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Old 06-01-2015, 12:50   #31
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Location: Yorkshire/US East coast for now
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Re: Best way to safely climb my mast

I've yet to climb the mast underway, but I imagine it would be hell

Been there. done that and even with a climbing background, it was indeed 'hell'.

I use a self-assembled kit, based loosely on my climbing days:

1 Basic belt/leg-loops climbing harness - I've tried the bosun's chair which we also carry (somewhere) but have always felt that I might fall/slip out of it in an arrest situation?

1 Wooden 'step' - an 18" length of 3 x 2 timber, drilled at each end to take a 10mm rope-loop.

1 climbing cam-ascender (I did have a pair, but having lent the rig out, only one came back?) tied off to the wooden step

1 one 8mm prussic loop - Google it - tied off to the climbing belt.

With a tensioned main halyard I can climb up/down unassisted if necessary, but for preference I like someone tailing a safety line at deck level.

Ignoring the ascender and just using two prussic loops (harder to go up, but easier to come down IMO), you could put the whole kit together for the cost of a second-hand climbing harness (look on ebay, probably no more than $/20) plus a few bits of decent rope from the ditty bag and a short length of wood from the boatyard skip.

But if you do - please, please, please! Ensure that both the halyard you're climbing and the safety line are in good order, tied rather than clipped on and going over the main masthead-blocks. It scares the crap out of me when I see people clip their bosun's chair onto the snap-shackle at the end of a spinnaker halyard or topping lift, which is going through an external block, secured at the masthead via a small shackle to a plate/ring that's itself pop-riveted to the mast.

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Old 06-01-2015, 12:53   #32
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Re: Best way to safely climb my mast

Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Mast Climber, Top Climber or make up your own using mountain climbing gear.
+1. I bought climbing gear.

Allows you to stand up at the masthead too.

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Old 06-01-2015, 13:40   #33
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Re: Best way to safely climb my mast

You have a 32' boat, mine is 35' (and I am 60 yrs old and over weight)... I figure a sailor should be able to climb the mast alone in an emergency, so why not do it for regular mainteance at the marina.

I climb with no assistance from others. I use my 160 foot rock climbing rope and harness (I've also used bosun's chair... I assume one could use a sheet) with two blocks in what I think would be called a luff tackle Block and tackle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia... attach one block to the main halyard and run it up the mast, attach the other block to my harness/bosun's chair. Attach another/safety line to my jib halyard, run it up the mast and attach the other end to the deck. Tie a prusik knot Prusik Knot | How to tie the Prusik Knot | Climbing Knots around the safety line and attach it to a chest harness. Once at the top, I tie on a foot strap for maneuverability... a little experimentation and practice is worthwhile before climbing too high.
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Old 06-01-2015, 21:40   #34
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Re: Best way to safely climb my mast

One of the advantages of steps over some of the other methods is that if you are out at sea, you can go up the front of the mast, and not have to drop the main. Having the main still up makes a huge difference in the roll rate of a vessel, and without it , the motion could be violent. Just another thought. _____Grant.
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Old 07-01-2015, 08:16   #35
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Re: Best way to safely climb my mast

My rig' kinda old school, but hey, it works... so I leave it alone. And also it’s designed so that me going up a rig as a 1 man show is still a no brainer AND safe. Keeping in mind that in addition to my boat(s) over the years, I've been the BMW on several Large of racers. And as such have had plenty of occasion (and the capability) to go up 100' sticks solo… for most kinds of jobs which you can name. Which is reflected in the following list/description.

1st off, Primarily I run a 6:1 purchase (or needs be 5:1) with a triple with a ratchet block on one end, & the ratchet can be switched on/off @ the lower end. Fitted with 600’ of 7/16" Regatta Braid led through this setup. The size is good grip wise, runs freely through my blocks, & doesn't induce a hernia when I lift the whole rig in it’s duffle.

The block's shackles are Loctited & safety wired (with Spectra thread, & Stainless Steel Wire). And I tie off the upper end to a halyard with a bowline. In a place of the line where there’s NO splice (even in the core).

For a safety, I tie in a single, oversized, block with a ratchet, again to a halyard. Through which is run a piece of colored line, such that neither I nor anyone on deck could ever get my lines confused.

