~ CUSTOMERS RESPOND ~


CUSTOMER PICTURE GALLERY:

.NEW MAY 2008 MAST MATE PRODUCT REVIEW IN SOUTHWEST SAILING MAGAZINE

BELOW--UNSOLICITED VIDEO OF SAILOR PREPING HIS RIGGING USING A MAST MATE :

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CUSTOMER STATEMENTS IN BLACK TYPE, MY RESPONSES IN BLUE

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5/20/13

Gary,
   Got the Mast Mate a couple weeks ago and finally put it to work.
 
   We added a Cradle Cover from Doyle Sails to our boat and I had to go to the 2nd set of spreaders to put pad eyes and blocks in for the lazy jacks.  While I wasn't at the very top or waving, this was the pic my wife took.  Very comfortable working up there.  The harness and pouch worked well, holding me and a portable drill securely.
 
   We were still on the hard in the marina.  People would walk by and shake their heads.  Cathy told me they were shaking them because they said THEY WOULDN'T be up there.  One guy asked about it and I said it was safer and more comfortable than a bosn's chair and you don't need help.  We had a couple chairs in the past and always had to recruit deck apes to hoist me up.  I had sent my daughter up once and wished I had an assistant ape!
 

Great product.  Quality built.  Well worth the money.  Cathy said it paid for itself already.

A bad day on the boat, is better than a good day at work!
Dave

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9/18/12

Hi Gary,

It took a while to get a picture of me climbing the mast. I’ve been up now at least 10 times and it is a breeze. Your Mast Mate made my wife’s life and mine so much easier. We are sailing our Spencer 48 double / single handed. ;)

Thank you so much! Marco

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8/20/12

Gary,

        Here are the pictures you asked for.   Your product did it's job great!   Even though there were 13 to 18 knot winds that day the climb was easy and I felt secure the whole time.    Thanks again and I am sure you will have continued success with this product. 

Richard

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8/11/12

Gary
The mastmate arrived and I put it to use sunday. It worked great, I am very happy with my decision to purchase.
Regards
J

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7/27/12

Is your furler not quite as smooth as you would like it?  No problem.  Just zoom up there, hit it with some Brakclean, then some silicon lube and come back down for coffee.  The Mastmate makes it so easy that you really don't think twice about going up for little jobs.  You don't need three friends to take turns on the winch to grid you up there.  The Mastmate uses the same size bullets as your main sail (you know they're right because you attach them).  With the work belt you can take more stuff up with you, than you would really want to tote.  You can also have your partner belay the spinnaker halyard to the belt for added safety.  It's as easy as climbing a ladder and at least as stable.  When you're where you want to be, just slide the second strap of the belt around the mast and you're triple safe.  The Mastmate costs a bit more than a good chair, but is quadruple as easy to use and safer.  There really isn't even a question.  Enjoy, Eric.Is your furler not quite as smooth as you would like it?  No problem.  Just zoom up there, hit it with some Brakclean, then some silicon lube and come back down for coffee.  The Mastmate makes it so easy that you really don't think twice about going up for little jobs.  You don't need three friends to take turns on the winch to grid you up there.  The Mastmate uses the same size bullets as your main sail (you know they're right because you attach them).  With the work belt you can take more stuff up with you, than you would really want to tote.  You can also have your partner belay the spinnaker halyard to the belt for added safety.  It's as easy as climbing a ladder and at least as stable.  When you're where you want to be, just slide the second strap of the belt around the mast and you're triple safe.  The Mastmate costs a bit more than a good chair, but is quadruple as easy to use and safer.  There really isn't even a question.  Enjoy, Eric.

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5/10/12

Gary

As promised it is raining and I am sending along my Mast Mate story.

 
As part of our prelaunch activities I found myself standing in the boat yard at Riverside Marina in Fort Pierce, Florida looking up at the anchor light at the top of our mast. The LED light had failed and its replacement was on the "to do" list. BUT, how do I get up there to do it??  I am a senior citizen, all the fellow boaters working around me in the yard are senior citizens and the thoughts of grinding someone up there in a bo'sun chair just didn't seem to by the solution. One of the guys came forward with a Mast Mate that he purchased some time ago and we decided to try it.  It was easy to install and I went up the 54 ft to do the repair without difficulty. I am now a Mast Mate fan,  I have ordered a Mast Mate for our boat so we will be ready for the next trip aloft. A great idea, a well manufactured product at a very reasonable price.
Warren

SV No Justice   

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Mast Mate used on trackless Gaff rig.

Gary---Yesterday I made my first assent on the mastmate.  I thought you might be interested in some of my observations, considering that I have a wooden mast and lacing, gaff rigged, and a cutter.  I first thought to use the main halyard but the mast has enough of an aft rake that I would feel as if I was falling away from the mast.  So I used the jib halyard for it has as hefty a block as the main.  By doing this I was concerned about the two f'wd shouds and the two stays causing the mastmate to entangle, but by flipping the mastmate I was able to run it to the top between the stays.  At this point caution creeped in and I was concerned about putting my life at the mercy of one block---so, I decided to add a few rolling hitches through the grommets about 4 or 5 feet apart.  These hitches were so tight and strong that I tested them by easing the jib halyard by about a foot.  Now, as I climbed the hitches held and I could have climbed all the way using only the hitches, but came back down and re-cleated the jib halyard. 
Also, I bought an inexpensisve climbing harness and fastened the staysail halyard to this harness, taking in the slack every so often as I climbed so if I slipped, the jib block broke, or I fell, the staysail halyard would holld me.  All things considered, I was very pleased even though it is a bit scary
Bob

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(sailing club forum 4/10)

Having had the unpleasant experience of getting to the top of a 50 foot mast in a bowsun’s chair and being battered against the mast, i decided to invest in a safer system called the Mast Mate.  It is hoisted like a mainsail and consists of alternating web steps, using a 9/16 sail slide to fit into the mast channel, and hoisted with the main halyard.  A lineman’s belt is wrapped around the mast so that one can work with both hands free, even on top of the mast, which is what i had to do to install my new wireless TackTick wind system.

http://www.mastmate.com/

The main does not need to be taken off, just the sail slides need to be taken out of the track so the Mast Mate slides can go in.  Fairly simple.  Just as a redundant backup system, i donned a leg/waist climbing harness in reverse and attached the topping lift.  NO hoisting is required, as you are climbing up the steps; a deck monkey merely keeps the topping lift slack controlled. 

In 5 knot winds, i was able to comfortably climb to the top and install the system without injury.  Taller men than me, which is most men, would have an easier time of it, as the spacing between steps is a bit too much for me, but after the first of three ascents (dont ask), the steps were appropriately stretched making it much easier to get my feet into the loops.

Bottom line:  safe system, hands free even at the top in some wind, no injuries, and no hoisting.  If one must go the top or anywhere in between, this is the ticket.  If your sail uses 9/16 inch slides, i would be happy to lend out my system, as it is not cheap (about 500$) and there is no point in buying one since i already have it.  If anyone wants to use it, just let me know. 

George

 

1/3/12

Gary,

I received the mastmate…it is great.  Works like a charm, much easier than getting hoisted up the mast.  The only limitation is getting out to work on the spreaders.  I will need to use my bosom’s chair for that!  I am very happy with this purchase…thanks!

All the best, M

M--You can attach the bosun chair to the Mast Mate and swing out to the spreader ends--gary

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11/17/11

QUESTION BY ME ON SAILOR'S FORUM ;

Anyone with a Harken Track system find a way to attach the Mast Mate to the track? Any standard slides adaptable to the Harken track?

I have found it quite practical to set the Mastmate free, with the use of a winch to provide a tight down haul. If the ladder is hauled tight, it doesn't move and the slides are not needed. I have not used the slides in years.

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RECENT DIALOGUE ON CAPE DORY FORUM ;

Frank, I am curious as to why you want a mastmate rather then an ATN top climber? I went the top climber route myself and I am happy with it, though it is a bit of a work out to use it seems more practical to me.
_________________

Chris

I've used both, and found the MastMate much more stable than the Topclimber. Working off a fixed mast allows much less motion, as opposed to a halyard that is only fixed at the ends (no matter how taut it is). If you only have a single mast track (like most boats) the Mastmate will require you to strike the main if you need to go aloft underway, but the Topclimber underway can be a wild ride in itself! Once set up the MastMate is much quicker to go up and down. One disadvantage of the Mastmate however, is that it's no good for working away from the mast (like resecuring spreader boots or unfouling a wrapped ensign on the backstay). One can secure the bosun chair or climbing harness to the mast mate and swing out to spreaders or to the front of the mast.

_________________

Russell

I had a Mast Mate with me when I was out cruising single handed for 9 years and loved it. At the time, my boat was a Crealock 37 with a second track on the mast, presumably for a storm jib. With the extra track, I could leave all the mainsail slides on their track while running the mast up on the other. Once I pulled the halyard taut, I felt perfectly secure going up and down and working at the top.

