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Old 20-10-2010, 15:58   #1
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Should I Install Mast Steps ? What Type ?

I've got a phobia about having an inexperienced, non-sailor or my wife winch me up the mast in a bosun's chair. If I'm going to fall, I would like it to be my own fault. I've used my "Top Climber" and feel it would be much easier to use with mast steps, than independently.

A neighboring sail boat has the wire or rod bent/welded into triangle mast steps that stick out 5 to 6" from the mast and look like triangles added on to either side of the mast. He said that he's had problems with lines tangling in them, so I think I can eliminate that style mast step.

The removable mast steps leave gaping rain holes in the mast, so I don't like that one either.

Which brings me to the folding mast steps. I've read on this site that the nylon steps will degrade in the UV and break at the most inopportune time. Don't want to put my over weight, 56 year old body in that situation. Seems that I've narrowed it down to aluminum steps, riveted to an aluminum mast. Am I right?

Should I put some kind of anti-corrosive stuff between the mast steps and the mast? If so, what?
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Old 20-10-2010, 16:13   #2
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We installed the nylon/glass steps and are very pleased with them. Everything eventually breaks down in the sun, but I feel that these will outlive me. We went with these because of the light weight and they never rattle. I have a top climber too and used it to install the steps.
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Old 20-10-2010, 16:30   #3
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We've got aluminium steps on the mast, it's true that they do catch lines on occasion, but the simple solution for that is to run a small line down the outside of each one to prevent the lines from being able to tangle in them. If your looking at steps though why not look at the folding alu ones?

These should never catch lines. and if you put tefgel or lanocote under them when you install them the corossion should be a non issue.
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Old 20-10-2010, 16:35   #4
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Just put the above style folding steps on the mast of our new to us boat. Just in case.

They were not up there a week when I had to go up because of a problem raising the yankee.
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Old 20-10-2010, 16:38   #5
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I had fixed aluminum 1/2 triangular steps on my mast and never had issues with tangling and chafe. I had them attached to the mast with tapped SS screws no issues.

One thing to keep in mind is that you do get weary climbing up and that FX's your stability. Also you will still need to sit in something to work for long periods of time. Not easy getting in and out.

I used to go up with just a safety harness and 2 tethers.
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Old 20-10-2010, 17:06   #6
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Aaack. No steps. Weight aloft. Windage. Snagging lines. Whistling.

Tp prevent a fall I use a Petzl Croll Chest ascender. I clip it onto a bar tight halyard fastened to the base of the mast.

Then any mistake made by the grinder is just an annoyance. Of course I have no grinder so I just climb the mast like a monkey would - only slower.
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Old 20-10-2010, 17:17   #7
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and if your halyards break?

i didnt have any windage issues
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Old 20-10-2010, 17:28   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daddle View Post
Aaack. No steps. Weight aloft. Windage. Snagging lines. Whistling.

Tp prevent a fall I use a Petzl Croll Chest ascender. I clip it onto a bar tight halyard fastened to the base of the mast.

Then any mistake made by the grinder is just an annoyance. Of course I have no grinder so I just climb the mast like a monkey would - only slower.
Our steps weigh very little, they fold so there is very little windage, we never have snagged a line that required climbing up, and our steps never whistle.
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Old 20-10-2010, 17:33   #9
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and if your halyards break?
That's an issue with any safety line, which presumably is used with mast steps as well.

I use a good masthead sheave halyard and don't rely on the ends. A 11,000kg rated halyard (which could lift the boat) breaking must be the most unlikely of perils. It will hold me even worn 90% of the way thru.
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Old 20-10-2010, 17:36   #10
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Halyard breaking is easy U never go up one ONE!

U use a second as a safety.

Now what happens if the fasteners corrode holding the steps and you are at the top?

Enjoy getting down wondering when the next one will break!!!!

What if your foot falls thru the step, happens on horses all the time.

I'll take a chair or the mountaineering gear to get up and down.

The steps can snag stuff to say they don't is not creditable.

They do add weight and windage along with chaff.

Well I guess you can can figure out I don't like them.



