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Old 16-02-2011, 11:54   #1
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Mast Climbing on a 22' Boat

Hello everyone,

This is my first post, and I'm a new sailor hoping to get many words of wisdom from all of you as time goes on.

I have a 22ft Pearson Electra. Recently the main halyard skipped while I was lowering the main during a sudden gust. Now it's jammed at the mast head. Sail is down, so no worries there (it happened right at the end) but the line is stuck. I don't think there is any further damage or problems, but can't know until I get up to it.

I've talked to the local boat yard and some other sailors in the area about reaching the mast head. Since my mast doesn't have a hinge, it can be lowered by lifting out of the step and working it down that way. No one seems to want to do this in the water and I don't blame them. The local yard will not lower the mast unless it's hauled out. They can use their crane to reach someone up and pop the line back in, but that's terribly expensive.

I may be stuck using the yard this time, but I would like to be able to get up the mast myself in the future. I've read the thread on Self-Hoisting, and have looked into a few systems. My number one concern is my weight and the size of the boat.

The Electra is 22'6” with a beam of 7'. I think the mast is 24'. The boat displacement is 3000Lb. I weigh 200Lb! I'm just worried about me being too heavy. I don't want to get most of the way up and feel the boat rolling over under me. She's in a nice marina, with calm water for the most part.

Is this something I can do? Does my size mean I should just keep my heavy self on the deck?


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Old 16-02-2011, 11:58   #2
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Patrick .

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Old 16-02-2011, 12:13   #3
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I dont think your weight will be a problem, I'm 180lb, went up the mast on my previous 26'boat on a number of times.
What other halyards to you have up there, jib/genoa, or spinnaker.
If these halyards are of suitable size/condition, you can get a buddy to haul you up.
Its always better to use two lines, one to haul up on, the other as a back up.

If your worried about the boat tipping, diont, simple test, if your attached to a line which is attached to the mast head, as soon as your feet leave the deck, that will the worse the boats stability will get
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Old 16-02-2011, 12:14   #4
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You've got a goofy yard if they don't want to pull the stick in the water.
But unless you want the boat laid over for a bottom cleaning you should find a pygmy to hoist up the mast on the jib halyard.
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Old 16-02-2011, 12:16   #5
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I can think of two ways of doing this job in the water.

I have raised and lowered the mast on a 22' McGregor in the water, but that mast had a pivoting mast step. What you could do is rig some lines from the base of the mast aft to hold it in place as you lower. Then set the base on a boat cushion or two to protect the boat and lower the mast. Have one person on the dock holding the jib halyard- you do have a jib halyard up don't you? and ease the mast back. Once it gets to the 45 degree point go back and reach up and help hold up the mast as it comes back further. One person can easily pick up and lift a 24' mast up to about 30 degrees where the man on the jib halyard can take over while lifting again.

The other way is to go up the mast. I would first cleat the boat off tightly to the dock on the sides by running two lines from as far up the mast as you can reach to minimize any change of heeling. As long as you stay reasonably vertical you should be ok. It is only when you get several feet out of plumb that you will get in trouble. A 3,000 lb boat has about 1000 lbs of ballast. That ballast is on a 3' or so lever arm. Your 200 lbs is on a 20' lever arm. So your weight could win out if it starts to go over.

Needless to say I think dropping the mast is much less risky.

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Old 16-02-2011, 12:17   #6
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I can see your thinking.

What sort of keel/s do you have, e.g bilge leels in which case you might be able to carefully put her aground on a flat stable area or slip where she will stay vertical while you ascend the mast, or perhaps secure her to some scrubbing post so she won't move if a fin or long keel.

Hope it helps but before you do go climbing make sure you are safe!!

