Cracked Mast Partner

Recently my wife and I went on a week vacation down to Hatteras on the Outer Banks. I took my boat along with some grand ideas for sailing adventures, but it just didn’t work out. Most days had thunderstorms and rain, and the one day that was clear we changed locations since our neighbors were loud. At the second location I had to park my boat outside and with all the rain we had I probably bailed 50 gallons of water out every day. I also learned that the hatches aren’t totally watertight. I’m sure they’re fine in a capsize, but not with water sitting against the seal all day.

At the end of our vacation I noticed the mast partner had cracked as well as one of the staves in the hollow birdsmouth mast. I had the same problem with the mast partner in 2019 when we went down to Ocracoke, but I attributed it to poor workmanship when I originally built the boat. But now I’m beginning to suspect it has something to do with the wood moving around the incompressible bronze belaying pins. I usually keep the boat garaged and I’ve seen no evidence of cracks all summer and I’ve had the boat out in some rough weather.

The mast partner is a lamination of two 3/4″ yellow pine boards with a layer of 6oz fiberglass in between. The grain is fairly large and the fiberglass is along the neutral axis so it’s really not doing much. Either way, I’m not going to try repairing it again since it’s clear the materials aren’t up to the task.

I do metalworking for a living, so I’m planning to TIG weld up a new partner from aluminum and have it powder coated. Maybe green, maybe white… not sure yet. It’ll have four belaying pins welded on and possibly an integral bullseye for the snotter so I can run it back to the cockpit. I think it’ll have threaded studs welded on that go through the bulkhead to be secured with nuts and a backing plate. And I’ll probably mill a shallow groove all around for a wad of butyl tape to keep the water out.

I’m done messing around with dead tree carcass! haha