Friday, April 18, 2008

Wood is still the Best Material for Masts

I'm off to south Florida again tomorrow to build the mast for my friend David Halladay's new Tiki 30 that I've mentioned here before and am documenting on his blog: Pro-Built Tiki 30

Like the mast I recently built for my own Tiki 26 catamaran project, it will be a hollow wooden mast built up of laminated Douglas Fir, the wood with the best all-around properties for spar construction.

After this trip I plan to write a detailed account of the process here, as well as discuss the pros and cons of modern wooden spars vs. aluminum spars. This is a topic I've had an interest in for quite some time as it is often debated on various boatbuilding forums I frequent. Many sailors of production boats today do not even consider wooden masts as an option, as production boats are always equipped with low-cost, factory produced aluminum spars. But some of the most experienced and prolific designers like Reuel Parker, George Buehler, and James Wharram claim wood is the way to go. I'll look forward to exploring this topic in detail after this trip and I welcome reader comments and observations as well.

Below are a couple of photos from my own mast project, the 27' hollow spar I built for Element II, my Tiki 26. The first photo shows it at the 8-sided stage in the process of shaping from square to round, and the bottom photo shows the finished mast, epoxy coated, but yet to be primed and painted.

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"A boat is freedom, not just a way to reach a goal."
Bernard Moitessier - A Sea Vagabond's World


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