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post #1 of 6 Old 08-13-2012 Thread Starter
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First single hand

Hey folks,

Today I took Scout for our first single-handed day sail. It was a blast. Since I have two young boys and a non-sailing (but very supportive) wife, I've been pretty much obligated to figure out how to do everything myself. So today I put it to the test.

Many of you will not be surprised to hear that what is usually my biggest challenge--putting up and taking down the sails--actually went smoother than usual. Why? Because I thought everything through, had everything in its place, and did it by the book (point into the wind, raise the main then unfurl the jib.) When I have a crew aboard I'm generally inclined to unfurl the jib as soon as I can (not necessarily dead into the wind,) then raise the main at some point later after killing the engine. Lots more huffing and puffing involved with that routine.

I really enjoyed my first use of the Tiller Clutch (visible in the photo looking aft.) I got this specifically for the purpose of single-handing, and I can heartily recommend it. This is not a replacement for an autopilot, but rather a very quick way to secure the tiller in any particular position so I can free up my hands or even walk around. It's roughly equivalent to having my 8-year-old on the tiller. He works at it but I still have to keep my eye on things. I can go forward if I need to, or down below for a quick head call. But I wouldn't cook a meal or take a nap. The Tiller Clutch is less than $100 shipped, including the control line that runs through it.

I even hove to. Didn't need to, but tried it anyway for the first time. Went down and used the head just to say I did.

My only buffoonery was fairly minor, and happened when I passed within hailing distance of a beautiful boat with graceful lines, lots of wood, and some sort of interesting looking rig. Maybe 50 feet long or so. I was moved to holler, loud enough to make myself heard across the Grand Canyon, "You're looking good today." The captain's response was, "Thanks, you too," --in a normal conversational tone that I could hear perfectly well. Question: is there some sort of coolness etiquette to speaking on the water, like when motorcyclists wave to each other by lifting a couple fingers but absolutely no movement above the wrist?

You professionals will be pleased to know that for many minutes I was on course to pass in front of the commercial ship in the photo. I'm sure I could have cleared her safely, but instead I decided to come about before reaching the channel, just to give them one less thing to worry about. I turned back after two or three minutes, hardly losing any time but hopefully making life easier for someone who was working while I was playing.

Oh, also got to use my marlin spike under duress for the first time. Heading into the wind with the tiller clutch engaged, but without a lot of room before hitting the shallows, I was raising the main when it stopped short. There was a hidden sail tie still on, and the knot had gotten cinched down too tight to untie with my hands. Fortunately, I had put my knife in the pocket of my life vest. This time I used bows when I put her away.

Alright, enough rambling.

BentSailor and bristol299bob like this.

Last edited by scratchee; 08-14-2012 at 12:42 AM.
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post #2 of 6 Old 08-14-2012
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Re: First single hand

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post #3 of 6 Old 08-14-2012
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Re: First single hand

Great job, Scratch. Hope to see you out there!

Alacrity, 1981 Tartan 33 #168
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post #4 of 6 Old 08-14-2012
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First single hand

Yep definitely easier to raise the main first. With the main an that tiller clutch adjusted the boat should sail herself (the main only induces heavy weather helm and the tiller is set to counteract it). Only problem is when the wind dies so does the weather helm which can induce a tack.

On my boat anyway jib only has a touch of lee helm making it unstable for tying off the tiller or handing the tiller to someone inexperienced.

The tiller clutch looks nice. I just have a line tied off to U bolts with adjustable loops that I can fiddle into the right spot.
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post #5 of 6 Old 08-14-2012
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Re: First single hand

Great job! I singlehanded my Tartan 34-2 for a few years and about 5000 sea miles without an autopilot. Yuck.

There is a great feeling of accomplishment in doing it alone!
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post #6 of 6 Old 08-14-2012
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Re: First single hand

Keep it up!!!

1990 MacGregor 26S

Previous sailboats:
1985 Passport 40 "Traveler"
1987 Tartan 34-2 "Wandering Star"
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