When a customer asks us to climb a mast to maybe fit a new mast head wind speed transducer, new cups for a NASA unit, change the filament bulb on an anchor light to a LED or carry out a rig check I always ask what size winches are fitted to get us up the mast and are they self tailing? Older yachts with small halyard winches on the mast or on the coachroof do present a challenge as do some production yachts as the winches fitted as standard are great for hoisting sails but not powerful enough to hoist an elderly guy like me who’s climbing days are long gone! In a situation like this we always carry in the van a Topclimber however our ‘method statement’ for our insurance company, incidentally two pages long, states that we also need to wear an independent harness for this. Our weapon of choice is the Spinlock Mast pro harness.
Another device to help get you right to the top is also called a Top Climber – confusing, but an excellent bit of kit. The full title is actually ‘Solent Leisure Top Climber’, basically its a set of stirrups that attaches to a bosuns chair.
Those of us of a particular vintage may remember the Eddie Cochrane record ‘three steps to heaven’ well my idea of boatie heaven is four! On the mast for Hindsight which I was starting to prepare for stepping I am fitting a couple of light weight/low windage folding mast steps at the top of the mast to make reaching those hard to reach items easier, I am also fitting a couple a metre up from the base of the spar making it possible to fit the sail cover round the headboard and upper portion of the mainsail with little effort.