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Old 20-01-2016, 14:59   #16
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
The mast climber even wears out my 17 yr old, and me, well I'm not good for much for a couple of days just going up and down once, twice? Ain't happening.
I just did an experiment. I am roughly 5'6" (168cm) tall in my socks. If I go to a crouch position and then stand, the height difference is around two feet (60cm) that is the incremental gain possible up the mast using this system. I'm vertically challenged one end, so possiby for daddy-long-legs the gain will be more. If you divide the height you need to get up the mast by the figure of two feet (or whatever increment meets your height to crouch ratio) you will find how many times you need to do this in order to get where you want to go. In my case it will be roughly 25 times. Get to work. If you can do that consistently without having to call an ambulance you can get up the mast under your own steam.

Also the chair is brilliant for having a break, enjoying the view, while the "A.M" is great for taking the weight off the harness and/or chair while you adjust clothing or strap that's pinching, or just to get blood circulating in some part that's going numb.
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Old 20-01-2016, 15:21   #17
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

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...Keep in mind that climbing gear (& techniques) are designed to used primarily with climbing ropes. Which have their cores & jackets bonded snugly together. Much more so than is the case with (most) nautical ropes. And that the various types of ascenders depend, to a fair degree (safety wise) on this stability between core & jacket...
Good post.

I put mast steps on Terra Nova.
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Old 20-01-2016, 15:31   #18
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

I'm 70", 5'10".
You don't get close to two ft per inch worm, cause you have to have excess to release the ascender. You inch yourself up, then ascender is too tight to release. I'd say actual distance is closer to 1 ft. Course your swinging around and for some reason I bang my shins on the mast and get blood everywhere. It is a good seat though, and near as I can tell it's safe.


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Old 20-01-2016, 16:09   #19
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I'm 70", 5'10".
You don't get close to two ft per inch worm, cause you have to have excess to release the ascender. You inch yourself up, then ascender is too tight to release. I'd say actual distance is closer to 1 ft. Course your swinging around and for some reason I bang my shins on the mast and get blood everywhere. It is a good seat though, and near as I can tell it's safe.


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After watching this video of the ATN I felt it wasn't for me. The incremental gain I was speaking of was with the "Admirals Mate" and Prusik hitch system. Yes it seems a disadvantage of the ascender is that you lose some gain each time. Not so with the Prusik hitch. Of course I understand that age/fitness level decreases the ability to bring ones knees close to ones chin so maybe I was being an optimist! I'm not far off 61, but reasonably fit. Once the weight is transferred to th "A.M.", loosen P. hitch and slide up. then transfer weight to B. chair and repeat with "A.M." Perhaps I was over generous with "2ft" but I figured I was less than average height and proportionately shortlegged so figured "2ft" very doable.

With my wife taking up slack with the winch on the safety harness, I simply relaxed in the harness, and dragged my feet up with "Admiral's Mate" in tow. As I stood in the "A.M." she took up slack again and I slid the Prusik hitch for the Bosun's Chair up as high as possible to take that slack. There is actually less to do and think about with this idea once you have carefully set up. Getting down if you are going to use the "A.M" does require more co-ordination and my modifications if you arn't simply going to waft down with the aid of the partner on the winch.
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Old 20-01-2016, 16:39   #20
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

I use a bos'n chair and a set of falls consisting of 4:1 tackle.
I can easily pull myself up and stop wherever I want by tying the falls off on the chair attachment. I have been doing this for 35 years and I am 100% comfortable doing so.
Basically you are pulling down the equivalent of 1/4 of your body weight. It is also pretty safe. Even if you let go the rope the resistance of the line pulling through the 4:1 is substantial so you don't drop all that fast unlike releasing a halyard in which you will drop like a rock. Nothing to it.
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Old 20-01-2016, 17:57   #21
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

I assume then if 4 to one, you have almost 200' of line and two double blocks, one you attach to the halyard and hoist up the block, then haul yourself up?
What size line?

Apparently lots of ways to skin a cat.


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Old 20-01-2016, 18:07   #22
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

Have been using the mast climber with dynema cored 3/8" line without any problems. Originally used a StaSetX halyard but it was stretchy and wasted a lot of energy. Way easier and more efficient climbing with the dynema cored line. Use a Prussic knotted line as backup on a spare halyard.

