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Old 19-05-2010, 13:04   #1
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Up the Mast in a Small Boat

Hi all, got my first question.

I've been reading old threads regarding mast climbing as I'm planning to do so this weekend. Overall, I think I've settled on a few strategies to try out with my climbing harness.

This is all well and good, but one thing I hadn't seen discussed much was weight aloft/capsize/rigging damage.

I have a small boat (Coronado 25) with about 4500lbs displacement and 2150lbs of keel. I fluctuate between 240-250lbs and have some concern about putting that kind of weight aloft. I am young and of weak mind strong back, so I am planning on climbing my way up via prusik knots or putting down the cash on a ascender. The mate, at a whooping 115, will tail me on the main halyard. we've considered sending her aloft and she would love to, unfortunately, she's not at all mechanically-inclined (yet ).

I did a very rough sketch based on vague information I have regarding my boat's dimensions and it seems that, even accounting for a factor of safety, the boat should support my weight geometrically without too much pendulum action. Am I missing something else? Of course, the rig itself may fail, but it's 1/4" in reasonable condition (of course, I'm going out to check that more carefully, so....)

Is this stupid? Thoughts?

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Old 19-05-2010, 14:14   #2
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What do you need to do up there? A 25 ft boat - most probably by the time you get to the top of the mast it will be level with the water, so be sure to do it in shallow water.
- - How tall is the mast above the cabin top?
- - Is your mast deck stepped? If so use a pole you can drop the mast using a winch and a block off the stem piece.
- - Another alternative is to put the boat at a marina slip and winch the main halyard which is attached to a dock until the boat heels enough to allow you to get up on a tall step ladder and do whatever work you want to do.
- - Another alternative is if you have a marina slip next to a building you can use the same technique to heel the over until you can access the mast top via the roof of the building.
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Old 19-05-2010, 14:40   #3
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General inspection is my primary purpose. I just bought the boat a little over a month ago and would like to check the rigging. I'd also like to fit a topping lift in the future, if possible. Wind vane, check the VHF antenna.

1. The top of the mast is ~30' above the cabin top
2. The mast is deck-stepped, I have considered lowering it
3. My boat is moored; there is a public dock nearby that is relatively nice, but very busy on the weekends.
4.There is a seawall sort of thing near the public dock. I could probably maneuver the boat over there, although is may be too shallow @ low tide, I suspect the wall is about 20' above the water level @ low tide.

Thanks for the ideas. I've also considered careening the boat in the bay (soft sand/mud bottom. Hopefully the lifeguards won't mind (beaching is technically legal in most areas). Not going to scrape paint or anything, just poke around, scrub growth.
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Old 19-05-2010, 15:09   #4
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Try tying a couple of lines to the mast above boom as high as you can reach and tie the other ends to cleats on either dock finger. Bring your jib halliard down to secure the two lines as high as possible so they won't slide down the mast. If the boat is secured well, she wont move and the mast should stay vertical more or less.

If the mast step has a tabernacle pin in it, then I'd say lower the mast using the main sheet. Its not difficult.

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Old 19-05-2010, 15:52   #5
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Yes, if the mast is cabin top stepped using a tabernacle plate you are in great luck. A tabernacle plate looks like a U-shaped bracket that the mast in kept inside. There are ususally two bolts/pins through the tabernacle plate and the mast. Removed one bolt/pin allow the mast to pivot aft using the aft bolt/pin and be lowered to deck level. Here is a link to how the McGregor boats operate mast raising and lowering.
The Perfect Solo Mast-Raising System for Small Sailboats
and a link for a 27ft C&C
1972 C&C 27 MkI sailboat mast raising
and an example of a single pin tabernacle from Dwyer Aluminum
Dwyer Aluminum Mast Company- Manufacturers of Quality Sailboat Masts, Booms, Hardware and Rigging Since 1963.

Good luck with it. Personally I like the careening against a wall. Long dock lines hold the boat so it can drift off the wall but not forward and backwards. Then a long line to a halyard is used to tilt the boat over enough to get to the top of the mast from the wall or a ladder on top of the wall.
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Old 20-05-2010, 11:59   #6
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I weigh 165 and I climbed the mast on my Islander Bahama 24, right up to the masthead, in a rolly anchorage. Used 3" webbing tied in loops with an overhand knot followed through by both ends. Klemheist knot around the mast.

It was pretty flexy, and kind of scary. If any of the standing rigging breaks while you are up there you will probably hurt the boat if not yourself. I always ran the halyards to the toerails just so that if anything let loose the mast would stay in the air.
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Old 20-05-2010, 13:14   #7
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Do you have a friend with a larger boat? Maybe go up on the larger boat and swing across?
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Old 20-05-2010, 16:42   #8
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I think you might be over thinking the problem. I have had a 175 pounder up my 26 footers mast with absolutely no heeling at all. I have been up to the spreaders (215#) no problem.

My concern is having a 115 pounder tailing. I had a couple of 200+ pound brutes. I didn't climb much but was winched. I am a worry wart and we usually have the climber on the main halyard and the spinnaker halyard as a backup.

Do not use any of the shackles - tie each line with an appropriate knot directly to the bosun's chair or climbing harness. We try to set things up so a single point of failure can't drop the climber.
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Old 22-05-2010, 08:19   #9
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Originally Posted by atmartin View Post
Is this stupid? Thoughts?
Ive wondered the same question myself, but have been reassured after seeing the snapshot of Charles Dewell (s/v Kawabunga) up the mast of his 20-foot Flicka not sure of his weight, but he admits to being a good sized guy
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