A little less cheek
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Valparaiso bound
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Really good advice in this thread.
I've been singlehanding my Hardin 45 ketch for years, and at 62 years, I move about the same way the boat does, slow and easy. According to my log, I spend about 150 days a year on overnights in the CA Channel Islands. Just about all of that singlehanding.
Night sailing isn't just something you say lets take off, you've got to be prepared. Try going out around the harbor, outside the breakwater, a few miles off. Learn to distinguish the lights and landmarks which can be very confusing. A second thing is equipment. Make sure, if possible, that all control lines run to the cockpit so there's lessened possibility that you'll have to go forward leaving the safety of the cockpit. Roller furling, strobe on lifejackets, remote anchor switch, tethers, jack lines, etc., all expensive but well worth the cost.
I have two radars, 24 mile mounted below, and a 16 mile with screen on deck. I set guards on both with the 24 set at 4 miles and the 16 at 8. I figure because of the stronger power of the 24, it'll pick up targets that the 16 won't. Both have speaker alarms with 20 ft of wire from the unit to the speaker. I've found that radar is one of the best pieces of equipment I have.
And yes, the coast guard requires a helmsman and a lookout, and they can't be the same person, so singlehanding is technically illegal, although not enforced to my knowledge other than following an incident.
Heaving-to is a great way to await morning before going into an unfamiliar port, or when you have a big fish on the line. It may take a little practice to do it right, I still get confused where to put the helm when the headsail is backed.
I'm sure you'll add or subtract to all the advice as you get out and do it.