Gary Wheeler July 21, 1943 – Sept. 1, 2015
Designer and developer of the Mast Mate System 1987
Gary Wheeler came to me with his Mast Mate design in 1988, I had a cottage business making and designing fabric sporting goods, named Rolling River Designs. Gary hired me to make his Mast Mate ladder and from that time until the present we have made all of Mast Mate’s products.
Gary is greatly missed as a mentor, a friend, business partner, and creative genius. Below in Gary’s words are the reasons he started the Mast Mate Company.
“Designing and selling the Mast Mate products is a great deal of fun. Sailors are a good lot, as people go, and it’s a joy to talk with them. I have been lucky in my 25 years of sailing to have been involved with a variety of boats in many different situations. Whether single handing or not, I have always felt the vessel must be equipped as though I were sailing alone, such that any task, with the assistance of the right gear, could be accomplished safely and efficiently by one person. All the Mast Mate products evolved out of this belief and all have been tested to this end. The idea for the Mast Mate itself emerged out of my frustration in using the bosuns’ chair. The constant hunting the dock for someone to assist me, the impossible reach to the top of the masthead and of course the inevitable slamming about. I knew there had to be a better way. Inspiration, that sudden moment of a bursting thought that solves the previously insolvable, is as much a mystery to the inspired as to the onlooker, but its occurrence is pure joy. Of course when the idea sinks in your first thought is that it can’t work, your second is that if it did work someone else would be selling it. So, the search begins for its existence in the marketplace. If you’re lucky it’s nowhere to be found, so you have a prototype made to see why it doesn’t work. To your surprise it works and a business is born. I strongly suggest to all of you who have felt the burst of an idea, follow it through, and possibly you may hear from others that wonderful statement; “why didn’t I think of that”