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Old 23-10-2009, 17:17   #1
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Mast Steps - Necessary, or Semi-Useless

Finishing up on my (many) year refurbishment/renovation/restoration of my old 'Rassy Rasmus 35. Re-rigging over the Winter, and painting the mast and boom as well. Existing mast steps, of 2 different configs, seem a little ancient in light of the Topclimbers/chairs and other ways of getting to the top. Steps would be my last choice in any event. Anybody removed theirs? I know there would be holes to fill, but damn the steps are an eyesore. Any thoughts?
Cheers, Anzo
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Old 23-10-2009, 17:28   #2
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I’d leave at least 2 steps near the top. It’ll make it much easier to perform work, if you have offset steps on which to “relax”. The upper step should allow you to get your diaphragm (or even your navel) even with the masthead.
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Old 23-10-2009, 17:32   #3
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had them on one boat and they were a bit of a PITA. Noisy in the wind, tangling things etc..I do like having a couple up at the top though.....
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Old 23-10-2009, 17:37   #4
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If I had them I would keep them. I do not have them, and doubt I would add them.

The Toplicmber makes it only slightly less impossible to get-aloft.

Of course some point out they produce drag, and can snag a line at a bad time......;la l;a la l;ala

TO get aloft quic,k,/;

Nast steps are good if you got theml. Lousyu ro pay for.


let me tell you that ATN topcli,mber doesthe job, but you are dome for the day.

Do not be so quick to toss out your mast steps.

Hopeit work,s olu for yuo/.
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Old 23-10-2009, 17:43   #5
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I have folding steps and they look good and work well. Of course it is well to minimize holes in your mast whether it be wood or aliminium. If you remove them consider leaving a couple at the top to stand on while you work on the antennae, lights or sheaves.
There was a story (urban myth?) going about a few years ago about someone who was at the top of the mast freeing a stuck halyard and his foot slipped and he was trapped in one of the only two triangular steps he had at the top of the mast. He ultimately fell to his death when his foot was severed. That story has always made me feel queasy about triangular mast steps.
On the positive side I find mast steps keep me independant of the assistance of others.
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Old 23-10-2009, 18:39   #6
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I have always thought that mast steps or ratlines are the sign of a true cruising boat. They are useful in going aloft for rigging issues and reef sighting when no spare halyards are available. Our Morgan has triangular mast steps to the spreaders, which is useful for sighting and inspection, but I want to install them to the masthead eventually. I value them for peeking over the barrier island to see who is coming into port, as well as being a nice place to climb and "get away" for a little while. Though by no means as secure as a bosun's chair, I consider their convenience an excellent trade off for a new piece of gear.

As for the falling/ foot severing thing; I can imagine many other easy ways to get horribly injured on a sailing vessel. Just falling overboard in the middle of a dog watch is enough to give me the willies.
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Old 23-10-2009, 19:35   #7
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Well, thanks all, I guess I'll keep them in spite of the ugliness/windiness/snagginess/give-me-the-wilies-of-having-to-use-themness. If you don't hear from me again, you'll know what happened, as my jib halyard shackle is sitting alone there at the top....
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Old 23-10-2009, 20:16   #8
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I often say: "circumstances mean everything":

How athletic are you? Do you usually have someone aboard who can crank you up comfortably with a winch?, do you trust your rigging to support you? Do you trust who ever is holding the winch handle? How likely/often is you will go up? If you are hauling one of your kids up, do you have some spare kids about if you muck up?

I think these all need to be considered in figuring out what is best for you.
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Old 23-10-2009, 21:11   #9
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I have internal halyards and folding aluminum mast steps. I use them frequently, and they work for me. They help keep me honest so that I check my rigging everytime I sail offshore.

When I sailed around the world, I climbed my mast before I set sail to make sure everything was shipshape aloft. When I went aloft on my mast steps, I discovered broken wire strands in the rigging in Bora Bora, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, and Gibraltar. It's much easier to climb the mast with a safety harness and someone backing me up on a winch than it is for them to hosit me to the top on a winch. At least that's the way it works on Exit Only.

Here is a view of my mast steps looking down from above.

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Old 23-10-2009, 21:38   #10
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You could make a rope ladder

It only took me 20 min to put this one together. (At the bottom)

How we do it...

Wife on the winch
Im in the harness on the main halyard

Ladder hoisted on the jib halyard
I climb the ladder
Wife takes up the slack


Here is a link to an instruction vid


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Old 23-10-2009, 21:53   #11
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I have aluminium folding steps to the 1 spreader, very nice for reef pasages, rigging check, for run away from my wife, or just take a nice picture. Cheers.
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Old 23-10-2009, 22:00   #12
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Before I make a rope ladder, I will make sure that my wife is willing to climb it!
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Old 23-10-2009, 22:15   #13
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Mast steps are made for light weight people. If you are an overweight person like I am, they are agony to use. I had a set of the triangular tube type on Sabre Dance and had to use them once. I only had to go up as far as the lower spreader, but with the fiddling about to get the sling on the mast for removing the mast, I ended up with a death grip on the spar and all my weight on one foot. At the very least you should never climb them with soft soled shoes. Good strong shoes perferably with the steel sole plate. Other wise imagine putting your full weight on a 3/4 round bar across the arch of your foot.

I ended up buying a climbers harness, and removed the steps. And I'm trying to lose some of the tonnage.


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Old 23-10-2009, 22:20   #14
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Ever tried climbing a rope ladder,doesn't work worth damn,too much stretch,and it sways all over the place.Ratlines are far better,as shrouds are stiff, under tension.I want maststeps.I use a Harken climbing harness at present, with 3 steps at top of mast.When at sea a harness would be impractical.If you run light cord from each step to shrouds, nothing will tangle in them.Crimps on shrouds for ratlines then steps above are a good alternative.
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Old 23-10-2009, 23:28   #15
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I have a topclimber and steps, like 'em both. Won't run up and do something quick use the steps, won't to be up there and work use the topclimber and steps to stablelize yourself. As for as tangles go, tie cord from each step to the shrouds.
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