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Old 25-02-2015, 04:04   #1
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Mast climbing control

Ok, first I apologise if this has been answered already, I thought it would have, but after reading lots of threads on climbing the mast I can't find an answer to this particular question.

I don't want to start a thread on the best way of climbing a mast, there are lots of those full of great advice, and it is through reading them that I decided on the configuration I am now using to climb our mast, to wit a bosuns chair on on one halyard, a pair of ascenders on another halyard and a roof rigger's harness attached to a third halyard. Ok, a bit paranoid, but this is a combo that worked on paper, based on my weight, my wife's strength and the configuration of the mast. There may be other ways, but like I said, plenty of good threads discussing the options.

Anyway, today was my second ascent of the mast, to replace the wind sensor I removed on my first ascent. All went well, my wife tailed the winch and found the workload very manageable. I got the job done and returned to the deck in much the same condition I left in, and at a non terminal velocity so that's good.

But, and it's a big but, I really had trouble controlling my ascent in terms of wiggling around the various mast fittings, radar reflector, steaming light, pole track etc. I kept swinging around the mast from side to side, even though the boat was in the pen and it there was only the gentlest of breezes. There was absolutely no mast movement. Keeping in mind that the system I am using requires me to provide the lifting force, can anyone recommend a trick or two for stabilising the ascent? I wondered about using one of the other halyards pulled down tight next to the mast or some kind of loop running along the stays?

I am covered in bruises from my ascent on Sunday, and I reckon I'll have some absolute whoppers tomorrow from this evenings efforts. If I don't improve the system people are going to start wondering what I do for thrills on the weekend.

Matt


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Old 25-02-2015, 04:23   #2
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Re: Mast climbing control

I go aloft pretty frequently with just ascenders on a halyard, and find that the uncontrollable swinging around is the worst bit. If you tension the halyard alow, it stops the swinging somewhat, but to rappel down again requires that it be cast off. If it's a light wind day, try hoisting the mainsail, then leaning against it as you go up. I've done this with a boat actually sailing, and it was most steady and easy. Finally, I'd encourage simplification--how about a climbing harness (you can get one for $40) instead of a bosun's chair that's all corners and things to snag? You get better range of motion for your limbs, and once you're aloft, you can get anything you need sent up by way of a tagline.
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Old 25-02-2015, 04:45   #3
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Re: Mast climbing control

Matt...

This activity stops me from wrestling bears at the circus... I figure this is what it must feel like the day after, and I truly don't enjoy it...

I got nothin' except the first uncontrolled swing starts 99% of the problems (pain)... slow, steady, deliberate... so... we come back to not much help really...
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Old 25-02-2015, 05:25   #4
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Re: Mast climbing control

Matt

Take a couple of lifelies and set them from your Harness out to your shrouds and tighten. That way you won't get slung very much from side to side.

As a bonus - if all the rest of your halyards fail, you'll only slide down to the next spreader before you stop.
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Old 25-02-2015, 05:45   #5
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Re: Mast climbing control

Or this...

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Old 25-02-2015, 06:00   #6
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Re: Mast climbing control

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMdRSailor View Post
Or this...

Wimp.
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Old 25-02-2015, 06:03   #7
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Re: Mast climbing control

If you have a cleat, or eye fitting that is a few feet away from the mast that you can make bar tight on a winch, you can put the ascenders on that line and miss the spreaders and such on the way up, instead of trying to go straight up and hit your head on every fitting.

You can still go up on the halyard off the winch, so long as it has a fair lead off the sheave.

Cheers,

Zach
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Old 25-02-2015, 06:14   #8
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Re: Mast climbing control

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Old 25-02-2015, 06:53   #9
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Re: Mast climbing control

I prefer to use one system or the other, not a combination. If someone is going to haul me up, I prefer a bosuns chair. (though don't mind a sit harness) If I'm going to ascend myself, I prefer a sit harness and ascenders with an etrier.

If I wanted to back up someone hauling me up, I'd use a single ascender and simply let it slide along the halyard.
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Old 25-02-2015, 13:13   #10
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Re: Mast climbing control

Well some good ideas here and it sounds like I am not alone in my difficulties. The video was interesting in a number of ways, the first being that he made it look much easier than I find it, second that he stays further out from the mast (this may be why it easier) and third that his mast is a lot less cluttered than ours. Just to clarify, the key to our system is that I provide all the lifting force, not my wife. She simply chases me up with chair so that I have a backup if the ascender line fails and so that I have a comfortable seat to work from at the top. She also controls the descent using a couple of turns around the winch.

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Old 25-02-2015, 13:14   #11
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Re: Mast climbing control

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMdRSailor View Post
Or this...


A few more years of desk work and I won't need one.


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Old 25-02-2015, 13:29   #12
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Re: Mast climbing control

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benz View Post
I go aloft pretty frequently with just ascenders on a halyard, and find that the uncontrollable swinging around is the worst bit. If you tension the halyard alow, it stops the swinging somewhat, but to rappel down again requires that it be cast off. If it's a light wind day, try hoisting the mainsail, then leaning against it as you go up. I've done this with a boat actually sailing, and it was most steady and easy. Finally, I'd encourage simplification--how about a climbing harness (you can get one for $40) instead of a bosun's chair that's all corners and things to snag? You get better range of motion for your limbs, and once you're aloft, you can get anything you need sent up by way of a tagline.
Good luck
Ben
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I have been watching the volvo Ocean race guys and they walk up the sail as they are hoisted aloft. Perhaps you are on to something about using the sail to assist.

Once I relax a little about the whole thing (it still terrifies me on the way up though strangely, once I am at the top I I could stay there all day) I could dispense with the bosun's chair and just use the roof worker's harness (which is the confined workspace type so very compact and contained).

Matt


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Old 25-02-2015, 13:32   #13
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Re: Mast climbing control

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zach View Post
If you have a cleat, or eye fitting that is a few feet away from the mast that you can make bar tight on a winch, you can put the ascenders on that line and miss the spreaders and such on the way up, instead of trying to go straight up and hit your head on every fitting.

You can still go up on the halyard off the winch, so long as it has a fair lead off the sheave.

Cheers,

Zach

I like the idea of starting the ascender halyard further from the mast. I will look for a suitable mounting point on the deck, though from here at the kitchen table I cannot think of one. Maybe an extra line pulling the halyard away from the base of the mast a few feet from the deck would work instead?


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Old 25-02-2015, 13:57   #14
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Re: Mast climbing control

Jim usually hangs on to the shrouds while he goes up and down. Sometimes, he asks me to slow down for him to get around the impedimenta. You'll find practice and trying different things will develop your way for doing it. Sometimes, he'll lash himself in place when he gets to where he wants to work. We did have two steps installed, so that he can work on things at the masthead, and have good purchase on it.

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Old 25-02-2015, 14:00   #15
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Re: Mast climbing control

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Originally Posted by weavis View Post
too easy !

i will adopt this method. double halyard will provide 2 independent lines and have extra third one from boom lift for independent hauling up down.

great exercise !

me heavy guy must be careful.
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