View Full Version : Mast Mate
I have been considering using a "Mast Mate" to do some of my work aloft. Has anyone used one? Is it a good investment?
I have always used a boats'ns chair, but sometimes can't get quite high enough to have my work in front of me.
01-31-2004, 07:29 PM
I used a home made one and it got the top of the mast in my lap. I sewed in some mast slides to a 5/8 dacron rope . Then spliced in " rungs "consisting of eye splices also spliced into the main line. These were held open by garden hose. It did stretch some but I could climb up the mast. I wouldn't want to do it if the boat was rolling though. ;)
PS use a safety line in any case.
02-01-2004, 07:50 AM
This has the same disadvantages as mast steps with added wobble. There's a reason the regular ladder has two legs with rungs between rather than just one pole with spikes out each side.
In the bad old days I'd sometimes stand on the chair with a nice tight waist line to allow both hands free but so much has been improved since mountaineers and sailors began cross-pollinating.
In the early '60's my home made whillan's style sit-harness was considered pretty strange in a boat yard and the use of prussiks and later jumbers was too wierd. Now that is the norm and the best way.
Spend a little money to do it right. A proper sit harness is readily bought at either a mountaineering store, waste marine, or from specialists like Brion Toss, Larikis, etc.
Same with 'climbers' or ascenders.
When you first use ascenders, you may well start on a fixed line, as they were initially designed to be used. If your hallyards are not fat enough, you may have to run a line up on the hallyard and secure the end to set the line up tightly.
I never really liked this as the fixed line limits your freedom aloft. Like what if you want to swing out to the spreader's end? Also it's work going up and sometimes painful to sit in the harness too long. Finally, you're putting double strain on the fitting aloft, not that that's all that big a deal. A guy of my heft can easily load the hallyard block with a 500# strain, which should be well within its SWL. But . . .
So here's Ian's lazy solo comfortable route to hanging in the rigging.
You'll need a sit harness with at least three locking 'biners and a descending ring. Have a good chest harness of the figure 8 type. I like a short tape selvagee from that as my safety line but it needs adjustment to get away from the mast and needs to be recast as you pass spreaders. The salvagee-tether goes around in the usual self-tightening way, but it's nice to have a couple of 'biners connecting the harness at comfortable snug. This is what you'll be leading the hoist though in the next step.
This works for climing up on fiber hallyards that are not internal. Where there are only internal hallyards and no suitable topping lift or spinnaker hallyard, I've been known to run a block with a long line up to the truck.
Secure the hoist to your sit harness and inside the chest harness.
Run the fall through a block you've secured on deck, at the gooseneck, or wherever and back up to the sit harness but a different 'biner than the hoist is on.
Put one ascender on the fall and short (2") strap to the sit harness. This and the fall remain outside the chest harness.
Adjust the ascender and put some weight on it so's your hanging. Half your load will be on the hoist and half on the ascender on the fall. Now redo the knot that attaches the fall (from below) to the harness as there will be slack.
Ready to climb. Put the other ascender on and have the tape lead to double loops so you can get both feet and legs in action. Adjust length for comfort. The motion is to raise the leg ascender as high as makes sense, then stand on that as you slide the harness ascender up.
The chest harness capturing the hoist allows you to lean back in a semi-recline for most work, thus sharing the strain onto your back and making long jobs aloft far more pleasant.
You're doing all the work at the two ascenders. The bit with the fall going on to a block down by the deck and back to you does two things. Firstly, ascenders don't work well without tension on the line from below as well as above. Also, by making a continuous loop, you prevent a big pile of the fall gathering, perhaps tangling due to wind, on deck the higher you go.
If you must work at the very top of the mast, you can fiddle the length of the leg loops and make a really tight waist band to make a safe work platform with everything from the naval up above the truck.
To get down, take the leg-loop ascender off the line and secure in your tool bucket. Untie the fall that's coming up from below to your sit harness - the fall's ascender is what's holding you - and put the loose part of the fall on a descending ring on your harness.
Gather some energy to transferr your weight from the ascender to the descending ring. This is best done by pulling up on the fall with one hand (remember your advantage is 2:1 and anyone can do a one handed chin with only half one's weight) and triming the slack off the descending ring with the other. Then hang on the ring, holding with one hand, while the other hand eases the brake trigger on the ascender. Now you can slide down. If you utterly let go of everything, the ascender will grab the line.
Practice just above deck level all the moves so if you get confused, your muscular freind can lift you out of the mess.
Dangle easy and
02-01-2004, 02:18 PM
I have one that I use on a 39' aluminum mast. I don't like to use it for the reasons mentioned above (a little more wobbly than mast steps) but it has worked for me on those rare occasions when I've needed to replace a wind indicator or a halyard (short jobs). I don't do a lot of maintenance work aloft. My boat is only in the water during the summer season, not year 'round.
I bought it on ebay for half retail price and wouldn't spend any more for my purposes.
02-06-2004, 05:22 PM
Had one on my last boat (plastic, sorry) and found it too stretchy for my taste. If you're small it may be less of a problem; stretch is related to weight and I'm 210 pounds. I sold it and switched to a good mountaineering harness which I already owned from climbing. Don't even THINK of paying the $200 or so that Toss charges.
Good places to look for quality harness at discounts (they sell online) are rei.com, ems.com, and sierratradingpost.com. Be sure that you get a comfortable one. A "big wall" harness will usually be much more padded.
It may be that the Toss harness is better if you literally spend all day in one. but for most people (me included) a climbing harness is fine; i've spent hours in mine at the top of the mast.
Look here for examples:
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.2.1 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.