sailing without a mast

Since April 18th when Mist broke her mast during a beercan race, she has been sitting at her slip looking a little forlorn. A sailboat without a mast is very conspicious and obviously crippled. Perhaps in part as compensation and in part as making lemonade when life hands you a lemon, Keith and I tackled a number of deferred maintenance items aboard Mist. It may also been a case of working on a boat is still a lot more fun than working on anything else.

First thing we tackled is polish and wax the hull. It’s been over two years since we had given Mist a good buffing and waxing. The last time we did it was at the haulout and took two days of back breaking work. By the time we were done, both of us were incapacitated for a full week with sore arms, shoulders, and back – there has to be a better way! So this time we decided to hire a couple of day laborers to help us buff the hull. It took the two of them a full day to wash, polish and wax the hull while I took care of buffing and waxing the topside. Scratch that off the to-do list…

In the mean time, Keith began to formulate a game plan to upgrade the electrical panel on the boat to accomodate the new LED navigation lights on the mast. First thing we had to do was to decide to add another panel or to consolidate the main panel. The determining factor was whether we can find an electrical panel that has the form factor that we needed. Keith was able to find a Microlog electrical distribution panel from Canada that had everything we would need for an upgrade to the existing switches. We made the decision to proceed with the purchase and Keith begin to document the existing wiring to see what he can do to improve upon the system. He first had to clean up all the sins of previous wiring – he consolidated all the interior lights to a bus, so that the leads to the switch panel is just two leads. He upgraded the feed wires from the battery banks to a higher grade in order to accomodate the amperage, installed a new shunt for the meter so we can tell how much is charging and how much is discharging as well as the voltage of each battery bank. In addition, we found that we had to fabricate a backing plate that will fill-in the available space while still covering the old holes. In the process we found several neat sources for metals and wood works that will be useful for future reference.

In between the electrical work, Keith and I worked on re-covering the interior liners in the cabins and installed battens to the liners so that it will not fall down if the adhesive is weakened. That was a big job, scraping the foam backing off the liner and fiberglass, but we perservered and now the starboard stateroom and the v-berth stateroom is completed. What’s remaining is the port stateroom which shall be done soon.

We stripped and re-varnished the hand rail and companion trim as well as re-caulked the cockpit teak decking. We sent the Harken stay tensioner back to Harken for a full service. We oiled the interior wood work, washed and vacuumed the interior surfaces a number of times, tooked the mainsail to the sailmaker to have new slugs put on the main, replaced the webbing on the clew of the jib, replaced the spinnaker halyards with new lines, spliced new lines and rigging.

After 90 days of waiting for the new mast to be fabricated and three weeks of full time working on the boat, Mist was ready to receive the new mast. On July 27th, 2007, the new Ballanger mast was delivered to KKMI and we started another week of full time work to prepare the mast for installation: pulling wiring for the masthead lights, installing running rigging and standing rigging, cleaining the old reusable parts from the old mast for installation to the new mast, install mast base and collar, splice new lines, splice old lines, lead new blocks….etc. But we were able to achieve one thing at KKMI according to the rigger Jonathan: we were the only boat he has know to be able to turn around a mast installation in one week’s time.

on customer service

Having to line up a yard to replace the mast, I had to call around to the various boat yards to accommodate our boat. You can really get a feel about the competencies of the yard by their handling of my calls.

We decided that our past experiences with SF Boatworks did not warrant our continued patronage. So we nixed out SF Boatworks as a possible yard for mast repair.

Svendsens Boatworks – we’ve heard a lot of accolades about Svendsens and they were our first choice for a boat yard. They were efficient in routing my call to the relevant person, except that he was not very available. His admin was also fairly busy, but once on the phone, she was efficient and friendly. However, Svendsens were so booked that they cannot even take the mast down before 3 weeks. That was too long of a wait on the critical path so we opted to find an alternate vendor.

Hanson’s rigging – Called and left a voice mail. Got a cell phone number, so I decided to call it instead. Reached Glen Hanson, discussed the issues with him with his promise to get back to me on some sort of estimate. So far, I have not heard back from him. Disappointing.

KKMI – Called and immediately got transferred to a project manager – Kim Desinger. He was very responsive and offered to take on the project immediately. I told him that we can sail the boat to his yard by tomorrow Noon, and he coordinated his team to accommodate us. When we delivered the boat to his yard, we pulled up to the rigging dock on J-Dock and was quickly greeted by someone that informed us this space was reserved for a pending boat with a broken mast. Given our mast was still standing, he didn’t realize that we were the boat. Nonetheless it’s nice to see that the yard’s communication process was tight. Upon checking in the front office, Kim and his riggers worked pretty efficiently to disconnect the mast from the boat and let us motor the boat back to Coyote Point with the flooding tide. It was an impressive demonstration of customer service and competency. No wonder they’ve succeeded in bringing all the Maxi boats to their yard.