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Gary,

What a great product! I'd made a couple of trips to the top of the mast on my Catalina 30 using a boatswain's chair and my son's mulehauling. After each trip I had a sore butt and he was totally exhausted. What a difference the Mast Mate made. My first climb to the spreader to work on the steaming light was a little awkward because of the height of the steps but I soon got the hang of it and now it's a breeze to go up and down. For a safety backup I used a safety harness attached to the jib halyard and tended by an assistant. Now that I've been up and down the ladder several times I feel very confident in working without that backup as long as I'm using the safety belt. In my opinion, the weak link in the system is the main halyard and anyone using this system needs to realize that the halyard should be carefully inspected prior to use, just as you would when using a boatswain's chair.

I also want to thank you for the great customer service you provide. The first time I used the Mast Mate I broke one of the slide shackles (the bottom one) because I incorrectly put a lot of lateral stress on it. You sent me replacement parts instantly.
I'll be sure to tell all of my sailing friends about Mast Mate.

Jerry
San Diego

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6/15

Hey Gary!  Had some fun with the mast mate this weekend and have some observations that may be obvious to you and some photos...

I had the chance to climb to the spreaders 2-3 times this weekend and to the top twice today....some observations and tips for your consideration...

1. In raising the mastmate up the mast track, the wind was blowing from the stern quarter fairly strongly- the web and steps actually ‘cock’ with the wind and the extended steps can actually (and occasionally) catch under the lower shrouds/spreaders....In a couple of cases, I actually tacked up some of the leeward steps with a clothespin to raise the mastmate, then as I climb, remove the clothespin.  This shouldn’t be a challenge where the wind is forward of the beam or quiet...
2. The 17 inch separation for the steps seemed a big step the first time I tried it- First time up, my theory was to wear long pants and heavy construction boots- figuring that the steel soles would be easier to stand on and the big treads would be safer in the step/straps.  The first time I went up however I found the long pants constricting on my ability to raise my knees and the big thick soles meant I had to raise my legs even higher...the treads also caught on the straps more.  So, I switched to fairly sturdy deck shoes and short pants and found it considerably easier to climb...
3. The ‘linesman’ belt works very well-  I added a deck harness to the mix which I attach to a halyard- a person on the deck then simply takes up the slack as I ascend and slackens as I climb down...

I also had a new insight....regardless of whether you go up in a bosuns chair or on the mastmate, its bloody high!  I kept looking in the box to see if they had thrown in a hirsute dwarf who would ascend the mast in my place....no luck I’m afraid.  That said, practicing on the unit by climbing up to the first spreaders several times before doing the final assault on Everest makes one much more confident....Going up to the masthead several times today really raised my comfort with going up and I really have to say that I prefer this method of going up the mast way above the traditional approach...I couldn’t have done any of the finicky above-the-mastcap stuff today if my head was below the top in a bosuns chair....I also would’ve killed any group of three deck apes raising and lowering me several times as I had to go up and down to troubleshoot the masthead sending unit....Once I got the hang of it, however, it was really just climbing and descending a ladder....

So...while I don’t expect to be going up the mast all that often, I will now go up when I need to....I attach some pictures...

JOHN W

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4/1/11

Recent postings on Lattitude & Attitude's forum on subject of Mast Mate use:

I have a mast mate and everyone around here borrows it. Everyone loves it, but we all climb the ladder using a bosun's chair as a safety. I found that tying a line around the mast and you when you get to the top makes stability much better. I like the fact I can stand on the top step and be above the mast head and able to apply more force to the job. Hard to loosen a frozen screw when you are swinging around on a line..

The Mast Mate workbelt would be a safer solution than a "line around the mast".

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I have one and have used it twice, both times in the slip. It's fairly easy to use, but takes a bit of time to set up. The "steps" on the Mast Mate are soft and flexible (except for the stiffeners which you put in the top two steps so you have more support when standing at the mast head), and they take some getting used to. The first time up it was sort of difficult. Going down is much easier. The mast, that is...

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3/20/11

Recent ad seen on Craigslist-

I am looking for a Mast Mate climbing system for climbing sailboat mast. I currently have the TopClimber if you are interested in trading or I will pay cash for Mast Mate in good condition.
Please call Tim

10/11/10

This was sent after this customer received notice that his new Mast Mate was shipped---g

Thank you. As I said, this is my 3rd one. I am an avid user. At 250lbs it is the only thing I trust to get me up the mast! My wife does not have the strength to get me up there and she hates it when the wind is blowing so it is my job to go aloft!
 
I appreciate it!

Steve

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The following email was sent by a customer who has an in the mast roller furling mainsail requiring him to adapt the mast mate attachment system per my recommendations here-- ---GW

8/29

Gary... Below is the delivery confirmation for the return of the 35 foot ladder.
 
I installed the 42 foot replacement you sent using 12 inch long 1 inch diameter PVC pipe.  The ends of each pipe were prepared so the 3/8 inch 3 strand nylon rope used for them would not catch on any rough or sharp edges. It takes a long time to raise the ladder since each section must be installed and threaded through the access hole in the side of the furling main sail mast.  But, once it is up and the 3/8 inch rope pulled tight, it locks into the channel of the mast very securely. Once again, I have a 2005 Hunter 33 foot sail boat with a furling main sail.
 
When I bought the 35 foot ladder, I used your selection guide and though that since it was 37 feet to the boom from the top, that the 35 foot would work.  What I did not consider was that the first step would be so high.  The ladder is 35 feet, but the length from the top of the ladder to the fist step is what I needed to make the right choice. I probably missed that information when I ordered it.
 
In any case, I used the 42 foot replacement you sent with great success and will send you pictures when I can. In your data base, please list the 42 foot as the right ladder for any other Hunter 33 owners. It might save some one else the same trouble.
 
Thanks you so much for your quick response for the replacement.
 
Take care.
 
Jay

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The Mast Mate can also be deployed as a man overboard recovery system as described below on a sailing forum;

MAN OVERBOARD RECOVERY SYSTEMS

The first time we sailed to New Zealand, there was a husband and wife team sailing to New Zealand from the South Pacific, and the husband went overboard while wearing his safety harness. The tether was long enough for him to be dragged in the water beside the yacht (monohull), but there was too much freeboard for him to pull himself back on board. The wife was not strong enough to pull him back on board, and he drowned as he dragged in the water beside the yacht. The New Zealand Air Sea Rescue had to lower someone down to the yacht to help the wife get the boat safely into port, and to recover the body of the husband. The cruising couple were in their late sixties. I suspected that if they had been in a multihull with a sugar scoop on their stern, the outcome would have been different. It was obvious that their man overboard recovery system was inadequate on their yacht.

We carried three types of man overboard recovery systems on board Exit Only.

One of the systems was conventional, and two of the systems were unconventional.

The conventional system was the well-known Life Sling. As long as the individual could get in the Life Sling, we could winch him on board.

The unconventional systems consisted of a Mast Mate - a device used by people to climb their mast, and a Gale Rider Drogue.

Before I installed folding steps on my mast, I used the Mast Mate to climb the mast and inspect the rigging. Once I installed the folding steps, I no longer needed the Mast Mate to go to the top of the mast. I decided to keep the Mast Mate on board as a man overboard recovery tool. If there was a malfunction in the Life Sling system, I planned to toss the Mast Mate into the water with one end attached to a halyard. The man over board would then pass his arms and legs through the loops of the mast mate, and we would winch him out of the water and back on board.

The third unconventional man overboard recovery system was our large Gale Rider Drogue. This drogue has a large stainless steel hoop at the mouth of the drogue, and when you take the drogue out of the bag, the stiff stainless steel hoop opens up like a large hoola hoop, and the webbing deploys that is attached to the stainless steel hoop. This creates a very large cargo net configuration, and in an emergency, an injured crew member could be lifted out of the water inside our large Gale Rider Drogue that is attached to a halyard.

I am not advocating any of these methods for getting people back on board the yacht, but in an emergency, you do what you have to do. My kids and my wife all knew that they had these options available in the event of someone going overboard.

In a storm north of New Zealand, we ended up with a three foot gaping hole in our port side trampoline. If someone had stepped on the trampoline in the dark, we would have lost someone overboard. Fortunately, we discovered the blown tramp in the daytime rather than having someone go through the trampoline at night during a storm.

What is your plan for recovery of a person who goes overboard on your multihull? How will you get them out of the water? Do you have any unconventional methods of recovering a member of your crew?
__________________
Cheers
Dave

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8/20/10

Gary,
 
The mastmate worked great. 
 
I felt secure and comfortable all the way to the top. It's hard to imagine not using the safety belt now that I've actually done it.  The work at the mast head took both hands, but the safety belt kept me snugged up nicely to the mast.
 
Thanks for providing a great product.
 
Ellis
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How are you doing. Are you all right?

Do you remember me. I have procured Mast Mate from you in this march.

Since I received Mast Mate from you, I have already used it for installation of lazy jack. Namely, I have climbed mast up to the height of lower spreaders
by using Mast Mate. Mast Mate was lifted by main sail halyard. I felt that it is very convenient and safe tool.

This time, I have to climb up to the top of mast to install Windex. In this context, I need your special technical support to firmly secure the safety. If necessary, could you contact your technical support group?

Of course Mast Mate will be lifted up the top of the mast by using Main sail halyard. How ever, I need further security considering the breakage of main halyard. For this further security, what is your recommendation ?

