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post #5 of Old 12-30-2011
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I primarily sail on weekdays, a time when most of the go fast boats, jet skis and crazies are at work. I prepare everything before leaving the dock, or anchorage if I'm out on an overnighter. I also keep the cell phone and handheld VHF handy at the helm. I wear a harness anytime I leave the cockpit and clip on before climbing out of the cockpit.

It takes just a few seconds to retrieve a cold drink or sandwich from the fridge located in the cabin, and I also have a small cooler chest next to the helm seat. Unfortunately, you consume lots of fluids while sailing, especially in hot weather. This, obviously, is soon converted to urine. A plastic, sealable urinal comes in real handy and can be dumped in the toilet when you stop for the night to anchor, or return to the dock.
I also keep a chartbook and binoculars in the cockpit.

This winter, I intend to install a bilge-pump alarm, which will be in the form of a light that will turn on in the cockpit to tell me the pump is running. When you're sailing single handed you may not be aware there is water filling the cabin, especially at night. Something as simple as a pinhole in a thru-hull hose can sink a boat if it goes undetected for any length of time. A blown, engine freeze plug can fill the entire cabin with water in a matter of minutes. Of course you must routinely check the bilge pump and alarm to ensure it works.

For anchoring, I just installed an electric, anchor windlass that can be operated from the cockpit, or from the bow using a wired remote. Pulling or lowering the anchor is merely a matter of firing up the iron genny and pushing a button in the cockpit.

Roller furling for the jib is a must for singlehanded sailors. Sure, you can use a hank-on sail and operate it from the cockpit, but the sail will have to be hanked on the forestay and tied down or bagged prior to leaving the dock. Roller furling is a much safer option.

I always have the reefing lines in place on the main sail, and I have practiced single and double reefing on days when the winds are a bit brisk--just so I feel comfortable reefing the main while singlehanded sailing. I intend to install a single-line reefing system this coming spring, which will allow me to remain in the cockpit while reefing the main.

If the weather is a bit marginal, which is often the case in mid summer, I keep a rainsuit in the cockpit. If a sudden shower springs up, there's usually no time to do much more than put on the rain gear before it hits.

Good luck,

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