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RayMetz100 02-07-2007 11:04 PM

I did my first solo sail.
Last weekend I took out a Catalina Capri 22 by myself. Winds were about 10knots.

The hardest part was getting out of the slip. The charter boat was buried under a J-22 rafted to it on the inside and a Cal 25 was behind it on the outside. So I had to move them both tight against the Cal 25 and then get onto the Capri to loose the J-22 and move it forward, then there wasn't enough room so I had to pin the front of the 22 to the corner and tie the Capri to the Cal. Finally I could tie up the J-22 properly and climb in the Capri.

Holding onto the ropes around the Cal while working the motor made me nervous. Things were so tight, every time I'd loose the ropes a bit, I'd drift across where a 36' was parked and there were no bumpers on that side. I ended up using some lifejackets as extra bumpers. After about 45 mins of messing around, I decided I wasn't going to float off the Cal safely, I'd have to gun the engine and go for it. Once I did that, I was finally free.

Getting out of the breakwater was straightforward, but I hadn't pulled the bumpers or hanked on the Jib yet and with the spade rudder I couldn't just let go of the tiller and go forward. So I tied the sternline around the tiller and it held enough for me to get it ready to sail.

After rounding the breakwater I pulled the main halyard and killed the engine. I got acclimated for a while with just the main and the engine still in the water going about 2 knts. Once I got used to things I tied the tiller nice and tight and went in the cabin for the jib. I went forward and hanked it on which took me quite a while, running back to the tiller every minute or so to keep me on a beam reach.

Once I pulled the jib halyard, things really picked up and I was doing about 5 knots. I tried some tacks and gybes and got used to ignoring the jibsheets until things settled down, then tieing the tiller tight and finally bringing the jib across and trimming it.

After an hour or so, I decided to head in and fired up the motor. It was fairly tricky for me to take down the jib, unhanking and bag it with the motor going straight up wind and the waves smacking me around. They came down without incident though.

Behind the breakwater, I was worried about getting into the slip. I tied two bumpers and two lifejackets on and came in as slow as I could without losing control because of the light wind. I used my GPS to slow down to about 1knt while turning into the slip.

At first I planned on stopping at the Cal 25 and grabbing on to it. But things were going so slow and smooth that I decided to put the moter back in gear and pull forward to the J-22. Tieing up was much easier because I didn't move the J back on the outside.

I'm a heavyset guy and it was a big workout for me. Standing on the dock tieing up, I could feel my muscles aching. That never happened in my 10-15 previous sails with crew/guests. They ached for about 4 days, but I guess that's good for me.

Any tips for solo sailing? Anything I did terribly wrong or right?

I plan to try it again any weekend I can't find guests to come along with the goal of building enough confidence to take my 10yo daughter or 13yo son out alone.

T34C 02-07-2007 11:22 PM

Sounds like you had a good sail. A definite learning experience. Your learning curve might prove a little slower due to the fact that you are sailing so many different boats, but in the long run that will prove to be an asset.

Off the top of my head the only thing I would recommend right now is hanking on the jib before you leave the dock. Just leave it laying on the bow, or if the wind is blowing alittle more, you can secure it to deck with a line or bungy. The more you can avoid going forward when by your self, the safer you will be.

6string 02-08-2007 12:53 AM

Congratulations. There is nothing like the thrill that comes from doing something the first time. Especially when it comes to sailing.

The more you do the greater your confidence will be. Great conditions for learning. You can get moving with light to moderate winds like that and not feel overwhelmed. The more time you spend early on in those types of conditions, the more confidence you will gain in yourself.

Try to learn to just feel what the boat is doing. I don't rely on GPS or any gauges to tell me what the boat is doing. Learn to trust your feel of the situation. Try taking an anchor with you sometime and attach it to some type of float. Put it out in the water and practice pulling up to it, with the bow coming to a complete stop just before touching it. Do this under sail and power. Doing this with different boats as you are sailing will teach you the "feel" of boats and how they respond to your touch and control.

