Top Climber - any tips ??

CPD

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I bought one of these a while ago but have never used it. I have also purchased a stac-pack system which needs a couple of blocks up the mast so here is my excuse to get the climber out and go fot it.

Apart from reading the instructions, does anyone who has used one have any special tips/suggestions .......??
 

Blue5

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Make sure you have a separate safety line, I use the bag it comes in to take the tools aloft but again make sure they all have lanyards attached.

I would be happier if the seat had higher straps at the back to give a bit more security but all in all not a bad bit of kit.
 

Danny

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I bought one of these a while ago but have never used it. I have also purchased a stac-pack system which needs a couple of blocks up the mast so here is my excuse to get the climber out and go fot it.

Apart from reading the instructions, does anyone who has used one have any special tips/suggestions .......??
I have one of these and found that the main drawback for me was the effort involved in lifting my legs so I could pull up the lower jammer. I found this a real effort (OK - I'm not the fittest specimen on the planet).

I invented a small addition which helped considerably: I added a small block to the upper jammer and passed a thin line through this down to the lower jammer. This way I'm able to pull down on the line to lift the lower jammer, rather than attempt to pull the lower jammer up as I take the weight of my legs off it. I found this much easier.

I also found it helps if the foot of the line you're using the topclimber on is secured to a strong point away from the foot of the mast and that it is winched as tight as possible.
 

MASH

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Agree that it is VERY strenuous, so much so that I gave up on mine.
The rope used to climb must be very tight. Very tight indeed. And non-stretch or you'll bounce all over the place.
Suspect you'd be better with steps/crew to winch you up/a crane or helicopter.
 

multihullsailor6

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When using my Topclimber with every raise I seemed to be able to raise myself by only about 15cm / 6inches! I then made some small modifications to the set up but that only increased the rise height to 2cm / 8inches. That means many, many rises to the top of my 13.8 high mast! And I also found them strenuous and awkward! Will give it another go on a nice day though.
 

Wakatere

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I have one and it is better than not being able to get to the top, but by the time I get there I'm knackered. It takes practice to get the distance at each "lift" big enough to be useful but small enough not to wreck the next "lift". I suppose lots of practice would make a difference (as would improving the power to weight ratio).
 

SailBobSquarePants

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Bought one this year...

And to be fair, if alone it isn't a bad option...but it is VERY tiring, especially if you have to go up a few times in a day for any reason. As others have suggested, you really need a VERY tight non-stretch line, and you will need practice to get into a rhythm. And don't forget your gloves.

The other problem is that it is very difficult to rig a safety line that does not get caught on other things when using it. I tried it once, then stopped using a safety line...but having read a few threads on near-misses people have had up the mast I will not be doing THAT again. So I don't know what I will be doing...
 

Pleiades

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Topclimber

I think the Topclimber is a great bit of kit. I had mast climbing steps on my previous boat which were fantastic for climbing the mast but useless the rest of the time and added weight where it was not wanted. Without steps the Topclimber is the only way to get to the top of the mast singlehanded and I find it easy enough. Get working out guys! Absolutely essential however is to make sure that the halyard you climb on and the block/sheaves etc at the top of the mast are up to the job as a failure there would be drop dead dangerous! For that reason I would be hesitant to use it on someone else's boat unless you are absolutely certain of the state of the halyard etc.
Tighten the halyard as much as you can -if it is going to break, the ideal time is when you tighten it up, rather than when you are doing your Tarzan bit. And I always hook on with a seperate chest harness to cross tree or other suitable strong point as a last line of defence against bombing the deck. I have a crash helmet - the RNLI Gecko type lid - but that is for crew (if there is one) standing below - too easy to drop things on them when aloft.

Robin
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MXWQ5
 

TradewindSailor

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I've been using a Topclimber for about 11 years. I guess I must use it 20 times a year.

I have a dedicated line for it that I hoist using a halyard.

The Topclimber and the dedicated rope are all in first class condition, and I check the halyard that I'm hoisting with too. I do not use another harness unless I intend to untie the dedicated rope and reposition it.

I NEVER tighten the dedicated rope. It always has about 2' of slack in it. I find it much easier to stabilise myself with a shoe each side of the mast, or holding on to the standing rigging with one hand. I have tried it with a tight rope, but the motions are horrible .... enough to get thrown off the mast and pinched on the standing rigging.

I'm 6' 2" tall and I can move the units up about 18" at a time. It does take some getting used to. The shorter you are the less you are likely to be able to move the units, but it shouldn't be hard work. If it is try a tackle system instead.
 

Graham_Wright

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I am struggling unsuccessfully with my aversion to advertising!

Suffice to say that using my method I can do a 42 foot ascent in just over 2 minutes and furthermore I can do it 5 times in an afternoon and not physically suffer. I am 71.

Speak to anyone who has the same wonderful piece of kit for confirmation!
 

maxi77

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The simple answer is to fit mast steps, always there, always work, and you can use them on the front of the mast for the steaming light.

Fitting mast steps was the best thing I did (as far as getting to the top of the mast is concerned) and if I was working single handed a prussic knot would do for the safety line.
 

multihullsailor6

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I am struggling unsuccessfully with my aversion to advertising!

Suffice to say that using my method I can do a 42 foot ascent in just over 2 minutes and furthermore I can do it 5 times in an afternoon and not physically suffer. I am 71.

Speak to anyone who has the same wonderful piece of kit for confirmation!

Hi Graham_Wright,

Have been to your embyonic website and fail to see the difference between your product and the Topclimber?

If there is such a marked improvement, where can I obtain one of your products at which cost?
 

PeterR

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If you already have a good bosuns chair there is no need to buy a top climber. Just buy two climbing ascenders (approx) £70-80. Tie one on a short strop to the top eye of your bosuns chair and make a strop that will reach down to your feet with eyes in that you attach to the other ascender. I used bits of broom handle for the base of the foot stirrups because its more comfortable. Going up is easy once you get used to swinging around. Coming down is trickier. If you move the bottom ascender too far down you cannot get the tension off the upper one to release it. No drama, you just have to pull the lower one up a bit again, but it slows you down if you keep doing it.

I've been using this for 20 years - just wish I had patented it.

The only drama I have ever had was when I got the tail of the rope tied to the bosuns chair caught up in the ascender. If that happens the ascender does not lock when you release the ratchet which rather takes you by surprise. Its easily avoided, just make sure there are no loose ends anywhere near the ascenders by looping the strops through them and tying the knots at the other end.

The ascenders can pluck the cover of the rope you have them on, particularly as you release them on descent so if you have an expensive dyneema halyard you may want to keep a dedicated rope for this.

Although the system works well I still prefer someone to winch me up because that way its much easier to rig a safety line. However, if there is someone around who is too weak to winch me up but can tend a safety line the ascender system is just as safe.
 

Graham_Wright

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The ascenders can pluck the cover of the rope you have them on, particularly as you release them on descent so if you have an expensive dyneema halyard you may want to keep a dedicated rope for this.

Yes, they are vicious! I use one on a safety line only so it never really tears the rope.

Although the system works well I still prefer someone to winch me up because that way its much easier to rig a safety line. However, if there is someone around who is too weak to winch me up but can tend a safety line the ascender system is just as safe.

The advantage of using a chair on a winch, is that both hands can be free to embrace the mast. That stops you swinging about. But with your broom handles (or our Rolls Royce model) there should be no work for the winch man.
 

Miker

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My crew who is a fit 60 year old will happily go up the mast using the Topclimber. As has been said, it is essential to keep the climbing rope taut. We always use a safety line on a winch which I operate while he is going up or down.
 
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