Welcome Aboard!

These pages will cover the restoration and upgrades I have done to a 1979 Choate 40.
I acquired the vessel in poor condition at a reasonable price and so far have put twice that amount into her.
From the evidence I have found, she had been de-masted, run aground several times, slightly flooded, run hard and put away wet.
Fortunately, she had new standing rig with a used mast from a Catalina 40 and a recent head job on the motor.
The rest of the info I'll segregate into pages for detailed information.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mast Inspection and Upgrades

March 2013
This is one of the last three things I need to do before heading South. The Mast base is just sitting on an aluminum plate which is sitting on a SS plate with a thin piece of plastic in between. This is how it looked when I first acquired the boat.

I put the bead of sealer around the mast so the water would run directly into the lower bilge instead of port/stbd. The tape I put on the wire to help with a small chaff that had started where the decking had been pushing against it.

At first it looked a bit scary but after a clean up it wasn't so bad, but still kept it on the mind.

The pitting to the right (aft) of the exit hole was where the decking was rubbing against the mast and was actually causing an electrolysis eating away at the aluminum, I assume from the moisture in the wood.

This plate under the mast is not a real mast step, just a plate with holes drilled in it. The proper keel stepped mast base has a pocket in which the mast sets into. I'm going to put a 1/8" piece of G10/FR4 material under the new mast step to insulate it better.  Also some sleeves in the bolt holes to insulate the bolts.  And then put a drain tunnel under it for the water to run out into the bilge.

Riggers tell me there should be a plug in the mast at deck level so the water can run out up on deck. That seems a bit difficult since it's 7' up from the mast base. And then what about the wires? Just more trouble. I'll just deal with water in the bilge once in a while.  Other then rain coming down the mast this it's a completely dry boat, NOW!

Here's a view from the aft end.........

The new boot and step.................

Taking measurements before pulling the mast so the new step will be in the same spot.

The old mast boot..........................  starting to get small cracks.

In order to stop some of the erosion I'm putting an insulation plate under the new mast step. I'm also insulating the bolts as they pass thru the step. I used 5/32" G10 for the plate and FG tubing for around the bolts.

While I have the mast down I'll be installing the gear for an inner forestay to run as a clipper rig or to run a storm sail. Here's my tensioner. Bronze with a chrome plating.

To keep the deck from rising up under load of the inner forestay, I'm installing a disappearing Samsom post. 

Here is the SS tubing and some SS plates...............

The hole drilled for the tube to go thru and to be welded.

The lower section will be pulling on the hull so I machined it to be vertical for a side pull on the bolts rather then straight up. 

 Material for some more parts. All 316L SS

This will be the deck plates for the inner foresty. It just needs to get welded. This is the bottom side to fill, and the top will also get a bead.

This will be the mast hound for the inner forestay. It needs to be bent/formed to fit the mast and then the tang welded on, and some of the excess metal cut away. I left it square for an easy setup in the brake for bending. It'll have a 15º angle at the top and bottom.

After bending...................... That's a 1 foot scale laying between the parts, for reference. BTW I had this bent in an outside shop.  No way could I bend 1/8" SS to this shape at home.

Sometimes one has to build extreme tooling just to get something done, like bending a plate, just to save a few bucks.

The deck where this fits has an arch in it. So rather then stress the deck forcing the plate down, just bend the plate to fit.

The underside of the deck, I'm adding some reinforcing. But first have to strip more paint and sand.

Since this is a balsa cored deck it might try to squash at the bolt holes. So a nice sandwich between G-10 and SS should keep it stable.

The G-10 is epoxied in place to become part of the deck.

Here's the T-ball fittings for the running backstays.

And some more exit plates for adding a second spinnaker line, and to replace a broken one (plastic).

Wed. 5/22/13 I unstep the mast. It took about 1-1/2 hours from start to get it laid out. I already had everything off the mast to get it ready, right down to pulling the turnbuckle cotter keys.  Here's the nasty stuff left behind, mostly sand. 

And the moss that can grow on the rig when it sits in storage for too long is unbelievable. Welcome to the PNW.

Anchor light......................

Pacific NW winters are terrible for moss growth.

It's even on the SS shrouds...............

Now it's time for the clean up..................

I'm installing a new Maretron WSO100 system and getting rid of the old Tacktick wind indicator. Which was only temporary anyway so I didn't have to pull the mast 4 years ago. Here's the raw material I need to build and extension to get the WSO100 out away from wind interference.

So here's the rough product sitting on the mast head.

Part of the mast project is to install a removable inner forestay and running backstays. I'm installing the T-ball fittings just below the forestay hound, which is half way between the spreaders. When I did a trial run with an inner stay attached to the spinnaker boom lift halyard, the mast was pumping the most in this area, hence the reason for this location.
Here is the hole at a 20º angle, which brings the deck fitting about 12' back on deck.

This is the T-ball plate, with a plastic shim for between the aluminum and SS fitting.

It just slides thru the hole and I'm using a line to hold it in place while I rivet it together.

Then I just back the washer out the exit block hole for retrieval.

Here the finished assembly. Since there is so much stress I used an industrial grade SS rivet. Also I used Tef-Gel on any alum to SS contacts to help avoid electrolysis. Hence, the white stuff around the rivets and opening.

I purchased looped T-ball bail/terminals so I can use dyneema back stays.

