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Old 25-04-2018, 04:06   #1
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Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

Why is it that exactly zero (according to my observations, at least) of professional riggers use a safety line when going aloft?

Are they just crazy, or what?

Last time a pro was aloft on my boat, he just used a bosun's chair -- no harness. Went up on a single spare main halyard which his assistant ran through a deck turning block back to the electric mainsheet winch in the cockpit. For some reason, this guy didn't put the line on the self tailer, but he did use the clutch.

That's 23 meters up -- like being on the roof of a seven story building.

Is this the usual practice, and why?
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Old 25-04-2018, 04:23   #2
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

An old adage in the military when dealing with ammo - Familiarity breeds contempt. (For the perceived excessive safety steps)

It takes time to set up the extra, and that costs lost productivity, i.e. fewer jobs, less money.
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Old 25-04-2018, 04:39   #3
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

It's enough clutter to go aloft on just one line, let alone to burden yourself with two. I have a dedicated line that I only use for going aloft, which my climbing kit fits nicely, and I know it's in good shape.
A professional who knows what he's doing will be far safer with less safety gear than a neophyte with tons of safety gear. It's not about familiarity breeding contempt--it's about being confident and competent enough to be safe. In the rockclimbing world, which has similar situations, though far more to the extremes, the best climbers get away with the least safety gear. That in turn clutters them up less so they can be better, lighter, faster. You learn to trust your gear, and learn what can be trusted singly and what needs redundancy. And in time, you get comfortable dangling 3000 feet above the ground on a single piece of 3/8 line.
It's mostly about practice and not obsessing while aloft about what your body will look like lying broken on the deck if this or that line or carabiner fails.
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Old 25-04-2018, 04:50   #4
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

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Originally Posted by Benz View Post
. . . And in time, you get comfortable dangling 3000 feet above the ground on a single piece of 3/8 line.


It's mostly about practice and not obsessing while aloft about what your body will look like lying broken on the deck if this or that line or carabiner fails.
Eeek!!


I'm not arguing with you, but Jesus Christ!


Just call me a non-pro, I guess . . .
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Old 25-04-2018, 05:08   #5
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

Actually rock climbers don't rely on someone else's ropes, lines and equipment. A rigger is not totally aware of the condition of the lines he is using. It's not his gear!
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Old 25-04-2018, 06:40   #6
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

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Actually rock climbers don't rely on someone else's ropes, lines and equipment. A rigger is not totally aware of the condition of the lines he is using. It's not his gear!
Exactly. Even on my own boat where I know the gear I always use a second line for safety and never had a problem managing the second line.

Also, I think it's an apples and oranges comparison. Rock climbing your main focus is the climb, your holds and route, so managing a second line could be a distraction. Climbing a mast your only concern is ascending safely with very little attention required to figure out which way you're going.
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Old 25-04-2018, 06:47   #7
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Exactly. Even on my own boat where I know the gear I always use a second line for safety and never had a problem managing the second line.

Also, I think it's an apples and oranges comparison. Rock climbing your main focus is the climb, your holds and route, so managing a second line could be a distraction. Climbing a mast your only concern is ascending safely with very little attention required to figure out which way you're going.
The second line is a PITA because you need a third person to manage it. I can well imagine that this is the main reason the pros don't use it. Cost and manpower issue.

It's a problem for me, too. There are often times when I want to go aloft but don't have enough people.

I've been thinking about using a Prussik on a static halyard for the safety line, so that I can go up with a single helper. Or perhaps ascenders and descenders or some such climbing hardware would work for that.

Going aloft scares me. It's thrilling in its own way, but I have to admit that it frightens me. I need to work on my technique I think, and I need some kind of foot loops to get up above the masthead level.
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Old 25-04-2018, 06:57   #8
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

Another point, rock climbing your primary support is from your holds on the rock, the safety line is the backup. Mast climbing your primary support is not the mast but the lifting line so without a second line you have no backup.
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Old 25-04-2018, 07:07   #9
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
The second line is a PITA because you need a third person to manage it. I can well imagine that this is the main reason the pros don't use it. Cost and manpower issue.

It's a problem for me, too. There are often times when I want to go aloft but don't have enough people.

I've been thinking about using a Prussik on a static halyard for the safety line, so that I can go up with a single helper. Or perhaps ascenders and descenders or some such climbing hardware would work for that.

Going aloft scares me. It's thrilling in its own way, but I have to admit that it frightens me. I need to work on my technique I think, and I need some kind of foot loops to get up above the masthead level.
I've done it a number of times with only one person on the deck by tailing the second line myself. With a reasonable diameter rope halyard I can easily support myself on the backup just with a grip. A Prusik or similar would accomplish the same thing but would require a bit more interaction.

Either would require a bit of juggling when passing the spreaders and such but never found that to be an insurmountable problem.

I have found that the few times I went up on a single line I was very uncomfortable but with a second line was quite at ease.
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Old 25-04-2018, 07:14   #10
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pirate Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

Get steps.. saves all that messing about with chairs, lines and needing help..
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Old 25-04-2018, 07:58   #11
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

After a certain point, safety is redundant. There are those who fear going aloft and feel if they wrap themselves in a cocoon of redundancy, the redundancy will help assuage their fear. If that is what you need, then do it. The breaking strength on a halyard in any kind of reasonable condition is at least ten times the weight of a climber and some gear. I can take a look at the fittings on the end of the halyard, look at the chafe points and overall condition and quickly determine if I will climb on that particular line.

Think about how much load you had on that halyard the last time you sailed and compare that to holding up (or even arresting the fall) of a person of average weight.

I am an old man now, hate to admit that, but I still free climb in rock, do some mountaineering and am the guy who gets called to go up a bare mast to do a retrieval. I respect gravity but I do not fear it.
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Old 25-04-2018, 08:04   #12
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

After doing this for 30 years and seeing riggers all over the world, the best solution is thus.....use a secure bosuns chair or climbing harness, depending on how long you will be up there..... use the best quality halyard to get up, and use an ascender on another fixed line for safety. The ascender is run up a fixed halyard with a short line to your chair or harness. If the first line fails, you have complete redundancy without the hassles of managing a second line.
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Old 25-04-2018, 08:08   #13
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

I think I'd be most concerned about the electric winch in the above scenario. If that thing jams on you are in serious trouble. Cutting through a modern halyard is no joke, especially whilst its running though your hands.
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Old 25-04-2018, 08:13   #14
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

Hello all,
we just had a proffesionall rigger do a pre-inspection on the boat we just purchased. He would not ascend till a secondary safely line was in place. Just a common sense approach to me, but then again common sense is not that common.


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Old 25-04-2018, 08:28   #15
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Re: Pros Aloft Without A Safety Line

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Why is it that exactly zero (according to my observations, at least) of professional riggers use a safety line when going aloft?

Are they just crazy, or what?

Last time a pro was aloft on my boat, he just used a bosun's chair -- no harness. Went up on a single spare main halyard which his assistant ran through a deck turning block back to the electric mainsheet winch in the cockpit. For some reason, this guy didn't put the line on the self tailer, but he did use the clutch.

That's 23 meters up -- like being on the roof of a seven story building.

Is this the usual practice, and why?
Laziness and the reliance on luck as a survival strategy is pretty typical in most high risk occupations.

We do all our own work including work aloft so we don't have to deal with 'heros'.. We always use a safety line and a third while working in place. Using productivity as an excuse is bs.

We also apply working in confined spaces, AC voltage isolation and working on deck procedures. It may take a little longer to get things done but it gives us piece of mind.

We also wear safety ppe while sailing. Most don't but if the boat is moving you wear it. No exceptions.
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