Said safety line gets tied to my harness at the one end, through an auto locking, screw gate, carabiner which runs thru my harnesses belt.

As to my "chair", it's a customized climber's harness with a few extra security attachments, in addition to pockets & lanyards for gear. Plus a bit of added extra padding in/on the waist belt, & thighs. A NICE to have item if you’re up there for half of the day.
On one side, I have a sheath/holster for; a customized Crescent Wrench which has a LOOONG Marling spike welded to & integrally serving as the wrench’s butt end. Also, said spike is drilled for and fitted with a lanyard. Next to it, in the same custom sheath is a pair of Large semi-needle nose Vice Grips: Again, with a phone-cord type lanyard.
On the other side of the harness is a sheath for several screwdrivers, especially BIG ones, in addition to one or two standard sized one(s) with various swap out tip type bits (again, on lanyards). Plus a splicing wand
… And a spare “McGuyver” ‘Type’ PocketJ. Commonly used to hold some of the following (depending on my “mission”);
a headlamp type flashlight, a Makita screw gun/drill – with drill bits & driver tips (plus small bolts to tap into sheaves), a tube of Loctite and or Never-Seize, spare cordage (both large & small diameter), seizing wire (often enough Stainless, & or Spectra for seizing spreader tips), a small container of various sizes & types of screws + bolts (don’t you just HATE it when you work & sweat HARD to get up there, & then drop the one fastener which you have that you need), spare bulbs for the spreader lights, steaming light, & or tricolor), a tube of tef-gel , a masthead instrument wand, combo wire stripper/crimpers, micro torch, a rag (possibly with cleaning agent, or Flitz metal polish, small camera, halyard pre-feeding line/kit, self-amalgamating rigging tape, friction & duct tape, serving/parceling line, sand paper & or small files, etc., etc.
AND, a water bottle, plus possibly a few cocktails in a can too.

NOTE: They’re not listed specifically, as when I’m onboard a vessel, I ALWAYS carry; 2 folding rigging knives (minimum, with 1+ of them on lanyards), a marling spike with built in shackle key, a kite fid, & a small Mini-Mag flashlight or similar.

A few other KEY mods to my chair;
I always have an extra carabiner (often 3 actually), one of which has 2 adjustable for length webbing foot loops. And given that this carabiner is movable, along with the adjustability of the loops, I can set things up, once I get to the masthead, so that I can standup (still in the chair) so that I can see and or work on things, literally on the top of a spar.
Spare buckles for every connection on said chair are kept in my rig climbing kit. As is a small sewing kit, with various sizes of needles, a sail maker’s palm, pliers, spectra thread, extra webbing. Spare cotter, clevis, ring, & split pins of various sizes. A soft canvas or standard bucket, & a messenger line for same, long enough to reach the deck.

If you've got plenty of crew, just tie your chair into one halyard, & lead it back to a primary winch. With the caveat of a safety as mentioned above. And have them grind you up, in high gear.

Also, if you use your anchor windlass, the setup's more or less the same as above, with plenty of crew. Albeit make sure that the man on the windlass is a cool hand, & knows just to keep only enough tension on the hoist line so that it keeps you in place up the spar, but otherwise spins freely, if the windlass gets stuck in the "On" position.
Nothing fancy, just requires a cool hand/head. But it's worth having a chat with them prior to "suiting up".
NOTE: I'd be far more leery of doing this on a powered self-tailing winch, as errors with one of those could get far more dangerous, a lot more quickly, if the winch operator isn't quick on his feet so to speak.

The Uncommon Thing, The Hard Thing, The Important Thing (in Life): Making Promises to Yourself, And Keeping Them.
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Old 07-01-2015, 08:41   #36
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Re: Best way to safely climb my mast

Originally Posted by gjordan View Post
One of the advantages of steps over some of the other methods is that if you are out at sea, you can go up the front of the mast, and not have to drop the main.
You can leave the main up with ALL of these methods. In fact, one safety advantage of going up behind the mast with the sail up is that you can brace off both the shrouds and the sail. Additionally, the mast will be leaning, so you WANT and NEED to be on the windward side, not the front of the mast.

(Yeah, this would be much easier on the steps)

Where are we getting the idea the main must be down?

"Climbing (sailing) is like fun, only different."

Tom Pattey, Scottish ice climber
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