Title:
Extendable sailboat mast
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus and method for use to raise and lower a sailboat mast are described. A channel (101) in a base (103) complements and is capable of receiving a guide (105) of a mast (107) that is slideably mounted inside the base (103). A gear (111) having a handle (113) is operably connected to a plurality of teeth (109) that run longitudinally down the length of guide (105). A bracket (115) attaches the gear (111) to the base (103). In an embodiment of the invention, a wheel (409) that is attached to bracket (413) engages a second guide (405) so as to support the mast (407) by acting to counter forces applied to and by the gear (111) during mast (407) raising and lowering.



Inventors:
Pamula, Roman W. (Praireview, IL, US)
Application Number:
10/845433
Publication Date:
11/17/2005
Filing Date:
05/13/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B15/00; (IPC1-7): B63B15/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
OLSON, LARS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Roman W Pamula (Prairie View, IL, US)
Claims:
1. An apparatus comprising: a base attached to a surface and having at least one channel that extends longitudinally down the length of the base; a mast slideably mounted inside the base and having at least one guide that complements and is capable of being accepted into at least one of the channels; and a gear mechanism that is mounted to the base and operably connected to at least one of the guides.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of teeth attached along the longitudinal length of one of the guides.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the gear mechanism includes a gear that complements and operably engages the plurality of teeth on one of the guides.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising at least one groove that extends longitudinally down the length of the mast.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a support member that is mounted to the base and movably supports the mast.

6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the support member is disposed near the gear mechanism.

7. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the support member is operably connected at least one of the guides.

8. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the support member is operably connected at least one of the grooves.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the gear mechanism is connected to a power source.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a seal mounted to an upper end of the base.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a cap mounted on an upper end of the mast.

12. The apparatus of claim 5, further comprising a grommet attached to the cap.

13. An apparatus comprising: a base attached to a surface and having a first channel that extends longitudinally down the length of the base; a mast slideably mounted inside the base and having a first guide to which a plurality of teeth are attached, wherein the first guide is capable of being accepted into the first channel; a support member that is mounted to the base and supports the mast; and a gear mechanism that is mounted to the base and having a gear that is operably connected to the teeth on the first guide.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising a second channel that extends longitudinally down the length of the base.

15. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein circumferential positions of the first channel and the second channel on the base are approximately one hundred and eighty degrees apart.

16. The apparatus of claim 14, further comprising a second guide attached to the mast, wherein the second guide complements and is capable of being accepted into the second channel.

17. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising a groove that extends longitudinally down the length of the mast.

18. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the support member is disposed near the gear mechanism.

19. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the support member is operably connected to the second guide.

20. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the support member is operably connected to the groove.

21. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the support member is a wheel.

22. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein the gear mechanism is connected to a power source.

23. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising a seal mounted to an upper end of the base.

24. The apparatus of claim 13, further comprising a cap mounted on an upper end of the mast.

25. The apparatus of claim 24, further comprising a grommet attached to the cap.

26. A method comprising the steps of: attaching a sail to a first end of a mast that has a guide and that is slideably mounted inside a base, wherein the guide complements and is accepted into a channel in the base, and is operably connected to a gear mechanism; operating the gear mechanism that is operably attached to the guide so as to raise and lower the sail; and when the mast is in a desired position, securing the mast with a latch mechanism.

27. The method of claim 26, further comprising the step of attaching the gear mechanism to the base by using a bracket that removably attaches to the base.

28. The method of claim 26, wherein the latch mechanism includes a pin that engages the mast and the base.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

The present invention does not involve any form of federally sponsored research or development.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to sailboats, including, but not limited to, an extendable mast for use with different types of masts and varying sailing conditions. Devices and methods for raising and lowering masts, such as those commonly used for sailboats, are known. Sailboats operate under a variety of ambient conditions and for a variety of purposes. Weather conditions can include hot days that have low winds speeds or cold days with high wind speeds. Competitive sailing can demand high sailing speeds that require large and often special sails such as jibs, spinnakers, and so forth can be used. Pleasure sailing at slower speeds often requires smaller sails. Because of varying weather condition and multiple uses of a sailboat, it is desirable to be able to easily change sail type and how the sail is deployed.

