I'm a new Columbia 26 (MKII, 1969, HIN#649) owner living in Hansville, Washington - this is my first "big" boat. I have two situations I'm seeking advice on. First, I want to repair the existing forward-looking white light just above the spreader bars. The bulb and fixture are in good shape. I suspect that the wire, which is mostly very inaccessible, is bad. I suspect I'll need to drop the mast and rerun the wire. This is somewhat intimidating for a first boat owner but will enable me to also install a 360-degreee white light and VHF antenna at the top. Any ideas on troubleshooting the problem, dropping the mast, and rerunning wires?Second, I was sailing the other day in about a 7-kt wind and noticed the leeward, lower shroud (stainless steel 1x19 cable) was slack. I had about 4 inches of give. Should I just tighten up the turnbuckle a bit? Thanks in advance, Matt Wilson
I am also a new C26mkII owner and when I first bought the boat, the masthead light did not work. Same as you, the fixture and bulb were in good shape. I too thought that I needed to take down the mast and re-wire it. However, upon closer inspection and testing of the electrical system, I found that I had badly corroded contact points on my fuse/switchbox. I replaced the whole fuse/switch panel and what do you know, the masthead light worked like a charm. $40 at westmarine will get you a nice new panel. Then you don't have to worry about your other circuits going bad on you either. I considered it a very worthwhile investment. My supposedly "broken" bilge pump also magically started working after I replaced the panel! Just remember to spray a goodly amount of electrical corrosion-resistor spray onto the panel to prevent it from going bad again!
Prior to this fix, I had jimmy-rigged a light straight from the battery. I ran the wires up the mast and zip-tied the light onto the mast just above the existing light. That probably would have worked for as long as I needed it.
Just one other note. If you do end up putting a VHF antenna on the top of the mast, make sure you upgrage the antenna wire to the proper grade. With the extended length of that wire, you have increased potential for interference, etc, unless you go with the right type of wire. I'm sure you're already aware of that problem, though.
I opted for the 8 foot fiberglass antenna mounted on the transon.
I'm loving my boat. Hope you are too!
You don't need to drop the mast to replace a wire to the steaming light. Just attach the new wire to the old securely, and use the old wire to pull the new one up (you'll need one person aloft and one on deck).
To run new wires to the masthead for VHF and anchor light, you have to be more careful because you don't have another wire to help lead the new wires, so you probably shouldn't just drop a weighted string down the mast. The danger is that those wires will end up being in a place where a halyard will chafe through the wires insulation and lead to problems, so you might need to do those when the mast is down. You'll need a crane to do that. While you're at it, a great improvement is to use pop-rivets to attach a thin-wall PVC conduit to the inside of the mast, and then run all your wires through that. It'll make it easy for you to run wires in the future, and it'll protect the wires, as well as prevent them from tapping on the inside of the mast and keeping you awake at night.
Regarding your slack lower leeward shrouds, you don't necessarily want to tighten them just because they're slack. The leeward lowers will always be a bit slack because the windward shrouds stretch a bit. To see if the lowers are tuned correctly, you need to sight up the mainsail track while sailing on the wind. Search for a description of this process, or you can find it in any good sailboat maintenance book.