Crane Safety Training

Crane Safety Training

Updated 2023

Mast Stepping and Unstepping Procedures 

This procedure is designed to assist those boat owners who are using the mast crane provided by the Barrie Yacht Club to step or unstep their mast. 

It must be remembered that this procedure and the Barrie Yacht Club members are there to assist the boat owner. The ultimate and FINAL RESPONSIBILITY for this operation is the boat owner’s. Make sure you know what is expected and what you are doing. 

Note: this procedure is subject to change, without notice, at any time. 

Mast Crane Reservation

Every member needs to book an appointment for stepping or unstepping their mast or to lift their boat in or out.  

Click to Book Your Appointment 

Please Note: All appointments must be booked a minimum of 12 hours in advance to give the supervisors a chance to make sure someone will be there.

Due to safety regulations, the Mast Crane will be locked and can only be unlocked by one of the Crane  Supervisors 

Remember: Safety is of paramount importance! 

Mast Stepping 

Preparatory Work: 

Prior to stepping the mast, the following work is required by the boat owner. 

  • Tape off and barricade the area in the parking lot which is required for the Crane and the masts. This operation must be performed with the Supervision of the Crane Supervisor
  • When stepping the masts in the spring, prepare the mast for stepping by putting on the spreaders, attaching the shrouds and ensure that all standing and running rigging is routed correctly. Mount the “windex”, VHF antenna and wind instruments if desired (See warning in Stepping/Un-stepping Procedure). Ensure that you have sufficient “saw-horses” or other supports to set-up your mast. 
  • When un-stepping the mast in the fall, ensure that there is sufficient space to store your mast on the rack in the Mast Compound. This should be done prior to removing the mast from the boat. 


Individual circumstances may vary but the general guidance is as follows: 

Mast must be ready to be stepped and fully assembled with spreaders attached, shrouds and all standing and running rigging routed correctly and mast step on boat is clear of any debris. Then move mast adjacent to mast crane. 

If the mast crane supervisor determines that your mast has not been properly prepared and will  cause an unreasonable delay to the lifting schedule, you may have to reschedule your appointment  for another time. 

3 people are required to step or unstep a deck stepped mast, 4 are required for a keel stepped mast.

Winch Operator: to operate the winch 

Mast Handler: to hold and control the mast

Rigger: typically the boat owner, to assist Mast Handler and secure all standing rigging to boat 

Keel Step Alignment Technician: Will go into the boat once the mast is upright above the deck to guide  the mast into the keep step collar as the mast is lowered into the boat. 

Steps to a Succesful Mast Stepping

  1. Secure the boat with bow, stern and spring lines. Use a breast line if possible. You don’t want the boat to move during the operation. Mast Step should be approximately in line with the column of the crane.
  2. Ensure that you have all the standing rigging pins ready and available.
  3. The short “lifting sling” is stored by the crane in the dock box. Ensure that you have a “hold down/pull-down” line of adequate size available. If you are lifting under the spreaders this line is used to retrieve the sling. If not, this line is led from the sling to the base of the mast as the “lifting line”. Make sure you know where and how to tie this off.
  4. The sling and line are then attached and secured to the mast, near the spreaders and the centre of gravity of the mast. The further the sling is attached from the COG of the mast, the more unbalanced the top of mast will be, while it is being raised from the horizontal to vertical position, making it harder to control.
  5. The single most important criteria for easy placement/removal of the mast, is the positioning of the boat and mast. The traditional lift from the front of the mast requires that the crane be ahead of the mast and the crane’s wire outside of the forestay. When stepping the mast, ensure that the orientation of the boat is in the correct direction to accept the mast once the crane is pivoted into place. The skipper should review the overall stepping plan with the group as well double check that rigging is correct.
  6. Winch operator will slowly raise mast from sawhorses and rotate mast from parking lot to the centre-line Mast Handler is responsible for the correct orientation of the mast and keeping the base secure at all times. Do not hold the mast at/under the base, but rather around the mast. Rigger will assist, holding mast, especially while Mast Handler is moving from parking lot to boat.
  7. Once the mast is over the centre-line of the boat. The Rigger will move from parking lot to boat and typically hold onto the forestay.
  8. The Winch Operator will then start raising the mast up. The Mast Handler needs to maintain control of the mast, while maneuvering it towards the mast step as the mast is being raised.
    ***At no time is anyone allowed to walk or stand under the mast during the lifting process***
  9. Winch Operator must be vigilant in ensuring the wire rope is free and watch the entire mast during the lift/decent  
  10. Raise spar carefully, guiding the foot and ensuring the mast orientation to maintain a balanced mast, until the foot is in the mast step. The mast should be vertical or close to vertical at this point. For Keel stepped boats the Keel Step Alignment Technician would now proceed below  deck and guide the mast into the keel step, while the mast is being lowered into the boat.
  11. Rigger secures forestay to boat and then secures either the main side shrouds or the backstay to the boat next. Once the Rigger has secured all the standing rigging to the boat, the lifting strap can be lowered, removed and the crane moved clear of the boat.
  12. A final check of all the standing rigging and then the skipper can leave the crane slip.

If you have any questions, contact the Harbour Master

Crane Reservation