Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fixing a Slipping Mast Extension

Last time I sailed, I noticed I couldn't keep as much downhaul tension on my sail as I like. The downhaul line slowly slipped as I sailed. By the time I returned to shore, I had lost more than an inch of downhaul.

At first I thought it was because the cleat on my mast extension had some sand and shells stuck in it. Next time I rigged up, I cleaned the cleat with a bit of driftwood. The downhaul still slipped.

Time to see how these things are built. I have a typical Chinook aluminum mast extension (only an older model I think).

The bottom of the extension has a couple of pulleys, and the jam (or clam) cleat.

The design is clever. The cleat is held in with a screw that prevents it from falling out, but it isn't load bearing at all. Instead, when under tension, the cleat is pulled up into the pocket it is mounted in. It's a nice design that alleviates the need for a strong fastener.

This also means the cleat is easily replaceable. I removed the screw, and used the hook remover in a knock-off Swiss Army knife to gently wiggle the cleat in it's plastic cave. After wiggling for a minute, the it loosened enough to pop out with my fingers. It, and several years of sand and salt. Poof!

The cleat was marked CL712. A little searching, and I found several retailers selling the exact part. for less than $6. Amazing. An off-the-shelf part. Thanks for making easy-to-fix stuff Chinook!

I ordered the part from Winddance Boardshop. It cost a buck or two more than another shop. Why not support some fellow sailors in Hood River? A week later, I had the cleat. It even included two iron-free screws that look like an exact match for the screw in the photo above. Except these screws didn't have a head worn away by years of sand and water.

You can see above how worn the original cleat and screw were. Also note the collection of tiny shells and sand that has turned into cement in the old one.

I cleaned the salt and sand out of the pocket before slipping in the new cleat. I then used one of the new screws to finish the job.

As good as new. I can't wait to try out my new cleat!

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