First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, etc - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 40 Old 07-18-2013
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Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et

Yes, tethers are a pain and do get caught on things. The good news is that once you get used to moving from one place to another, it becomes second nature to flip the tether around those snag points.

When singlehanding, it is often necessary to simply avoid going into situations where you cannot sequence every move you are going to make. Going in toward an unfamiliar dock, I find it pays to make a practice run, sort of a touch and go, to see close-up what the conditions are to get the boat alongside and tied up.

You didn't get hurt, stuff can be prepared. Lessons, unfortunately, always get learned the hard way. Once learned this way, they are never forgotten.

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post #22 of 40 Old 07-19-2013
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Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et

Mostly my sailing these past 40 years has been solo. I occasionally still get it wrong and learn something new, so do not fuss over your one bad experience.

Re tethers: I run two webbing jacklines inboard of everything, from the pulpit, one each side of the mast, below the genoa sheets, over the cabin, inboard of the winches, to the pushpit. They are kept very taut so that they can't flop around and get under or around unwanted obstructions. The tether is kept very short - about three feet only - and at each end has those safety snap clips that require two deliberate actions to release. If you have a longer tether, just make it into a loop around the jackline with the two clips back to your harness. The idea of keeping it short means that a) you won't trip over it and b) you can't fall overboard. Because even if you are clipped on, if you go overboard at more than three knots you will probably drown. Once sailing, I NEVER go out of the cockpit without clipping on. The jacklines are tight enough to make good backrests when seated in the cockpit.

As for rough jetties and docks to leeward - I try to avoid them, but if really necessary, always use fender boards and spring lines. In the situation you described where the jetty is on a lee shore, another way out would be to put an anchor over the bow while still 30 or 40 metres off and fall back on the anchor cable (make sure the anchor is holding!), secure a stern line or two lines (one from each quarter if possible) to the pilings, by passing the line (s) around the pilings and back on board (to make letting go easier). Then when ready to depart, let go the stern line(s), retrieve to keep away from the prop and haul in the anchor while motoring very slowly ahead, with tiller or wheel centred.

Because I use all-chain rode for anchoring, in tight situations I am not too nervous about motoring right up until almost over the top of the anchor before going forward to haul it in, so as to reduce the time adrift before getting back to the cockpit. I do not clip on while anchoring or leaving as I need to be able to scamper quickly between bow and cockpit - but so close to shore, if I do go overboard it hopefully will only be an embarrassment not a disaster.
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post #23 of 40 Old 07-19-2013
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Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et

Normally I prefer the method described by Jeff_H - backing into a board/fender to bring the bow out.

However, cruisers with sterns infested with davits, dinghies and even swim platforms just can't go that route without bending some pipe.

The important thing is to realize that your boat isn't a flat slap, it's fat in the middle and that can be used as the fulcrum of a level when properly fendered/protected and that spring lines lead around a piling and back to the boat are the way to go.
That means carrying a plethora of 15 foot dock lines (like a lot of weekenders do) is not sufficient. You really do need at least one good stout line at least 1.5 times the length of your boat.
I'm not an experienced single hander - done it, like it except it's a lot of work because you have to make your Rum and Coke Zero's.
The important thing is to think ahead and plan what if's and how to's for almost everything. Then abandon plan a immediately if it starts going wrong and improvise like the viagra commercial.

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post #24 of 40 Old 07-19-2013
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Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et

I don't think we've heard back from the OP. I wonder if he has read the thread.

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post #25 of 40 Old 07-19-2013
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Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et

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Originally Posted by jimgo View Post
I don't think we've heard back from the OP. I wonder if he has read the thread.
Most of the time we are talking to ourselves anyway :0
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post #26 of 40 Old 07-19-2013
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Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucklesR View Post
Normally I prefer the method described by Jeff_H - backing into a board/fender to bring the bow out.

However, cruisers with sterns infested with davits, dinghies and even swim platforms just can't go that route without bending some pipe.

The important thing is to realize that your boat isn't a flat slap, it's fat in the middle and that can be used as the fulcrum of a level when properly fendered/protected and that spring lines lead around a piling and back to the boat are the way to go.
That means carrying a plethora of 15 foot dock lines (like a lot of weekenders do) is not sufficient. You really do need at least one good stout line at least 1.5 times the length of your boat.
I'm not an experienced single hander - done it, like it except it's a lot of work because you have to make your Rum and Coke Zero's.
The important thing is to think ahead and plan what if's and how to's for almost everything. Then abandon plan a immediately if it starts going wrong and improvise like the viagra commercial.
Now I know why I saw a belt hanging from your boom


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post #27 of 40 Old 07-19-2013
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Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et

That belonged to Resolute_ZS, who was onboard the only time you've seen my boat.