I personally consider that main boom lifting rope or spinnaker halyard may work for this purpose. From the point of strength, spinnaker halyard might be superior for this purpose. However, if we use it, it will cross upper shroud. I do not know whether this cause to damage the shroud.

In any way, I need your recommendation

Awaiting your advice.--Thanks again and truly yours

Kenji

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KENJI;
           If your topping (main boom lifting rope) is adjustable on the mast I would use it for the lifting of the Mast Mate and also attach the spinnaker halyard as a backup, just tighten it up once the mast mate is in place. I do not think the weight of the climber would be sufficient to do any damage to the upper shroud. The load will be spread out. Good luck and send photo of you up there and I will put it on the Mast Mate website--------------gary

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From on line forum

mast mate
Submitted by rad on 02/27 regarding General_interest

The mast mate comes with a safety belt to connect you to the mast. It is almost impossible to fall since you are standing in the web steps and harnessed to the mast. It is the easiest and safest way I have found yet to go aloft. It does not require a helper to winch you. I was once dropped 8' from the top of a tall mast and landed standing on the spreaders. A very close call. The line had tangled and popped off the winch as it was being fixed. A safety line was being used but in the confusion was allowed to go slack. Believe me when I say Mast Mate is the safest way to go.

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Mast Mate and a bosuns chair
Submitted by RAD of Bay Shore, N.Y. on 02/27 regarding General_interest

I use the mast mate and have some else tail the haylard thats attached to my very good bosuns chair this way theres no strain on the person down below which could be my spouse then once I'm where I want to be other than the top I do my work and for the trip down if one of my buddy's is helping I take the express down.
Another method I've tried is using the haylard on my windlass and talk about taking an express going up!

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Statement made on yacht club forum :

4/18/10

Having had the unpleasant experience of getting to the top of a 50 foot mast in a bowsun’s chair and being battered against the mast, i decided to invest in a safer system called the Mast Mate.  It is hoisted like a mainsail and consists of alternating web steps, using a 9/16 sail slide to fit into the mast channel, and hoisted with the main halyard.  A lineman’s belt is wrapped around the mast so that one can work with both hands free, even on top of the mast, which is what i had to do to install my new wireless TackTick wind system.

http://www.mastmate.com/

The main does not need to be taken off, just the sail slides need to be taken out of the track so the Mast Mate slides can go in.  Fairly simple.  Just as a redundant backup system, i donned a leg/waist climbing harness in reverse and attached the topping lift.  NO hoisting is required, as you are climbing up the steps; a deck monkey merely keeps the topping lift slack controlled. 

In 5 knot winds, i was able to comfortably climb to the top and install the system without injury.  Taller men than me, which is most men, would have an easier time of it, as the spacing between steps is a bit too much for me, but after the first of three ascents (dont ask), the steps were appropriately stretched making it much easier to get my feet into the loops.

Bottom line:  safe system, hands free even at the top in some wind, no injuries, and no hoisting.  If one must go the top or anywhere in between, this is the ticket.  If your sail uses 9/16 inch slides, i would be happy to lend out my system, as it is not cheap (about $500*) and there is no point in buying one since i already have it.  If anyone wants to use it, just let me know. 

G. R. B, MD

* 50ft Mast Mate + Workbelt + Shipping

 

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11/13/09

Gary,

What a great product! I'd made a couple of trips to the top of the mast on my Catalina 30 using a boatswain's chair and my son's mulehauling. After each trip I had a sore butt and he was totally exhausted. What a difference the Mast Mate made. My first climb to the spreader to work on the steaming light was a little awkward because of the height of the steps but I soon got the hang of it and now it's a breeze to go up and down. For a safety backup I used a safety harness attached to the jib halyard and tended by an assistant. Now that I've been up and down the ladder several times I feel very confident in working without that backup as long as I'm using the safety belt. In my opinion, the weak link in the system is the main halyard and anyone using this system needs to realize that the halyard should be carefully inspected prior to use, just as you would when using a boatswain's chair.

I also want to thank you for the great customer service you provide. The first time I used the Mast Mate I broke one of the slide shackles (the bottom one) because I incorrectly put a lot of lateral stress on it. You sent me replacement parts instantly.
I'll be sure to tell all of my sailing friends about Mast Mate.

Jerry
San Diego

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question: My husband bought a mast mate a couple of months ago. he has used it several time with success...a great product. He didn't buy the belt at the time, but is thinking about buying one now. Can he still buy it for the $70 or would it be the $85? thanks, E.

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As much as I think your husband should be reprimanded for not listening to
me about the necessity of the workbelt, I will just charge the $70
+Shipping----I have your original order form with details including credit
card # ending in 0000---with your go ahead I will use this info and have the
WB shipped, cost to you with USPS shipping--{$10} will be
$80.------------gary

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Hi,

Just to let you know that my mast-mate was delivered last Thursday morning: pretty good time.
I spent a couple of hours up the mast over the weekend doing a couple of jobs I have been putting off.
All worked well; certainly practice helps!
Judging from the interest the ladder generated in the marina you should be inundated with orders!

Rgds

Andy

Technical Officer,Australian Institute of Marine Science

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7/20/09

I have tried my new mast mate.
Now to climb on the mast is quick and easy.
Many thanks
I suggest mast mate to my friends
Good bye

Jacopo

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meant to get back to you...the Mastmate ladder is great -- just what I needed and very well made.  Thanks!
 
Jim
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Email from recent customer in Japan

Dear Mast Mate

Today I received the Mast Mate.
Every attachments are implied in the box.
This is wonderful Christmas Presents for me.

I will get a perfect safety every time when I climb up the mast owing to the Mast Mate.
I have an experience to use a Mast Mate five years ago, and I was fascinated by it.
Mast Mate is wonderful goods and it will protect yachtmen always.
I hope your company grow up much much more !!

Takehiro;

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Hello Gary,

Just a note to let you know that I am completely happy with my MastMate. It is a hell-for-stout product which I'm willing to risk my life using and it certainly got the job done for me.

As I did not have a mainsail halyard to pull MastMate up with (the whole reason for going on top was to re-install the main halyard) I had to use the jib halyard with the boom topping lift as a safety. It took some time to get the MastMate raised to proper position as the jib halyard began binding against the mast as MastMate neared the top.

Also, I found that MastMate needs to be used with the wind blowing in from the bow... with the wind blowing in from astern, the MastMate steps get blown forward such that they get caught where the lower shrouds attach to the mast... and like trying to raise a mainsail with wind from the aft, it just doesn't work.

There were helpful suggestions with the product packaging, like not using the product when not attached to the mast... not hanging on to MastMate steps when climbing up or down, etc. Another suggested comment for a new user would be to use MastMate with the bow into the wind... this will prevent it from getting caught in the standing rigging when attempting to hoist MastMate.

Anyway, the job is done and I once again have a main halyard! Thanks for a great product! It's exactly what I needed. My friends out at the harbor had never seen such a product and were quite impressed!------Steve

Steve--- On a windy day , to avoid steps snagging on the rigging , you can tape the steps closed when deploying and release the tape as you ascend.---gary

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Hello;

The Mast mate is great. All I need is a "clip on"
seat at the top of the mast. I use a rock climbing harness with a Petzl
"ASAP" clutch / brake for safety. The mast strap works well but is slow
to adjust so I am fitting another Petzl rope clutch which will adjust in
seconds.
regards, Robert

.

question: Question, I weigh 300lbs.(please do not judge me by email) Is your mast mate point of attachment safety rated,by that point where the sail slide is attached to your product. System 99 is the only rated steeple-jack,rescue bosun type mast climber rated by all three gov't

agencies. Also is a mountain climber's harness like Brian Toss recommends safer then your harness. We cannot find safety data about 'binder or clinch belt' pullout forces. What is your safety Factor. Regards AL

.

Hi;

Of course the best safety factor is the users common sense. In 20 years
there has never been a mast mate structural failure. The sewn tensile
strength of the webbing is 3,000lbs and there is little weight bearing on
the sail slides which work primarily as stabilizers. All weight is carried
by the halyard that is used to hoist the Mast Mate. The strength and
condition of the halyard used can be the critical factor. The Mast Mate

workbelt is intended for support while working, not to be used as a safety
harness while going aloft. Most customers configure their own safety
measures while climbing, I suggest a safety harness tethered with a rolling
hitch or Prusik knot around a cleated halyard, slipping the knot up the
halyard as one climbs. I have had several customers of your heft and the
only alteration needed was increasing the length of the Workbelts waist
belt. Beyond that and if you can comfortably deal with a 17inch step up, you
should have no problem but if you find your Mast Mate does not meet your
needs, simply return it and get a full refund. ---------gary

.

4/24/08

.

I've been using a Mast Mate for several years now on my Albin Vega, and find it truly easy to use.

I also work as a volunteer at the Long Island Maritime Museum and am currently crewing on the restored 1888 Oyster Dragger "Priscilla".

She's a gaffer and as such the main sail is attached to the mast with hoops. It would be really great if we could use the Mast Mate system instead of a Bosun's Chair as we do now.

I read the FAQ's and know the system is generally used with mast tracks but that can not be done(external track) with "Priscilla" for esthetic reasons and mainly because She's listed on the National Historic Register.