In my youth, 65 years old, went to the masthead 7 times in a morning changing out the headstay. Still go up the mast with the Mast Climber at my middle age 71 years. It does take a bit of effort but nothing that this overweight experienced sailor can't handle. If climbing to the speeders with Prussics, ascenders, or Mast Climber ruins your day, you might want to see your cardiologist ASAP, join a gym or go to the 'dark side' and get a Bayliner.
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Old 20-01-2016, 19:13   #23
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

I learned to climb on Prusicks 45 years ago with a mountaineering club. I did tree-top pruning for sport & extra income for many years. I prefer prusicks as the safest, non-slip method instead of ascenders. I used to carry a dozen or more loops and also used them to make interconnected loop-ladders. These are useful for getting above the top of the mast. They are a lot of work so we use a Milwaukee 1/2 inch right angle drill and winch bit to do the bulk of the ascent. Anyone who thinks these are unsafe has clearly not used them. If you fall hard, they will slip a bit before re-seating. I have never had one slip on my weight alone and you must unload the knot before its grip can be released. I find the best loop is soft single braid about 1/2 to 2/3 of the climbing rope diameter. If the loop is too hard & stiff it may be difficult to set the grip. Smaller still works but looks scary.


In your photo, looks like you wrap 3 times. I only ever ducked through the loop twice.
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Old 21-01-2016, 23:20   #24
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

A couple of other safety tips for going aloft:

- Don't trust the jaws of a self-tailing winch to hold the person aloft; when you're grinding the winch, nor once they're at the height they need to be to do their work up there.
You need a dedicated 2nd person tailing the line at all times.
Even when the line is properly cleated off to a real cleat. So that someone else can't come aboard & accidentally release said line.

- Using a mast mounted winch isn't the best practice for sending someone aloft, for a couple of reasons: But mostly because it's operator is directly below the man aloft, so if he drops something
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Old 22-01-2016, 00:29   #25
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
A couple of other safety tips for going aloft:

- Don't trust the jaws of a self-tailing winch to hold the person aloft; when you're grinding the winch, nor once they're at the height they need to be to do their work up there.
You need a dedicated 2nd person tailing the line at all times.
Even when the line is properly cleated off to a real cleat. So that someone else can't come aboard & accidentally release said line.

- Using a mast mounted winch isn't the best practice for sending someone aloft, for a couple of reasons: But mostly because it's operator is directly below the man aloft, so if he drops something
Good tips, though my SOP is to use two lines to two separate mast mounted winches with each clutched on ascent, then fully cleated off during work stops. I climb the mast using just my hands and feet, and person below belays lines passively, from several meters away on the foredeck. As to dropping something, I prefer to have my deck hand wearing a hard helmet, and every tool taken aloft is permanently/securely lanyarded to my harness (full upper and lower climbing harness) prior to ascent. I also prefer to have two deck for each ascent, if possible. And yes, I have used ascenders when alone, in which case I usually use a pair, one for each separate line, and a croll at my chest, then a grigri on descent.

One more safety tip:

Avoid using any kind of powered winch. Solenoids can stick, and turns can ride. The consequences can be ugly and fatal.
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Old 22-01-2016, 04:38   #26
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

Good tips.

Just one thing to add-- Always do a pre-climb AND post-climb inspection of your gear.

The ATN mast climber has round cotter pins to hold parts of it together. After completing one trip to the top, I discovered on the post-climb inspection that a cotter pin had come completely out. This could have resulted in me inflicting significant damage to the boat!

I now place 2-3 layers of tape over both areas to make sure the cotter pins do not come loose.


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Old 22-01-2016, 05:05   #27
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

If you can not physically climb a mast with and ATN or similar device you should not be on a sailboat and consider a trawler.
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Old 22-01-2016, 05:38   #28
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

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If you can not physically climb a mast with and ATN or similar device you should not be on a sailboat and consider a trawler.

Well I guess I need to sell my boat then, I can climb with it, but it takes everything to do it.
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Old 22-01-2016, 19:13   #29
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

We use either the electric self-tailing primaries in the cockpit or the Milwaukee 1/2 inch right angle drill & winch bit. We can use the winches at the mast or the cockpit. Always use two halyards and duct-tape the shackles closed. The self-tailers are OK but the lines also pass through rope clutches or onto cleats. Take the time to make the extra belays functional. I take a set of prusick loops with me to be able to seta 'ladder' to step up above the mast top. Everybody's hardware & layout is different. Just make sure you have redundant equipment to stay safe. Don't be in a hurry.
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Old 22-01-2016, 19:35   #30
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Re: Getting Up The Mast

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If you can not physically climb a mast with and ATN or similar device you should not be on a sailboat and consider a trawler.
I am tempted to use strong language here, but will restrict myself to saying I strongly disagree with this idea. Folks with all sorts of disabilities, ones that preclude mast climbing, are sailing happily. Some do interesting things like crewing in the Sydney to Hobart race, some are well into their circumnavigations, many are just ordinary cruisers, sailing well and having a good time of it.

Jim, who could climb but prefers to be hoisted, saving energy for the job at the top.
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