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Mast Climbing

Jan 4, 2006
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
Has anyone come up with a safety line to use with the Easy Climb mast climber ? I am headed up the mast this summer to replace the anchor light and refuse be winched up the mast again. The downward forces on the mast get worrisome when you add your weight, the force pulling you up, and the sheave friction. And the crew is ready to walk off the second time I want to go up.

I can't see ever going up the mast without a snug, dedicated safety line. But as you can see, the gent in this youtube video seems to think he's got it all under control even without a dedicated safety line :eek:. I'll grant you, doesn't seem as if he's ever fallen but then maybe I'm just chicken :wahwah:.

Imagine the line holding the Easy Climb device failing and you've got one hell of a drop into the bosun's chair. Not good. Imagine the line holding the bosun's chair failing and the Easy Climb device snaps your feet off. Even worse.

I can't find a current mfg. for Easy Climb and was going to build one myself but a little fancier with carpet backing to avoid scratching the mast. This strikes me as one of the best climbing devices I have seen because of it's utter simplicity (and low cost) .............. if you can come up with a dedicated safety line.

The Easy Climb.JPG

Anyone have experience with one of these or ....................... do you have a better (simpler) method of mast climbing ?
Sep 29, 2008
Catalina 310 #185 Quantico
Never heard of it but it seems to be a great idea. It would be nice for me to go up the mast and not have to have to haul the Admiral up. That way I can see what the real problem is vice interpreting and explaining.
Feb 8, 2014
Columbia 36 Muskegon
I use my safety harness, and wrap the tether 540 deg around the mast and back to the harness. If something lets go, the tether should cinch up around the mast and hold me in place. Never tried it, but that's the theory. I use a second tether for when I get to the spreaders. Hook up the second one above the spreaders before letting go the first one from below.
Aug 2, 2005
Celebrity Class 19 Penn Yan, NY (Seneca Lake SP)
+1 for the climbing harness that Charles uses or a similar version. Pre-hip replacement I used a harness system regularly. Since last July 1 not so much!

RE: Safety line......don't leave the deck without one! I wore a lineman's belt along with the climbing harness and used our spinnaker halyard for a safety line. The jib halyard could be used if you are willing to pull down a roller furled jib. BTW, in my system (which I built from parts purchased on ebay) I bought a dedicated climbing line rather than climb on the halyard itself.
Aug 13, 2012
Catalina 270 Ottawa
+ 1 for what Charles said. The only modification I would suggest is to use two separate lines. Always. One for climbing, the other one for safety.

If I don't have any help, I would use three ascenders: two on the climbing line (e.g. main halyard) - for harness and foot loop, and the third on the safety line (e.g. the spinnaker halyard). The cost of the simple ascenders is quite low (under $40 for Ropeman or Tibloc). I never tried the Gri-Gri (on a boat). It would let you descend much easier, but I am not sure I would like to use the rope for the halyard after a few repels down the line.


Mar 16, 2010
Beneteau 411 Oceanis Annapolis
Use a dedicated line to climb with an ascender and a gri-gri, each providing a secure redundant attachment. The Gri-gri brings you down. Tie off the dedicated line to your most trusted halyard and cleat it off tight at the deck. You could have someone belay you with a separate halyard run through a clutch, all they would be doing is keeping you taut, not lifting.
Sep 15, 2009
S2 9.2a Fairhope Al
i use the mast mate ladder and it is the safest thing i have see for an old dude like me ...


Apr 22, 2009
Ontario 32 Pender Harbour
I could NOT get ascenders to work (even after instructions from MEC) - I was exhausted after only going up about 6 ft.

I don't really see the advantage of the "easy-climb" - I guess it's to make the winch-cranker's job easier? You still need a winch-cranker...

Mar 26, 2011
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
.... The downward forces on the mast get worrisome when you add your weight, the force pulling you up, and the sheave friction.
On your boat the combined force of you and the winch (400 pounds?) compared to the peak compression load up wind (shroud tension + forestay + backstay + halyards + main sheet > 15000 pounds makes this worry quite unnecessary. Relax.

Also, the load with a mast climber and the winch is the same (the line you are climbing is tied off). No difference to speak of.

A back-up line is still smart.
Aug 2, 2009
Catalina 28MKII Muskegon
I've been looking at the easy climb for my boat. I'll just make one using a bit of marine ply.

I wonder if you're mis-interpreting the video, as I'm not seeing a way for the climber to suffer much of a drop if the easy climber's line should fail. Key to the operation of the easy climber is having a helper on deck who is keeping all the slack out of the line that's attached to the bosun's chair (or harness). Because the person going up the mast is the one providing all the climbing power, the person keeping the slack out of the line has an easy job. Should the easy climber's line fail, most of the "fall" would simply be the safety line stretching as it receives the full weight of the climber.

