September 23, 2014

How to sail your sailboat: climbing the mast.

     This is no ones favorite aspect of sailing, but it is inevitable. Eventually, you will need to climb up your mast and address some pressing issue.

... a halyard is fouled, the weather vane has snapped, an anchor light has blown a bulb. Whatever the problem may be, there is only one solution. You must defy all logic and climb 40 feet straight up a relatively flimsy piece of aluminum tubing.

climbing the mast
If you fall from the mast, the key is to land in the water.

    You will need to be brave. . . nobody like a cowardly Captain. But at the same time, you need to be cautious. A wounded Captain is a useless Captain.

    Make sure you are well-fed and well-hydrated before going up top. Think through the project at hand. Do you have all the necessary tools attached to your bosun's chair? Bringing me to the next point. Get a great bosun's chair.
bosun chair for climbing mast
When you're up top, a stout and well-built bosun's chair will calm your nerves.
    Climb in and strap down. Attach the bosun's chair to a halyard and have a friend hoist you up as if you were a sail being raised.
    I heavily recommend you find a trusted friend to winch you up and tie off a good cleat once you're in place. This person needs to be someone who can tie a good cleat and knows how to take up tension on a winch. But he also needs to be the kind of guy who has a free 30 minutes. These two qualities do not always overlap.

Good luck and enjoy the view!

Please follow the links below for the full 'How to Sail your Sailboat' series:

How to sail your sailboat: putting your boat on the rocks with style.
How to sail your sailboat: owning your cockpit.
How to sail your sailboat: mixing a cocktail while underway. 
How to sail your sailboat: coming to terms with your slowly, sinking ship.

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