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Aquila's Mast Raising System  

January 10, 2009 Jim Robinson sent in the following email and photos of Aquila's, Pacific Dolphin #273, mast raising system.

Hi Ron,

I thought I would forward you these pictures of how I raise the mast on Aquila. 

The only "extra" equipment needed is a modified turnbuckle attachemnt in the upper shrouds at the same level as the mast (tabernacle) axis and the two pieces of line that are tied to the ends of the boom, pass through a D shackle at the modified upper shrouds and are secured off the jib winch/cleats.  The topping lift and mainsheet replace the backstay during the lift.  Once it is upright the mast is held upright (and rather well) by the lower shrouds until the  backstay and forestay attached. This mast raising system was part of the design for a Norsea 27 I owned previously, a much heavier spar to lift.   I simply carried it over to the Dolphin.

I have a CDI furler and I have lifted the mast in the past with it attached but it is cumbersome and tends to throw off the center balance of the lift which in turns elevates my blood pressure significantly.   I'm working out a system for raising the furler on the forestay with a halyard after the mast is up.  I do all this solo so I develop "systems" that serve a short handed crew.   These pictures depict the first time I have raised the mast while the boat is on the trailer and it is quite a bit easier (in my opinion) than when in the water.

I have a step by step checklist for raising the spar that I will send in the future.

First step: check for overhead obstructions.  Prudent step, eh?

I use the roof of my camper shell to telescope the mast off the trailer.  A 12 foot ladder would serve the same purpose. The mast is raised by the mainsheet (red line).  The blue lines  tied off the boom stabilize the rig laterally until the lower shrouds take up their position to hold the mast.

Up she goes.  The hardest part was running up and down the ladder to take these pictures.

Upright with upper and lower shrouds supporting the mast.  Once back stay and forestay are attached she is as she should be.

The neighbors are somewhat curious, I'm sure, as the nearest water is 16 miles away.

Finding line with low stretch is preferred for this job.


This is the modified upper shroud. The lower end of the turnbuckle ends at the axis of the mast and second short shroud continues to the chainplate.  The D Shackle replaces the clevis pin that connects the turnbuckle to the short shroud and acts as the "pull through" for the line rigged to the boom.

Another view of boom arrangement.  Note that the lower end of blue boom line is bent around the jib winch and cleated. Tightening these lines to center the boom is an important part of this system.

Another view of boom arrangement.  I use the mainsail halyard winch mounted on the cabin to winch the mainsheet (red line) during the raising.

I'll send you updates on this "system" as they occur.

Jim Robinson

Aguila (Pacific Dolphin #273)

Click here to go back to Aquila's page.

Click here to go to more on mast stepping





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