Winter Cover:  2001-2001
This page was last updated on 15 November 2001

The first thing I had to do before considering covering the boat was to raise the mast up higher off the deck.  When I had the mast unstepped earlier in the month, I had the yard lay it directly on top of the pulpits.  It fit, but the mast was so close to the companionway that I couldn't remove the drop boards.  Plus, because I intended to use the mast as a ridgepole for my winter cover, I wanted it higher to give me more room beneath, provide a steeper angle to help snow slide off, and to allow the cover to better clear the sides of the raised part of the cabin trunk.

I had held off building any sort of mast support structures before the boat was hauled because it would be so much easier to build them when the boat was right in my backyard.  About a week after the boat arrived home, I got to work.

First, I measured the aft deck on the boat to see how large I could make the structure, and to determine how high above the deck I wanted the mast to end up.  The size of the poop deck is the main consideration, as there is plenty of room on the foredeck for an identical structure.  The size of the deck allowed me to build a basic A-type structure with an overall base size of about 44" wide by 18" deep.  I decided that raising the mast so that it was about 40" above the deck would be good.

Using a number of the old 2x4s that were once part of my project shed, I began building one of the supports.  Basically, each support (forward and aft) is a kind of modified sawhorse, consisting of two A-shaped sections connected with 18" cross bars.  Laying the lumber out on my garage floor, I determined that cutting the bottoms of the legs at an 18-degree angle would give me the height and open width at the top end that I wanted.  I cut two pieces of lumber at the prescribed angle, laid them out again and checked the situation at what would become the top end.  I wanted a sort of cradle to be formed by the two pieces as they angled towards each other, to give the mast somewhere to rest safely.  Measuring the mast earlier had told me that I wanted the opening to be at least 8" wide to let the mast easily lie on its side.  When the measurements came together as I wanted, I cut the top ends of each board at the same 18-degree angle, giving them a flat top.

Next, I cut two cross supports to held the two side pieces of the A together.  I cut each and at the appropriate angle to correspond to the angle of the legs.  The top cross support, which is the surface on which the mast will bear, has its top edge 4" from the top of the side supports.  This creates a 4" deep cradle for the mast to sit in.  The lower support, located about a foot above the bottom, just keeps the legs from spreading under load.  I attached these pieces with screws.  Using the first pieces as a guide, I built three more structures just like the first--since each mast support (fore and aft) will consist of two of these pieces attached together.

When all the basic pieces were screwed together, I cut a set of 18" cross pieces (4 for each support).  Using these pieces, I secured two of my A-shaped frames together to form a sturdy sawhorse.  Then, I padded the "mast cradle" with some soft cloths, and covered the bottoms of the feet with more cloth to pad them against the deck.

Here are the completed structures in place with the mast on top.  Before covering the boat, I'll secure these in place so they can't move.  This will also be necessary before the boat is trucked for launching again in the spring.



Aft Mast Support






Forward Mast Support







                                         Mast on Deck




Next:  Covering the boat.  I plan to use a tarp of some sort, but I need to figure out a way to end the tarp at the gunwale--tarps tend to abrade and dull Awlgrip if they bear directly on it, and I've even had a bad experience with padding the tarp with soft cloths to protect the hull on my Ensign.  I think it would be better to leave the hull completely exposed.

My current thought is to remove the lifelines and build some sort of attachment flange along the toerail, using the stanchion bases as a starting point.  This "flange" will allow me to secure a tarp by nailing battens over the tarp into the flange, and then removing the excess tarp beneath.  I'm not sure about the final execution of this, but I'll come up with something.  

UPDATE 10/23/01:  For the moment, I am sidelined.  I fell off a fixed pier onto a floating dock below (about 15 feet) while helping decommission the docks at my yacht club.  I landed on my feet and broke one of the bones in my foot, so I am laid up for several weeks.  I've had lots of offers from family and friends to help out with my cover and frame,  but because the ideas are not clear in even my own head I think I'll try and postpone covering the boat until I can get up the ladder myself and do the work.  We probably won't have snow for a little while, so I should be OK.  I only need one day to do the job.  In the meantime, maybe I can come up with the best solution to keep the tarp off the hull, preventing damage.

Please click here to continue the covering project.




Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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