The size and shape of a sail can be changed by raising and lowering the mast to which the sail is attached. In addition, different types of sails can be interchanged to change the sail shape, size, and height needed for desired sailboat performance. Raising and lowering a given sail can be an important consideration. Movable masts that include telescoping members or include adjacent mast members have been used to raise and lower sails. Telescoping mast members are typically connected to mechanisms such as worm gears, rack and pinion, and screws that are used to raise and lower masts. Adjacent mast members are typically connected to pulley and screw mechanisms for raising and lowering sailboat masts. Binding or misalignments of the mast members and the operating mechanisms can make raising and lowering the masts difficult and time consuming.

Accordingly, there is a need for a retractable sailboat mast, which mast reduces the difficulty with and the time required for raising and lowering the sail of a sailboat.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A sailboat mast and method for use in raising and lowering a sail of a sailboat are provided. The sailboat mast includes a base having a longitudinal channel, a mast slideably mounted inside the base and having a guide that complements and is capable of being accepted in the channel, and a gear mechanism attached to the base and operably connected to the guide. In a method of the present invention, a sail is attached to the mast, and the mast is raised and lowered to a desired position by operating a crank mechanism that is operably connected to the mast.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a side view of a mast having a guide wherein the mast is slideably mounted inside a base having a channel for the guide in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a rear view of a mast having a guide wherein the mast is slideably mounted inside a base having a channel for the guide in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates a cross-sectional view of a mast having a guide wherein the mast is slideably mounted inside a base having a channel for the guide in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a side view of an embodiment having a second guide attached to the mast, and an opposing wheel in contact with the second guide in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a cross-sectional view of an embodiment having a second guide attached to the mast, and an opposing wheel in contact with the second guide in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates a side view of an embodiment having a groove in the mast and an opposing wheel mounted in contact with the groove in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 7 illustrates a cross-sectional view of an embodiment having a groove in the mast and an opposing wheel mounted in contact with the groove in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates a flow diagram for a method for use in raising or lowering a mast having a sail attached in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The following describes an apparatus and method for use in raising and lowering a sailboat mast. The sailboat mast includes a mast that is slideably mounted inside a base such that the mast telescopes into the base. A guide that is attached to the mast and has a plurality of teeth fits into a channel in the base. A gear mechanism that is attached to the base and operably connected to the teeth on the guide raises and lowers the sailboat mast.

A side view of a mast 107 having a guide 105 wherein the mast 107 is slideably mounted inside a base 103 having a channel 101 for the guide 105 is shown in FIG. 1. A rear view of the apparatus is shown in FIG. 2, while a cross-sectional view is shown in FIG. 3.

The channel 101 attached to the base 103 extends down the length of the base 103. A guide 105 attached to the mast 107 extends down the length of the mast 107. The mast 105 slideably fits inside the base 103 such that the guide 105 is accepted into the channel 101. The base 103 has a generally hollow cylindrical shape that generally complements the shape of the mast 107. Generally, the mast 107 is a hollow cylindrical. Alternatively, the base and the mast can have other complementary shapes where for example the cross-sections are triangles, square, polygons, curved shapes, and so forth.

A plurality of teeth 109 attached to the guide 105 is operably connected to a gear 111. In this embodiment the gear 111 is part of a gear mechanism that is used to raise and lower the mast 107. For the embodiment the gear mechanism is operated by turned a handle 113 that is attached to the gear 111. More generally, the gear mechanism includes at least one gear, such that the gear mechanism can include multiple gears. Alternatively, the gear mechanism can be any types of mechanism that drive longitudinal movement such as screws, worm gears, rack and pinions, and so forth can be used. The gear 111 extends through an open 117 in the channel so as to engage the teeth 109. A bracket 115 secures the gear 111 to the base 103. Although the bracket 115 is shown permanently securing the gear 111 to the base 103, alternatively, the bracket 115 can be removably attached to the base 103 so that the gear mechanism can be removed once the mast has been raised or lower to a desired position.

