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Old 10-30-2000
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Jon Shattuck is on a distinguished road
Shorthanded Sail Handling

Can a small, middle-aged woman handle a heavy boat single-handed when the boat has a tall rig? Or should I opt for a four-foot shorter rig? (By heavy I mean a displacement-length ratio of roughly 340, and by tall rig I mean sail area to displacment ratio of 19.3.)

Jon Shattuck responds:

I like the size and style of boat you have chosen for your needs: a much larger boat would probably be a handful and a half for you. Unless you are planning on sailing in a predominantly heavy-air neighborhood, I wouldn't worry about this style of boat being overpowered with the taller rig.

Instead, I would concentrate on having the proper sail-handling gear on board. You'll want to consider self-tailing winches, a mainsail-taming system (lazy jacks or Dutchman so you
can drop the main without fear of it flopping on deck), maybe a Battcar® system on the luff of the main, quality headsail roller-furling system, single-line reefing so you can throw a reef in without leaving the cockpit, an autopilot so you can leave the helm and tend to your sails under some semblance of control, and maybe a cruising spinnaker for light-air sailing.

When you select a boat that lends itself to this type of sailing and you have the right gear aboard to manage your boat and sails—and you're confident in your sailing skills, then you can get out there and have fun!

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