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post #31 of 50 Old 11-19-2017
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Re: Singlehanding

Like many others here, have been single-handing my C&C 29 for ten years. Even when others onboard, I find it easier to do it myself. The exception being another skilled sailor.
I have Hank on headsail, no lazy jacks, wheel steering, and lines lead aft.
Point up in gear, idling. Main first always. Sheet in. Jib up. Bear off, enjoy sailing.
Down a little more fun. Sails rarely drop fully over 8 knots, so I'm heading forward. Jib sheet taught, main loose. Point up back winding jib slightly. Blow both halyards. Go foredeck, get jib to the deck. Then the main down.
Back to cockpit/bridge deck lash main. If winds up, don't worry about flaking, just lash to boom. Up to foredeck and lash down jib as with much wind she will try to raise on her own.
Would a roller furled be easier, of course. Lazy jacks, yes. I find neither a must have. Auto pilot, actually have one. It helps, but I can get sails up or down quite quickly and most of the time, I forget to set it.
Knowing your own boat is the key. How fast she'll fall off or turn up? How she'll react to various weather conditions. Go out in light conditions (deal calm then 4-8 knots) and get comfortable being all over her. Always be teathered when not in the cockpit. Get the feel of her, foredeck, below, cockpit, sails down, sails up.
Then work your way up condition wise till you're comfortable heading out on most sane days.
Learn your sails. Most boats will self-steer to some point. Learn to balance your boat till she'll sail herself. I'll do to some point every time out. Probably the most satisfaction I get when I'm out alone and she's sailing herself. Many times I'll sit ahead of the helm with a sheet in hand and make adjustments to the sails to adjust course.
When other sailors aboard, I'll make a challenge. The loser buys a round. Can you keep her sailing without touching the helm for 15 minutes, 30, or longer. Or how long can you keep her sailing without touching any controls? No sailor likes to be out done. LOL.
One long time sailor friend (85 years old) knew I did this on my boat. So when he joined me on my boat for the first time, he tweeked her sails for must have been 20 minutes before she hit her groove. He kicked back, played with his iPhone for next nearly 30 minutes. Who needs auto pilot?
Sorry. Got off on a tangent. The key is start out slow, get to know her and get comfortable on her in all conditions. The satisfaction is beyond words.
The alternative is paying for a marina condo with six inches of growth on the bottom.


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post #32 of 50 Old 11-19-2017
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Re: Singlehanding

Good points Bob. It's just that it's so much easier to sail with or without crew with roller a furling headsail, lazy jacks and some form of self steering.

None of the four boats I've owned have been able to self steer except hard on the wind and a couple of those wouldn't do it even then. Once the wind is a bit free, the only way to have a hope of selfsteering was to seriously cripple performance. If you have a boat that can be set up to take care of itself off the wind, more power to you.

Last edited by roverhi; 11-19-2017 at 02:30 PM.
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post #33 of 50 Old 11-20-2017
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Re: Singlehanding

It's all been covered already, it's a matter of practicing your boat. I've been single handing a North Star 26 for five years. Hank on jib, no lazy jacks, halyards on the mast. It was a complete sh*t show at times, but now my guests seem to think I know what I'm doing.

A few useful points:
-Never stay home when you could be sailing. Never.
-You don't have to be into the wind to raise the main, but the sail blowing into the rigging isn't great for the sail.
-When the jib clew gets to flapping stay clear, it WILL leave a mark.
-Don't forget the winch handle when you go forward.
-Tieing the tiller off works. But...
-Life is just better on so many levels with a tiller pilot.
-When the sea state is frisky, real men tether.
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Last edited by PhilCarlson; 11-20-2017 at 02:31 PM.
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post #34 of 50 Old 11-22-2017
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Re: Singlehanding

Have singlehanded our Catalina 22 Sport many times over the years out of necessity and agree w/previous comments about always wearing a PFD (duh!), roller furling (only because you can stay in the cockpit) and a tiller lock (have used lines/sheets/bungees in a pinch, but plan to install a real one next year). Don't have lazy jacks (would be helpful in dousing the main), but am able to drop the aft-end of the boom down into the cockpit and use sail ties or bungees to control the sail until I'm back in the slip.

