Adventurous Aerial Activities Ahead

I knew this day would eventually arrive. It’s time to go up the mast. It’s an unavoidable part of owning a sailboat. Things that are way too high to reach from the deck occasionally need to be inspected, repaired, or in this case, installed. The parts are finally all here for the radar mount, and it’s time to put it up.


By the way, this is the special adapter that we had to order to make the standard Scanstrut radar mount work on our Z-Spar furling mast:


Now when the need to go aloft arises, you can either pay someone to do it for you, or work out a way to do it yourself. Since climbing a mast doesn’t require any special skills, and being the self-sufficient types that we are, we’d rather do it ourselves. Besides, you never know when the need to go aloft to fix something might arise when we’re off on distant shores and there’s no one but us to do it.

Normally the way you’d go about this is to have someone take a halyard (rope used to raise a sail) to one of the boat’s winches and crank the other person aloft. Now while Rhonda might be pretty handy with tools (she has her own toolbox after all), the types of things that need to be done aloft, like drilling metal and installing pop rivets, is more in my skill set than hers. But there’s no physical way she’s going to be able to crank my 190 pounds 30 feet (or more) up the mast. So after looking at a few alternatives, we went with this:


The ATN Mastclimber is a set of rope ascenders similar to those that rock climbers use. One has a set of stirrups attached that you can stand in, and the other one you attach to your bosun’s chair. You slide the ascenders onto a halyard and basically inch-worm your way up the line by standing in the stirrups in order to slide the seat higher, and then sitting in the seat to raise the stirrups. Reverse the process to descend. In theory, I should be able to use these to climb the mast by myself, while Rhonda takes a safety line to a winch as a precaution to ensure I won’t fall if something doesn’t work with the ascenders.

That’s the theory, anyway. We’re about to put theory to practice. Stay tuned dear reader!

2 thoughts on “Adventurous Aerial Activities Ahead

  1. John Miller - S/V Dulcinea

    I have this ascender! My model includes the seat though. It will take you a while to get a rhythm going, but eventually you will find what works best for you. WEAR GLOVES though. I have gotten pinched on the descent before. on the Ascent, you really don’t have to squeeze the device, just push it up from the bottom. I have used this totally by myself before with no problem! Understand that since you are only moving 6 to 8 inches at a time it will take you a little while to get to the top of your mast. The speed depends upon your fitness level… it is a good work out though! looking forward to the next post!

    1. Robert Post author

      I already had a really nice bosun’s seat, so I was glad that ATN sold a set (which was a little cheaper) that let you bring your own seat. Thanks for the tip about the gloves, I can definitely see how you could pinch yourself in the ascender jaws.


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