So, is there anyway that we could use a Mast Mate system on "Priscilla"?

Thanks

Hans

.

Hans

Glad to hear you have found the Mast Mate easy to use and helpful. I know some have used the MM not attached to a track by stop knotting a piece of line through the grommets and tying the line off around the mast as you ascend and untying them as you descend. Another way worth trying would be to weave a continuous line as you raise the MM through a grommet around the mast and through the next grommet and so on until it is fully raised, then pull the line taught at the bottom and secure it. Any system you can devise to keep the MM from swinging around would make it usable. Good luck and let me know what works or doesn't------g

.

Gary

I had the standard Mast Mate which worked well, but I had to stretch to go up because of leg and back injuries. It was well worth the effort. I lost my boat and the Mast Mate in Katrina. When I replaced the boat, I ordered a new Mast Mate with the short steps. It works great and I have no problems climbing, even with a new back injury (Man, I’m falling apart).

Great climber..

Thanks, Randy

.

....Gary

I received my MastMate and I have to tell you it has been a huge hit down at the marina. I live in Newport News VA, and I will soon be moving back up to Washington DC, near Annapolis, the sailing meca! You have probably been asked this many times, but have you ever concidered having an East Coast Distributor? I can tell you with great certainty that I could sell the heck out of these things! Maybe we could work out some kind of a deal, but either way, I'm going to be pushing this thing on everyone I know, its a great product!

I'll send a picture soon!

(By the way, while I was up there today, I found a critical crack in my spreader that I would not have seen from the boat. $250 bucks in a mast mate saved me from a costly dismasting! If that's not a selling point I don't know what is.)

GENE

.

"Since most of the days I am working on my Catalina 38 I am alone, I decided to try the Mastmate. The first time I used it I replaced the bulb in a spreader light and only ascended to the first spreaders. I was nervous and hesitant to let go of the mast with one hand but soon found that with the belt I could work with both hands. Next, I had to run new cable and mount a new windvane. I was at the top of the 50’ mast for around two hours and it didn’t take long to get completely comfortable enjoying the view of San Diego from my perch. This is a great product and it’s just a matter of getting used to the height and realizing that using the belt, you are not going to fall. I am 60 years old and was not even breathing hard from the climb. The one time my wife was with me, we used a bosun’s chair for a backup. This is a good idea when your partner does not have the strength to haul you up in the chair. Just keep the slack removed and cleat it off when you arrive at the top. It gives you a means to sit and rest if the job is a long one but is by no means necessary. Only one suggestion: I wouldn’t sell the product without the belt. In my experience, the belt is an essential piece of safety equipment and should always be used when you get to your working height."

Bob, San Diego

.

7/18/07

Hi,

I just bought a Mast Mate and wanted to provide some feedback.

First, overall – it’s a great product. I was a bit concerned about going aloft but felt very secure with the Mast Mate and Safety Belt.

Suggestions:

I’m fairly athletic and average height. Stepping up to the next “rung” was a bit cumbersome. I would make the steps closer (or just sell the model with the closer steps exclusively). You’ll probably save production cost by moving to one sku and I’m sure even the long leggers will like the feel of being “footed in” with ease. What may not be in the calculation is that you loose a few inches off the height of the step that your foot is in.

I would make the safety belt a mandatory part of the package. Increase the size of the bag so that it is also a storage bag for the entire unit. If you want to get real fancy, sew in some inserts to the bag for the battens (I’m now shopping for a sizeable bag to store everything).

Orient the bag to the front of the safety belt or make it adjustable to the front. It was difficult on the hip, and I’m sure useless on the butt.

Since you don’t provide the mast slides – I’d dump the plastic shackles – I’m not going to use them (they don’t fit anyway) and it makes the product look “cheap.” Recommend shackles or seizing.

Lots of suggestions – but again – it’s a great product, just ideas to make it better.

Stephen

__________________

Stephen;

I really appreciate you taking the time to make your comments and I am glad you are generally pleased with the product. As you can imagine when one makes decisions about design there are always tradeoffs. What you say about the steps distance from one another being a bit of a problem has on occasion been a problem for some customers but usually it was their climbing technique that needed adjustment, ie butt in, body straight, grasp mast above head, wear loose clothes etc, but there were some that had short inseams so we make a model with a shorter distance between steps. The tradeoff , as you surmised, being the step becomes smaller and more difficult to get your foot into especially descending.

The problem with making the workbelt a "no choice" item is that about one third of our customer are experienced climbers and have their own gear, some even have the linesman belt the MMs workbelt is patterned after. Your suggestions about the work pouch and storage bag are good ones and I'll give more consideration to these observations. I also agree about the cheap look of the shackles but looks are deceiving. They are actually tough nylon and after thousands sold I've replaced only a handful. Personally I would whip the slides onto the grommet getting a nice tight fit. Again Stephen, thanks for your suggestions and if you have no objection I will put your comments and this response on the testimonial page of the website.---Gary

.

Climbed the mast on my Coronado 27 with my new Mastmate today. The steps are too far apart. I am 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, and it was a struggle to get my leg up to each next step. Would probably work better for my 6-1 son, but for the average guy, it's way too hard to lift each leg. Could recommend the product to others of the steps were at 12-14 instead of 16.

Aaron

Aaron;

Sorry to hear you had trouble with the step distance. Most often when customers have a hard time with this it is due to the fact that they are not holding their body straight enough and not grabbing the mast at least head high . Do not grab the steps above, put your hands around the mast at least head high. If the butt sticks out one can not lift their leg as high as if their body was straight against the mast. Also sometimes the clothes worn are too tight and one can not bend their leg adequately. I suggest you try again keeping these points in mind. If it is still too difficult we do make a custom model with steps 14 inches apart at a cost of 12 dollars a foot, you would get full credit for your returned Mast Mate, or you can just return this one and your money will be refunded. ----------Gary

Thanks Gary, I plan to try again later today.

aaron

.

Hey Gary,

I scaled the mast again today with my mastmate. A few observations:

1. The system works. Despite some difficulty and a learning curve, I don't need winch slaves to grind me up. So from a standpoint of self-reliance, I'm glad I bought it.

2. Standing up straight against the mast does make it easier, as long as you don't have to look at your foot to make the next step. If you have to look, it's hard not to bend at the waist and "butt out" some.

3. I climbed both times in shorts, deck shoes and a sweatshirt (for arm protection, a lesson learned as a tree climber), but the climbing belt (in my case a leather Bashlin) can interfere a little with range of motion.

4. On every climb, take a bottle of water. You WILL get thirsty.

I like it, and will keep it. I would recommend it, but would recommend the 14-incher probably.

Aaron

Aaron;

Thanks for your observations and persistence, I am glad you could make it work out for you. The custom 14 inch step space model, although requiring less leg lift, the size of the step itself is smaller and therefore does not open as readily as the larger standard version. I would like to have your permission to quote all your comments in the testimonial section of the website, no personal information would be used. I will presume no response from you is permission to do so. Thanks again--g

.

5/7/07

.

Just wanted to let you know my new Mast Mate worked FABULOUSLY when commissioning my boat this spring. I believe the bosun chair has gone the way of the slide rule. Thanks again---John S.

.

11/07/06

SELLER'S TESTIMONIAL ON EBAY

Climb to the top of your mast solo. I did and you can too.

No need to search for help to take a white-knuckle ride aloft in a bosun's chair!

MAST MATE is an extremely sturdy alternating-step flexible ladder made of 2 inch-wide nylon webbing. Simply attach a halyard, feed the sail slugs into the mast track and hoist it like your main sail! Read more at their website www.mastmate.com

This listing is for the 35-foot model lightly used and in very excellent condition. There are no signs of use or wear to the ladder itself. The letters on the storage bag show wear and there are stains that machine washing using Tide with bleach did not remove. Included are two complete sets of sail slugs, rectangular track 3/4-inch and round track 3/8-inch.

I purchased this Mast Mate in the same condition from Ebay and it more than paid for itself when I used it to climb the mast to retrieve a broken halyard on my previous boat. Even so, I was glad when it was over and I was back on terra firma!

I am selling it now only because I traded boats this summer and can easily step and unstep my mast now.

If I can use it to go aloft, ANYONE can.

.

9/21/06

Gary,

You have an excellent product--if I had custom ordered it I might have
ordered the steps closer together, say 15 or 16 inches (I'm about 5'9"). The
42 foot size is just right for my Catalina 34, although it was a good
workout for this 63-year-old singlehander going up the mast yesterday. I
used my 6-foot elastic tether, looped around the mast with both ends hooked
to my sailing harness (disconnecting and reconnecting at the spreader), and
I was still a bit nervous about falling backwards. I think the work belt,
with the tether/harness as back-up, should put my mind at ease (as well as
holding parts and tools for me). It was easy to work at the masthead, with
your battened top steps and comfortable working height. In the past, I've
not been able to get high enough in the bosun's chair to look down on the
masthead.

George

.

