Great comments about sailplans and furlings - thanks guys!
How about some other issues regarding single-handing a 34-40 foot cruising sailboat?
Such as autopilots vrs wind vanes?
From what I've been able to find, cockpit mounted autopilots although common are prone to failure and below-deck autopilots are recommended. I really don't know the difference, beyond 'where' they are on the boat. But wind vanes sound less likely to disappoint, and simple is better, right?
Any comments from the old salts here?
I´ve been solo for about 3 years now, now in Caribbean via Brazil and Cape Verde, started from London. Think I was lucky with boat choice, 33´steel cutter, roller reefing headsail (replaced old one with harkin in Canaries, never had a problem since), hanked on staysail, aries windvane. Would never be without a windvane, electric ones use power and break, ask the chandlers in Horta, Azores
But day sailing round the Carib?? I would go for wind then you if you want the go further you won´t have to wait around while fitting one. Though there is a cheap tiller one onboard my boat which just broke again during a thunder storm, it was handy for putting the main up but I can certainly live without it. Cutter rig works well for me, as someone else mentioned if the wind gets up roll up the headsail and go under reefed main and staysail. Also with a high cut headsail it´s much easier to see ahead. Tacking and gybing is not too common but quite often I´ll just roll up the headsail, go about and unfurl. A locking ratchet pulley on the reefing line helps. Sometimes tacking in or out of a bay I won´t even bother with the yankee, just go slower using main and staysail. Main reefing is slab all at the mast which seems fine, the boat is heavy and with a long keel heaving to is easy if I want a more stable deck to reef. I´m off the boat at the moment but looking forward to splashing out on a new electric anchor windlass when I get back to Trini. Engine and manual windlass both broke leaving Suriname so I´ve been sailing off the anchor using mast winches to raise the anchor for a little while, that really isn´t fun solo
. Though anchoring is solo is less stressful than coming onto a marina alone.
Paddy on Conachair