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Old 21-08-2014, 17:20   #31
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Re: Going up the mast

I've gone up a lot of masts:

I tie my bowlines. They won't fail.
Never use shackles, don't trust them with my life.
Always use a safety line, tied to my (separate) harness.
Always check the halyard and safety halyard. I've found some I refused to use.
Always bounce a lot a couple of feet off the deck. Better to fail there than higher.
Safety line (tether) around mast if I'm not at the dock, or if it's windy or if I'm stretching.
Attach tools to lanyards, have deep bag for stuff, line to deck for if I need something.

The most important thing: The person(s) down below must be experienced at winch work. My life is (literally) in their hands. I've had people say they are experienced, then not know how to use self tailing winches - or not know that they should not trust the self tailer. I run through a practice lifting, and lowering, some object to see that they really are competent and careful. We go over voice and hand signals and talk about what are the components of the job. Both theirs and mine. I like the person below to use a hard hat (I bring em).
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Old 21-08-2014, 17:36   #32
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Re: Going up the mast

I often go up when solo. I used to use the prussik loop method, but now I have fold out steps on the rig. You can't beat two good steps near the masthead so you can actually get your head above the top and work on the equipment. Still use a prussik loop on a halyard as a safety, attached to my harness. I've normally used bowlines, but sometimes double figure 8's. IMO both are fine
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Old 21-08-2014, 18:41   #33
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Re: Going up the mast

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post

And FWIW, the professional riggers that I see don't use all this fancy gear. They have a look at the condition of the halyard and then tie (gasp) a single bowline through the loops on their (gasp) simple bosun's chair and go on up... many times a day, on many different boats. No safety lines, either. I guess they are all gonna die.

Frankly, comparing going up a mast in a controlled fashion to rock climbing isn't a valid practice. Climbing has the inherent risk of falling, due not to equipment failure but to climber error or over estimating their abilities as they try more and more difficult pitches. Mast work uses well tested gear (halyards that are taken to much higher stress levels every time one hoists a sail) in a controlled environment, one that does not rely upon the skill and strength of the climber.

Jim
No one ever said a bowline isn't safe. I have just said that figure 8s are safer. So "gasp" no they're not all going to die.

However I will argue tooth and nail that climbing a mast should be taken much more seriously then a lot of people take it. Doing a simple load test and bouncing a couple of times doesn't prove or do anything to make your climb safer. Having the proper gear and practices does. I've climbed plenty of masts on a shackle in a bosuns chair before i learned there are much safer ways. Now that I know them I use the safer methods. I cant understand why if there are proven better safer ways to climb a mast why anyone would dig in their heels and stubbornly argue the old ways are better. By that token we should still be climbing rigging like pirates with out safety gear.

So gasp all you want and poke fun at it but you are essentially saying that you dont need air bags because seat belts are safe enough. Well 9 times out of 10 you may be right but i'll be damned if my car doesn't have air bags.
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Old 21-08-2014, 19:00   #34
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Re: Going up the mast

I self ascend and have a 6 foot line tied to the seat rings. When I clear the lowers the line goes around the mast and tied back to the seat ring. If something happens it will limit my fall. It gets moved when I clear the spreaders and again when I clear the uppers.

Even if I was getting winched up I would use this system as it keeps the call protection within my control.


Is all this "needed" nope. But neither are harnesses, jackline or any of the safety gear I wear at work. Just how you were trained and look at risk.
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Old 21-08-2014, 19:02   #35
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Re: Going up the mast

I use two halyards and have mast steps. 1 halyard is for the bosuns chair and one is for my climbing harness.

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Old 21-08-2014, 19:49   #36
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Re: Going up the mast

I have always used two halyards and attach by the shackles. I wrap the shackles with tape so they can't get released. Both halyards are managed by the deck crew. The main lift is to our electric Lewmar 65 and the safety is to a Lewmar 48 on the mast. Mast is 80 feet and the halyards are 3/4 inch. I used to rock climb but the electric winch is pure luxury. I tie on with a tag line once at a work point.
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Old 21-08-2014, 20:28   #37
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Re: Going up the mast

Quote:
stubbornly argue the old ways are better.
Nope, not what I said. I said that the old ways are safe enough for me.

