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I can't re Member
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An ascender, a gri-gri II, foot sling, and a good harness.
Here's a random youtube video. The Gri-Gri works as an ascender on the way up and a rappellor on the way down.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUM5lSD_g-w
Good luck and practice up and down a couple feet off the deck before going aloft.

goat

Oh yeah; seek professional training and all that blah,blah, blah cover my ass stuff.
 

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Master Mariner
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There was a time when every cruising boat over 40 feet or so had a block and tackle rig for going aloft alone, aboard. It was standard equipment, just like a hand bearing compass and a sextant.
Now a days, there are so few folks who would even consider going aloft on their own boat and so many alternatives, that it is rare to find a rig aboard.
When I purchased this boat, I looked into building a set up and found it pretty expensive. First, you need very good quality roller bearing blocks, without any fancy junk like cam cleats and ratchets. You will need at least a 5 part purchase, 6 would be better. Multiply that times spar length, lets say 70 feet in my case, and you'll need over 350 feet of 1/2 inch dacron double braid line. Anything less than half inch can become very hard to grip if you are at all tired. Then you need a quality bosun's chair, which I really prefer (pockets and extra clip on spots to keep you away from the mast when going aloft offshore), but many riggers today use harnesses instead. So now you've got a huge coil of line to stow, which can not be used for anything else, lest it get damaged and become useless for safely taking you aloft. And last, but certainly not least, there is a very special way to tie the line so there is absolutely no chance of it slipping, or becoming fouled, but very easily untied.
Perhaps the climbing rigs are a better way to go today, though I've never tried them.
 

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I now use the TopClimber (similar to ATN MastClimber) and am very pleased with it. You can see my review of it here.
I just checked out the top climber:
See it work - Topclimber

Safety questions on the video:
1. The climber has no secondary back up line. If the one he is climbing breaks- he is dead.
2. Looks like the climbing line in attached to an external block at the top of the mast- that pulley breaks, or the attaching shackel (or pin falls out)- climber is dead.
 

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Not my video.

But, having used the ATN Mastclimber, I can say: 1. there's no reason not to rig a backup line - we did, worked fine, but there were two of us there. Alone, I'm not sure how you'd do it; 2. Used the main halyard to go up the stick so unless you haven't maintained that part of your system then given that the main is way more loaded than the 180-odd lbs of the climber in question, you'll be just fine. Any bosun's chair is using a halyard to get up the stick. The difference in the Mastclimber is that one ties off the halyard and rappels up the halyard, rather than hauling the halyard itself up.
 

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Not my video.

But, having used the ATN Mastclimber, I can say: 1. there's no reason not to rig a backup line - we did, worked fine, but there were two of us there. Alone, I'm not sure how you'd do it; 2. Used the main halyard to go up the stick so unless you haven't maintained that part of your system then given that the main is way more loaded than the 180-odd lbs of the climber in question, you'll be just fine. Any bosun's chair is using a halyard to get up the stick. The difference in the Mastclimber is that one ties off the halyard and rappels up the halyard, rather than hauling the halyard itself up.
I am just pointing out the safety issues I see in a vedors video no less. I agree your equipment should be in good shape. However I looked again at this vedor video and the climber is using a block supported by a shackle- How do you inspect this shackle without climbing the mast- it is impossible (unless you use the internal mast haylard- so why use the external block at all? Surprised a vedor would post such a video with such safety errors.

Personally I have mast steps, then I tie off using a safety harness- this is in my opinion still not a safe method to go up the mast. If one of my steps breaks (held by pop rivets) I am depending on a chest harness to stop me- the 3 foot free fall will probably break my ribs and then sufficate me. I am looking for a better system, but the vedors video shows a system less safe than mine IMO. Granted the mast climber could be made more safe by using back up line and internal haylard.

So lets back up and look at what a professionally trained rock climber would use to go up a mast. Any out there? How do you inspect your equipment and how would you rig safety back up lines to scale a sailboat rig?
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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Multi- see zz's and goats posts about using ascenders and a gri gri (and a comfortable big wall harness). Takes some work to get up there but this is a good way to do it.
 

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I also use the ATN Mastclimber and love it. I use the main halyard for the rig, and when I can I have a friend belay me using the spinnaker halyard....when I'm alone I use a separate ascender on the spinnaker halyard as a safety.
 
