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Old 18-01-2018, 05:46   #31
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

I like the L36 Climbing setup with the petzl ascender above a grigri. That is about $200 in climbing gear plus $170 for the rope. It works well. I like the connected footstraps as that solves the problem of your legs splaying apart. Legs and arms work together at the same time which is good and less tiring. It does not appear that he gets any higher at the masthead than I do, and he has to mess with his ascender and grigri to do that.

I found a 10' length of 1/2" stay-set line thrown over the top of the mast very helpful to get up higher, but that could still be improved.

I have used our 3/8" stay-set halyards and:
Masthead Access Methods
Black Diamond Momentum Climbing Harness
Good Old Larikis Chest Harness with 2 D rings.
7mm x 30' of Nylon line for Prusik & Bachmann knots
1" x 30' of Climbing Tubular Strapping
(3) Screw locking Carabiners

The two Bachmann knots are prusik knots wrapped around a round locking carabineer. They release more easily than a prusik knot.

I agree that adding a simple seat on straps to the climbing harness would be an improvement for while at the top of the mast.

I might try converting the two foot straps to a single double foot strap which would solve the splaying problem and simplify ascent.

I would still tie the halyards down tightly at the deck for sure.
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Old 18-01-2018, 06:35   #32
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Have used the set up in this video but with a climbing harness. It works but the climbing harness is not very comfortable for hanging for longer periods. Notice they used the seat/harness from the Mast Climber in the video. The Ascender/Grigri system is cheaper to put together, but npt by a whole lot, than the Mast Climber. Going with off brand hardware and a used bosun's chair could bring the cost down. Limited experience with the system, a couple times up the mast. Initial experience, it seems to take a little more effort to climb with it than the ATN Mast Climber. Using both legs and arm felt iike more work than the Mast Climber system. Way easier and faster to descend, however. The Grigri was so easy to use. Could descend as fast or slow as I wanted with virtually no effort. Had to make some modifications to the foot straps mainly sewing a bit of seat belt material onto the stirrups to hook them together so you had leverage against the mast. The rock climbing harness that I used had high rating for comfort but wasn't comfortable for more than a trip up the mast and very limited work while up there for me. The waist belt began to dig into me and was quite uncomfortable. That's why i highly reccomend getting the ATN seat/harness if you can find one and still keep your limbs after paying for it. I'm going to be back to the boat in March and will borrow the set up again and see if a bit of adjustment might make it easier to use and the harness more comfortable. The climbing rope doesn't have to be anchored to the deck which makes swinging out to work on spreaders or around the mast to work on the opposite side as your climbing line easier.

Have a Mast Climber that I've used extensively. The foot straps work out of the box. The harness/seat is very comfortable and safe for working hours aloft. The ascenders are a little clunky in use and hard on my hands without gloves. Climbing is straight forward and relatively easy though not a walk in the park. Descending is it's weak point as you have to carefully gauge how far you move the ascenders down the rope. It's the opposite of climbing but hard to gauge how much you move the foot and seat ascenders. Lower the foot ascender too much and you can't release the seat ascender and vice versa. You have to reposition the foot or seat ascender to be able to release the opposing ascender and descend. Not moving the ascenders far enough and you waste time and increase effort because of added iterations of the movements. Takes more energy than you'd expect with gravity working with you and was slow.

You could do the Mast Climber thing with rope and Kleimheist or Prussik (K/D) knots and a bosun's chair or climbing harness. Use one length of line for a foot strap and another for the chair/harness and up you go just as you do with the Mast Climber ascenders. One word of caution, the Prussic knots on the 5/16" line locked up on my 5/16' halyards when put under load. Discovered this when I kept forgeting to slide the Prussik knot safety line down as I descended with the Grigri. Had to take tension off the K/D knot with the ascender foot harness and physically loosen the K/D knots to get them to slide up or down. Don't seem to remember this happening on the 3/8" halyards on my otther boat so it may have something to do with the rope diameter in smaller lines.

Caution about Bosun's Chairs. Without a restraining strap that will keep you on the seat it's really ease to slide forward off the seat and find yourself hanging by your armpits. That is dangerous especially if you silde completely through the seat and fall free. At best it can be really difficult to get back onto the seat.

I've got low stretch, exotic cored, dacron covered halyards and use them to climb. Way better when working at the mast head as you can get a few critical inches higher than with a dedicated climbing rope. When you tie two ropes together, as you would with a separate climbing line, the knots take up critical space that limits how high or even if you can get your head above the mast head. Halyards won't work as the climbing line if you have wire halyards or have stripped the dacron cover off your exotics so don't do that. The low stretch exotics make climbing a lot easier as you waste way less effort with lines that don't stretch. My favorite is T-900 as stretch is practically zero even in 5/16" but it's way pricey. If you are replacing halyards, do at least one in the lowest stretch line you can afford. Even StaSet X takes way less energy to climb on than straight Dacron double braid.
Great write-up on the mast climber - which I think actual product name is an ATN Top Climber. (I referenced it wrong as well.). Your insight on going up and the difficulty coming down is identical to mine.

One tip I have for working very top of mast. Usually to get to head above top, you will be standing in stirrups. Before going up, I run a six foot section of rope thru the belt loops on my shorts. Then when I am at top standing in stirrups, I run the line around the mast and knot it to effectively tie my waist to mast. That way it steadies you and allows both hands free to work.