BTW, I'd be real interested to see a citation where a screw-pin shackle of reasonable size failed in this application. I would never trust a snap shackle or a typical halyard shackle, but a screw-pin simply hand tightened ain't gonna unscrew whilst you are aloft, and reasonable sizes offer a factor of ten or more in breaking strength vs load. That's enough for me... a factor of twenty or whatever makes no genuine difference in your chances for failure.

Anyway, I'm not interested in arguing with you on this. If your methods make you feel good, then by all means use them. It sounds like you are a climber, and that's a different outlook indeed, but it is a different environment and IMO not directly comparable. Neither is automobile safety. In that arena, I used to drive race cars for a living. I used a five-point harness, not a seat belt. I don't feel that I need that degree of constraint driving a Toyota on the motorway, so I'm happy with a lap/shoulder belt, even though the five-point would be "safer".

Enough...

Jim
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Old 22-08-2014, 05:23   #38
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Re: Going up the mast

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Old 22-08-2014, 05:57   #39
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Re: Going up the mast

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Use an aluminum carabiner of known pedigree rated for climbing. Petzl make good ones.
Thanks for the advice, I may just seal in an LED with clear silicone, but I bet what I'm going to find when I get up there is a really old light with a badly crazed lens that needs the whole thing replaced, but as all of this is new to me, I want a look at how it's mounted etc before I go out and buy something that won't fit.
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Old 22-08-2014, 06:03   #40
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Re: Going up the mast

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I replaced my anchor & tri bulbs with LED before my last trip but they failed in the rainy spell of weather we had. They are more vulnerable to damp than the old bulbs. I think you need a very weather proof case. - read more expensive
Sorry about that, this is the quote I meant, haven't finished my coffee this morning
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Old 22-08-2014, 07:00   #41
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Re: Going up the mast

I follow these instructions:
Advice on harness use | Petzl

I use ascenders and a second halyard made fast to the deck as a safety line. I could go up with the ascenders, but I'd rather be winched up. I could also come down with the ascenders by myself should I need to.
ASCENSION | Petzl
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Old 22-08-2014, 07:48   #42
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Re: Going up the mast

I've had an ATN Topclimber for about 12years. Not being a rock climber, I try to over do all the safety precautions. I feel safer going up alone, than relying on someone hauling me up, and it's not too hard, even for an old, fat & ugly guy.
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Old 22-08-2014, 09:17   #43
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Re: Going up the mast

Great advice, all of you! I've been up countless masts over the years and developed a sound fear of heights but always tried to use the 'belt and suspenders' philosophy... Always have a backup system in case of primary failure. My son, who teaches high rescue techniques in the fire dept, told me I was an idiot not to have abackup system and since then, I always employ an extra safety line. His training recommends a figure 8 as the securing holdfast point backed up with quick release carabiners for ease of relapse and changing hold points. Many of the firefighters with whom he works and trains are rock climbers and there are many techniques from rock climbing that are transferable in his opinion... Great discussion! Phil
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Old 22-08-2014, 11:19   #44
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Re: Going up the Mast

Do you use electric winches to ascend? I thought that had been a couple of bad accidents - someone with a broken pelvis due to the winch keeping running, and another person losing a lot of fingers. I know the electric winch makes it a lot easier, but there appear to be some serious downsides. May be OK if you have two people, one on the electric winch and another on a back up so you can let the halyard off the electric winch if needed. Any comments?
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Old 22-08-2014, 13:32   #45
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Re: Going up the Mast

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Do you use electric winches to ascend? I thought that had been a couple of bad accidents - someone with a broken pelvis due to the winch keeping running, and another person losing a lot of fingers. I know the electric winch makes it a lot easier, but there appear to be some serious downsides. May be OK if you have two people, one on the electric winch and another on a back up so you can let the halyard off the electric winch if needed. Any comments?
I don't trust my wife with this so we don't use it for people, just the dinghy.
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