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post #28 of 40 Old 07-20-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et

Firstly, thanks for all of the encouragement! It made such a big difference in my mood, as I'll describe below.

What I didn't disclose is that this was a shakedown trial for a longer ~20nm singlehanded beat in 30 knot winds up to a boatyard. jimgo remarked that 15 knots seemed like a lot for my first try, but the fact I'd have to be comfortable with a lot more was my main motivation. (I've sailed enough in these "typical" SF Bay conditions with crew to be comfortable-ish it them, with crew.)

I was going to abandon the cruise after this terrible experience, but the forum really helped me turn it around; the reason I haven't been responding is due to being on the water or at the boatyard until now. I've been reading every night, but I haven't had the internet quality or energy to type up a good response.

The 20nm voyage went flawlessly. A lot of firsts for me singlehanding, including anchoring, high winds, some navigation, etc. Highlights include:
  • I've gotten tethering working better, especially after Jeff's advice. Once I practiced more, I realized it was possible to do the tether one-handed, and the whole thing is partly a matter of planning things out in advance, and anticipating what's going to happen. I still de-tethered for anchoring, which I thought was reasonable.
  • The wind usually dies a little while after dark, but it was especially abrupt this time. It was pretty amusing going from 30 knots to 5 knots, in the space of five minutes, meaning I no longer had enough wind to beat to windward and maintain steerage in the left-over chop. Hypothetically this would be a dangerous situation, in the higher-traffic northerly part of the Bay, in a shipping channel, but of course the motor worked fine; I just hate to spoil a serene night on a bay with a noisy 4-stroke.
  • Anchoring seems so easy, even singlehanding. I don't get what the big deal is that people are always talking about messing it up. Just get in position, use the motor to stop, then idle; the wind push the bow away, but it doesn't especially matter; drop anchor and let out scope, and use the motor to set and check.

I spent some time with the damaged bow pulpit, and learned a few things:
  • All of the bolts are accessible, eg, not under the non-removable headliner that is underneath most of my deck. Maybe this is just my noviceness, but this is a big deal to me, because it means it's almost trivial to remove.
  • The fab shop at KKMI wants a little over $2000 to build a new one, plus glasswork to repair and beef up the deck base. My job manager seemed to think that the idea of repairing it was suspicious. Maybe I should push harder here, or get a second opinion.
  • I guess I don't actually have to deal with this right now, because the pulpit seems to be pretty sturdy still (I've pulled on it, hard, and there was also no obvious damage to the welds or opposite-side bases.), given that it's so easy to remove and drive wherever.
  • Touch screens, like my chartplotter and my cell phone, absolutely refuse to work after they get a certain amount of wet, no matter how hard you try to dry them in wet conditions. The Raymarine e97 has backup hard controls; the Galaxy S smart phone doesn't.

I really appreciate all of the advice (in addition to the unconditional encouragement) as well; despite reading tons of internets and Don Casey books and all of that sort of thing, I still have no idea how to approach problems like this, and it really helps to have you guys help frame the problem in my mind. I'll update as appropriate on stainless status, and on future singlehanded developments. But I don't think I'll go anywhere near a wharf or pier for a long time.

There's something ironic about singlehanding. It's so lonely, even when you want to be by yourself. If something awesome happens on the water, and no one else is there to see it, did it really happen? The first thing I want to do is tell someone about the adventure; and the first thing I want when anything goes wrong is someone else to help. I will admit that for the windiest and choppiest part of the trip, where I was getting re-soaked every minute or so by larger waves, I was actually bored somehow...

(Apologies for my usual length. One of my essay-assigning English teachers did something terrible to me at some point that makes me not be able to write concisely. I always have to do a separate pass to prune, and it still comes out long.)

Last edited by aaronwindward; 07-20-2013 at 06:29 AM. Reason: bay typo
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post #29 of 40 Old 07-20-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et

By the way, the loneliest part is preparing and eating dinner in the anchorage after a day's sail. I get sad thinking about it even now (when I'm no longer alone), and I can't figure out why.
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post #30 of 40 Old 07-20-2013
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Re: First time singlehanding, bad things happen, the sound of breaking fiberglass, et

You're right about the loneliness, but most of the time singlehanders welcome it. It can become a problem on difficult, prolonged solo sails, when there's nobody to help keep up your morale. That's really the most difficult part of solo sailing. You can learn techniques to handle the problems that arise by yourself, but you never really learn how to substitute for the morale boost that comes from having someone else nearby to laugh or commiserate with.
That's only a problem on the longer trips, though, and it doesn't sound like you're goal is to become a long distance solo sailor.

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