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Mast climber Choices

Avi

.
Sep 23, 2018
26
S2 9.2c Palacios tx
I have a 30’ sailboat.
I am thinking to buy the ATN Mastclimber. I read mixed reviews about it. The benefits are wider range of working space around the mast and being able to reach above the top of the mast. Has anyone have an experience using it?
My other option is the Mastmate brand. But here not only I have to remove the sail from the track but I am more confined with working space.(I think).
Thanks for the advices
 
Dec 28, 2015
1,326
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
it can't take more than 5 minutes to remove the main from the track......
 

Joe

.
Jun 1, 2004
7,389
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
I purchased the TOPCLIMBER about 8-9 years ago, but because of my weight then(over 300) and inflexibility(i.e. stomach in the way) I found it way too difficult. I have since lost significant weight (down to 190) and regained a good deal of flexibility.... so I can use it... but I still have some difficulty and don't really like it. My friend has a ladder system that I can borrow. It's not difficult... but I wouldn't do it alone. I'd wear a harness or bosun's chair sling attached to a spare halyard with a crew to tend it. Also to help with tools and parts. If you're like a wiry, 145 lb guy... the ascender style system won't be much of a problem, but if you're over 220 and have flexibility issues I'd go for the ladder method. This is just my opinion based on my own experience. I honestly think I prefer finding a young, monkey kid that has a bit of mechanical ability and pay him to go up for you.
The ladder device I used has opposing foot loops at the top which allows you to stand comfortably... then with the harness secured to the mast you can work with both hands.
Good Luck, and for sure be careful, use a spotter and a safety line.
 
Last edited:
Jan 19, 2010
929
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
Whether you use the ATN Climber, MastMate or any other such creature, you should ALWAYS have someone on deck to belay you. That being said, you should consider acquiring a proper bosun's seat. Climbing the mast and limited to centerline activities removes spreader work. Sitting in a seat allows you to use both hands. One handed work according to Murphy's law states, " You WILL drop a very valuable piece, it will drop to the deck, bounce twice and meet Mr Jones..."
I have 2 ways to get aloft. Both use a seat and both use a second belay line. The quick and easy way is using my Milwaukee 28v right angle drill with winch chuck.. this is a breeze to use.. The other method is with a climbing board. The board with clam cleats allows me to stand in the seat, have the seat slack taken up, then sit in the seat and raise the board with my feet and repeat the process.

Both work an both require the essential deck mate...
 
Jul 26, 2009
246
. . .
We've had the ATN Mastclimber for several years. Does the job well, no complaints so far. I'm closer to Joe's new weight above, ~190lbs but with decent flexibility (for now...). I can see how the process could be uncomfortable for me in a few years, or for those with different body types. I find it easy to store, setup, climb and descend once you get the hang of the ascenders (which will happen in the first 10 feet). On your initial climb, don't forget to try descending before you get too high. It's not difficult, but something you want to figure out before you're all the way up and have to come down. I tension the halyard differently depending on where I'm heading. For working inline with the mast, make sure the halyard is taught to the deck as it makes everything easier. For work at the top, the setup puts you at a comfortable level above the masthead to work. If you need to get out on the spreaders, slacken the halyard just a bit. You'll swing more on the way up, but it allows you to work off the shrouds. I guess you could have your spotter adjust the tension as needed, but I just set it and climb. Wear a pair of fingerless gloves and shoes with stiffer/thicker soles. The work is all in your legs so the foot straps carry a lot weight - you'll feel that in your feet as you go up/down and stand to work. As with any safety gear, inspect thoroughly before each use and tie off the halyards (no shackles).

To Sailme's point, always use a second halyard/spotter whenever going aloft. While ATN markets it as a 'single handed bosun's chair', I would only consider doing so in an emergency. Oh, don't forget a retrieval line. No matter how you make you're way up, you'll realize you forgot something once you get to the top.
 
Last edited:
Oct 26, 2010
1,376
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
The other method is with a climbing board. The board with clam cleats allows me to stand in the seat, have the seat slack taken up, then sit in the seat and raise the board with my feet and repeat the process.
@sailme88 Do you have a "brand" for the climbing board and a picture of the one you have?
 
