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Old 17-03-2009, 20:52   #1
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Mast Climbing

Top climber......what do you guys recon??? good or not so???
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Old 18-03-2009, 00:47   #2
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I've got a Top Climber and find it irreplaceable. Any time I need to go up the mast, just hook it up and I'm off. No waiting around for people to winch me up or otherwise help me out. Easy to use, comfortable on the seat, and able to get above the masthead.

One thing that really makes using the Top Climber easier is a low stretch halyard. I switched from StaSet X main halyard to Dyneema and it made climbing much quicker with less effort. You don't lose motion to rope stretch. I've installed a 12' spinnaker track, Lazy Jack blocks, replaced light bulbs, just climbed up to take a few pictures, and a new head stay under my ProFurl. Did need a little help with the head stay but that was muscling the stay and furling gear in place.

Aloha
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Old 18-03-2009, 15:20   #3
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Cool top climber

Thanks Pete, it sounds like a good tool. safe sailing. Paul.
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Old 19-03-2009, 02:46   #4
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Interesting product. There is an alternative product which is hoisted like a sail. It is a kind of a ladder made out of durable straps and slides up and down on the sail groove. It does not have the same security and a price for 16m/50' mast is over €600/$750. Topclimber seems to be priced to $430 (without the line). If one would attach it to a spinnaker halyard, Topclimber could even be used when sailed with the main sail up. Topclimber appears to be simpler to install, safer to use, usable while sailing, and even less expensive. Sounds like the way to go unless there is something even better available.
Disclaimer: this was a purely theoretical evaluation with no experience on the products. I personally still trust to the old method: bosun’s chair, wife, and strong winch. There being over 200 pounds of me, my wife sure would not mind upgrading to something else. Let that rather be the climbing system than the skipper…
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Old 19-03-2009, 05:34   #5
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Quote:
It is a kind of a ladder made out of durable straps and slides up and down on the sail groove.
My sail maker has one but he made his. With a safety line and a spotter those work well. For him it cost almost nothing since he made it from spare scraps and his trusty sewing machine.

For a seat a climbing harness is better than death by Bosun chair. Top climber adds the jumar climbing system and is about the most safe system going.
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Old 19-03-2009, 06:03   #6
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I made my own version of a top climber using a harness I already had, a bosun's chair I already had, and a pair of rope ascenders and stirrups from a mountain climbing shop. The ascenders work very well on the way up, but getting back down is slow, so we have a different system for coming down.

I climb the topping lift with the halyard clipped to the bosun's chair as a safety line. My wife takes up the slack on the halyard as I climb.

Coming down I hang on the halyard which my wife eases through the winch. The ascenders are still on the topping lift, held open, but ready to lock on if the halyard should slip. It works quite well.
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Old 19-03-2009, 07:29   #7
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I use a Mitchell System sold by Onrope1 and am pleased with it. I think it's little more efficient and faster both up and down than the topclimber but also a little more expensive. I think the Topclimber can get you a little higher than the Mitchell system since it doesn't use a chest harness. OnRope1: Mast Climber

Carl
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Old 19-03-2009, 07:39   #8
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I have the "Mast Mate" system. It's a series of steps sewn onto a heavy nylon webbing strip, with sail slides. It's hauled up the auxillary slide track on a spare main halyard. Works great, and doesn't require anyone else to help. I bought it in "like new" condition from another cruiser for US$300, including the optional work belt. I considered the Topclimber, but preferred the idea of climbing up steps attached to the mast vs. a line with only two attachment points.
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Old 19-03-2009, 08:06   #9
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I've used both the mast mate and top climber type systems and prefer the top climber. Mine was made up by another sailor and I bought it from him used. I changed from the bosuns chair to a harness (I use the spinlock mast harness) and like it much better. I feel much more secure and at the mast head I'm not lifting myself out of the chair to work at the top. It's not as easy as it looks but it works very well. Mine came with a climbing rope that I attach to a halyard. Although you can just climb a halyard the nice thing about the climbing rope is that it wears like iron, is not exposed to the elements except while being used, and if a friend with smaller halyards (high tech) wants to use it they can. I also have my wife on the saftey line but I just go ahead and come down slow with her acting as my back up.
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Old 19-03-2009, 16:47   #10
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pirate top climber

Thank you for your feedback averyone, I'm more informed and feel good about the options. All the best Paul. NZ
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Old 19-03-2009, 17:31   #11
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We have both Mast Mate and folding aluminum mast steps on Exit Only. Both of them are awesome systems. We started out with the Mast Mate, and added the mast steps to make it quicker and easier to ascend the mast without pulling the Mast Mate up the mainsail track on a halyard. Both are extremely safe when used properly.

The main problem with Top Climber is the level of fitness required to ascend. Heavier folks would find it to be a challenge, and they likely would be exhausted by the time they reached the top of the mast. I would like to see a video of a heavier, out of shape person using the system.

I have had two broken legs in the past, and pushing myself up with my leg muscles would be difficult. Once my knees are flexed ninety degrees or greater, I have power issues getting up.

I am restricted somewhat in the nimble department, and I would like to have something to hold on to besides a halyard. Wrapping my hands and arms around the mast and spreaders feels good since I don't particularly like heights. When I feel secure and comfortable, it's easier to work at the masthead.

For the right person with low body weight and a good level of fitness, Top Climber is an excellent system.
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Old 19-03-2009, 18:31   #12
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When I had to climb the mast of my other boat, I used a rock climbing harness and a gri gri (self belaying device) I like the rock harness because it has gear loops and you can kind of sit in mid-air.
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Old 19-03-2009, 20:40   #13
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i looked at all available methods and settled on the mast mate. but i made my own rather than buying the advertised one. cost about $100. i used a very heavy webbing which i was unable to sew myself, so instead i bought stainless bolts, washers, and nuts (which was the majority of the cost). i burned holes for the bolts with a soldering iron. i also bought sail slides and attached them with small shackles. it's probably a lot stronger than the factory made mast mate.

i've used it a few times and it works fine, although i need to come up with a better way of remaining at the top of the mast comfortably for long periods of time - standing in the webs can quickly become tiring.

the problem with it is that you have to remove the mainsail because the mast mate uses the same track and is hoisted up with the main halyard. one of the advantages is that, because the ladder is held into the track, you don't sway around in the breeze while you're going up. you also can do it entirely by yourself, unlike a bosun chair. i also wear a harness with a line on the jib halyard, as a backup.

this is for a fifty foot mast on a 37 foot sailboat....
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Old 19-03-2009, 21:12   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat View Post
I made my own version of a top climber using a harness I already had, a bosun's chair I already had, and a pair of rope ascenders and stirrups from a mountain climbing shop.
I went that way as well ... very comfortable, very safe.
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Old 19-03-2009, 21:17   #15
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The Mast Mate is great. Now if I could get my first mate to climb to the top of the mast, it would be even better.
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