A seal 119 attaches to an upper end of the base 103, and slideably engages the mast 107 so as to form a barrier that resists the enter of water. The seal 119 can extend past the upper end of the base 103. Alternatively, the seal 119 can be contained within the upper end of the base 103 so as to not extend past the upper end of the base 103. A cap 121 covers the upper end of the mast 107 and can be formed with a circumferential edge that covers the seal 119 when the mast 107 is fully retracted into the base 103. The cap 121 can include a grommet (not shown) or other sail attaching device. Alternatively, a sail attaching device can be part of the mast 107.

The base 103 can be attached to a single boat surface or can be supported by more than one surface. For example, the base 103 can attached to a surface such as a deck 123. Alternatively, the base 103 can extend through and be support by the deck 123 while being attached to a bottom surface such as a sailboat bottom 125.

The mast 107 is raised and lowered by turning the handle 113 that is connected to the gear 111. As the handle 113 moves, the gear 111 rotates and engages the teeth 109 along the guide 105 such that the mast 107 moves longitudinally relative to the base 103. Alternatively, the gear 111 can be moved hydraulically, pneumatically, by an electric motor, by a gasoline or diesel engine, by a pulley system, and so forth. Turning the handle 113 in one direction causes the mast 107 to rise, while turning the handle 113 in the opposite direction causes the mast 107 to lower. As the mast 107 is raised and lowered the guide 105 passes through the channel 101. When the mast 107 reaches a desired position, the mast can be secured in position by a latching mechanism (not shown) such as a pawl that engages the gear 111, installing a pin that traverses the base 103 and the mast 107, and so forth. When the mast 107 is fully retracted the cap 121 can rest upon the seal 119 so as to provide a protective water-resistant covering for the telescoped mast when the sailboat is not in use. Alternatively, if the seal 119 is inside the base 103, the cap 121 may engage the upper end of the base 103 instead of the seal 119.

Generally, the various components of the telescoping sailboat mast are made of lightweight and non-rusting materials such as stainless steel, copper, aluminum, carbon fibers, polymeric material, and so forth.

A side view of an embodiment having a second guide 405 attached to the mast 407, and an opposing wheel 409 in contact with the second guide 405 is shown in FIG. 4. A cross-sectional view of the embodiment is shown in FIG. 5. The channel 101 attached to the base 403, the guide 105 attached the mast 407, teeth 109 attached to the guide 105, and the handle 113 attached to the gear 111 that engages the teeth 109 operate as described above. A second channel 401 runs longitudinally down the length of the base 403, and is capable of accepting the second guide 405. The base 403 has a generally hollow cylindrical shape that generally complements the shape of the mast 407. Generally, the mast 407 also has a hollow cylindrical shape. Alternatively, the base and the mast can have other complementary shapes where for example the cross-sections are triangles, square, polygons, curved shapes, and so forth. The channel 101 and the second channel 401 are generally parallel and on opposite sides of the base 403. Similarly, the toothed guide 105 and the second guide 401 are generally parallel and on opposite sides of the mast 407.

An opposing wheel 409 provides lateral support to the mast 407 and is rotatably in contact with the second guide 405 through an opening 411 in the second channel 401. The opposing wheel 409 counters forces that act on the mast through the gear 111 when the mast is raised and lowered. Typically, the opposing wheel 409 is cylindrical and rotates uniformly. Alternatively, the wheel can be other shapes such as ellipse, ovals, and so forth. In addition, a non-rotating wheel or other object that supports and permits the mast to slideably move inside the base can be used.

A bracket 413 secures both the opposing wheel 409 and the gear 111 in position relative to the base 403. Alternatively, separate brackets can be used to hold the opposing wheel 409 and the gear 111, respectively, in position. Although the bracket 413 is shown permanently securing both the opposing wheel 409 and the gear 111 to the base 403, alternatively, the bracket 413 can be removably attached to the base 403 so that the wheel and gear mechanism can be removed once the mast has been raised or lower to a desired position.

A seal 415 attaches to an upper end of the base 403, and slideably engages the mast 407 so as to form a barrier that resists the enter of water. The seal 415 can extend past the upper end of the base 403. Alternatively, the seal 415 can be contained within the upper end of the base 403 so as to not extend past the upper end of the base 403.

