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VOL. 10 NO. 8
Take a class

Climbing the mast

How to go aloft safely

Docking without mishap

Safety starts with trusting your equipment and the people around you. Before going aloft, check your halyards for chafe, and make sure their sheaves are running smoothly. Also, be sure you know how to properly wear your Bosun’s chair and harness, and inspect it for signs of wear.
If you are the person going up the mast, make sure your crew is well briefed before making your ascent. You should not be yelling instructions from the masthead about how to get you down. Make sure the line handlers wear gloves to prevent rope burns.

Next, attach a primary halyard to the chair and a safety halyard to the harness. This is a critical step. The majority of sailors agree that a snap shackle should never be used to attach a halyard to a Bosun’s chair. The most agreed-upon method is for the person going aloft to tie his or her own bowline.

When it comes time for the descent, having two crewmembers makes line handling much easier. While one person eases the primary halyard, the other can tend the safety halyard. If only one person is there to help, he or she will have to do both by easing each halyard a bit at a time. Going slow and steady at this stage is key.

Unless an absolute emergency, you should only climb the mast in stable condition while at the dock or anchored in acceptable weather.

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