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Old 20-10-2010, 17:46   #11
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Halyards already broken, thats why you are going up.

Never needed another person around to climb said mast.

Never broke a hoof climbing el mast step in heavy rolls or &@#&$(*@& motor boats going by.

Didn't use no stinking halyards ever. Just a safety harness.

One step go byebye I have 17 others. Never corroded after 10 years.

Never had a snag. No sails no halyards no lines.

Steps great for pull ups and for tying things to.

Issues:

They don't make the affordable large robust tubular alum 1/2 triangles anymore, so you have to deal w/ the SS mini triangular ones that co$t.
Any steps take time to install correctly (so no chafe, hangups, and properly spaced) and must be done with mast removed.
Just bcause you go up a mast doesnt mean you are able to swing out to fix a schroud or a backstay
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Old 21-10-2010, 06:19   #12
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We have the Selden things here. They are very good. They are not very cheapo.

b.
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Old 21-10-2010, 06:56   #13
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On my last boat I installed the folding aluminum steps shown by Sailmonkey and, after having to go up my mast by means of a harness/halyard just two weeks ago, I have decided to install them on my current boat as well.

Advantages:

1. Since they are cast aluminum, there is no corrosion caused by contact of the step with the mast.
2. Installation is by means of drilling and tapping the mast for s/s bolts which should, however, be coated as with any similar installation on the mast. To avoid that problem one could use large aluminum rivets.
3. They fold relatively flat and hence do not significantly increase windage - certainly they do not lead to any noticeable increase in noise.
4. One is able to climb the mast without the need for someone to crank a very heavy load on a winch - and there is no need to pray that they can release you gradually. Frankly, it was too much for my fiance to accomplish on her own and we ended up running the halyard through a snatch block to one of the primary winches (which are 46st and bigger than the halyard winches) and had someone to tail - just in case. AND THIS WAS AT A DOCK! The last time I had to go up in a bosun's chair when at sea was, quite frankly, an exercize in terror not to be repeated.
5. It makes an easy climb up to the spreaders for observing the bottom when approaching shallow, coral strewn inlets.

I recommend placing the top two steps parallel about 4 feet from the mast truck so that one can stand there (strapped to the mast, of course) when effecting repairs.

Brad
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Old 21-10-2010, 07:13   #14
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Hmm. simple solution, find a rigger and get him to train your wife on how you should be lowered. Remember, the winchmans ( or womans) job in this case is ony to take the load as you climb -not to do all the work. Its also important she learns how to cup the winch with her hand correctly for your sake and hers.
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Old 21-10-2010, 08:30   #15
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Are you out cruising or marina bound? If cruising, I think you need mast steps. There's times you need them, in remote anchorages possibly, or even at sea (yes, we once lost a main halyard that wrapped around the mizzen mounted wind generator, 200 miles offshore in the atlantic on day 2 of a 6 day passage, and the only way to get the halyard back ended up going up the mizzen mast 2/3 of the way).

Before cruising the 2nd time, I had folding aluminum mast steps installed all the way up (with two even at the top for top work) on both main and mizzen masts. They don't rattle, and they have not otherwise caused problems. They do develop surface corrosion, and when I go up after a long break of not having gone up, as I free each one (sometimes with a sharp rap to the bottom with whatever tool I'm hauling up) "corrosion grit" will break free and blow down - in my face, of course, because I climb up the back of my masts and we're always pointing into the breeze at anchor! I also broke one (or half broke it) by stepping down hard on it coming down the mast. Each folding step is secured to the "base" (the part screwed/riveted to the mast) by two pins, one on each side. On one step one in broke; the step still works, just hangs a little crooked when open, and when I step on it I'm very careful to step lightly and hold on tight. Its also quite low on the main mast, so not far to fall if the other pin were to break. Also, I always use a bosun's chair on a halyard as a safety backup, and to provide support when doing top of mast support (I've spent as long as 1 to 2 hours at a time at the top of the mast working on a stuck furler issue in the Bahamas).

Good luck.

Dave, on SV Liberty
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