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Old 14-03-2021, 15:08   #1
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Mast-climbing

I'm about the biggest coward when I need to go up the 15m (50') mast. I never trusted people winching me up and then checking facebook or going for a coffee. And I'm sailing solo often too.

This is what I'm currently using: (I had to go up today)
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  • 50m climbing rope. This is long enough to attach it to two halyards with independent knots to act as climbing rope and backup. I believe a rope designed to break a human's fall safely is a better idea than one designed to keep a sail aloft without stretch.
  • Standard climbing harness.
  • Grigri for securing myself and letting me down
  • Ascender and a pulley to make pulling up the Grigri easier
  • A fall-arrester for the backup line.
  • A handful of carabiners to make this work and a few climbing loops.
All of the gear is from the economy lines of reputable brands widely used by amateur climbers. No chinesium bargain-gear, but sill affordable. The stuff found in the some forgotten rack in most chandleries doesn't really inspire confidence for me.

Am I overly paranoid? What are you using?
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Old 15-03-2021, 01:54   #2
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Re: Mast-climbing

I am also using a grigri with a climbing harness. I use use a bosun's chair, the climbing harness is backup. A pair of asenders with foot loops. Second independent line with a prusiks knot.

I trust my halyards, as I spliced them and sew and whip the splice. But attach both as a safety precaution. I use a climbing rope to protect my halyards from the grigri and ascender teeth. I have also found the devices work smoother with climbing rope.

I don't like the climbing harness. It works but it's painful after a while. I found tree climbing harnesses recently, they are padded and have more support. They're made for working all day while hanging from the tree. They're expensive, but will be my next purchase when I climb the mast next. A lot of tree climber gear and techniques apply to mast climbing, more than rock climbing gear.

I don't trust other people to winch me to the top of the mast. I have done it, but I don't like it. To many things can go wrong especially when they switch to descent. I prefer having the control of ascending and descending in my own hands. If something messes up it's my fault only.
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Old 15-03-2021, 01:58   #3
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Re: Mast-climbing

I forgot to mention, I usually try to have someone on deck watching, or let a neighbor or marina staff know I'm climbing. This is just for safety, so someone is close and can call 911 if I fall. Calling 911 doesn't require a lot of training like winching me up the mast would.
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Old 15-03-2021, 02:01   #4
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Re: Mast-climbing

at my age, i use somebody else...

cheers,
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Old 15-03-2021, 03:04   #5
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Re: Mast-climbing

You can find lots of threads where this is explored down to the finest details. Bottom line: what you find comfortable and easy on your mind is perfect. Your setup looks fine: I do the same thing but skip the backups. One line that I trust: a Grigri to descend; two ascenders to climb. I also have a swing-seat style bosun's chair I can sling to sit in once I'm in place, but I stay attached to the harness.
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Old 15-03-2021, 03:29   #6
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Re: Mast-climbing

This young lady climbs the mast free hand.

She didn't go all the way to the top this time since she was only installing her flag halyard, but I have no doubt that if she needed to she could.

At 7:45 here.

Being 27 years old helps and also growing up cruising like she did.

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Old 15-03-2021, 03:51   #7
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Re: Mast-climbing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joh.Ghurt View Post
I believe a rope designed to break a human's fall safely is a better idea than one designed to keep a sail aloft without stretch.
actually, I would suggest for ascending you are better off with a static line than a dynamic one. There is no need for elasticity in ascending and it can sometimes be a small hassle. . . . but a dynamic line will work.

the static line can be a 'climbing rope' or a sailing one . . . does not really matter so much. You just want rope construction where the ascenders and gri-gri will not mess up the cover.

there are a bunch of discussions around about how best to do this (ascend the mast solo) with climbing gear - in the end there are a number of viable options and which is 'best' depends a bit on specifically what you are doing.
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Old 15-03-2021, 21:33   #8
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Re: Mast-climbing

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisr View Post
at my age, i use somebody else...

cheers,
I am scared of heights so I pay big money to change a light bulb.

abe
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Old 15-03-2021, 22:08   #9
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Re: Mast-climbing

Joh.Ghurt a 130 kg (286 lb) friend of mine has basically the same set up as yours except he has a fully body harness that has a loop at the back for a safety rope. He never goes up his 60 foot mast without someone around tailing a safety rope for him.
Cheers
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Old 15-03-2021, 22:12   #10
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Re: Mast-climbing

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingabe41ds View Post
I am scared of heights so I pay big money to change a light bulb.

abe
yep...the 'someone else' button was invented for a reason and i'm not ashamed to admit i push it when i have to these days

otherwise what are all these young blokes good for ?

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Old 15-03-2021, 22:15   #11
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Re: Mast-climbing

I have the mastmate canvas ladder you hoist up the mast and a harness attached to a line with an icicle hitch.
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Old 16-03-2021, 02:17   #12
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Re: Mast-climbing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fore and Aft View Post
He never goes up his 60 foot mast without someone around tailing a safety rope for him.
I did that too until someone climbing electric masts professionally introduced me to the fall-arrester. This way I have my movement under full control.

Having someone on board watching you falling is always a good idea, even if they don't have to do anything. In case of an emergency where I become disabled, they just need to get help and I can be lowered via the halyards.

This gives two independent ways to get me down.
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