How many trips up the mast?
How many trips up the mast does it take to change a light bulb? In our last go around, it took three.
At some point, a couple of months ago, our masthead anchor light stopped working. As we had a portable LED light that we could rig at deck level as a replacement, we were not in too big of a hurry to fix it. Because we found ourselves in such a calm bay though, and we had a bit of “spare” time, we decided to tackle the project of getting it to work again. The challenge is, unless you’ve been to the top of the mast, you never really know what you’re going to find up there.
On Rebecca’s first trip up the mast she carried with her a bulb that we found on board that we thought might be the proper replacement. When she got to the top she found that in order to access the bulb, she’d need a wrench, a tool that she did not bring with her.
Disassembly required removing the two bolts that you can see.
On the second trip up the mast, with the proper tools to disassemble the unit, a combination tricolor-anchor light, she found that the bulb she had with her was not the correct one. In fact, it wasn’t even close!
Bringing the old bulb down with her, we were then able to sort through the other spares that were on board, looking for a proper replacement. Lucky us, we found one. Actually, we found two! The question is, did they work?
In my opinion, if you’re going to go to the trouble of going up the mast to change a light bulb, you should first give it a quick continuity test with a multimeter, just in case. When we did so, guess what we found? One of the spare bulbs didn’t work! If we had taken that bulb to the top and installed it, the light would of course still fail to illuminate, leading us to believe that there was something else wrong, when in fact, it was just the bulb!
Use your meter’s continuity setting to check the bulb before bringing it up the mast.
With the working bulb in her pouch, and the proper tools, Rebecca went back up the mast for the third time. Successfully juggling all of the little bits, and not dropping a single one, she was able to install the new bulb, and get the light working again. Happy days! At least we were able to tick one project off our never-ending to-do list.
Nice view! One of the only times a selfie stick is acceptable. 🙂
Note: Depending on the circumstances, and how many people we have around to help, we have a couple of different way of dealing with mast climbing. In this case, because there was just the two of us, I winched Rebecca up the mast on our primary halyard, and we rigged our Petzl ASAP on another halyard as a backup. It worked perfectly, sliding up and down the backup halyard without requiring any action by Rebecca.
The Petzl ASAP worked brilliantly.