Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et
I have a question for the OP.
Have you tried getting back aboard your boat from the water. If you can not then consider weather it is worth being tethered to the boat in a situation where you can go overboard. The jacklines that came with my boat ran alongside the toe rail, useless as I can not get back aboard from the water when amidships.
The second thing to consider is assuming you go overboard while sailing at say 4 knots, can you get back onboard, in fact can you even prevent yourself from drowning. This issue is well documented and thereare unfortunate cases where people have died while teathered alongside and being towed along. Can you release your teather under load? Most can not and the only way some people survived was by somehow slipping out of their harness or jacket with incorporated harness.
I single hand a fair bit and there are two rules to survival
Rule 1 Don't go overboard.
Rule 2 See rule 1
I do use a harness but keep myself teathered to things that would prevent me from going overboard. Now mine is 44 ft and it is easier to do this on a big boat than but it is still possible. A single jack line on the centre line of the boat works for me. Also eyes on the mast waist high are good.
Re docking problems. I am assuming you have a wind or current pinning you against the dock.
Learn to use a doubled spring line to get the bow of the boat away from the dock. This goes from the stern round a cleat on the dock that is forward on the stern and back to the stern. With the engine at tickover and in reverse gear release all the other lines. Now increase the engine revs. The bow will move away from the dock. Let the boat move back a little if you need forward space. Now release and recover the spring line. If you need to move the stern away from the dock a burst of power ahead with the rudder on full lock works for me. Should be easy for you if the OB steers. It is now when it may pay to be bold and get the boat moving quickly so as to have steerage way.
All of this comes with the standard disclaimer as sh*t happens especially in tight marinas.