How to Make a Sailboat Mast Boot

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Prepare and Measure

Mast Boot Prep
Photo © Tom Lochhaas.

Before starting, gather your supplies and equipment. You’ll need:

  • A automotive inner tube (medium size)
  • Large hose clamps (typically two for each of two circles around the mast, joined together)
  • Silicon sealant
  • Long wire tires (optional)
  • Screwdriver to tighten hose clamps
  • Tape measure
  • Hacksaw
  • Optional: Sunbrella or other cloth to make boot cover

Remove the old mast boot and adjust the wedges if necessary. This would also be a good time to adjust your stays and shrouds if your mast is not well centered.

Measure the circumference of the mast and the lower base plate.

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Cut the Rubber Piece

Rubber for Mast Boot
Photo © Tom Lochhaas.

Since the circumference of the mast base plate is larger than the diameter of the mast, the curved shape of the inner tube works to your advantage. First split the tube by cutting along the inner and outer seam with it laid flat.

Then curl the tape measure along the inner and outer edges to your earlier measurements of the diameters. Add about 2 inches extra for overlap, and cut.

The rubber piece will now look like the section of tire in this photo.

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Position the Rubber Boot in Place

Rubber Mast Boot
Photo © Tom Lochhaas.

If you’re doing this by yourself, it helps to have wire ties joined together end to end around the mast in two hoops: one for the mast top of the boot, one for the base.

Wrap the boot tightly around the mast and base plate. Holding it in place with one hand, pull the wire ties tight at the top and bottom.

If you plan to remove it in the near future, the wire ties may be all the support you need. With a bead of silicon seal the top of the boot against the mast and down the overlap seam.

For greater security and a lasting fit, add hose clamps at the top and bottom (see next step).

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Finish the Boot

Mast Boot Clamped
Photo © Tom Lochhaas.

To hold the boot in place more permanently, join hose clamps together for the needed diameters and tighten around the top and bottom of the boot as shown here. Saw off the leftover ends of the clamps.

Note the silicon seal in the vertical seam of the boot where one end wrapped over the other.

Finally, since inner tube rubber degenerates over time in sunlight, make a boot cover of canvas or Sunbrella fabric. A cover also hides the ugliness of the inner tube.

Continue to the next page to see an easily made boot cover.

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Meaure, Cut, and Sew the Cover

Mast Boot Cover Shape
Photo © Tom Lochhaas.

Sunbrella cloth makes a nice boot cover, which can be matched to the color your sail cover or dodger. (Sunbrella is easily found online.)

You can base the cover size on the earlier rubber boot size and shape (add to those dimensions to fully cover the boot), or make a model from heavy paper.

Then sew the hem all around and sew or contact-cement in Velcro strips to hold the cover in place.

The next page shows the final result.

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Comnpleted Mast Boot with Sunbrella Cover

Sunbrella Mast Boot Cover

Here is the final result with the Sunbrella mast boot cover in place.

Note that the cover is purely for appearance. It should fit well but need not be tight, as it is the boot beneath that prevents water from coming down the mast.

Presto! In very little time you’ve saved some money and earned the satisfaction of making your own efficient boat gear!

Use the Speedy Stitcher to sew Sunbrella fabric as in this mast boot cover - or for sails or any other marine canvas. Or you can use a fabric adhesive instead of sewing.