“Last chance, you guys going to put a coin down there or anything?”
3 Weeks ago, we brought our boat over to Svendsens boat yard in Alameda to unstep (remove) our mast, replace the rigging (cables holding the mast up), and restep (reinstall the mast). This project, we estimated, would take about a week… maybe 10 days, and so we’ve learned to triple any time estimates in relation to boatwork.
Tradition dictates that when you restep your mast, you should place a gold coin where mast meets boat, positioned so that the hollow mast will slip right over it. Most people use a coin of some significance; the date on the coin matches the year the boat was built, a birthday, or anniversary. Our friend Larry Jacobsen had a gold coin custom made for his boat when his mast was stepped in preparation for a circumnavigation. We had spent some time considering what to place under our mast, but searching for gold coins was dwarfed by larger tasks, like sanding and repainting the mast, installing weather stations and running new halyards and rigging.
When the yard workers asked us if we wanted to place anything on the step we suddenly realized:
1: We had forgotten to stuff the mast with a refillable bladder for rum storage.
2: The only coins we had were the ones left over from coffee that morning.
The mast was hanging inches above the deck, so while it was too late to install a rum bladder, there was hope for a stepping coin. We ran below, searching our pockets, the floor, drawers, and counters for anything that would not only fit inside the mast, but bear some amount of meaning.
I was checking under cushions for lost pocket change when Alex pulled something off of the random junk pile on the nav table.
“…What about this?”.
“yes…YES! It’s perfect!”
At this point, the mast is already through the deck and slowly lowering to it’s final resting place. With seconds to spare, we whip out some marine grade sealant and stick the thing permanently to the step. Luckilly, there are a few moments left in which to snap some pictures before it’s enclosed in its aluminum tomb.
While it’s possible that I’m wrong, I say the following statement with conviction:
We must be the only boat in the world with a mast stepped on a ceramic lucky cat.