#

Mast maintenance


2 Apr 2019 | Last update: 28 Jun 2019

A wooden mast spends its entire life exposed to the elements. In the Mediterranean, that means harsh sunlight, year round.

A wooden mast after a couple of years exposure to the Mediterranean sun.

Until recently, the conventional wisdom was that exposed wood should be varnished. Varnish creates a film on top of the wood. Marine varnishes have UV blockers, like sunscreen for wood. It doesn't last for long. The varnish film begins to break down, cracking, splitting, and flaking. It gets ugly real fast. That's what I used last time I cleaned the mast.

Cleaning up damaged varnish is a huge task. You can scrape it off, if your name is Hercules. You can't use mechanical sanding equipment, because the varnish melts and gums up the paper in seconds. You can use chemical paint strippers, but that's just horrible.

Or else you throw money at the problem to make it go away. You pull the mast out of the boat and hire some workers to do the task for you. I don't have that kind of money.

So let me introduce myself. My name is Hercules, and I'm starting at the bottom and working my way up.

A cleaned and sanded section.

It does look stunning when the wood is cleaned up and sanded down.

As I said, the conventional wisdom is to varnish, but that sets you up for a repeat task of Hercules a couple of years down the line.

The alternative treatment is oil. It doesn't form a film on the surface, it penetrates into the wood. The finish is stunning. But no UV protection, so it doesn't last. Oiled wood finishes are easy to touch up when they start to wear away but not if it's the whole mast turning grey in the sun.

But that seems to have changed in recent years. There are now external wood oils that incorporate UV blockers. I asked an architect friend for a recommendation and he suggested "Osmo UV protection oil 420". He uses it for external carpentry on his upscale country houses. So I got a tin of the stuff and a couple of years ago used it on Gemini's hatches. I left them exposed to the sun and the results are fantastic. It does seem to suffer a bit if exposed to lots of salt water, like the forward hatch. But the main hatch doesn't get much saltwater on it, and it still looks perfect 2 years after applying the product. That's good enough for me, varnish wouldn't survive nearly as successfully.

Oil is also much easier to maintain, you can just rub any failed patches down with fine sandpaper and paint a few coats of oil on. With varnish, you have to scrape it down to bare wood and start again.

And to my eye, the finish is even more beautiful than varnished wood.

Oiled wooden mast. I can look at this stuff all day.

Told you I can look at this stuff all day!

What our customers say

Over 250 ★★★★★ reviews

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence & Hall of Fame 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Perfect day

Great boat, great skipper, great day. The biggest bang for the buck you're able to get in Barcelona, just do it.
johananden | | 28 June 2015

A Must-Do While In Barcelona!

While in Barcelona, this was THE best thing we did by far! We had an amazing day out on the sea. Captain Dave was an amazing crew and looked after us to perfection. We had lots of fun. Thank you David.
Luiz Paulo V | London, England, United Kingdom | 13 August 2013

Highlight of our trip

We really enjoyed sailing with Dave. We spent 10 days in Barcelona and sailing was our break from sightseeing, which turned out to be the highlight of our trip. Would definitely go back. First time on the Mediterranean, it was beautiful and relaxing. Dave was a great host.
Jolynne P | | 19 June 2018

Great Fun

4 of us booked the boat for 3 hours on a glorious Saturday afternoon. Dave was a great Skipper, letting us drink and play music while he took care of the sailing.
Dom S | | 11 July 2018

A Mediterranean Adventure

Our family of four had a wonderful adventure with Captain Dave on the last day of our Barcelona vacation. Dave was very responsive through our email communications to book the trip. The directions to the Gemini were easy to follow and she was as described – well maintained with much character. Captain Dave was very personable but not intrusive – he patiently answered all our questions. We spent over three hours enjoying the beautiful Barcelona skyline. He even stopped and anchored so our kids could swim in the Mediterranean. We would highly recommend Classic Sailing and hope that we have the opportunity to sail on the Gemini someday again.
Kathy M | Rocky Hill, Connecticut | 23 August 2014

Unwind with wind!!

Just had our honeymoon in Barcelona, it's an amazing city with plenty to eat, drink and see, after a fantastic week of trying to do as much as possible we could not have found a better way to relax and chill out than our trip with Dave on Gemini. We took the sunset cruise and it was just the two of us, Dave is really friendly and made our evening very relaxed, perfect way to end our honeymoon. He is also very knowledgeable about Barcelona too. Can't recommend it enough.
Edwinmajor | | 5 July 2015

Read all our reviews here

#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#