Mast Raising/Lowering for a Mutineer

Mast - Code Flags

This page includes information for raising & lowering the mast on a Chrysler, TMI, Wellcraft Marine/Starwind, & Gloucester or Cardinal Yachts Mutineers.


One of the areas within the Chrysler Owner's Manual that is not very clear is the process for raising & lowering the mast. Because of this, many owners have asked for more detailed information for raising & lowering the mast on a C-15 Mutineer.

A number of Mutineer owners, including Rick Smith, Fred Fraim, Tom Rowe, & Eric Kome contributed to this description of raising & lowering the mast. Each of their perspectives is provided below.

As Rick Smith states, "There are MANY correct ways to accomplish this and some are just as good as the next..."

Rick Smith's Approach

The raising and lowering of your mast is easy and not so weight bearing if the event is balanced and done with a rhythm of consecutive steps. There are MANY correct ways to accomplish this and some are just as good as the next. I'll describe one approach that (I think) requires the least amount of strength BUT requires a good deal of agility and coordination...(nimble and sure-footed).

  1. Attach your mast to the step while on the trailer and on enough ground that makes it stable. If you weigh enough to cause the boat on the trailer to tip back when you walk to the back of the boat, then leave it attached to your vehicle because you WILL need to walk to the back of the boat.

  2. Attach the Main Halyard to the mast somewhere close to the gooseneck (I have a spinnaker, so I clip it to the Spinnaker Pole Ring). Make sure it doesn't cross any other shrouds or lines and then run the other end as far forward as possible to a ring or pin that can be used to tie off the mast when stepped. (I use the mast pulpit that is attached to the trailer and used to carry the mast when tailoring ... other options would be the pin on the trailer winch or the bow eye). Loosely tie this line to the pin in a way that you could untie and pull it tight with one hand when the mast is up.

  3. At this point, walk around the boat and make sure ALL shrouds and lines are clear from potentially crossing or hanging while the mast is on it's way up. Areas of suspect are the boom (make sure the shrouds don't become entangled with the boom or it's rigging such as vang, sheet or blocks and certainly not caught on the wrong side of it when the shrouds begin to tighten) This sounds very simple but I can't tell you how many times I've started up with the mast and become tangled on the boom about halfway up and had to drop the mast back down and start over.

  4. When all is clear and your Main Halyard is waiting for you to walk forward on the foredeck and secure the mast in place... you are ready to start your lift. Walk to the back of the boat and lift the mast as though you were lifting a set of Bar Bells... get it to waist level and comfortable (If the mast at this point is too heavy for you to lift... you should enlist the help of a friend and NOT attempt the rest of this exercise).

  5. With a bit of bounce and in a smooth and balance motion, lift the mast over your head and walk it toward the front of the boat and push it forward into place. The shrouds will catch the mast from going too far forward and will center it into place so let it catch and stabilize.

  6. At this point, the Main Halyard should be laying close to your position so with one hand push forward on the mast (thus holding it into place) and with the other get a good grip on the halyard and prepare to walk forward onto the foredeck.

  7. As you walk forward, use the halyard to hold the mast in place as you turn lose the mast. Hold tight on the halyard with one hand as you untie the halyard from the pin or trailer eye and carefully pull the halyard tight and tie it off.

  8. I use a "trucker's hitch" to put a LOT of forward pressure on the mast with the main halyard making it easier to put some stiff adjustments on the forestay. With the halyard secured at this point it is safe for you to step off the boat and prepare to put your head sail (with the rolling furl) in place and tighten the forestay. You can then remove the main halyard from the trailer or pad eye and return it to its intended purpose.

NOW you are up...takedown is the reverse of this method.

If you'd like my phone number to discuss this further you can call me at 615-482-0840 and I'll be happy to help you all I can.

Fred Fraim's Approach

This is not so difficult, it's not the weight but the length/bulkiness, I do it alone with the boat on the trailer. Here's how:

  1. Let mast lay in the boat with the base near the step and the top of mast hanging over the stern (use a cushion/life vest on the stern to avoid scratches, dings)

  2. Tie a line to the mast-rest on your trailer (if you don't have a mast-rest, tie to a vehicle or other object), wrap the other end of the line a turn or 2 around the mast about 4' to 8' above the mast base

  3. Set the base of the mast in the step

  4. Stand in the boat and 'walk' the mast upright, making sure the base is in the step, and at the same time keep pulling the line tight (the line you wrapped around the mast)

  5. Forgot- make sure you have the side stays (shrouds) attached before you attempt to raise the mast, these will help with lateral stability

  6. Keep 'walking' and keep a good purchase on the line

  7. When the mast is vertical (not too difficult so far) TIE the line to the mast securely, this will hold the mast in place and you can get off the boat

  8. Attach the forestay to the deck

  9. Now the mast is up and you can adjust tension on the forestay and shrouds as required (the line can be used to pull the mast in any direction to tighten/adjust forestay/shrouds, although I use the topping lift or main halyard for this task)

It really is easy, takes only 5 minutes. I was daunted myself when I first got my boat but I saw a Buccaneer owner use this method with no help & I adopted it. I have a topping lift attached to my mast. It is not quite long enough for this task so I attach a short length of line to it, run it thru the mast-rest on my trailer and back to the mast, works great. The main halyard might be long enough to use, never tried that. Get help once or twice and I'll bet you'll then be able to do it by yourself without a second thought. This also works in reverse when unstepping or taking the mast down alone. Good luck.

Tom Rowe's Approach

Welcome aboard. Fred's method works great. We use the main halyard instead of a separate line, if the halyard isn't long enough, you can always attach another length to it. My wife Susan and I bought our first boat, our 1982 Mutineer this summer. She's only 5' tall and ~100 lbs. and at first it was difficult and scary to raise the mast. I held the end of the mast behind the boat while she attached the rear pin. When she started walking towards the front and lifting the mast I would come around the front of the boat and pull the main halyard helping her set the mast into place. After a couple times practice, she's figured out how to balance it, and it's no longer any problem at all.

Eric Kome's Approach

I trailer my Mutineer, and so too have to riase and step the mast every outing. I usually have someone along to help rig, but also do it solo on occasion. I'll just describe my process:

I get in the boat (while on the trailer), and get a hold of the mast right about in the middle so its balanced. I then walk it toward the stern. If you have someone along to help, I usually put them holding the top end of the mast that's now hanging off the stern. I walk it back until the foot of the mast is in place at the mast step. I get it pinned in there. Now, I have the assistant start walking the mast up above their head toward me. I grab the mast at the stern and continue tipping and walking the mast upright, moving toward the bow, usually with one foot on each bench (this does take some balance, so go slow). I then send my assistant up to the bow where he/she can guide the furling system into the hole on the bow (I have the PVC-type furler). They tie on the guide line to pull the forestay through the pulley below and back to the Hayfield Lever. Then, what I do, is I have a line that I run from the front of the trailer up around the mast and clips onto itself. This holds the mast solidly upright while I "monkey" with the pins and lever below.

That's it. To drop it, I pretty much just reverse the process. It is helpful to have someone along, but again I commonly do it solo, and I'm not all that strong of a guy (and I have a bad back!). The mast can be a bit unwieldy, but with slow, purposeful movements, you should be able to get it raised.

For more information about Eric's approach, check out the tutorial entitled "How to Set Up Your Hyfield Lever".

Many thanks to these owners for taking the time to describe the process of raising & lowering the mast on a Mutineer. If you would like to ask them any questions about this process, send an e-mail message to any of them by clicking on the following links:

This page last updated on Saturday, August 4, 2000.