Mast Step UP basic procedure

written by Matias Collins  on  July 27  of  2005 and read by 6417

Mast step up may vary from boat to boat, it is easier in modern boats, where schroud tracks (should be released) helps to maintain constant the schrouds tension while the step up process is going on.
Old boats may difficult the process where schrouds might be too eased at the begining and then too tight or vice versa, specially if schourds attachments are really aft related to the mast step.
To those old boats and the new ones consider that you may only attach one schroud of each side, in the case of old boat try to do it using the schroud who will be placed/attached at the perpendicular alignament of the mast step with centerline, or close to it and not the one attached in the aftest position related to the mast step.

Below it follows a standard procedure to step up the mast. Take your own considerations of security. Positive feelings makes you do a better job.



1) Place the mast facing down(i.e boom attachment facing the land).
2) Attach or verify that Backstay is attached
3) Verify that uppers/lowers are well attached
4) Verify that Forestay is attached (ham system through a hole, obs: put tape over it so it doesn't come out)
5) Put tape in the shackle/pin/ring at the backstay attachment in the top of the mast.

now a thinking work
6) Verify that four lines GO IN the mast, one at the top hole facing down(Main), one below forestay attachment hole facing up(JIB), one above the forestay attachment hole facing up( SPINAKER) and one the level of spreaders hole facing up(TOPING LIFT)
7) Check what lines comes out from mast and where, it might happen that three lines come out at the bottom mast hole and one comes out in between boom attachment and mast bottom hole facing down. That would be correct, check which is which.

Boat parked in the trailer or in the water (it doesn't matter, OBS: in the trailer check that trailer back step is ON avoiding making the boat and trailer do a willy. In the water make sure not to loose anything..


8) Transport mast into the boat, placing the one facing down, like it was IN LAND, place the one with mast bottom forward 50 cm(20 inches) from mast step, the top of the mast should be aft the stern boat.
9) Connect the backstay to the backstay extension coming out at the stern
10) Pull if not yet, all hallyards until the spinaker pole ring, attach them.(Make sure not to loose any ot the lines through the bottom hole.)
11) All the lines that comes out in the mast bottom hole, should cross the hole in the mast step into under the cockpit( ATTACH THEM TO SOMETHING, if known place them in their places and make knots not to loose them in the process.)
12) release schrouds adjustments as much as possible, do it and connect upper OR lower or both, it will be easier to connect the one that will end attached exactly in the perpendicular of the mast step, it might happen that one place to attach is forward the mast step, this one will cause difficulties at the begin and make it easier at the end of the process OR the attachment aft to the mast step will make it easier at the begin and very difficult at the end of the process.
if you have only two places, upper are fixed forward and lowers at the aft position, if you have more, then it is time to play, we use uppers forward than the mast step and lowers at the mast step. It will depend on what you have.

once UPPER OR LOWER is connected


13) Move mast backwards as most as possible, question(the mast bottom reaches the aft end of the mast step? if yes piece of cake, are the schrouds loose and at the mast step aligneation? if yes piece of cake.
14) One person(PB) walk at the stern of the boat (he might be there already), behind the spreaders, step in one side of the mast, shoudl be the strongest and tallest person.
15) Another person(PS) stays at the mast step and holds the mast bottom.
16) The PB hold the mast and hoist the one till his shoulders while PS holds the mast bottom in place, attach the one in the mast step, make sure the lines are OK into the holes and check schrouds tension, SHALL be eased no tension, no matter if mast moves to one side and another, make sure the attachments and schrouds adjustments can fall off or release. PS also should be holding the FORESTAY around his hand check looking up that the one is ok and free.
17) PB will walk forward holding the mast up while PS holds the bottom, if the mast step edge is about 1 cm(0.4 inches) after 30 degrees of inclination the mast bottom won't fall off(DANGEROUS to avoid issues with that normally what we do is tight the lines that went through the mast step hole veri tight to something on Procedure number 11)
18) PB keep walking forward and will find the cockpit hole a bit before PS walk forward with FORESTAY around his hands pulling as high as possible with his hands.
19) When PB meets the cockpit hole he should be walking really fast allways holding the mast, schoruds should be loose and PS should HELP pulling hard and walking forward too, PB then should step one foot in the main sheet base if you have one, if not should try to walk with each foot on one side of the boat slowly or FAST walking using only one side of the boat (schrouds should be really eased), with main base he steps on foot in the base and the other in one side and then chooses what to do if slowly with next step (the foot in the main base) goes to the oposite side or all feet to one side of the boat and keep walking forward fast untill the mast rakes forward (BE SURE TO HAVE BACKSTAY FULL RELEASED AND ATTACHED).
20) PS allways pulling the forestay line around his hands(avoiding the one to slip) and walking forward now is on the bow, while PB holds the mast raked forward PS attachs the forestay to the forestay extension coming out of the bow.

The relax part (D)

21) Attach the schrouds that were not attached before, pass the lines under the mast step as it should be, Adjust schrouds properly.

The process above should take

a) 10 min if there si no missing hallyards, etc.
b) 5-10 min
c) 30 sec to 1 min if there is no problem with schroud lenghts, etc... remember that the ones should be eased as much as possible to allow PB walk in one side of the boat avoiding have one leg on each side of the cockpit
d) might take 20 min to check if everything works properly.Specially in old boats.

OBS: the critial part is when PB meets the cockpit hole, he should have strenght to keep going forward, should be using a good shoes so it does not slide on the deck, should step in the edges of the cockpit and PS should do his highest effort to help there, 10 secs, normally people is much more affraid that it should be. PB should only be carefull not to fall, etc.

A variation to help is attaching to the forestay a line and a third person pulls from outside the experience says that it is ok for people affraid.
This option makes PB to do same job, but now PS is allways at the mast step caring to be sure is not fall off (unusefull after 30 degrees), and the new person outside of the boat makes a bigger effort pulling the rope attached to the forestay. There is also some other steps added in the process like attaching the rope to the forestay, then once mast is up unattaching it and giving the forestay to PS to attach in the proper place, etc.... waste of time.