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Just bought a 1980 Cat 27 and the masthead light doesn't work. Any advice on the easiest way to repair it? I used to Rock Climb and still have my harness... should I get an ascender to go up? I imagine I could have somebody winch me up--but how do you control the descent? Any issue with everything supporting my 190lbs, or do I need to find somebody lighter to go up?
 

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Chesapeake Sailor
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noworries,

Before going up the mast check (with a continuity tester or multimeter) that 12V is going up the mast. If it is, then you may be very lucky and need only to change the bulb.

!90# will go up the mast, my 225 did - but make sure that you have similar heft and muscle at the base of the mast controlling the halyard (and you life). The descent will be controlled by the deck level tender, carefully tailing the halyard from wraps around the main halyard winch.



You may as well take the multimeter up with you and be sure that there is current at the lamp fitting.

Wayne
 

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Having someone winch you up on a 27 footer is always tough, the winches are not really up to the task and it's very difficult to flat-out grind a 200 pounder up the mast.

If you have external halyards, you can cancel the load by pulling on the descending part yourself as someone on deck tails the winch, with assist from a grinder. That can go quite quickly.

Be sure to tie on, rather than rely on the shackle that may be on the halyard already. Use a second halyard as a safety if you have it available.
 

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You can totally get somebody to hoist you. Sending the lightest crewmember is nice if you happen to be the lightest crewmember...

If you have the option, choose an all-rope halyard. If you don't have that option, carefully inspect the rope-to-halyard splice before going aloft. Also, like Faster suggested, it's very helpful to pull on the descending part of the line. I can almost hoist myself up doing this (but it's nice to have somebody tailing the line on a winch). This only works if it's an all-rope halyard, unless you're comfortable hauling a wire rope in your hands.

Assuming you have two crew members on winches, I find that the easiest thing is for them to alternate tensioning the halyard and then taking up the slack created by the other's tension. A small ratcheting motion is good for this and you can get into a nice rhythm to the point where the hoist is almost continuous. Use the smallest winches that will take the load: for a given size winch handle, a smaller-diameter winch provides a larger mechanical advantage.

Here's an idea I've heard but never tried: take a rope with loops in both ends with you. When you get to the top, put the rope over the masthead and put your feet in the loops. I guess the rope should be about one and a half times your height. Now you can stand in the loops instead of sitting in the chair.

Plan which side of the mast you want to be on and plan how you'll have to switch halyards when you get to the spreaders. Ditto for the trip down.

The descent, as Wayne mentions, is controlled by the deck crew.

I should reiterate that you should take your multimeter with you. And a spare bulb. And some duct tape. And a set of screwdrivers. And a camera, so you can take pictures of the other things you realize you'll need to fix.
 
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