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Thread: What to do with Painted Masts

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
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    Ely Cambridge United Kingdom
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    Red face What to do with Painted Masts

    Hi all,
    I have a one off Cape Cauvin Clipper Ketch I took responsibility of last year and although the mast look great painted white, the paint has peeled off and chaffed. What is your opinion please as to weather I should sand back to bare wood, epoxy over bare wood and cracks and repaint or take off all the paint and use an alternative finish bearing in mind in on a Greek island so it going to be Hot and windy in the summer and windy and wet but mild in the winter?
    i appreciate any replies.

    kind regards,
    Nigel.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
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    Pleasant Valley NS Canada
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    13,952

    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    Clear-coating a mast - epoxy, varnish, whatever - is traditional, supposedly for the ability to see the condition of the wood underneath, with the top few feet of the mast painted to close end grain off from water ingress.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
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    Hyannis, MA, USA
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    44,489

    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    But hot, dry, and windy is not the place for varnish. I'd just sand and paint.

    And do not fill cracks with epoxy. There can be times when a little epoxy is right, like if it's a hollow or laminated mast and a joint is failing and you can fully reef the glue line. In other words, right next door to never. Anyway, not enough information for a sound opinion on what if anything to do about the cracks. If you want to know about that, a full description of the mast construction and the cracks, with pix, would be a good gratuitous advice starter.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Port Townsend WA
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    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    While I prefer varnish, one of the oils that are to be found in marine supply stores such as Deks Olje would be a better choice than paint. In my humble opinion, being able to see the wood and what is going on with it so far as cracks and rot is a must! Cracks that are in line with the length of the spar can be left open but well coated with the oil finish, if the mast is solid. Do not use fillers as they tend to lever the cracks open further as the wood shrinks and expands. If the mast is hollow then you have a different set of problems and should bring that information back to us once you know for sure.
    Jay

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    South Australia and Tasmania
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    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    I live in South Australia, similar climate and lots of UV. Varnish is cr@p. I'd say sand and repainted, using the paint of your choice. Make sure your halyards are tied off so that they dont frap against the mast.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Woodinville, Washington
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    60

    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    If you only want to refinish the mast once every 6 or 7 years, go with a couple of coats of polyurethane one part paint- with two layers of poly undercoat. It will be super-durable and look good.

    if you want high gloss, old world wood finish, use varnish or oil - it will last 2 or 3 years, but can be extended for a long time if you pull the mast every year and add a maintenance coat. Some of the modern oils can produce very nice hard finish.

    the main thing with varnish (or oil) is it requires heavy maintenance, every year, to keep it serviceable.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Texas
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    1,792

    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    Welcome to the forum!

    I thought the white paint at the top of traditionally finished mats was tho hide the bird poop. And it helps with visibility.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    South Puget Sound/summer Eastern carib./winter
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    14,570

    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    Is the spar a grown tree or a glued structure?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Halifax, N.S., Canada
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    197

    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    My mast is a glued up box section, all varnished, now 18 seasons old. A relatively small ugly that was visible near the top when we pulled it this fall has resulted in a rebuild of the upper five feet. If the top of the mast had been painted I might not have noticed the ugly. The cause was water infiltration around the halyard sheave pins that permitted rot from the inside out. As my wife said, it was much better to have discovered this when the mast was horizontal in the spar shed, not vertical in a gale 500 miles from shore. I hope that my rethinking of the sheave box details will prevent this from reoccurring, or at least push it well beyond our ownership horizon.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Nelson, New Zealand
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    40

    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    Off topic (since the mast is a glued up box section) but a friend of mine that repaired and restored yachts and boats after he retired from working in the shipyards used to fill longitudinal shakes in solid, grown masts with wedges made from soft balsa. They kept out the water and were soft enough to compress and expand as the wood moved. A bit stain and they were barely noticeable. He took cre to make sure that the wedge reached the bottom of the shake and did not leave a closed in void.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
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    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    Paint will be fine. My masts are 50 years old and painted white the whole time. Built for and used in Florida for the first 40 years, hot and humid.
    Welcome to the forum.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Ely Cambridge United Kingdom
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    2

    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    Quote Originally Posted by johngsandusky View Post
    Paint will be fine. My masts are 50 years old and painted white the whole time. Built for and used in Florida for the first 40 years, hot and humid.
    Welcome to the forum.
    Thank you all for your replies and welcoming me to the site, much appreciated, this is all be for me as I was going to buy a vagabond 47 but fell in love with the sheer of Christina! Ill take some pics and upload onto the site, so far I understand that at least the main mast is one piece and the mizzen could be boxed section, although Ive changed the 1 screws that were holding up the steps to 60mm stainless hex bolt type, as when I 1st climbed the mast at sea I was not comfortable with the movement in the steps. Also as this type of Yacht has no obvious Vang to hold down the main boom would it be adjustable to attach a sheet to the boom to ease the pressure?

    kind regards,
    Nigel.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Port Townsend WA
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    11,401

    Default Re: What to do with Painted Masts

    This is how we keep our sticks in shape. My wife Anne sands on the way up followed by tacking and varnishing on the way down. Takes half a day if the varnish is in good shape.
    Jay

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