One of the J-27 owners asked about building a "gin pole" out of an old mast. I found this discussion in an old Yahoo J-27 Group discussion, and thought it might be useful.

Caution: Gin poles (especially homemade) can be dangerous due to many factors (unsuitable sizing, using old materials, cross section dimensions, etc.) We make no claims of the strength or suitability of what is discussed below.

Gin Pole Design

After reading the following material, Dylan Stewart (Miss Trixie) built a gin pole, taking several photos of the pole in use, with a complete step by step explanation of how it worked for him. I mention this now, because you may want to refer to it from time to time while reading the rest of this page. His photos can be accessed at

By Jonathan Udell on Tuesday, June 1, 1999 - 10:31 pm:
This past weekend at the NJ Parkway Regatta at Raritan Bay I borrowed a ginpole made from a broken Star mast. Amazingly light, a little flex but nothing to be alarmed by. Breeze to setup. I'm not that big but I could carry and position it by myself. I know what I'll be looking for at the next Baccardi Cup.

By Rich Auerweck on Tuesday, April 27, 1999 - 12:58 pm:
I just used my second gin pole design this past weekend and it worked fabulously. My first design was too short and wasn't supported properly - it was almost a disaster. The new design is an A-frame made of (don't laugh) two 16' 2x4's. I know - aluminum would be much lighter, but I didn't have any. The two "struts" are joined at the top by a single eye-bolt passing through both struts. That eye-bolt is used for the block and for a "backstay" to support the frame. Another screw-eye at the top is used for the forestay. About 5' off the deck on each strut is a single screw-eye facing outward to which I attach another set of fore and aft supports on each strut for increased stiffness. These are to keep the A-frame from slipping out to the fore or aft. I used the boat tie-downs tensioned lightly for these. When spread apart, the struts rest against the forward set of stanchion bases so they can't slip outwards (it's also a good idea to add a line connecting the two struts at the bottom for security). With everything secured, the A-frame was incredibly stable and stiff - only heavy and a bit on the short side. The center of gravity on my mast is exactly on the anchor light, so longer struts would be better. I may add a foot or two to each with a bolted on piece of 2x4. It does require two people to raise the A-frame, but who does this stuff alone much anyway. It's my humble opinion that the A-frame design is far more stable than a single pole.

By Rich Foster on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 09:37 am:
Another Idea for a Gin Pole....

Try these steps (they worked for me):

1) go to a marina and find a broken mast (I happened to find a broken E-Scow mast: cost was $25---they were glad to get rid of it, mine just happened to be slightly taller than needed---no big deal, slightly taller is ok) PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU CHECK TO SEE WHY IT BROKE. MY CASE WAS THE STRESS WAS WELL BELOW THE SECTION I USED AND THEY HAD ALREADY CUT IT TO GET TO ANOTHER PART. So my piece is in pretty good shape.

2) I had some left over prestretched line that I could not use for anything else (I picked it up out of the return box at the Local West Marine for $30)

3) I had Cheek Block that I attached to the top for the halyard and I also attached some eyes to attach the line for the stays (probably $30 in cost)

4) I had a block already on the deck and was in good shape to help get leverage to lift the mast.

5) I put a piece of carpet below the gin pole before putting it on the deck.

6) Taking the rope attached at the top, we use the side stays to block on the Stanchions and feed both to the cabin area to blocks where our twings go.

7) For a forestay, we take a line to the bow and back to a loop and down to the bow cleat for extra leverage.

8) Now we make sure the gin pole is still and standing on its own.

9) Now we take our Foreguy (for the pole) attach one end to the ring for the pole (used as a retrieval line) and the other end around the mast with a bowline below the lowers.

10) Next we take a halyard and attach to the Foreguy.

11) Now lift. Can be down with 2 I prefer 3. One holding the but end down near the bow pulpit and one doing the lifting. I like to have a 3rd nearby just to help out.

12) As we get high enough the person on the but end moves closer to the mast step area.

13) WE go over the mast step and lower a little way.

14) We send someone below to guide into the step.

15) We let it down until seated correctly.

16) We attach the stays.

17) Remove the Gin Pole halyard, using the retrieval line.

18) While someone steadies the Gin pole, loosen the side stays and then the fore stay.

One thing to make sure is that you keep the spreaders outside of the side stays of the gin pole, at least on my design.

We probably used it about 18 times last year and it seemed to work. Good Luck.

By Chris Morlan on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 08:33 am:
Contact Hall Rigging at 1-800-283-1964. They sell a nice one for $212, but the killer is the shipping since it is oversized for UPS. I had mine trucked to Midwinters by Hall (no charge) and brought back to Texas by someone who was there for the regatta.

