Mast climbing

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  • 14 Jul 2020 19:03
    Reply # 9101843 on 766953

    Getting Butterfly sorted after a long break for winter and lockdown, discovered one part of the main halyard had become unreeved.

    I climbed up using a couple of prussic loops around the mast to stand in, and the remaining halyard used as safety connected to my climbing harness.

    Work ok, though could be improved.  Note the mast is alloy, not tapered and old so had good friction.  I made one loop longer than the other, though perhaps did not quite get the lengths optimal.  One was a bit heavier than the other and was a bit more difficult to slide up the mast. Both were not new and shiny which helps.  I should have made a separate loop around my shoe, ideally a piece of bungee. My shoe came out of the longer one a few times.  Boots with a stiff sole would have been more comfy, though not as easy to grip the mast. I did wonder if I should have a loose loop from the shoe around the mast to keep the shoe from swinging out, but found it not necessary.

    I did do it at low tide, would have been a bit more tricky / scary if afloat.

    Fortunately  a still so the sail hoisted and all well....well except for the midges!

    Last modified: 14 Jul 2020 19:06 | Anonymous member
  • 10 Jul 2020 14:06
    Reply # 9092883 on 766953

    Well done!

    Our favourite cruising authors, Bill and Laurel Cooper have long advised that older you get, easier it gets to do things. Why? Because you no longer need to impress onlookers with exhibition of muscle power, BUT are experienced and clever enough to make a tool - most tools on the boat involve piece of rope and some kind of purchase.

    Tool making prolongs cruising life. Wishing you more than just another season.

    On our boat, we use different approach to achieve the same result: we use two people (half the power - purchase, again). Myra tails the halyard while I happily sit in the bosun's chair. Our halyard is 3:1 so I do a lot of pulling myself up, easier and faster for M to tail the rope. Going down, of course, I am at her mercy - god forbid I was stroppy or not extra courteous (chocolate helps) towards her in 2-3 days leading to the mast climb. Fast down is not nice, but being left up there to dry in the sun is worse.

    We do use a second safety rope with a sliding stopper, just in case I really have to help myself.

    G&M

  • 10 Jul 2020 08:23
    Reply # 9092434 on 782539
    I wrote:My christmas present to myself was a Petzl Grigri2 ascender/descender/belay device. I had been using two Petzl toothed ascenders, and the step up/step down method, but found this to be very slow and tedious in descent (mostly because the toothed ascenders are difficult to disengage from the rope).
    Now my kit consists of:
    • Sit harness, similar to a climbing harness, but heavily built with 100mm webbing waist band and leg supports.
    • Large carabiner attaching the Grigri to the harness.
    • Handled ascender, and carabiner attaching twin webbing foot loops in the form of an inverted 'Y' ( so that I can put one foot either side of the mast for stability).
    • A webbing  sling between the carabiner on the handled ascender and another carabiner attached to the large carabiner on the harness. (so that the harness is always attached to both devices on the rope). 
    • The foot loops also pass through this third carabiner (that makes it easier to push yourself up on them. 
    • A length of 9mm climbing half-rope* that is hoisted on the main halyard to the masthead.
    The lengths of the foot loops and sling are critical. They should be such that when you are sitting in the harness, and you have drawn your feet right up underneath you, the handled ascender is as high up the rope as you can reach, with the sling between handled ascender and harness taut. Then when you stand up in the foot loops, the Grigri should be close up to the underside of the handled ascender. That way, you gain the most height for each cycle of stand-up/sit-down.
    Descending is remarkably easy, if the Grigri is on a 9mm climbing half-rope (not so easy on an aging 10mm braid halyard). Just take the handled ascender off the rope, and control the speed of descent using the handle on the Grigri, which lifts the cam in a very precise manner.
    I've been up the mast four times in the last week using this system, to replace a broken and corroded-on VHF antenna, and I found it easy to use (well, anyway, as easy as a mast climbing system is ever going to be. And I only want to do it in calm water – no at-sea heroics for me, if I can avoid it).

    *so called because climbers use them in pairs on some difficult climbs, rather than a single 11mm rope.

    Long ago, I pledged to myself that when i was no longer capable of getting to the masthead unaided, that would be the time to give up cruising. Now in my mid-70s, I know that I'm losing strength, and that time is looming up over the horizon.

    Well, yesterday, I went up quite easily, by using a method I hadn't tried before. I used part of the 10mm halyard, through one masthead block. I made a figure-8 loop knot in one side of the line, and clipped it to the carabiner on the climbing harness. Then I put the Grigri2 and ascender onto the the other side of the line. Thus, I got something like a 2:1 advantage, halving the effort needed to climb, but also halving the speed, of course. The 10mm halyard having aged somewhat, its diameter was more like the 9mm half-rope I've used before, and was OK in the Grigri2.

    Anyway, job done, with enough strength left on reaching the masthead to rig another block, so that the halyard can now be 3:1 instead of 2:1. Another concession to old age and keeping going for another season or two.