Part of doing the work on the mast I had to pull the Strong Track so I could move the mast around w/o damaging the plastic.                                          HUH!  

 I rolled the track up into a 5' diameter roll, which is nothing compared to when it came shipped in back in june of 2006. At the time I noticed some crazing along the sides and thought is was just a little UV damage.

Well, as I unrolled it to reinstall it, I hear this crackling noise, and holy crap the damn thing cracking on the exposed surface. The back side seems to be OK.  So, it seems the track is only good for a limited time in the sun, considering the back side (protected from the sun) is just fine. Also, I could take my fingernail  and scratch away an outer layer of the plastic. (The white chalky part in the picture)  But this is why I'm doing a mast inspection before heading off into the big blue.
     So, buyer be aware!

Tides Marine tells me it's $8 a foot to replace.  So now I'm out another $400. I just hope it doesn't take too long to get here. They say 3-5 days machining and another week for shipping (UPS ground).

The mast head extension is done and installed.

I pulled all new wiring along with the Maretron wires. So I shouldn't have any problems in the near future.

I also added a bird spike to the top of the Windex. Before the mast goes back up I'll be adding covers on the new wiring to help keep down the UV damage.

I emailed Metz about the UV covers on the antenna requesting to buy new ones and he sent me (for free) new caps and some up grades with a new decal.  Thanks you Dick Metz! You the Man!

One other item. I upgraded the exit block, which is now the inner jib halyard. The old one was a plastic case. The new one is slightly larger with an aluminum case.

Got the hound and deck plate back from the welder and then took them to be electropolished. 

 The old mast step with a little clean up but still a mess. The mast edge was actually sitting on top of a screw head that's sticking up about 1/32", which left an indentation in the mast.

The bottom had aluminum jelly, which was actually eating a hole thru the plate.

The foundation w/o the rotten aluminum. It's a large piece of 1/2" SS plate sitting on top of the keel wood.

Here's the new mast step, sealed and insulated from liquids and electrolysis. 

Also installed the mast hound today..............

I had to add a chaff guard around the hound and fittings. The strong winds of offshore sailing caused a lot of stress on the genoas leach while tacking. Between that and the exposed stitching on the sunbrella strip, it needed something to allow the sail to pass freely.

The mast is back up and tuned up. Adjusted all the shrouds with the Loos gauge. Readjusted while laying over in Neah Bay before heading to SF.

Sits pretty on the inside now. Also spliced and attached all the mast wiring.

Now back to the Samson post.  It's all welded together and temporally in place for mounting the foot.

Making the form for cutting the wood base.  The wood is a hard mahogany. Two layers of 3/4" epoxied together, one with the grain running horizontal and the other vertical to avoid any cracking from stress on the holes.

All epoxied in place with radius gussets for extra bond strength.

Glassed over.........................

All finished and mounted....................

The deck side of the works...................

With the Samson post installed and up.

Sampson post down with cap.

The inner forestay tensioner. And the sailmaker was out today to make up the staysail.

And finished installing the wind/weather instruments. It's nice to know the wind, outside temp, barometric pressure, humidity and dew point all at the push of a button. 

For the inner jib/staysail I'm adding some more T-track on the cabin top.

And for the running back stays I'm using 1/4"/ 7mm Dyneema Blue. Also I made up a pair of 12" long soft shackles doubled up to fit the T-ball fittings.

4:1 purchase on the tensioners 

If need be I can use the winch just above to get some extra pull on the tensioner. I made up and installed these chain plates to put the runners at about 20º to the mast for when I'm running with the main up out to a close reach.

When I'm running the staysail only for heavy weather I attach the runners to the arch

And when not in use I store the runners at the shroud chain plates with a bungee.

And that's about it for this page............................... 


  1. Holy cow! Your work looks excellent. Very inspiring. I do have to ask, you didn't use a graphite pencil to lay out the holes and cut out at 20* angle, right?

    *sigh* Sorry, as a craftsman myself and being eternally curious I just have to ask.

  2. I'm a retired Machinist/Toolmaker so a simple thing like a T-ball fitting is child's play. Of course there was a protractor involved, lined up on the center line (grove) of the extrusion.

  3. Howard Gladman

    Impressive job of restoration. Really Looking forward to the trip. I'm planning on driving up Sat the 31st.

  4. Really appreciate you taking the time to document your projects. Your skills are excellent! We are contemplating a cockpit arch and I was wondering what diameter tube you used?


    1. HI Tom,
      Just got back from sailing to SF from Seattle. The tube is 2" for the main structure and 1-1/2" sub-supports.

  5. Hey, excellent stuff. Got a Jason 35 I'm refitting now. Slow going, not much money, you know. But you gave me some ideas, especially that disappearing Samson post. Don't really like the idea of water coming in from it, but I suppose a little leakage while in use is no big deal. At other times, you have the cap on, which I presume is water tight.
    Good stuff buddy, keep it up and I hope to see you on the seas one day.
    Fresh breeze and calm seas
    Jace (Joe Keck)

    1. Hi Jace,
      On the Sampson post, if the deck becomes awash, a little water does get down around the riser, if up. But the structure tube has a drain at the bottom, which dumps into the anchor sump.
      The object is to think a head on any modifications, and the rebuilds for that matter.
      Enjoy the Jason 35!