Mast Climbing

On Sunday we went up to Lake Norman where we keep our Catalina.  It was cold which is good because that keeps power-boaters away.  My favorite sailing season is winter – one has the lake to themselves and the wind is steady and doesn’t die out in the mid day summer heat.

However, this past Sunday we had other plans.  We needed to install a new wind indicator and test out our new mast-climbing gear!

Originally I had planned to be the one going up the mast but Erin said that she wanted to and so I ended up on deck winching her up.  It’s a good thing too! It was much harder than I expected.

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After a lot of research we decided that a harness type bosuns chair would be the best for us.  The Alberg has mast steps installed all the way up the mast which will enable us to walk up yet we will stay secure in our harness the entire time in case of slips.  We really like the Spinlock Mast Pro Mark II harness however its a bit expensive!  A bit of research and I found the manufacturer for the Spinlock who makes mountain climbing equipment and has an almost identical harness for 1/3 less than the Spinlock.

So here is out Petzl Calidris harness which we both find very comfortable and fits either of us very well:

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The second part of the equation for us is an ascension tool.  These work like rope clutches or cam cleats and allow the rope to go one way but not the other.  In practice they are like a handle you can hang on to, push up when you want to go up, but will never let you fall.  I neglected to take a picture but here is a close up of Erin using it! In this picture her weight is supported by the halyard that I have cleated off so I could take pictures but she is still hanging onto her ascension tool.  You can also see that she has tied a safety loop in the ascension rope so that if the halyard broke and she let go of her tool she would still only fall to the spreaders.  Since this was our practice run we inevitably learned a few things, one of which is this:  We should have tied a 4 foot safety rope to the bottom of the ascension tool that attaches directly to the harness.  This way, no matter where you are in your climb you can only fall a few feet.  Lesson learned and we will have this on the next trip up 🙂

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Here is our Petzl ascension ascender tool:

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You can attach a foot strap to the bottom hole as well which enables you to pull your own weight up the mast.  The only reason we did not invest in this is because of the mast steps we have installed on the Alberg.  If we didn’t have the steps, we would definitely use the foot strap on the ascender.


2 thoughts on “Mast Climbing

  1. I have used the ascension tools in rock climbing with web loops for your feet so you can use your legs for lifting. Pushing it up the halyard hooked to your harness will make a great safety tool with the mast steps!

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  2. Way to go, Erin! Ed and I are duly impressed. Glad you’re both happy with the ascension tools/gear and that everything went smoothly on your test run. We use the foot strap on Skylark which Dad made out of webbing and that works very well for us.

    Liked by 1 person

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