Thursday, October 17, 2013

Up the Stick AGAIN

This time it was on our boat s/v Honey Ryder.  And this time I cranked myself up so to speak.  There was no sit back and enjoy the ride this go around.   I used our Mast Climber.  If you don't know what that is, click here for a video demo.  HOWEVER, it is not as easy as little Ms first time to try it makes it look.  No way!  Plus she only had to go to the top of the mast on an O'Day 26...not that that is not impressive but I am just saying there is a difference between the height of an O'Day 26 mast and our Caliber 40 LRC 58 ft mast.'s basically a climbing rig where you can step/stand yourself up the mast.

First you raise the feet portion of the rig, bending your knees and bringing them up as high as you can to your waist - while sitting in a climbing harness that is around your butt and waist with a tiny seat built in. 

Then you stand up and move the rigging thing/carabiner (or whatever it's called) up the line above your head and then you repeat the previous step, raising your feet again and so on and so forth. 

I think the video calls it leapfrogging up the mast.  Yeah right!  It is not easy.

First you are hanging on for dear life, gripping just as tight as you can.  Second you really need to be somewhat flexible - I am SO not flexible - to raise your ankles up to your butt and your knees up toward your chest.  It also helps to have good leg muscles.  Ugh!  Of course I was getting all twisted around in the various sides stays as I first went up.  Then I had to maneuver around the radar dome - a.)  not bang my head on it as I inched up.  b.) not knock into it as I was next to it.  c.)  not kick it as I passed it.  My ascent was very, very, very slow - 6" max at a time.  A dock neighbor came over to see if we needed help and then to observe but he got bored at my snails pace and left.  When I finally reached the top I discovered that we have two mast steps near the top of our mast - one on each side.  Kewl!  The starboard opened after a little wiggling and a tap.  The port side wouldn't, even with a fair amount of banging.  Crap!  I had the Mast Climber rig/carabiner as high as it would go.  I took my feet out of the foot rig and moved it up really high- basically right under my butt.  Then I maneuvered my left foot over to the mast step and put my right foot back into the foot strap on the rig.  My knees were basically up close to my ears - at least it seems like they were.  For me that is near impossible but being 58ft above the deck of our boat attached only by a rope and webbing put a good dose of unknown flexibility into my system.  No doubt fueled by a fair amount of adrenaline.    I hoisted myself up in one big hurmph!  I wrapped my arms around and over the top of the mast like I was hugging a long lost friend.  Luckily I didn't knock anything loose in the process. 

Whew - made it!  I went up the mast to 1.) check our rigging and take pics.  2.)  see what type of bulbs we have so we can get replacement LED bulbs.  3.)  replace the windvane.  Rigging looks great.  Bulb would not come out but I got a pic so I know what we need.  Old windvane base would NOT come off.  I tried and tried.  Twice I had to sit back down - which was very scary as I was sitting WAY back down and it felt like there was nothing there - like I was just sitting back into nothing.  Three times I hoisted myself up to work at the top of the mast.  Finally I was worn out.

But now I had to get back down. The process is supposed to reverse you down easy peasy.  HA - bullshit!  First I lowered the foot strap (remember it was really high up under my butt) but then I couldn't get my feet back in.  I struggle and struggled.  Finally I got them in the straps.  Then I lowered the top rig down.  Zoom - way down.  Too far down.  I was now squatting in mid air feeling like I was going to flip upside down.  I didn't but it felt that way.  Then I couldn't take enough pressure of the foot straps to release the lower foot rig.  I was stuck.  Like a cat up a tree...actually like a frog up a mast except a very weird looking, blond, frazzled frog.  I finally raised myself back up enough to where I could take the pressure off the foot straps and lower that rig.  I inched my way up the crazy mast, I don't know why I thought I could repel down in two and three foot chunks.  I could not.  That didn't stop me from getting stuck in the frog position a few more times.  It was harder coming down that going up.

Despite having gloves on I manage two blisters on the my left hand and some deep gouges on my ankles from the foot straps. 

I have no doubt a whole rash of bruises will start showing up tomorrow.  But I did it.  I went up and back all on my own.  For the record I volunteered - Tom has done this once before ( much faster, much more gracefully).  I think next time, we will let the neighbor help and I will just ride. 


  1. You are a brave one. If our stick is down this winter for inspection I will add some steps near the top. It's really tough to do any work up there without them, as you know. Hope you are not bruised too badly.

  2. That selfie was're gonna be sore

  3. Now you know why inchworms don't live all that long...