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Old 16-05-2018, 11:54   #1
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Ratlines and mast steps

Hi, friendly neighbourhood goat here with a couple of questions.

I'm pulling my mast soon and would like an easier method of climbing. My original plan was ratlines from deck to spreaders then steps to the top.

I'll be changing my standing rigging at the same time and will most likely go with one of the heat stretched dyneemas out there. Due to the slippery nature of the line I'm a little leery of the ratlines. Has anyone had experience with ratlines on synthetic rigging? Would I be better off with steps all the way up? It would make inspecting and replacing single shrouds easier down the road.

Thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 16-05-2018, 13:54   #2
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

Im not sure how your boat is rigged but if you were planning to put ratlines on the lowers, I would be concerned about how narrow your ratlines will be near the top. You wouldnt have much support and it may be tricky transitioning to the mast steps. Id just go maststeps for ease. On my boat, the steps begin above the winches and I just use those for the first couple steps. I have no idea about the synthetic shrouds but it seems like a bit of a heresy to put ratlines on them lol! They go better with galvanized imo. Best of luck with it!
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Old 16-05-2018, 14:31   #3
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

You might send Seaworthy Lass, estarzinger, or thinwater a PM; they are all very familiar with synthetic rigging.

Ann
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Old 17-05-2018, 08:05   #4
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

Thanks Ann and Shoal. I've decided to go all the way with the steps. I'll leave the shrouds alone to just hold up the mast.

I assume I'll mostly be using the steps to unhook halyards that get caught on the steps. ;^)

Thanks again.

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Old 17-05-2018, 08:33   #5
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

Run heavy fishing leader down the outside of the steps and you will have much less snagging of halyards. My first cruising boat had aluminum mast steps and I sheered one of them off hoisting a jib at night. An old timer told me about the line whipped to the outside of the steps and I never had a problem again. I found the steps so useful that I added them on my next 2 cruising boats. _____Grant.
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Old 17-05-2018, 08:35   #6
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

We have all synthetic shrouds from Colligo. I see you're not doing the ratlines, which I think is wiser and easier. You could do the rat lines but you would have to parcel and serve the areas where a board would be which is time intensive. This would prevent chafe for a wire. I'll be doing steps soon from deck to first spreader then a few at the top of the mast.
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Old 17-05-2018, 08:50   #7
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pirate Re: Ratlines and mast steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by goat View Post
Thanks Ann and Shoal. I've decided to go all the way with the steps. I'll leave the shrouds alone to just hold up the mast.

I assume I'll mostly be using the steps to unhook halyards that get caught on the steps. ;^)

Thanks again.

goat
I dont know.. climb up there with a remote for your AP and suddenly corals a problem no more..
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Old 17-05-2018, 09:25   #8
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by goat View Post
Thanks Ann and Shoal. I've decided to go all the way with the steps. I'll leave the shrouds alone to just hold up the mast.

I assume I'll mostly be using the steps to unhook halyards that get caught on the steps. ;^)

Thanks again.

goat
I have a different take on this. Mast steps all the way up present significant windage, fouling opportunites and even weight aloft. The folding ones are nice, but are super-expensive in my view. Not to mention the labour involved in drilling and tapping maybe a hundred holes, because I would prefer SS threaded (short) bolts for this compared to pop rivets. Which also mean lots of Duralac/Tef-gel or some other dissimilar metal coating.

I also happen to have very large feet (size 13 EEEEEE). Those little folding things seem insufficiently wide for them.

I went to Dyneema-core (6 mm) 1/2" halvards, four of them (topping lift, mainsail halyard, jib and spare/assymmetrical halyard a few years ago. I couldn't be happier. They are easily strong enough to hoist any member of the crew, with tools, to the top of the mast.

So I went with fabricating my own pair of steps for the mast tabernacle that allows me to step a metre or so off the deck for tasks like attaching the halyard shackle to the main and zipping on the mainsail cover. They are very strong. I may put in a smaller, third step so my wife, a foot shorter than me, can reach the top of the mainsail cover. The only further step installation I may do is to put a pair of steps below the mast-top. When hoisted aloft in our bosun's chair, myself and crew can brace ourselves in these "stirrups" should tasks such as LED or antenna whip replacement be required, or the drone, the radar and the forward-looking sonar are down and coral heads in lagoons require sighting. I said "drone" because they are now cheaper than installing mast steps if all you want to do is get a bird's eye view of your surroundings. These blog posts may be helpful:

https://alchemy2009.blogspot.ca/2016...epping-up.html
https://alchemy2009.blogspot.ca/2018...ut-drones.html
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Old 17-05-2018, 11:28   #9
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by gjordan View Post
Run heavy fishing leader down the outside of the steps and you will have much less snagging of halyards. My first cruising boat had aluminum mast steps and I sheered one of them off hoisting a jib at night. An old timer told me about the line whipped to the outside of the steps and I never had a problem again. I found the steps so useful that I added them on my next 2 cruising boats. _____Grant.
Great idea Grant. I've seen many boats with lines set up as you've stated but yours' the first feedback I've got from a user on the effectiveness.
Thank you.

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Old 17-05-2018, 11:31   #10
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I dont know.. climb up there with a remote for your AP and suddenly corals a problem no more..
Unfortunately (or fortunately) I've just got simple tiller pilots and a windvane, so I see lots of trips up and down the mast in my future.