  • 06 Sep 2013 07:21
    Reply # 1382946 on 766953
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This year I have tied a big rope hoop to the seat of my bosun's chair . This lets me stand up and get my nose almost level with the mast top. It sounds dangerous but actually, when standing up, the seat clamps me to the mast so i am free to work.

    The big, wide seat lets me sit down and rest. I have been up for half an hour without getting tired or sore in any way

    Arne

    Last modified: 06 Sep 2013 07:29 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 06 Sep 2013 04:08
    Reply # 1382871 on 766953
    I've used ascenders to go up masts, and like the combination of a climbing harness and rope 'stirrups'.  It's much easier to work right at the masthead in a climbing harness then from a bosun's chair, and the 'stirrup' give you something to stand up in.  I can't say it's particularly comfortable, though.
  • 06 Sep 2013 01:09
    Reply # 1382788 on 766953
    Anonymous
    I'm due back up when the LJ's are made, will write up and photograph the experience for you Roy!
    Last modified: 06 Sep 2013 01:09 | Anonymous
  • 05 Sep 2013 19:50
    Reply # 1382564 on 766953
    [Webmaster edit: Posted by Lesley Verbrugge on another forum and copied here:]

    ...up the mast today, which surprisingly was as much fun as number crunching, just different. Used my new Petzl Ascender, bought on trip to Europe, on the halyard (both blocks of which I'd previously jammed at the top of the mast -not intentionally) and a prussik knot around the mast. Rene helped me up with the mast lift on the winch. Top spans are down and new ones in the make. Just so you know I dont sit in front of the pc ALL the time.

    Roy Denton emailed me and wanted to ask: "Lesley, can you give me some info on your ascender - do you use it with a harness or bosun's chair?  Any photos of it in use?  
    Last modified: 06 Sep 2013 01:07 | Anonymous
  • 18 Mar 2012 20:50
    Reply # 862332 on 766953
    There is a commercial product available that is quite easy to use, and has all of the proportional relationships worked out in advance.  I have no connection to the company, but I have been using it on two different junks, and have climbed all three masts (the previous boat was a schooner; the present one is a sloop) many times using this device - the ATN Topclimber.  The company has a demonstrator at most US boat shows.  I tried lashing a ladder to the mast once - that experience was not a happy one and led to my purchase of a Topclimber.

    The ascenders on the Topclimber do not dig into a double braid rope so it is very easy to engage and disengage one of them to move it up or down.  Going down is just as slow as going up however.  I bought a dedicated rather stiff double braid climbing rope to avoid any damage to my halyards, but had to climb the main halyard of the present boat once and there is no apparent damage to the line.
  • 08 Mar 2012 14:46
    Reply # 851599 on 766953
           I have used a double extension ladder on my masts , once when when tied to a wall in a tidal harbor and once afloat .  My masts are about 25 ft above the cabin top , method used , place one ladder side paralell with the mast make sure the footing is good  and not libial to twist around the mast , then with an arm full of short ropes tie the ladder to the mast every couple of rungs as you climbe up the ladder , gleaned from a steeple jack.    This method is not for the faint hearted, and a safity harness is a good idea , it gets abit rocky up there .    Dont forget to un tiie the ropes on the way down preferbly somewhere near head hight .  ?  
  • 28 Dec 2011 04:21
    Reply # 782539 on 766953
    My christmas present to myself was a Petzl Grigri2 ascender/descender/belay device. I had been using two Petzl toothed ascenders, and the step up/step down method, but found this to be very slow and tedious in descent (mostly because the toothed ascenders are difficult to disengage from the rope).
    Now my kit consists of:
    • Sit harness, similar to a climbing harness, but heavily built with 100mm webbing waist band and leg supports.
    • Large carabiner attaching the Grigri to the harness.
    • Handled ascender, and carabiner attaching twin webbing foot loops in the form of an inverted 'Y' ( so that I can put one foot either side of the mast for stability).
    • A webbing  sling between the carabiner on the handled ascender and another carabiner attached to the large carabiner on the harness. (so that the harness is always attached to both devices on the rope). 
    • The foot loops also pass through this third carabiner (that makes it easier to push yourself up on them. 
    • A length of 9mm climbing half-rope* that is hoisted on the main halyard to the masthead.
    The lengths of the foot loops and sling are critical. They should be such that when you are sitting in the harness, and you have drawn your feet right up underneath you, the handled ascender is as high up the rope as you can reach, with the sling between handled ascender and harness taut. Then when you stand up in the foot loops, the Grigri should be close up to the underside of the handled ascender. That way, you gain the most height for each cycle of stand-up/sit-down.
    Descending is remarkably easy, if the Grigri is on a 9mm climbing half-rope (not so easy on an aging 10mm braid halyard). Just take the handled ascender off the rope, and control the speed of descent using the handle on the Grigri, which lifts the cam in a very pr4cise manner.
    I've been up the mast four times in the last week using this system, to replace a broken and corroded-on VHF antenna, and I found it easy to use (well, anyway, as easy as a mast climbing system is ever going to be. And I only want to do it in calm water – no at-sea heroics for me, if I can avoid it).

    *so called because climbers use them in pairs on some difficult climbs, rather than a single 11mm rope.
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