To me, actually sailing singlehanded is a whole lot easier than getting in and out of the slip singlehanded. Mistakes out on the water may bruise my ego, but usually don't damage my boat the way docks, pilings, other boats, etc., can. Even with a motor, the process of casting off lines when leaving and tying up when returning can be problematic, particularly in a stiff breeze. The boat doesn't just set still and wait for you, and every wind direction (and speed) presents a different set of challenges. You can end up sideways in your slip before you know it (don't ask).

I haven't completely solved this one yet, but have learned that it's absolutely critical to think and re-think the process through (several times) and plan ahead so you have everything you need (e.g., dock lines) or might need (e.g., anchor) where you need it. It's also important to have a back-up plan in case things don't go as planned (as they often do). For example, if your motor conks out you better be able to get your sails up or your anchor down in a hurry.

That's all I know. Looking forward to tips from other singlehanders.
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post #35 of 50 Old 11-22-2017
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Re: Singlehanding

My biggest challenge is picking up a mooring singlehanded. I haven't broken down and tried backing up to it yet. I did manage to get the keel hung up on the mooring chain once. That was fun.

(I'm reluctant to practice backing up to the mooring because I don't want to have to rely on techniques that require an operating engine).

Last edited by -OvO-; 11-22-2017 at 10:59 AM.
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post #36 of 50 Old 11-22-2017
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Re: Singlehanding

One quick thought - strongly suggest you don't tether yourself to the boat with a climbing harness. I suspect if you went over you would find yourself being dragged more or less upside-down due to the force of the water on your torso. A sailing harness clips you in from a much higher point on your chest.
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post #37 of 50 Old 11-22-2017
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Re: Singlehanding

Reading through, I find some of the tales quite fun to recount, and have never had issues single-handed with the years I had my Excalibur 26.

Hank on head sail, and no lines aft. However, I did have a block near the base of the mast, so I would run the main haylard through it for lowering. But to raise it, I would leave the main sheet loose, and rest my mast on the lifeline (no topping lift, no kicker). I'd point the bow into the wind with the motor, and jump onto the cabin top, and yank up the haylard. It was very rare that the boat would turn out fast enough that I couldn't get it up and secured before needing to readjust course. I found the slower I was going, the easier it was, so I would basically idle away. I can't think of a time I ever actually tied off the tiller to raise or lower anything though. Maybe I did once?

Once the main was up and secured, I would make sure I was still heading up. The head sail, I would already have on deck, hanked on but bunched into the sail bag. So all I had to do, was jump on deck, pull the bag off, and then hoist it from the mast and secure it. Then pop back down, bear away and sheet everything in.

Lowering was similar. I would release the sheets on the head sail as I turn up, drop the halyard and run up, stuffing the sail either back into the bag, or worst case, lashing it down to the pulpit with a bungee cord. Run back, make sure I'm heading up even slightly, and drop the main. I wouldn't flake it nice and neat on the way down, but just tie it off in the meantime. I'd straighten after I got to the dock.

A tiller tamer or pilot would certainly be easier, but it was by no means hard after practicing a little bit. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become. I will say though, that I rarely headed out single handed in anything 15-20 knots or more. Once on the water, or with them up, it's fine, but usually if I was expecting good wind, I had someone with me to enjoy the ride too.

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post #38 of 50 Old 11-22-2017 Thread Starter
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Re: Singlehanding

Originally Posted by danvon View Post
One quick thought - strongly suggest you don't tether yourself to the boat with a climbing harness. I suspect if you went over you would find yourself being dragged more or less upside-down due to the force of the water on your torso. A sailing harness clips you in from a much higher point on your chest.
Good point. Speaking from a place of zero experience, but it seems like if you go overboard, your tether was too long in the first place, no? Chances of getting back onboard if you go over whilst singlehanding, regardless of harness type, sure seem pretty low. Again, though, I know nothing. Set me straight if I'm wrong.

On a more upbeat note, I HAVE singlehanded since starting this thread, and it went great, largely because of all the great tips and helpful folks here. Thanks so much!


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post #39 of 50 Old 11-26-2017
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Re: Singlehanding

If you send me your email address I can try to send you a book I downloaded that is the best source of single handed sailing info I have seen.
Before offering I checked the web address where I got it from and it did not work. I will look around some more and see if I can find it as the whole book might be too big to email.
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post #40 of 50 Old 11-27-2017
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Re: Singlehanding

Most email services have a 2GB-10GB size cap, which is way larger than any ebook I've met. If you've got a size problem, you can always open something like a free DropBox account and upload to that, where the other person can log in for free as well, to download it. After that's done, just wipe it, problems solved.

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