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Old 02-19-2012
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The shrouds provide lateral support. Two of the four lowers provide some forward support, but only for the lower 2/3 or so of the mast. What is your mast rake?

Rather than take alarming risks, think about hauling your boat and renting bucket truck time, or perhaps purchasing an ascender, something along the lines of an ATN Mast Climber, or a mast ladder such as a Mast Mate? Either allows you to use one halyard as a temporary forestay while the other gear provides for your safety. You might find this thread useful. There are a number of other Sailnet and Cruiser BBN threads that can provide additional points of you, and they are easily located using Google.

Please don't go up an improperly supported mast. Acting stupid in the no stupid zone can get you killed. I am sure you don't want to end up like that poor fellow on the Appledore.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Your mast is deck stepped and therefore should be properly supported before ascending. Use a looped line around the speaders or your topping lift or something.
It will not matter how many "safety lines" you have attached to your bosuns chair when the mast is falling toward the water, the wharf, or other boats with you hanging on to it screaming like a little school girl.
You could have 20 safety lines attached to your bosuns chair, but they are only as safe as what they are attached too, ie; an unstable mast.
Personally I have never used more than one halyard to go up the mast. I only weigh 180lbs. and the halyard I use to ascend is good for a couple of thousand pounds.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Originally Posted by Stearmandriver View Post
Thanks for any thoughts!

All progress in the world has been made by those who boldly dared to go where others warned them not to go. Many things can be discovered only through experimentation, rather than theorizing and postulating ad infinitum.

Ignore the naysayers and blaze your own trail! But please videotape your escapades so we can later analyze it on this listserv.

Please also try swinging around the mast near the top, just to prove how wrong the dock "experts" are.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Lots of posturing going on here - not something you want to do at the top of a mast. It is not safe to go up the mast without something holding it forward besides the cabin top and possibly some forward-angled lowers. If the builder had thought that those were sufficient, he wouldn't have put a forestay on in the first place. If you cannot see for yourself that the mast does indeed go through the cabin top (you have to ask US???) it is definitely deck-stepped and has that much LESS support. Instead of complaining about using a short line tied to the mast and having to re-tie it when you move (which is what I have to do, since our fractional rig only has one halyard to the top of the mast), why not tie a long line at the top of the mast and secure it to the bow? End of problem.

As others have pointed out, even if you place yourself on the forward side of the mast, your weight pushes the mast AFT if your CENTER OF GRAVITY (not necessarily your head- more likely your other end) is anywhere aft of the maststep. The long lever arm of the mast, with your weight point-loaded on it - (unlike the load of the the sails, which is spread over the whole length) could possibly cause the mast to buckle at the shrouds or at the partners (where it goes through the deck or cabintop) if your weight causes the mast to go out of column. Like when another boat goes by and the wake makes yours rock. Or when your helper moves over to the winch in the cockpit to lower you down. We would not want you to turn your mast into a catapult, with you as the rock. Rigging a temporary forestay is a good idea.

Last edited by paulk; 02-19-2012 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Your fore and aft lowers should be good to hold a mast in place, with neither stay attached...

The risk is not that the mast may fall over, but that it might break in the middle where the lowers attach.

A typical mast is not laterally strong, the reason for stays and shrouds. Check a mast that is laid out on three stands, if you remove a stand at an end, that end of the mast will droop alarmingly, you you lean on the end of the mast you may realize you might be able to break it just by pressing hard. You have the leverage of half the length of the mast working for you.

When you go up the mast with no forestay, you are simulating that circumstance, although your weight at the supported top of the mast is largely in column, except for the rake, How far out of column would your body need to get to crumble the top half of the mast...beats me, but do you really want to be a human experiment?
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Old 02-19-2012
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Use one head sail halyard as temporary fore stay.

Some of the other posters has explained why..

Use the main halyard as extra safety, lead it forward outside of the shrouds.

It's a bit awkward but it works, just help this halyard to slide along the shrouds.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Without knowing the actual forces and strengths of the rig without the forestay, it's really impossible to know for sure what stresses your weight may impart to the junction of shrouds/mast. Not only that, but any swaying fore and aft due to wakes, people on deck, your own movements, etc. could greatly increase the stresses. Although, in ideal conditions, if you remain fairly still, it would seem that most of the force would be down, why take a chance without KNOWING? Maybe rig a block for your safety line and a fixed line to the halyard and then pull the whole thing up and cleat off. That would be easy enough and give you the temporary forestay.
Alberg 35: With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Your telling us you can't tell by looking at it if your mast is deck stepped or keel stepped. You don't see why going up the rig w/o a forestay is a bad idea. Would you like someone to write your epitath for you too.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Going Aloft with Forestay Removed?

Anyone who does this is a potential candidate for the Darwin awards.

If you are not familiar with the reference it is for those who have removed themselves from the human gene pool by acts of stupidity.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Essentially, what we are talking about here is only having two legs on a three-legged stool. It may be an oversimplified comparison but given you keep asking why, a simple answer may be best. Now, landing on your butt after falling 17" might not hurt, but a fall from 30' could be fatal. Yes, the lowers provide support up to the spreaders but anything above that point becomes problematic. Many mast failures occur just above the spreaders immediately after any one of the wires leading to the top fails under load. A C27 mast is not that beefy to begin with and your weight represents enough load for a worrisome outcome. On a side note, I always wondered how confident owners of very beefy free-standing masts feel when they went aloft.
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