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post #1 of 62 Old 11-24-2012 Thread Starter
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Mast climbing

I'm about ready to get what I need to climb a mast.
I'm thinking of the harken seat as it got a good review from PS an is priced well.

I'm thinking of going with two ratchet blocks as this allows me to climb the mast with a 4 to 1 advantage by myself with no one winching me up..

What you do is use the halyard to hoist up the top block then hook the bottom block to your bosen's chair and just pull yourself up. The block with the becket is on the top so you have a 4 to one advantage.

Both blocks are ratcheting blocks. The top block is set on ratchet all the time.

The bottom block you can turn the ratchet on and off.

The way it works is that on the assent you have the bottom ratchet turned on.
Depending on your weight if you let go you will either stay in place or go down slowly.
To descend just turn off the ratchet of the bottom block and your weight will overwhelm the upper ratchet and you will descend.

You loose a few inches because of the blocks and I would bring a couple of foot straps just in case I needed to get a little higher.

I considered the ATN system but the above system while being a little more money requires less skill, I believe coming down would be faster and it can double a man-overboard retrieval.

I got the idea from at least two riggers I know who use the same system.
My son who is rigger personally uses a system with acenders similar to the the ATN but with extra gear so he can drop in about five seconds which is important to him. I tried it using his equipment and talked to a couple of his friends and my take is that the acender system requires some practice skill and strength all of which I'm afraid I may never have.
His boss and another rigger in the yard uses the ratchet block method above.

I am pretty happy with the blocks I've selected but was surprised that they are only good for 1,200 lbs. This means that my block system would be good for the following jobs.
  • Lifting a small motor
  • Taking the slack out of a shroud until I could get it pinned.
  • Lifting a MOB

Basically anything I could lift by hand. If I can pull 150 lbs which I probably can't I'm lifting less than 600 which is significantly below the working load.

If I get cliver however and use the winch I'm pretty sure I could exceed the block loading spec. I would be afraind to trust it with my life if it was overloaded.

I would be willing to spend more for higher capacity blocks as even simple double braid is rated at 7,100 breaking so doing a 50% load of 3,500.00 on a 4 to one load would be about 7 ton.

That kind of block and tackle system could be used for serious work. Like moving the boat for example. I can not find ratchet blocks that can handle that however.

I'm thinking of going to a 7/16" 12 strand arborist line as I'm pretty sure the hand is better and it bag stuffs with little chance of knotting and the price is not too much more than double braid.
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post #2 of 62 Old 11-24-2012
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Re: Mast climbing

I use a couple of prussic loops and my climbing harness but that looks much easier (and vastly more expensive). Not sure that I'd trust the ratchet on the blocks enough to let go though, presumably you have a safe way of tying/locking for when you are at the desired work position and want to use both hands?
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post #3 of 62 Old 11-24-2012
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Re: Mast climbing

Have you thought of the "top climber" by ATN. It's a do it yourself climbing tool. Much like what a mountain climber might use. I have one and can climb the mast safely all by myself, and do it a least yearly for inspections or repairs. Very useful.
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post #4 of 62 Old 11-24-2012
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Re: Mast climbing

I use something similar, but a true climbing harness I have from REI. I then run the tail end of the pulling rope around my back side thru carabeners, this will usually brake your self to a degree, if you let go. If not, then use 3 or 4 biiners, with the last on your front side. This is done in climbing also when belaying some someone. A lot like a wrap on a winch drum, but the drum being your waist.

I attach the top sheave to the snap shackle, the bottom to my harness also via a locking beiner vs a standard snap one, The bottom side I use 2 singles that are also used in climbing, as the sides will slide sideways to release them from the middle of the line. They do have a bit more drag than a typical double sailing pulley.

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post #5 of 62 Old 11-24-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Mast climbing

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Originally Posted by PaulinVictoria View Post
I use a couple of prussic loops and my climbing harness but that looks much easier (and vastly more expensive). Not sure that I'd trust the ratchet on the blocks enough to let go though, presumably you have a safe way of tying/locking for when you are at the desired work position and want to use both hands?
Yes this system is a lot easier on the muscles and a lot more expensive.

Yes also about belaying the line once you get to where you need to be. The point is that you don't have to hold the full weight all the time.
And also if something goes wrong the downward free fall is purported to be slow enough to just grab the line somewhere without damaging the hand. I'll let you know when I give it a try.
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post #6 of 62 Old 11-24-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Mast climbing

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Originally Posted by Bradhamlet View Post
Have you thought of the "top climber" by ATN. It's a do it yourself climbing tool. Much like what a mountain climber might use. I have one and can climb the mast safely all by myself, and do it a least yearly for inspections or repairs. Very useful.
Brad
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Yes I considered the ATN, even mentioned it in my original post. The advantage is that it takes less room, only 70' of line rather than 350'.
I'm not convinced that with my fitness level, age, weight number of times I'll have to practice it that I will be able to use it effectively.
The disadvantage is that coming down is slow and it is only good for one thing.

The ratchet block is easier, I think, for old fat people. Can be used for several things and coming down is faster.

The nose above the mast head problem I believe I can solve with a prussic and foot loop.
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post #7 of 62 Old 11-24-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Mast climbing

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Originally Posted by blt2ski View Post
I then run the tail end of the pulling rope around my back side thru carabeners, this will usually brake your self to a degree, if you let go. If not, then use 3 or 4 biiners, with the last on your front side. This is done in climbing also when belaying some someone. A lot like a wrap on a winch drum, but the drum being your waist.


Marty
Do you have a picture or sketch of this setup?
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post #8 of 62 Old 11-24-2012
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Re: Mast climbing

I'd like to see a sketch too, as I'm also looking for a way to get aloft. I like the idea of not needing someone to winch me up, but the absence of someone manning a safety halyard could make for a long day if the halyard were to fail.
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post #9 of 62 Old 11-24-2012
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Re: Mast climbing

Oh, one more thing......

With a 4:1 block ratio, won't you need about 200' of line?
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post #10 of 62 Old 11-24-2012
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Re: Mast climbing

So where is your back up..no safety line...No sailor......Dale

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