Join Date: Oct 2004
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I have found through experience that you have to have either a bosuns chair, or a very good harness to prevent your legs from going to sleep. I use an excellent climbing harness with the widest legbands I could find.
I have two climbing ropes. One is about 200'' by 10 MM and the other is 165'' by 12 MM. I went to West Marine and got sail handling blocks by Harken, Lightweight, new style, with ball bearings.
From Snowleopard, I got about ten standard type carabiners, two ascenders, and a figure-eight rappelling device.
I attach one end of the climbing rope to the loop on the front of the climbing harness, then feed it through a sail block, which I connect to the main halyard and hoist to the masthead. I DOUBLE cleat the main halyard and make sure no deck-dancing bozos can accidently trip it free and send me plummeting to the deck.
Then, I attach one of the ascenders to a thirty inch lanyard (I use 5/16 or 3/8 dacron doublebraid with bowlines at each end - it allows me to adjust the length easily) and attach the other end to the same lifting loop on the harness.
From there, all I have to do is grab the line below the ascender with one hand, and the ascender handle with the other, and pull down. It''s a two to one ratio, so I''m only lifting 1/2 my weight. I hold the line down with one hand and quickly slide the ascender up the line with the other. Any time during this, you can let go with both hands and not be able to fall.
If you find the weight too much work to deal with, do what I do now and add another block, making it a three to one lift. It takes a bit longer, but it''s a lot easier.
I leave the other ascender hanging from the lift loop, and clip it on for safety while working. Also, if I need to get all the way to the top of the masthead, I feed the line through the lower ascender and (it''s a little harder, but it works) pull myself up the rest of the way until the blocks are almost together and I can see the top of the mast.
When preparing to come down, you have to keep your wits about you and be careful. I back off a little until I have plenty of line above me and am back on the upper ascender. I then attach the figure eight rappeller below the ascender and clip it into the lift loop. Then I haul myself up a bit and take tension on the figure eight so I can disconnect both ascenders from the line. Rap off and you''re standing on the deck in about five to ten seconds, shaking some bloodflow back into your legs if you''ve been up there for a while.
I always use a bucket, up to a five gallon pail, attached to a hauling line tied to my harness, to haul tools and equipment up. I can tie the bucket off up there and do whatever I have to, even bringing electric drills, dremels, sealer, taps and easy-outs, mastehead lights, Windex''s, or annenometrs. On some jobs, You have to secure the mast with a jib halyard and disconnect the forestay (scary, but easily do-able) and haul up a new on for a new roller furling system and attach it. All in a days work.