Climbing the walls

The tallest wall on a sailboat is the mast, and some days you just have to climb it.  Today was that day; not too windy, lying in a calm harbor, with projects waiting to be crossed off the list.  We needed to replace the mast light that had burned out, the VHF antenna that was so corroded it didn’t look like it would last much longer, and the windex that no longer gave us a visual on the wind direction.

So, I filled my bo’sun’s chair pockets with the new equipment that Marty had brought back with him from his trip to the states, tools, walkie-talkie, camera, a long line to pull up anything I’d forgotten, and hung my glasses around my neck.  Then I tied myself into the chair using two different halyards, and Marty set up the lines on the winch.

Ready?  (Deep breath)…Ready!  The hoist up is the easy part for me, but not so much for Marty as he has to hand winch me 55′ into the air! I try to give him a break when I can by hoisting myself up on the shrouds and spreaders, but mostly he has to grind that winch.

Once at the top I have to take another deep breath so that my hands quit shaking (after half a dozen trips up the mast it’s still scary for me!).  Then I start to work on the VHF antenna.  As you can see from the before and after photos, it needed to be replaced!  Getting the bolt off was easy, but getting the whole unit unscrewed from the cable was a little tougher, especially since I didn’t want to risk letting go of it and having the cable fall down inside the mast!  After a few tries all came loose, and I then had to balance the pieces while putting it all back together.  It’s crazy how a simple job feels so awkward when you’re floating in mid-air!

Replacing the lightbulb was a cinch, as it just screws in and the light cover clicks back on.  The windex was a different story as of course the new one we’d bought didn’t use the same size post that the old one had.  This meant I had to remove the holder from the piece on the mast and replace it.  I had already tied the tools to the bo’sun’s chair, just in case they slipped from my hand, but I really needed a third hand to hold all the parts together as I was screwing it to the mast. Thankfully nothing fell, including me!

After about 1/2 hour, all three jobs were complete.  We tested the light and VHF and both worked as they should.  After taking a few selfies from up top, it was time to get back on deck.  Marty is very patient and gives me a nice smooth ride down.  I have to make sure I avoid the radar and hailer on the way down, and remember to keep on the correct side of the shrouds, but it’s an easy slide down, and always nice to get my feet back on deck and a kiss from my Hunky!

Another boat sweet boat improvement has been the addition of new curtains!  On our last stay in San Carlos, we loaded up a rental car with lots of goodies from the states and drove them to Happy Dance.  One such goodie was my new sewing machine.  I’ve since made new curtains to brighten up our “living room” and to help block the heat from the sun, covers for the paddleboards, some handy pouches and line bags, and there has been lots of mending on Marty’s threadbare shorts.

Our boat sweet boat is a work in progress and is full of projects.  We just keep adding them to the list and checking them off.  It’s kind of like painting the Golden Gate Bridge; we’ll never be done, but that’s okay – we have time!