How big is that thing?

Wednesday March’s 21st, twenty eighteen

The recent death of Stephen Hawking has me thinking about profound questions. The latest and the one that consumed a couple of hours yesterday, how tall is our mast?  We are booked into Indian town marina and there is a bridge that is 54 feet. We’ve been abandoned by our buddy boats and I can’t find anyone who I trust to hoist me up the mast (with the measuring tape). So, I have to ponder and come up with some way to accurately measure the mast. The ultimate measure will occur as we pass or attempt to pass the Palm City bridge.

I could pull the tape up using a halyard but that wouldn’t measure the last part, the cap that holds those important bits at the top; Windex, vhf antenna, masthead light and the Garmin wind instrument. Both Fracas and I are attached to these bits. From previous measuring I know we are very near the magical 54 feet. I had to devise a method to measure the mast without climbing.

I cut a couple of sail slugs off the main sail and cut a piece of starboard to haul up. To this piece of starboard I attached a 2 foot section of pvc tubing. I had to offset the tubing to allow it to clear some of the bits and extend past. Then once it was up I would have ML make fine adjustments to get the pvc tubing to the same height as the cap. I will remove the bits prior to our attempt under said bridge. I attached the tape, a metal one, to the starboard at the two foot mark. This means I have to remember to add 2 feet to the measurement.

I hauled the contraption (by now it is a contraption nearing ‘rube Goldberg’ complexity (ingeniously or unnecessarily complicated in design or construction)) to near the top of the mast. Then I went to shore to get far enough away to get a good comparison of the… contraption and the masthead. ML made adjustments and ‘Bob’s your uncle’ we got 45 feet. Now that is just to the mark on the mast. We must remember to add the two feet, now 47 feet. But the deck is above the water, Jeezuz, now another measurement with potential for error.

We used our pike pole as a horizontal with a level to get better accuracy, then another piece of pvc tubing to extend down to the water. Six foot six!!!! Now we must add 6.5 feet to our 47 feet… 53 foot 6 inches (plus the bits). Holy crap we should fit under.

Should I account for the tape at 80 degrees f? Holy crap what about parallax? The farther I moved away reduced the error to parallax but ML couldn’t hear me from out there. Could my errors combine to exceed 6 inches and any hope I/we have of getting under the bridge? Ok, fill all the tanks. We are half full of fuel and about the same in water. So 125 gallons more of fuel and about the same in water equals about 2500 pounds that should squat her down some.

I will put my action camera on the top of the mast to record these bridge passes… more later

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