Preparing to Go Up the Mast for Repairs

I installed new deck hardware back in May of this year in preparation for a rigging project.  The original idea was to ascend the rig, drop the headstay to the deck, build a new stay, then climb the mast again and install it.  But there were things to do before I would go up the mast, and one of them was replace the worn out deck hardware through which the line passes.

The second item in preparation was to replace the halyards.  I researched the aging characteristics of the StaSet X line that I use for halyards, and it was obvious that the line was plenty strong — even after seven years of service — to support my weight.  But I wanted a comfort-factor that the old line wasn’t going to provide; new line for halyards was called for.

My standing rigging turned out to be crippled as a result of the steel wire coming out of the spreaders. It kicked me out of procrastination mode and I ordered the line.  About the same time, I noticed chaffing where the main halyard passes over the masthead sheave.  So it was time to replace halyards.

Now I have no guilt over being wimpy about going up the rig with new line.

new sailboat line
300feet of 5/16 Sta Set X.


I ran the new line up the mast today.  I sewed the new line and old line together at the ends, then covered the seam with duct tape, so it wouldn’t catch in the sheaves at the masthead.  When connected and smooth, I simply pulled on the old line until I had new line in my hands.

Tools for installing new halyards
Tools for installing new halyards: sail repair needle, heavy nylon “squidding line,” and duct tape. A pocket knife is useful too.


Splicing a sailing line
Line ends sewn together. This makes a strong attachment that won’t let go. I wouldn’t trust tape alone.
Splicing a sailing line
Seem covered with duct tape.

So I’ll soon be ready to go aloft.  I need to collect my supplies, assemble my tools, and make a list of things to do while up there (and carry it with me).

In the next post, I’ll detail the design and construction of the halyard ascender that I put together. This is a device that enables me to ascend the mast by standing up and sitting down.

Rick Bailey

Rick Bailey sails the Chesapeake Bay with his wife, Ruth, on a Watkins 27 coastal cruiser. Rick is retired and writes the "middlebaysailing" blog (

rick-bailey has 25 posts and counting.See all posts by rick-bailey

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