Yesterday was my first time playing in the rig going aloft. I climbed up the mizzen on the starboard side and made my way back to the deck down on the port side.
I have climbed ladders before and done a fair bit of rock climbing, but this was different. ¬†Climbing the rig of a tall ship is different than a ladder or a rock face in that it is mostly made of rope and moves around more. ¬†The rules of the ship require that all climbers wear a harness, but for most of the climb you’re not¬†using it. ¬†The climber doesn’t clip in to anything until they reach their destination or need to navigate a tricky spot in the rig. ¬†For the most part it is a free climb.
I began by climbing up the rig. ¬†I took my time getting used to my surroundings. ¬†The path up was fairly simple. ¬†As I neared the top the rigging became narrower and I began to question what I was doing up there 60 or so feet above the deck. ¬†But I told myself that I must keep going and so I did.
I made use of my harness for the first time as I clipped into the very top of the rigging where it attached to the mast. ¬†I was about to lift myself up onto the spreaders so that I may stand atop the mizzen mast. ¬†Once standing atop the mast I became aware of where I was ¬†and that there was not much between myself and the deck below. ¬†I began to look for a place to clip my carabiner into. ¬†On a tall ship that pretty much means anything that is solidly attached to the ship. ¬†I clipped onto one of the back stays, but realized that if I was going to go around to the other side I would need another spot to clip into. ¬†My problem was that there was very little on the fore part of the mast to use as an anchor point. ¬†And I sure as hell wasn’t about to go around with out being clipped in as there was almost no footing other than the spreader on the opposite side of the mast. ¬†Fortunately there was a space between the lower mast and the top mast where I could toss my lanyard through and bring it around to clip into myself. ¬†Once this was done and I was “securely” attached to the ship I made my was around to the port side.
Making my way around was easy. ¬†Once happily atop the port spreaders I took a moment to appreciate the view and also appreciate the insanity of what I just did. ¬†Once I took it all in, I made my way down the rigging back to the deck. ¬†I had officially gone up and over in the rig of a tall ship.
The rest of the day we continued working aboard getting the ship ready for winter. ¬†We took down the t’gallant yard from the foremast and the topmast from the main. ¬†Over the course of the next few weeks the entire rig is coming down including all three¬†lower masts and the bowsprit. ¬†Not much more time for climbing this season.