Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft? - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 157 Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft?

I am reminded by this commentary of the old saying "amputation with a dull spoon is possible, it just takes a long time and is very messy." Yes, K. Adlard Coles used to take his poor wife out into the English Channel in the worst of conditions and survived. Frankly I got tired of reading how many times he had to trim the wicks and relight the running lights. I found very little of value in his recounting of his antics. My favorite old salt advice: "If you are thinking it might be time to reef you should have already reefed."

For me setting up a boat is about safety first and then convenience. I single hand a great deal in open ocean conditions. In Newfoundland the water temperature was 40 Fahrenheit. Even a splash was a bone chilling experience, a fall into the water attached to a harness and lifeline gave you maybe 5 minutes to get back on board. When you are sailing for 15 or 20 days in a row without stopping or the assistance of other people dealing with conditions others might consider "fun" is exhausting. Waves in the Atlantic are always confused (at least it seems that way.) Spending time at the mast with the boat pitching in weird ways because I can see a thunderstorm bearing down on me is to me not exciting, it is part of what I do because I have to. I prefer to minimize that time, although as pointed out when I reef I do have to go forward to secure the reef point to the gooseneck. (I have played with single line reefing and have not found a solution I like.) Having too many things lashed down or up - spinnaker, boom preventer, whisker pole - when the wind shifts 180 degrees because of the oncoming storm and then back again adds to the exhaustion factor.

Reboot is rigged for single hand sailing with a jib and main. All those lines are led back to the cockpit. I can put up the whisker pole by myself, but that requires quite a bit of foredeck work. The asymmetric and spinnaker require me to have crew on board. Being a very conservative sailor I don't fly these sails when I am single handing - they require too much effort in changing weather conditions. I could in fact fly them, but getting an extra knot is usually not worth the effort (Reboot usually can get close to hull speed in normal open ocean conditions - about 15 to 20 knots of wind.

I agree that for single handing an autopilot is a must. I actually have two, an electric and a wind vane. When the wheel steering failed 1000 NM offshore and took the wind vane with it having a redundant system (the electric autopilot) was a great savior. I use the electric autopilot during all sail changes - it does make life easier.

So, my view is you work out how and where you are going to sail, who you are going to sail with, and then figure out what lines need to come back. The two I think are critical to safety are the main and jib halyards. When things go really wrong I just trip the clutches and the sails pretty much come down by themselves, at least enough for me to get control of the boat again. Yes, I have a roller reefing jib but sometimes the roller just doesn't want to roll or the wind speed makes furling difficult. So every once in a while I just have to trip the halyard and clean up the mess afterwards.

Hope this helps

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post #22 of 157 Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft?

I'll second the suggestion for a "crewman in a can" (autopilot),
but for the type of sailing the OP typically does, running all lines aft will just be an inconvenient tangle of spaghetti.

My vang is run aft, and I've just run a jib downhaul for nasty weather. Jacklines get me to the mast, where my "pit" position is. Sometimes, the trip hazard of the spaghetti offsets the safety of running all lines to the cockpit.

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post #23 of 157 Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft?

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Neither of those are necessary in many reefing systems. Often the reef tack cringle is held down with line, just as the reef clew cringle is.

The sail should never be lashed to the boom, the reef knots should go around the sail cloth only. That is an optional step that makes it neater, but it's not mandatory.

Here my boat Elena is reefed with neither of those things done:


Here my friend's boat Jackie is reefed with reefing line tidying up the loose sail at the boom:


His boat has no lines going to the cockpit and and he single hands all the time. His boat is also engineless (he even glassed over the propshaft through hull).
I guess if you are reefing for the afternoon that will be fine, but go a few days without the lashings (cringle, boom or under sail) and you may get other types of problems that will really send you to the the mast...
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post #24 of 157 Old 03-15-2013 Thread Starter
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Thks guys. Up to now I have not felt the need to have any lines in the cockpit that are not there. Cunningham maybe as my main likes it to help with luff tension. Boom vang. I can reach it now from the cockpit to tighten it but cannot loosen it without a trip out of the cockpit. Main halyard is just a thought but I have not really adjusted or reefed the main after it goes up. Spin halyard I thought maybe but I have not run a spin yet so it's just forward thinking. I think an auto pilot and instruments will be much higher on the list.

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post #25 of 157 Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft?

Might as well install a solar panel while you are at it - the autopilot is a drain on the battery...
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post #26 of 157 Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft?

Lashing to the boom, day sailing or not, can cause issues that will also be much larger. The eyelets for the reef knots aren't reinforced in any way and can't handle any loads. Should your reefing clew line accidentally release you will destroy the sail.

I agree with you that if you are reefing for long periods of time that tidying up the bottom of the sail is good. However that barely fits under emergency reefing (the one time when having reefing gear in the cockpit is handy).

I don't see how the reefing hook holding down my reef cringle is any better than a piece of amsteel line holding down my reef cringle.

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post #27 of 157 Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft?

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Originally Posted by jameswilson29 View Post
We are about the same age. Once you start acting old, you are old. Once you start acting scared, you are scared.

To me, this is further evidence of the "wimpification" of our culture.
LOve it! Or Pussification, which ever term you prefer..
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post #28 of 157 Old 03-15-2013
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Re: Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft?

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To me, this is further evidence of the "wimpification" of our culture.
I was actually thinking of leading all the control lines to the bow... wouldn't that be a hoot.

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post #29 of 157 Old 03-16-2013
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Re: Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft?

Put me in the old curmudgeon category. Sheets and running backs go to the cockpit. Everything else is at the mast. I have yet to sail a boat with lines aft that hadn't built up enough friction to require grinding about everything up with a winch, a time-consuming process. I can get everything done faster at the mast, including the time to get out there and back.

Further, and specific to my boat, the hard windscreen and dodger above keep most of the cockpit really dry. There is no way I'm going to punch holes in that for lines and let water through.

Y'all can do as you please. I deliver enough boats in different configurations to be confident in my conclusions. Running halyards and adjustment lines into the cockpit is one of those ideas that seems superficially appealing but in reality turns out to reduce both safety and operational performance.

I feel that way about enclosures too so it is likely that the concepts are related.

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post #30 of 157 Old 03-16-2013
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Re: Mostly singlehanded...what lines should I run aft?

Everything is lead to the cockpit on my boat. 2 spin halyards, 2 genoa halyards, topping lift, spinnaker tack line/downhaul, main Halyard, and Baby stay adjustment. Reefing lines are still at the front of the boom, but I have never used them. All halyards can be directed to one of the 2 cabin top winches.


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