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post #11 of 17 Old 07-02-2004
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Bosuns chair

If you are primarily a single-hander, the Mast Mate system works very well. It is essentially a webbed ladder that you hoist up the mainsail track. As a rigger, I have used this system to do work aloft when I have not had someone to tend me.

Although I dislike them, a pair of folding steps near the masthead also allows for accessing things at the top of the spar.

Phil Weld tells an interesting story about going aloft alone. Using a halyard, he hoisted a long 4 to 1 tackle to the masthead and hauled himself aloft. He forgot to tend to the tail and it became jammed in the lower shroud tang. He had to climb out of the chair and do a free descent. His advice was to take a line bag up and make sure the tail stayed in the bag.
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post #12 of 17 Old 07-03-2004 Thread Starter
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I was just in the local REI and I stopped in the climbing section and talked to the local mtn climbing expert. His whole frame of reference were mtn faces/cliffs (no clue about sailboats and how they''re rigged) but between us (I think) we figured out the same system as your ''ATN clone''.

However, one area neither of us were sure about is whether mast climbing systems for sailboats used ''ascenders'' that climbed wire or line (mtn climbing ascenders have small teeth that ''bite'' into rope and thus would not be proper for wire). We simply ''bypassed'' that unknown by using the wire halyard to hoist a length of climbing rope to the masthead (thereby giving the mtn climbing ascenders their proper ''medium'' to purchase).

Total cost for a top notch climbing harness, two hi-grade ascenders, webbing (for feet) and the carabiners, etc. needed was not over $250.

But a situation in another thread brings up a point: What if the halyard itself has parted and that''s what you need to work on/replace. I''m thinking for long term singlehanded voyaging it might be a good idea to have a ''climbing rope'' permanently installed that is independent of any halyards in the mast.

In ''designing'' the mtn climber rig both the mtn climbing guide and myself decided to secure (belay in his terms) both the halyard AND the rope ''tail'' (at the bottom of the mast). That way it would minimize any tendency to swing outboard with the roll and avoid the problem of the tail getting inadvertently jammed.

I''m not familiar with the ''Mast Mate''. Not sure I''d like a web ladder approach. I just have these images of trying to climb a narrow ''rope type'' ladder 30-40 feet (especially while underway). How do you secure yourself so you don''t fall? I hope you don''t have to stop, unhook/reattach a safety line every few feet.
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post #13 of 17 Old 07-05-2004
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Bosuns chair

My ATN clone uses a braided climbing rope also purchased from the climbing supply.
I attach the top end to the halyard and the base to a ring fitting near the base of the mast. I can make the climbing rope as taut as I wish by using the halyard winch. If I''m going all the way to the top I make it taut. If going up part way to work on spreader tips etc, I leave a little slack to allow me to swing out as far as I wish to go. The taut climbing rope is easier to climb.

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post #14 of 17 Old 07-05-2004
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Bosuns chair

I''m not a fan of the ATN type climbers, as they require a static line to climb, which limits how much you can move about. If you want to swing out to the spreader tips on both sides, you can''t with the ATN. I use a simple block and tackle arrangement (much like a mainsheet setup). I hoist the top block to the top of the mast on whatever halyard I like, then hoist myself with a 3-1 purchase. You can use 4-1, it just takes more rope.
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post #15 of 17 Old 07-06-2004
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Just curious! With 2 blocks, a shackle, and possibly a knot, all bunched together at the top, How close can you get to the top of the mast? With my ATN, I can get just above the top.
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post #16 of 17 Old 07-06-2004
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Sorry,just one more note. When climbing my permanently installed static line, I tie a short safety line from my harness to one of the halyards with a rolling hitch. Then I just slide it up or down as I climb.
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post #17 of 17 Old 07-08-2004
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Bosuns chair

It gets my head right at the top of the mast so I can just peek over, and my arms have no trouble doinbg whatever is needed.
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