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).
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!