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Old 02-02-2015, 19:28   #16
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

Make them or buy them but put them on - and not the folding ones that you can slide off of. Best and safest way to go up a mast. But wear a harness and clip on anyway, just because.
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Old 02-02-2015, 20:39   #17
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

6227- you be fairly young still.
Folding or formed-they're great to have !


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Old 02-02-2015, 22:01   #18
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

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Originally Posted by highseas View Post
Anything but folding steps are a waste of time and money.


Couldn't agree more.

They create windage, catch sheets etc and look pretty ugly. As Uncivalised said you should really be roped up even if using the steps.

A couple of folding steps at the mast base to allow access to mainsail, tack, reefing, cunningham and main halyard etc are really handy. The folding steps all the way up could be nice too although they will also add some weight up high where you don't want it and windage (drag) disturbing airflow around the mainsail.

Maybe a couple of folding steps so you could have somewhere comfortable to stand while accessing sheaves and halyards etc at the mast head and using halyard ascending jamars to self climb if necessary or capstan or crew on winches combinations rather than steps.

If it is a traditional full keeler or similar it could suit the boat perhaps plus if you can get them for $9 each...

It is your boat you do as you like, have fun and be safe.
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Old 02-02-2015, 22:13   #19
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

Quote:
A harness is still required even with mast steps.
Disagree - never used a harness although a little more difficult when my hand was in a cast.

yes, they have negatives but when you have them, you do not think twice about going up the mast to check things, check the water depth ahead, and great for photos. Will add them to the new boat next. Put a small line thru them to keep the halyards from tangling.
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Old 02-02-2015, 22:19   #20
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

Definitely easier to go aloft with steps.

Although quite a few holes to drill into your mast.


Whatever floats your boat.
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Old 08-02-2015, 02:35   #21
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Lightbulb Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailorman Ed View Post
Disagree - never used a harness although a little more difficult when my hand was in a cast.

yes, they have negatives but when you have them, you do not think twice about going up the mast to check things, check the water depth ahead, and great for photos. Will add them to the new boat next. Put a small line thru them to keep the halyards from tangling.
FYI, you've just stated the reason (one of them anyway), why mast steps are the LEAST safe way to go up a spar - "you do not think twice about going up the mast to check for things".
The key phrase being, you do not think... in reference to spar climbing.

Even free climbing a spar, I'm likely as safe, or safer, for then I'm paying VERY close attention to what I'm doing. And am also Very aware that even if half a dozen bees crawl up my pants leg, mid-climb, I can't lose either my attention or hold.
Such is much the case when using steps (regarding the absolute necessity to hold on & plan each next move), albeit it's easy to get lulled into a false sense of safety/confidence, because of said steps & the quoted thought modalities. But lose either your grip or focus, & the result is... well, let's just say that you'll be extracting yourself from the gene pool, with gravity's help at that point.

Which is why it's pretty much Key, to wear a harness when going aloft. Harness, as in Climbing type, which locks in place above your hip bones, so that you cannot fall out, even if you manage to get upside down.

I know I've soured a few folks palates, by this point in my reply already... However, the reality is, is that it shouldn't take you any/much longer to properly put on a climbing harness & tie onto a halyard than it does to put on your sea boots.
Why? Because, if you can't, then when an emergency arises which necessitates using said piece of gear;
- You're so far out of practice with it that you couldn't don it safely to save your (& who knows how many others) lives. Nor, frankly, given the adrenaline which goes with both; going aloft, plus whatever has you needing to in a hurry will have degraded your brain function & motor skills enough to likely to facilitate your goofing in properly putting it on & noticing such.
- Also, if you're that out of practice with it, then that means that it's not being regularly inspected, as well as tested out... I think we're all familiar with what salt water & air can do to aluminum fasteners, like say, buckles.

Back to the original'ish topic, the HUGE aerodynamic & windage hits of mast steps, is essentially (literally the following). If your sail plan was a 6-cylinder engine, you've just turned it into a 4-cylinder or less. To say naught of the evils which you've done to things regarding anchoring in high winds.
I could provide examples, but as Tarzan would say "That's bad JuJu bwana".
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Old 08-02-2015, 02:59   #22
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

"To say naught of the evils which you've done to things regarding anchoring in high winds."

Can you explain this in more detail for me? How do mast steps introduce evil into anchoring in high winds?
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:19   #23
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

Strait Shooter,
I honestly am not certain as to whether you're question is genuine, or if it's an attempt to start some hate & discontent in this thread. Although it feels like the latter.

That said, mast steps, as compared to tube sections, shrouds, or even sails furled around rollers, are the aerodynamic equivalent of a pile of coat hangers. AKA LOTS of windage at all kinds of odd angles, wildly disproportionate to their physical size.
And as such, create Huge amounts of drag, & geometrically more so, the higher up one mounts them.

