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Old 31-07-2014, 06:41   #1
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Bosun's chair

Make one or buy one. that is the question.
If make one, how to make a safe one?
I have a full climbing harness, that I have left over from my Military days, idea was if we ever got shot down, our wingman would land and we would clip on to an outside handle with carabiners and not become a POW.
Well I figured this thing would work to get me up the mast to do whatever I need to up there, until I tried it. Maybe it's age or maybe weight, but the darn thing becomes painful in 5 min or less, just won't work, but it could I guess still be a back-up safety device for a Bosuns chair? Is that smart or stupid?
I figure I won't need to go up the mast very often, but it would be good to be able to, so I don't need a professional riggers type of solution, but I don't want to seriously injure myself either with some half baked unsafe solution, so I'm asking, buy one or make one? If make one, got a picture or design? If buy is the best, suggestions? I don't have the skills or equipment to sew heavy webbing.
Is just buying a swing set seat at Lowes, but use the climbing harness to save me if I fell out a stupid idea?

Thanks
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Old 31-07-2014, 06:51   #2
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Re: Bosun's chair

You might get some ideas here
https://www.google.ca/search?q=bosun...w=1280&bih=580
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Old 31-07-2014, 07:10   #3
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Re: Bosun's chair

Recently had an amazing rigger up my main mast. He rigged his own halyard and used a climbing clutch and a good harness. Stood on the stirrups of his climbing rig and only leaned on the harness. Kept a safety line as well. This made him quite mobile aloft. Safe too. I will grant you that fitness and power to weight ratio was in his favor. Don't know if I could do it at all without a dedicated fitness program. It sucks getting old but it took that long to afford the boat. I have a decent chair but only use it when I can hoist one of my sons and only for cleaning and lubing. Working on my fat ass but years of sitting and driving takes time to change.
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Old 31-07-2014, 08:21   #4
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Re: Bosun's chair

Often a healthy way to look at the cost of tools is "how much will I save vs. having someone else do this?" Consider how many times, and how difficult the task is, given the correct tools. Considering the potencial for savings, this often encourages you to get the right tools for the job.

Most people are going with climbing harnesses and big wall harnesses (I don't know what you have); harnesses are more secure and versitile, but chairs are more comfortable, depending on foot loops (used with harnesses to take some weight.

Many options. Tree climbing stuff is nice too.
OMCgear - Black Diamond Big Gun Harness - Free Shipping Available

Then you've got to decide how to climb; the winch (harder than you think), rope climbers, or webbing steps (Mate Mate). Which ever you chose, make sure you have a back-up line.
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Old 31-07-2014, 08:23   #5
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Re: Bosun's chair

I bought the all singing all dancing fat guys version from West Marine, with pockets for tools etc. Could have made one, but I figured that a tested design and professional stitching etc. was worth the money. Haven't used it yet.
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Old 31-07-2014, 08:29   #6
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Re: Bosun's chair

What I have looks very similar to this
SALE - Delta Tower Climbing Tongue Buckle Leg Harness 1107778 - $264.15 - - PKSafety.com

What we used to get me up was the winch, but I have the Milwaukee drill. The drill seemed capable of hauling me up, just I suspect the harness I have is a safety kind of harness, meant to save your Butt, not meant to be comfortable and it isn't. I got only about three quarters of the way up the mast before I knew it was too un-comfortable to be a solution.
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Old 31-07-2014, 08:35   #7
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Re: Bosun's chair

How do you guys run a safety line?
I have an in boom furling main, it has a track that stands off the back of the mast and I passed a line between it and the mast, every few feet I had to reattach the line because of the stand off's. If the Halyard broke, I would fall a few feet maybe, to the next standoff, but a secondary safety line would be preferable.
I had thought get an ascender and use the Genoa Halyard as a safety line, but it's smaller and just as old / weathered as the main. Both are in good shape, don't need replacing, just both have significant UV exposure etc., thinking a safety line ought to be pristine.
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Old 31-07-2014, 08:41   #8
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Re: Bosun's chair

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
What I have looks very similar to this
SALE - Delta Tower Climbing Tongue Buckle Leg Harness 1107778 - $264.15 - - PKSafety.com

What we used to get me up was the winch, but I have the Milwaukee drill. The drill seemed capable of hauling me up, just I suspect the harness I have is a safety kind of harness, meant to save your Butt, not meant to be comfortable and it isn't. I got only about three quarters of the way up the mast before I knew it was too un-comfortable to be a solution.
Are you certain it was a tower harness and not just a construction fall protection harness? Most tower harnesses are pretty comfortable.

With any harness or seat, there is only one way to determine if it suits you; go to the store and find something you can hang it from. Like trying on shoes, the size is not the only factor in fit.

Also weight matters. If you have a gut nothing is going to be fun. Harnesses are designed around fit climbers.
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Old 31-07-2014, 08:48   #9
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Re: Bosun's chair

Probably a construction fall harness, made out of what looks like seat belt webbing, but design almost identical to the tower rig which isn't like a climbing rig apparently.
I suspect neither is designed to hold you weight comfortably in a sitting position for any length of time.

