries).

The starboard size of the forecabin will now be a dedicated storage area (which means it should be a lot easier to free up the port side bed from a storage area to be available for single guests).

We will therefore ensure that the dinette in the saloon is easily turned into a comfy double bed with thick curtains separating it from the galley/companionway/chart table. That means we still have capacity for 2 double and 2 single beds which is plenty. When sailing we can have 2 excellent sea berths in the saloon plus the aft cabin. If we find the aft cabin is too close to the stern for comfort, and we need a 3rd sea berth often enough, then we can create “pop-up” quarterberth in the corridor leading to the aft cabin. All of which means we are happy with the choice to reduce the number of beds from the theoretical (but completely impractical) original 8 too 6 by switching the forecabin to a single and not having a pilot berth above the starboard “sofa” in the saloon.

What we like about this plan is that we have significantly reduced the amount of work to get the foredeck and forecabin ready for our launch compared to what we feared. We also gain a far better chain storage, a large water tank so that we are heading back to enough capacity for ocean crossings, and watertight crash bulkheads that are better than we expected (with less work too). Plus on deck we have a workable solution that gets us much better anchoring, a proper cutter rig and space for the dinghy on deck.

Dry day helps main mast progress

Our first fully dry day for what seems like forever and what a difference it has made!! Our last work on the mast was in Slow progress preparing the Main mast for refurbishment, plus tangsΒ continue

Today the first task was to try to get the mast foot off. We we used two heat guns at the same time; we applied lots of WD40; we used vinegar to help with the corrosion; we used a slide hammer through a hole I drilled in the mast foot (I bent the “hook” so it wasn’t a great success); we used chisels with the hammer; we used a dremmel to cut all the way around the joint. Eventually it started to move. In the end we got it off and then had a big surprise as lots of disgusting crumbled polystyrene fell out.

There were several hours when I didn’t dare believe it was going to work. However, the end result is really encouraging, with some cleaning and then epoxy coating we are going to be able to fully reuse the mast foot on the original end of the mast.

We then started cleaning out the polystyrene debris (looks like the mast was lined with polystyrene but it has broken up). We took out two black sacks full.

The really good news at this point is that we discovered that there is a wiring conduit already fitted. It will be a tight squeeze for our cables and I might add some rivets to make sure the conduit doesn’t come free.

With that done I carried on stripping stuff off and then Jane did a first clean to get rid of the green growth. A bit more to be done before we can paint.

Still not sure which of the remaining fittings I’m going to remove before we paint. We also have decisions about what we fit to the mast. However, that can wait for the spring. Our first objective is to get both masts painted with epoxy primer, then epoxy filler, before epoxy undercoat, and top coat. It will be much less wasteful to do both masts the same time. Fortunately the forecast is looking good at the moment.

When we do get ready to put the main mast up it is going to be fitted out very differently. Still got lots of decisions to make about that, so more later.

Starting to fit the new bow roller

No progress yesterday as we went to a distant family funeral. Then today has been one of those days where you plan one thing and end up doing something completely different.

Jane was going to work on mast tangs and I was going to work on the main mast. However, when we discovered from Keith at Anglesey Fabrication that our new bow roller was ready for fitting we switched to that.

After struggling to lift it up the ladder last time we decided to do it sensibly with our man overboard block and tackle.

Once in place we had to figure out the changes to make to be sure it fits properly and all the original holes line up.

After some grinding, cutting and drilling we have a good fit. We drilled out the old bolt holes which go through a solid timber core. In total 80mm thick. The edges of the timber had clearly got a bit wet at some point so we have then filled it with thickened epoxy and will drill new bolt holes through that.

We cut the old softer gap filler and have used thickened epoxy to fill everything. We now have some plastic and foam tiles in place to hold everything while the epoxy cures (helped by a fan heater). Just after we finished some rain came so we now have a fan heater in the old anchor locker and a tarpaulin over the lot.

Now we need to order new bolts and start preparing a replacement for the forward end of the old anchor locker (which becomes the backing plate for the new aft extension to the whole assembly).