So when trying to, for example, go to weather, their drag's humongous. And ditto at anchor, plus they magnify heeling tendencies, a boat's penchant for wildly wandering to one side of her tether & halting with a hard jerk at the end of it, prior to going the other direction & repeating the cycle. Thus increasing the odds for "bumping" another boat on the hook, & or breaking her own anchor free. Plus a whole host of similar things.
- Which, to me, on balance, seems kinda' evil.
Especially as, it takes but a moment longer to break out, & don, an infinitely safer, & WAY more comfortable climbing rig (harness). Particularly if one has any chores at all which might possibly require using tools aloft.

The latter point of which, is the most common reason for going up the mast, & yet is never, or very, very rarely spoken of by mast steps proponents. Probably because it's not possible to securely hold onto the mast, & use one hands to perform chores with, simultaneously.
Thus putting mast steps squarely into the category of both; inefficiency, & dangerousness. Unless, that is, one can, much like a djinn, levitate magically, at the outboard end of a spreader, while turning wrenches & doing other varieties of maintenance (a place I've NEVER seen mast steps). As for me, doing any work out there, even in a climbing/work harness, streamlined for function over a couple of decades, it's both tricky & a chore (doing work in said locale)... even while hanging securely in a harness.

Ergo my eschewing mast steps (SIC). With the possible exception of running them up to the first set of spreaders if one's going to be spending lots of time in coral country/dodging reefs/entering & exiting a lot of passes. And even then, going with folding steps if possible, along with a no brainer type, safety line for the climber.
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:41   #24
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

One thing I have noticed, that in our marina, most of the boats that were actually used for long term cruising, all have mast steps, about half folding, and half fixed.

We have a bosum's chair the we use to go up the mast now, but many times on my cruise, I wished there was a way to more easily go up our mast. Since it was only two of us, the only times I sent my wife up (yes, she was the one who always went up, I'm way too big) was at marinas, because I never wanted to try and do it by myself. But, I've gone up the mast of other boats with steps, and it was sure easy.

I'm also not sure I buy into the idea that the windage of steps, either fixed or folding, really makes that much difference on a cruising boat. It seems to me that to whatever degree it hurts you sailing upwind, it would have to benefit you to about the same degree when sailing downwind (which is what we try really hard to do as much as possible when we are cruising).

I say this because I'm really thing hard about steps on my mast before we leave on our next cruise in a few months.

And, yes I realize that many human monkeys don't need that much help. We were in Georgetown, and a neighboring boat couple's 16 year old son, literally climbed up our mast hand over hand using one of the the halyards, almost faster than we could take in the slack on the safety line to the harness he was wearing. It was like watching a squirrel go up a tree trunk. But, I can't do that.
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:50   #25
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
Strait Shooter,
I honestly am not certain as to whether you're question is genuine, or if it's an attempt to start some hate & discontent in this thread. Although it feels like the latter.

That said, mast steps, as compared to tube sections, shrouds, or even sails furled around rollers, are the aerodynamic equivalent of a pile of coat hangers. AKA LOTS of windage at all kinds of odd angles, wildly disproportionate to their physical size.
And as such, create Huge amounts of drag, & geometrically more so, the higher up one mounts them.

So when trying to, for example, go to weather, their drag's humongous. And ditto at anchor, plus they magnify heeling tendencies, a boat's penchant for wildly wandering to one side of her tether & halting with a hard jerk at the end of it, prior to going the other direction & repeating the cycle. Thus increasing the odds for "bumping" another boat on the hook, & or breaking her own anchor free. Plus a whole host of similar things.
- Which, to me, on balance, seems kinda' evil.
Especially as, it takes but a moment longer to break out, & don, an infinitely safer, & WAY more comfortable climbing rig (harness). Particularly if one has any chores at all which might possibly require using tools aloft.

The latter point of which, is the most common reason for going up the mast, & yet is never, or very, very rarely spoken of by mast steps proponents. Probably because it's not possible to securely hold onto the mast, & use one hands to perform chores with, simultaneously.
Thus putting mast steps squarely into the category of both; inefficiency, & dangerousness. Unless, that is, one can, much like a djinn, levitate magically, at the outboard end of a spreader, while turning wrenches & doing other varieties of maintenance (a place I've NEVER seen mast steps). As for me, doing any work out there, even in a climbing/work harness, streamlined for function over a couple of decades, it's both tricky & a chore (doing work in said locale)... even while hanging securely in a harness.

Ergo my eschewing mast steps (SIC). With the possible exception of running them up to the first set of spreaders if one's going to be spending lots of time in coral country/dodging reefs/entering & exiting a lot of passes. And even then, going with folding steps if possible, along with a no brainer type, safety line for the climber.


Uncivilized,

The question is/was genuine. I disagree with your statements, and I was asking for clarification of your position before I stated my case. No hate, or discontent intended however. Sorry that after several days, you feel that way. Maybe less coffee?

I've been on mooring balls and on anchor a few times when it's been blowing a stink and rockin n rollin. If the drag introduced by a dozen or so mast steps contributes much to the dynamics occurring at the time, I would be very surprised. And as to "bumping" and "breaking the anchor free", I would suggest that maybe there are other issues that may have been overlooked that would cause said "bumping", and "breaking the anchor free". Thanks for the explanation of heeling tendencies btw.

