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Old 20-08-2008, 11:47   #1
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going up the mast

Hello there,

I need some input. On my oday 27 sailboat, the previous owner had a wire/rope combination for the main halyard. I'm not fond of this combo, however I noticed when we went sailing last weekend, I noticed that raising the sail wasn't smooth at all. In addition, when i got the mast about 98% raised it stopped about 1' short of being fully raised.

After being back at the dock, I noticed that the wire halyard combo wasn't smooth at all and can "feel" that it wasn't right at the masthead.

I don't want to have the mast lowered this fall when we do the winter haulout. However, how can I get get up the mast when the main halyard is what I need to get corrected and the main halyward is the only method to get up the mast (ie bosun chair, etc. ) Any suggestions of how I can get up there to fix this problem? Ideas?


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Green Bay, WI
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Old 20-08-2008, 11:54   #2
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What about your genoa halyard? If you have roller furling take the sail off and use that or a spinnaker halyard. Make sure you also attach the main halyard to your bosun's chair. Another approach is to go up on a mast crane in a marina or club. We have a mast crane and members frequently go up on that. Sounds like the sheave at the top of the mast is shot and might require replacement, quite often, after a lot of use, the wire cuts into the sheave
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Old 20-08-2008, 11:57   #3
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You don't have a jib halyard? If your problem is sheaves, and it may very well be, you may be better off pulling the mast when you haul Chances are good you have other issues and then would be the time to inspect, repair and replace. This is stuff you don't want to neglect so don't do it half ______.
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Old 20-08-2008, 12:15   #4
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Definitely a sheeve problem, and that means the top has to come off the mast. The only way to do that is to remove the mast (otherwise it will fall down!)
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Old 20-08-2008, 13:47   #5
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However, if you do want to go up the mast, you can still do it via the rope halyard, just make sure the wire side is anchored! Here's the trick. Cave Explorers and Mountaineers climb fixed ropes all day long using an ascender. There are a lot of different mechanical devices including "Jumars" (visit the REI website to see more) but you can also use knots to do the job. The classic knot is a "prussic" but I think it tends to jam easily. My favorite is a "Penberthy." You can find instructions in Budworth's "The Ultimate Encyclopedia of KNots and Ropework" but here are mine:

1. Take a seven foot length of cord and starting from the head high, wrap the line down the halyard 4 to 6 times (more if it slips).
2. Finish the knot with a bowline just below the wraps.
3. Tie a step in the long part that will comfortably hold your foot. (Some people prefer to wrap the line around their leg from the outside to the inside for stability.)
4. Repeat with a second line for your other leg. Just start wrapping about six inches to a foot below the first knot.

NOTE: With just the two leg lines, if you fall over backwards, you will be hanging upside down above the deck with no way to lower the halyard... Use a harness!

NOTE: If you climb the line, you may jam the halyard even deeper.

On the otherhand, there are times when this is a great way to get up the mast when things go wrong...

Cheers,
John & Jan
SV Santa Teresa
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Old 20-08-2008, 14:08   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John & Jan View Post
However, if you do want to go up the mast, you can still do it via the rope halyard,
NOTE: If you climb the line, you may jam the halyard even deeper.
Whilst I have no difficulty with the concept of climbing the mast like this - to recommend it when the sheeve is already suspect and may well have caused damage to the wire/rope splice is - in my humble opinion - irresponsible.
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Old 20-08-2008, 15:10   #7
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Some boatyards here in Florida will use a "Cherry Picker" to put a man up to the masthead on relatively small boats like the O'Day 27. The masthead on that boat is only 38' above the water which is an easy reach for most Cherry Pickers.

Alternately, if you have a convenient bridge at the right height somewhere nearby, that could do. In Ft. Lauderdale a few years ago I watched a guy anchor a little Cal 25 upstream of a bridge near the side of the ICW, let his boat drift down on the bridge and then watched as a crew took a dinghy to the nearby shore and walk up on the bridge. Once he arrived on the bridge, the fellow on the boat let it run down a tad more until the fellow on the bridge was able to get a boat hook out to the upper shroud. With that he pulled the masthead over and calmly changed a bulb in the masthead light!

