“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” — Jesse Owens
Mizzen masts are not born. They’re made. And not wasting a lot of time — and money — in making these small spars ready for the job of civilizing a big, powerful modern sailing yacht takes major boat-nerd TaiChi. In fact, the mizzen engineering ‘round here can get cut so fine that the results earn nicknames — like this “Kaiser Roll,” fabricated stainless mizzen mast collar for the 90-foot sailing yawl Bequia.
This Kaiser Roll, pictured to the right in its original engineering drawing viewed from above, may look like it will serve a ham and swiss. But what it really does is sit at the base of the so-called mizzen mast. If you remember, the mizzen is the second, shorter spar that stands there politely, in the back of a sailboat. How “mizzen” which spins out of the Latin medianus for “of the middle” became the aft mast, is anybody’s guess. But the role this small spar plays is well known: The mizzen divides the workload from the other main and headsails. And makes even enormous yachts easier to handle in an angry ocean.
Our ultra-modern, steel Kaiser Roll is a kind of bombproof kayaker’s bib at the base of the mizzen. It keeps the sea and weather out — and the mizzen and all its attendant parts in. The part is fabricated from varying thicknesses of type 316 stainless plate stock, ideal for corrosive ocean environments. The metal plates are water-jet cut and fabricated into a single, welded assembly; which is then ground smooth and polished to a mirror finish ready for the 100 year design life we demand. Mizzens can puncture the hull if events conspire against them, so we are extra careful to support it all with complex fabrication under deck.
What makes a mizzen even more complex is the electronics. All sorts of heavy — and potentially dangerous — gadgets now loom above all our heads: Navigation lights, radar, GPS, and various radio and phone communication systems and large TV antennas now creep onto mizzen masts. Don’t forget the halyards, sheets, and hydraulic vangs, all of which must work at a push of a button. All must fit into circular wire-way in the middle.
If you ever do meet to this Kaiser Roll in person, take a moment to thank it for its quiet service. And applaud its little details.
Each plays a big role in this small mast.