But, if you have a sail boat, then getting comfortable going up the mast is essential. There are three reasons to go up and swing around like a rag doll... the first is to make sure that everything is in good shape and ready for sailing, the second is to fix anything that's not. The third and most important reason is to become comfortable going up and down and up again, not just you but your crew. Going up on a dead calm day is one thing, swinging about in a light breeze is another, but you can guarantee that when something breaks and you have to go up, you'll be rocking about in the middle of the ocean somewhere.
So, in this case I had to lash the spreader tips, sew on the leather boots that Doreen had so lovingly cleaned, and check all of the new rigging and attachments before we head out to tune the rig and do a bit of sailing. There was a lot of work to do, so we did several ups and downs, and took the opportunity to find the best route through the rigging, the best pulling points for the one going up, and most importantly to give the crew/family some winch time to get experience in the safety procedures and confidence in holding someones life in your hands.
It's just as important that the guys doing the winching are as comfortable as the guy going up. Doreen isn't good at letting you down, she doesn't like letting the line go through her hands and trusting the winch to do it's job. Devon on the other hand is as smooth as silk, as long as he stays focused and doesn't get distracted.
Before anyone goes up, the crew should confirm calls, hand signals and exactly what each persons job is. It's safe when everyone knows what's going on and actually a lot of fun when it goes smoothly.
With sailing I've found that anything that's tough to do or requires a lot of effort, ultimately has a great reward. The view is always amazing and being suspended is very relaxing... time to think.
I'm sure it will be a different story in 30 knots, with a pounding ocean and a jammed mainsail halyard... but we'll be as prepared as you can be. The "we" is important, and everyone on the crew should go up and down and up again, just in case there's a time when they have no choice.