Re: About single handing!
Why do I single hand and why should you?
If you have been following this thread and don't single hand, or are relatively new at it, but are apprehensive about it, don't be. When you single hand (or feel capable of single handing), you open up lots of additional sailing opportunities. But you do have to plan ahead more for evolutions such as setting up lines, docking, or special docking assists to aid you. Also, you have to give a bit more thought about Plan B to get out of this mess when things go wrong, and consider the impact of increased wind or wave action. And things will go wrong at times.
I found that, when I felt that I needed at least one other person on board to assist me, that in addition to being subject to weather (too much wind, too little, too hot, too cold, ...) that I was slave to other's agendas. I had to ask "crew" in advance if they wanted to go sailing on a particular day. Sometimes yes, sometimes no...it was their schedule that was controlling things. And if they did come, sometimes it was "I've got two hours" when you had hoped for a day. Or at times, if they came, the wind had picked up to where I was uncomfortable in departing/docking, or the wind had died so that it was just going to be drifting in hot summer heat...but I had to go since I promised them to go sailing. And as to their help, unless they were active boaters, usually they did the wrong thing, or took too long to do something, like trying three or four times to place the bow line that they just released on the piling while the boat was drifting into a sideways position which made getting out difficult without lots more maneuvering. When you can single hand, you can go when you want to go, often on short notice. In your maneuvering, you are not dependent on your crew or guests. You know what you want and you do it. Usually, when I have guests on board, I'll say I want to do it myself to get practice for when I am alone, and simply ask them to standby to push off on the leeward piling if I don't clear it...which I normally do. It's nice to have guests on board, and sometimes they really can help in difficult evolutions, such as getting that bow or springline on the piling while you are maneuvering the boat so they can do it when wind has picked up significantly. Once out, I let my guests steer and I tend the sails. Generally, they go away happy.
As to size of boat, I can only speak to smaller to midsize boats (22-32ft.), but I found my 28' easier to handle than my 22' or 24', and my 32' easier than all the others. Docking is a bit of a challenge because the slip, being more or less constant width while accommodating a much wider boat means there is less room for error.
As I said at the beginning, I've been doing it a long time, but still don't feel comfortable in many situations..i.e. the crosswind docking at 20 kts. that I discussed. Often in more moderate conditions, my dockings look good, and sometimes they don't. So far, I haven't damaged the boat, so I guess I'm doing ok. And still learning. One of the reasons that I presented the beginning of the thread the way that I did was that I wanted to get some of the more experienced boaters to share their techniques so we can all learn from them. They have done this, and I hope they will continue to do so, especially in dealing with crosswinds, gusts, and currents.
Last edited by NCC320; 08-15-2012 at 10:15 AM.