Saturday, May 3, 2014

Up The Mast...Again

My first attempt at going up the mast I tried using my ascenders and harness and went up to check the deck light that was about 1/3 of the way up.  What I found was a broken wire that I didn't have the tools with me to repair, so I needed to go back up. This time, prepared with the knowledge of what was wrong, I had the crimpers and connectors needed to hopefully repair the light.

While the ascenders were interesting and an effective way to go up the mast by myself, I decided this time I would try to find a helper to winch me up.  Doug, the neighbor at the dock that went on a day sail with me a little bit ago was kind (or was it crazy) enough to volunteer to help and I took him up on it.  Another dock neighbor offered his fancy padded Bosun's char as well, so I decided I would give it a try too.

Doug winched me up on the spinnaker halyard while we used the main halyard as a safety line.  I also rigged up a small block and line so Doug could "hand" me things like the heat gun for the heat shrink on the connector.  Getting to the deck light was less effort for me this time...I think Doug mentioned passing the 6-pack point on the payment scale.  He was also kind enough to take a picture for me.

Heat shrinking a connector while hanging from the mast.

Cutting off the old connector, stripping the wire and attaching a new connector was pretty straight-forward...just needed to be very mindful not to drop anything.  Using the block and line, Doug passed me the heat gun and I was able to heat-shrink things so hopefully it will last a bit longer than last time.  I connected the bulb and had Doug go flip the switch...and...viola...there was light.  At some point I would like to replace the bulb with an LED equivalent, but for now at least the light works so nighttime on the deck should be a little safer.

I couldn't use the spinnaker line as the main line because it does not go all the way up the mast. Like many catamarans, mine is a fractional rig and the spinnaker halyard terminates just above the forestay.  I came down the mast and we re-rigged the lines so I could use the main halyard to go all the way up to the top and have the spinnaker as a safety line.  This also means I needed to go up on the back side of the mast instead of the front.

Going up the back side of the mast was more difficult due to a couple reasons. The lines for the stack pack (main sail cover designed so the sail will drop into the "bag" that makes the cover) go a good way up the mast to help guide the sail into the pack when you lower it and I needed to work my way through them.  The mast also curves back a bit so letting go of the mast will cause you to swing away from it.  Of course, my usual luck with weather also kicked in and a breeze started blowing from the front of the boat as well.  Between the wind and the angle of the mast, I decided to abort the attempt after getting about 2/3 of the way up. I just didn't feel like becoming a human flag that day. In hindsight, I should have rigged a line I could wrap around the mast to keep me next to it.  Guess I at least learned something on the attempt.

So, the small white anchor light at the top of the mast remains out due to reasons unknown, but the deck light is now operational.  As I'm learning about boat maintenance, one out of two ain't bad and I did learn something new for the next attempt.

As a side note...

Now that I've used both a climbing harness and a Bosun's chair, I have some real world experience for a comparison.  The big padded board of the chair is more comfortable.  The big mesh pockets were also a nice feature...but can easily be added to the harness as well.  The chair is a bit more cumbersome to handle on deck...getting in and out of as well as standing up once you are in the chair.  If you try to help the person winching you up by using your legs to climb as you reach footholds, you also tend to slide forward in the chair (I assume I would experience similar problems if using an ascender with foot loops to go alone) and the strap between your legs holding you on the chair can  Overall, I think the harness does feel more secure (even though it would probably be quite a trick to fall out of the chair) but the chair is a bit more comfortable.  I think I am happy with the decision I made there...although I may borrow a chair again sometime if someone were to offer and I'm not using ascenders.

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