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Shipcraft: Working the Rig

Many new crew members who come aboard the Half Moon are understandably excited about the prospect of climbing aloft and working up to six stories above the water line. However, these extreme heights present an obvious danger, and safety is always our first concern. Thus, anyone anyone who wishes to work in the standing rigging must first complete rigorous safety training.

The first step to complete before anyone can be allowed to climb aloft is to learn the proper methods of donning and using a safety harness.

Students also learn the importance of maintaining three-point contact, a climbing technique which ensures that if one limb (either a hand or foot) ever does lose its grip on the rigging, climbers still have at least two more supporting them at all times.

Even after the students have been trained in the use of a safety harness, they still face one more challenge before they can be cleared to climb the rigging.

Under close adult supervision, our new crew members climb a few feet above the deck and perform a "hang test," hanging just by their hands for a few seconds. This lets us know that the climbers can support their own weight, and lets them know how tightly they need to grip the shrouds (the thick, black, upright lines in the standing rigging) to maintain their hold just in case they ever slip.

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Erin and Dante enjoy themselves in the main top.

All crew members must complete harness training, and must wear a harness whenever their feet leave the deck (including, for example, climbing out onto the main channels to collect water samples).

No one is required to climb the rig, however, and in fact over the years we've had many valuble crew members on board whose feet always stay on deck. However, most new crew members consider climbing the rig to be a major accomplishment and source of pride.

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