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Old 16-02-2011, 12:59   #7
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When I was younger and lighter I could climb a mast like that hand over hand and never tipped a boat. If you can find someone lighter to haul up the mast then you can have them go up on the jib halyard w/o much problem. On a boat as small as yours you can build an A frame out of two 10' pieces of 3/4" pipe. secure these to the stanchions. put a pulley in between the top and use this to assist in lifting the mast. It is quite a bit easier then you think. Another option is to find a bridge that is tnear your mast height and bring the boat over there to get the halyard unstuck. There are a number of ways to handle this problem you just need to put on your thinking cap to see which one suits you.
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Old 16-02-2011, 13:02   #8
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If you get 2 other boats and tie one each side of the boat you can use their halyards to lower and raise your mast i have used this method on masts of 45ft in height.Greg
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Old 16-02-2011, 13:14   #9
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Thanks for the replies. I appreciate the help!

You're right Djmarchand about the lever action. The boat has a fixed keel and a 3' draft. I don't like the idea of going up, so if ever, I would be glued to it! No stretching out for me!

But with the keel Pagan, I can't let the tide beach her and have it level. Nor would it lean over enough for me to be able to reach the top.

I do like the idea of lowering the mast (yes the jib halyard is up) and taking care of it that way. Mostly as it would give me an chance to fix any additional problems if there are any. The only attachment point on the base is the lowest cleat on the mast. That's about two feet up from the step. Otherwise, I could tie a hitch to it. Shoot, I could even slip the base into a good canvas bucket tied aft. I would like to give it a try, but with my limited number of boating contacts, finding someone to help is proving difficult.

I may get with a local “boat handyman” that I've been talking with and see if he will at least give lowering the mast a go.

I've thought about using a high pier or bridge. Only there are a few problems with that:
-Not many in the area and I can just see getting a huge fine when found dangling from a bridge (after 911, I'm not sure I wouldn't be shipped off to Cuba for that!)
-I would still need to repel down to the mast somehow
-I would need someone on the boat or do the repelling, so need extra hands that could handle a boat
-I'm on the Puget Sound, so have to worry about tides and currents.
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Old 16-02-2011, 13:29   #10
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Old 16-02-2011, 13:51   #11
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If you have the jib halyard and you trust both the rope and the sheave it's on, find someone light and send them up. They'll have two lines on the way down

Or find a high quay when the tide's out (forgot to check whether you're in a tidal area) or even a lock with a friendly lock keeper. I did that once with my 23' halcyon.

If you can find someone with a taller mast to come next to you, you might be able to go up their mast and lean across, but there are big risks of spreaders tangling.

Personally lowering the mast seems like a lot of work for something a child could do if you can get her up there. And insisting on hauling the boat for the privilege certainly seems a bit mean!
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Old 16-02-2011, 13:53   #12
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I am about #200 myself and climbed the mast of a 18ft Cape Dory Typhoon on a bet. I made it however that boat has a full keel. I would tie her to a dock and give er hell, I do go climbing for sport though.
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Old 16-02-2011, 14:10   #13
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Originally Posted by New Swab View Post
The Electra is 22'6” with a beam of 7'. I think the mast is 24'.
Are there any piers near by that are close to that height? Maybe you could moor between the piles on a nice calm day.
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Old 16-02-2011, 14:22   #14
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If you can find someone light to hoist, it would be preferable to you going up given the lever issues. It's also nice to have the person hauling the halyard be bigger than the one going up the mast. At least, that's what I tell my wife when I strap her into the seat.

I'm betting there is a 100lb twelve year old hanging around who would do the job for $20 bucks and love the opportunity to tell about it the next day at school.
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Old 16-02-2011, 14:51   #15
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you would have 3000 ft pound defficit if you only count the lever arms of the ballast (1000# ballast with the center around 3ft from vcg = 3000ft pounds) and you on a halyard exerts (200# at 26 ft mast + app 4 ft distance from vcg to bottom of mast= 6000ft pounds) , this as if you were on one end of a horizontal tetter totter and the lead on the other, you also have the weight of the high side of the boat and the boyancy of the low side of the boat if it tips a bit, you and all the forces are however pretty much in line. in other words I would not worry about it. go on up unless you intend to do acrobatics up there.

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