Fresh from top to bottom

Bottom prepped and mast removed

In September we took advantage of our free haul-out at KKMI along with their 40% off rigging special to knock out another big-ticket item for Sonrisa. When we purchased her in 2013 the rigging was old, but still in decent condition, but the paint on the upper portions of the mast was old and starting to fail. Corrosion is always a concern for aluminum spars in a marine environment and I felt like it was getting to be time to address these two items.On a sailboat the mast and rigging are really key components to the vessel’s primary engine (sail) and deserve the same care and attention as the auxiliary engine (diesel) which we addressed last year. While I could have spent the better part of a week sitting in a bosun’s chair at the top of the mast with a scraper, some sandpaper and a can of paint, I thought better of it and took Sonrisa in to have it done the right way.

Base of Sonrisa's mast with boot and winch hardware removed
Prepping the mast for removal

Plus it had been 3 years since we last painted the bottom and while there was still some life left in the Micron-66 paint, it was getting to be time to refresh the bottom too.

We arrived at the KKMI boatyard in Richmond on September 17th and I met with our project manager Bob Hennessey. We went through the work order together and discussed what I could do to help offset some of the costs of the project with work I could do myself. KKMI is known locally for excellent customer care and workmanship, but at a premium cost. However, unlike other yards I’ve been to that prefer that owners stay away from their boats until they are ready to send you the invoice, the entire team at KKMI encouraged me to do as much of the ancillary work on my own as was practical. The arrangement worked out great and I’m sure saved me several boat bucks at the end of the day.

Mast hanging from stands in paint shed
First coat of primer on the mast

The way it generally worked out was I’d prep Sonrisa for the next job (ie. removing the sails, boom, mast winches, boom hardware, mast wiring, basically everything I could reach), then KKMI would do the big work (disconnecting the rigging and pulling the mast out via a crane, stripping and painting the mast in their paint booth), then I’d do more prep work (washing all the halyards, running new mast wire, mounting new antennas and LED lights, re-bedding the bowsprit tangs, replacing the backstay chainplate), then they would follow with more big jobs (fitting the new rigging wire, re-stepping the mast with the crane, static tune of the rig, etc.). Along the way I was able to ask Leland and Barrett questions about the rig and we were able to solve several other problems that cropped up along the way.

Aft view of Sonrisa sitting on stands in KKMI boatyard
Installing new backstay chainplate

Leland was great to work with as he gave me several useful tips for running the new mast wire and bedding the hardware back on the mast. He also did an amazing job of refurbishing the mast, including re-machining any worn parts and ensuring everything was reassembled perfectly. When the mast came out of the paint shop and reassembled it was indistinguishable from a brand-new mast.

After running all of the new mast wires, I devised a way to leave a mouse line in place at both the top of the mast as well as at the spreaders in case I need to run additional wires in the future. I was concerned that if I left an exposed line accessible at the top of the mast, the sun would rot the end of the line and it would disappear back inside the mast before I ever got to use it. So I made a short retrieval fob out of lashing wire to attach to the end of the line and tucked the line end inside the mast and sealed the hole with silicone. This way if I do need to run an additional wire, I can go to the top of the mast and pull the wire to unseal the plug and retrieve the mouse line to pull the new wire.

Newly painted mast dockside with new masthead electronics installed
Good as new

While Barrett was disassembling the furler for the new headstay, he found that the bottom bearing in our Profurl headsail furler was gone (literally, it was missing) and was able to find a replacement and improve how it interfaces with the stay. ¬†Additionally when I showed him how I didn’t like how little clearance there originally was between the top of the upper swivel and the halyard sheave, he doctored a spare swivel I had to provide a better fit at the top of the mast. The end result is that our old Profurl works as good as new. Before it was quite a workout to furl the sail and we often resorted to using a winch for assistance. Now it furls quickly and is easy enough to just furl by hand. What an improvement!

From the beginning I knew that replacing the rigging and painting the mast would be a big job. But together we got Sonrisa buttoned up and back home in just over 3 weeks time and the results are simply amazing. KKMI’s staff are top-notch both in the quality of their workmanship and their accessibility and ability to work with the owner to get the best results.