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post #1 of 17 Old 10-10-2015 Thread Starter
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folding mast steps

Anyone out there have folding mast steps on their mast, and if yes, do you like them?
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post #2 of 17 Old 10-10-2015
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Re: folding mast steps

I do, but only five or six, enough to get me to the top of the stack pack to attach the halyard. Mine are the cast aluminum ones and I like how they look and work. When I got the boat one of them was damaged, there are two cast tabs on the tread that bear against the base when extended and one of those tabs had broken off. Not sure how it got damaged by the PO but it held my weight until I finally replaced it. Like anything attached to an aluminum mast with ss screws, be sure to use plenty of Tef-Gel or equivalent on the fasteners so you can get them out later.

I'm not sure I'd go with folding steps all the way up the mast. It is possible to accidentally fold one with your body while monkeying around and they can be tough to redeploy with anything but your hand.
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post #3 of 17 Old 10-12-2015
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Re: folding mast steps

I don't have them. I have fixed steps. The last time I was in a marina (don't go in often) a couple sailors commented on them ("wish I had those," that kind of thing). I guess they add some windage and weight aloft, but if one is sailing alone I think they are essential. If I were climbing up the mast alone, I wouldn't feel as safe -- more accurately, I'd feel very unsafe -- with folding steps instead of fixed ones that I can not only put my feet into but also grab onto when ascending/descending. I can also put my safety harness through them and clip onto them. I don't think you can do that with the folding kind. Oh, and no hinges to fail. I like simple.
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post #4 of 17 Old 10-20-2015
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Re: folding mast steps

We have ratlines made of stainless steel tubing on our shrouds. They get me up to the spreaders both to look down into the water when we are moving in coral and to halve the distance that my wife has to haul me to mast top with a genoa winch to work on the stuff up there. At times I've considered adding folding steps from the spreaders to the mast top to save my wife some work, but I have done nothing in the 11 years we have owned the boat.

The other PSC 34 that we share a slip with at Northwest Creek Marina in New Bern, NC has fixed steps up the whole mast. He is quite happy with them.

Bill Murdoch
1988 PSC 34
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Irish Eyes to the Bahamas
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post #5 of 17 Old 10-21-2015
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Re: folding mast steps

I had to go up my mast yesterday and I was extremely glad to have mast steps that I could put my feet into and grab onto tightly. The boat was rolling and pitching a fair bit at the time (and I was starting to feel seasick by the time I finished work at the top of the mast). I was anchored for this. I cannot imagine having to do the same thing with folding steps that don't hold my feet in place and which I would have to fiddle with on the way up and potentially on the way down. No way. Upshot: My advice is to get fixed steps. I consider them to be a safety feature, certainly if you ever plan to sail alone.
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post #6 of 17 Old 10-21-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: folding mast steps

Wow, ratlines on the shrouds... I like that idea. Did they come as a kit or did you fashion them yourself? Also like the idea of steps above the spreaders - less weight aloft than steps all the way up. Could you please post a close-up view of the shrouds so I can see how the tubes are secured?

Thanks!
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post #7 of 17 Old 10-25-2015
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Re: folding mast steps

This is what the ends of the ratline steps look like.



I measured the spacing between the shrouds for the top and bottom steps. I divided the space between them for the other steps, then figured their length by proportion. The steps are 1" tubing and the ears on each end of the tubing are 1-1/2 x 2-1/2 x 0.090 rounded on one end with two drilled holes. The walls of the long bottom step are thicker than the others as it was a little too bouncy when thin. Cable clamps hold them to the shrouds. I had some trouble finding clamps for my 9/32" (7mm) standing rigging, but when I found them, I bought a box. A cap nut covers the exposed threads and serves as a locking nut. I made up the parts and had the welding done by another person.

There is a teak step bolted to the fourth step down to make it comfortable for me to stand there for a while with a radio and compass to con my wife below on the tiller through coral.

I actually think my method is too complicated. Were I to do it again, I'd just heat up the ends of the tubing with a torch, smash them in a smooth jaw vise, round the ends, and drill the holes. It would be a lot simplier.

Bill Murdoch
1988 PSC 34
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Last edited by wsmurdoch; 10-25-2015 at 06:50 PM.
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post #8 of 17 Old 10-25-2015
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Re: folding mast steps

I used to add steps to the first set of spreaders for conning and a single pair at the mast head that I can stand on when working up there.
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post #9 of 17 Old 10-25-2015
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Re: folding mast steps

I was sailing on a newer Dufour and was impressed with the composite mast steps and so took a picture thinking I might want to install these on my PS37
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post #10 of 17 Old 10-26-2015
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Re: folding mast steps

+1 for fixed steps. I didn't want to mess around folding and unfolding steps while climbing. It is a piece of cake to climb the mast now and I do it more often because it is.

However, the first step above the mast winches is a folding step so that it does not interfere with the sail cover.

Halyards can catch on the fixed steps when the boat is rolling a lot while raising or lowering sails. You just have to keep a bit of tension on the lines to keep them from whipping around.

Brian & Marya
S/V Indigo
Pacific Seacraft 34
Hull #281

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