Dismasting – Jury Rig

From what I have read about dis-masting, it sounds like retrieving the mast from the water to use as a jury rig would be almost impossible for a cruising couple to do. The conditions aren’t likely to be particularly favorable either! Try and keep the mainsail and boom to use as a jury rig. But the main thing is to try and protect the hull from getting damaged by the mast holing it.

I have just been reading a blog about a couple who are in the middle of the Pacific, miles from anywhere, and they have lost their mast. They couldn’t get the boom off either, so had nothing left for a jury rig. Thankfully they have got plenty of spare fuel and hopefully enough for them to be able to turn back and motor towards repairs. We would need to think of a strategy on how to deal with something like this on a long passage.


  • Before a voyage, go up the mast and do an inspection. There are some great mast inspection tips here.
  • During the passage check the rig on a regular basis with the binoculars
  • Keep track of the weather forecast and current conditions
  • Reef early
  • if possible carry enough fuel to enable you to motor half way
  • Understand how the stays are attached – check split pins


  • Decent hacksaw with lots of spare bi-metal blades
  • Bolt cutters
  • Pliers or nail removers for taking out split pins
  • Multi tool
  • Headlamp torch
  • Axe
  • Duct tape
  • Shackles
  • Non-stretch line

Action Plan

  • Put on lifejacket and harness & headlamp torch if required
  • Try to save the boom and sails, but get the spars away from the hull as soon as possible – consider how much fuel you have before losing everything over the side.
  • Gather blocks, shackels, spars, sails and lines together and form a plan for the jury rig
  • It is very hard to sail to windward, so check the chart and perhaps re route to a destination down wind or where the nearest fuel is.
  • Remember radio contact may well be non-existent with the aerial over the side
  • Double check that all lines are clear before starting the motor




6 thoughts on “Dismasting – Jury Rig

  1. My buddy who just soled his engineless Cal 2-27 to Hawaii just dismasted his boat today while leaving for Australia from Maui. He didn’t get too far luckily and was able to be towed back in.


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