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Old 26-05-2012, 13:05   #1
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Getting to the Top of the Mast on a Fractional rig Without Using the Main Halyard

Finally made my first trip up the mast to fix the spreader boots with an ATN rig. Yes I know there are more cost efficient options, but for a newbie it worked for me.

So as I got up there I looked up and had a Eureka moment. My Tartan 33 is a fractional rig. If I mess up and loose the halyard up the mast, or have to work on the sheeve for the main halyard, there is no other rope up there to use to reach the top of the mast.

How does one reach the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard? The topping lift is a fixed length of covered wire as the spare main and boat are rigged for a stack pack.

Thanks

Bill
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Old 26-05-2012, 13:14   #2
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

memo to self: Don't loose main halyard up the mast.

BTW there are no ropes on a sailboat, they be called lines.
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Old 26-05-2012, 13:16   #3
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

most boaties, even fractional rigs, have a main halyard and a topping lift, both of which go up to the top. Are you missing your topping lift?
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Old 26-05-2012, 13:22   #4
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

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.

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Old 26-05-2012, 13:40   #5
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Gentlemen thanks!

John yes I made an immediate mental note not to screw up.

Pete, the spinnaker halyard runs to a block just above the forestay and not to the mast head. But that said your comment about adding a halyard seems spot on. I really need to get all the way to the mast head and inventory what sheeeves are there so I can run another halyard down the mast so I have another LINE to ascend


Appreciate the quick assists

Bill
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Old 21-08-2012, 08:31   #6
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

Well, it just happened to me: on my Beneteau 31 the main halyard broke (at the shakle) during a race. back to the dock, I made it up the mast using the spinaker hlyd. the fractional rig allowed me to get up to the top of the forestay, but there're still 4 feets to go up to the top. there's only one sheave at the top (for the broken main hlyd) and I don't want to use the topping lift: the block is on the side of the mast, WAY to small to look safe.
So the only solution I see is muscle up the last 4 feet from the top of the forestay and try to use an extra line and carabiner to secure my position on top of the mast during the time it'll take to feed in the new hlyd into the mast. Any other suggestions before I risk my life up there? ;-)

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Old 21-08-2012, 09:31   #7
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

You could make up several Prusik loops to take up the mast with you. Near the top, deploy them into Prusik knots around the mast which you can alternately use for hand holds and foot holds to give you something to stand on when you are working. If you are climbing using only one halyard, I would recommend tying them periodically as you go as well for your backup safety system. Or you can have someone come to the dock with a boom truck, which is safer but more expensive and you probably won't have the right tool or part with you while you are paying the truck guy by the hour, if he in fact shows up or returns your call which for me he did not.
These are simple knots to tie and will slide on the mast when pressure is released. (Tip: practice at deck height first ) Also, try not to drop a tool on your helper, this hurts more people than falling off the mast does.
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Old 21-08-2012, 09:46   #8
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

Provided your topping lift rigging is up to the task you can use a couple of "prusik" hitches to go up on the topping lift.

However you choose to get there, always rig a back-up safety mechanism in case the primary thing that is holding your weight fails. If ascending the topping lift you could use the spin halyard for this (or vice-versa) -- just have someone tending the slack on the spin halyard. I have a safety tether (flat webbing) clipped to my bosuns chair which I wrap around the mast and clip back to the bosuns chair. This way if the halyard holding me lets go, or is accidentally released, I won't go far.

I have my topping lift rigged as a spare halyard, but it is led through a sheave at the mast head and down the deck. Comes in handy more often than you would expect.

Spare halyards are good -- especially offshore.
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Old 21-08-2012, 09:53   #9
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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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...Also, try not to drop a tool on your helper, this hurts more people than falling off the mast does.
Yes, never stand directly under anyone aloft. Always secure tools & parts with a bit of line (particularly heavier stuff). Put small stuff in a bucket or bag and extract carefully (by the way....putting stuff in your pants pockets does not work...can't get to them easily once all rigged up and aloft). My bosuns chair has several built-in external pockets which are quite handy.

I once dropped some heavy bronze fittings from the top of a 105' mast...had time for a really prolonged "oh-****" before they reached the deck...quite a relief to hear them hit solid deck and not someone's head...would have been very bad.
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Old 21-08-2012, 10:40   #10
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

mast steps?, i bought some removable ones, as in no bolts required last year and installed them on my way up the mast, not fun, but it got me to the top of the mast to fix a problem i created
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Old 21-08-2012, 13:39   #11
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

Thanks for your suggestions.
Azul, you mention Prussik knots. I know they work on a rope, but have you tried around a mast? these knots use friction to hold and release and rope diameter is also an important factor. A mast is sleek aluminum and much larger that any rope.
just curious....

Olivier
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Old 21-08-2012, 14:11   #12
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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 nosmo View Post
Thanks for your suggestions.
Azul, you mention Prussik knots. I know they work on a rope, but have you tried around a mast? these knots use friction to hold and release and rope diameter is also an important factor. A mast is sleek aluminum and much larger that any rope.
just curious....

Olivier
Yes, but I still recommend you practice on the short end of your mast first.
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Old 21-08-2012, 14:42   #13
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

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.
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Old 21-08-2012, 20:09   #14
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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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You could make up several Prusik loops to take up the mast with you.
+1 !

I used one today to add a HAM radio insulator to a cap shroud.
One of the most useful knots around.
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Old 21-08-2012, 20:27   #15
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Re: Getting to the top of the mast on a fractional rig without using the main halyard

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.
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