SailNet Community - Reply to Topic
Thread: Single-handed cruising Reply to Thread
Send Trackbacks to (Separate multiple URLs with spaces) :
Post Icons
You may choose an icon for your message from the following list:

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

  Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

Click here to view the posting rules you are bound to when clicking the
'Submit Reply' button below

  Topic Review (Newest First)
01-27-2010 05:37 PM
TimofBlindSquirrel One thing to remember when cruising, you don't need to jibe and tack in a split second like on a race course. My buddy has a mid '80 Hunter 38 cutter. and when he need to tack or jibe alone he simply rolls up the jib then unrolls it when the turn is completed. The main is basically self tending. Just trim up the main, set the traveler in the middle, and go. His staysail is on a boom. The process would be the same even if your staysail is not selftending. Not much too it.

One rig you may want to look at is a sloop with a removeable inner forstay. You can sail as a sloop, but when the wind pipes up, roll up the jib and rig the inner. Only one head sail to manage, and it easy to tack.

My first boat was a C&C 36. I wanted a removable inner stay, but my boat had a bady stay that would get in the way. I tacked and jibed my 150 jib and I never had roller furling. You just have to be quick and your gear bullet proof. I am currently boat shopping and I want this rig, or possibly a solent rig.

Good Luck.
01-06-2010 06:15 PM
imagine2frolic You can clearly see the second reef mark near my left shoulder in my current avatar.......i2f
01-06-2010 06:09 PM
imagine2frolic I believe when wind magic gets more experience , and especially cruising, his ideas will change drastically. I would prefer a windvane over an electric autopilot, but I would want both if I could. A windvane to actually handle the wind, and a small autopilot to handle no wind. You don't need much of an autopilot to steer when there is no wind .

Try hanking on sails alone when the big stuff hits the fan. Your body will be leaving the deck while trying to hank on sails, or you can do like me. Stuff yourself under the jacklines to stay on the deck .

A prudent sailor will furl the headsail before it's a problem. If you have a cutter like myself as typed before, just furl the genny some more, and she's gone with the stysail working. Many headsails with have a couple of reefing marks on the foot of the sail. Usually you will find by the time you reach the second reef it's time for the stysail anyway, because the head sail has lost some of it's effeciency.

If these furling headsails are so bad! Then why do all the BIGTIME sailors doing the Southern Ocean, or the complete world using them ?

Everybody gets through life differently, and that includes sailing too. Do your research, and gather knowledge from the forums. I personally think you are on the right track with your thinking.

My personal thought on sailing the islands. An electric autopilot over the wind vane, and a windvane when you cross oceans. ......BEST WISHES.......i2f
01-06-2010 05:35 PM
Tanny Thanks aerie,

Much of what you point out has occurred to me.
Sailing a 42 footer alone is impressive by itself!
One question; if there's no wind how much further will an autopilot get you?
01-06-2010 04:34 PM
Autopilot as second crew member

I singlehand my 42-footer in the Caribbean and consider my below-decks autopilot my second crew member. Yes, it's an energy hog, but a wind vane will not work if there's no wind. You need to be able to trust your autopilot not only to go on deck to handle sails but also to be able to go below to use the head, fix a sandwich, sleep on long passages, etc. I use the autotack feature all the time, but to be honest, I try to plan my passages to minimize the need to tack at all.

Roller furling headsails are a necessity in my opinion, and your plan to use a Gale Sail which hanks on over the furled headsail is a good idea. The question of furling main or slab-reefing is a purely personal decision. I personally elected to go with slab reefing with a single line so I don't have to leave the cockpit to reef.

Other things to consider: Can you get the dinghy on deck by yourself? Do you have a way to hoist the outboard to attach it to the stern rail? Can you use the radio without leaving the helm? A remote command mic or handheld VHF should be on your equipment list. And be sure to wear a harness and use the tether whenever you are out of the cabin. If you go off the boat, even if tethered to the boat, you probably won't be able to get back aboard. Wear a knife on your harness.

For more discussion about safety while singlehanding, check out The Great Lakes Singlehanded Society - Home Page
12-15-2009 02:36 PM
mintcakekeith My davits and wind sayes rig wind vane coexist ok but dingy comes off and goes below before going offshore.Keith.
12-13-2009 06:51 PM
krozet I dont think anyone has mentioned this but you said that you wanted Davits for you're dink? I don't think Davits and a Wind Vane will co-exist, well not being used at the same time anyway.

I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong.

12-13-2009 10:44 AM
Originally Posted by Tanny View Post
Great comments about sailplans and furlings - thanks guys!

How about some other issues regarding single-handing a 34-40 foot cruising sailboat?

Such as autopilots vrs wind vanes?

From what I've been able to find, cockpit mounted autopilots although common are prone to failure and below-deck autopilots are recommended. I really don't know the difference, beyond 'where' they are on the boat. But wind vanes sound less likely to disappoint, and simple is better, right?

Any comments from the old salts here?
Iīve been solo for about 3 years now, now in Caribbean via Brazil and Cape Verde, started from London. Think I was lucky with boat choice, 33īsteel cutter, roller reefing headsail (replaced old one with harkin in Canaries, never had a problem since), hanked on staysail, aries windvane. Would never be without a windvane, electric ones use power and break, ask the chandlers in Horta, Azores But day sailing round the Carib?? I would go for wind then you if you want the go further you wonīt have to wait around while fitting one. Though there is a cheap tiller one onboard my boat which just broke again during a thunder storm, it was handy for putting the main up but I can certainly live without it. Cutter rig works well for me, as someone else mentioned if the wind gets up roll up the headsail and go under reefed main and staysail. Also with a high cut headsail itīs much easier to see ahead. Tacking and gybing is not too common but quite often Iīll just roll up the headsail, go about and unfurl. A locking ratchet pulley on the reefing line helps. Sometimes tacking in or out of a bay I wonīt even bother with the yankee, just go slower using main and staysail. Main reefing is slab all at the mast which seems fine, the boat is heavy and with a long keel heaving to is easy if I want a more stable deck to reef. Iīm off the boat at the moment but looking forward to splashing out on a new electric anchor windlass when I get back to Trini. Engine and manual windlass both broke leaving Suriname so Iīve been sailing off the anchor using mast winches to raise the anchor for a little while, that really isnīt fun solo . Though anchoring is solo is less stressful than coming onto a marina alone.

Paddy on Conachair
11-08-2009 11:57 AM
micksbuddy If you have a boat with a below deck autopilot, it might not be a bad idea to install a wheel auto pilot as well(they're pretty reasonably priced). It'll give you a back up in case one or the other fails, and wheel auto pilots typically use less juice, good if you have the boat balanced well and/or are sailing in conditions that don't require a lot of force on the rudder to maintain course.
11-08-2009 09:01 AM
Tanny Hi again everyone,

As far as I can tell from my research and your great posts to my question, it's possible to singlehand a 34-40 foot boat without autopilot or roller furlings - as long as you have the sailing skills, a fearless personality and a harness.

There are advantages to head sail furlers, such as raising the sail without leaving the helm and no need to find below deck storage for the sail - something for a live-aboard to consider.

Negative issues with furling systems are more maintenance, UV protection for the furled sail, and difficulty setting a storm jib. These negatives can be overcome at a cost.

So for me, until I become a skilled, fearless sailor - I'll be using a below deck autopilot, furled headsails with a good system such as ProFurl, Schaefer or Furlex, a self-tending jib, and a gale sail that can be set around a furled headsail. Oh - and also a harness for every time I step out of the cockpit, of course.

Great discussion - Thanks everyone!
This thread has more than 10 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome