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Old 19-10-2020, 00:49   #1
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Sliding down the backstay

Has anyone here done it?

Whenever Iím at the top of the mast it looks tempting. Itís a regular event in Patrick OíBrianís books. Surely itís been done plenty of times before.
Oddly though, I canít find any real life accounts of it on the net. I was expecting to find a lot of references, including videos- but nothing. Not that I dug extremely hard.
Itís kind of an all or nothing decision...
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Old 19-10-2020, 01:38   #2
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

Just watch out for those pesky SSB insulators. Sounds like fun but i think Iíll let you go first
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Old 19-10-2020, 02:12   #3
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

I'm not sure if you're speaking of something more adventurous, but I would regularly descend after work at the masthead by clipping to one of my split backstays. I would be wearing a climber's harness as well as a chest harness and with a trusted person tailing my winch. You might be talking about something more sporting than just my easy drop to a deck area clear of the boom and other shrouds.
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Old 19-10-2020, 03:31   #4
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

The back stays in the Patrick OíBrien books are large and hemp. Usually less steep too than our thin pieces of wire.
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Old 19-10-2020, 04:24   #5
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

Please have the video running when you try it.
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Old 19-10-2020, 04:31   #6
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

Sliding down while being lowered from a halyard? Or flying down on your own, like in Patrick O'Brien?


The latter would seem like an excellent way to break your neck. Nor do I believe that what was described in the novels actually happened like that.
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Old 19-10-2020, 05:07   #7
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

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Sliding down while being lowered from a halyard? Or flying down on your own, like in Patrick O'Brien?


The latter would seem like an excellent way to break your neck. Nor do I believe that what was described in the novels actually happened like that.


I can see ďslidingĒ down a backstay with your legs wrapped around and controlling your descent hand over hand being viable.
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Old 19-10-2020, 05:36   #8
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

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I can see ďslidingĒ down a backstay with your legs wrapped around and controlling your descent hand over hand being viable.





This I'd like to see; no actually, not. If I saw someone was going to try it I'd turn away to avoid the spectacle.
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Old 19-10-2020, 05:40   #9
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

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This I'd like to see; no actually, not. If I saw someone was going to try it I'd turn away to avoid the spectacle.


Keep in mind the books that describe this take place aboard hemp rigged vessels.
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Old 19-10-2020, 05:54   #10
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

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I can see ďslidingĒ down a backstay with your legs wrapped around and controlling your descent hand over hand being viable.

No backstays on square rigged ships. But yes -- I supposed a physically fit person could descend and large diameter hemp rope that way. But in Master & Commander, or whichever book it was where this was described, they were flying down the ropes. I remember thinking that this was not realistic.


But a small diameter wire rope backstay? Madness, and death.


But I suppose the OP meant that he would be on a halyard. That I think would be fine, and maybe easier than getting down around spreaders and shrouds and so forth.


I just learned from a particularly agile Danish rigger, after being up my mast x times around the forward side, to go up on the after side -- less crap there to climb around.
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Old 19-10-2020, 06:38   #11
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

Sliding down untethered is not what I had done! 'might as well take the risk of sticking a knife in the mainsail and holding on as you slice your way down to the deck like Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Definitely not on my list!
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Old 19-10-2020, 09:17   #12
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

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Sliding down untethered is not what I had done! 'might as well take the risk of sticking a knife in the mainsail and holding on as you slice your way down to the deck like Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Definitely not on my list!
That has been demonstrated not to work either ~ Mythbusters ~
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Old 19-10-2020, 09:20   #13
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

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Has anyone here done it?

Whenever Iím at the top of the mast it looks tempting. Itís a regular event in Patrick OíBrianís books. Surely itís been done plenty of times before.
Oddly though, I canít find any real life accounts of it on the net. I was expecting to find a lot of references, including videos- but nothing. Not that I dug extremely hard.
Itís kind of an all or nothing decision...
A regular event in Startrek is Warp-drive.
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Old 19-10-2020, 09:39   #14
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

Early in my career as a merchant mariner, I sailed with a Captain that had started out his career as an OS/AB/Mate/Captain of sailing vessels, before he had ever sailed steamships. He told me as an AB trimming sails, his trick was to ascend one mast, then take the spring stay to the top of the next mast, then descend.
As commercial sailing vessels eventually died out, he eventually had to take the plunge and go over to steamships. He had some great sea-stories.
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Old 19-10-2020, 09:42   #15
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Re: Sliding down the backstay

Iíve done it on a 43 footer. Not for fun, but to closely examine the back stay from top to bottom for signs of wear and damage. I made a simple harness to keep me loosely attached to it while being lowered with both hands free.

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