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A friend tells me that mast steps are a bad idea because hallyards get cought on them.

I'm thinking of placing two folding steps, at the same level, about four feet from the top of the mast, just in case I need to do any prolonged work there in the future.

my questions are:
Should I bother going up the mast just for step installation purposes (of course while there I'll check the conditions of everything else)?

Does anybody with folding mast steps installed share my friend's opinion?

Thank you for any opinions.
 

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If it's been a while since the mast has been inspected, I'd make the trip to install and inspect, but if you've recently inspected, take your time and do it at your next inspection trip.

Ken.
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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I had fixed mast steps for a long time, only had halyards get hung up once or twice and it took about 10 seconds to free them. Definitely a big advantage when you need to go up the stick. I'm sure they create some windage, but folding steps would be minimal. All in all I think they are an advantage.

John
 

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On my previous boat I had steps made of 4mm stainless roundbar that have minimal windage and are shaped not too different from a stirrup. I prefer these because when you have to go up the rig in a sea (it happens!) your feet can't slip out of the step as easily. The fold-away ones have a small lip on the outer edge to prevent slipping which IMHO is inadequate.

I had two occasions to go up the mast on that boat whilst I was alone at sea, without the steps I wouldn't have been able to. A pair of track shoes made my feet really snug in the steps and allowed considerable confidence going up the rig without someone belaying me with a halyard. There were a few times when halyards got tangled but the benefits of having steps easily overrides that problem.

I intend putting the same steps on my present boat before any long voyage - I believe them to be essential on a long passage.
 

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Telstar 28
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Aside from windage, additional weight aloft and catching halyards...all of which can be minimised by choosing the right step design, IMHO, having some mast steps, particularly below the first set of spreaders to the deck and near the mast head are a good idea.

The reason I don't think you really need them all along the mast, is that the places you really need them are where I indicated above. When you're working on the mast head, it is good to have some steps there to help take the weight off of the bosun's chair or climbing harness. They also will let you get up higher to work on the masthead itself, which some climbing solutions don't do.

The reason for having them up to the first spreaders is so that you can climb up quickly to look for things like coral reef heads, which are easier to spot the higher up you are.
 

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I think mast steps are a waste if you have an alternate way of getting up and down when needed EXCEPT if you are going to be in coral waters where having steps up to the spreaders can help you spot the heads.
 

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Mast steps on BR are shown in the photo below. I think they're are preferable to the open-sided type because your footing is much more secure, especially if you have to climb the mast while heeling. The disadvantage is that things can get caught on them, but the solution is pretty easy. Note the "line" running up the outside edge of the steps in the photo. It's a length of 1/2" wide AL bar that's welded to each of the steps.

A year or so before I had this done I tied a small line to each step in the same position the AL bar is in now. The line worked as well as the more permanent solution now in place.

The bar doesn't extend down to the first step on either side as this would have required expensive modifications to the sail cover.

I haven't had anything caught on the steps since we made this simple modification.
 

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I guess I should have qualified my above response by saying that mast steps are useful if you're sailing alone or with someone not strong enough to winch you to the top of the mast (my wife).

Things to do other than scoping out coral? Masthead sheaves, radar scanner (I've had a belt jump off more than once), radar reflector, lost halyards, stuck top furler bearing, tricolor/anchor light, there is actually quite a long list.

On my present boat I have Batcars so Mastmate I believe is not an option.
 

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Telstar 28
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I think he welded the bar on to prevent all the snagging... using the line reduces snagging but doesn't prevent all of them is probably the issue. The lines are slightly inside the tips of the steps... the bar is welded along the tips of the steps... the slight difference probably changes it from reducing snagging to eliminating them—since the tips of the steps would be slightly proud of the line, but the bar is slightly proud of the tips instead.
BF: I've seen this one before. If line alone worked, why may I ask did you weld bar to them? This is one case where I think 5 mm Dyneema would interest me.
 

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The steps above the first spreader are going to be the biggest bugger with the halyards. My solution was to spiderweb from the cap shrouds to the fixed steps above the spreader. Below the spreader they are never an issue. They actually help sometimes in sail handling since you can pull a line that is getting out of control against them, use them to hold halyards to prevent mast slapping, and temporarily make fast light load lines for odd jobs. For someone that does most of the work themselves mast steps are invaluable.
 

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I have mast steps on the boat I have now and I love them there great. I dont think I would ever want to go with out them now that I have had them if I was to ever get another boat.

P.S Mine are pretty much like the ones Billruffn posted a picture of above, they go all the way up. one other thing you might want to think about if your setting things up, is lazy jacks they work great when droping the sail, I sail solo alot so it real handy.
 

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I put ABI polished aluminum folding steps on my previous boat all the way to the top and because they are so well rounded I never had anything snag in the couple years they were up there. I bought them for my current boat but it IS a major job at 4 screws each and $20 a piece. They are still in my cellar but when I get around to it I'll probably spread them out over my 2 masts just where they are needed most as has been mentioned. For me it's the idea that I can Stand where I need to do some work and also my very weak wife simply has to take up the slack on the safety line and bosuns chair line while I do most of the vertical work by climbing myself.
 

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Frankly with the long distance cruises I have planned the mast steps sound like a GOOD idea to me. Anybody have a reccomendation for a source? I have lost a halyard, and to bring it down I replaced the other halyard with a new line (would not risk blood on the deck with that old one.) I have wire/rope halyards and want to replace them with rope, but need to replace the blocks at mast top. Can steps be installed with the mast up, or must it come down? Since I have a keel stepped mast I need a crane to take it down and the robber who owns the crane wants 300 clams. This would not deter me except last time it was done he ripped up the wiring for my lights, wind instrument, and antenna. Don't tell me to change marinas, it's the only one in the area consistently deep enough for sailboats!
 

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RTD-

Mast steps can be installed with the stick up...it's just a lot harder to do...since you'll be doing it from a bosun's chair or climbing harness. If you can deal with doing it from a bosun's chair/climbing harness, and all that entails... then no, you don't have to drop the stick.
 

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Don, I did my mine with the mast up and yes, it's a real long day in the bosun's chair. Drill (with stopper), tap, coat the screw, screw - 4 times each...... move to the next...... That's why my new set is still in the cellar.... :eek:
 

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BF: I've seen this one before. If line alone worked, why may I ask did you weld bar to them? This is one case where I think 5 mm Dyneema would interest me.
Functionally the line worked fine --it just had that "temporary" jury rig look to it. I had the mast out for other reasons and it took the yard about an hour to cut the bar to length and weld it in place. The welded bar also gives you something else to grap should the need arise.
 

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Frankly with the long distance cruises I have planned the mast steps sound like a GOOD idea to me. Anybody have a reccomendation for a source? I have lost a halyard, and to bring it down I replaced the other halyard with a new line (would not risk blood on the deck with that old one.) I have wire/rope halyards and want to replace them with rope, but need to replace the blocks at mast top. Can steps be installed with the mast up, or must it come down? Since I have a keel stepped mast I need a crane to take it down and the robber who owns the crane wants 300 clams. This would not deter me except last time it was done he ripped up the wiring for my lights, wind instrument, and antenna. Don't tell me to change marinas, it's the only one in the area consistently deep enough for sailboats!
Ragtime, What does the 300 clams include?
Is that just for pulling the mast or does it include stepping it again? Does it cover a man on deck signaling the crane operator?
The reason I ask is, I may have to rethink my pricing. :confused:
 
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