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OK, here is another super cool video for your morning entertainment…

While I, like most people, was wowed by the fantastic imagery in that video, I was especially intrigued with how the rigger working up the mast had his safety line secured. You can see what I’m referring to from approx. 0.40 in the clip until 1:07. Curious about the device that he was using to secure himself to the safety line, I sent a message to my sailing and rock-climbing friend Drew, and my arborist buddy Cary. Neither of them were very impressed by how long of a tether that guy was using (if he fell, he would have fallen hard!) but they did both point me in the right direction in terms of what he was using. It turns out the device on the safety line is something like a Petzl ASAP.

As the video below shows, when unloaded, the device slides freely on the safety line. If the primary line should fail causing the person climbing to fall, the sudden load on the backup device would cause it to lock. Cool, eh? By the way, as often as we see people going up the mast, we seldom see people using any kind of backup!

15 Comments

  1. It seemed like even the beaners that guy was using were not correct.

    • Oh no? I didn’t notice. They must have been locking ones?

      • They did not look like the spinlock ones.

        • At 27 seconds. Not a locking biner.

          The advantage is speed. I’ve used a related devise and it really does speed movement and allow you to focus on what you’re doing. You still need lock of some sort, for positioning, in my opinion.

          The only trouble I see is the complexity of the internal parts. You’ll need to keep it clean and dry. Unlike a gri-gri, it also lacks a lowering function; if the main halyard breaks, and you are working alone or there is no other halyard, how were you planning to get down?

          But I might get one anyway, as it seems slicker than the one I have.

          • I mentioned that “getting down” part to my friend Cary. He suggested carrying a foot ascender so that you stand up on the line, thereby unloading the ASAP. You could then switch to some other type of device (fig 8, prussic, Gri Gri?). I’m sure that would take some thought and practice. In our case, if we used a backup halyard and had someone else on board, they could just ease that line to get you down.

            And yes, I think I’d like to have one too!

  2. We just bought a Mast Mate to make climbing the mast easier, but we only have one halyard, so if the main fails, it’s all coming down. Makes me very nervous.

  3. I would not be scared…more like honored to go up a mast like that.

  4. If you look up the Prusik Knot this will do the same job as the climbing device and is made from a loop of rope. All so with with three loops it is possible to ascend and descend a Halyard up the mast without the use of a second person winching. Attach Bosons chair to top loop and each foot in the other two. A very simple technique with minimal equipment. Not that you want to be climbing the mast on your own, but handy to be able too if in an emergency situation.

    • I’m very familiar with Prusik knots. I actually use a variation in conjunction with an ascender to climb the mast. It is not self tending though as this device is. You would need to slide it up the line as you were raised. Not a huge issue but that is a notable difference.

  5. This January I had to go up the mast on our charter cat a couple of times to check a problem on the main sail track and to replace a shackle that came apart between the genoa halyard and genoa. Anyway I used the main halyard on a bosun’s chair but used the spinnaker halyard tied under my arms as a safety backup. Not keen to go up without a backup, just too many unknowns and too big a Safety risk!

    But….the spinnaker halyard didn’t go right to the top for the last bit of the track so I untied to check that part. I didn’t think of using the topping lift so I’m glad I read this. Good suggestion!

    • I too have used the Spinnaker halyard for a backup and as you noted, on a fractionally rigged boat, it doesn’t go all the way to the top of the mast. Rather than untie it I just had my belayer continue to add slack as I went up higher that the spot where it terminates. Of course, if something had happened at that time, I would have taken a wicked fall!

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