When were you ready to single hand? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 46 Old 09-07-2011 Thread Starter
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When were you ready to single hand?

How long did it take you to single hand? I am thinking of going out tomorrow solo. I can always keep the engine idling in case I need it. I was going to be in the harbor only. Maybe find a low traffic area of the harbor and raise the main and unfurl the jib. Is there anything I should know first?

S/V Cuajota - 1975 WD Schock Santana 30

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post #2 of 46 Old 09-07-2011
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The key to single handing is to think ahead and anticipate what you'll need 30 minutes down the road. Raise your sails, then turn off the engine. You won't need it until you're ready to come home. Be methodical. Give yourself enough sea room so you can be patient. The harder you try, the worse you'll do. Relax, breath, be methodical, be methodical, be methodical. Everything happens much more slowly single handing than crewed, so patience is really key to both your happiness and sanity. Keep a handheld VHF in the cockpit and listen to shipping traffic so you won't be surprised about what's coming down the pipe. Keep your center of gravity low while moving on deck. Plan for the possibility of 'bad' things happening, but don't obsess. Single handing is riskier than double handing and crewed sailing, but it's still probably much safer than the drive to the marina. You're sailing a 30' boat. That's a great size to single hand! One more time. Relax, be methodical, be patient, have fun.... smile.
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post #3 of 46 Old 09-07-2011
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Check the weather and choose your days (as always). You don't want to get caught in something gnarly until you are confident, if you can avoid it. My boat circles to port in forward, so I point her downwind and go forward to raise the main. I get everything ready while she slowly heads up. when she's into the wind I raise the main (with a blown main sheet of course). I have a furler on the head sail, so it's a piece of cake. If I didn't, I think I would get her close hauled with the main, lock the steering or tie off the tiller (only if she felt stable), go forward and raise the Jib (others may have better ideas). I do the reverse when dousing the sails. If everything is led aft it makes things a lot easier, of course. Under most conditions I can balance the sails on my boat, (some times tying off the tiller) and go forward with confidence while she sails herself. I have an auto helm, but haven't used it in years. You might also want to sail under Main or Jib alone for a while to simplify things and see how she sails under each sail. For example, some boats tack like champs under a jib, some won't tack without a main. It's nice to know her capabilities. If the wind picks up, I would use a "chicken jibe" (tacking) and avoid jibing the main until I was confident I could control it, and the boat by my self. Lastely... when out of the cockpit, hang on to the boat like your life depends on it, it probably does (better yet...use jack lines).
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Last edited by L124C; 09-07-2011 at 04:49 AM.
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post #4 of 46 Old 09-07-2011
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The advice above is good. However, pick your time and just do it and you will find that you are fine.

Most 'skippers' effectively singlehand anyway. Most [all] Dad's singlehand effectively.

The 'other person' is often just there in case!

Go for it


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post #5 of 46 Old 09-07-2011
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I read your other thread about second sail. Nice job done, but don't let a light air day build your confidence to the point you do yourself harm. When the wind doubles the more forces more than double. Be grateful for the light wind as a beginner, and take it a step at a time. Learn to reef effeciently, and reduce your headsail when needed. Be carefull wishing for gust. One maybe a Santa Anna wind that does you harm.......i2f

20 MPH ain't fast unless, you do it in a 1000sq 3/2 house on 10foot waves
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post #6 of 46 Old 09-07-2011
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I would only hoist one sail at first, preferably the main, if your boat will sail it alone. You should have plenty of weather helm if the turd hits the fan and it will be easier to tack and jibe. Build some confidence, then try just the headsail alone.

Always be sure you have room to headup into the wind for a quick stop to regroup. I also wouldn't worry too much about perfect trim at first either. "when in doubt, let it out" and sail her underpowered at first.

Good luck.


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post #7 of 46 Old 09-07-2011
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Regarding the "sail under-powered at first" comment, if you choose to do this, life will be a lot easier if you put the reef in at the dock before you depart.

It's easier to shake out a reef while you're underway than it is to put the reef in.

Do you have a tiller tamer or autopilot? That'll make going forward a much calmer experience.
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post #8 of 46 Old 09-07-2011
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I think you will find that sailing single handed is a piece of cake. That first one is just a case of the jitters. As puddinlegs said, just think it through in advance and be methodical in your execution. I actually sailed more single handed after that first attempt than I did with crew. Just more enjoyable being on the water alone sometimes.

Docking single handed can be a little more intimidating at times. This is when things can become somewhat challenging.

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post #9 of 46 Old 09-07-2011
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I bought my boat with single handing in mind....

The first time I took it out by myself was the second time ever on the boat, the first being the sea trials with a sailor friend, pre purchase. This second outing was right after I got the motor back from an impeller replacement and I just motored around, drifted, motored back to the marina.

The next weekend, third outing on the boat, I motored out, raised the main, killed the motor and took off....third time in my life to go sailing.

Been single handing ever since. I've been out many more times by myself than with anyone else aboard.


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post #10 of 46 Old 09-07-2011 Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. Today the weather is great no crazy things forecasted. I won't be going out to sea just a big area in the harbor and if traffic is light like yesterday then I'll be one of the only boats out on the water. I have been mooring the boat solo already so I have motoring solo and docking solo and mooring solo down very well. I have a furler for the jib and all sheets go to the cockpit. I think it's time!

S/V Cuajota - 1975 WD Schock Santana 30

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