Once a year we put a coat of varnish on the mast. It's about a 3 hour job, maybe a little more by the time you finish putting the mast climbing gear away. Sand going up, varnish coming down.
Once upon a time I was scared of heights. I'd still say I'm nervous about them, but I swallowed hard a few years ago and went up the mast, varnish brush in hand, to surprise Jeremy one afternoon when he was off teaching sailing to the kids. It's been my job ever since.
Our mast climbing rig is a 6:1 purchase, which means every pull I'm pulling 1/6th of my weight. I lift more in a normal workout. There is something satisfying about getting all organized with my bucket of tools, my safety harness on, and my hair pulled back. And then I get to PULL MYSELF UP THE MAST. Pinch me. Really? I get to do this?
Other than the intense satisfaction of seeing a gorgeous wooden mast when I'm done (and knowing I DID IT!), there are 3 reasons I love varnish day.
I love being able to inspect bits and pieces that I just can't see from the deck. It's a lot easier to replace a fitting (staysail block, I'm looking at you!) before it fails than after it smashes to pieces on the deck in the middle of the night.
I love talking to people walking by and having them take a while to figure out where my voice is coming from.
And I love the view. Is it legal to be higher than the flag?