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Old 23-08-2012, 00:19   #31
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Re: Getting to the Top of the Mast on a Fractional rig Without Using the Main Halyard

A good decent quality climbing harness should not be particularly uncomfortable. You definitely want one with adjustable loops around your thighs as opposed to the "Whillans" style harness under the crotch or, even worse, a simple belt style.

I am also a big proponent of having 2 masthead halyards on a fractional rig (i.e. 1 main halyard, 1 topping lift). I spec my topping lift such that it is strong enough to be used as a main halyard (although slightly smaller than the actual main halyard) and plenty strong enough to go aloft in the unlikely event that we lose the main halyard. On Insatiable, the main halyard is 11mm (7/16") Vectran. The topping lift is 10mm (3/8") Spectra.
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Old 23-08-2012, 01:32   #32
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Re: Getting to the Top of the Mast on a Fractional rig Without Using the Main Halyard

I'm absolutely perplexed by the suggestion that prusik or kleimheist hitches around a tapered topmast are not to be relied on to prevent or arrest a fall.

(Especially compared with the sorts of 'protection' climbers routinely rely on, often with much further to fall.)

I find it hard to think of any alternative with fewer critical failure points, which are so readily assessed for reliability, and whose failures are so unlikely.

The one I would be most concerned about would be a foot slipping out of a foot loop (Once or twice when I haven't had time for fancy, I simply passed a few turns of the spare length of my footwear laces around the loop, and my arch.
I make my own laces using extra-long, high quality polyester cordage ... that way, I've always got the sailor's best friend close to hand - a couple of strong lashings. I also tend to use a strong webbing sail tie as a belt).

The second failure point would be the quality of the knots used to make the endless slings (I would use hollow climbing tape with a beer knot)

Compare this to the potential failure points and modes for a halyard: there's the masthead crane which could fail for both halyards simultaneously (even if all it does is jam them, you've still got to find your way down), there are sheave axles at both ends (the uppermost being particularly prone to losing its retention feature), there's a long, hardworking, and chafe-prone halyard which is difficult to 100% inspect, there are cleat and winch fasteners which are notoriously failure prone (tapped holes attaching a stainless fastener to a thin aluminium spar wall are the worst - what's more, sometimes the entire spar rots through unseen under a winch base if it has not been insulated; if the winch flips off, you may rip the cleat straight out)

I'm not trying to give anyone bad dreams here, but I think it's a good idea to use something other than a halyard as your last line of defence. Even if it's only a loop of line around the mast and back, which will at least stop you at the next spreader. You'll be sore, probably injured, but not dead.

I'd rather avoid injury, so I prefer to use a loose prusik in stiff rope for this situation: it will slow you down considerably, and is easy to retie sitting on each spreader. Assuming you're being winched by someone else, you can slide it by gripping it loosely between your feet on the way up, and your hands on the way down.
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Old 23-08-2012, 08:12   #33
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

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Originally Posted by Azul View Post
Yes, but I still recommend you practice on the short end of your mast first.
Watch this for a smart solution to climb on top of the mast (it's in French but self explanatory). he's using a mountain bike tube around the sling.


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Old 23-08-2012, 12:12   #34
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
There are a few unsafe methods being recommended here, the most goofy of which is to "muscle up" the last four feet of the mast. The "mast prussic" solution is a close second.

The OP (who admits to being a newby) asks how to reach the top of the mast without using the main halyard. The correct answer is: DON'T!

If you've screwed up so badly as to lose the main halyard, you've got several safe-and-sane options: (1) drop the mast, which is not too hard on a Tartan 33; (2) hire a rigger or a boatyard with a lift; (3) enlist the aid of a structure, such as a bridge or a high dock, where you can safely reach the sheave from the structure, hopefully without endangering the boat.

Bottom line: if you think there's a chance of losing the main halyard when going aloft, you're not ready to do the job.
Funny I used to rock climb quite a bit. At the time I was able to climb all the way up a mast w/o thinking of it. On a lead climb I might run out 5' to 8' which meant a fall of twice that length. The rope was stretchie which worked as a shock absorber. A 4' run out was nothing.

Now a days I don't like the idea of falling. If I was in the same situation as the OP I would rig something up now as opposed to later. One solution would be to put a couple of sets of folding steps at the top of the mast so that you could climb up those and "run out" a little with the jib/ spin halyard.

I had to do this once during a race but the fractional rig had a diamond stay at the top so I used that to help me climb the upper part of the mast. From there I was able to use a boat hook to pull the halyard down. From then on we taped the shackle on the main halyard.

I used to rock climb for fun and adventure. Don't like the idea now.
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Old 23-08-2012, 17:20   #35
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Originally Posted by Jim Cate
G'Day CW,

My chair has the attachment point quite high up, so that my COG is well below the attachment. Thus I don't feel too concerned about becoming inverted.

Having the step(s) near the masthead is a good deal, but as of now I'm missing them. Likely will have the mast out fairly soon and will consider putting some on then. Also will consider steps up to the first spreaders... used them a lot on our previous boat.

