Regatta Prep: Setting the Mast

Greetings, Better Lifers! Regatta week is upon us now!

In our last post, we saw the Captain and crew readying the sailboat and launching her into the sea.  A few weeks after that occurred, it was time to set her skyscraping mast.

Helpful Mail Boat

As you may recall, the mail boat passes through our chain of islands every week or so, bringing everything AND the kitchen sink. To onload and offload particularly large or heavy items (e.g., trucks, small boats, heavy stacked pallets, etc.), the boat uses a large onboard crane.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, when the mail boat came through, it helped our local sailors by using its crane to set the 60 foot masts in the two local A-Class sailboats preparing to go to Regatta. After it had finished its other offloading business, and amidst a sea of spectators and golf carts, the mail boat began its task.

The Process

First (not pictured here), a fleet of men carried the heavy masts to the dock to position them for the crane. Meanwhile, the two sailboats were towed alongside the big barge, on its starboard side.  Then, the crew knotted ropes with a loop on the crane’s giant hook and the other ends looped around the mast, able to slide as it shifted.

Next, the crane lifts each mast up, up, up into the sky while the men below pull on the rope to guide the mast from a perpendicular position to a parallel position, then deftly lower the mast into the hole of its sailboat.  With a couple men on deck of each sailboat, and one man below in the hole, the crew and crane work together until the mast is properly set and secure.

Mail Boat

Mail Boat, with one mast partially set (on the right) as the other mast is lifted (on the left).

Standing along the starboard side of the mail boat, I looked down at our two sister boats as they cajoled their masts into place.

Setting mast

Setting the masts.

As Beau and crew worked on their boat below, the crane raised their mast high into the clear blue sky.

Into the sky

Crane and mast into the sky.

Beau and crew worked the mast into the hole, while a man crouching down in the hole helped to guide it. Dangerous work for all of them!

getting positioned

Getting positioned.

 

hoist

Work it, work it.

Behind Beau, Captain and crew of the sister boat were doing the same in the dazzling late afternoon sun.

secure 17

Almost there…

Straddling the two sailboats, the other captain worked with the rope on the massive hook.

Crane buckle

Massive crane for a massive mast.

Finally, both masts set!  Beau unlashed from the mail boat and waited for a tow back to their end of the dock.

Done!

Done!

Also done, the sister sailboat got a tow over to her dock as the day dwindled to a close.

Done 17

Sister boat.

The men stayed on the boats for several more hours, working on the rigging and getting the boats ready.

Meanwhile, the mail boat headed out to sea as the late-day sun sparkled on the water.

Into the sunset

Into the sunset.

Since then, both sailboats have been readied! Better still, they’ve been towed to the Regatta location and are floating on their mooring until the big day later this week.

We. Are. Ready.

So, off to Regatta I go!  Packing, unplugging, and headed to the national championship to cheer on our local boats. Have a great week!

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