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This is a good article:
Mast Climbing

Note that he reviews the ATN Topclimber, not the newer (different climbing hardware, same chair) Mastclimber.

I have the Mastclimber and it works well for me. I almost always have someone belay me on a backup line (climb the jib halyard and use the spin halyard for backup) just in case something goes wrong.

I know that the Mastclimber is expensive, but it doesn't end up being that much more than the recommended climbing hardware and it is a no brainer solution.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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I worked as a rigger for a while.

I recommend the Brion Toss video Going Aloft. I don't think I have ever attained that level of professionalism.

If you really want to avoid single points of failure you need a harness (for the safety line) and a chair (for the main line). We rarely did that.

Time is important. If you spend too long up the stick you will have reduced blood circulation in your legs which can have serious implications.

There have been times I have gone up without a safety line. Sometimes there simply is no option.

Avoid shackles - use knots. Learn to tie them yourself (when I was a rigger we had one guy that couldn't tie a bowline to save his life - think about that). If there must be a shackle mouse it and tape it.

With good shoes tied on tightly you can get a good boost from your legs and make do with a 2:1 line by yourself. If a creaky old guy like me can do it you can also.

If you do have help you should consider yourself an active participant, not a passenger. You'll get up a lot faster if you help.

The very best solution is an electric winch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks to all. The boat came with 3 bosun's chairs, one of which is really nice. I was hoping to go with double blocks, which I would use once to go up the mast (I have a list of things to do), and then install permanently off my traveler ends. Just being cost conservative, or cheap I guess. But buying that much extra rope doesn't make a lot of sense.
Purchasing the ATN Mastclimber without chair makes the most sense for me. I will just have a grinder for my safety rope attached to a harness. Also a short rope for tying off around the spreaders while I untie and tie the safety rope at the spreaders.
 

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I don't use block and tackle. I use klemheist knots--similar to prusicks but I like them better--in 2 loops of 3/8" utility line from a rock-climbing store. The knots work as well as mechanical ascenders, and cost nothing. Make each loop out of about 4 feet of line, with doubled fishermans knots.
I use a Petzl mid-grade rock climbing harness that I can sit comfortably in and cost $60.00 on sale.
I made foot stirrups out of nylon webbing. You need to be able to stand up with your feet in the stirrups and the center of the webbing reaching higher than your waist. Also attach the foot stirrups together about a foot apart so it's easy to keep you feet beside the mast.
The stirrup webbing attaches to #1 loop/klemheist knot, and the harness to #2 via a carabiner. Capture the foot stirrup webbing inside the same carabiner to keep it close to your body.
Sit in the harness and lift your feet. Slide knot #1 up a taught halyard. Stand in the stirrups, slide knot #2 up. Repeat. Think like an inch worm.
A third loop on another halyard makes a safety line, though I'm too reckless and irresponsible for that sissy stuff (joke).
You need to be able to do a few knee-bends and sit-ups but I'm >60 and don't have any trouble with the system. I've been up my 40' mast 4 or 5 times, at first just to try out the gear, then to fix a broken wind sensor. As long as you can trust your halyard (and if you can't you probalby need new ones) and you're using rope and webbing made for rock climbing, you're safe. It's a simple, compact system with long precedent in rock climbing.
Enjoy the view.
John V.
 

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Here's the advantage of a gaff rigged boat. Just hook the bosun's chair to one of the halyards, and up you go. If I need to go up the mizzen, which is marconi, without block and tackle on the halyard, I just run the main sheet up on the mizzen halyard, and use that. The main halyards and the main sheet all are 4:1 mechanical advantage.
 

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I've been using the Mast Mate. It's similar to a canvas ladder raised by the main halyard. It has lugs that ride on the sail track, so I first need to remove the main from the track (only takes a couple minutes.) What I like about the Mast Mate is that it's pretty intuitive: just climb it like a ladder.

For backup I use a harness with two carabiners. One carabiner has a line attached to the spare halyard with a klemheist knot, and the other has a line that loops around the mast once I get above the spreaders.

I've been using a swiss seat (improvised harness made from 12 ft of line) for the harness, but I just bought a rock climbing harness for the next trip up the mast. Before I bought the harness, the only piece of climbing-specific gear required was the Mast Mate and the carabiners.

My goal is to make the climb without maintaining a death grip on the mast. I haven't achieved that yet.
 
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