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In my last post about electrical repairs I commented that our deck light had ceased to function and would require a bit more troubleshooting. In this case, checking the light required a quick trip up the mast. This is not the first time we have had issues with the deck light. A similar trip up the mast to swap out the light bulb took place back in June 2010. We’ve had a bit more practice with mast-climbing since then so it all went pretty smoothly. In fact, the most difficult part of the entire procedure was trying to remember how the light bulb came out of the fixture.

You can see Pigeon Island, St. Lucia in the background of this pic.

Once back on deck with the bulb we were able to check it and sure enough, it had blown. Now to find a replacement. The bulb in question is actually a tractor headlight bulb, GE number #4411. It can be purchased at most auto-parts stores for less than 10 bucks. But guess what? They also sell it at the marine chandlery here. Can you guess how much they want for it? $48.00 US. Yes, you read that right, $48.00 United States Dollars, not Eastern Caribbean Dollars, which, at the current exchange rate 2.7 of 1, still would have made it expensive. Freakin’ crazy! I actually laughed when the cashier told me that and obviously did not purchase the bulb. The deck light is very non-essential for us and I would wear a headlamp indefinitely before I would pay that kind of money for a light bulb.

Curious as to how I climbed the mast in the above clip? The video below shows the process in detail. And yes, it also is proof that I had short hair before we left to go cruising. 🙂


  1. Can I get a couple for you here and mail them to you?

  2. Great video! We are planning on using the same method ourselves. Quick question though – can you tell us what brand of foot ascenders you use? Thanks so much!

    Katie and Mark

  3. Hi there – we’ve arrived in Grenada a few weeks ago to collect our boat (a Lagoon 410) out of charter. We’ve been trying to get the boat all ready to sail off indefinitely and our many visits to both Budget Marine and Ocean Water World have proven that the chandleries down here are ALL too expensive!

    It makes us regret not buying so many things when we were up in Toronto last month, before heading south. Next trip we’ll come back with suitcases full of lightbulbs and other hardware store items!

    • Hi Holli

      If there are any big-ticket items that you need to acquire you can frequently get them shipped in to Grenada for much less than you could buy them there for. Vessels in Transit can import for 3% duty I think. Also, there is a service called Wholesale Boat Parts which can act as a go-between to get you reduced prices on big items AND shipping. Let me know if you’d like me to dig up their contact info.

    • Holli, Bill Dietrich on Magnolia is in Grenada in Mount Hartman Bay, and he knows the Lady Mike speaks of. I suspect his is net controller most mornings still. Also Ken and Lynn are on Silverheels III and are a good contact to have.

      • I found the card:

        Wholesale Yacht Parts
        Sherri Roopchand
        sherri AT wholesaleyachtparts DOTT com
        473 – 458 – 6306

        We have not dealt with her specifically but have friends who have and they were quite pleased with the savings.

        FYI, the net controller in Grenada changes each day, or at least it did last season when we were there. If she is in Grenada I have no doubt she either knows or has heard of Ken and Lynn. 🙂

    • Yes, exactly. There are several combinations of gear that you can use to go up line: Two ascenders (foot and harness), 1 ascender and one Prussic knot (we use a foot ascender and a Prussic to the harness but I suppose you could rig it the other way) or dual Prussic knots (one for the foot/feet and one for the harness). The knots and the ascenders work the same way: they bite when loaded and slide when unloaded. I prefer the simplicity of the knot.

      • For more complexity than Prussic knots try:
        “The Double Bungie Ropewalker is the fastest and most efficient rope climbing system in the world.” @ $336 it ought to be.

        Click on the diagram of the system it might be interesting to you.
        “Ascenders do not have to be manually advanced, making this climbing system perfect for long drops, allowing the user to be “hands free” while climbing”

        More for caving or possibly a rigger climbing multiple masts a day, but you might find it interesting.

        Fair Winds, Following Seas, Good Anchoring, and plenty of ice cubes,

        • Interesting. Definitely overkill for our purposes though. By the way, I asked the rigger who installed our SSB insulator back in the Chesapeake how he typically goes up the mast. He said he just climbs it, as in shimmies up it like a tree. He did not do that in our case, as we had just disconnected a shroud, but I could see him doing it.

  4. Hi Mike May I make a suggestion? that perhaps a disc of suitable material be cut to replace the bulb and fitted in the Ali lamp housing, and then perhaps as many High Lumen leds as needed (can be) are fitted to this to replace the light source. I am guessing that it won`t cost more than the fourty plus $ you have been quoted and won`t need replacing anywhere near as often and also wont drain your batteries at the same rate, by a considerable amount
    ? JMHO

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