To go up the mast (the top of our mast is 72 feet off the water), I have a bosun chair (as shown in the photo here – that’s not me in the picture). The chair attaches to a halyard which we then run to one of the electric winches. Safety is important, so I strap myself in the chair, and I grab another halyard while going up in case something happens. My wife Karen then slowly and carefully winched me up the mast while I carefully inspected all the fittings on the mast. Once at the top, I both removed the broken part at the top (which was connected with a shackle), and inspected the fitting at the mast to see if there was an obvious reason why the halyard broke.
In the past, I’ve seen where the steel halyard can “saw” a groove and create sharp edges. But, that wasn’t the case this time. I suspect a combination of factors: metal fatigue due to 11+ thousand miles of use, too much force applied with the winches to tighten the sails, and possibly too much sideways force when running with a double-reef in moderate winds. Hopefully this won’t happen again on our trip.
Here you can see the broken halyard (first two photos), and a few shots from the top of the mast (click for larger view) showing scenery from our marina in Carolina Beach, North Carolina:
Here is a photo album from the first time I went up the mast of Tahina at Carolina Beach on a sunny day:
After we got the halyard (and me) safely down. I drove it to a local marine chandlery (West Marine) and they are arranging to have a new one made this week.