Mast Support Crutch & Tiller Arm

When you live in Idaho, traveling with a sailboat is a necessity.   I like my gear neat and secure.  I hate disorganization…I knew I needed a system for all this to come off right.  I also wanted it simple, fast and convenient.  Here’s what I came up with.

DSC00439Meet my mast support crutch.  I’m using 3/4″ baltic birch.  It’s strong, has no voids and works up beautifully.

DSC00440I cut out the center area to reduce weight and provide a convenient attachment point to tie down to spars.DSC00442I notched out the back of the transom cap to allow the crutch to mount tightly against the transom.  The blue tape helped protect the painted surface. DSC00444Mocked up here to check for rudder head interference.  None.  Also, I needed to check and make sure I could still remove the rudder.  No problem.  Notice the length of the lower support arms (8″ – 9″) which stabilize the crutch in the fore and aft direction.  This thing feels very secure.  DSC00443Notice the shape of the upper support arms.  They looked OK to me…but this is all about to change.  DSC00445(First Generation Ham n Egger Enters Stage Left)  Pops was not fully satisfied with the shape of the upper crutch arms.  Before I could say a word, he was reshaping the arms on my band saw.  I quickly snapped this photo as proof of him tampering with my build.  I was forced to give a pass to this unauthorized procedure.  DSC00446No doubt the upper shapes of the crutches benefited from his eye.  DSC00447The front support will be bolted to the forward face of the mast box.  It was curved slightly to match the shape of the cabin top.  I kept it low so it wouldn’t interfere with the boom (which will extend forward of the support when sailing).


I designed the mast crutch with one spar support cutout as opposed to two.  This will reduce the time and effort required to secure the spars.  I plan to wrap something around all the spars and simply tie them down to the supports.  This design provides about 3″ of clearance between the bottom of the horizontally secured spars and the top of the veranda.  I needed clearance to accommodate the bundle of sail, spars, lines and sail cover.  

Now for the tiller arm.  

DSC00448I had this piece of red oak laying around (left over from my skegs).  It looked like it might just work as a tiller handle.  After drawing a design that fit the stick, I decided to proceed with the cutout.  DSC00449Rough cutout waiting patiently for the refinements of life to follow.  DSC004502 minutes with the venerable Shinto rasp cleaned up the ends.

Now for the refinement of the tiller arm.

DSC00408 DSC00412 I made this cutout on the underside of the arm where the arm passes through the rudder head assembly.  It provides clearance for my rudder up/down haul lines.  DSC00409

DSC00454Now I’m ready to clean up and do something else for the rest of my Saturday.  

BH #3 Hatches and Traveler Line Hole

I’m striving for daily progress on my Scamp build.  Today, I installed the BH#3 hatches.DSC00407I had previously epoxied and clamped backer pieces around the perimeter to add thickness to the hatch openings to receive the screws.DSC00496I used 3/4″ SS screws to secure the hatches.  I also applied a liberal amount of clear silicon around the hatch openings.  DSC00497This shot shows all the hatches I have installed on Shackleton.  In addition to what is shown, I have wet storage between BH7 & BH8 on both sides of my boat.DSC00499Next, I drilled a 7/16″ hole for the transom traveler.  I first used the largest counter sink I own to flair the hole opening just a bit.  I then followed up with a standard 7/16″ drill bit.DSC00501This flared the hole for a smooth opening.  I will epoxy this hole during my next epoxy step.  The hole goes through (from top to bottom) the transom cap, then a solid epoxy layer and finally through the decking.  It should provide a very strong area for the transom traveler line.

Hoping to test step the mast tomorrow.

Building Mast Support Blocks

Back from vacation, I launched into finishing the mast, boom and yard.  I needed to build the mast support blocks to hold the mast within the mast trunk.

DSC00408I hand a few chunks of red oak left over from building the skegs.  I decided to use these to build the mast support blocks.

DSC00412I set my drill press 2.5 degrees off level.

DSC00409I then purchased a 3 1/4″ hole saw.  My mast is a little larger in diameter than others.  I left it a bit rough for a hand hewn look.

DSC00413I clamped the block to the drill press fence for good support.  Happy with the offsets, I continued to drill.DSC00418This piece will just slid over the mast and be glued into position as the upper mast support block.  DSC00422 DSC00427 I worked thickened epoxy into the mast/support block junction using my finger.  I then cleaned up the excess epoxy with a flattened wooden stick. DSC00425I plan to place a fillet around this joint during the next epoxy coating step.

DSC00419This is the bottom mast support block.  I will be adding the 3/8″ plywood to the bottom to:  1-strengthen the block and 2-evenly distribute of the weight of the mast to the bottom of the mast trunk.  I will simply place the block in the bottom of the mast trunk.

DSC00428Glued together but still pretty ugly.  I globded extra epoxy near the thin section.  I plan to cut the edges flush with the block and cut a groove into the bottom for water drainage once the epoxy has cured.

DSC00430While I was at it, I also rolled the first coat of epoxy on all the spars.


I’m not sure it’s entirely necessary to drill the holes at 2.5 degrees off vertical.  It seemed to make very little difference.  If you don’t have the tools to do this, I wouldn’t worry about it.  I think there would be enough movement in the mast to accommodate blocks drilled out vertically.  This is one of those steps that I was dreading, but it really wasn’t hard and seemed to go off without a hitch.