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Old 14-01-2013, 03:21   #1
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Climbing the mast

Hello,

On my boat invicta 26 I would like to install a system to climb up the mast.
I found these removable systems: ATN Mastclimber , MastMate or Topclimber but in my opinion they all cost too much ($ 3-400).
The alternative and mybe the better choise is to install the steps on the mast. But since in this case the prices are a real robbery the solution would be to selfmade the steps from a flatbar fastened with rivets.
In your experience what is really the easiest and cheapest way to climb up the mast (also alone)?

Thanks

RUGGERO
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Old 14-01-2013, 03:32   #2
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Re: Climbing the mast

Like most people, I go up my mast with a halyard and regular bosun's chair, with a second halyard as a safety line. A good bosun's chair costs less than 50 pounds, I think. The halyards you already have. Why overcomplicate it?
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Old 14-01-2013, 03:51   #3
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Re: Climbing the mast

Hi Dockhead i know that the easyest solution is bosun's chair + halyard; and now i am using it but i need to be able to go up the mast alone if needed.

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Old 14-01-2013, 05:33   #4
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Re: Climbing the mast

Never done it myself - but I think some rock climbing gear would allow someone to self ascend. How safe I will leave to someone else to find out!

Apart from that, Ebay for s/h. Or cheaper still, only going up (by bosuns chair) when someone else around (at the dock likely can find someone to help) - Obviously having the capacity to go up the mast at sea would be nice (sort of!), but how likely is it that you would need to go up the mast? - maybe just take the "risk", at least until you have saved up for some steps (or stumble accross some s/h). Mght be a year or 2, but.........
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Old 14-01-2013, 05:34   #5
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Re: Climbing the mast

Quote:
Originally Posted by rboom View Post
Hi Dockhead i know that the easyest solution is bosun's chair + halyard; and now i am using it but i need to be able to go up the mast alone if needed.

RUGGERO
Going up the mast alone is dangerous. That should be avoided if at all possible. You can always find other sailors willing to help you go up.
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Old 14-01-2013, 06:19   #6
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Re: Climbing the mast

My vote goes for proper mast steps. Ours are Selden fixed type. Excellent stuff.

I like ratlines on bigger boats too.

b.
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Old 14-01-2013, 06:32   #7
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Re: Climbing the mast

I've used ascenders on a tight halyard; go to a climbing store. I made up loops of line for stirrups, so that with the ascenders at chest height, I then used my leg muscles to lift myself. Wear a harness and belay with a spare halyard. It's quite safe.

The way that I prefer is to hoist a four-part block and tackle to the mast head, with the lower block clipped to the deck. Once it's in place, I clip the lower block to a climber's harness (seat) and hoist myself up hand over hand. It's easy; gives you lots of control, and you can tie yourself off anywhere along the way. I keep the block and tackle made-up, with a nice, soft single-braid line that's easy on the hands. This works equally well with a bosun's chair, but I find the harness more secure and comfortable.

Neither of these solutions is particularly inexpensive, but they both work well.
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Old 14-01-2013, 06:52   #8
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Re: Climbing the mast

One cannot always find someone to help one get up a mast.

I tried twice last year to climb my 36' mast(Newport 28), with 2 main halyards and two fore halyards.

I was using 7/16 line with working loads of "about 500 pounds",(actually the working loads were about 550 pounds, which is a very small percentage of breaking load strength per Ohio OSHA requirements). I weigh 250 pounds. This was all checked out with West Marine, the rope manufacturer(New England), and OSHA. BTW, each state sets up their own rules as to what percentage of a breaking strength is used to determine "working load". Ohio's is one of the lower percentages.

ANYWAY . . . when the "spring" was noticed in the line, no one wanted any part of helping me. The perception was that it was too dangerous to go aloft.

Had I been using something bigger than 1/2" line, which won't fit the present sheaves, and if the line had less "stretch", I'm willing to bet I would've had help . . . no questions asked.

So, I took the mast down this year, in part to replace the 2 main halyards with one much "bigger" main halyard(2 big sheaves instead of 4 smaller, "original", sheaves), for this very reason . . . an NO other reason.

So now when I ask someone to help me, my newer BIGG A-- "rope"(line)/halyard, won't look like a rubber band, ready to break at the most inopportune time and the "helpers", won't be thinking how to explain what happened to the medical examiner.
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Old 14-01-2013, 06:56   #9
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Re: Climbing the mast

$ 400 to much? Think what is hanging on it. Same goes for life preservers etc.. When your knees are knocking against the mast head you will be thankful that you have quality equipment to slow an otherwise rapid decent onto the deck below.In all probability you sailing days will be over .
FWIW: I am afraid of heights and have found Mastmate to be good kit,but my knees still knock when I look down. You can always cover the costs by switching to cheaper rum.
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Old 14-01-2013, 07:14   #10
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Re: Climbing the mast

I went with a climber (ATN) over installing steps due, in part, to the problems some report with steps. They can catch halyards or wayward sheets, and they add extra windage (not sure how big a deal this latter issue is). Mainly, however, I decided there was no real advantage to the steps over the climber when it comes to the issue of solo-ascending (which is something I've never had to do yet). When the boat is not moving much, either are pretty easy. If the boat is rolling in a big sea, both will be dangerous and crazy.

BTW, while the marine climber packages are pricey, but I'm happy to spend money on proven safety gear. Apparently you can purchase mountain climbing ascenders and set up a package for less than the ATN price. For me, the added price of a proven system is well worth it, esspecially when I'm dangling 50' above the deck .
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Old 14-01-2013, 09:13   #11
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Re: Climbing the mast

I was a climber before I was a sailor, and I'm apalled at the high cost (and poor design) of some of the mast climbing systems I've seen. As someone else said, you can put together a system from climbing or caving gear that will be half the cost and twice as efficient. For example, one key to ascending efficiently is to correctly adjust the length of the loops between your ascenders and harness/foot loop. On some of the commercial mast climbing systems these loops are not adjustable, so if you're not "average" height you could be woking twice as hard as necessary. If you don't have a pre-made mast climbing system you can also cobble one together from bits and pieces you already have onboard using prussik knots instead of mechanical ascenders. Not as efficient, but climbers have gone up el cap (3000') using prussiks.

Regarding the comment from surv69 about stretchy rope: Climbing ropes are available as static (no stretch) or dynamic (designed to stretch to absorb a long fall). For ascending, static ropes are preferred and are much more efficient. For about $1/foot you can buy good quality static climbing rope rated at around 5000 pounds.
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Old 14-01-2013, 10:00   #12
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Re: Climbing the mast

I have an ATN top climber (old style) - the problem with this setup is that you're glued to the mast, forget working at the spreaders.

Last year I purchased a rescue harness, webbing, and some good quality carabiners - got rid of the ATN seat and use the rescue harness instead. I go up with the ATN ascenders and can unclip from it and use the safety halyard to go to the spreaders.

I like to have another person there to tail the safety line and when working at the mast head they can hoist me on the safety line, which is attached at waist level to the rescue harness, the remaining 18" - I'm able to see the top of the mast and swing around to both sides. Also I let the helper bring me down, much easier than the ascenders in reverse.

If I had it to do over again I would get a good set of ascenders, stirrups, rescue harness, webbing loops, and carabiners from a climbing store - probably be less than the ATN.

Here's a great article, Good Old Boat - Up the mast article .

Be safe!
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