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rhaley 05-05-2008 10:31 AM

Bosun chair/harness recommendations
Can anyone give me any recommendations for a bosun's chair/harness? I am leaning toward the Spinlock Mast Pro Harness as I am more comfortable with a climbing style harness, but if the standard bosun's chair is the best bet, I'll go that route. I'm not interested in the ATN topclimber as I only go up the mast maybe once a season and there is plenty of help around. Thanks for any opinions.

Plumper 05-05-2008 12:39 PM

I use a Black Diamond Bod harness. I find it comfortable and it packs very small. It also doubles as a spare harness for bad weather sailing because it fits on over everything. Many bits of technical climbing gear are very useful for mast work, particularily sit harnesses. I would say that they are at a much more mature point of design than harnesses made by sailing companies. I note that most riggers use climbing gear when working aloft.

CharlieCobra 05-05-2008 12:44 PM

I have the Harkin bosun chair. It's ok but finding somebody to haul my 225 Lbs up the mast can be tough, with only a single speed winch on the mast.

lharmon 05-05-2008 04:30 PM

I use both a rock harness and an old decripit bosuns chair. The bosuns chair will be more comfortable, but I do not feel it is as safe (at least mine). A rockclimbing harness will have your legs feeling dead after awhile as they are not intended for sitting in for long periods. The spinlock harness may have addressed the leg issue with wide straps and padding. I climb up much like the atn with ascenders because I sail with an all girl crew two of which are under 7 and my wife would have a hard time pulling me up.

When I do have someone able to hoist me I route the line through a genoa car back to a primary winch. Much better for whoever is trying to crank me up.

If I did not have my gear, I would try the spinlock.

jgaddis 05-05-2008 05:07 PM

Somewhere I saw a rope ladder that was attached to a halyard at the top of the mast, anyone know where I can pick one up? I have a hard time finding someone to crank me up, i'd prefer to climb and harness myself at the top.

Edit: think I found it, Flexible, portable mast climbing ladder made of nylon webbing which attaches to any sail tra

sailingdog 05-05-2008 05:29 PM

The Spinlock Mast Pro harness is made by Petzl, and is basically a rock climbing harness modified to meet the needs of a mast climber... with wider thigh straps, so that they don't cut the circulation off in your legs as quickly as a traditional rock climbing harness would.

Most rock climbing harnesses are NOT suitable for use as deck harnesses, as their attachment point is too low and if you were to fall in with it attached to a tether, it would tend to drag you through the water HEAD DOWN. A sailing safety harness, other than one used for climbing the mast, should have the attachment point about two inches above your sternum. This is for two major reasons. First, it will tend to drag you through the water HEAD UP. Second, the ribs below the sternum are floating ribs and nowhere near as strong at resisting the forces generated by the harness when you fall.

JGAddiss is thinking of the MastMate, which is essentially a very long etrier that attaches to a halyard and to the mast's sail slug slot.

rhaley 05-05-2008 05:36 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions. I am going to go with the more familiar rock climbing harness. Less expensive, easier for me to pick up local, and it won't be used as a deck harness. Thanks again!

T34C 05-05-2008 07:54 PM

I would ditto everything SD- said except one minor point. If a harness had an attachment point, "the attachment point about two inches above your sternum.", that wold mean it attached in the middle of your throat. An attachment in the middle of your sternum or about 2 in. above your xiphoid process would be a more approapriate. (I know how SD- is a stickilar for details.;) )

sailingdog 05-05-2008 08:00 PM


GRRRR...GRRRR.... You knew what I meant... Couldn't remember what the bottom of the sternum was called... :) Have to go back for my CPR re-certification I guess. :)

MedSailor 05-05-2008 08:10 PM

I grew up climbing rocks. Bosun's chairs and most hoisting procedures give me nightmares, cause my anal sphincter to tighten and my bladder sphincter to loosen...

People get offended when I turn my nose up at their plywood and canvas rotting bosun's chairs in favor of my harness and refuse to use their snap shackles (that can be released under load) and I bring my own carabiners.

The Guru by Petzl is the harness I have. It has HEAPS of padding, is idiot proof (important for me) and size adjustability from newt to gorilla. I've owned it and used it for 15 years or so and have done many a hanging belay from it. It's fantastic.

Yates also makes some sweet harnesses. If you look at their big wall harnesses they have quite a bit of padding and adjustability as well.


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