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  #1  
Old 03-25-2014
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Singlehanding Pedestal Steering

I ask this question more philosophically than practically at this point. I'm not ready for solo sailing. Even so, it's clear to me already that my interest in sailing far outstrips wifey's.

Mine's a 30' C&C mk1. Cute little boat. Thing is, it has a steering wheel instead of a tiller. That's all well and good, but you have to climb over the seats to get behind it and, once there, you have a solid 2 sq.ft of space. The traveler sits above the companionway.

How would one single hand this setup? Even if I upgraded to all self-tailing and ran all lines all the way back, I just wouldn't have the leverage. Does one then stand in front of the wheel and sail with one hand behind your back, or is it as simple as an auto-helm?

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Old 03-25-2014
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Re: Singlehanding Pedestal Steering

I have a Pearson 28-2 with wheel steering.

When I'm single handing I sit beside the wheel, not behind it. The jib sheets and main sheets are all in easy reach. I tend to sit in that same place until the crew gets up to 4 or 5.

I don't use the autopilot much, but it is helpful while raising or dropping sails while single handing.

If you keep the sail plan balanced the boat mostly sails itself, you don't need to be on the wheel all of the time.
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Old 03-25-2014
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Re: Singlehanding Pedestal Steering

I looked at some photos to get an idea of what you're dealing with.

I agree with Alex. For short tacking your way up a channel or river, you'll have to stand alongside the wheel in order to operate the winches smoothly enough, while singlehanded.

An Autohelm would be helpful, but not required. A wheel lock would seem kind of necessary. Basically, the procedure would be:

Center the traveler, trim the main. (Main is self tending at this point)
Helm down 100 degrees.
Lock the wheel.
Blow the loaded jib sheet.
Trim the new jib sheet.
Unlock the wheel and adjust heading as required.

It would have been more convenient if the winches were further aft.
You don't get to sit behind the wheel "Master & Commander" style, until you're settled onto a long beat.
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Old 03-25-2014
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Re: Singlehanding Pedestal Steering

I will second Alex's take. On our Pearson 33-2 (the slightly bigger sister of his 28-2), I also sat beside the wheel. Not only does that provide access to the jib sheet, I thought it provided a better view of and around the sails, and frankly is a more comfortable seat. On the 33-2, the main sheet is out of reach from this spot, but never a big deal to lock the wheel for a moment to go forward the couple of feet to deal with it, the traveler, or various other controls by the companionway.

I single handed this way without issue for some years before installing an autopilot, but that being said, the autopilot does make things easier.
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Old 03-25-2014
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Re: Singlehanding Pedestal Steering

It is no problem. I sail solo almost all the time and fly a symmetrical spinnaker solo. You do not need to lead lines aft. You should have an autopilot and/or wheel brake.

Stand behind the wheel. Trim sheets to one side or the other. Hold wheel with foot if possible. Grab mainsheet and snap downward to release from jaws, pull up to tighten.

Challenges will make you a better sailor, and a better human being (pretty much the same thing, BTW)!
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Re: Singlehanding Pedestal Steering

Great..

That's what I needed to hear. So the secret is to know your boat well, balance your sails, be quick and efficient with all your adjustments and get back to the helm in short order.

I guess I could have figured that out. I was hoping there was a secret knock or something...

Seriously though, I welcome all advise, tips and tricks.

Beej
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Re: Singlehanding Pedestal Steering

Possibly switch for a smaller wheel to help the cause.
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Re: Singlehanding Pedestal Steering

Beej, I am a noob, too. You are one season behind me, but likely to pass me in skills soon! The only time I am behind the wheel is when under motor. I am constantly checking my gauges and looking back to check to make sure the water pump is working correctly.
But when sailing, it is usually one hand on the jib sheet and one hand on the wheel. When the sails are balanced, I don't need to even steer, but on my C&C if you lean over or move just a bit, it throws the balance off. A sensitive boat.
Singlehanding isn't too bad if you get a good weather window. The most terrifying part is going forward to reef the main. Reefing from the cockpit is essential for the noob!
I practiced under main alone for quite a while before I first rolled out the jib. Do you have roller furling?
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Re: Singlehanding Pedestal Steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by FirstCandC View Post
The most terrifying part is going forward to reef the main. Reefing from the cockpit is essential for the noob!?
The most terrifying part is going forward to jibe the spinnaker pole in heavier winds when you are out of sight of land...
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Re: Singlehanding Pedestal Steering

Thanks first C&C.

That sort of paints the picture for me.
I do have a roller jib.
So, reefing from the cockpit? How is this accomplished?
On my rig, when the main is fully up, I've got a wrap or two of wire around the winch at the base of the mast and at least three wraps of line. Do you run your main halyard to a clam cleat or something above the companionway?

If not, how do you reef without climbing up on deck?

Sensitive boat... YEAH. It turns on a dime, under power or under sail. I've practiced a few standing turns, but it basically does one on its own if you just go hard over to starboard with bare steerage.

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