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TomScanlan 02-27-2008 01:42 PM

first solo sail
 
I'm still alive :) I've moved into my j/24 at indian harbor beach, FL. I took it out alone for the first time 2 days back and had a great time while out.

I'm still having anxiety getting out of and into the slip. I'm hoping it will get easier with time. Out on the river, I feel a lot more comfortable.

Going out alone has given me several things to think about that I guess I'd like to bring up in case there are any solid opinions out there from the mmore experienced:

* I need to work out some way of remote steering. The j/24 is very responsive. If I take my hands off the tiller it will pretty quickly head up. I know I need to work on balancing the sails to remove some of the weather helm, but I'd still like some way to steer while moving around. So... run two lines from the tiller around turning blocks to either side, run lines forward and carry them as I need to run about. they can be tied off or actively used to steer while at the mast, bow or just inside the companionway. Look out for fouling the steering lines as I run around.

* Raising and lowing the main is difficult on this boat. It has a boltrope where all the mains I've used before had bullets. With the boltrope, I have to leave the boltrope out of the mast track until time to raise the sail, and while raising it has a tendency to jam in the track throat. It takes me over a minute to get the sail up, and I'm blowing around all over the place while doing it. Getting the sail down is faster, but I have to drop the whole boltrope out of the track and the sail on the deck with the wind blowing it. I haven't worked out a way to keep it in a managable pile yet. With the bullet type, furling on the mast was pretty easy. Are boltropes usually difficult, or am I doing something wrong here?

* Coming into dock, I have problems timing everything right. It would be a little easier if the outboard had reverse, and center mounted. As is, there are so many things going on that I just haven't worked out a smooth operation. Key here will be having the dock lines worked out. I need have the bow line run back to the motor and the stern line in the same place. Both need enough length to be doubled over so that I can toss a bight over a piling or cleat on the dock, and reattach near the motor. In other words, both ends of the dock lines need to be on the boat, and tied off to something near the motor at one end. Currently I only have one line long enough to do so. Coming in the other day, I had it attached to the bow, and run back to the cockpit, in hopes that I'd be able to swing it around a piling and back inboard to a winch. This was to help slow me down before bonking the bow into the dock. I failed. BONK! But, no one was looking, and no damage was done to the boat, so only my pride hurts.

* Handling the jib sheets is akward from typical steering position. The traveler is between the tiller and the winches/cleat, so adjusting the jib sheets from the tiller involves reaching way around the main sheet. I eventually took down the jib because I was too frustrated. I think the remote steering from above may help, as I can move just behind the winches to have easy access, and the main will be just to my other side. The steering sheets would be in my lap.

What think thou? Well, single handing will get easier. More practice.

sailingdog 02-27-2008 02:14 PM

Tom-

Docking and leaving the dock are always fun things for the spectators, not so much if you're at the helm. Practice is key. :)

Remote steering... generally, having the tiller locked is better than trying to fiddle with remote lines for it and trying to get the mainsail up. A simple bungee cord attached to one side of the cockpit and a line with a loop and a cam cleat on the other will do wonders for the tiller.

You can always have the mainsail converted over to sail slugs, instead of a bolt rope. That would simplify your raising, lowering and furling the sail quite a bit. It also, isn't too expensive a modification to make... and probably worthwhile if the sail is in good shape. It would also reduce the friction in raising or lowering the sail.

For coming into the dock, it helps to have all the dock lines in position and ready to go. An amidships cleat with dock line on it is one of the most useful, since that can often allow you to hop off the boat and get the boat attached to the dock rather quickly, and then you can take a bit more time with the bow and stern lines. Docklines should be, at a minimum, the length of the boat. It is very helpful to have at least one or two that are 1.5x the length of the boat, especially if your pier isn't a floating pier.

A tiller extension might help with the jib situation, since it would allow you to sit further forward, and possibly even ahead of the mainsheet and near the genny sheets. I have the Spinlock tiller extension with the adjustable length and the big D-shaped handle. Very convenient.

It does get easier with practice. I hope you have jacklines, a harness and tether installed on the boat, since you're single handing. The primary thing about single handing is to stay on the boat.

BTW, just be aware that the cockpit lazarette locker really needs to be dogged shut when you're sailing a J/24. The lazarette locker, if it isn't dogged shut, can downflood in a broach or when heeled excessively, and fill with enough water to sink a J/24. It is a fairly common cause of J/24's sinking.

camaraderie 02-27-2008 02:24 PM

Try this for the tiller:
http://www.davisnet.com/product_docu...TllrTmrINS.PDF

And try this in your track and on the bolt rope to make things go easier:
McLube Sailkote Dry Lubricant for Marine Environments

chucklesR 02-27-2008 02:43 PM

If the wind isn't blowing too much from the beam you could try raising the main while in the slip - that depends on strength and ability to get out of the slip and steerage way going before you t-bone a boat or pier. Maybe you could raise the main to the second reef while at the pier.

