I'm the FNG still...
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Jimmie, I can step my mast up and down with me and my old dad to help guide it (he actually doesn't do much).
I attach the main halyard to the toping lift at the boom, then the boom attaches to a 6:1 purchase with a built in cam cleat to stop the line. This is about 10' fully extended. If I can remember properly, the second after the 6:1is a Harken 10:1 and then it clips into the rear toe rail.
Make sure everything is straight! if you try to step or unstep off of the center line, you'll have a mast in the drink.
The danger zone is before the mast reaches about 45 degrees up. That is where the forces are the worst on your tackle and gin pole or boom.
For going down, I remove my backstay tensioner and one of the three (the aft most) side shrouds, then carefully nudge the mast until it starts taking up line in the tackle setups. I can take photos if you'd like.
Going up, I attach the forestay, the front two shrouds, get the backstay ready, clip the boom into the mast gooseneck, attach the halyard to the boom and the purchases to the boom, clip in to the toe rail, and it is little more than pulling the lines (I use the 10:1 first to take the heavy stuff, then the 6:1 for the longer distance after I cross 45 degrees and run out of line on the 10.)
Once the mast is up, my helper holds the tackle lines while I clip in the backstay tensioner and two extra side lines. If you have only one stay coming off of your shroud, it is likely you can leave the three (front port and starboard) all attached while you lift. If your boat is one of those strange ones that step from the front, you'll need to invest in a gin pole system.
I hope this helps, mast stepping is like the #1 hardest thing and scariest thing to do for a new owner. Drop me a pm if you need some photos or something.