I ordered a Mast Mate to address a specific problem I had when I lost my main halyard. After my Mast Mate arrived I installed the sail slide and determined that I would go to the marina the following afternoon to try it out. I did not anticipate that I would go all the way to the top on the first try but thought that I would just familiarize myself with it. Within an hour of having gotten to the marina I had been to the top and fixed the problem. I was able to climb the mast comfortably and work hands free on the first try. Considering that I am over fifty, over weight, out of shape and none too fond of heights, this was an amazing accomplishment. I now feel that I have a reasonable means of accessing the mast head and expect that I will tend to it properly without waiting for a problem to arise. You have a fine product and I am glad that I have obtained one.

Bob

.

8/31/06

I bought my Mast Mate several years ago and have used it many times. Since I have had less luck with LED masthead lights than with my Mast Mate, I have been up more times than I wish. Reading the other testimonials on your website, I thought I'd offer this: I have in-mast furling, so my main halyard is always busy. I always lower my jib and use the jib halyard to raise the Mast Mate in the sail track. My mast has an exterior sail track even though it has in-mast furling so the main stays put. I then attach my West Marine bosun's chair to my spinnaker halyard as a safety net. As I climb, the winch wench tails the extra halyard with no effort. When I climb, I use my legs primarily, but also pull with my arms. I noticed comments about swaying if you grab the steps above you. This doesn't happen if you grab the main strap and not the steps. At the top I comfortably sit in the chair and do my work and enjoy the view. I never have climbed down, since I have the bosun's chair - the winch wench lowers me in the chair. If I need to do something on the front side of the mast, like change a steaming light bulb, being in the chair on the way down lets me swing around to the side or front with no problem.

As somebody else said, the only bad thing I can say about the Mast Mate is rolling it back up tight enough to get it back in the storage bag.

Chris

s/v MoonSail

.

5/29/06

Hello Gary,

Just a note to let you know that I am completely happy with my MastMate. It is a hell-for-stout product which I'm willing to risk my life using and it certainly got the job done for me.

As I did not have a mainsail halyard to pull MastMate up with (the whole reason for going on top was to re-install the main halyard) I had to use the jib halyard with the boom topping lift as a safety. It took some time to get the MastMate raised to proper position as the jib halyard began binding against the mast as MastMate neared the top.

Also, I found that MastMate needs to be used with the wind blowing in from the bow... with the wind blowing in from astern, the MastMate steps get blown forward such that they get caught where the lower shrouds attach to the mast... and like trying to raise a mainsail with wind from the aft, it just doesn't work.

There were helpful suggestions with the product packaging, like not using the product when not attached to the mast... not hanging on to MastMate steps when climbing up or down, etc. Another suggested comment for a new user would be to use MastMate with the bow into the wind... this will prevent it from getting caught in the standing rigging when attempting to hoist MastMate.

Anyway, the job is done and I once again have a main halyard! Thanks for a great product! It's exactly what I needed. My friends out at the harbor had never seen such a product and were quite impressed!

Steve

.

Here is a series of back and forths that recently occurred on a sailing forum website.

Posted By: Jerry
Date: 5/5/06 3:49p.m.

don't buy toys; install mast steps

--------

Posted By:
Date: 5/7/06 7:49a.m.

In Response To: (Jerry )

Why would I drill a hundred or more holes in my mast...

...when I already have an
easily deployed, very secure system like the Mast Mate, ,which gets put in place only when I need it? How often do you go up your mast, anyway? If it's something you do every day, sure, perhaps permanent mast steps have their value...

To each his own, Jerry - I'm just trying to make the point that a ladder like the Mast Mate is a great compromise, it accomplishes everything that permanently mounted steps do without some of their drawbacks, and is certainly not a "toy"...

best regards,

Jon

------

Posted By: Jerry
Date: 5/7/06 8:23a.m.

In Response To: Why would I drill a hundred or more holes in my mast... (Jon)

I used to have Capt. Al's ladder

which is very similar to the MastMate. There is NO comparison between going up the shaky and insecure MastMate-type system and mast steps. Because it uses slides it can only be used in certain conditions (when the mainsail has been removed from the track) _and_ it takes time to set up. What do you do when you need to go up the mast FAST?

Jerry

--------------

Posted By: Jon

Date: 5/7/06 9:02a.m.

In Response To: I used to have Capt. Al's ladder (Jerry )

LOL! I wouldn't take two steps up the mast using that piece of shit...

Jerry, there is absolutely NO comparison between the Mast Mate and that flimsy piece of crap... You're right, that system does not even qualify as a toy...

I have my ladder arranged to be affixed through a gate in my track, the main does not have to be removed, it can go from my sail locker to being deployed in a couple of minutes... I'm sitting here trying to imagine the likelihood of a situation where I had to go up the mast much faster than that, hasn't occurred yet in my life (grin)

---------------

Posted By: Catalina

Date: 5/5/06 10:12p.m.

sometimes I use the Mast Mate and a chair

My wife, Patti has had 2 hand operations and can't hoist me up. I like swinging in the chair, so I hoist the ladder up and put the chair on and climb up, she just tails a line with no weight on it. When I get to where I'm working I sit down. I know a 4 part fall would be easier but I just haven't afforded one yet so we make do with what we have. The ladder really is the quickest way up and down for multple trips.

----------

7/5/04

"The only problem I have with my mast mate is people knocking on my boat to borrow it"---Howard

.

11/22/05

Being, a for the most part a solo sailor, and needing a means to get to the top of my mast, as it is often difficult to get help hoist me up in the bosons chair, I started searching the web for available tools to do this trick. I chose the Mast Mate over the other options as it seemed the easiest means to scale the mast, and also not be a permanent fixture on the mast.

I made the right choice. I easily scaled to the top of my 40' mast, secured the work belt an removed my masthead weather instruments for winter storage. I was up and down the mast and completed my task in about 15 minutes! Less time than going up in the bosons chair! And access to the instruments was much easier.

There were two issues, or perhaps cautions ....

1- The first time up the foot straps were a little hard to slip my foot into because the tendency was for them to stay in their folded position, perhaps I had a little more difficulty due to my short stature. I was also a little concerned that I would have the same problem during the descent, but the steps stayed out nicely for a quick easy decent.

2- I wish the tool bag were a little deeper or had a deep compartment to better hold the mast head instruments. I was fearful that they would fall out of the bag during the decent. The Windex did, but it was in need of work and was on the list to be replaced.

I am very satisfied with this addition to my boats inventory.

Jan

Lake Erie Sailor from

Ohio

.

Jan;

Thanks for the feedback. I am glad you are satisfied and I appreciate your suggestions. Normally when the Mast Mate has been rolled up for a long period, it will take a bit of time for gravity to open the steps. A deeper bag is a good idea---If you have no objection I'll put your response on the testimonial page. Good sailing to you-----gary

.

Dear Folks, 8/16/04

I recently ordered a mastmate, and as a retired foredeck had to share with you the joy of an aerial view again. Halfway up to the spreaders on a Cheoy Lee 35 I could hold onto the lower shrouds as I went up the steps. With total ease I was able to sit on a spreader and replace a steaming light. The usual of not having the right tools resulted in several trips up and down, where I really got the hang of climbing with it.
Going to the masthead I couldn't reach the outer spreaders, and had to hold on to the mast. I really didn't feel as secure above the spreaders, and rigged my safety harness around myself and the mast. This improved matters greatly, to go further aloft, and rerun a lost pole topping lift, from when the messenger line broke in the spring.
I feel by fall I'll feel comfortable enough to go fully up, and let go of my mast death hold, to do work at the masthead.
I calculate that the Mastmate cost about $350 total. So far I saved about $150 from paying an enthusiastic yard rigger who noticed and wanted to fix my steaming light. I'm halfway to breaking even!
I just wonder if you have any suggestions for my aching legs from climbing. Im used to the boys "jumping" the halyard and sending me aloft. Now retired from the pointy end, I dont climb often, and am feeling my age.
Thanks again for your prompt service.
Gary

.

Gary;
Happened to be on line--- thanks for the feedback , I am glad your MM is serving you well. As for the aching leg problem, the more you do it , the less they hurt, also I have found that until one gets fully comfortable going aloft with the MM, there is a tightness in the muscles from the fear (the mast death hold) which contributes to muscle fatigue and makes climbing difficult. If you have no objection, I will use your email on the testimonial page of the MM website.---------gary

.

5/15/04

Gary,

Reviewed all available products for going up and decided on Mast Mate some time ago. Finally got the Mast Mate because I "lost" my main halyard due to operator error while replacing said halyard. Set it up today with my spinnaker halyard, but only went up half way due to high winds. Having been up in the Boatswain's chair, dangling by a single rope, I found the stability of the Mast Mate reassuring.
Read all the testimonials about climbing methods and such and have only question. I've skydived with webbing that was smaller, so why do you recommend not hooking the mast tether until in working position?

Good product - thanks.
Randy

.

Randy;
I found that if the tether was around the mast when I climbed that my body did not have the freedom of movement I liked plus I felt having to unfasten and refasten the tether to get by the lower shrouds and spreaders voided out any additional safety factor. Others , however, do use it that way with no problem, so whatever works for you is OK. As you can imagine, in writing the instructions I err on the conservative side.--------gary

.

