QUESTIONS ABOUT MAST MATE
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0. WHAT LENGTH DO I NEED ?
1. DO THE STEPS STAY OPEN ?
2. DO THE STEPS HURT MY FEET ?
3. IS IT SAFE ?
4. WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE IT ?
5. WHAT ABOUT PRICE ?
6. CAN I USE IT NOT ATTACHED TO THE SAIL TRACK ?
7. WHAT SAIL TRACKS WON'T IT WORK ON ?
8. CAN THE SAME MAST MATE BE USED ON DIFFERENT MASTS WITH DIFFERENT TRACKS ?
9. WHAT IF THE STEPS ARE TOO FAR APART ?
10. DO I NEED A SAFETY HARNESS WHEN CLIMBING ?
11. WHAT OTHER GOING ALOFT SYSTEMS ARE ON THE MARKET ?
12. WILL IT WORK WITH MODERN SWEPT BACK SPREADERS ?
13. HOW DO I USE THE MAST MATE TO CHANGE THE SAME HALYARD USED TO RAISE IT ?
14. INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE OF THE MAST MATE.
WHAT LENGTH DO I NEED ?
Assuming you can easily climb up on your boom, the length Mast Mate you need is the distance from your mast head to your boom, the "P" measurement of your main. Go to the sailboat specs Database and check the P specification. If not listed, the easiest way to make this measurement is to attach a light line to your main halyard, hoist it to the top, put a piece of tape on the line at the boom, or further down if you need a step or two below the boom, lower the halyard and measure the line. It is OK if a standard length Mast Mate, 27ft, 35ft, 42ft, 50ft, is a bit too long, the excess just lays on deck.
DO THE STEPS STAY OPEN?
Yes. Due to the memory characteristics of the webbing as well as the way the steps are constructed, and of course good old gravity, the steps always stay open. Even if the Mast Mate has been stowed a long time, once hoisted the steps will immediately begin to open. They also maintain their shape after ascending so you have an easy and safe descent.
DO THE STEPS HURT MY FEET ?
No. As stated in several articles in both Practical Sailor and Cruising World, the steps "hold your feet firmly without pinching them". This is do to the webbing reinforcing piece in each step, and to the 2 batten stiffeners which provide additional support to the top adjacent steps.
IS IT SAFE?
Yes, with good judgment, your feet snugly secure in the steps, and an upright body position with your hands around the mast, you are much safer than sitting in a bosun's chair where your body is situated such that any wave disturbance, dockside or otherwise, can send you flying, to say nothing of halyard breakage. Also when working with the workbelt properly deployed and your feet firmly in the batten stiffened adjacent steps, you are safe and comfortable, as much as you can be 30 plus feet in the air.
WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE IT?
As stated in the main text, Mast Mate is fully guaranteed. If you are dissatisfied for any reason, I will refund your money. Since coming on the market in 1987 we have sold thousands of Mast Mates and to this date the money back return rate has been less than 1%. Most of the returns had been given as unwanted gifts, the others were do to the customers short inseam which made lifting their feet the required seventeen inches between steps, very difficult. This has been remedied by offering those customers a custom ladder with a 14 inch distance between the steps (see #9 ).
WHAT ABOUT PRICE?
Let's take a 35 ft Mast Mate plus workbelt for a total price of $370.00. Compare this to the other products on the market that accomplish the same goal - getting you up the mast unassisted. Permanent steps range in price from the cheap, at about $10.00 a step, to the sublime at about $18.00 a step. For a 35 foot mast, length above the boom, you need approximately 28 steps The cheap permanent steps are a bit less then ours in cost, but that is without the installation charge, to say nothing of the other well known negative aspects. Then there is the bosun's chair. A good one, tool pouches etc., running close to $100.00. Add to that the cost of a 4 part fall ie.140 feet of good non stretch line and the necessary blocks with locking mechanisms, and you have a price equal to or more than the Mast Mast and workbelt. The new Topclimber system is a marriage of mountain climbing equipment with the bosun's chair, costs about the same as a 42ft Mast Mate , but demands a youthful athleticism not required with the mast mate. The Cadilac of all systems, priced at over $1,000, the Mastlift is a manual winch with a 10 to 1 ratio that is raised to the masthead with a halyard and you pull yourself up on your bosuns chair, 30ft up takes 300ft of line pulled.The above systems are listed below with links. All considered, Mast Mate's made in the USA quality and its competitive pricing make it the best tool to get you aloft unassisted. See review Wooden Boat Magazine issue Jan-Feb 2012, May 2008 Southwest Sailing Magazine review and Practical Sailor's review issues 3/1/94 (PDF) and 8/15/98 see http://www.practical-sailor.com/.
