Posted By RichC on December 30, 2014
One of the challenges aboard a sailboat is go up a mast to inspect or take care of maintenance items. The tasks is not for those who are uncomfortable swinging back and forth on a stick 55-60 feet in the air. When I was in young and stupid, and only 165-170 lbs, the thought of going aloft was no big deal, but nowadays I ponder it a little bit more. The difficulty is not necessarily for the one going up the mast “in a bosun’s chair,” but for the one on deck having to winch my now 190-200 lb heft to the top (poor Mark).
Anyway, I thought it might be a good idea not have to depend on a deck-mate to hoist me to the top of the mast. So I started to review a few other options … as well coming up with an excuse to post this retro Navy pinup artwork (hm, very unlike me).
At the top of my list was to install permanent mast steps that are riveted to the side of the mast. Costly and extra holes can create corrosion and windage. Then there is the temporary portable “rope” ladders in a variety of designs. I’m fond of the Mast Mate and have corresponded with Gary the owner; I’m still tempted to to go that route. Several other sailors have used a variety of climbing mechanisms from expensive contraptions design specifically for working aloft to more complex rock climbing gear repurposed for going up a mast.
Then there is a simple homemade Easy Climb Board (at least that is what I’m calling it) … that I’m planning to construct this winter. This past week I ordered the cam cleat hardware and will use my old halyard that I recently replaced. The beauty is in its simplicity; as long as there are two lines available to hoist to the top of the mast it is easy to climb and still remain safe. A climber can keep a deck-mate around to secure the safety bosun’s chair or harness, but not have to hoist the climber – it’s far easier to watch the video below and get the gist. An update will be in the works.