Yacht cuts mast to head up river

Sep 19, 2019 by Lucy Chabot Reed

By Lucy Chabot Reed

Running up against a tight deadline to get his yacht ready for the Fort Lauderdale boat show, the owner opted for something drastic — cut down the mast to get under an otherwise too-low bridge and move to another shipyard.

“We knew it was going to be a risk, but it was worth a try,” said Capt. Paul Carins, fleet captain for an owner who buys, refits and sells yachts.

Fleet Capt. Paul Carins

One of the owner’s yachts, the 49m Trinity M/Y Lohengrin, was already at Universal Marine Center on the western end of Fort Lauderdale’s New River, and that crew was happy with the service they received there, so it made sense to put the vessels together, except for that I-95 bridge. 

M/Y Bella, a 180-foot Sensation, draws 11 feet, so the yacht had to make the trip up the river at full tide, leaving precious little room overhead. And estimations for whether the yacht would make it under the I-95 bridge were just that — estimations. 

A makeshift cradle holds the top of M/Y Bella’s mast, cut to pass beneath the I-95 bridge. Photo by Lucy Reed

So the owner and Capt. Carins made the decision to cut the mast. Sounds easy enough, but that mast holds cables and wires and metal casings, all which needed to be deftly avoided. 

“It took six hours of mucking around to do it,” Capt. Carins said. 

Finally, with a hinge on one side and the top bit of the mast resting on a makeshift bracket of 2x4s, Bella began the tow up river. Near the bridge, however, it became clear she wouldn’t make it, so the crew spent a focused 45 minutes cutting off a mast rung so the top bit could drop down a little farther — all while the yacht was being held in place by tow boats.

That second effort worked. 

“I thought I would have a foot above and below, “ Capt. Carins said. “We ended up having 2 inches” clearance under the bridge.

 “It’ll make it for the boat show now.”

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.

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About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

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