I was just recently talking with a guy at the sailing club who fell from the top of his mast while the boat was on the hard
...about 50' to the pavement. I am not sure how, but he only walked away with some minor back issues and shredded hands from trying to self-arrest on anything he could grab. If I recall
correctly, he was up and had one guy on a halyard winch and another tailing. When it was time to descend, the line got away from the guys in the cockpit
and down he came. I am not sure what all safety equipment
was involved, but do know that the two guys on deck had been drinking heavily.
My wife and I both used to do some climbing, so we just break out the harnesses when it is time to go up, and double redundancy is the name of the game
. I use two separate halyards (one connected to the harness via a figure 8 follow through knot
and the other via a halyard shackle). The halyards run through line clutches into the cockpit
and before I go up I hang from just the clutches for 30 or so seconds just to be sure that they alone will hold. Aft of the clutches is a friend on the halyard winch cranking me up, and aft of him is my wife in her harness tailing both lines through an ATC type belay device. So I guess it's kind of a hybrid top-rope climbing system. Lots would have to fail in sync, and of course booze is forbidden. Spending 30-40 minutes hanging up top in the harness can get a little uncomfortable though!
I'd like to invest in some ascending gear
, but going up is so rare that I just can't justify it. It'd sure be nice to not require 3 people for the job.