Just a thought...

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Old 21-08-2008, 13:53   #8
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I appreciate your concern

Hi Talbot,

Yes, I agree this method needs safeguards in order to become OSHA approved but the point was how to climb the mast without the option of a bosun's chair/cherry picker/ crane/ bridge overpass. My point should have been clarified. There are times, especially off shore, when you need some way to climb. Obviously it's a risk but it is an option and one that most people do not know about.

Perhaps we should change the thread a tad and suggest emergency methods for climbing the mast. Traditionally you can shinny up the shrouds (see Brion Toss, Riggers Apprentice) or perhaps the mast but since those methods rely on brut strength, I hardly consider them an option. If you have mast steps or ratlines, that's another option.

If you are concerned about the line parting, wrapping a line around the shrouds with Penberthy or Prussic as a safety is another option.

By the way, even when I use a chair, I keep a second line on my harness and a climbing Jumar attached. I don't wear a hardhat so I guess I must be "irresponsible."

Cheers,
John
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Old 21-08-2008, 14:04   #9
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The part I was unhappy about was that we were discussing a specific problem relating to a probable sheeve problem and there was no indication in your post that you were speaking more generally, so it read that if you have this sort of problem it is fine to just use that same halyard to go up to the top of the mast - hence my comment.
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Old 21-08-2008, 14:35   #10
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john and jan - great idea if you have done it before - as an exclimber that is exactly how i go up my mast - but maybe he should try it on something simpler before going up a mast to get the technique -
i go agree that it is a great way for him to inspect the mast and what is up there before committing the $$ and problems to pull the mast
just my thoughts
chuck and svsoulmates
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Old 21-08-2008, 15:15   #11
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up the mast

Hello all!

Great topics , ideas and comments so far. Here's food for thought to those who replied to me with questions.

Last season, I had the mast lowered, because I wanted to get work done on the mast. At that time I didn't see any problems with the sheaves, however everyone's points do make sense. I'm not fond of having the mast lowered for a second season in a row though...
As to other questions, my boat has:
1> it has roller furling, CDI-2.
2>There is a block at the top of the mast intended for a spinnaker, which while the mast was down last winter, I was pressed for time because of other mast work and simply lead a feeder line for a future spinnaker line later.


Hmmm the ideas here are good thoughts, hmmmmmmmmm
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Old 21-08-2008, 19:13   #12
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have you thought of installing mast steps. If you start at the bottom and work your way up, using a safety belt you will end up at the top to be able to fix your problem and have a set of steps for the future. I recommend ABI's folding steps.
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Old 21-08-2008, 20:52   #13
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Have kids?
When I have questions about problems aloft I haul my youngest up with a digital camera.

I told him when he was 10 he could sign the mast when he made it to the top. That was all the motivation he needed.
Its 97 pounds vs 215 pounds so much less stress on the gear.

Personally in this case though I vote for the cherrypicker or basket idea. Its done here regularly. Its fast and easy. Remember to take a camera regardless so you don't have to rely on memory later. The pictures can also be passed around if you need advice on what you find.
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Old 10-09-2008, 14:54   #14
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A camera is an excellent idea! A picture is worth a thousand words so it'll save you time, effort and money.
We sent a guy up the mast on a bosuns chair when we were becalmed in choppy seas once. If you have a choice, send up hearty folk from a sea-sickness standpoint...the amplitude at the top of the mast is considerably greater than on the deck of course, and he ended up throwing up all over the deck (and the guy who had control of the bosuns chair.) He then became unresponsive, almost incoherent and came close to passing out. It's amazing how quickly a small problem can turn to a big problem with some nausea, heat and fatique. Something to keep in mind if the variables are present.
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Old 10-09-2008, 17:49   #15
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The old peuk and feint unresponsive trick. Know it well.

I often used it to avoid intimacy with my last ex-wife.
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