And glad you hit on poor design bosuns chair. Ours has straps that wrap around back, and between legs. You can't slide out. Nor can you lean back and slip or tip out. Those other seats without straps are probably cheap, but dangerous. Find other ways to save money!
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Old 20-01-2018, 03:13   #33
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

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Guess my wife is a weakling! I'm not going to tell her that, as I don't want to be a singlehander!
You are not able to help with at least taking up part of your weight by pulling yourself up on the furler? who's the weakling...
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Old 20-01-2018, 06:09   #34
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

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You are not able to help with at least taking up part of your weight by pulling yourself up on the furler? who's the weakling...
No, I'd rather not risk bending the furler extrusion, or tearing the UV material on the jib. I purchased a Top Climber and have a dedicated cordage to go up, so I can go up without her.
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Old 21-01-2018, 15:02   #35
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

I have question related to this theme and will be glad for any help. To get on top of the mast, we use bosun's chair and topping lift rope. But we have only two ropes on top of the mast ( second main sail halyard ) but since we have mast furling, halyard always in top positions, I don't want unroll main sail on dry storage ( just afraid is sailboat will felt from stands ) but don't fill safe to climb without second rope ( for insurance ). We don't have spinnaker rope, so I bought rope and blocks, but can't find way out holes for spinnaker rope on top of the mast, look like this rope didn't go to top, like JIB halyard. ( 2008 Hunter 45 CC) is it any other solution to have second rope for insurance without putting down main sail ?
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Old 22-01-2018, 13:42   #36
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

As an old rock climber, I use 1970s technology of the carabiner and prussic or bachmann-knot https://www.netknots.com/rope_knots/bachmann-knot... a super safe (no sewn weak spots) harness can be tied from a single length of webbing. A bachmann with webbing foot loops work for each leg... I put my weight on one leg while lifting the other leg/knot. So climbing with my legs, not my arms.

I also have secondary protection with a prussic knot from my chest and seat harness to another line.
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Old 22-01-2018, 15:39   #37
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

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As an old rock climber, I use 1970s technology of the carabiner and prussic or bachmann-knot https://www.netknots.com/rope_knots/bachmann-knot... a super safe (no sewn weak spots) harness can be tied from a single length of webbing. A bachmann with webbing foot loops work for each leg... I put my weight on one leg while lifting the other leg/knot. So climbing with my legs, not my arms.

I also have secondary protection with a prussic knot from my chest and seat harness to another line.
Jkindred This sounds exactly like my approach. Masthead Access Methods
My problem was my legs would split apart and I needed to clamp my legs around the mast as support. Perhaps I need to take more time and smaller steps?
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Old 22-01-2018, 16:20   #38
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

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Jkindred This sounds exactly like my approach. Masthead Access Methods
My problem was my legs would split apart and I needed to clamp my legs around the mast as support. Perhaps I need to take more time and smaller steps?
I secure the ropes that I am climbing at the deck as well as the masthead so they are relatively taut. Makes it much easier to slide the Bachmann knots up also. One can buy ascenders in place of the two Bachmann knots if you want to spend the money.
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Old 23-01-2018, 00:20   #39
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

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No, I'd rather not risk bending the furler extrusion, or tearing the UV material on the jib. I purchased a Top Climber and have a dedicated cordage to go up, so I can go up without her.
if you bend it your backstay would be way! too slack! & if you'd really manage to tear the UV-strip it was due for replacement anyway.
If you do this right the only thing the person on the winch has to do is pull & tail (3 turns on the winch) & maybe crank you up the last foot or so to get your head & shoulders above the masthead.
2 things to watch for:
make sure your winchpawls are fine...
low stretch halyard indispensible
(I climbed up many times like that. had to watch my turkish personell on the halyard though, might get bored & distracted....)
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Old 23-01-2018, 08:26   #40
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

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I secure the ropes that I am climbing at the deck as well as the masthead so they are relatively taut. Makes it much easier to slide the Bachmann knots up also. One can buy ascenders in place of the two Bachmann knots if you want to spend the money.
Yes, indeed. Essential. Do you use two separate halyards for the two leg Bachmann's? Maybe I should just put both foot straps on one halyard to avoid the "splaying" problem. I have a safety prusik direct to my full body harnass on a different halyard, and I have someone below taking up slack on the spinnaker halyard (2nd safety).
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Old 24-01-2018, 07:50   #41
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

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Yes, indeed. Essential. Do you use two separate halyards for the two leg Bachmann's? Maybe I should just put both foot straps on one halyard to avoid the "splaying" problem. I have a safety prusik direct to my full body harnass on a different halyard, and I have someone below taking up slack on the spinnaker halyard (2nd safety).
Yes. I have both Bachmann Knots on a climbing rope attached to my wire main halyard and safety to my additional forward halyard.
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Old 13-02-2018, 23:47   #42
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

Done this many times. Tiring but works well. 54' mast
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Old 15-05-2018, 11:30   #43
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

I tried the method with the manila rope described in the IP. I wasn't even close to strong enough to hoist myself up. Back to the drawing board.
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Old 15-05-2018, 11:42   #44
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

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I tried the method with the manila rope described in the IP. I wasn't even close to strong enough to hoist myself up. Back to the drawing board.
Remember, your stated goal was a system for $100. I found a used MastClimber for $200. Proven system, and less chance of going splat on the deck from DIY. But DIY might save you $100! Minus whatever you wasted on that manilla rope.
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Old 16-05-2018, 18:42   #45
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Re: Mast Climbing on the Cheap

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I tried the method with the manila rope described in the IP. I wasn't even close to strong enough to hoist myself up. Back to the drawing board.
I suggest you read our replies again and test using Bachmann knots at a safe height... otherwise hoisting myself required about a 4:1 ratio with a couple double blocks and 150ft of rope.
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