I wonder how many Freeport owners there are that have no idea of a villain that lives in the bilge of these boats?

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 Steel mast support


At times I feel like after all this work I know Flying Cloud pretty well.  WRONG!!!

She continues to do her best to make me a Freeport 41 Guru.

When we purchased her in Mazatlan, Mexico she was located in a new marina along with a lot of other frustrated cruising boats.
We know from experience of working all over the world on boats, that these places many times have their own little community that counts on each other for survival.
I won't get into a lot of this here. So lets just say that we knew better than to hire a local surveyor.
We spent two full days aboard Flying Cloud, alone. During that time we took over 500 photos, opened every nook we could and once decided that we would make an offer, we measured and listed all of the items we thought we would need to bring to Mazatlan to make her ready for a short cruise into the upper regions of the Sea of Cortez.


Well someone did an excellent job of fabricating a panel that looked very much like the mast support in the bilge. Once installed there was no way to see the truth behind that panel.

Once in Texas and this refit underway, we discovered this hidden secret. I almost had a heart attack when I saw it and remembered back in Mexico all the stresses we had placed on that area of the boat.


The Freeport 41 (the earlier versions) did not have a keel stepped mast. Stepped on deck it was supported by a teak beam from inside the cabin ceiling to the floor. Beneath the floor, they had fabricated a support from steel. This was laid-up right in the hull to some extent and then additional fiberglass roving was applied along side this steel "H" beam.
After years of a saltwater environment, this beam had actually dissolved into nothing more than what turned out to be a couple buckets of rust particles.

So, if you have one of these boats and the deck is showing some compression, take a very close look under the floor next to the forward head.


In this photo you can see the small wood panel that was fiberglassed in place. There was no way to see what was happening down here.

Note that the floor had to be completely removed.

I believe that this chore had to be one of the most difficult of all that we encountered.
It took three days to remove the remains of the steel support. Hammering, grinding and just picking away at the thing.

After cleaning up this mess I decided that I didn't want a repeat of this problem.
The photos of the replacement are lost. Or maybe in my frustration I didn't take any. Who knows.

My solution to this problem was to make a pattern of the bilge. I use 1/8 inch Luan plywood, cut into one inch strips. Then I hand break them to whatever length and I hot-glue them together.

So the next step was to cut 9 pieces of 3/4 inch marine ply to the approximate shape of my pattern. I then laminated all of them together with West Epoxy and 404.
After this cured a few days, I used a small hydraulic jack and a piece of strong angle iron to jack up the floor. This also raised the compression post and the deck. I raised everything slightly above the original deck level.
Once this had set for a few days, I used a band saw to cutout my laminated mast support.

Fitting the support in place, I then used fiberglass cloth and completely encapsulated the new step in West 105.

Then I installed the new step and used roving and West to build up all around the support.

This finished the install and again after a few days I removed the jack and let everything settle on the new step.

If someone else wants to do this, keep in mind that you need to leave limber holes under the step so bilge water will not stand in this area. I believe this was the cause of the problem in the first place.

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