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Matilda 20 Mast Raising

In response to a forum question about mast raising, Brooks Northern put together this description of the wooden crutch and process he devised for raising the mast single-handed. Click on any of the pictures for a full-size image.

This crutch was intended to be a prototype back in 1977, but I am still using it.

The crutch is 5"wide at top, narrowing to 3" for most of its 68" length.  It's made of 3/4" thick poplar, with 1"x1.5" braces on the fore and aft faces.   The braces are made from the bits left over when I narrowed the crutch below the "Y."  

The crutch is held into the centermost hatchway slot by a single 1/4" bolt about 1/3 down from top of hatchway. The bolt runs diagonally from inside the hatchway slot and through the crutch and is held in place by a wing-nut.  The bolt does not carry much of a load - it simply holds the crutch in place; but using two bolts might make some folks more comfortable.  

Mast Crutch Aft side.jpg (51516 bytes)

Close-up of crutch. The braces on both sides are off-centre a bit, fitting close to the edges of the hatchway slot. The brace on the aft side goes all the way up to the bottom of the vee. 

Mast Crutch 5X7X68 forward side.jpg (52232 bytes)

The forward side of the crutch is shaped to fit the backside of the mast and the brace is shorter. The crutch is not padded, but has not marked the mast in over 24 years of use.
Process for single-handed mast raising using the crutch.
DSC01160.jpg (44529 bytes)
(1) Prepare for raising: move mast aft, with masthead extended out over pushpit, foot of mast on cabintop.  Make sure shrouds are clear. 


Raising Mast 1a.jpg (66256 bytes) (2) Place crutch in hatchway slot and fasten bolt. 
Raising Mast 1.jpg (64319 bytes) (3) Standing on locker near transom, raise mast to shoulder and guide mast heel into cabintop mast step.   Raise mast above shoulders and "walk" it forward to about a 45 degree angle and rest mast in crutch.
DSC01161.jpg (36012 bytes)

4) At the bow, attach a short line from stemhead fitting to the  jib halyard shackle. This serves as a temporary forestay.

(5) Raise the mast to vertical, haul in and cleat the jib halyard.

DSC01163.jpg (75450 bytes)

(6) Back at the bow, attach permanent forestay to stemhead fitting. (I "sit" on temporary forestay, using body weight to bring mast as far forward and make the forestay as tight as possible.)

DSC01164.jpg (52357 bytes) (7) Disconnect temporary forestay and remove crutch.  Boat is ready for the water.  (A second crutch made with a hardwood dowel epoxied inside of two aluminum tubes was very pretty, but far too flexible.  I'm still using my "prototype." )
  Lowering the mast is pretty much a reverse of this procedure.
RearMastSupport.jpg (69744 bytes) When lowered, the rear of the mast is supported by another fixture I made from two sheets of aluminium with a mahogany spacer, all held together by brass nuts & bolts.

Last updated  26 February, 2007 - Matilda Owners Association.