Maintaining head to wind
I''d appreciate input on maintaining head to wind. I mostly singlehand a 17'' dinghy and would like to temporarily park head to wind while I raise or lower the mainsail, reef, and reboard following capsize recovery. I have outfitted my boat with bungees which center the rudder when I leave the helm. Difficlult raising and lowering the mainsail singlehandedly are nuisances; difficulty controlling the boat''s heading and heel while singlhandedly reefing or recovering from capsize in higher winds are saftey issues (see below).
I usually motor my boat from a dock, then drop the centerboard and rudder. When the motor is cut (before centerboard or rudder are lowered), the boat initially reaches downwind. When the centerboard is lowered it still runs downwind, but heads up somewhat closer to a beam reach. When the rudder is lowered, it falls off once again. At this point I head up as much as possible (main still flaked), run to the mast, and raise the mainsail. In windy conditions, the boat falls off fairly quickly while I make my way to the mast, making raising the main difficult. Same issue when lowering main: head up, run to mast, boat falls off quickly in higher winds making lowering main difficult. Any techniques I can use to get and stay in irons to make raising or lowering the mainsail easier? I''ve tried raising the main with the centerboard lowerd, the rudder still raised, and the boom cleated to midline to try to get the boat to act like a windvane (jib still furled) but don''t like this approach in high winds because it seems unsafe (concern a high speed windhsift will capsize me at a point I''d have no helm to work with). I''ve read about using a sea anchor to stay head to wind but would hope there are other simpler/better ways to do this.
Related issue: Reefing and capsize recovery in higher winds pose a saftey issue when singlehanding. During reefing excessive heel and capsize are issues when there''s no one at the helm to stay in irons and during capsize recovery theres the issue of the boat trying to sail away before reboarded when it won''t stay in irons. During a recent practice capsize in 12-15 kt winds (release the sheets, point bow into wind, right the boat) the boat fell off quickly once righted and tried to sail away even with the sheets released (swept back rig means boom can''t swing perpendicular to boat so mainsail cannot be completely depowered) - I was able to climb aboard (used a safety line to stay with the boat until I could swim to the stern) but it''s not easy climbing on a dingy moving at 7 kts - any way to get the boat to stay in irons once righted so one can climb aboard more easily/safely?
Insight would be very appreciated!