"Inefficient and dangerous"? Sigh...... No, sorry.....I need to get going this morning and don't wish to engage anymore than I already have.

No hate and discontent intended now, or earlier. You're wrong though and I don't want some new guy reading this and getting the same impression you have......cause like I said, you're wrong.
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:33   #26
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

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Originally Posted by 123jashe View Post
I'm going to attach aluminum steps up each side of the mast. I have made and tested some of 1/8" x 1- 1/2" aluminum and they seem strong enough but I would like verification. Does anyone have experience building mast stairs/steps and will 1/8" x 1-1/2" be stiff enough or should I go with thicker metal? Thanks in advance.
There is an earlier thread that has some good tips in it regarding installing them. Installing Mast Steps with Mast Up

I think they are a good thing, and if given a choice would go with the enclosed style (shaped like a two-sided triangle).

I also think using a climbing harness each ascent is smart.

Some mention weight. Some of the folding stainless steel mast stairs weigh about 1 pound per piece. I would go with aluminum to keep weight lower.

Good luck.
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Old 09-02-2015, 20:06   #27
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

As to drag, & what contributes to same, I'll leave you with a thought or three to ponder.
How many production boats do you see nowadays, percentage wise, with all external halyards? Or how about rectangular cross sectioned, wooden spreaders? Such were both the norm not quite so long ago. And they're cheaper to manufacture & install than their newer replacements... Aluminum or Carbon Fiber, airfoil section spreaders. And internally led (low to no windage) halyards.

Regarding safety, & mast steps, I'd encourage everyone to always use a safety line when going up the mast, period. And if you're using climbing gear to get aloft, use climbing rope as well. Unlike most sailing lines, it's core & cover are locked much more tightly together. And the hardware used for climbing depends on this.

If you want the expert's opinion on where mast steps do & don't belong, plus some of the why, I should think that Brion Toss might be qualified to make that call. And said information/his thoughts on the matter are posted on his forum here (post #8) Mast Steps - SparTalk
Ditto on some of his thoughts on safety (aloft).

On the other side of things; I'm genuinely curious as to how one accomplishes projects, & or repairs, half way, or fully up a mast, if one's hands are busy just holding on. That, & or if one's mast climbing system isn't flexible enough to allow work to be done other than on the centerline axis of the spar. And or, only at the masthead, is limited to genteel weather etc.
It's worth "a think".

Especially as there are plenty of chores aloft which require 2, sometimes 3, or even 4 hands to accomplish. Most of which usually involve wielding tools to get them done.
Ditto on how one conducts an up close, in depth, rigging inspection, prior to beginning any long passage. Or doing the same during a passage, including maintenance aloft as well. Sans benefit of being in a harness or boson's chair?

To be clear, when I say rigging inspections. One of the key components there of, is inspecting & cleaning all of the standing rigging on a spar, masthead to keel step. Spreader fittings (root to tip), backstays, & all other, otherwise awkward locations + hard to reach equipment/places.
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Old 09-02-2015, 20:24   #28
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

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Originally Posted by jannw View Post
Uncivilised makes a good point about heat treating ...

You could do it in your oven ... seems that it's not too hard::

Aluminum Workshop: Achieving T6 designation for 6061 - TheFabricator.com
I am an engineer at a machine shop. we bend T6 bar stock daily. THere is no problem & you won't hurt it. You don not need to treat it. Just make sure your bends are a bit soft rather than hard folds. If you stay greater than about 1/4 inch radius just bend'em. If you have access to a bending break use the proper die.

I also wonder why bother if they are cheap.

some really nice SS steps here
Search

quick search shows more here
https://www.google.com/webhp?sourcei...lboat&tbm=shop

more here
Mast Steps Ladder Anodised Aluminium Bosuns Chair | eBay
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Old 09-02-2015, 20:56   #29
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

If we are to worry about the windage of mast steps, then no one should ever put a dodger/sprayhood on their boat because of the windage. Weather clothes should be considered to be a parking brake. Freeboard should be kept to a minimum. All of the modern high freeboard tupperware boats must be slugs. Lets get serious, mast steps are in many ways a safety feature, and like all safety features, are somewhat of a compromise. Having done more work up masts with steps (my own boats) and some without steps, I feel much safer with steps, harness and halyard, than hanging from a bosuns chair. Having once had to go to the top of the mast 1000 miles from shore, I highly recommend steps. ______Grant.
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Old 10-02-2015, 08:52   #30
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Re: Mast Steps/Stairs

I once owned an Albin Vega. First two years without mast steps. Last three years with mast steps. I cant think of a single thing that changed in her sailing or anchoring qualities after putting on the steps. Not one. As someone else suggested, a bimini or dodger has more windage.
Of course, even with steps, never rely on just one safety measure. I always wore a harness attached to a halyard with a prussik knot or a halyard shackle.
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