Building a mast for S/V Calliste

Self hoist up the mast

Its alot more complicated than my pictures will show.. but I am putting these pics here, in case you are thinking of building your own mast too.

Its not that we want to build a new mast like its a hobby thing, but that we had no choice. Calliste’s mast was damaged in the Tsunami of ’04. We found that we couldnt afford to replace it by paying a professional boatyard and Doug wouldnt trust them around this region to do it properly. As is, he found many faults with the original mast from forespar. Hes dissapointed that pro riggers didnt know or just didnt care to make it right.

Doug taking notes at the loft office

……….The mast is a the most important structural fitting on a sailboat. It is the main “engine” and produces no carbon emissions, runs quietly, dont need no greasing and certainly no constant need of refuelling…. but.. mast making cost as much as buying and installing a new engine, and the sails are about as costly as diesel.

Work laid out on our finger between Calliste and Eleanor

Just setting it straight, sailing is not free energy.. after you add up the cost of the setup, it is surprising how much you will have to pay for it. … I should say, wind is free, energy and propulsion is not..

Workshop to machine the parts

This time, Doug is determined to do everything the “right way”. Given our limited finances and facilities, it was a challenge right from the beginning.

Lets start with setting up the workspace to actually fabricate your own mast. .. the 1st being the computer, internet and forum. Do as much research as you can, join the rigging forums, hook up with people who have done rebuilding their mast, buying parts and locating materials. The information that we gotten are aplenty but may not be complete, so we had to fill in some blanks.. and then figure a way to correctly produce the bits and pieces and then mounting… blar blar..

Working at our pontoon office.

Okay, next the workspace. .. its all over the place. We have the desk at home, the cabin onboard Calliste, the container workshop, the finger between Calliste and Eleanor, sometimes the gangway and even up on the mast. ..

Putting it together.. it fits! Spreader, baseplate and thru-bar

Alrighty, what have we got so far..? After 3 years of working on it.. almost full time … Here are some of the bits and pieces.

The spreaders were purchased from Rolly Tasker in Phuket. Baseplates and thru-bar were machined from flat stock T6061 aluminium which we could get easily from a stockist near our place in Singapore.

Doug made his own endcaps too!

These spreader endcaps were machined right here in Sebana… DIY by Doug… They look like a pretty close fit to me.

Dry fitting the mast splice.

We wanted a 1 piece mast without welding, but thats not possible. No company will make a 45ft aluminium extrusion and even if they did, it will be impossible to properly anodize that length. Our previous mast was welded and painted, something that Doug does not want in this “perfect” mast that is working for.

Checking the angles .

It was a surprise to us, but really, splicing better than welding in many ways. .. and many high performance racing sailboats have spliced mast and performed very well under great load.

well.. I think we are getting there… soon we will be able to anodize… which is another topic on its own..

… perfectionist is not quite enough to describe Doug… hmm… I wonder what is the word that would better describe his incredible desire for building everything perfect? Help me guys!


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Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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