I’ve always made the unsafe, cumbersome climb up the mast using a bosun’s chair attached to a halyard. I then find a random buddy or dock-stroller to winch me up. I have to give a lesson on technique and how to best prevent my death. I also attach a backup halyard in case the primary halyard breaks (seen that happen while hoisted a sail a couple times on different boats already) but two lines handled by one helper is sketchy. I prefer one person per line. Anyway, this method sucks. It’s slow, a lot of work, you need helpers and it’s dangerous. Time for a new method!
My new and improved solo setup: I cruised the net and found a guy’s site who tested quite a few combinations and methods and chose his favorite. I’m stealing his method. Full kudos to L-36.com. It requires a couple hundred bucks to set up, but it allows me to climb the mast alone safely. Here is the guy’s site, including GoPro footage of him climbing up and down the mast: http://l-36.com/mast_climbing.php.
Here are the ingredients (~$275):
- $100 Bosun’s chair (West Marine Premium Bosun’s Chair on eBay)
- $50 Climbing harness (eBay)
- $48 Petzl Microcender (eBay)
- $46 Ushba basic ascender (from a friend)
- The Petzl Basic ascender also works
- I was very close to getting a GriGri instead. It allows you to slide down the halyard with full weight on the chair using a handle as a brake. The Ushba and Petzl require unweighting using the footloops which is quite a bit slower. In fact, I may get one after more testing with my current set-up…
- $10 Webbing (I used some leftover jackline webbing)
- $30 2 Locking Carabiners
Climbing using the basic ascender (Ushba or Petzl): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHxNix3xeVE
Climbing using the GriGri: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkErYrEWOMA