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Old 19-05-2016, 15:29   #46
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

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Originally Posted by NOLA_sailing View Post
Thank you for your contribution. I had stupidly mistaken the long pole with the little sticks coming out my boat for a ladder. I also forgot that buildings tend to sway back and forth as window cleaners climb up their ladders and do their work. And that buildings generally have a circumference of only 3'. And that the ground around the building is gel-coated FRP. And that there is rigging hanging from the building. And that there are no stairs inside to be used.
Sorry you didn't like my little attempt at humour... not sure how to respond 'coz it's never happened before

Seriously, wouldn't anyone prefer to sway a little while holding on with both hands and standing with both feet on a tied-down ladder rather than while hanging from a rope?
Sway can also be drastically reduced by lines from the mast to pontoons or other boats anyway.

Wrap the top rung & rail tops with rope & padding to avoid marking the mast or it sliding along the rung. Do this before raising the ladder.

For extra security a rope can be thrown over each (upper) spreader, one tied to each rail either side of the top rung (rails are tied together so they aren't pulled apart) before raising the ladder - secure them forward at deck level once the ladder is raised. That holds the ladder's top immovably against the mast.

If I didn't have mast steps I'd move my boom aside for the ladder - there's less rigging & more deck length behind my mast. YMMV.

Foot the ladder on a padded load-spreading board. Chock the board and the ladder foot against something solid, then tie the foot off 4 ways fore and aft to cleats, winches etc. Tie to opposite ladder rails so they're not pulled apart.

Haven't used a ladder on this boat but have on others.
Even used a ladder almost vertically against a shroud from a pontoon to access a spreader end on a very tender boat. Just takes a little forethought.

edit: forgot to mention one of the biggest advantages of ladders. If you've a few jobs to do... if you need more tools... or you just feel like a cuppa halfway through the job...

Even at my age I can be up or down a ladder in seconds - no big deal.
What other option is that easy?
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Old 19-05-2016, 16:12   #47
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

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Originally Posted by unclemack View Post
.............
.................. Seriously, wouldn't anyone prefer to sway a little while holding on with both hands and standing with both feet on a tied-down ladder rather than while hanging from a rope? ............
Absolutely not! I've suggested some alternatives, but I'd be far more comfortable hanging on the line than wrestling with a ladder on a sailboat.

If you do attempt the ladder, please stay hooked to the halyard as a safety line.
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Old 19-05-2016, 17:08   #48
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

One last chance at a rational and simple method (that we have used): find a frindly cruiser with a ~35+ foot boat and mast steps or other safe means of ascending their mast. Raft the two boats together with the masts parallel. Climb the other mast with a boat hook, retrieve the halyard and pull slack to lower it to the deck, climb down. Job done.

We've used this method to actually unstep and restep the mizzen on a smaller ketch, using our mast and halyards as a crane... just grabbing a halyard is pretty quick and easy from "next door".

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Old 19-05-2016, 18:21   #49
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

Two words: Mast Mate

Look it up - I used mine for just this problem after we first bought our boat.
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Old 20-05-2016, 02:51   #50
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

having spent probably weeks up masts (working 3 years on a charter-base with 32-odd boats up to 52') & not counting the time spent on our own spreaders conning the boat through coral waters (& not always in calm waters...& of course never with any sort of harness which would only have increased any risk) here is what worked 4 me:
1. have a trusted hand on the winch, 2 turns, line NOT in the selftailer, cluch closed
2. standing on deck on tiptoes have the slack taken up on the halyard then jump as high as you can I let yourself fall into the bosuns chair - do this several times
3. climb up the rolled-up genoa while your "trusted hand" takes up the slack - if you are fearful: have a short line around the rolled-up genoa to the bosuns chair: if you really fall you'll be jammed against the sail-sausage
4. secure yourself with an additional line once in the intended workingposition, halyard secured with two half-hitches

on our own boat we had a second external spinnackerhalyard & a couple of times I used that to pull myself up - one just has to take extra care NOT to grip the wrong part of the halyard...of course you do not have to pull your weight, even without an xtra tackle: only half!
imho: too many "securitylines", safetyshackles, extrafoolproffjustincase devices will just increase any risk that the wrong knot or shackle is opened. if your halyard is really (not just in your mind) doubtful - replace!
&, this is my private opinion: if somebody has to winch you up because there isn't enough slack to be taken up as you are unable to pull yourself up the genoa little by little: pay somebody else to do it for you, your mastclimbing days are over!
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Old 20-05-2016, 03:52   #51
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Oh Yeah! A ladder on a sailboat! That's gonna be a lot safer....
Aren't mast steps the same thing? Using a secured ladder is one way of recreating the mast step method. It's also a good way for a first timer to still feel like he has both feet on the ground.

Using his existing jib halyard is really out of the question on a thirty foot boat, I certainly wouldn't trust it. On our 53ft boat, we use the spinnaker halyard and snuffer line because they're massive compared to a halyard line on a thirty footer. And yes, I've snapped a mainsail halyard on our previous Hunter several years back when the sail was jammed.... it didn't take that much effort on the winch to do it.

So no.... there's no way I'd attempt to go up the OPs mast using just a single jib halyard, nor would I allow anyone else to attempt it.
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Old 20-05-2016, 04:26   #52
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

...you got two hands to hold on, you know...
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Old 20-05-2016, 05:56   #53
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

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Originally Posted by NOLA_sailing View Post
The law of averages finally caught with me this weekend and, despite a near windless day, I lost my main halyard up the mast. I do not have a spinnaker halyard nor a topping lift so the jib halyard is my only means of going up the mast to retrieve the main halyard. The glaring concern, of course, is the inability to ascend the mast without being secured to a secondary halyard.... 8) Have a heart attack. My three main concerns are... Thanks!
1) Have a strong/reliable friend at the winches!
2) Use 2 halyards (Main & topping lift**) attached to your bosun chair
3) Pull one AND secure the line on a strong cleat
4) Pull the second one AND secure it to another strong cleat
5) Repeat 3 & 4 'till you reach the desire height
6) Find that you've forgotten something on the cockpit seat
7) Repeat 4 & 3 in reverse etc...

