Getting to masthead using someone else's mast.. - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 05-21-2012
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Getting to masthead using someone else's mast..

I'd heard about this and saw a photo of it once, but hadn't done it--until I had to.

Subtitle:

"Remember, boys and girls, don't try this at home, I'm a trained professional, closed course/do not attempt, etc"

Halyard knot (not my knot, nor my boat, let me make that clear, ahem) on fractional rig came undone early in a late afternoon sail, main wriggles down the mast, halyard (internal) has disappeared into the mast. Oh joy.

How to fix it quick and get back out there? No dockside ladder or anything like that in the harbor.

Back to the slip, there's and adjacent-slip identical boat, same owner as the one I'm on, but *with* a main halyard. These boats aren't that big (2300 pounds, 24 feet) so not that "stiff" if you go up to the top, they'll heel some.

Anyway, after seeing that boat boats were tied up well, we connected jib halyards and winched the two mastheads together. Then crew cranked me up mast B so I could re-reeve the halyard (tied now to my belt) back into mast A.

It worked! The two masts/boats together were more stable than either would be separately, and the halyard did make its way down the inside of the mast without catching on anything, and we were able to fish it out the (very little) slot at the bottom of the mast.

Disadvantages:

the masts were no longer vertical so you have to clamp on with hands and legs at all times

didn't have a bosn chair so using a boat cushion as a chair leaves something to be desired

no redundant masthead halyard to use as a safety line/backup. I used the spinny halyard but that's useless above the fractional peak for that halyard

You really have to have calm water, no one else can make a wake, or the two mastheads can start moving around in a way you won't appreciate. One boat coming in stopped briefly and waited for us to finish--thanks, guy.

semi-scary, though not unduly so.

forgot to rig a spare line to the jib halyards (rookie mistake) so how to get them back down? Eventually I backed our boat out of the slip, then back in, which created enough slack we were able to grab them from the deck.


After all that, we actually got back out for a nice little sail.


I felt like "no, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night", or "no, but I watched a guy fix a Japanese transmission once" (take your pick) but all's well that ends well. I suppose many have done this, but I hadn't so it was new to me.
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Old 05-21-2012
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Re: Getting to masthead using someone else's mast..

I wouldn't go up my mast to the spreaders on a boat cushion. Sounds pretty dangerous to me.
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Old 05-21-2012
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Re: Getting to masthead using someone else's mast..

Yeah, I don't recommend it. Bosn chair next time.
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Old 05-22-2012
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Re: Getting to masthead using someone else's mast..

Where's the pics
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Old 05-22-2012
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Re: Getting to masthead using someone else's mast..

Climbing harness or bosuns chair.
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Old 05-22-2012
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Re: Getting to masthead using someone else's mast..

I think the story comes out essentially the same whether cushion or bosn's chair, I had to make do with "materials on hand".

The part that interested me though, was the idea of bringing two masts together to enable you to get up there and fix the halyard-less one. Might not work as well with masthead rigging where the shrouds might foul each other. But then again, the masthead boats will usually still have another masthead halyard available for your chair so no need to use a second mast to get there.

So this idea I think is for that range of fractional-rig boats that are too big/heavy to be able to careen over or just unstep the mast, but still too small to give a stable non-heeling platform for masthead work by a human being (and lacking a second masthead halyard anyway).


Yeah, photos. We were busy, and forgot. Likely story.
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Old 05-22-2012
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Re: Getting to masthead using someone else's mast..

I'm glad it worked out, but the no wake is a big one.

I would put this into the the not recommended stunt catagory. Getting wacked by another boats mast could kill you.
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Old 05-22-2012
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Re: Getting to masthead using someone else's mast..

I've done it several times using a bridle attached across a coil of rope as a seat. Spread the ropes out a bit and it is amazingly comfortable. I've even changed light bulbs on a ball field this way from the hook of a crane at 85 feet.

Gary H. Lucas
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Old 05-23-2012
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Re: Getting to masthead using someone else's mast..

With ratlines on my main shrouds and masthead of smaller vessel winched over to my hounds it makes it easy. I've even picked up some pretty big masts with the yard and anchor winch. Lift off the dock, turn about all adangle and come along side the recipient Gaffers rule..
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