Hopefully we will have the actual roller fitted early next week and then we can test with the anchor and sort out the various rigging attachments and the “cage” to stop the anchor escaping and damaging the dyneema rigging.

Given that the bow roller assembly is critical to our safety while sailing (forestay attachment and holds the anchor in place) and when anchored (for obvious reasons) we are happy to have something that is oversized and that we are very confident is extremely well attached to the boat. Gary from GRP Fabrications thinks we plan to use it to attack marinas like a modern day Roman Galley πŸ™‚

I’ve just checked and it has all gone hard to the touch so I have been able to pull off all the plastic, wood and foam. Ready for a quick sand and then we can continue with the support base and backing plate for the aft part πŸ™‚ Not tomorrow though as lots of rain is forecast.

Slow progress preparing the Main mast for refurbishment, plus tangs continue

Today has mostly alternated between rain and drizzle which has dampened progress. Most of the jobs inside are still easier when we can do the timber cutting and sanding outside. So when we could, Jane continued with the work on the mizzen tangs while I started on the main mast.

We have improved the working conditions for Tang manufacturing with a seat 😊 Also it is definitely worth stopping and recharging the Dremel before the battery goes completely flat.

Before I started on the main mast I had another good look at mizzen. We think this is a newer mast (but we don’t know when it dates from), it is a Kemp (still made by Seldon I think). The key finding is that the track in the aft edge of the mast (for the sail slides) is shaped on the inside as a T. This means that we should be able to slit a pvc pipe and slide it along the T. This way we get a wiring conduit that is fixed in the mast without any riveting. We will need to plan how to get the wires out halfway up the mast so that there is no danger of them being cut by the edge of the pipe.

Main Mast

We had some work done by North Spars when we first got Vida, that was to remove an aftermarket roller furling. However, two years on it is obvious that a more thorough refurbishment is needed.

I wouldn’t want to trust the spinnaker halyard that used this block for much!

The similar block for the spinnaker pole uphaul has really scuffed the mast πŸ˜’

A which handle pocket had been installed in a very dodgy way between these cleats, so that has come off. Here it looks like the mast was originally gold. What I’m not sure about is how it has ended up silver (with lots of green growth). Has the gold worn off or was it removed or was it over coated?

Both winches work, although they need servicing. Currently there are cleats for the halyards, they seem original but there are extra rivets around them. For safety I’m planning to fit clutches above the winches, if you are hauling someone up the mast with a non self-tailing winch I think that is essential. So maybe the cleats can come off later.

The lights and wiring are a complete mess. The tricolour at the mast top has disintegrated from UV damage. This fitting was for the steaming light, which was full of water.

This is the deck light. Like the mizzen I want to switch to lights on the spreaders so that the whole deck can be lit with fewer shadows. No photo but it looks like there is a wiring hole inside the spreader root.

This shows the gunky mess where the wires come out of the mast at the bottom. You can see where I have cleaned up some of the corrosion using our new ScotchBrite pad on the grinder, it was much more aggressive than I expected (and probably more than I need).

You can also see the mast foot. I have managed to get the screws out (about half unscrewed and the others I had to drill). I have not managed to get the mast foot off yet. I need to try the hot air gun next. As the mast head is welded on I would really like to get the foot off. Partly because I want to see how much corrosion there is and partly because it is the only way I am going to get a good look at how the wiring is routed and what options there are for a conduit.

I have got all the Shrouds and Stays off, including the roller furler.

The spacing for the forestay is a bit tight. So I think we might need a closed stainless steel thimble here rather than our tangs. The mast top is wider at the forward port side which is why the forestay attachment point (between the two holes) doesn’t look central. You can also see I’ve removed the little end plates that stop the sheeve axles from escaping.

So now I have another little pile of mast rubbish.

But we also have the full paint system, three types of paint, all of them two part. Just need some better weather!

At the moment I don’t think we will remove everything that is riveted to the mast, there are no signs of corrosion around them. But I might change my mind πŸ˜‚