5/21/04

Gary,

Just a comment. Had to raise the Mast Mate using the spinnaker halyard, and used the tether and additional safety belt (an old halyard section) to insure a safety line while passing the spreaders. On the first climb to the top the only concern was reaching the mast head because the way the spinnaker halyard had come around to the sail track. When a passer by said it looked like I could reach the top without any problem, I scooted right up the mast. Technical problems at the top dictated I go back down for additional equipment. The second trip was like a squirrel zipping up a tree. No fear, no concern, just a safe secure platform.
It is so safe it convinced my wife it was safe enough that I could go up alone. (There were other people near the slip)
Super product.
Thanks, Randy

.

Gary,
Just a question please.

The old argument of bowline vs eye splice vs shackles to secure any device is a lost point if the strength of the attachment to the device is week. You web site addresses the 3,000 pound tensil strength of the webbing, but does not address the d-ring. Just for grins, what is the strength of the ring.
I did find one potential problem with the MM. I am so confident in the device I hope I always remember exactly where I am when I use it. Situational awarness, as we pilots say, is critical.
Thanks
Randy

.

Randy;
D ring rated at 1100 lbs------g

.

question: I am trying between your product and prime-climb. I like the solidity of the prime climb. I am afraid that I will be searching for the loops with my feet on the way down.Could you make a pitch of your product against prime-climb

.

Hi;
Having never tried the Prime-climb I cannot say much about it except it seems stowage would be a bit of a hassle and installation could take more time than the Mast Mate plus , for me, I like the fact that the flexible webbing steps of the MM surround your foot so slippage is never a problem. But probably the biggest plus for the MM is that it has a full money back guarantee, so you can buy it and try it and if you are not satisfied get your money back and get the Prime Climb, I don't think they have a money back guarantee. Add to that the fact that I have never had a MM returned do to the difficulty of finding the steps on descending. A few times up and down and you automatically know where the steps are. That's it----- call me at 800-548-0436 to discuss it further or to order----------gary

.

10/23/03

Gary, the MM works fine on the aft side of the mast, but when I got to the steaming light at the spreaders, it was too awkward for me to work on the light. So I made an adjustment. I tied a short line through every other grommet, raised the rig by the jib halyard, and tied the lines around the mast as I stepped up. This gave me a secure position in front of the steaming light to change the bulb. As I descended, I untied each line, then lowered the MM via the halyard. I felt very secure with the tool belt.

Am I the oldest rag sailor to climb aloft with the MM? I'm 71.

FF

.

FF

Thanks for your discription. Another solution would have been to secure the bosuns chair to the Mast Mate and swing around to the opposite side of the mast to repair the light. You may be the oldest to climb a mast mate but I sold one to an 80 year old who was embarking on his 3rd circumnavigation----------g

.

9/7/03

I ordered a Mast Mate to address a specific problem I had when I lost my
main halyard. After my Mast Mate arrived I installed the sail slide and
determined that I would go to the marina the following afternoon to try it
out. I did not anticipate that I would go all the way to the top on the
first try but thought that I would just familiarize myself with it.
Within an hour of having gotten to the marina I had been to the top and
fixed the problem.
I was able to climb the mast comfortably and work hands free on the first
try. Considering that I am over fifty, over weight, out of shape and none
too fond of heights, this was an amazing accomplishment.
I now feel that I have a reasonable means of accessing the mast head and
expect that I will tend to it properly without waiting for a problem to
arise.
You have a fine product and I am glad that I have obtained one.

Bob

.

3/30/03

Mast mate:

I have enjoyed possession of a Mast mate for many years now. It has been used to accomplish many above deck repairs and installations whenever the need (or desire) arose. The most recent was replacement of what was a perfectly good Windex at the masthead nefariously damaged by an Osprey of unrelenting intent to have unobstructive view of Halifax Harbor Marina here in Daytona Beach, Florida. While engaged in the process of going to the masthead, I inadvertently left the storage bag for the Mast Mate on the dock at a time when the wind was pretty high. The lightweight bag blew into the water unnoticed and was lost. My Mast Mate is now being stowed in a pillow case. I write you now to ask for a replacement bag. I can respond to receipt of a bag with a check in whatever amount you specify for the bag plus S&H or if you prefer, tell me what to send you in advance and I will respond accordingly. Thank you for an anticipated and timely response.

Fred

.

Fred;

Glad to hear of your satisfaction with the Mast Mate and sorry to hear of the bag loss. I will trade you a new storage bag for the privledge of using your email in the testimonial page of the Mast Mate website . The bag will be mailed out on Tuesday the 1st -------good sailing to you-------gary

.

12/13/02

Gary,
Added the slides for my mast track to the MastMate and talked myself (finally) into climbing to the masthead. Must say, your product is a great idea, and all went without a hitch. I'd definitely recommend the workbelt along with the MastMate, as it gives you a very secure feeling when at the top. This is a very well made product and as it is fixed to the sail track it doesn't sway from the mast. Just wish I had thought of this! Thanks, Mike Morro Bay, CA

11/03/021111

Gary,
Used the Mast mate for the first time today, just my wife and I she said it
was the easiest boating job she ever had { she tailed the backup halyard} I went up the mast. Been sailing for over 30 years and been up many times, so height was not a problem for me. Like to thank you for an excellent product! A few questions:

1/ I undid the strap on the work belt before I read the instructions and
would like to be certain I buckled it properly. Do you have a photo?
2/ I used a Larakis harness for the back up, the only problem the line was
right in my face, not to bad going up but coming down with pressure on it
became annoying. Any suggestions.
Thanks again, see you up there,
BOB

My Reply;

Bob;
Thanks for the feedback, if you have no objection I will use it on the testimonial page of the website. The problem with the back up safety line deployed in that fashion is as you stated, "it is in your face." I prefer securing the extra halyard, jib or otherwise, cleated off tightly and run a short line from the ring of your harness to the line securing it with a rolling hitch knot [knots ]. This way you slip the knot up the line as you climb and if a mishap occurs, the knot will lock up and prevent a fall, plus it is not in your face.. Also, this allows you to do the whole operation alone, leaving your mate to look on with admiration or to attend to other duties. I have attached a drawing of the proper way to feed the strap thru the d-ring and adjusters of the workbelt. Good sailing and be safe------------gary

Gary,
Thank you for the quick reply, in these days of discount store clerks and
order takers its a relief to talk to a knowledgeable owner. Yes you can use
my comments if you think they worthy.
I will try the rolling hitch idea this spring when I go back up to replace
my instruments,
I take everything off the top of the mast for the winter.
BOB

Aug, 12,02

Dear Gary Wheeler,
A) Your picture makes you look more the sailor than the entrepreneur.
Good choice.
B) Just used the MastMate. After trying three differnt methods of
climbing the mast to replace a bulb, YOURS has surpassed all combined, by
yards (yuk,yuk).
How many sailors does it take to change a light bulb? The whole crew and
some borrowed hands!
Now I'm up and down the mast like the squirrel that my wife says I am.
This product is the epitome of the elegant simplicity of male logic.
Good job, mate! Thanx!
SINCERELY,
Morgan the irate

July 21,02


Dear Mastmate,

Just a note to let you know how well the mastmate and toolbag work belt
work. The first time up was a challenge,(I wore sandals), but by the second
and third it was a piece of cake,(I wore shoes with stiff soles). It made
installing a new head stay and roller furler easy. The next project is
replacing a broken VHF antenna.Thanks,
Bob

More from Bob;

My First Ever Mast Climb
2002-07-17

For months now I've been struggling with the fact that I need to get to the top of my mast. I've tried bosun's chairs, the TopClimber, finding a crane to lift me, etc., with no luck. I was basically too chicken to do what everyone else seemed to do so easily. After all, it's 40 feet straight up suspended only by a 1/4" cable; and, as I've see, these cables can break.
I finally discovered the Mast Mate on the web.
I had a few problems getting accustomed to it; but after a little help from the manufacture to overcome my basic fear; I went to the top today with no problem and felt very comfortable and secure up there. I even took a bunch of pictures (see below) from the top of the mast with both hands free. Yeow!!! What a great feeling!! J
It actually took me three attempts with the Mast Mate on three different days before I got up there. It had nothing to do with the Mast Mate itself, just my fear of heights. First time (2002-07-13) I made it only up to the first spreaders with Jim Rumsey watching on; second time (2002-07-16) I made it to the second spreaders, but I was basically frozen and couldn't go up any more. This time, I got to the second spreaders, and, feeling very comfortable just kept going; what a thrill!!
I took all the reasonable safety precautions I could think of. On recommendation from other skippers on the Sailnet (best web site on the web) Racing and Ericson Email lists, I also went to R.E.I. and purchased a rock climbing harness and ascender that I wore and hooked to a second halyard in case the one I was climbing on broke. I also purchased the work belt from the people who produce the Mast Mate and this allowed me to feel securely attached to the mast such that I could stand up there hands free! :-)
I very highly recommend the Mast Mate to anyone who's been afraid to climb their masts; and definitely get the work belt with it.

