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Old 23-06-2024, 11:58   #1
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Mast steps recomendation

Looking to install a mast steps for 47-foot sailboat,I am on solo crossing from Panama to Hilo have like 1200 nm left:-)

Mast is painted 64' what to get and how to install it also spacing, prefer brand, and what to use machine screws or rivets, i will just hated if it will make some kind noice during sailing :-)

Big thanks
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Old 23-06-2024, 14:21   #2
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Re: Mast steps recomendation

Mast steps are incredibly useful when you need to climb. Especially so when you're by yourself obviously and for myself hating heights, I feel safer on the steps. I still use a safety line. I've never noticed them causing wind noise. Mine are a little too far apart for my little legs. They're screwed and I prefer that as periodically I could (I never have) unscrew and check. The steps were fabricated by an engineers shop.

I thought you might find this video useful.
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Old 23-06-2024, 17:29   #3
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Re: Mast steps recomendation

I made and installed my mast steps out of 5000 series aluminum (6061 will break when bending). A local aluminum fabricator supplied the 2" x 20" strips and I bent them myself.

3/16" thick (1/8" thick was too flexible).
Fastened with five machine screws (3 on lower end, 2 on upper end) (#10 round head for hex key/allen wrench with lock washer). Threads and washers were coated with tef-gel.

For my body proportions (5' 8" tall), 14" is a comfortable vertical separation.
Boom and halyard winches are the first couple of steps and spreaders are another step.

Plan your steps so when you step up onto the spreaders, you use you dominant foot/arm combination to make that transition as safe as possible. In my case (right foot/hand dominant), my left foot is the last step just under the spreaders so I use my right arm to step up onto the spreaders with my right leg.

I could not fit a step at the correct spot under the spreaders because of the lower shrouds, so I used a stainless steel foldable mast step. It's up close to the lower shroud mast tangs and those shrouds keep my foot from slipping off.

I have two steps at same elevation near the mast head so, when standing in them, my waste is lower than the mast head. With this pair of steps, I can look down on the masthead fittings/instruments.

The steps are 2" wide and have four bends. I made a bending clamp that I slipped over the aluminum and bent using a pipe wrench. That gave me more control than whacking it with a hammer and applied force across the whole 2" width. The combination of the bench vice and my custom bending clamp demanded a bending sequence; otherwise, if bend from one end to the other, the tools got in the way and I'd be unable to finish the bends. This is likely unique to my specific setup, but might apply to you. Bending sequence: bend the lower screw flange, then upper screw flange, then the two middle bends (that form the step for the foot placement).

I drilled the holes in the steps after bending. When installing on the mast, I drilled, tapped, screwed one hole at a time. Fortunately, the mast was on sawhorses, so this was easy.

To prevent halyards from catching the steps, I installed small pad eyes to the outside of the 2" vertical face and ran 1/8" dyneema up through all of them, lashed at both ends.
Pad eyes like this: https://www.bosunsupplies.com/S3719-0004.html

Depending on where you are, you might be able to take the specs to a fabricator and they can cut/bend for you. Attached is the diagram.

Regarding safety, steps make it very easy to climb the mast and I end up spending time up there just admiring the view. I have a climbing harness attached with two separate prussik loops (one longer than the other) to a dedicated climbing rope. Loops are clipped to the harness with their own carabiners. I use a halyard to haul up a dedicated climbing rope for the prussik loops. I also have a "waist" line clipped onto the harness (using their own carabiners) that I wrap around the mast when I am at the top (or whatever stopping point). It's also short enough to catch me if I fall. Additionally, this line allows me to extend my feet and work hands free, pressing outward against the waist line. If I'm just going up for a quickie in calm conditions, I omit the rope/prussiks and just clip in with the waist line and harness.

I should have taken more time to round off the edges of the 9" angles sections to make it more comfortable to grip with my hands.
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Old 23-06-2024, 18:12   #4
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Re: Mast steps recomendation

Nice job on the bent aluminum steps. A boat in our yard has something similar. Do they make a lot of noise when the wind is up?


Edit: I just reread your post and looked closer at the picture and now see the padeyes and dyneema solution.
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Old 23-06-2024, 18:50   #5
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Re: Mast steps recomendation

Thank you for the complement regarding the steps.

When the wind speed is up, I don't know how much additional noise the steps make. Things are already noisy and whatever additional noise is produced by the steps, it's not a lot. I also didn't pay much attention to the high-wind noise. I did listen for additional noise in low wind conditions and there is very little that I can attribute to the mast steps.

I'm cognizant of wind noise because an in-mast main and that slot makes a good howl when the wind is on the beam with main stowed, unless I run the cloth flute stopper up. This is only bothersome in light winds. That's why I listen in light winds.

The convenience of the steps far outweighs any additional noise.
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Old 24-06-2024, 02:33   #6
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Re: Mast steps recomendation

I installed these from SeaDog Marine...

https://defender.com/en_us/sea-dog-f...-step-328025-1

I'm very happy with the results. I use the lower half of them all the time to put my dinghy hoist on and off. For that I don't use a harness or anything, I just climb up and down, it's not quite to the spreaders.

Not pushing my channel but there is video on there about both the steps and my dinghy hoist - which is just a block and tackle arraignment but I'm super happy with that too.

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Old 24-06-2024, 03:15   #7
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Re: Mast steps recomendation

What about safety harness set ups to suit?
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