Senior Smart Aleck
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Richmond, Virginia
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The last two weekends have been great for sailing on the Bay!
Here's a suggestion for a cheap autotiller for your purposes - wrap a bungee cord around the tiller and secure either side to the lifeline stanchions. That will hold the tiller in place long enough for you to raise or drop sails. It will also encourage you to learn how to set the sails in order to balance the boat.
For instance, some may disagree, but I prefer to sail with mainsail alone rather than jib alone when singlehanding. You have better control of the sail and the boat will be better balanced. You are also better off with a reefed main and small jib than a jib alone. Unless you are running downwind, a jib alone renders the boat unbalanced - you lose the useful weather helm that protects you and the boat in heavy weather.
Sailing with the mainsail alone will also teach you how to trim the mainsail properly and give you the confidence to gibe safely in heavy weather. It is fairly easy to trim the jib with telltales; however, mainsail trim is more difficult, especially if you need to sail upwind. If you can sail upwind with mainsail only in an IOR-design-influenced-racer/cruiser (small mainsail), then you know you are mastering mainsail trim and boat handling skills.
(Rant: I cannot tell you how many times I have come upon another sailboat out in the Bay, usually a large, new, expensive boat-show-type sailboat with a party in the cockpit, reaching in the Bay with an o.k.-trimmed roller furling jib, but an overtrimmed mainsail, hauled in close to the centerline. I have often wondered how such a person can be successful and wealthy enough to afford a nice new boat, but does not yet know how to trim the mainsail.)
Last edited by jameswilson29; 11-14-2011 at 08:14 AM.