So you have taken the mast out to get some work done or you are simply storing the boat for the winter? Well, now is the time to consider the mast step and deck collar. Just like chain plates, mast steps and deck collars often get overlooked.
If you have recently removed the mast on an older boat; then it may be a good idea to take the extra time to remove, clean-up, inspect and re-seal the mast step, as well as the deck ring.
Usually on a modern day keel-stepped boat, the step is mounted to something solid that should not suffer from water damage. However, I may still use a little sealant around those screw holes just to be safe. The mast step needs to be removed once in a while in order to clean up, inspect and ensure it can properly drain.
Mast steps that sit on the deck or deck rings (keel stepped boats) can often have screws that go into a wooden core. In this case, if you do NOT maintain the sealant regularly you might damage this wooden core. This can lead to major structural problems depending on the boat’s design.
If any of these steps or collars are painted or anodized aluminum, it is advisable to have them re-painted or re-anodized (read more on ensuring a long lasting finish here). If these parts are made of stainless steel, clean them, inspect the welds and polish them; it will keep it rust free longer. In either case, go ahead an splurge and buy some new marine grade fasteners as well.
I am not saying that servicing the mast step or deck collar needs to happen every 5 years, but consider it if you know it hasn’t been dealt with in 15-20 years or more. Of course, as all things I discuss, these timelines are general and purely dependent on geographical region and use. As long as you don’t forget these crucial components and pay them some much deserved attention once in a while, you should have no worries.
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