Main halyard at top of mast of F-36.

Boat handling, ideas, questions...

Main halyard at top of mast of F-36.

Postby maxpbd » Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:08 pm

Yesterday I performed the (apparently obligatory) annual stupid sailing trick. While trying to raise the main on my F-36 in 15 knot winds and lumpy seas, the main halyard got tangled in the lazy jacks. White trying to untangle it, I lost hold of the halyard with the result that it started flying around in the wind threatening to smash me in the head. I was unable to snag the halyard, even with a boat hook, and ultimately it slid down inside the mast. Now the main halyard shackle is snagged in the sheave at the top of the mast. Since that is the only masthead line, there is no other line to rig a bosun's chair to in order to go to the top of the mast and retrieve it. Has this happened to anyone else? Any bright ideas on how to retrieve a main halyard from the masthead? Any thoughts on the subject would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Main halyard at top of mast of F-36.

Postby GeoffSchultz » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:57 pm

I actually had something like this happen to me on my way to the BVIs...6 days out. I went up in 6' seas on the jib & spinnaker halyard with a boat hook and was able to grab it. I was black and blue all over...I then got to unclog the head from the crew who had tried to flush a baby wipe...What a great day!

I actually had to go up (partially) 2 other times on that trip while underway. Since then, I don't even think twice about going up the mast at anchor/dock!

Geoff photographing from top of mast at Lighthouse Reef, Belize photographed by Carl Schiele from the top of his mast!

-- Geoff
1997 Freedom 40/40
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Re: Main halyard at top of mast of F-36.

Postby Mike Holibar » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:27 am

Geoff, I currently send my son up the mast utilising the windlass on the main halyard, while the harness is also clipped to the staysail halyard which is tailed through a jammer. To lower him I take the staysail halyard around the cockpit winch and lower gently. If I try and lower round the windlass drum, the line usually crosses and gets locked up. Now this method works ok because I control the entire process, however I can't go up myself because I am not confident that my son and partner wouldn't drop me. can you suggest an alternative method by which a reasonably unfit person such as me could scale the mast more independently. For that job on the lazy jacks I am thinking of hiring a cherry picker to get me up there. Thanks,
Mike Holibar
S/V Fyne Spirit of Plymouth (Freedom 39PHS-1989)
New Zealand
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Re: Main halyard at top of mast of F-36.

Postby amatuana » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:41 am


Could you take up a boat hook with you? Maybe attach a piece of wire to the end that you could bend to snag the halyard?

When I go up the mast, I use a halyard to the bosun's chair and a piece of webbing wrapped around the mast attached to my harness. The webbing is wrapped several times around the mast. If the halyard fails the webbing wraps tighten up around the mast and prevents me from dropping. If the webbing does not tighten up a simple push of the webbing up the mast as you are dropping initiates the grab. Obviously experiment with different types of webbing and the actual process.

This method also is helpful when you have to go up the mast at sea because it keeps you next to the mast and prevents you banging into the mast as the boat rocks.

Go up the mast at sea very advisedly. There was a story about a woman who came back into port with her husband dead up in the rigging. He had gone up the mast, got knocked unconscious and she could not get him back down. Urban myth or not you could see it happening very easily.

Thanks - John
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Re: Main halyard at top of mast of F-36.

Postby anthony » Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:13 am

I had a similar problem. I asked a fellow sailor if I could tie up my f 36/38 next to his 40 c& c
Used his halyard while hugging my mast and tied my bosun chair to my jib halyard.
The 2 masts tilted perfect and I was able to get to the top !
t square
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Re: Main halyard at top of mast of F-36.

Postby macks » Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:56 am

I just came upon this post and had to comment. The Freedom mast and flagpoles have a similar conic section. Flag pole climbers, not being able to use the flag halyards to support their weight have traditionaly use something called the Prussic Hitch to ascend or descend flagpoles. As a Site Improvement Contractor, I have installed many large flagpoles and have used this method. It works and is safe.
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Re: flagpole as a mast?

Postby Michel » Sat Jul 11, 2009 5:01 am


Totally different question; would a flagpole producer be able to make a carbon fiber mast if he had the specs? And would it be an economical solution? As you know every company that has the 'marine' in its name charges triple.
Michel Capel, Freedom 44 #4 1981 'Alabama Queen', NED8188, cat ketch with wishbones, home port Enkhuizen, the Netherlands, 52*42.238'N 005*18.154'E.
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Re: Main halyard at top of mast of F-36.

Postby sailmon » Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:06 pm

For the future, the F36/38 masthead is equipped with 2 small (approx 1"dia.) sheves - one forward and one aft. They are there for a messenger line to pull a spare (masthead) halyard in case the primary one is lost. We run a 1/8" line through and then pull both halves forward (one exits aft) and tie off to the bow pulpit. In addition to providing main halyard back-up, the messenger line doubles nicely as flag halyard.
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Re: Main halyard at top of mast of F-36.

Postby RonBarr » Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:04 pm

I've just been through the same problem - posts on
we ended up using a cherry picker at the local yard - took them about 10 minutes. I am thinking about adding a block at the masthead and leaving a messenger in place.

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