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Old 20-08-2013, 17:33   #1
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Hazards of going aloft

Perhaps I should not ask this as I climb more masts than most, as a surveyor, but I am wondering if anyone has any first hand or even second hand information about anyone getting hurt or killed while mast climbing? It has occurred to me that I have never heard of an accident but I am wondering if there are many if any cases?

Just curious I guess but it might help with safety
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Old 20-08-2013, 17:50   #2
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Re: Hazards of going aloft

friend of mine fella couple of times--he has now issues resulting from these falls. cannot fall from a mast without damaging something on your body--it is usually head, neck and /or back.
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Old 20-08-2013, 17:55   #3
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Re: Hazards of going aloft

Not exactly but related.

I cut out of a telephone pole at 12 feet. I was tied off and road it down with some splinters in my arms. In 15 years working for the phone company I have only heard of one person really hurting themselves climbing. Funny thing it was on a stepped pole (exactly like a stepped mast) and they led off on the way down with the wrong foot, fell from 15 feet and broke a hip. A lot more folks get injured falling from ladders. I think it is because they feel safer and that makes it more dangerous.

Good boots with a heal and solid shank help with climbing, be it ladder, step pole or free climbing with hooks. Even at home I put on the boots when painting the house on a ladder, the difference is night and day.

Oh, and another girl hurt herself in climbing school. She was an operator who wanted to work outside. In climbing school she cut out at about 10 feet and hugged the pole. Got some big splinters in her chest and ruptured an implant. Not good.
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Old 20-08-2013, 17:59   #4
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Re: Hazards of going aloft

I recall a sea cadet having a fatal fall from the mast of the TS Royalist back in 2010. If I remember correctly, he had unclipped his safety harness in order to move towards and help a fellow cadet who was having trouble furling the sail.
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Old 20-08-2013, 18:07   #5
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Re: Hazards of going aloft

My wife crew a Amel 54 last season, the owner going aloft using a lewmar electric winch and their wife loose their arm , right now i work with the local rigger , we never use a spinaker block for going aloft, no external halyards , we use the main sail halyard most of the time, we got 2 strong short lines atached to the bosun chair with a couple of snap shackles, as a safety measure on top.

Last season a young fella fall from 1 spreader to the deck , crushing lifelines and falling in the water , aparently he use a old rusty shackle to tie the chair , no injuries , very lucky apart from some body bruises ...
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Old 20-08-2013, 18:36   #6
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Started this thread a few months back when I got lucky and did NOT dent the core.

Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear


PS final solution to issue was to replace the cotter pins and wrapping them with tape. Also check the pins every so often during climb.
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Old 20-08-2013, 18:47   #7
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Re: Hazards of going aloft

Not a hurt or killed story. But a Wet one. Guy climbing mast on 23ft boat. Tells crew member to stay midships to work the halyard which.
Crew member drops the winch handle while First guy is at the top of the mast.
Crew member steps outboard to pick up handle
As he moves the boat starts to heel.
Before the crewmember can get amidships again, the weight of the first guy (who is now a 90 kilo pendulum) continues the boats motion into a capsize. Splash!

Both ended up swimming, and quite embarrassed. The only upside is that it happened at a yacht club on non-race day- else it would have been legendary embarrassment.

Obviously this isnt going to happen on a larger boat. But something to keep in mind when going aloft on small boats. Had the boat rolled onto a marina or other vessels, it could have caused the rig monkey a lot of pain and injury.
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Old 20-08-2013, 18:58   #8
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Re: Hazards of going aloft

A guy trying to climb the mast to fix a rigging issue fell overboard together with the stick. He survived. That was some distance off from Martinique.

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Old 20-08-2013, 20:06   #9
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[QUOTE="ozskipper;1318265"]Not a hurt or killed story. But a Wet one. Guy climbing mast on 23ft boat/QUOTE]

Why go aloft on about like that when its much easier to drop the mast?
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Old 20-08-2013, 20:15   #10
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Re: Hazards of going aloft

As a kid working fishboats in Alaska, we used to have to climb masts regularly to smash ice off the uppers otherwise we got top heavy and you only lasted about 5 minutes in the water in the Bering Sea during winter... good news was you usually passed out after a couple of minutes! Used a 2 lb sledge attached with a halyard to my wrist.
Never, ever used welly's or fishboots to climb with... always used leather boots, steel shank with 1" heels. Slippery on deck but fine going up the rat lines.
Probably dating myself but still alive and never went overboard north of 60 degrees... that's why I'm still on the right side of the grass! Phil
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Old 20-08-2013, 21:03   #11
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Re: Hazards of going aloft

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozskipper View Post
Not a hurt or killed story. But a Wet one. Guy climbing mast on 23ft boat. Tells crew member to stay midships to work the halyard which.
Crew member drops the winch handle while First guy is at the top of the mast.
Crew member steps outboard to pick up handle
As he moves the boat starts to heel.
Before the crewmember can get amidships again, the weight of the first guy (who is now a 90 kilo pendulum) continues the boats motion into a capsize. Splash!

Both ended up swimming, and quite embarrassed. The only upside is that it happened at a yacht club on non-race day- else it would have been legendary embarrassment.

Obviously this isnt going to happen on a larger boat. But something to keep in mind when going aloft on small boats. Had the boat rolled onto a marina or other vessels, it could have caused the rig monkey a lot of pain and injury.

I have a friend who often goes up masts. But when it was the mast of my little 25' Irwin (only 8' wide), he brought his boat alongside, went up HIS mast, and tipped mine over to work at the top.
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Old 20-08-2013, 22:12   #12
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Re: Hazards of going aloft

I just went aloft this morning to put new radar on and didnt even think about it until the guy hoisting me up mentioned it. A fella died recently after he was drilling a hole in the mast and drilled right into the line that was holding him up ( inside the mast). I made sure I had the stop on the drill that only allows to drill a certain depth. Also I always have a second harnes on with a rope stright around the mast as backup.
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Old 20-08-2013, 22:49   #13
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Re: Hazards of going aloft

Hi Wayne,

I think you are right: there are very few serious accident doing mast work. The fear of heights make us be quite safe and secure and have a safety line etc.

Sure they happen, but not often.


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Old 20-08-2013, 23:22   #14
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I do remember about 2 or 3 years ago a crew member was killed while climbing the mast aboard the "Appledore" which is a wooden ketch located in Maine during the summer months and in Key West Florida during the winter season. I believe it happened while it was docked in Key West.
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Old 20-08-2013, 23:29   #15
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Several years ago a guy was killed in Channel Islands Harbor when the halyard he was attached to parted. He hit the deck, falling from the masthead of a largeish racer.

Luckily I missed that one, but one of the guys that was there is a sailor, and he still mentions it anytime we go near that finger. It made quite an impression on him, and he's an old-timer...
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