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post #53 of Old 11-27-2012
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Re: Mast climbing

Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
I swear there's no rednecks in the family tree but I can't help thinking, one a them 4wd winches with a remote control unit would make for a fine way to scoot up and down the mast. With a conventional safety line rigged for "just in case". I know, it's lubberly, it's ELECTRIC, it's all sorts of wrong...but the damned things can haul a jeep around and I know I'm not a whole lot heavier than a jeep!
I suppose it's about time someone noted the potential risk of using a powered winch to hoist someone up the rig... It certainly has the potential for being a VERY dangerous practice...

Under no circumstances should it be done by a single operator using a self-tailer, you absolutely need a second person to do the tailing... And, preferably a third, standing by the boat's electrical panel to trip the winch's circuit breaker, if need be...

IMHO, one of the most dangerous trends in cruising today, is that towards ever-larger boats requiring the use of powered winches, coupled with their being used by people with little previous experience handling winches, avoiding/clearing an override, or any real appreciation of the potential forces involved...

Add to that the fact that the type of foot/button deck switches of the type used to operate a windlass or an electric winch are probably one of the most failure-prone electrical devices aboard any boat, living in the harsh environment they do, continuously exposed to the elements - well, you have all the makings of a potentially serious mishap... IMHO, no boat that has powered cockpit winches should be without some sort of "Panic Button" to cut off power to them within easy reach, but in fact I have ever yet to see such an arrangement on any boat I've been aboard...

If you have any doubts, have a look at this grisly, cautionary tale...

Warning: This one is not for the squeamish, I can't imagine how horrific this incident must have been:


Freak accident leaves woman with severed hand

By Tameika Malone - Monday, March 7th, 2011.

Two people from the yachting fraternity were injured in a freak accident on Saturday that left one man with several fingers missing and a woman with her left hand severed from her wrist.

Information surrounding the incident remained sketchy at the time of going to press. However, The Daily OBSERVER understands that some time after 5 pm, the Venezuelan woman was using a motorised lift to hoist her husband onto the mast (the metal frame that holds the sail) to make some repairs.

Reports are that the woman soon realised that something was mechanically wrong with the lift and fearing for the safety of her husband, who was already several feet in the air, she attempted to stop the equipment.

However, her left arm became trapped as the machine continued moving upwards.

Hearing her screams, a yachtsman from a neighbouring boat went to her assistance while the husband watched on helplessly.

The would-be rescuer soon realised that he could not help the woman and called for further assistance. Another yachtsman from Switzerland answered the call and in his attempts to free her, he too became trapped and eight of his fingers were severed.

The woman then tried to free her left hand, using her right hand and that hand too became trapped. Her left hand was completely severed at the wrist while her right hand was crushed, which resulted in several broken bones.

The two were rushed to Mount St John’s Medical Centre, where doctors attempted to reattach the severed hand and fingers.

It is reported that the vessel was docked at the Jolly Harbour Pier at the time of the incident.

Freak accident leaves woman with severed hand | Antigua Observer Newspaper

Last edited by JonEisberg; 11-27-2012 at 06:45 PM.
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