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 Post subject: Bent mast (non-comp-tip)
PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 6:50 am 
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I have an old-style (non-comp-tip) H16 mast that has a slight bend to it. Just by sighting it, the bend appears to be centered around the tang, and then the top of the mast goes a bit to starboard. Either the bend has been getting worse over the last few seasons, or I'm getting better at noticing it and being annoyed by it.

I researched this last year and recall reading somewhere (which, of course, I can't find now) that attempting to bend a Hobie mast back is a mistake. The argument was that it fatigues the metal, and that means a new bend will likely appear that's worse than the original bend you corrected. I've searched around locally for a used mast but couldn't find anything cheap enough/close enough to tempt me (and I don't have the back yard space for a parts/junk boat.) All that said, a guy in our local group who's pretty sharp tells me that I should stop worrying about it and just bend it back. So this brings me to a few questions for the experts here:

1) What's likely to happen if I attempt to bend the mast back?
2) Were I to attempt to bend the mast back, how should I go about it?
3) What did I likely do wrong in the first place to incur this bend? (The boat hasn't been sailed in super-heavy wind, and has only a single trap rig, so it's not as if we have been (or will be) putting usual loads on the mast. We did have one stuck-in-the-mud turtling incident the first year we had the boat, which is what I've been blaming in my mind...)

Thanks for the wisdom!


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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 5:32 am 
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ipmcc wrote:
1) What's likely to happen if I attempt to bend the mast back?

It depends on how badly the mast is bent in the first place. If it's buckled, forget it - it's toast. A gentle curve can be straightened with no ill effects.

ipmcc wrote:
2) Were I to attempt to bend the mast back, how should I go about it?

The best way that I know of is to find two stout trees about 4' - 6' apart. Strip the mast bare of everything that can easily come off. Thread the mast between the trees, and with a helper holding one end, position the mast so that the apex of the curve is on one tree. Pull on the other end (you'll be surprised at how much force it takes) to work out the bend. "Bouncing" the mast may be necessary to work out the bend. Work slowly - don't try to take out the bend all at once. Sight down the track often to check progress. The trees naturally spread out the force so that the sidewalls don't buckle. You will probably have to shift the mast position several times to get it straight.

ipmcc wrote:
3) What did I likely do wrong in the first place to incur this bend? (The boat hasn't been sailed in super-heavy wind, and has only a single trap rig, so it's not as if we have been (or will be) putting usual loads on the mast. We did have one stuck-in-the-mud turtling incident the first year we had the boat, which is what I've been blaming in my mind...)

That is probably the reason. Another cause can be sailing with the mast counterrotated, or having the boat flip over on the beach hard (like in a storm).


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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 6:39 am 
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Thanks for the info!

I think I'll give it a try. I scored new sails for this year, and I'd hate to nerf them with this wonky bend.

For posterity, I also found this document, which presents a similar apparatus and strategy:

http://www.papertigercatamaran.org/imag ... mender.pdf


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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 10:01 pm 
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Like mbounds said its worth a shot. The only added thing I would do is place a block of 2x4 maybe 2 ft long on the closer tree along the mast were the force is most. Just to spread the pressure across the dent rather than a single spot. And use that so you don't crease and cause the bad type of dent. I heard some one else recomend this on a similar post. Like I said I have not done it so I couldn't tell if it is 100% necessary. Good luck!

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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 8:23 am 
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Have you tried sailing the boat first to see if there are any negative effects? I had an aluminum mast with a little sway at the top and never really noticed any difference. I thought I would be blowing tacks in one direction but never did. I know the purists here will come unglued but hey...if it works, don't fix it. You might make it worse.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 11:29 am 
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I bought my '78 with a bent mast in 1991. I trie to straighten it and broke it (I was not being very clever about it, and it was very cold out). I had it welded but there was still a slight bend at the weld. I sailed it that way for years and maybe the mast rotation wasn't quite as consistent as it might have been but overall the effect was very small.

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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 11:45 am 
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I have been sailing with the bend for several seasons. The difference between port tack and starboard tack is noticeable, and in light air, I have to manually rotate the mast. It's annoying. I'm going to take a shot at bending it back, but I plan to take my time and be careful.

My main motivation is that I have all new sails for this year, and it just seems silly to have a whole new set of sails, but to still be dealing with the annoyance of this bent mast. (I probably have t-shirts that are more crisp than my old tequila sunrise sails. I'll keep them around as a backup but I'm really looking forward to the new set.)

Thanks for all the input. I'll post back and let you know how it goes.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:12 pm 
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Thinking out a loud, a cheap ebay laser pointer at the base of the mast or placed in the luff grove could be useful for checking the alignment while straightening.
Guess it depends on how much bed there is to deal with though.

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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 6:18 pm 
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Location: M-F: Quarryville, PA; Sat/Sun: Lewes, DE
I once had a bent mast. I put the mast under two trucks with the bend centered between them bowing down, I then placed a 2x4 under the mast that also reached beyond the the frame rails. I then put a floor jack under the 2x4 & jacked up the mast until it contacted the frames & then jacked up about an inch or two beyond & then let it down. I then checked & repeated going an inch or two further each time until it was straight...it worked BUT...if you try this do at your own risk !!!! It worked for me but I make no promises !!! Make sure you have a 2x4 piece of wood under it & it extends the full width of the frame or it will kink immediately !!! Good luck !!!

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