Mast Floss


Have you flossed your mast lately?

Our mast step has drainage underneath it so that as water comes into the mast at the top and possibly on the sides, the water can drain out the bottom into our bilge. The problem is that many of us don’t take out our masts more than once a decade and the mast step fills with crud and the drain holes clog.

When we pulled the mast, enough water came pouring out of the mast that the bilge pump went off. Poor Carol is down below wrestling the mast and the bilge pump goes off. Better yet, the bilge pump float stuck and the pump stayed on. So Carol is now trying to figure out how pulling the mast is causing us to sink.

You can use a coat hanger or something to poke at those holes from the outside to clear them. While the mast was out I decided to add some “mast floss”.

With a paper clip and some polyester hand sewing thread, I looped three lines underneath the mast step so that we can floss the drain holes when the mast is back in.The lines can be pulled to the side when we put the mast back in and are completely clear of the groove in the step that our mast sits inside.

A decade of gunk vs. cleaned and ready to floss:

P1010631 (960x1280)P1010680 (960x1280)


  1. Good reporting, hard to believe that much water was in there. We might pull our mast soon and that is a great heads up.

  2. Oh, I know what you mean!

    You wouldn't believe the high-water line we found inside our mast.


  3. Great information. I never even considered this. Sounds like this could definitely affect sailing performance if you were carrying all that extra water around.

    Just curious, is there a way to pour a little bleach or a bleach like material inside the mast periodically to keep it clean and open?

    I have done this with drain lines on HVAC systems for years and it keeps the pipes clean.

    Any experience with this?

    Best Regards,

  4. @Herb & Laura - Assuming your mast step has drains like ours you could poke around with a coat hanger and possibly drain the water prior to pulling it.
    @Bob - great story.
    @Derek - I don't know. I would worry about bleach on the mast and mast step (how would it affect the metals? I have no idea) and also bleach in the bilge which means bleach on the keel bolts, in the bilge pump and hoses. If all of those things are bleach safe, it should be fine I guess but I don't know that bleach would have cleared the mulch in ours.



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