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Garvey Repairs to Main Mast Step

Sunday, Aug 7

On Tuesday evening, August 3, the main mast step failed. The mast canted to port about 45 degrees. No damage to either the mast or the sail. We got the sail down quickly, and got the mast vertical, with Jim on the foredeck holding it in place. Then we commenced rowing, but soon help came from Monmouth Boat Club. The club was running races that evening, and sent over their chase boat to render assistance. They towed us back to our dock thus saving us about an hours rowing. Thank you MBC.

At the dock we examined the damage and decided to haul the boat and return it to Jim's back yard for repairs. The haulout was Friday, Aug 5, and repairs commenced the next morning. We removed the foredeck. That gave us access to the damage, and a much better view of what needed to be done. Most damaged parts got removed that day, and the rest removed Sunday (today).

The problem was some rust-rot in the mast step uprights. They were bolted with galvanized carriage bolts, but these were seriously corroded. We will replace them with stronger stainless steel bolts, with proper stainless steel plates instead of just the carriage bolt heads holding the wood in place. The wood was a hardwood, but not white oak. We will endeavor to procure white oak, a favored marine wood because it is rot resistant.

All the rot is removed. We will coat all surfaces remaining with Smith's rot fighting epoxy. One section of the stem about 8 or 10 inches was removed. The replacement will be mortised into the good stem portion. Below are photos taken by Shannon of the mortise he cut today. One photo shows the entire step area with everything removed. After fixing the stem there are five parts to cut and assemble. We will use white oak with stainless steel bolts. Then the deck will be replaced, a bit of paint patch, launch, and we sail again.

Tom Gibson August 8, 2010

Top view


Top view of new mortise in stem. A white oak piece with tenon will be fitted, replacing a section of stem with rot. The board at the bottom is the front end of the keelson, the backbone of the boat. The repair piece will be fit into a sloping mortise cut into the keelson to help absorb lateral thrust of the mast. It will slope so water can drain. Trapped water starts rot.

Step area after disassembly


View of entire mast step area. Everything bad is removed. We will coat all with Smith's epoxy, cut about 5 new pieces to replace the old rotted and damaged pieces, assemble all. Stay tuned for more photos.

The mortise


A good view of the mortise. Shannon does nice work. UPDATE (Thur, 8/12/2010), the new tenon is cut and fits snugly into this mortise.

Thursday, Aug 12

After last Sunday work progressed daily. With all the damaged and rotted wood removed we could make a shopping list for replacement wood, bolts, etc. On Monday evening Jim, John, Tom and Rik met to discuss repair options. After much discussion we agreed on a plan.

On Tuesday John and Tom purchased white oak for the mast step, and philipine mahogany for the deck carlin. We do not yet have the bolts and other fastenings, but getting those shouldn't be too hard.

On Wednesday John and Tom cut and glued up the repair block for the stem.

On Thursday Jim, John, Tom, and Shannon worked on the repair block mortise and tenons. Shannon already did the forward mortise last Sunday, and his work is in the photos below. Jim and Tom cut the tenon onto the glued up repair block, shaving it down until it fit snuggly. Jim and Shannon worked on the aft mortise, the one in the forward end of the keelson. That is a slopped mortise that will drain any water that gets into it to avoid rot in that joint.

All parts will be coated with Smith's epoxy resin, including the edges of the removed deck pieces. Smith's has rot fighter, so it both seals and fights rot.

We plan on hauling the boat to the Clearwater Festival Aug 28, even if repairs are not finished. In that case we will take tools and materials and continue the work at the festival. The work in progress will be our show.

Tom Gibson August 12, 2010

Sunday, Aug 22

By Friday (two days ago) the new repair part for the stem was fitted into the two mortises. Not glued yet, just fitted. Shannon also dug some rot out of the frame just aft of the step. It looked repairable.

Yesterday morning the boat was taken to the Clearwater Festival in Asbury Park. We left the spars, decking, sails, etc., behind. Our show at this festival was the repair work in progress. Shannon continued removing rot from the frame until we decided there was not enough good wood left to save the frame. So we spent time surveying how that frame is attached to everything else. The plan is to pull the entire frame and replace it with a new one of white oak. As of now this does not seem to be a humongous job, but it adds a week or so to our chores.


Some explanation: The varnished piece is the forward coaming rail, new last year. It is undamaged, and subsequently removed to give clear access to the frame itself. The white line along its length is caulk that sealed the joint between this piece and the removed deck.

The damaged frame is four sided with a “window”. Its top is where the damage is, and that damage is the grove extending up and to the left in the photo. At the festival Shannon continued digging and found the rot to be more extensive than this small grove. We judged it to be too extensive for the high stresses in this area. So a whole new frame will replace the top, the bottom (with the white paint, and the little wedge sitting on it) and the two verticals of which only the starboard one is visible in this photo.

Tom Gibson August 22, 2010

Friday, Aug 27

Yesterday evening after work Shannon, Jim, John, and myself worked to remove the frame. Looking at the frame, it is a trapezoidal shaped, uh, well, frame. With a window in the middle. This window gives access to the forward storage area, under the foredeck, where we usually store life jackets.

Shannon took the frame home to serve as a template for a new frame. This morning John and I went shopping once again for white oak, and obtained 30 feet of (mostly) 1×6 surfaced two sides. We delivered these to Shannon's home. He plans to build the new frame tomorrow, Saturday. The next work party is planned for Tuesday evening. The goal is to install this new frame. After that we can resume work on the new mast step, and then finally replace the deck.

Subsequent Fall Work

Shannon completed the frame, and John, Jim, and Shannon installed it a few weeks later. We now realized that the work would not get finished before the end of the sailing season, so we put the boat away for the Winter.

This story continues in

And for those who may be interested here is where we are doing the work.

Tom Gibson April 13, 2011

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Navesink Maritime Heritage Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging Eastern Monmouth County with maritime and water related historical, skill building, environmental, and recreational activities, and encouraging responsible use of the Navesink estuary through its Discover, Engage, and Sustain approach

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