Methods of Mast Climbing

The mast is a tall and challenging place to work, but there are several safe ways of getting up there. Some methods require crew on deck to wind the climber, but newer techniques let a single person go up by themselves. Whichever method is used, crew should practice on the dock and in sheltered water to make it less scary for the climber.Find out

The most familiar method is to use a bosun’s chair, with a crew member tailing the line to belay halyards, and to be ready to take over if the climber starts to fall. A prusik line, slung from the back of the chair to the shrouds or spreaders, can also be used for backup. If conditions are calm, you can also clip a second safety line on the other side of the spreaders, and untie it when you reach the top.

Key Considerations When Selecting Mast Climbing Equipment

Another technique is based on mountaineering, with the climber using feet in rope steps attached to tethers that are rigged up to fixed lines and ascenders. These are the least familiar to sailors, but they have some advantages compared to traditional climbing methods. One advantage is that they don’t require crew on deck, and the climber can be lowered down to a cleat by its tether when the job is done. However, the tethers can be hard on halyards, so if you’re going to use this approach, it’s best to have a dedicated line for halyards.

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