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Old 28-04-2013, 06:53   #1
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Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

I hesitate to post this, but here it goes...

Background--- Yesterday before climbing the mast I did my normal safety check of the Mast Climber. I have worked around safety gear for most of my life and while not perfect, if my life depends on some gear I am rather anal about the gear check. Pre-climb the gear checked fine.

Problem--- When I got down and did the post-climb gear check I realized how lucky I was. The mast climber I use has two shackles that join each ascender to the straps that hold user. The shackles used have a straight pin that is held in place SOLELY by a round cotter pin. During the climb, the repetitive motion of ascending and descending caused the retaining cotter pin to come out. Had the pin fallen out, I would have lost the lower strap and my footing. While the lost of footing would have resulted in a more challenging descent, separation of the shackle that holds the seat, would probably have resulted in the user denting the deck and perhaps damaging the deck's (and my) core.

Solutions--- retro-fit the climbing gear with screw pin shackles and wire them. Or replace circular cotter pins with straight ones. Regardless of which of these two options are used, there is the potential for chaffing. Therefore, as part of the pre-climb safety check wrap them with sail tape to prevent chaffing, as part of the post-climb remove the tape.

If anyone has a better solution, please share it.

At the least, please check your gear!

Bill
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Old 28-04-2013, 08:08   #2
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

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Originally Posted by Snore View Post
I hesitate to post this, but here it goes...

Background--- Yesterday before climbing the mast I did my normal safety check of the Mast Climber. I have worked around safety gear for most of my life and while not perfect, if my life depends on some gear I am rather anal about the gear check. Pre-climb the gear checked fine.

Problem--- When I got down and did the post-climb gear check I realized how lucky I was. The mast climber I use has two shackles that join each ascender to the straps that hold user. The shackles used have a straight pin that is held in place SOLELY by a round cotter pin. During the climb, the repetitive motion of ascending and descending caused the retaining cotter pin to come out. Had the pin fallen out, I would have lost the lower strap and my footing. While the lost of footing would have resulted in a more challenging descent, separation of the shackle that holds the seat, would probably have resulted in the user denting the deck and perhaps damaging the deck's (and my) core.

Solutions--- retro-fit the climbing gear with screw pin shackles and wire them. Or replace circular cotter pins with straight ones. Regardless of which of these two options are used, there is the potential for chaffing. Therefore, as part of the pre-climb safety check wrap them with sail tape to prevent chaffing, as part of the post-climb remove the tape.

If anyone has a better solution, please share it.

At the least, please check your gear!

Bill

I think it's easy to fall into a habit of not checking gear that could really do you in if it's not in good shape. What is familiar we just tend to trust. Last club cruise a friend confidently put down his anchor, intending to hold my rafted up boat as well. Someone else on his boat noticed a thin spot in a chain link, and ... we put my anchor out too.
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Old 28-04-2013, 08:14   #3
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

Gosh, you could have really damaged your boat!
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Old 28-04-2013, 14:00   #4
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

Snore,
I would suggest replacing the shackles with locking carabiners: these don't open under load.

Alain
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Old 28-04-2013, 14:11   #5
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

and.... do not use those round split rings on your turnbuckles in lieu of cotter pins..... after a good blow I've found them twisted up and looking like figure eights!
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Old 28-04-2013, 14:15   #6
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

I like mast steps. Using climbers it is a good idea to have a harness on clipped to a haliard that gets tended by someone as you go up, or if by yourself have a line around the mast from your harness with a slip hitch around the mast--slide the line up as you ascend.
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Old 28-04-2013, 14:19   #7
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
and.... do not use those round split rings on your turnbuckles in lieu of cotter pins..... after a good blow I've found them twisted up and looking like figure eights!

Wow. Gonna go check and see what I've got. I think I have round split rings.
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Old 28-04-2013, 14:21   #8
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

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I like mast steps. Using climbers it is a good idea to have a harness on clipped to a haliard that gets tended by someone as you go up, or if by yourself have a line around the mast from your harness with a slip hitch around the mast--slide the line up as you ascend.

I really think someone should always be tending that backup halyard. It's a simple thing we can all do for each other.
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Old 28-04-2013, 14:49   #9
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Snore,
I would suggest replacing the shackles with locking carabiners: these don't open under load.

Alain
Thanks, a locking carabiner would not chafe and will not need to be taped.

Once above the spreader I wrap a rope around the mast and fasten it to the eye immediately above the seat. When I clear the upper shroud, I move the rope above the uppers. The whole idea behind the ATN mast climber is that you don't need a ground person. But for those who posted about the secondary halyard, with a fractional rig, there is only one halyard at the masthead.
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Old 28-04-2013, 15:31   #10
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

Presumably you also have a topping lift? You can always drop the boom and take that off and secure it at the foot of the mast as a backup line.

We use a winch to lift one of us up there - use the topping lift as the primary lift with a climbing harness and then a petzl ascender connected to the halyard as the back up. If we don't have to go to the top, then we'll use the gennaker halyard as the lift so we don't have to drop the boom.
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Old 28-04-2013, 17:29   #11
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Do make sure all the shackles on the ATN are wired shut, I watched them start to unscrew themselves the first time I used it! Mast climbing is usually a solo endeavor; for a completely independent backup, wear a climbing harness and clip it to a prussik knot around the mast, push it up or down with each step.
Mast steps are much more convenient, but they cannot be fitted to junks(or gaff rigs) because the sail rigging wraps around the mast. However, I can climb the sail when they are hoisted
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Old 28-04-2013, 17:58   #12
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

I have a small, light roll-up caving ladder I can hoist up the mast on a haliard, and then fasten the bottom down tight, then climb right up. It takes a little getting used to, but once you have the idea of balancing your weight by putting one foot in from one side and one in from the other, it works pretty well. Once up to where I want to be I clip myself to the mast. Rolled up it is about the diameter of a very small sleeping bag, but only about 12 inches wide.
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Old 29-04-2013, 10:07   #13
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
Wow. Gonna go check and see what I've got. I think I have round split rings.
Yeah, I never would have thought it ,but have had it happen a couple times before I went to regular pins. Occurred after some heavy sailing I think, Hard to tell because you dont notice it right away. I guess the turnbuckle screws really do want to unturn given enough force. Given a heavy enough ring maybe it wouldnt occcur, but many turnbuckles wont allow too hefty a ring due to the arc in the ring....
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Old 29-04-2013, 10:30   #14
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

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Originally Posted by Sailormantx View Post
Do make sure all the shackles on the ATN are wired shut, I watched them start to unscrew themselves the first time I used it! Mast climbing is usually a solo endeavor; for a completely independent backup, wear a climbing harness and clip it to a prussik knot around the mast, push it up or down with each step.
Mast steps are much more convenient, but they cannot be fitted to junks(or gaff rigs) because the sail rigging wraps around the mast. However, I can climb the sail when they are hoisted

Going up my mast is never a solo affair. if you go up my mast, I will be there, and you will have a safety line. I know how to use that safety line and will glad to be your backup, but no one goes up my mast alone.
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Old 29-04-2013, 10:32   #15
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Re: Near Catastrophic Failure of Mast Climber Gear

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Yeah, I never would have thought it ,but have had it happen a couple times before I went to regular pins. Occurred after some heavy sailing I think, Hard to tell because you dont notice it right away. I guess the turnbuckle screws really do want to unturn given enough force. Given a heavy enough ring maybe it wouldnt occcur, but many turnbuckles wont allow too hefty a ring due to the arc in the ring....

I DID check. This boat has pins in every one. It was my old boat that had rings. I'm really glad you brought it up.
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