Tool List


  • 1/8" drill bit
  • 1/8" screw driver
  • 3/8" drill bit
  • Awl
  • Box cutter

    Preparing the Mast


    1. Cut the mast:
      • wooden Eddie option: cut 2"x4" mast to 44" (although there is an SMCC variation called the "Tall Lauren" that has longer mast)
      • aluminum Irina option: we once cut the 1"x1"-square pipe at 60" but now we leave it at 72"
      • bamboo:
        • 3'' mast option: leave the 3"-diameter bamboo as 48"
        • star-shape frame option: one 73'' length bamboo as mast and two 58'' length bamboo as spars


    2. Drilling spar holes in the mast
      • If making a lot of drifters, it may save you time to build a jig for this step
      • spar hole diameter depends on model:
        • wooden Eddie option: 5/8" if using oak dowels
        • bamboo 3" mast option: 1" for 1" bamboo
        • aluminum Irina option: 3/8" for solid high-strength-aluminum rods (some have used stainless steel)
      • >drill a spar hole 1" on center from the bottom of the mast (1.5" in the bamboo case)
      • Drill a second hole 37" (on center) from the bottom of the mast (37.5 in the bamboo case)
      • Rotate mast 90° and drill a second set of holes 2" (on center) higher than the first set
      • Note: fiberglass Megan option: 12mm for "MEGA" heavy-duty driveway markers (15/32" drill bit is almost right)
        Note: There is no spar holes in the bamboo star-shape frame drifter.
        Note: We have used 3/8" fiberglass dowels in place of wooden, bamboo, or aluminum. None of these will survive being washed ashore on a rocky beach with surf.

      Drill bit spar holes

      mast 8 mast 5

    3. Label the body of the drifter w/ basic information
      • Print out & laminate labels that include:
        • Deployment ID
        • Transmitter ID
        • Phone # to call
        • "Science" or "Drift Study"
      • Tape, pin, glue, or stencil these to the 4 sides of the mast.

      • Figure 1. Stenciling information on drifter mast

        Stencil Stencil
    Note: The jig helps to place your spar holes more accurately.
    Note: If a set of sails are already made, make sure your sails fit before you drill all your holes in the mast.
    Note: It is not essential to label the drifter with the "deployment id" since it is often not known ahead of time.