The mast 407 is raised and lowered by turning the gear 111. The rotating gear 111 engages the teeth 109 along the guide 105 such that the mast 407 moves longitudinally relative to the base 403. Turning the handle 113 in one direction causes the mast 407 to rise, while turning the handle 113 in the opposite direction causes the mast 407 to lower. As the mast 407 is raised and lowered the guide 105 passes through the channel 101 while simultaneously the second guide 405 passes through the second channel 401. As the mast 407 moves up and down inside the base 403, the opposing wheel 409 rolls along the guide 405 while supporting the mast 407 opposite the gear 111 so as to reduce any tendency of binding between the base 403 and the mast 407.

A side view of an embodiment having a groove 605 in a mast 607 and the opposing wheel 409 mounted in contact with the groove 605 is shown in FIG. 6. A cross-sectional view of the embodiment is shown in FIG. 7. The channel 101 attached to a base 603, the guide 105 attached the mast 607, teeth 109 attached to the guide 105, the handle 113 attached to the gear 111 that engages the teeth 109, and the opposing wheel 409 attached to a bracket 611 operate as described above. The groove 605 runs longitudinally down the length of the base 603. The base 603 has a generally hollow cylindrical shape that generally complements the shape of the mast 607. The groove 605 and the guide 105 are generally parallel and on opposite sides of the mast 403. The opposing wheel 409 provides lateral support to the mast 607 and is rotatably in contact with the groove 605 through an opening 601 in the base 602. The opposing wheel 409 counters forces that act on the mast 607 through the gear 111 when the mast 607 is raised and lowered.

The bracket 611 secures both the opposing wheel 409 and the gear 111 to the base 603. Alternatively, separate brackets can be used to hold the wheel 409 and the gear 111, respectively. Although the bracket 611 is shown permanently securing both the opposing wheel 409 and the gear 111 to the base 603, alternatively, the bracket 611 can be removably attached to the base 403 so that the wheel and gear mechanism can be removed once the mast has been raised or lower to a desired position.

A seal 609 attaches to an upper end of the base 603, and slideably engages the mast 607 so as to form a barrier that resists the enter of water. The seal 609 can extend past the upper end of the base 603. Alternatively, the seal 611 can be contained within the upper end of the base 603 so as to not extend past the upper end of the base 603.

The mast 607 is raised and lowered by turning the gear 111. The rotating gear 111 engages the teeth 109 along the guide 105 such that the mast 607 moves longitudinally relative to the base 603. Turning the handle 113 in one direction causes the mast 607 to rise, while turning the handle 113 in the opposite direction causes the mast 607 to lower. As the mast 607 is raised and lowered the guide 105 passes through the channel 101. As the mast 607 moves up and down inside the base 603, the opposing wheel 409 rolls along the groove 605 while supporting the mast 607 opposite the gear 111 so as to reduce any tendency of binding between the base 603 and the mast 607.

A flow diagram that illustrates a method for use in raising and lowering a mast having an attached sail is shown in FIG. 8. At step 801, a sail is attached to the mast 107 such as by a grommet in the cap 121 mounted on the top the mast 107. The sail is raised and lowered at step 803 by operating the gear 111 that is engaged with a tooted guide 105 such that the sail moves in the desired direction. A bracket 115 attaches the gear 111 to the base 103. If desired, the bracket 115 and the gear mechanism can be design to be removable. When the mast 107 and attached sail reaches a desired position, the mast 107 is secured in position at step 805 by a latching mechanism such as engaging a pawl with the gear 111, installing a pin that traverses the base 103 and the mast 107, and so forth. At step 807, the sail is removed from the mast 107. The sail can be removed during a race and replaced with another sail, or the sail may be removed for storage at the end of sailing.

An advantage of the present invention is the ability to easily and quickly raise and lower sails of a sailboat that are attached to a sailboat mast. The use of a mast having a guide that fits inside a channel in the base advantageously reduces binding between the mast and the base. Binding is advantageously further avoided through the use of a opposing wheel that counter acts forces on the mast caused by the operation of the gear during the raising and lowering of the mast. Masts that can be quickly raised and lowered advantageously allow for the quick change out of different types of sails during sailing competitions.

Although the present invention is illustrated by the example of a mast for use with a sail of a sailboat, the present invention may be applied to masts used for other purposes such as flagpoles, and so forth.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.