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Old 17-05-2018, 11:38   #11
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

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I have a different take on this. Mast steps all the way up present significant windage, fouling opportunites and even weight aloft. The folding ones are nice, but are super-expensive in my view. Not to mention the labour involved in drilling and tapping maybe a hundred holes, because I would prefer SS threaded (short) bolts for this compared to pop rivets. Which also mean lots of Duralac/Tef-gel or some other dissimilar metal coating.

I also happen to have very large feet (size 13 EEEEEE). Those little folding things seem insufficiently wide for them.

I went to Dyneema-core (6 mm) 1/2" halvards, four of them (topping lift, mainsail halyard, jib and spare/assymmetrical halyard a few years ago. I couldn't be happier. They are easily strong enough to hoist any member of the crew, with tools, to the top of the mast.

So I went with fabricating my own pair of steps for the mast tabernacle that allows me to step a metre or so off the deck for tasks like attaching the halyard shackle to the main and zipping on the mainsail cover. They are very strong. I may put in a smaller, third step so my wife, a foot shorter than me, can reach the top of the mainsail cover. The only further step installation I may do is to put a pair of steps below the mast-top. When hoisted aloft in our bosun's chair, myself and crew can brace ourselves in these "stirrups" should tasks such as LED or antenna whip replacement be required, or the drone, the radar and the forward-looking sonar are down and coral heads in lagoons require sighting. I said "drone" because they are now cheaper than installing mast steps if all you want to do is get a bird's eye view of your surroundings. These blog posts may be helpful:

https://alchemy2009.blogspot.ca/2016...epping-up.html
https://alchemy2009.blogspot.ca/2018...ut-drones.html
Good points. The reason for mast steps is my crew (me) is getting sick of climbing using rock climbing gear. Nobody to winch me up. Also, hanging from a halyard is no fun when the mast is swaying. I'm hoping the change from ss to dyneema will offset the weight aloft somewhat. Your other points of windage and snagging remain valid, but a trade-off I'm willing to accept.

Thanks again.

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Old 17-05-2018, 11:50   #12
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I have a different take on this. Mast steps all the way up present significant windage, fouling opportunites and even weight aloft. The folding ones are nice, but are super-expensive in my view. Not to mention the labour involved in drilling and tapping maybe a hundred holes, because I would prefer SS threaded (short) bolts for this compared to pop rivets. Which also mean lots of Duralac/Tef-gel or some other dissimilar metal coating.

I also happen to have very large feet (size 13 EEEEEE). Those little folding things seem insufficiently wide for them.

I went to Dyneema-core (6 mm) 1/2" halvards, four of them (topping lift, mainsail halyard, jib and spare/assymmetrical halyard a few years ago. I couldn't be happier. They are easily strong enough to hoist any member of the crew, with tools, to the top of the mast.

So I went with fabricating my own pair of steps for the mast tabernacle that allows me to step a metre or so off the deck for tasks like attaching the halyard shackle to the main and zipping on the mainsail cover. They are very strong. I may put in a smaller, third step so my wife, a foot shorter than me, can reach the top of the mainsail cover. The only further step installation I may do is to put a pair of steps below the mast-top. When hoisted aloft in our bosun's chair, myself and crew can brace ourselves in these "stirrups" should tasks such as LED or antenna whip replacement be required, or the drone, the radar and the forward-looking sonar are down and coral heads in lagoons require sighting. I said "drone" because they are now cheaper than installing mast steps if all you want to do is get a bird's eye view of your surroundings. These blog posts may be helpful:

https://alchemy2009.blogspot.ca/2016...epping-up.html
https://alchemy2009.blogspot.ca/2018...ut-drones.html
Fouling I agree on unless they will be folding steps which is what I would suggest. Windage and weight aloft are moot because he has/will have synthetic rigging. We shaved at least 150lbs of wire off our boat when we put synthetic up. That's a lot of steps to come close to that.
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Old 17-05-2018, 11:59   #13
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

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Originally Posted by goat View Post
Good points. The reason for mast steps is my crew (me) is getting sick of climbing using rock climbing gear. Nobody to winch me up. Also, hanging from a halyard is no fun when the mast is swaying. I'm hoping the change from ss to dyneema will offset the weight aloft somewhat. Your other points of windage and snagging remain valid, but a trade-off I'm willing to accept.

Thanks again.

goat
Good luck with it. Were I solo (or otherwise had no help with winch and safety line), I would also have mast steps, and big bastards, too, all the way up.
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Old 17-05-2018, 12:45   #14
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

Not sure this is an appropriate thread but:

Ive been tempted from time to time to think of alternatives
One of my ideas more difficult to shake is a gun tackle that can be hauled up the mast, and some sort of friction device for the trip down

I think some climbing apparatus is suitable for the friction device

NB: this is only a 'if you have to' solution
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Old 18-05-2018, 09:49   #15
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Re: Ratlines and mast steps

One of the troubles with tackle (besides needing a line three or four times the mast height) is that you can't get to the top of the mast as the blocks will keep you a few feet down. If you Google ascenders and grigris you'll find a somewhat easy way to climb a halyard. The grigri allows you to slide down at any speed you want. I think the atn climber uses a somewhat similar stand up/sit down method of climbing. The problem of swinging like a pendulum is something I've come to not enjoy over the years. But we need more guys/girls like you, thinking out of the box, to build a better mousetrap.

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