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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 10-16-2003
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Single handing

Prior to a 100 miler single handed race on L. Michigan, a number of us single handers were discussing the use of safety harnesses. One well respected, and experienced singlehander said he did not use one because, in his opinion, once you go over, forget it - your chances of reboarding are slim. Indeed he was supported by the death of a L. Michigan singlehander the year before who had been found dead, tethered overboard to his beached yacht.

In thinking this over, it would seem to me that the most likely time to go over is when on the fordeck. If one goes over and is tethered, one will only be able to progress sternward as far as the first lower. If you fall over on the high side, forget it - you will never get aboard. On the leeward side you might climb back aboard, but in any kind of wind you will be fighting a lot of bow wave etc.

If you have used a tether, you are undoubtedly aware of what a pain they are, and even sometimes they cause as many problems as they seem to solve. I know that I have often times gotten fouled up in my tether making my trip up on deck more difficult and longer lasting than needed and putting the boat in peril longer than necessary.

Going back to the guy found tethered and dead. He fell over during a mid September race. L Michigan water temp is usually fairly mild that time of year. He concievably could have survived 12 hours before hypothermea set in. Attached to his boat he may have got beat to death against the hull. Unattached he may have washed up on shore alive, as his boat did.

I confess that in calm conditions I will go up on deck unthethered. As things get rougher, I do use my tether, but I am not always sure it really helps, since it makes working on deck so much harder. For long distances I run a line outside of everything from stem to stern that hangs a foot or two below the rail on both sides. I use two tethers thinking (hoping) if I do go over on the fore deck, I can attach the 2nd tether to the stem/stern line and cut the other tether. I would, then, of course, still have a fight to get back aboard once I reached my stern boarding ladders. I feel a scuba divers knife on one''s leg provides a good method to cut a tether. One must have knife that can be accessed and used with one hand.
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Old 10-16-2003
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Single handing

Hmm....I''ve thought about this more than a few times. I singlehand often. n agree with most posted by Irwin32

I think if I was in a race like that I think I would always try and tether myself on the upwind/high side of the boat I would think with gravity I would always fall downward. But I would do 4(maybe 5) things.

1) I would always wear a self inflating lifevest w/harness with a Very good/Very bright strobe.

2) I would carry a very sharp knife at all times - No excuses.

3) I would carry a high quality waterproof small VHF at all times - No excuses. Most places if you see a boat you might be able to hail someone

4) I would have a side ladder that I could open by activating in the water.. and "try" to climb back on

Possibly # 5) I would trail a very long but small diameter line behind the boat at all times, that I could grab to maybe get back on board.

If I was caught over the side and getting drowned by being dragged in the water, I would cut my tether and hope to still hang on the boat or grab the line being trailed on the boat. If not hope to survive enough hours to hail someone or get somewhere.
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Old 11-29-2003
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Single handing

Having done a serious amount of single handed sailing, my last to Bermuda for my sixtieth birthday I would like to tell you what method I use as I too do not want to be dragged to my death. Simple solution is to use a spare halyard. Now I know it doesnt give you the freedom of the entire boat but it has kept me out of trouble more than once.
Capt. Bruce Gregory http://ipsailor.com
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Old 11-29-2003
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Single handing

Bruce, that''s ingenious! KISS in action.
Thanks,Marc
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Old 11-29-2003
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Single handing

I really like the halyard idea and will try it as soon as springtime rolls around.

I use a single jackline that runs down the center of the boat. I have a double teather (3 & 6 ft) and generaly use the 3 ft length. My boat has a 10 ft beam so the 3 feet means I can reach everything from the center of the boat. I run out of jackline as I reach the bow so it would be tough to get thrown over. I do run a risk as I clip on the 6ft section and unclip the 3 ft section if I need to get around something.

As for getting stuck hanging over the side, my tether has a snap shackle that can be opened. I also wear an inflatable PFD/harness, carry a knife and ALWAYS have my waterproof VHF attached to my body or in a pocket. I do this when single handing, when I am the only person on board who can handle my boat and heavy weather regardless.

I also wrap the jackline once around the base of the mast to reduce stretch.

Be Safe,
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Old 11-30-2003
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Single handing

I agree with everything that has been said and would like to add one rule that we ALWAYS follow. If single handing or the only person topside, when it is necessary to leave the cockpit, we hove-to (especially in rough seas). This is a rule my wife and I used and we rarely lost more than 5-10 minutes which is nothing when you consider the alternative.
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Old 11-30-2003
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Single handing

I posted this message on the gear and maint. board also but I thought it might be pertinent for other readers of this board to get feedback on harness choices...

I will be replacing my manual inflatable PFD/Harness with an automatic PFD/Harness this XMASS (thank you Santa)

I currently use SOSpenders. Does anyone have information as to which is better, Mustang or SOSpenders or others?

Also as to SOS they make two models, one is a Westmarine model and a little more expensive than the SOSpenders model. Any idea why or if one is better then the other?

I went to both websites but it wasn''t much help picking a winner

Thanks,
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Old 12-02-2003
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Single handing

Last year enroute to Bermuda during a gale I got so wet my SOSpenders auto inflatable did just that and scared the living shirt out of me. I havent replaced the cartridge yet and I am not sure I am going to.
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Old 12-03-2003
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Single handing

We had Bruce''s experience twice aboard WHOOSH...but in truth, both times the dissolveable disk that allows the spring to activate the bottle had received no visual inspection nor routinely been changed out. We purchased a handfull of these disks, which were pretty cheap, and now do a replacement annually on a ''whether it needs it or not'' basis. Obviously, should the bottle blow in lousy conditions you''re given two lousy choices: rooting around in lockers for at least a new air bottle when you may need to be topside...or going without the protection you thought you needed.

BTW both our bottles blew in dry conditions on nice days. If I''d just done a simple visual inspection, I probably would have noticed the disk beginning to fail.

Jack
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Old 04-13-2004
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Single handing

I am thinking of single handing for the first time on an offshore passage (have done some coastal solo runs already and plenty of short handed ones both coastal and offshore) Any advice?
Barb
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