I'd go with modifying the main with a set of slugs sized to fit the track; and run the halyard back to the cockpit. You also should work out a reefing system you can use while single handing that doesn't require leaving the cockpit - and that means the halyard has to be back there. If the main is old try looking for a place local to you that sells used J/24 sails - maybe you'll get lucky and find one in good shape with slugs, trade in your old to reduce costs.
As to docking, trade up on the outboard and get one with a true reverse, or at least one that swivels around to make reverse. Then try backing in - you get more control that way because you would center the rudder and drive and turn the boat via the outboard alone. Most places that repair and sell used outboards allow trade in values; so that will help.

Don't give up on the jib - not using it will increase weather helm making everything else that much more difficult. I can't tell where you sail out of - but places like Bacon's here in Annapolis have excellent choices in used autopilots, sails and other equipment for reasonable prices.

As SD said, stay on the boat. At a mininum, wear a PFD or at least an inflatible. I don't want to read about you in some 'sailor lost while single handing thread'.

sailingdog 02-27-2008 02:53 PM

BTW, if you really want remote steering, get a Raymarine tiller pilot, about $400 or so, and the remote for said tiller pilot, about $370... and then you can steer from anywhere on the boat. :) No lines to get tangled up either.

Sapperwhite 02-27-2008 03:10 PM

Do you have a tiller extension so you can sit forward more and still have the tiller in hand?

TomScanlan 02-29-2008 11:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sapperwhite (Post 272994)
Do you have a tiller extension so you can sit forward more and still have the tiller in hand?

Yes, but it isn't very convenient when the main sheet is between me and the tiller. Reaching around while tacking is awkward, and doing it while gibing might be foolish. Or I'm using it wrong :)

TomScanlan 02-29-2008 11:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 272984)
BTW, if you really want remote steering, get a Raymarine tiller pilot, about $400 or so, and the remote for said tiller pilot, about $370... and then you can steer from anywhere on the boat. :) No lines to get tangled up either.

I don't want it that bad. I'll be happy with a few dollars of rope for the time being. This isn't a boat I'll be taking super long distances, and I'm on a tight budget.

Giulietta 02-29-2008 11:57 AM

Cool...Tom...congratulations...

I too sail alone many times...

TomScanlan 02-29-2008 12:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chucklesR (Post 272977)
If the wind isn't blowing too much from the beam you could try raising the main while in the slip - that depends on strength and ability to get out of the slip and steerage way going before you t-bone a boat or pier. Maybe you could raise the main to the second reef while at the pier.

I'd go with modifying the main with a set of slugs sized to fit the track; and run the halyard back to the cockpit. You also should work out a reefing system you can use while single handing that doesn't require leaving the cockpit - and that means the halyard has to be back there. If the main is old try looking for a place local to you that sells used J/24 sails - maybe you'll get lucky and find one in good shape with slugs, trade in your old to reduce costs.
As to docking, trade up on the outboard and get one with a true reverse, or at least one that swivels around to make reverse. Then try backing in - you get more control that way because you would center the rudder and drive and turn the boat via the outboard alone. Most places that repair and sell used outboards allow trade in values; so that will help.

Don't give up on the jib - not using it will increase weather helm making everything else that much more difficult. I can't tell where you sail out of - but places like Bacon's here in Annapolis have excellent choices in used autopilots, sails and other equipment for reasonable prices.

As SD said, stay on the boat. At a mininum, wear a PFD or at least an inflatible. I don't want to read about you in some 'sailor lost while single handing thread'.


Believe it or not, I visualize leaving the slip under sail, but I'm nowhere near confident enough to try it yet. This motor does rotate for reverse, which has some fun side effects, like dragging the fuel line out behind the motor if you turn it the wrong way :). As I get more comfy I think I can live with the rotation, just my first couple of times were hectic.

The main halyard does run to the cockpit, which right now makes the operation slower, because when the boltrope jams, I have to run up to the mast, unjam, run back to the clutch and haul some more. Well, when I say run, it's only a couple steps, but still :) I haven't called around about adding slugs or swapping sails, but probably will soon.

I'll keep using the jib, I just gave up for that day to let the steam vent and because messing around with it was taking concentration from everything else going on in the eyes of a first timer. I tend to focus on problems until they are solved, to the exclusion of other things... so I chose to forget that problem before missing something important going on that I should really focus on.

I'll admit I was not tied into the boat that day. Winds were pretty light and I didn't feel any concern. But, you guys are right, I should be tied in.


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