July 16,02

Gary:

I tried out your Mastmate on my Bristol 34 and made 3 trips to the masthead in 4 hours without breaking a sweat. I climbed while wearing a hard-bottom West Marine bosun's chair that was being tailed by a friend. I did all the "heavy lifting" as a test to see if my wife could be my helper on future trips aloft. Climbing with the chair as a backup worked just fine, and a secondary safety line and carabineer made it easy to secure my chair to a solid point after I got on location. While sitting in the chair, the Mastmate gave me a good footing on which to stand and ease the butt-ache. I could actually look down on the top of my mast, a view I have never had since climbing my first mast in 1966. Why didn't you invent this wonderful gadget 30 years ago? Looking back on a busy and productive weekend, I realize that the most difficult task was storing the Mastmate back in the bag! Congrats on designing a providing tool that makes life easier for us who enjoy working aloft.

Arthur

July 16,02

Hi Gary,
I got my mast mate and it's everything you said it would be. There's one major problem for me, though, that I didn't anticipate. I don't have the strength in my knees to lift myself if I don't have anything to pull on with my hands. I can get up to the first spreaders just fine using the lower shrouds to help pull myself up with my hands; but I can?t make a single step after that and I'm only a third of the way up at that point. Do you have any suggestions? I'm sure others must have had the same problem.

To get enough traction by simply grabbing on to the mast (wrapping my arms tightly around it) I found that I can?t see my feet to negotiate them into the steps. I tried going up a few steps this way with great difficulty, but when I tried backing down, I couldn't get my foot into the step until I asked a friend to help me guide my feet.

I'm wondering if the shorter steps would help. It is a pretty long reach with the current length between steps. I'm pretty tall and have long legs, so I suspected that wouldn't be a problem. But if I didn't have to bend my leg so much at the knee, I might have more power to lift myself up. Still, I don't see how shortening from 16" to 14" would make that much difference; what has your experience been?
Another thought. Your instructions say NOT to grab the steps with your hands to help pull yourself up. Why not? I'm wondering if I should try that, but I didn't want to go against your warning.
Thanks,Rick

Response

Rick;
Sorry you are having that difficulty. I say not to grab the steps above because that tends to make you sway side to side whereas holding the mast stabilizes you. Also, make sure your body is good and veriticle,not with your butt sticking out, and that your hands are at least head high around the mast. Make sure you wear loose pants as well. Most others who have difficulty usually have a short inseam making the 16 inch lift a bit much and for them the short step is a good fix, but with you having a knee problem, the same may not apply. I have also found that often people have difficulty the first few tries and then as they get use to it find it easier. I think initially there is a bit of fear and trepidation which effects the bodies ability to adapt to the task. I suggest you try climbing a few more times and if it still is not manageable I will be glad to refund your money.

Gary

I'll try. I sure don't want to ask for a refund; I want to get to the top of my mast.
So, if I don't mind swaying side to side, grabbing the steps above me would be ok, correct? I was worried the concern would be putting too much force on the connections to the sail slides and pulling them out. I'll try that too today and let you know.
Rick

Response

Rick
Try it, but pull straight down -------------g


Gary
That worked much better. I made it all the way to the second spreaders before fear took over. I'm trying again today and hope to get to the top. If I make it, I'll be celebrating!
Your product is great!!
BTW, it turned out that by pulling on the step above me I was able to climb up two more steps; then I discovered by climbing those two additional steps I could reach the second level spreaders to pull myself up with. That made it really easy to get to the second spreaders. Looks like the same thing will work for the top section of the mast.
Rick

Response

Rick:
Congratulations. Take your time, in a week or two you'll be scampering up. I use anything I can hold onto to help me up, shrouds, spreaders, halyards. Glad it is going to work for you, I hate returns---------gary

July 19,02

HE MADE IT! (message from Rick to the Ericson owers forum)

To boldly go... where I've never been before. :-)

I finally made it to the top of my mast using the Mast Mate
(http://www.mastmate.com) and the tips from this thread. Yay!!!! :-)
For any of you who are hesitant about being hauled up on the halyard
check out the Mast Mate; I love it. I can't believe (after 30 years and
5 boats) that I've finally been to the top!! Heights and me never saw
eye to eye, but I felt so comfortable with the Mast Mate (still, it took
me three tries on three different days to get past my fear of heights)
that I actually stood up there about 2 feet above the mast head looking
down at it with my hands completely free. It was wonderful!! :-)

Thanks everyone for all the tips and suggestions I got from this thread;
I also purchased the harness and ascender from REI as suggested here and
attached that to my spinnaker halyard as a back up. I really felt safe
going up there.
Next? --- Bungi jumping :-)
Thanks,Rick

P.S., I also got incredible customer support from the Mast Mate people
who must be trained psychologists at helping people overcome their fear
of heights :-)

_______________________________

June 6, 02

Hi Gary, had a chance to use my new Mast Mate this past weekend and I could not have been more pleased with the easy way the system works. I had to go up and down numerous times while installing a new Windex, and after getting the hang of it (two or three times up and down), it was easy. the safety/tool belt work as advertised and feels very comfortable. I did use an additional 5' safety line rigged with a climbers jam cleat attached to a spare halyard once in position. All in all, I it was a success. Great piece of equipment.
Regards, Hans

Hi Gary, Just a note to tell you how well your product and I are getting along. Thanks to the ease of use of my mastmate, I have managed to successfully suspend my noisy Tri color wiring inside the length of my mast( no room left inside conduit ), Inspect, secure, replace faulty/worn rigging, clean, paint, and wax. So I figure that with the 7+ hours I've spent aloft so far, the money I've saved in labor costs alone have paid for my new specialty tool. And you know what they say. If you want it done right, you'll have to "Do it yourself" . Now I can! The tool bag/belt is the perfect addition to the use of the mastmate. Combined they give me confidence, security, safety, and freedom aloft. As far as the spacing of steps goes. I've found that while ascending, climbing is easier If you grab your kneecap to help lift up your leg/foot to the next step. Also, If downhauled tight, most play is illiminated while aloft. Thanks again for a great product! Lon "Pride & Joy" Alameda, CA

July 15,02


Here are some responses to this question posted 5/19/01 on the Forum at the Cruising world website. "Does anyone have any experience with this product [ the mast mate climbing system]? It appears to make sense."

I purchased one for my Allied Seawind about 6 months ago. The product is well constructed and is very convenient to store. It slides up quickly on the mast track. It is very ease to climb you must be in good physical condition. No different than of course fixed steps. On my mast I must take the mainsial out of the track first to put up the mast mate. Still I would rather do this than drill many holes in the mast to put up fixed steps. Remember to use shoes and not bare feet when using the mast mate climbing is much more difficult with bare feet! ------Dan

I second everything Dan says. I've had the product for six or eight years and carried it from my former boat to my present one. I don't have a regular crew, so I frequently have to ascend my mast alone. I use the MastMate ladder in conjunction with a Safe-Brake or Safe-T-Brake (or something like that - it's been discussed here on this board) rigged on a second halyard as a failsafe device. I also sewed a couple of belts onto my bosuns chair so that I can stop anywhere I want to, pass a belt around the mast and clip it back to the chair. That way I can stand on the ladder and be supported by the belt around the mast like a telephone lineman and have my hands free to work. -------John

My comment--Instead of a safe-break you can use a rolling hitch knot,



Here is a letter that appeared in the June 1999 issue of Sail Magazine

" I read with interest Steven Harris's "Going Aloft" and found it informative. However, I was disappointed that Mr. Harris didn't mention an alternative method which we often use on our Cape Dory 33. I did some research and found the Mast Mate flexible ladder {tel 207-596-0495, www.mastmat.com}, which runs up the mainsail track and is hoisted by the main halyard. My husband uses a Lirakis harness and a bosun's chair and climbs up the webbing stairs. I tail the slack from the harness halyard for safety. When he's finished I ease the halyard and he climbs down. Using the ladder is a simple and safe method for reaching the top of the mast"

E.R.

St Petersburg, Florida.


The following is a response to a question posted on the Cruising World Website Bulletin Board 4/29/99. The question asked was "Does anyone have experience with Mast Ladders?"

Response Posted by RCB 4/29/99 1:06 A.M.

" I recently bought one. a Mastmate, following a discussion on this board (archive #45) in which 3 or 4 who had one attested to how well it works. I had priced making one myself, since the basic concept is pretty simple, but found I had neither the time nor expertise to sew webbing joints that would have the strength I wanted. I checked a climbing repair shop recommended by REI, but the cost they first quoted was too high, and then when they learned that I intended to rely on this in climbing, the flatly refused to do the work, saying their insurance wouldn't let them. After I ordered the Mastmate and inspected it, I have to say that the materials and particularly the workmanship of the assembly made me conclude that it is fairly priced for what you get. It is very well sewn with no shortcuts taken that I can see. It is a whole lot better than I could have done. I used it recently to go up and remove a bent spreader, using my chair on another halyard for backup and resting station and working station when I arrived. It worked well. I too used to pull myself up with multipart tackle. I too got very fatigued doing it. Two things I was sure of, was first that I was not going to get any younger and second that my fatigue would eventually lead to a mistake. Aloft is sure not a place to make a mistake, and they are real easy to do with one line to haul you up, one as a backup that needs to be taken up periodically and made secure, and one around the mast---or whatever system you use. It was hard to shell out that cash, but I feel much better knowing I have a tool I can use for mast work on any boat I own. The Mastmate will definately outlast me, and it will probably outlast my son."


