Join Date: Apr 2010
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Re: Mast work
i figure ive gone up about 5 miles worth of mast. ascenders of all kinds have there place and some guys love them, particularly the fact that they allow you to stand over the top of your mast, a position that always gives me the willies and id rather drop the stick and do that kind of work on the ground anyway.
all said... a good bosuns chair that can be snugged up, has a firm lumbar support, pockets and lanyards for tools, and a rounded seat edge so it doesnt cut off circulation as it digs into your hamstrings cant be beat. this is NOT the bit of boat kit to spend the least amount on just because you only use it once a decade. you should be using it every 6 months minimum for rig inspections, and youll use it more often if its comfortable and you feel secure. odds are youll not find one that fits you perfectly off the shelf. every serious sailor i know has made subtle mods to their chairs... extra padding here and there etc. mine has an exaggerated lumbar pad that i got from target and stitched in.
next, spring for 4 1/2 times your mast height worth of 3/4 derby rope or similar soft "handy" line. big box stores or remnants from craigslist. you want it fat so its easier to grip and this eliminates worries about breaking strength. clist or marine swapmeets are great places to pick up 2 double blocks for rigging a 4-1 tackle and you are good to go. ive put together BTs for mast ascent rigs several times off CL for around $100. theres no need to buy new hardware and line from waste marine.
set your rig up at home from a tree branch and see how it works. read the paper have a beer see how long you can sit there until your bits start falling asleep. make mods as needed. pick a branch that gets you at least 10' off the ground and practice up and down. quit your gym membership. i used to climb masts for a living and generally would only go 10' at a time and take a rest anyway to inspect the spreader mounts or tangs or decklight or radar mount or whatever. you dont need to shoot right to the masthead nonstop. the point being one day youll be out and the breeze will freshen and your masthead sheave will jam or youll sky a halyard or NEED to get to the masthead for some other reason and thats not the time to be unfamiliar with your gear. i go up my mast every week...46'...just for fun most of the time. its a good workout and a killer view if the bay, and eventually earns you the lats of an olympic swimmer. and honestly if your not willing to work on your mast climbing proficiency then get a power boat you dilettante. ( i digress )
and all this just to make the point that a good chair lets you wrap your legs around the mast as you climb. this is perhaps the greatest feeling of security when climbing. in an open anchorage its critical. even an idiot jetski wake can set the mast aswayin and the cordless drill you drop through your deck hatch plexi because you made a panicked grab to hang on will just mean another trip up and down. the chair lets you death-grip the mast with your thighs while you work through the swing... no worries.
and the whole kit fits in a milk crate in the laz, ready to go...
Last edited by robwilk37; 06-23-2013 at 01:12 PM.
Reason: forgot something... nice to have a ratchet block with a jammer or cam at the chair pendant...