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Mast maintenance


2 Apr 2019 | Last update: 23 Dec 2020

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

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True sailing on the Med.

If you've been rum punch sunset cruising in Hawaii or Key West, think about this sail differently. This is an earthy, jump on a cool wooden boat and get ready to just have a sail type of experience. You bring your own food and beverages so nothing fancy there. There is no music unless you bring your own -- so prepare for the sound of the wind and the waves. If the wind is high, don't expect to be strolling on the boat - but rather holding a rail without letting go and enjoying a bit of adventure. Hit the restroom first and if you are the seasick type and the wind is up take some dramamine first as it really is a sailboat not a party boat! Dave was a solid captain who knew his stuff, but not there to give you a tour - just there to sail the boat. I really appreciated his clear communication about what to expect as well as flexibility with us with a last minute member cancelling due to illness.
Laura S |

Great Sail with Dave

We sailed with Dave in June of 2015 and had a great afternoon with him, so when we found ourselves back in Barcelona (July 2017), sailing with Dave again was a must do. We had another great afternoon with Dave. Sailing in the Mediterranean is a great way to see the city. We went for a swim, five miles out; the water was amazing. Highly recommend a sailing trip with Dave.
Larry G |

Fabulous morning sail with helpful host

We booked a morning sail and as I have restricted mobility Dave the skipper moved the boat to an accessible berth. The cruise was beautiful with great views of Barcelona and Dave giving some local knowledge and flavour. The boat was full of character and comfortable and stable even when the wind got up. Half a day was plenty and it gives you an opportunity to explore Port Olympic afterwards.
J L |

The perfect getaway

If you want to see Barcelona from another side, you certainly want to sail with skipper Dave.
stijns740 |

Fabulous sunset sail

We had a brilliant time on board Gemini with Dave. Very relaxed and welcoming. It's a beautiful boat and Dave could not to be more helpful or accommodating - and the sunset over the mountains was stunning. You get to see a unique view of the Barcelona skyline and coast and you can either relax with the sails blowing as he skippers or if you want you can help with the piloting of the boat. And it's great value too!!
Elaine S |

Wow! Definite recommendation

These guys were super helpful and flexible. We had to move trip a couple of times and they really accommodated us. Price was good considering everything we had and the food/ drink package for extra 10 Euros is worth it. We also brought some drinks ourselves. Skipper let us sail when we wanted, there was music (although a Bluetooth connection to our devices would be a good addition), there was sun, there was beer, it was a great way to spend 3 hours of sunset!
wittehengel | Istanbul, Turkey

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