>Spring is right around the corner (sort of).


It’s been months since I wrote about Pandora, our SAGA 43 and my plans for the coming season.  Now it is  February and I haven’t seen Pandora since getting her winterized at Port Annapolis Marina in Annapolis last November.  The original plan was for the yard to pull the mast and I would return and strip off the hardware and do some of the prep work to get it ready for the rigger to paint.  However, and a big however at that, things got crazy at work and the weather got nasty and very cold.   After much wringing of hands I decided to have the rigger do teh whole job.  As is to be expected, the job grew in complexity and really ballooned in cost. I was being tempted by the new boat sales offered by the local boat dealers. The good news is that by writing a few painfully large checks Pandora’s mast is almost ready to go back aboard. Those who decided to buy a new boat should look into the required documents for USCG vessel documentation.

Here are a few photos taken by the rigger prior to getting the mast ready for the paint shop.  You can really see just how bad it had gotten with corrosion and peeling paint. It does show what a difference good prep can do for a job.  Unfortunately, nearly all of the SAGAs had masts where the builder cut corners on the mast prep and while they looked great at first, over time there was universal peeling of the paint. One more bit of proof that “beauty is only skin deep”.

It’s just amazing how many parts are on a relatively simple mast. Notice the coils of wire that are the shrouds and stays. As it turns out, the rigger recommended, and I agreed to, a full replacement of all. After 10 years there was some corrosion on fittings and I guess you can’t be too careful. Painful but perhaps less distressing than a lost rig. Besides, the insurance company is likely to require replacement of the standing rigging prior to any really extensive offshore cruising down the road. Sailing to the Med anyone? Let’s hope that I don’t remain an armchair voyager for too much longer.

Just an amazing amount of corrosion on the mast. This is the gooseneck, the spot on the mast where the boom attaches. Not looking so good.

The forward portion of the boom where all the lines run in over shivs.  Corroded again. Not too pretty.  And, where there is messed up paint there is the potential for metal failure.

Getting close to painting, the rig is sanded down to bare metal.  A long and tedious (read expensive) process.  Lots of man hours in this. I can’t wait to see it all done in a few weeks when I return to begin the prep for splashing in late March.

I also need to have good cell coverage when I am aboard and the signal is often a bit weak where we sail. However, there’s a solution. I found a company that sells a cell phone booster that can pick up and improve a signal dramatically for both receiving and transmitting as long as there is at least a weak signal. The system involves an antenna at the top of the mast and a amplifier at the navigation station in the boat. There are two versions, one that is hard wired to a phone, through an external antenna jack, and another that works through a local wireless network on the boat. According to the tech folks the hard wired version will work up to 50 miles from a tower and the wireless version up to 20 miles. I have opted for the hard wired version and will purchase a cable to connect my phone to the unit directly. I am hopeful that this system will allow me to get my ;phone service and data virtually anywhere we are in normal coastal cruising. This link will take you to their home page. If you’ve had any personal experience with such a unit, I’d love to hear more. It’s worth noting that ordering this was quite a pain as they only sell through dealers, more like local installers or places that didn’t know marine, and getting any of them to return my call or understand what I was looking for was very tough. I finally called a trusted boat dealer, West Marine, and they were able to special order the parts I needed. Wish me luck.

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