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Old 26-12-2009, 19:39   #16
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It really is not required to use the mast track

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Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
pete7, i also use a mast ladder but i made my own after looking over the commercially sold 'mast mate'. it was over three hundred dollars and i made my own for under one hundred. it's very low tech - anyone can make it. i added track slides so i can pull it up and down the mainsail track.

just as you experienced, it works great and gives you a better feeling of security. at my age hoisting myself up with ascenders would probably produce a heart attack at about forty feet. even fit people i've watched are tired by the time they get up there.

the upside is it's extremely simple to use and very stable. you must remove your mainsail (or have a track entry higher up). you slide the ladder in the track just like putting on your mainsail and pull it up with the main halyard. doesn't take long at all. belay the main halyard and you're ready to walk up the ladder. i wear a harness with a short line which i attach to the jib halyard with a prussik knot, and slide that up with me as i climb. extra insurance if the ladder or main halyard gives out.

after reviewing all my options i've decided the mast mate style ladder was the best solution for me. now, if i had a horizontal electric windlass then i would probably have gone with the old bosun chair as my wife would have little trouble getting me up and down.

the downside is, of course, that you will probably have to remove your mainsail and you will need a working halyard, preferably the main halyard, although i'm about to install a spinnaker halyard just to use as backup.
Just a few weeks ago I went up my mast to replace spreader boots and the light bulb. I just hoist the Mastmate free (secured to the mast base also) and tension it with the halyard winch. Tension is the key.

Use a harness and a spare halyard for a belay (I use a Jumar on a spare line rather than a person). Take some biners and slings or line to build a working anchor when you get where you are going (this is true of any climbing system - cuts down on swinging).

Very fast, like climbing a ladder.

Tips: unfold the steps and open them before hoisting, and wear deck shoes or other shoes lacking deep tread.
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Old 28-12-2009, 16:11   #17
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Thanks everyone for the information. I never realised that there would be so many variations, advantages and disadvantages to the different systems. I'll head down to the rock climbing shop to see what they have on offer (and probably do a bit of a course to learn the safety side of things as well). It would be good to have a system that is not too hard (physically) to get to the top of the mast and that also allows me to stay there comfortably without the use of my hands (wrapped around something).

Hopefully the guys at the rock climbing shop aren’t too good a “Salesmen” or I’ll probably come home with the tent designed for having a sleep at the top of the mast. Those guys have some amazing gear and do some amazing things at heights.

I also like the look of the mastmate. It seems like a very straight forward system which doesn’t leave you swinging in the breeze in a bit of a swell.

Cheers

Gundy
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Old 28-12-2009, 16:37   #18
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What nobody takes a roofing ladder, balances it pecariously in the cockpit, while your boat gently rolls over the water at the dock and has their wife hold the ladder while they climb up to the top of the mast to retrieve the Halyard which came loose? Oh it must be only my husbands crazy method I don't recommend this and we are looking at a new system.
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Old 29-12-2009, 05:36   #19
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Gundy, If you go with the mast mate. I found it real helpful to use the climbing seat and one assenter attached to another halyard. Just push it up as you climb, if you slip you will only fall a few inches. Also gives alot of security and balance during the climb and if you have to lean to reach something. I did not feel safe with just the waist belt.
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Old 29-12-2009, 07:01   #20
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Correct!

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Originally Posted by Badsanta View Post
Gundy, If you go with the mast mate. I found it real helpful to use the climbing seat and one assenter attached to another halyard. Just push it up as you climb, if you slip you will only fall a few inches. Also gives alot of security and balance during the climb and if you have to lean to reach something. I did not feel safe with just the waist belt.
It will also make working safer. And whatever method I use, I always tie myself on when I get up there. Then you can concentrate on your work.
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Old 29-12-2009, 07:25   #21
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It will also make working safer. And whatever method I use, I always tie myself on when I get up there. Then you can concentrate on your work.
Nope, still terrifies me at the top of the mast, even standing on the mast mate, with the belt and the spinnaker halyard taking my weight, I still have one hand on the standing rigging.

Just watched a video on Youtube of someone climbing a bare forestay, oh to be 18 again.

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Old 29-12-2009, 09:19   #22
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The best answer I can offer regarding fear of high places is studying the rigging.

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Nope, still terrifies me at the top of the mast, even standing on the mast mate, with the belt and the spinnaker halyard taking my weight, I still have one hand on the standing rigging.

Just watched a video on Youtube of someone climbing a bare forestay, oh to be 18 again.

Pete
Take a rock climbing class. Study the function of each element of the mast climbing system. Make certain that each element is as strong as it needs to be to remove any chance of failure (5000#, no sharp edges, can't unclip or untie, redundancy).

If you are sure of these things, you may be able to relax. Don't take our word for it; study and be certain. And do not expect calm to come all at once. Only a fool feels no fear.

I would swap the belt for a harness; you will feel better.
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Old 29-12-2009, 13:47   #23
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Take a rock climbing class. Study the function of each element of the mast climbing system. Make certain that each element is as strong as it needs to be to remove any chance of failure (5000#, no sharp edges, can't unclip or untie, redundancy).

If you are sure of these things, you may be able to relax. Don't take our word for it; study and be certain. And do not expect calm to come all at once. Only a fool feels no fear.

I would swap the belt for a harness; you will feel better.
Acrophobia is an extreme or irrational fear of heights. A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, which is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger.

Accordingly, knowledge (of itself) may do little/nothing to allay those fears.
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Old 29-12-2009, 15:30   #24
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IMO Pete7 does not have a phobia. If he did he wouldn't be going up the mast in the first place.

In defense of thinwater's idea, and I am not doing so just because he has great taste in catamarans, I too was (am ) afraid of heights. I went out rock climbing (multiple times) with a friend who made the same suggestion that he did. Today I am still "cautious" of heights (which seems logical considering a fall from that height could be deadly) but the knowledge of the anchoring systems, and the strength of what is holding me from falling, does help me to relax. Once I am tied in (properly) I am OK. So, the suggestion is worth a shot, if someone was really interested in learning to relax.

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