Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Oslo, Norway
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I sailed a 37 ft gaff rigged ketch with topsails and three jibs, for 8 years (until it sank in the bay of Biscay1.December this year) single handed. But it helps a lot having an autopilot. The ship reached hull speed (7,5 knots) with around 25 knots wind-speed. Then it is time to reduce the sail area. If sailing against the wind, I took down the jibs first then topsails, if the sailing with the wind the topsails came down first, then the jibs, if the wind increased above 25 knots. The first jib went down anyway when the wind was more than 20 knots.
The topsails are the trickiest to get down, so lazy-jacks are a must. If the wind was weak, under 6 knots, and the current strong, then I would need help from the engine to bout the ship.
Bouting (is that the proper word for turning ship?) must be taken in steps, first steer the ship directly in the wind, tighten the sheets on both sides, the steer to the course and release the sheets on the wind side and tighten on the lee side. Single handed that may be difficult without an autopilot, depending of course on the size and weight of the ship.
Use your head, ram the wall till it falls.