Uri Geller, eat your heart out: Robin Benjamin straightens his bent mast in France
When I bought my new boat a couple of years ago I was very disappointed to find that her mast was bent. It took up an elongated ‘S’ shape when viewed up the track. After a long battle Pacific Seacraft in America finally agreed to ship me a new mast, but they then went bust before I received it! (They are now back in business under new ownership – Ed)
I decided my next move was to buy a section in Europe and transfer all the fittings onto it from the original one. Then I had an idea: since I had nothing to lose, I’d first try to straighten the original mast.
We loaded it onto the roof rack of my trusty Fiat 126 to move it the short distance across the yard to where we’d work on it. That was fun – a 9m (30ft) mast on a 3m (10ft) long car! Still, my friend Alain and I were soon able to set about rigging up a system that would allow us to bend the mast in the opposite direction to the kinks in the hope that we could get it straight. We tied the mast down to a large boat cradle and then began to jack it up.
We started tentatively, carefully measuring the distance we lifted the mast, then releasing the jack and looking along the mast to see if we had managed to change its shape. The first attempts didn’t do anything at all so we gradually increased the force with the jack.
Finally we managed to get the mast more or less straight. The mast had been bent one way above the spreaders and the other way below them, and it took the best part of the day, strapping the mast down, jacking it up and then double checking our efforts.
Having seen the incredible force we had to use to straighten it, I came to the conclusion that the mast must have been made badly and was probably damaged early on in the manufacturing process.
All’s well that ends well though, and I finally have a straight mast that I can tension correctly without it taking up an ‘S’ shape. Compared to the cost of a new mast and the associated work of fitting it, it has been a great success. It worked for me but if you have any doubts, it is safer to consult a professional.
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