Report Text:

Whilst on my 5.5 metre long catamaran, the mast fell down. Fortunately we were close in shore and we hobbled back home to the dinghy park! No one was hurt. No breakage or sail rips, just a spoiled day & some remedial work to do.

The fault was the loss of a shackle attaching the fore-stay to the hound on the mast. We do not know what caused the hound shackle to fail as it was lost. When we checked the rigging we also found that another shackle on the forestay had a stress fracture. This is a small stainless steel shackle, with a flat (rather than round) cross-section.

This might have had more serious consequence than our event. We are so lucky. (I understand that some years ago a mast came down in the boat park causing serious personal injury to a person walking by.)

I appreciate we were at fault. We check all the lower rigging at the start of each season. However, checking the upper rigging would require the mast to be taken down, which we had not been in the practice of doing. Unfortunately often the recognition of a potential problem requires a chance event!

We will be replacing these 2 shackles with stainless shackles which are round in section (stronger) and with captive pins.

CHIRP Comment:

The reporter has correctly recognised that the simple loss or failure of a shackle, which resulted in the mast falling, could, in different circumstances, have resulted in serious injury or worse.  The report highlights the need for regular inspection of safety critical components, even if access is difficult. We are grateful therefore that the reporter has shared the learning from the incident.