I'm jealous that you get to sail this time of the year. Have FUN !!!

Sailormon6 02-08-2007 09:19 AM

You said you were sailing on the mainsail alone, with the boat sailing on a beam reach, and you had to run to the tiller about every minute to steer the boat, while you attached and raised the jib. Try putting the boat on a course about halfway between a beam reach and a beat, and lash the tiller a couple of degrees to windward. I think you'll find that you won't have to run back and forth to the tiller anymore. When you do go forward, walk on the leeward side of the boat. The boat should self steer much better when you're sailing on the main alone.

sailingdog 02-08-2007 09:47 AM

A couple of things... don't forget to wear a PFD and a harness if the wind and weather gets nasty... and don't forget to file a float plan with a friend or family member.

As you get more familiar with the boat, and more used to handling her by yourself, start trying to deal with higher winds, and bigger seas. If you do this intentionally, it will give you a lot more confidence when Mother Nature throws the stuff at you when you're not expecting it.

Also, get used to reefing the sails, and practice to the point where you can do it relatively quickly—in less than four minutes or so—so you will be able to do it without problems when you need to. Also, if you're ever thinking about reefing... it means you probably should have already... it is easier and safer to reef when you don't need it than it is to leave the boat overpowered and difficult to handle.

Gary M 02-08-2007 10:09 AM

Like T34C said having the jib in place ready to go up with even the halyard attached will make life easier. You will need a tie to hold it down until you are ready for it.
When you go forward the trim of the vessel changes significantly to bow down especially on a 22 footer. This trim change is what causes you to typically round up and therefore have to run back and grab the tiller.

Been there done that. :)


RayMetz100 02-08-2007 07:50 PM

thanks for the tips. hopefully I'll get to sail again this sunday afternoon. maybe not singlehanded though.

For sailing back and forth in front of the breakwater I don't think I need a float plan, but I can see that it'd be important for singlehanding to any destination. So far I'm only a daysailor and maybe gotten 10nm away with guests. I think I'd get bored trying that far alone though.

longwaterline 02-09-2007 09:59 AM

Congratulations on a sucessful solo sail. Singlehanding is the best way to gain experience quickly since you need to plan out in advance every move with no one to scream at if things go wrong. Solo sailors tend to be better thinkers out on the water AND ULTIMATELY have superior seamanship skills. Get out as much as possible. Most crew don't have a clue which means you pretty much single hand most of the time anyway.

sailortjk1 02-09-2007 10:03 AM

Have you addressed the whole harness thing? Like Sailing Dog said, for single-handing you need to be on a harness. Well actually that can be debated as well, but I recommend using one. Especially when you start using Autopilot, I never leave the harbor single-handed unless I am on a tether. Like I said it has been debated on these threads before. I think the best thing is a harness and tether with a quick release, which can be released under stress.

Giulietta 02-09-2007 10:47 AM

Ray, you must feel very happy now…that you sail on your own…. that’s good. Congrats.

When I sail alone and I need to go forward, I have a tether (is this the right name guys??) (a cable attaching me to two ropes that run forward to aft on each side of the cabin), (sorry I don't know the name), but I use a very very short one that will leave me hanging from the side, and doesn't let me in the water all together.. If I fall overboard and because my boat is fast, I can't get up on the boat again, the water force is too much...I've tried and spent most of the time under water, couldn't even get the head out, got tired out in 3 minutes....basically I would die... SO IF I FALL I RATHER HANG, and bruise myself than go in the water...
When at the wheel, I have a larger tether so I can move from port to Starboard. Still would not get wet with those.

So although uncomfortable, if I get overboard, I will always hang. I use a Trapeze vest, because it does not chew my balls...

I also release and drag a 20 meter rope from my stern, with loops every 3 feet, so if I fall over I can put my feet and use as a ladder as it gets near the transom, the loops are every 1,5 feet.

I also carry my cell phone, in a floating water tight poach....let the wife and the marina know where I will be going, and call the wife every 2 hours or so…

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