Single-handers? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 37 Old 11-23-2013 Thread Starter
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Single-handers?

While I am cruising with my wife and baby, its mostly going to be me sailing the boat and I would like to optimize my setup as much as possible to make it easier for me to sail the boat without help. We do have an autopilot which is a godsend, but what else can we do to make our boat more single hand friendly?
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post #2 of 37 Old 11-23-2013
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Re: Single-handers?

A bunch of things, but it kinda depends on what all you have going currently that needs changing. I singlehand quite a bit and love my self-tailing winches, but that conversion can cost you if you don't already have them. Running halyards to the cockpit definitely can help, but you could leave the main halyard on the mast and raise/lower that while motoring with the autopilot on. Besides those things, I think gaining experience singlehanding and keeping things simple (no spin gear, unless you're sailing in light breeze) are your best options. One place you might read up on would be the SF singlehanded sailing society (Singlehanded Sailing Society | San Francisco Shorthanded Racing), and take a look at the book written in PDF form by Andy Evans- very comprehensive collection of stuff (much of it devoted to the Transpac).
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post #3 of 37 Old 11-23-2013
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Re: Single-handers?

Just read some of your posts- you have a rather large boat (certainly bigger than mine). Depending on what sort of current and breeze you have coming and going from the dock, that may become your biggest source of "pucker-time" as one friend of mine with a Swan 56 puts it... Not having someone to tend lines and fenders while docking/leaving the slip can be a pain, but experience doing just that (especially in alternating currents) makes all the difference in the world.
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post #4 of 37 Old 11-23-2013
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Re: Single-handers?

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Originally Posted by MauiPunter View Post
While I am cruising with my wife and baby, its mostly going to be me sailing the boat and I would like to optimize my setup as much as possible to make it easier for me to sail the boat without help. We do have an autopilot which is a godsend, but what else can we do to make our boat more single hand friendly?
It would be helpful to know what kind of boat you have, how it is currently rigged, and what sorts of conditions you sail in.

Here is one trick that works well for me if you have halyards run back to the cockpit, especially if you also have a dodger. When you are lowering the mainsail solo it is hard to keep it coming down at a controlled speed. If your main halyard runs along the cabin roof (not in some silly tunnel) you can step on it with your foot to act as a brake. This leaves you two hands to flake the sail with when standing at the mast.

I prefer doing this to using lazy jacks.
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post #5 of 37 Old 11-23-2013
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Re: Single-handers?

Easy access to the sheets are important. I single hand a Cal33. The main sheet self tailing winch is on top of the cabin and unreachable from behind the wheel. In gusty conditions I wrap the sheet a couple times around the winch and lead it back to a cleat on the stern for easy access. One time when it wasn't rigged like that I got hit on the beam with a sudden micro-burst that put the boat on her side. As the water washed over the rails I had to struggle to get around the wheel to release the main sheet to dump the wind.
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post #6 of 37 Old 11-25-2013
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Re: Single-handers?

Some easy stuff
Get lazy sheet ready to go as soon as you complete a tack. In light air just put one wrap on winch so I can pull it in fast then use winch for the rest.

Never cleat any working line. Use stoppers, clutches and self tailers.
Safer and easier as well as faster .

Set up mainsail reefing so it can be done on a reach. No in boom furling and if using lazy jacks have them set forward enough so roach won't catch. ( I have Dutchman which works nice). Boat will sail with just headsail and bit of rudder. Reef main first then jib.

Agree with other posters.its easy to sail the boat by yourself. It's the docking that's scary for me.
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post #7 of 37 Old 11-25-2013
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Re: Single-handers?

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Just read some of your posts- you have a rather large boat (certainly bigger than mine). Depending on what sort of current and breeze you have coming and going from the dock, that may become your biggest source of "pucker-time" as one friend of mine with a Swan 56 puts it... Not having someone to tend lines and fenders while docking/leaving the slip can be a pain, but experience doing just that (especially in alternating currents) makes all the difference in the world.
I know the feeling. But when it all comes together and she just barely touches the dock and you step off casually to tie off your lines as onlookers eyes big, wisphering to one another watching every move you make you get a sense of pride like a drug keeping you coming back for more. Isnt that right?
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post #8 of 37 Old 11-25-2013
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Re: Single-handers?

i sail my 40-footer a lot just to test myself. It's not the easiest. I agree with the previous posts about thinking ahead and preparing your boat for the next move.

Also, try doing everything yourself with the autopilot off. You need to learn how to adapt. THIS will be an experience! You will need to know when the autopilot craps out; which it will at the worst time! High winds and large seas; trust me, been there done that all by my lonesome. Took me a second to figure out how to furl my sails.
Having everything at hand definitely helps; my boat is not a single-handers paradise. (i'm working on it, more winches) Big boat, big sails, more work.
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post #9 of 37 Old 11-25-2013
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Re: Single-handers?

Yes, docking. I still break into a sweat when i come in and there is a 20 knot cross breeze. I'd rather sail in 15 footers all day then face the dock.
I still floor my neighbors when i come in hot; put all 50 horses in reverse and step off with two lines in hand. (little do they know i only have one shot to do it right!)
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post #10 of 37 Old 11-26-2013
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Re: Single-handers?

I agree with you Benesailor.
I would rather deal with any conditions out there anytime rather than at the dock. The dock has a lot of hard stuff to bounce off of. I have spent a summer learning how to cost into the dock with the head sail already down and under just the main sail. I use the opposing tide on my nose to maintain steering and my lazy jack system to help me flake the main sail Just at the right second.
The second time I did this I had a crowd at the dock for a function and they all stopped and clapped. Kinda of cool. This learning process next to the dock by myself has made me pucker up more than once. Sometimes I have had to make more than one attempt. I always plan ahead and I leave myself a way out of all situations, or I don’t try the maneuver.

“I love my LAZY-JACK SYSTEM”
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