Jan 19, 2010
929
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
@sailme88 Do you have a "brand" for the climbing board and a picture of the one you have?
Smokey, the board is home made. It is aboard my boat. I'll try to take a pic tomorrow. Essentially it is 2 pieces of 1/2" CDX plywood. They are mounted together with 5/4 strips of composite deck boards. The shape is like a piece of bread. There are foot holes on each side of the center line. At to top centerline is an eye bolt. Immediately beneath is a cam cleat and another eye bolt at the bottom edge.
The process is: Run a halyard thru the top and bottom eye bolts and try it off. Winch that line tight. Sit in the seat and place feet into the holes ( cut outs actually). As you lift the board with your feet it rises and locks on the halyard with the cam. At the end of the stroke ( limit of leg lift) you stand and off load the the seat. your deck mate takes up the slack in the seat halyard. You sit back into the seat and repeat the process. All of you lifting is being done by your legs.
 
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Avi

.
Sep 23, 2018
26
S2 9.2c Palacios tx
Thank you all very much for the advice. I think I will go with the Mastmate brand since I weigh 220 and not so flexible.
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,376
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
@sailme88 Do you have a "brand" for the climbing board and a picture of the one you have?
Were you able to get to the boat and take a picture of your climbing board. I saw a video of what I think you are referring to some time ago.
 
Jan 19, 2010
929
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
Were you able to get to the boat and take a picture of your climbing board. I saw a video of what I think you are referring to some time ago.
I wasn't able to get to her yesterday...t-storms thought the area made it impractical. It IS on today's agenda..~~(\_~~
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,376
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
I wasn't able to get to her yesterday...t-storms thought the area made it impractical. It IS on today's agenda..~~(\_~~
@sailme88 Thanks but don't make a special trip. I can wait but was just interested. Doesn't sound like it would be too hard to make.
 
Jun 27, 2014
117
Jeanneau Moorings International 50 Everett
I bought the ATN Mast Climber, and found the ascenders to be a poor design. the load is attached to a lever on the cam, at the top of the ascender, causing the line to bend 90 degrees each time the load is applied. Half the each leg stroke was wasted bending and straightening the line. I bought ascenders from REI which have the load attached at the bottom of the ascender, near the exiting line, which don't bend the line at all as it is used. Gives twice the climb for each leg extension, and doesn't look nearly as hard on the line.

I initially thought I would use the ATN ascenders with my bosun chair, so didn't buy their harness, but I didn't feel secure enough in the bosun chair, so I bought a climbing harness while at REI. It came in two sizes, and the salesperson thought I looked like I needed the larger, but I should have gotten the smaller as I have to adjust all the straps to their limit to feel at all secure. I am 70 and 205 lbs at 5-11, and can climb my 60' mast without assistance. If alone, I use one of the ATN ascenders on another halyard for safety.
On one climb, a shackle on the foot sling failed and I had to yell for help. Several people on the next dock came running to help but were looking in the water, not up the mast for a victim - kind of funny. First help to get to my boat was the wife of the ex-sailor that lived across the dock from me, but she was afraid to touch the winch to lower me down and her husband wasn't available. Finally a sailor from down the dock a ways arrived, but he seemed nervous as I was telling him which halyard, etc. I had to keep telling him to slow down, relax, and be careful - there's no rush. I was just stuck, not hurt or in any danger - except from him.
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,376
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
Thanks @sailme88 What I imagined. I like the two pieces of plywood with the spacer in between to keep the weight down but provide some surface area for the foot.
 
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Jan 19, 2010
929
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
Thanks @sailme88 What I imagined. I like the two pieces of plywood with the spacer in between to keep the weight down but provide some surface area for the foot.
I forgot to take a backside pic. What it would show is a flush surface. All screw are slightly counter sunk to avoid making contact with the mast..
 

allanb

.
Oct 26, 2017
13
Hunter 27 1978 Seattle
I completely agree on not liking the ATN ascenders. My halyards didn’t like them either. Plus ascenders in general suck when climbing down solo.
 
Oct 26, 2010
1,376
Hunter 40.5 Beaufort, SC
@sailme88 I like the climbing board but once you get to the top and do your work, how do you get the board back down. It seems the cam cleats would lock the board at the highest level you reached? Any trick would be appreciated.
 
Dec 28, 2015
1,326
Laser, Hunter H30 Cherubini Tacoma
Man am I glad the previous owner installed mast steps. Easy climb then tie off and sit in my climbing harness as long as I need. I’ll probably integrate a bosun chair at some point.
 
Jan 19, 2010
929
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
@sailme88 I like the climbing board but once you get to the top and do your work, how do you get the board back down. It seems the cam cleats would lock the board at the highest level you reached? Any trick would be appreciated.
Holding the board in place with my feet, the line is eased out of the cam and will slide thru the eye bolts..