In my situation (Catalina 28) I'll use the mainsail's halyard for the easy climber's line. For the safety line, I just bought a new sta-set 3/8" halyard that I keep coiled up in the forward cabin. When it's time to climb, I'll just replace my topping lift line with the spare halyard (using the topping lift line as the messenger line to thread the spare halyard through the mast sheaves). Might be overkill, but with my fear (respect) of heights, I like the idea of a dedicated line for the safety line. When the climb is over, I'll put the topping lift line back in place, and the safety line gets coiled and stored below for next time.

The easy climber is clever. It's not for everyone. It's biggest drawback for some is going to be the fact that it requires an assistant on deck. I daysail on Lake Michigan, and occasionally travel up and down the coast for a few days. It's unlikely I'll find myself single-handing and have to ascend the mast underway before the hurricane hits. With my fear of heights, ascenders don't appeal to me. The easy climber has me hanging onto the mast, which helps my comfort level.

One more thing: they cheat just a little in the video. You'll notice that they edited out the part where the easy climber has to pass the spreaders. I would think that when the easy-climber gets to the spreader, the user would find that their toes are catching the underside of the spreaders. The user might have to transfer their weight to the bosun's chair, and use their feet to pull the easy-climber a few inches away from the mast, pull it past the spreaders, and resume climbing.
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Oct 24, 2010
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
Our boat is fractional rigged. I have been thinking about this. I figured I can get up to a point using a second line to balay but once above that there isn't much available for a backup line. That's where I was thinking of something like what Capt jgw suggested possibly a prusik knot around the mast. My only change would be to try to add something sticky to the line to help it to bind on the mast. I don't quite have it figured out yet for this boat so before I go up high I need to play around with some ropes. In the past I also have always used a dedicated rope secured to the halyard to prevent halyard damage.

Mar 2, 2008
Cal 25 mk II T-Bird Marina, West Vancouver
I use a Mast Mate webbing ladder that goes up the main sail track using the main halyard (tied not shackled). For safety, I use my climbing harness attached with webbing to a Petzl Tibloc ascender with carabiner and a webbing belt around the mast. Before I got the Mast mate the used the harness, two ascenders with carabiners and webbing (one on foot loops and the other on the harness) to inchworm up and down the mast. This worked but was very slow and tiring. Always have a safety line and safety belt (and a spotter if possible).
Jan 30, 2012
Nor'Sea 27 - "Kiwanda" Portland/Anacortes
I suspect that Ralph would like to go up without having to involve others on deck. Thus the self ascend idea he proposes seems pretty good. Problem I see is that while his solution gets you up (albeit with some help from below) it does not get you down.

The way I do it allows you to climb and descend when no one else is available. No involvement from others on deck also means no opportunity for me to become annoying to the deck crew.

I will say that another person on deck is helpful to mind a spare halyard (tied to me as a safety line) but even more valuable thus to send up tools and materials in a bucket with a separate string.


p.s. any "ladder" system is great for going up and down but once you reach the top you need to sit if you want to accomplish any real work. Evans' simplified system makes sitting possible.
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Jan 4, 2006
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
Thanks to all for your comments.

I'm still concerned with the need for a deck mate below to supply a continuously snugged safety line. I use a body harness fro safety. I do like the idea of standing up on foot supports (whether loops, or plywood plate) as opposed to sitting in a bosun's chair which is hopeless for working at the top of the mast i.e. replacing an anchor light and installing a new wind sensor.

Looks like I've still got a ways to go with this before I'm up the mast again.
Feb 16, 2012
Hunter 45 CC Alamitos Bay, Long Beach
Has anyone figured out how to use the "Mast Mate" on a boat with a main sail that furls into the mast, such as the Seldon Furling Mast, found on many of the Hunter Sailboats?

Jan 4, 2006
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
Has anyone figured out how to use the "Mast Mate" on a boat with a main sail that furls into the mast
Another climber I've studied with lots of +'s and -'s and till no final conclusion.

The fore sail has to be removed before you can use the Mast Mate or it reeeeeeeaaaaaaally gets messy on the deck.
Aug 13, 2012
Catalina 270 Ottawa
Three small ascenders, a foot loop, and a harness is all you need to climb the mast without any help and in complete safety (using two lines). This is of course, provided that you can figure out how to use the ascenders (not that difficult, even if some comments suggest otherwise).

The 3rd ascender replaces the second person on the deck. However, it does not help, if you forgot a tool or dropped the line (guess how I know).

Sep 4, 2007
Hunter 34 Elbow, Saskatchwen, Can.
If you could find some way to lock that easy climber into the sail track that might be easier to use.
Do you think the plastic sail slugs would hold up. Or could you have something manufactured? Just wondering.