Photo: Top of the world
Off sailing this weekend again and there were a few repairs I had to make before we left, so I came down to the boat early while Sally was still working.
One of the jobs was replacing the mast head wind indicator. Only small problem was that I had to get to the top of the mast to do this, by myself. I love climbing, don't have a problem with heights and so I did a little research and found a very simple, cheap and safe way to do it.
As I usually do, I used 2 separate mast head halyards but this time they were tied off at the bottom of the mast and tensioned on a winch and locked off at the clutch/jammer. I then tied a figure 8 knot just after the clutch so if the clutch failed I couldn't go far.
Using 3 lengths of 6mm rope (approx 3m long) I created a loop with a double fisherman's knot and then used a climbing knot called the Klemheist
to get me up the mast.
The Klemheist is really similar to a rolling hitch.
On one halyard I had a Klemheist and tied the other end to the bosun chair. Just below this one, I tied another Klemheist and left it as a loop which you stand on. With the third loop I tied a Klemheist to the second halyard and then to my climbing harness. Once its all set up you just slide the top Klemheist as high as possible, let go of it and sit down in the bosun chair. As soon as the knot comes under tension, it locks. Then bring your knees up as high a possible and slide the second knot up, stand up and push the first knot up again. Next thing you know, up you go. So that was first knot up, sit down, lift knees, second knot up, stand up, first knot up etcetera. Of course you are sliding the safety knot up at the same time.
It does take a bit of effort and coordination, but as I was in control of all aspects of the ascent, I felt really safe. Essentially I was connected by 3 lines. This method is also really useful for being able to get above the top of the mast.
Getting down, just reverse the process.
Tips, you need to tension the halyards quite a lot so that you don't swing around too much and it also makes moving the Klemheist up and down easier.
Also, don't be tempted to hold the knot when it is under tension as this will release it.
Have a go with different size ropes. The Klemheist rope should be thinner than the halyard I think, but if it is too thin it will be hard on your hands to slide and hard to stand on. Best bet is to try it out on a tree first!!
This video is the view from the top. I didn't have enough hands to video myself as I was going up.