Dry Rot on Spars for a 1978 Hudson Force 50 Ketch

Hello. We have the Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia and the Mariner’s Weather Handbook, as well as the Dashew Offshore Video (which my VCR promptly ate), and I’ve enjoyed them immensely.

We have a 1978 Hudson Force 50 Ketch. We have just found out that our mizzen mast is rotten, and are planning to replace it with an aluminum one. My question is about the (wooden, painted) main mast and boom. According to a very experienced friend, the main mast has “some” rot, but may be able to be saved by removing all hardware and stripping it down to the wood, and inspecting. If we/he determines the mast can be fixed, we would fix the rotten places and repaint the mast. He thinks both port side spreaders will need to be replaced.

In addition, the main boom has bad rot in the lower scarf, just below the glue joint, (also) just below the big bronze fitting (name?) on the boom, which attaches to the gooseneck. The stainless tangs on the main look, at best, “fair”.

We plan to take the boat offshore in a few years. If we refurb the mast, is it advisable to replace the stainless (it is 1978 Taiwanese stainless) with new 316? Do you think the risk justifies replacing the main mast/boom with a new aluminum spar also? Thanks, Mike

You’ve posed some difficult questions and there no easy answers.

To begin with, many yachts built in Taiwan from the era of your boat have had dry rot problems–in their spars as well as decks, cabin houses, and interior bulkheads. The Taiwanese must have been using inferior timber and ply and not properly treated it.

As to your own rig, the best bet is to engage an experience rigger or surveyor to give you a heads up. A little bit of dry rot can be dealt with, but at some point a metal rig starts to make sense.

Stainless is a different issue. However, there have been many problems with corrosion with older Taiwanese stainless fittings. This applies to chainplates on the hull, tangs aloft, even life line fittings. Give all your stainless a good look. Regards–Steve Dashew

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)

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