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Old 29-10-2009, 17:49   #16
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I have a slightly different problem. While heavy, I'm fit due to bicycling, rowing, etc. But I have very wide, size 14 feet. My wife has size 7. I'm 6' 1", she's 5 feet tall. I have no idea what kind of mast step to get or how to space them so that we can both climb the mast unassisted.

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Old 29-10-2009, 20:07   #17
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If you are going to the tropics especially SoPac, steps to the spreader are mandatory. Forget charts, you navigate into the lagoons visually from the spreaders.
A top climber is fine for climbing the mast at the slip. Haven't had the opportunity to try it underway. The do require a bit of agility and stamina to climb at rest. Would try it underway, if that is your only way to get to the spreaders, to be sure you're up to it.

I don't like folding steps. They don't capture your foot and are heavier than the aluminum 'L' shaped tubing kind. I want steps that trap my foot. The L shaped ones do that. Look for ones that have a flattened foot area for comfort.

If you put steps near the mast head, make sure that you can stand on them. Too low and you can't work on the masthead or above it. Too high and you'll have to bend around the stays/shrouds.

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Old 30-10-2009, 18:07   #18
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I have folding mast steps and I am very happy with them. It is quick and easy to climb the mast. I was originally concerned with their strength and I did a destructive test on one step and found it broke at over 600 pounds. Good enough for me! I also found on a couple of occasions that if I was climbing the mast with a tool bag hanging from a line attached to my safety harness the bag caught the step and folded it closed beneath me. Embarassing! I developed the technique of being able to open the step with my foot by reaching down and lifting it up. Anyone using these steps,especially alone , should practice this technique.
I went aloft in approaching Tahiti to free a jammed halyard and found the centrifugal force of even a slow roll was tremendous and obviously got worse as I got higher. I was glad to have a sturdy mast and stout steps to cling on to during this escapade.
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Old 30-10-2009, 18:16   #19
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I've got them, I love them, The boat came with them. My previous boat did not have them, I could think of better things to spend money on.

I vote keep them as long as you've got em. A whole lot quicker to climb these up to the spreaders for a look around than the "chair"
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Old 31-10-2009, 18:07   #20
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Rasmus is cream.

I have steps and love them. If had a boat without, would fit them. We have Selden's non-collapsible.

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Old 03-11-2009, 12:04   #21
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Climbed my rope ladder and replaced my Mastheadlight onthe weekend. It strrrrecchhes. Worked though!
Go outside and PLAY!
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Old 03-11-2009, 13:28   #22
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I have always wondered about ratlines, which has been mentioned here.

This may sound stupid, but do they do any damage to the shrouds?? I weigh 225lbs.
I always had the same question about stringing up a hammock on the forestay....
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Old 03-11-2009, 15:55   #23

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I had a wonderful experience where my jib halyard parted, wrapped around the mast a couple of times pinning the main headboard in place, then wedged under a shroud. So the main was stuck in the up position and there were no free halyards to pull a chair up with. To top it off It was just before dark. Anchored with main up that night, it freed itself and dropped the next day. I made and installed mast steps shortly after that. Total cost $20. I use minimum I halyard on chest harness when going up. Most of time with boson seat for comfort.
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Old 04-11-2009, 17:15   #24
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Originally Posted by exranger View Post
I have always wondered about ratlines, which has been mentioned here.

This may sound stupid, but do they do any damage to the shrouds?? I weigh 225lbs.
I always had the same question about stringing up a hammock on the forestay....
None, unless you have something tiny. Hammock - the same story.

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Old 05-11-2009, 07:42   #25
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Love 'em - mostly

Roaring Girl came with permanent alu steps up both masts. They do have a flat base for the foot, but still always wear at least trainers (ie cover the top of the foot as well as support the bottom) and fingerless gloves. Would have positioned them slightly differently (particularly to get over the spreaders on the main mast) but they work.

And they do make an enormous difference to any job that just needs a few minutes (you don;t do it otherwise) or a job that's an hour or more up there.

I go up in a climber's petzl harness, and can hang in that comfortably. I find that more secure and easy than a bosuns chair. We have at least two lines on both masts so a tool bucket can come up separately if I want.

To deal with halyard wrap I have run a 2mm line down the outside of the steps. Actually I've done it on one side and regularly intend to do the other! It does really work and deals with 95% of the problem.

On our old boat, which was much smaller, we created a gant line lift, with a piece of rope 4x longer than the mast and blocks to get a 4:1 ratio. It worked fine, and Pip could get me up the mast no problem. This is one solution where the deck-crew haven't a hope of winching the mast crew up there. But it's an awfully long and very heavy piece of rope to manage if you're going up there in any emergency at sea. (Note that the strength needed to hold me up is not as great as that needed in eg a tow rope or anchor line, and the same 60m rope may not work for both purposes.)

So I'd keep them, checking the rivets and maybe replace if necessary, and put a 2ml guardline along them.
Sarah & Pip
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:02   #26
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Mast steps are not mandatory for coral navigation--standing on the bowpulpit cabintop gets you high enough to see the coral heads if you have polaroid lenses. If you have only two people on board, you can't afford to have one halfway up the mast.

My wife can easily and quickly get me to the top of the mast on a halyard with the cordless drill and winchbit. We used to use the anchor windlass, but that requires rigging some snatchblocks.
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Old 09-11-2009, 09:15   #27
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I have mast steps, the aluminum triangular kind with a flat step. They are excellent for getting aloft but you do need to run some 2-3 mm line around the steps to keep everything from fouling. I did not have them on my last boat which had ratlines to the spreaders, now I could not imagine cruising without the steps.I hardly ever use them for the coral watch thing though. I have had to use them to go up once while at sea, it was not fun but I do not suppose a bosun chair or the like would have been any better. When I have crew I am in a chair as well so I have a work seat at whatever height I wish to be, but by myself, it is just the steps.


never had to use themThe ability to go aloft if things get fouled is why I like the idea. , ratlines would be easier

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