Bill Creighton  

April 25, 1995

MAST MATE PO Box 1348 Healdsburg, CA 95448

Dear Mr. Wheeler,
Please find enclosed my check for $255.00 to cover the cost of a 35' Mast Mate (along with the $5.00 for shipping). I spoke with you last fall, and want to reiterate that the Mast Mate that I used during the past summer, and now again during the past six weeks as I continued the Atlantic Circle with Michael Rowland, proved itself over and over and over again as one of the most useful pieces of equipment on the boat (Tammy Norie, a 25 year old wooden ketch, with wooden spars). Your ladder made it comfortably possible for me to scale the mast while in 12' seas at mid Atlantic to replace a fallen inner fore stay; I was also able (while in port) to spend hours at a time reworking an old and poorly designed mast-head fitting, and again a few hours repairing a cracked cheek piece. We were also able to revarnish the masts without having to unstep them, and with the use of some mountaineering technology for a safety line much of this was done by one person working alone. As was most certainly the response when the first cave man finally chipped the corners off his octagonal wheel, the universal reaction that fellow sailors have had when they have seen the Mast Mate in use has been "well of course... it's so simple, why didn't I think of that!"
My hat is off to you sir for a fine idea. I look forward to having my own Mast Mate aboard my boat. I wish you continued success!
 


An Email received from a Canadian customer

I just received the MasMate and the Workbelt and they look great: strenghth, quality, everything. I will go up the mast next week and I am sure everything will be fine. I appreciate your very fast service and delivery, and thanks for the free shipping to Canada. I am getting this Mast Mate known all around... Congratulations and thanks again.

Henri ,Canada


Following the below email, sent by me, are some customers unedited responses with comments by me where deemed necessary

 

Dear Customer: I hope this email finds you well and you have put many pleasurable miles under your keel since you purchased your Mast Mate. I would appreciate it if you would send me an email and let me know how the mast mate climbing system has worked out for you and if you have any suggestions for improvements or changes. I also invite you to occasionally revisit the Mast Mate website {www.mastmate.com} for I am adding some new products. At present, I am introducing the 3rdMate, a simple multipurpose tool that is equivalent to having an extra hand on deck, and soon a quick release overboard emergency ladder based on the mast mate design. I thank you in advance for your response--------------Gary

 

Dear Gary,

You were helpful on the phone when I called before the purchase. The Mast Mate did just what I needed. The first step is a big one. Fortunately, I am familiar with rappeling, so the fact of being 45 feet above the deck with only my belay only made me a little weak-kneed. I went right to the top with a rest stop at the spreaders. I used lithium grease in a spray can on the swivel gear at the top of the roller furling jib. It fixed the problem. I have only used MM once but I am glad to have a way to get up there. Of course rigging it is a little time consuming but not bad. Great invention. Attached are pix of my boat, Integrity, an Irwin Citation 34, and me up the mast

Good Luck
Mike
Houston, TX


Gary:

I've used my Mast Mate now on two occasions and it has performed flawlessly. As you warned, the first time I used it the loops were still pretty flat do to how the unit was stored when it arrived. This made it a little tough to get your feet in and out of the loops. But they relaxed over time and I have no complaints. Keep up the good work. We sailors and do-it-yourself captains certainly appreciate your work.

Wayne


Hi Gary

I've used my mast mate to install a wind speed/direction sensor and new windex on the top of my mast and to install a JRC 1000 and a new deck/steaming light near the spreaders. The system works great, but I have a few suggestions from my experiences. The step spacing is a bit far apart, and I have long legs (I am 6' 2") so it must be even more difficult for a shorter person. I cannot emphasize enough that the only comfortable way to work is to raise the ladder to the appropriate height so that you are standing on the two level steps, I tried working part way up the ladder and your legs get sore real fast. It works best to place the heel of your foot on the steps to minimize foot fatigue. A climber, when going to the top needs two safety harnesses becasue when you get to the spreaders with just the work belt I purchased from you, it is necessary to unhook it to get it over the spreaders, so I bring a second harness and hook it up over the spreaders prior to moving the work belt. All in all a great product that saves me much money and makes me more independent. Who would want to pay someone big bucks to climb up just to change a steaming and/or anchor light?

Charles
San Francisco Bay Area

-------My Response

Although it is recommended to use a safety harness with a backup halyard when you climb, the Mast Mate Workbelt is not intended for this purpose. It's tether is only to be deployed when you have reached your work position. The in-between step distance (16") is the result of step size and adequate reinforcing. Any difficulty in climbing is usually corrected by keeping ones body straight with hands around the mast head high. For those with a very short inseam, a custom model with a 2 inch shorter between step distance is available.


Gary,
Thanks for the email.

Mast mate works fine.
It's a little harry for a big ole guy like me to be that high up. I still leave my finger prints in the mast!!!

Regards, Stan


Gary,

I have used my Mast Mate twice since purchasing it two months ago. It has worked perfectly. It is great to be able to go up my mast any time I want without a lot of pre-planning or searching the marina for a couple of guys strong enough to haul my 225 lbs up in the boson's chair. Also I find it much easier to work from the stable stance of the ladder versus the chair. The workbelt that I purchased as an option makes the whole system feel safe and secure. It's a great product and I have had several requests to borrow it from fellow marina tenants. Which I not accommodated, owing to the uniqueness of my mast slides and unwillingness to change their own. Also, I'm afraid I might have a hard time getting it back once others start to use it.


Gary, Just a quick note. Good to hear from you. The Mast Mate has enabled me to do things I could never do before at the top... Since I was hit by lightning, I have had plenty of projects to take me to the top. I will check out your web site for more good stuff.

regards, Wilton


Gary, Since acquiring a "Mast Mate" last year I have had three occasions to use it and I would say it performs as well as I could have hoped. At this point I enthusiastically recommend the product during conversations with other boat owners/operators. For me, as I'm certain is the case for others, the ability to climb the mast and remain there for a useful period of time, without having to rely on others, is particularly helpful. I perform maintenance at the masthead as it is required rather than awaiting the availability of someone strong enough (not to mention competent enough), to winch me up, or until the boat comes out of the water for seasonal maintenance, etc. As for improvements, I can think of only one: After a period of time in the "stirrups", the pressure exerted on my feet by the constricting webbing becomes very uncomfortable, to the point of distraction. I realize the constriction effect might be seen as something of a safety feature, however I would happily forego the capturing effect of the webbing on my feet, in exchange for unimpeded blood circulation. Would it be possible to design a pair of rigid bars, or a frame of some sort, which could be clamped to the appropria stirrups such that they would have the effect of spreading them open, and at the same time providing something more akin to a ladder rung upon which to stand? Perhaps the "rungs" could be nothing more than a rigid right-triangle that fits snugly inside the web stirrups, with some means of attachment such they would not inadvertently slip out.
Regards, Jim

-------My Response

Jim,

Thanks for the suggestion. It took awhile, time for R & D and testing , but I finally got a stiffener that works. As of Jan 10, 2001 they will be included for the top double steps.


Hi Gary

I used my mastmate for the first time on saturday, The spindle on the foller
furling system came off the track. The mastmate worked great, it was easy to
setup and hoist. Climbing was easy and I always felt secure. I had to go up
twice but I was able to solve the problem myself. The other solution would
have been to pay the yard for the repair, so I have already gotten some the
the price back. In the spring I need to run a new halyard. The mastemate
will certainly pay for itself by then.

Thanks

Bill

.


question: I contacted you last week about using a mast mate. The owner of a catalina 25 had one that came with the boat when he bought it.

His Jib halyard went to the top of the mast and got stuck.

I liked your product but could not use it. These are the things I encountered. It was windy and very hard to raise it as it would get hung up on other lines. I am 5ft 8 and the steps are too far apart and when its windy the loops want to close up so you cant put your foot in them.

His came without the safety belt which I think is a necessity to use.

I only got halfway up since it was so hard to use and we did not have the safety belt. I cobbled together a device that would grab the halyard end with a hook and ran it up the other halyard and retrieved the stuck halyard in about a minute...I like your product but as many have reported those loops are too far apart and it needs a safety belt.

Thanks.

.

Clever thinking in the halyard retrieval. Refine your design and market it.
Most customers do not have a difficult time with the step distance, I
wouldn't be in business if they did, and most that do find that when they
keep their body close to the mast with their hands held high around the mast
they can reach the steps. But certainly there are some with very short
inseams and others with knee and hip problems that find the step distance
just too much. For those we offer a custom model with a 14 inch distance
rather than 17 at additional cost. The standard design step distance of
17inches allows for perfect step shape and size as well as good rollability
for storage and reasonable pricing. The shorter the distance, the smaller
the step gets, the more difficulty in steps opening after storage, and
considerable more expense for added material and labor.It's all a
compromise.

You're also right about the need of a safety harness which we sell in the
form of a workbelt. Can't do much about the effects of a strong wind on the
steps except to suggest that one uses masking tape to hold the steps closed
so they do not hang up on shrouds on the way up and undo tape as you ascend.
Be that this was your first use of a mast mate not under ideal conditions
and without a safety belt, you did very well. As one gets more familiar with
climbing it, the easier it get. If you find it unusable, they sell on ebay
quickly at about two thirds of their original price.--------gary

.


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