Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Manhattan, KS - LaBelle, Fl
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Climbing a mast is dangerous, that's for sure. Lot's of stuff on a sailboat is dangerous. Learn your knots, climbing knots are very important. You don't need fancy equipment, you can use prussic knots and also tie a very good harness from line. If you have the fancy equipment it would be easier and probably safer. I was up my stick a couple weeks ago, I do have one of those webbing "rope" ladders. I've never liked it but I have used it on three different boats. I moves around took much because it stretches. I actually broke one of the rungs this last time, the stitching that connects it to the outside vertical web broke. I restitched it extra strong, I did hit that rung harder than normal, it was a first quick step up. I typically weigh in a just over 200 lbs. I always have multiple safety lines, I do everything possible to help make something dangerous more safe. I tie in when I get to where I will be working. This last time I was replacing a spreader, my boat has wooden mast and spreaders and I replaced the broken one with a modified and salvaged aluminum one. I modified it's mate and will replace the other one soon, but other jobs have a higher priority right now. My new safety device that I tried this time was hoisting up a 45 kilogram anchor supported by rollers up the fore stay and letting it come down as I went up. Next time I'm all the way up to the top, I will consider adding another sheave that is super strong for doing this kind of lifting. I don't like having my weight and the anchor added together on a standard halyard. It worked very nicely, climbing was very easy and if I let go I slowly would accelerate slowly down. I understand that not many boats have a 45 kilogram anchor but you can find something that has about that mass. Basically one half of a person weight will give you one half the force accelerating you and 1 and 1/2 times the mass, so that your acceleration would be 1/3 that of normal. This is not counting friction in the sheaves, that cuts it down to where you almost have to push your self down. At his point I am a solo sailor, an engineer and I enjoy figuring out ways to do most stuff by myself. I am working on a way to lower my keel stepped mast, and it's a big one. It sticks up over 54 ft from the waterline and the step is approximately at the waterline. I saw a Dutch build steel boat that had the front railing hinged to assist in raising and lowering a deck stepped mast. I'm doing some calculations on making a front railing that hinges all the way back at mid ship to assist in lifting and lowering both main and mizzen masts. This railing would replace all the front lifelines and stanchions.
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