I'm not like I used to be, I'm 70" and 230 lbs, about 50 lbs more than when I was in shape, I think I want something to sit on, not be hung from.
Back in my 20's I'm sure I would have just climbed the mast literally using both the sail track and the mast to do it, but I'm not that guy anymore.
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Old 31-07-2014, 08:50   #10
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Re: Bosun's chair

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
How do you guys run a safety line?
I have an in boom furling main, it has a track that stands off the back of the mast and I passed a line between it and the mast, every few feet I had to reattach the line because of the stand off's. If the Halyard broke, I would fall a few feet maybe, to the next standoff, but a secondary safety line would be preferable.
I had thought get an ascender and use the Genoa Halyard as a safety line, but it's smaller and just as old / weathered as the main. Both are in good shape, don't need replacing, just both have significant UV exposure etc., thinking a safety line ought to be pristine.
a. I don't know what the gap looks like, but it sounds like a good place to cut the safety under load.
b. A short tie-off line like that is going generate incredible loads since there is little stretch in the system. Climbers have broken 5000# dyneea slings that way. Bones too.
c. Yeah, halyards need to be replaced while they can still be trusted as safety lines. However, the fall load on a halyard is ~ 10 times less than that on a short line, because there is ~ 50 feet of line to stretch. The impact force will probably not pass 500 pounds if you keep the slack out. It need not be pristine, like a climbing rope, since the forces are not so large. Also, halyards are typically stronger to start with (climbing ropes are <7/16", while your halyard is probably 1/2").
d. GriGri or Cinch is much easier to use than an accender (they slide up and down). Must be 10-11mm line. Many people use the halyard only to pull the safety line and climbing line up.
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Old 31-07-2014, 09:01   #11
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Re: Bosun's chair

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
Many people use the halyard only to pull the safety line and climbing line up.
If I understand what your saying then you have to use ascenders or similar device to climb then, not be pulled up by a winch in this case?
Aren't both your primary and safety line attached to the halyard then, so if the halyard breaks, your SOL?
Sorry probably stupid questions but as I've never seen someone climb a mast I don't have any but the most rudimentary idea
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Old 31-07-2014, 09:01   #12
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Re: Bosun's chair

I used a bosun's chair for many years, but I often found that the edge under my thighs would numb my legs. Then I tried a climbing harness, but I found it tiring after a term aloft. So, I've done as you considered. I use both, but I still don't have the foot straps that may add more comfort, but more complication. 'too much more and I'll be taking myself up in a Barcalounger!
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Old 01-08-2014, 16:01   #13
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Re: Bosun's chair

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
If I understand what your saying then you have to use ascenders or similar device to climb then, not be pulled up by a winch in this case?
Aren't both your primary and safety line attached to the halyard then, so if the halyard breaks, your SOL?
Sorry probably stupid questions but as I've never seen someone climb a mast I don't have any but the most rudimentary idea
Not quite:

If climbing with ascenders, many, but not all, pull up a dedicated climbing line to take wear off of the halyard. However, whether climbing by ascender or being winched up, the safety line is separate, typically the spin halyard. Because most of the rope lock devises work best on one line size, many use the halyard to haul up a dedicated line. However, if the halyard breaks you will skill crater.

Since there are 2 separate halyards involved (safety + hoist/ascender), you need pretty bad luck and pretty poor equipment for both to fail. I've searched and never heard of a double failure, not even rock climbing (avalanches excepted).

Many people prefer self-climbing methods because they can do them alone or with unskilled helpers. Regarding being winched aloft, if the belayer is not skilled, there is little safety. A few years ago a professional sailor died due to a winch-related error. The belayer MUST be both well schooled and experienced on the winch. Winches are NOT fail safe in this application and are not really designed with this in mind (the rope can jump off).

Appledore Crewman Dies After Fall from Mast | NewEnglandBoating.com
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Old 01-08-2014, 20:30   #14
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Re: Bosun's chair

I feel tree saddles are most workable for mast climbing, at least for me. Take a look at something like the New Tribe, Twist. It's pretty comfortable to sit in compared to climbing harnesses I have tried. Seems like a nice cross between a climbing harness and a bosuns chair. I use a simple webbing Tree Stand fall arrest harness as back up under the saddle.These are very personal things so YMMV.
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Grigri, locking carbiners, a pulley on a Jumar acsender, foot loops, and 80ft of New England Tachyon rope hauled with the main Halyard. Safety on the jib halyard with a 3 over 2 Blake's Hitch. Both the Grigri and the Jumar connect to the harness. Go slow, practice low, and keep everything within easy reach. It's a very secure way to climb a mast, IMHO. Three tie points going up and two tie points going down, basic SRT set up.
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Old 02-08-2014, 01:09   #15
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Re: Bosun's chair

A64pilot,

At your size and weight, I think you might be more comfortable teaching your good lady to use the winch to take you aloft. Normally, we do this with the anchor winch on our boat, but if she used a Milwaukee tool, she'll be able to winch you up okay. The deal is, her job has your life in her hands.

Using the winch to lower you, the most critical thing is to keep concentration on leading the line straight, not allowing a "wrap" to get on the winch, an overlap, and knowing what to do if it does occur*, and keeping concentration on lowering you at the speed you want to go, stopping to look at tangs, cotter pins, state of wires, and *stuff* as you are lowered, and shift from side to side. It is the maintaining concentration on an essentially boring job that is the hardest bit for me; unfortunately, it's essential.

Jim and I use toy store walkie talkies to communicate during this process, so we don't have to holler for the other to hear us. We got 'em at Toys R Us 15 yrs ago or so, still work for this application.

If you prefer to go aloft by yourself, which I actually think is better in some ways, then you'll need to work out a dedicated line with enough blocks in it, and be able to ascend and descend on your own. Thinwater can help you with that way better than I can.

One other note, for working at the masthead, often the combination of going aloft on the spinnaker halyard using the climbing harness, will get you high enough up to work on the stuff on top of the mast, the tricolor, the wind instrument, etc.

Good luck with it. I like seeing the fun you're having learning. Yes!!

Ann

* do you have sheet stoppers, rope clutches? If you do, and she got an over-ride or wrap, she could secure the rope clutch and un-do the wrap.
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