This is a project born out of disaster.
One day my friend Bob and I were raising the mast on Sir Elidor, Bob's Catalina 22. Sir Elidor was in her slip at Lake Front Park, Bob had a line tagged onto the jib halyard and I was on the boat guiding the mast.
Sir Elidor has a Mast Stepper so the top of the mast was already a good 12 to 15 feet above the water. Bob began to hoist and I was pushing while climbing onto the seats and then the cabin top when suddenly with about 15 degrees let to go the mast stopped cold and would not go up any further. After a few seconds of puzzled looks Bob realized what the problem was. Behind me one of the flag lines had snagged around one of the stantions and was preventing us from going up.
At this point Bob told me to let go of the mast and reach back and free the line, which I did and just as I freed the trapped flag line, promptly a gust of wind came along and blew the mast sideways, nearly hitting the power boat next to us. Bob fought valently from his end while I scrambled to regain control of the wayward mast from the deck of Sir Elidor.
It was not until one of the holes for the mast pen, at the base of the mast, had ripped out that we finally regained control and lowered the mast back down onto the Mast Step.
Man, were we bumbed.
Well, after a few days of head scratching Bob arrived on the scene with a piece of aluminum which we set about using to fabricate a repair. We end up drilling screw holes in the mast and the aluminum plate and bolting the plate in place directly beneath the torn out hole. We then drilled a new hole through the plate using the remnants of the old hole as a guide. It's been like that for two seasons not and still holding up.
This adventure led me to thinking about the whole trouble with mast stepping, not much control. So after a few trips to various hardware stores I came up with, what all of my friends kindly refer to as, the Captain's Hook.
What I was looking for was something like a painters pole but I wanted something better than a twist lock. After a bit of searchng I found a rugged fiberglass and aluminun painters pole with a sure latching button mechanism. The inner aluminum pole and the locking mechanism are flatten on either side to prevent pole to pole twisting.
For the hook I bought a heavy duty extra ling roller handle for those mini-rollers that have become so popular these days.
I had struck gold for both of these items at ACO Hardware.
I went home and mocked up a bending jig with some plywood and hard wood dowels in the shape my mast. I then took a hack saw to the "L" of the roller and discarded that short piece. After bending the "Hook" I ground the cut end to prevent snagging any of the lines on the mast.
Next I mixed up a batch of West System's Epoxy and mix in some strengthening filler and poured the mixture into the roller handle up to the inside edge of the threads.
I let the epoxy cure over night and screwed the roller handle onto the pole and wa-la, the Captain's Hook was born.
How It Works
Operation of the Captain's Hook is simple.
First tie off the boat so that there is little room for fore and aft movement.
After you have raised your mast as far as you can using the Mast Stepper you snap the hook end of the Captains Hook around the mast about 5 feet or so from the base of the mast. You next extend the pole out so that a person standing on the dock can comfortably hold the pole with both hand and walk down the dock while the mast is being raised.
Now the person raising the mast has the best view of the side to side leaning of the mast so as he is raising or lowering the mast he calls out commands like, "Pull," or "Push." depending on the lean of the mast.