CAN I USE IT NOT ATTACHED TO THE TRACK?
For safety reasons, I strongly discourage this way of using the mast mate. Although I have been told by single handed sailors that they have done this as they ascend by tying the Mast Mate off at intervals around the mast (diagram), and others with gaff riggers or unstaid spreaderless masts have woven a continuous line through a grommet around the mast and through the next grommett and so on as the Mast Mate is raised and once fully deployed pulling the line tight and securing it fast. A word of caution, the system was designed to be as secure as possible and this can only be accomplished by attaching it to the track.
WHAT SAIL TRACKS WON'T IT WORK ON?
The only two Marconi mainsail systems that I have not yet found a way to safely secure the Mast Mate are the internal mast roller furled main and the new Bat car track system. In both cases I have recommended to the owners that they install an additional track slightly off-center for not only the use of the Mast Mate, but also for an emergency back-up main and /or storm sail. The mast mate is not safe to use on trackless masts or on masts that have an extreme rake. Recently I have designed a good way (yet untried by me) to attach the Mast Mate to the mast slot in an internal roller furling main system. (see diagram)
CAN THE SAME MAST MATE BE USED ON DIFFERENT MASTS WITH DIFFERENT TRACKS?
Yes. Depending on the slides, often two different type track slides will fit on the same shackle. Also, although maximum safety is incurred with a slide at every step, the system still works well with a slide at every other step. This means that one Mast Mate could accommodate up to 4 different types of track slides. This gives riggers, charter companies, yacht clubs and sailing buddies the advantage of buying one Mast Mate and using it on multiple boats.
WHAT IF THE STEPS ARE TOO FAR APART?
Usually when one has a difficult time climbing the Mast Mate it is do to improper body position but occasionally a customer will have a short inseam or an injury and find it hard to step the necessary 16-17 inches. For these sailors we offer a short step model that has a step separation of 14 inches. Because of the considerable extra cost and the fact that the Mast Mate has a money back guarantee, I recommend that one try the standard size first and if this proves unsuitable return it for full credit toward the short step. The standard Mast Mate costs approximately $8.00 a foot whereas the short step, do to the extra labor, costs $13.00 a foot.
DO I NEED A SAFETY HARNESS WHEN CLIMBING ?
It is advisable to be as safe as possible . The Mast Mate Workbelt is designed specifically to keep you secure and safe when you have reached your working position. It is not to be deployed when climbing. Therefore I would suggest you wear your safety harness tethered off to a secured halyard with a rolling hitch knot, which can be moved upward as you climb and will lock tight if you fall (SEE PHOTO).
Compare the Mast Mate Climbing System to other go aloft systems;
For my analysis SEE # 5
Mastlift/ Topclimber /Ascenders/ Bosun's chair
Will it Work With Modern Swept Back Spreaders?
Some of the modern mast systems use spreaders that are swept aft. When raising the mast mate the openned steps can catch on these spreaders and make deployment difficult. To avoid this problem simply tape the effected steps into their folded position before raising and open them as you ascend.
HOW DO I USE THE MAST MATE TO CHANGE THE SAME HALYARD USED TO RAISE IT ?
Before you undo the halyard use it to pull up the mast mate. With a piece of lashing line in hand climb to the top and lash the mast mate d-ring to the top of the mast, then release the halyard, replace it and reattach to the mast mate, undo the lashing, climb down and lower the MM with the new halyard. Piece of cake.
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