Great Loop – unstepping mast


Lighthouse on the Hudson

We rode the flood tide and arrived at Castleton by 10.00am on Wednesday. We couldn’t see La Luna’s mast anywhere as they had left a day ahead of us and we expected to see them on anchor. We then realised they had already unstepped their mast and had it secured on deck! That was quick work! We went to the Castleton Yacht Club and spoke to ‘Alby’ in the bar. He was very friendly and said it would cost us only $50 to unstep the mast ourselves and we could help ourselves to any wood at the back of the club to make frames to carry the mast on deck, as long as it wasn’t earmarked by others. With a dinghy-load of 4×2 pine in various lengths we returned to Blue Heeler and set about making frames and dismantling the rigging.

Ally, Wayne, Etienne and Scott from Castleton - what a nice bloke!

Ally, Wayne, Etienne and Scott from Castleton – what a nice bloke!

We decided to unstep at first light in the morning and at 6pm went into the yacht club for a drink. But it was closed. No fear, a quick walk into Main Street of this quiet place and we found and entered the Village Inn. A bar full of local men all turned their heads as Wayne, myself, Denise and Etienne walked in. Straight away we hear “Hey there, where ya from, where ya headed?”. “Netherlands and Australia” we said, then we were welcomed to Castleton and drilled with more questions. We introduced ourselves and told them of our plans and they gasped in awe at our sailing escapades (“You sailed over the ocean on a boat only 40 feet long??”). One friendly guy named Scott even bought a round of beers for us and told us all about hunting deer and fishing up the Mohawk River. Another guy named John told us all about the good Bass fishing in the river and how he goes ice fishing when the river freezes. Scott and John have lived in this small village all their lives. What a friendly bunch!

imageThe next day we got up very early, around 5am, and motored across to the Castleton Yacht Club by 6am. Wayne had a few jobs to do – remove the mast wiring, split pins and such, while I helped out. The crane is a do-it-yourself ‘gin-pole’ which is easy to operate, but a little slow. Two guys, Andy and Dave off a small yacht nearby offered to help us. I was happy with that as I didn’t think just the two of us would be able to do the job as well. Our mast is over 15m long and probably weighs up to 200kg as it still has ropes, shrouds, winches and other things attached to it.

imageBy 8am most of the work was done and the mast was lifted up. It was agreed to put the mast on the jetty as it was proving difficult to lay it from the bow to the davit, as much of the weight is at the bottom of the mast. With the mast on the jetty I tidied up some ropes, while Wayne took off the instruments from the masthead. With two slings around the mast the crane slowly lifted the mast onto the boat, keeping careful not to snag any shrouds on anything or damage our delicate wind generator. By 10.00am everything was in place and all we had to do was tidy up and tie down. While docked we took the opportunity to fill up with diesel, water and have a lovely hot shower. By lunchtime everything was done.

If any yachties are reading this and considering the do-it-yourself unstepping, as long as you have the skills and the resources you’ll be fine. We were fortunate to have three extra hands to help which made the job much easier. There is wood here for making frames, but if in doubt you can buy some from Lowes in Catskills.

Tonight we’ll return to the Village Inn for a pub meal and maybe chat again to a few of the very welcoming locals. Tomorrow we’ll head further north to the state’s capital, Albany approximately 135nm north of NYC.


About blueheelerhr39

Sailing the world aboard Blue Heeler
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2 Responses to Great Loop – unstepping mast

  1. Mrs.Vivierer says:

    Awesome Guys! We are actually getting ready to hit the Erie Canal system on our Newport 30 headed east out towards the coast from lake Erie. Maybe we will see you out there somewhere! Good luck!


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