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Old 26-12-2009, 03:02   #1
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Mast Climber

A few years back I saw an advertisement for a system to enable you to climb the mast using special clamps that attach to a halyard (or rope) you have hoisted up the outside of the mast. At the time I didn't want one but now I do, but I am unable to locate a supplier. Would anyone one know of a possible supplier? I have seen similar industrial types but it would be good to get a system that may have been designed for climbing masts and not destroying the halyards in the process.
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Old 26-12-2009, 03:19   #2
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Gundy, go to any rock climbing store and tell them you want the kit to be able to ascend a rope and then have them show you how to use it. The climbers do this all the time and have it sorted out very well (at half the price of the same gear sold to the sailing market). It's all described in the following article:

http://www.bethandevans.com/pdf/MastClimbing.pdf
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Old 26-12-2009, 06:10   #3
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I believe these are called self asscenders, probably want a hundred bucks or more for one.
As a high rock scaler the highest free climb (climbing up a free hanging rope) has been about 250 feet using hat we called a pressex. Now the pressex is just the knot or wrap used, ut what it is, is just a loop of rope preferrably 1/2 diameter of rope you will be attaching to with one end tied to your belt and the other end attached the the main line using a pressex knot, the more wraps you use, the stronger it bites (Two wraps are usually enough though). below the pressex you have attached to your belt (or bosun chair) add another one just below the other pressex except this time you put your foot in the lower one. Now just stand up, slide the pressex at your belt up, slid the pressex at your foot up, take another step and repeat until you get to the top. Cost's about 5 buck's for the line to make the pressex.
Guess I spelt pressex wrong, anyway a link to the knot I am talking about. REMEMBER,
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Old 26-12-2009, 06:10   #4
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Old 26-12-2009, 06:11   #5
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the more wraps the strong the bite. here's the link
Rock Climbing Knots: Friction
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Old 26-12-2009, 06:29   #6
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Prussic knot?
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Old 26-12-2009, 06:40   #7
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I've the prusik loop for ascending the mast for manny years now. I tried/used a ratching tripple purchase block and tackle one time thinking it'd be easier than dead lifting my self all the way up...it didn't feel as controlled or as safe as decending w/ the prusik loop, it was a one time try, back to and sticking w/ the prusik loop. At least untill I can't dead lift myself up the stick!
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Old 26-12-2009, 06:55   #8
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I use the ascenders with a bosun's chair but I am looking for a climbing harness this year to make it a little more streamlined and comfortable. The chair was a little clunky but worked well - just slower.

Jim
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Old 26-12-2009, 06:59   #9
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My wife and I were just playing around with ONE method of climbing line, as taught to us by a friend of ours who is an arborist. There are some pics and a description on our blog here:

On our way up… | Zero to Cruising!

and a video of us playing with our new gear here:

Life-changing experiences | Zero to Cruising!

Note that there is no backup in what we show here. Having someone belay you on a second backup line, or having some other backup, would likely be a good idea.

Mike
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Old 26-12-2009, 07:23   #10
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I use one of these:

Flexible, portable mast climbing ladder made of nylon webbing which attaches to any sail tra

I have been up the mast 5 times this year to remove the old Stowe wind instrument and replace with Raymarine ST60.

What I found was that it enabled you to move up and down at the top of the mast so you are working level with the top rather than hanging below the top of the mast in a bosuns chair. We use the spare trysail track (ladder has luff tape rather than plastic slides) and hoist on the topping lift with the spinnaker halyard connected to a harness just incase. I have rock climbed in my youth but find this much easier.

There is also a folding plastic ladder widget on a similar theme for climbing masts.

No connection with the company, indeed mine came from a UK firm to the same design.

Pete
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Old 26-12-2009, 08:33   #11
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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.
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Old 26-12-2009, 09:21   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeandrebecca View Post

Note that there is no backup in what we show here. Having someone belay you on a second backup line, or having some other backup, would likely be a good idea.

Mike
Since I am often alone while climbing the mast I use a simple line, usually a spare lifeline, attached to the chair and wrapped around the mast twice so that if I fall I will only travel 1 or 2' before my safety line cinches onto the mast.

Mike
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Old 26-12-2009, 17:49   #13
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Another point that Pete7 brought up is a good one. With the ascenders you do tend to have a little trouble getting above the masthead and staying there comfortably. I mounted a couple steps up high so I could stand and work longer in comfort after hauling myself up. It seemed much more stable.

Jim
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Old 26-12-2009, 18:28   #14
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Good idea Jim. That was recommended to us as well. Our boat is on the hard for the winter and we plan to at least add a couple of stairs to the top of the mast for that purpose before we re-step it.

Also, although I am only going by hearsay, I have heard that climbing ascenders are harder on the line than Prusik knots or the foot ascender that we were using.

Mike
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Old 26-12-2009, 18:48   #15
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I think this is what you were asking about.
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