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post #21 of Old 03-15-2013
Sailboat Reboot
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Re: Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft?

I am reminded by this commentary of the old saying "amputation with a dull spoon is possible, it just takes a long time and is very messy." Yes, K. Adlard Coles used to take his poor wife out into the English Channel in the worst of conditions and survived. Frankly I got tired of reading how many times he had to trim the wicks and relight the running lights. I found very little of value in his recounting of his antics. My favorite old salt advice: "If you are thinking it might be time to reef you should have already reefed."

For me setting up a boat is about safety first and then convenience. I single hand a great deal in open ocean conditions. In Newfoundland the water temperature was 40 Fahrenheit. Even a splash was a bone chilling experience, a fall into the water attached to a harness and lifeline gave you maybe 5 minutes to get back on board. When you are sailing for 15 or 20 days in a row without stopping or the assistance of other people dealing with conditions others might consider "fun" is exhausting. Waves in the Atlantic are always confused (at least it seems that way.) Spending time at the mast with the boat pitching in weird ways because I can see a thunderstorm bearing down on me is to me not exciting, it is part of what I do because I have to. I prefer to minimize that time, although as pointed out when I reef I do have to go forward to secure the reef point to the gooseneck. (I have played with single line reefing and have not found a solution I like.) Having too many things lashed down or up - spinnaker, boom preventer, whisker pole - when the wind shifts 180 degrees because of the oncoming storm and then back again adds to the exhaustion factor.

Reboot is rigged for single hand sailing with a jib and main. All those lines are led back to the cockpit. I can put up the whisker pole by myself, but that requires quite a bit of foredeck work. The asymmetric and spinnaker require me to have crew on board. Being a very conservative sailor I don't fly these sails when I am single handing - they require too much effort in changing weather conditions. I could in fact fly them, but getting an extra knot is usually not worth the effort (Reboot usually can get close to hull speed in normal open ocean conditions - about 15 to 20 knots of wind.

I agree that for single handing an autopilot is a must. I actually have two, an electric and a wind vane. When the wheel steering failed 1000 NM offshore and took the wind vane with it having a redundant system (the electric autopilot) was a great savior. I use the electric autopilot during all sail changes - it does make life easier.

So, my view is you work out how and where you are going to sail, who you are going to sail with, and then figure out what lines need to come back. The two I think are critical to safety are the main and jib halyards. When things go really wrong I just trip the clutches and the sails pretty much come down by themselves, at least enough for me to get control of the boat again. Yes, I have a roller reefing jib but sometimes the roller just doesn't want to roll or the wind speed makes furling difficult. So every once in a while I just have to trip the halyard and clean up the mess afterwards.

Hope this helps

CAPT Roger J. Jones USN (ret.)
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