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on the mast again

Posted by on March 24, 2012


the deck from above

Yesterday, there was another trip up the mast. Wil’s turn this time. I should have timed how long it took me winch him up the 64 feet to the top. As I cranked away, huffing & puffing and as non-stop as possible, he relaxed and took in the views around him. Colin wondered why I didn’t take our neighbor up on his offer to help. “Oh yeah! That’s right, you don’t ask for help,” he said to me. My 9-year old son knows me too well!
The intentions for this trip were to install a set of mast steps above the top stays, check on the wind indicator wires, and remove the unnecessary antennas and wires from the mast top. This short list put Wil sitting at the top of the mast for 3 hours! During those 3 hours, I kept an eye on him from the deck, as well as fetched any requested tools for him to haul up on the tag line.
For the most part, the whole operation ran smoothly. However, at one point while I was still at the base of the mast, I heard him yell “HEADS UP!” In the millisecond that it took to register in my mind, there was a loud crash on deck. My heart jumped and raced. I looked around the deck, but there was nothing to be seen. He called down for me to go get the punch from on the ground in front of the boat. A tiny six-inch punch that I could barely find in the dirt had made that terrible noise on deck! Fortunately, we think it landed on its side as it bounced to the ground, so there was no damage. And I’m so thankful it wasn’t my head! We WON’T be repeating that scenario again!
When working at the top of a mast, all tools or items should be attached to something in case they should accidentally slip through the fingers. Unfortunately, the punch is not really an item that can be easily attached. In a case like that, anyone working below needs to be alerted to move to a safe location.
Once Wil installed the mast steps, he was comfortably able to stand on them, remaining in the bosun’s chair and tethered around the mast. Standing allowed for him to easily complete the rest of the tasks.
As far as we can tell with the wind indicator, chances are pretty good that the problem either lies within the wire where it attaches to the female connector pins or with the head unit. We’re not really sure which direction to go first with this one, so it’s a lower priority on the list of projects for the moment.
Removing the antennas and wires was simple. He detached two old antennas and tied them to the bosun’s chair. Then, he tied string to the ends of the wires, and I pulled the wires out of the mast from the bottom. It was amazing at how much wet, green gunk was on the wires as they came out. Lots of moisture inside the mast! Once I removed the wires, I tied the strings off at the base. The strings will be used to help guide the installation of new wires up the mast.
After 3 hours in the bosun’s chair and clinging to the mast top, Wil’s legs were like jelly as he tried to get out of his gear. Today, we’re both a bit sore, but it’s good to know we’re on our way to getting in shape again. Boat work tends to do a body good!
Next stop on the mast . . . removing the old radar dome and more wires, along with anything else that pops up at that point in time.

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