By John Evans on Monday, March 15, 1999 - 02:05 pm:
As a new J24 owner I'm scouring the web for safe and easy way to raise the mast with the help of a few friends. I've heard of gin pole and A Frame designs for this but am having trouble finding them. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

By Michael Clarke on Sunday, March 14, 1999 - 07:48 am:
Hi Folks, this is the text of a piece that I wrote in the Irish J/24 Newsletter, November 1998.
Clarke’s Contraption
Peter Gray’s launching instructions of the Westerns declared that Michael Clarke has a contraption, and, sure enough this contraption was used to lower all the masts as visiting boats lifted out after that very enjoyable event.
Like all good ideas it was copied from someone else: from Hank Killion, former World President of the J/24 Class. It is a gin-pole, made from a light, strong, hollow tube, say a shortened GP14 mast, which is stepped securely over the deck eye that takes the spinnaker downhaul. At the top there is a 3:1 block and tackle which is attached to a lifting bowline round the mast just under the spreaders – that is at the centre of gravity - and outside the lowers, with a tail of its rope left hanging to pull the bowline down when necessary.
The one critical dimension is that the 3:1 block is about 20 feet off the deck, that is enough so that when chock-a-block the mast foot just emerges from its deck hole.
The gin-pole is held up by shrouds clipped to the tweeker eyes (check they are stoutly bolted underneath) and a forestay lashed to the foredeck mooring cleat.
With care to keep dangling lines clear and so forth, it is a surprisingly easy job for one person to raise or lower a J/24 mast and is best done ashore for steadiness.

By Jonathan Udell on Saturday, March 13, 1999 - 07:57 am:
Check the local marinas near the shore (whatever shore that might be) for old HobieCat masts. Light, strong, great for 24 ginpoles.

By Earl Chapman on Friday, March 12, 1999 - 08:40 pm:
Any ideas on what might be used for a cheap, occasional use (2-3 times/yr) gin pole? There was a pretty neat A-Frame design in the J24 mag a few years back (quite a few, as I can no longer find it!). Can't quite find the combination of weight and strength that I think it would take

Only commercially available one I have been able to find is the one available from Hall Rigging, but it's over $200, and it just seems like there ought to be some way to conjure some kind of cheaper, readily available substitute. Any one know of any others?

Further comments come from one of the Yahoo Group notes:

An old mast came with my boat. I scoured the internet and talked to some guys and set it up. But the pole was to short. Here's what I did:

Set up the pole.
I used a 3 stay system to stabilize the pole (I tried to use exsiting hardware & equipment so when I travel I wouldn limit the amount of extra stuff I needed) and a lifting purchase.
1 fwd line -- I used an old piece of spectra halyard that I connected to the top of the pole & was long enough to run to the jib tack hook on the bow.
2 Aft lines -- I attached my jib sheets to the pole top with bowlines and ran them through the jib lead (fore to aft) and to the primary winches.
Lifting purchase -- I attached some blocks from an old main sheet 6:1 system to use as the main lifting purchase. A 3 sheeve block to the top of the pole (with a shackle) and the 3 sheeve with ratchematic & cam cleat lower block to a loop of spectra I led through some holes I drilled in the pole at waist level.

Setting it up & using it:
1. Stand the pole up on a piece of plywood on the cabin top deck (next to the mast hole)
2. Attach the forward pole "stay" to the jib tack hook -- adjust so there is a bit of forward lean. This is so when you tension the pole, it stands up straight.
3. Run the aft 'pole stays' through the lib lead blocks and take tension on them simultaneously with the primary winches. Starting with a little bit of forward lean on the pole, it straightened up when I tensioned it & was very stable.
4. Attach the lifting hook from the end of the main sheet lifting purchase to the mast (under the lower spreaders) -- I just tied a large bowline.
5. Hoist using the ratche-matic from the lower main sheet block.
6. Once the mast is high enough (almost to the top of the pole), swing the mast butt end down to make it vertical and then down through the hole & into the mast step.

The key thing (one I realized only after I was done), is to make sure your gin pole is tall enough so when you spin the mast, you have enough clearance to get it into the mast hole.

If your gin pole is at least 2 feet longer than the distance from the mast butt to the lower spreader, you should be okay.

I'm sorry I don't have any pics to share. It was a bit embarassing when I realized my error (I had it all rigged with some friends to help step the mast and the rest of the dock watching) & instead of going sailing, we had to take it all apart & wait for the tide to come up to use the club hoist. Email with any questions.