**If your lucky enough to have a topping lift that runs down the inside of your mast & that can be used as an emergency main halyard
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Old 20-05-2016, 06:47   #54
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pirate Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

Sheesh. He doesn't have an fing topping lift as you so correctly quoted.

I have a mast mate, a worthy addition of kit.

In the OP's case, I'd drop the mast, replace the sheeves, halyards, add a spin halyard, led lights, WiFi booster antenna, and so forth and whatnot.

Do it right the first time.
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Old 20-05-2016, 07:35   #55
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

I would at the least, replace your jib halyard with a new one before putting your life on it.
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Old 20-05-2016, 08:20   #56
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

A few times neighbours have commented on my mast steps saying that they wished their own mast would be so easy to climb.

That was what I imagined would be the case before I bought this boat... the steps were one of the features that sold me on it.

I suspect those of you who admire them haven't tried them either.

While my mast was hanging from the crane before being stepped one of the two backstays was hanging forward of a spreader - which had caps & inters already in the end plug.
Heights don't bother me a bit so I naturally shinned up the steps to sort it out. Only took me about 30 seconds but it was enough to understand the reality of mast steps.

I was angry at myself for having had them on my wishlist for so many years without ever giving a thought to how awkward they might be in use.

The steps are set so far apart that you're effectively standing on one leg and holding on with one hand all the way to the top - working at any intermediate height other than the spreaders would very soon have your legs shaking.

When you reach the top the backstays, caps & forestay prevent you from standing comfortably on the only pair of steps that are actually at the same height.

edit: Oh yeah, forgot. The steps are narrow and I have size 12 feet. Only have one pair of sneakers that will fit in the steps.

edit 2: to the OP. Your untrusted jib halliard could haul the ladder up safely. A block fixed to the top of the ladder before raising it would serve as your personal safety line.

I do have a few jobs to do on the mast this summer.

Haven't decided yet whether to use the mast steps, the bosun's chair or both - or to make it easy on my old bones and just rent a ladder for a day.

For those of you who think I'm crazy... maybe I'll make a video
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Old 20-05-2016, 08:21   #57
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

When I do it myself, i use my main and jib halyard and hoist a block that gives me a 5 to 1 ratio and have a climbing rope (i use for rappelling) pull myself up, nbd. If my wife is there I get her to wear a harness and belay from the cockpit just like if she were at a climbing wall. It's way easier to teach someone how to belay safely with the proper gear (less than 100 bucks) than it is to trust someone with winch and cleats. just my opinion. I would not have my wife winch me up, but have no problems letting her belay.

it gives
really easy going up
really easy going down
dont break a sweat
all gear used is not kept out in weather 100% of time, so easily inspected at home before heading out
uses 2 halyards for redundancy
---also, i don't use the shackles that are on the halyards, but instead tie a knot on my block before hoisting it.

...just my way, at the end of the day, there are many ways to do it, just got to do it the way you feel safe because it's you who will live or die or get hurt with the consequences, so whatever makes you feel safe and gets the job done.
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Old 20-05-2016, 21:11   #58
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

Quote:
Originally Posted by unclemack View Post

The steps are set so far apart that you're effectively standing on one leg and holding on with one hand all the way to the top - working at any intermediate height other than the spreaders would very soon have your legs shaking.

When you reach the top the backstays, caps & forestay prevent you from standing comfortably on the only pair of steps that are actually at the same height.

edit: Oh yeah, forgot. The steps are narrow and I have size 12 feet. Only have one pair of sneakers that will fit in the steps.

edit 2: to the OP. Your untrusted jib halliard could haul the ladder up safely. A block fixed to the top of the ladder before raising it would serve as your personal safety line.

UncleMack, thanks for pointing out some limits of mast steps - I recently bought a MastMate (steps that are hoisted on mainsail halyard to top using mainsail track). But you should probably not use them without a climbing harness or bosun's chair attached to a backup halyard tensioned by a capable hand on deck, or if totally alone, use an ascender fixed to a second line that you slide along as you climb and descend.

If you need to leave the ladder to move around the mast or to get to the spreader tips, you can then use your backup to take the load and let go of the steps to allow you to move around the mast as needed. If doing that alone, I would us a prussic hitch or second ascender on the safety line as a backup to the first ascender or if at the top, just a line over the top of the mast.

I found the ascender I have didn't work easily with any type of rope I had on board. These lines are too soft and catch on the barbs in the ascender jaw. I found a used mountaineering rope on the web - they are easy to find since these guys replace their climbing lines at the slightest hint of wear.
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Old 20-05-2016, 21:26   #59
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

I wish I had the mast steps like those that I had installed on my last boat. Easy intervals, solid hand grips, no snags. I could even quiet a halyard by swinging it so it laced over alternating steps. Maybe an upcoming project.
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Old 22-05-2016, 09:12   #60
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Re: Plan for Ascending Mast

This is actually a great thread for folks who are relatively new to sailing, and thinking of boat ownership. It shows clearly how a fairly minor, and common, incident can lead to a somewhat complicated and/or costly solution before you can get back to sailing at all. We often talk about how, when buying a boat, you should leave an extra 20 or 30% of your purchasing budget for extra stuff you'll need. But also, one should have a few thousand at the ready just for times like this when it may make more sense to take care of all the mast related issues at one time... or hire a rigger...
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