But, back to harness design -- what features make one model more comfy than another? Mine was designed by someone descended from a medieval torturer.

Cheers,

Jim
Look for adjustable leg loops and wide padded straps. I also have a strong preference for buckles that don't need to be doubled back as they are more mistake proof
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Old 23-08-2012, 17:29   #36
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

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Originally Posted by John A View Post
memo to self: Don't loose main halyard up the mast.

BTW there are no ropes on a sailboat, they be called lines.
What about a bolt rope?
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Old 25-08-2012, 08:15   #37
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Olivier, I have used prussik loops on a mast and even on street lamp poles. If there is any taper at all they work very well. If there is no taper, they often still grip well enough. Use three, one for each foot, one around your chest, and of course have a safety line just in case. Worst you'll do is fall six feet or so and get snugged up on the safety line. But since the prussiks just don't "fail", odds are the worst thing you'll do is slip downward, very slowly, if they're not tight.

Some spare lengths of 5/8" jacketed line are perfect for this, about 9-10' for each loop.
Hellosailor, thanks for sharing your experience.
here's a video of a system that prevents slippage. it's in French, but easy to understand. The trick: mountain bike tubes!
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Old 25-08-2012, 08:30   #38
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

To Bash and Azul, thanks for your feedbacks
it is not the first time I experience failure of main hlyd. it happened to me while crossing the Atlantic years ago. it is not that I "screwed up", it was just the shafing of the halyard on the sheave after days of rough weather. I spent 45 minutes on top of the mast while at sea with all the rocking and shaking involved. Tough experience but I learned a lot (it had to be done, no alternative). There's no fail safe system out there, and to me a good sailor should be able to fix most of problems by him/hers self. so I'd rather solve this issue by getting up the mast myself now in safe conditions at the dock, rather to have to find a solution (if there's one) when it happens offshore. Experience and training are part of being ready and safe while at sea.

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Old 25-08-2012, 10:42   #39
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Re: Getting to the Top of the Mast on a Fractional rig Without Using the Main Halyard

Other solution to reach the top sheave from few feet below, using a messenger with a line and nuts (when the line is in tension, nuts stays erected) and a regular PVC pipe with a slot. it takes some practice by it might work.
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Old 25-08-2012, 10:55   #40
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Re: Getting to the Top of the Mast on a Fractional rig Without Using the Main Halyard

add a spare/spinnaker halyard?
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Old 25-08-2012, 18:38   #41
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

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Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
Bill, you need some more halyards. A spare main for use with a tri sail or mast ladder and a spinnaker halyard for a spinnaker / cruising chute or safety harness for the climber would be good.

like you we have a fixed topping lift, but also have a normal halyard, why I am not sure, but its there.

Pete
Exactly. Now you have the knowhow to get up there, just install some new blocks and run a couple more lines....BTW, NEVER go up without 2 halyards and some sort of safety line around the mast.
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Old 26-08-2012, 05:23   #42
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Thanks for all the additional inputs. In summary, if I loose the main halyard now, I am screwed!

My plans remain the same, in a preponderance of caution replace the main halyard this year. Evaluate replacing the topping lift with a standard one or using the Dutchman system and if all else fails---write a check to a vendor with insurance to solve the problem!

Thanks again

Bill
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Old 26-08-2012, 11:55   #43
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Originally Posted by Snore
Thanks for all the additional inputs. In summary, if I loose the main halyard now, I am screwed!

My plans remain the same, in a preponderance of caution replace the main halyard this year. Evaluate replacing the topping lift with a standard one or using the Dutchman system and if all else fails---write a check to a vendor with insurance to solve the problem!

Thanks again

Bill
That's your choice based on your knowledge of your own skills and comfort level. Never let yourself get peer pressured into doing something by people like me on a forum!

Good on you
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Old 27-08-2012, 23:06   #44
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Re: Getting to the Top of the Mast on a Fractional rig Without Using the Main Halyard

return on experience:
well, I did it earlier today. I tried different solutions and the one that worked eventually is the prussic knots: one for each foot and one for the harness. plus two halyards (gib and spinaker to climb to the top of the forestay). one thing I noticed: weight and friction of these two halyards when pulled up (not the configuration they're supposed to work) create some significant force pulling you down. So make sure you account for it.
I felt VERY safe with the three prussic knots, they didn't slip by a fraction of a inch under tension against the mast. I didn't us slings like in the video I posted earlier, but just the old halyard that I cut and fed into the mountain bike tube. Overall I spent 1 hour on top and the two prussic knots that I used for my feet helped me stand up from time to time and release the pressure points on my legs from the climbing harness.
I tought I'd share my experience with the community....thanks for all your good pieces of advise!

Olivier
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Old 19-10-2012, 04:44   #45
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Re: Getting to the Top of the Mast on a Fractional rig Without Using the Main Halyard

I tried to explain all of this to my 52 year old Filipino gardener, when he scrambled up to get some fresh young coconuts.

He did give me the strangest look
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