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post #1 of 47 Old 02-17-2019 Thread Starter
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Making it easier to solo sail.

So I've been spending the past few weeks since buying my Mac 22 coming up with a list of parts I need to make it work. I've also been making a few pieces here and there to make it easier for me. Today I finished a mast crutch for transport. I took a pipe, welded some tabs to it, drilled some holes so that it fits on the rudder posts and then I added a roller to the top to catch the mast. Works perfectly and looks good. I'll take a picture of it and post it once I get a chance. Started working on the outboard that came with it and found out what I need to make that work.
All that's neither here nor there.
So here's what I wanted to talk about. How to make it easier to solo sail. Anything that makes it easier makes it more efficient and safer, so far as I'm concerned. I'll be adding a deck organizer to help control the halyards. I'm wanting to be able to raise and lower the sails from the cockpit instead of having to go forward. Not a problem with someone on the helm. Bit of an undertaking single handed though. Hence my desire for a deck organizer. I'll add whatever blocks I need, none of that is a problem. The problem comes to what to do with the halyards after they come back to the cockpit. I can't afford those really nice lever clutches. Would regular cam cleats be enough? I don't have a spinnaker yet just main, jib, and head sails. I was looking at the Harken 150 cam cleat.

Also, any recommendations would be much appreciated. Once I get that deck organizer situated, what I'm thinking is a pair of mesh pockets to catch the lines and keep them out of the way.

My next project is leak chasing. I've mapped out where most of the leaks are. Usual culprits, windows, holes where old deck hardware was, leaky current hardware. I'll be replacing the windows, filling some holes and rebedding some loose hardware. I picked up some Thixo epoxy. I don't have a lot of holes to fill and it's cheaper than buying epoxy and something to thicken it with. The previous owner filled some holes with silicone, so I'll be drilling that out to clean it out then filling it, sanding and painting it.

Oh! I finally got the title transferred. Lady at the TPWD let me register the boat cheap! In and out in no time. I really like our local office. She was great. Now if I can just get the trailer registered then I'd be set.

Last edited by Locke; 02-17-2019 at 11:55 PM.
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post #2 of 47 Old 02-18-2019
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Re: Making it easier to solo sail.

Hey, thanks for sharing the experience. It sounds like you have really enjoyed. Hope your trailer gets registered soon.
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post #3 of 47 Old 02-18-2019
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Re: Making it easier to solo sail.

My halyards run aft to my cabin top for single handing. I just have standard nylon cleats. Sturdy enough, no maintenance and won't slip.

My halyards run aft to my cabin top on the starboard side and my reefing lines are in the same place on the port side, so I can stand at my companionway holding my tiller extension, raise and lower sails and reef.
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Re: Making it easier to solo sail.

IMO the main thing you need is a electric auto pilot , like this one .

All lines to the cockpit is a fun project . Starting with a block at the base of the mast then to the deck organizer and then to a fair lead jamb cleat .

Good luck and keep us posted , Mark .

Westsail 28 , Patricia A

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post #6 of 47 Old 02-18-2019
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Re: Making it easier to solo sail.

Originally Posted by Locke View Post
The problem comes to what to do with the halyards after they come back to the cockpit. I can't afford those really nice lever clutches. Would regular cam cleats be enough? I don't have a spinnaker yet just main, jib, and head sails.
For a boat that size you can use the small clutches. A few years ago I got this triple on eBay for $110, and I just picked up a double for $40 that I'll be putting on this spring.

I have a couple extra lines (thus the double I picked up) that I've been running to cam cleats and I gotta say that kinda sucks. The Lewmar clutch is much, much nicer!

With the lines run back to the cockpit and the Davis tiller tamer I have no problem single-handing my 22' boat.

Catalina 22
on a starboard tack
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post #7 of 47 Old 02-18-2019
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Re: Making it easier to solo sail.

Boats that size are pretty easy to set up for single-handing and it doesn't have to be all that expensive either. I personally like using cam cleats on a boat that size since they can be released from the aft end of the cockpit, They work best if they are mounted on a riser and close to the aft end of the cabin so you can pull the line down into the cleat. Harken 150's should work fine. I would get the Harken fairlead for the 150's (part no 425) so the lines remain near the cam. On a bigger boat I prefer line locks (and strongly prefer Spinlocks over Lewmars), but they are a real pain in the butt on a trailerable boat since the line has to be run through the locks every time you raise and lower the mast.

On a boat that size I like to use a line hanger to stow the line such as the RF6010C by Ronstan that come in pairs for $7. On the other hand, more often than not, when single-handing, I simply coiled the line in a figure 8 to avoid hackles, and carefully set on the quarter berth below.

There is no doubt that an autopilot is a nice thing to have, but frankly they are unnecessary on boats under about 30 feet, unless you are doing a lot of long passages. Over my sailing life I have had five different 25 footers, a few smaller boats and a few larger boats, all that had tiller up until my current boat. I single-handed them all, but only my current boat has an autopilot. With a tiller it is pretty easy to stick the tiller between your legs and steer by leaning from side to side while you have both hands free to do what ever you need to, or to steer with a foot on the tiller when you are sitting down. Tiller extensions greatly extend the ability to make adjustments while you move about the cockpit. Store bought tiller extensions are very nice but they have gotten quite expensive. But you can buy the hinge for as little as $11-12 for something like a Harken 7102, or something a little nicer like a Forespar 104006 for less than $20. You can make the extension out of PVC or Aluminum tubing with a crutch tip or bicycle handle on the opposite end so you don't mar the boat if it hits something.

You do need to be able to walk away from the tiller at times. I typically rigged a piece of shockchord (bungy) pretty tightly across the whole width if the cockpit just a few inches aft of the end of the tiller. I would take a 2-4 wraps of the shock chord around the end of the tiller. That would hold it roughly in one position, I could turn the shockchord wraps around the end of the tiller and pretty precisely adjust the position of the tiller until the boat held a straight course. The nice thing about shock chord was that if you needed to change course quickly, you could simply swing the tiller without bothering to take it off and more often than not the tiller would return to the same position once you had the boat back on course.

I typically cross-sheeted the jib sheets, running the jib sheet from the leeward winch across the boat to the windward winch so I could sit to windward where I could see and still be able to make adjustments.

But the main thing is finding where to stand and learning the rhythm of the boat in each maneuver.

Just take your time, it will all sort out.

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Re: Making it easier to solo sail.

This is an article that I wrote for Spinsheet a few years ago that might also be helpful:


For most of us, one of the joys of sailing is spending quality time with family, friends and crewmates, so, it is easy to think, ‘Why would I want to single-hand my boat?’ That is until ‘that day’. You know ‘that day’. It’s the day that you go down to the boat, the temperature and winds are perfect for a sail, but you are alone and can’t find anyone to play with. And suddenly the idea of soloing does not seem so unappealing except you have never done it, and it seems impossible as your boat is set-up.

While there are boats which are more ideally set-up to single-hand and boats that harder to sail short-handed, there are very few boats, which cannot be sailed single-handed with some careful thinking, a bit of preparation and a little practice.

The process of starting to single-hand begins at the dock with sails not set, but with the traveler control lines, mainsheet and jib sheets run to their normal positions and all of the sail control lines run normally. Standing near the helm, with a notepad in hand, think through and list each step of doing the more common maneuvers; leaving the dock, raising sails, tacking, jibing and coming back into the dock. List each step in each maneuver in the order that they would normally be performed when there is crew onboard.

In doing so, it may seem like there will be tasks that appear to need to be performed almost simultaneously and as such, will require you to be in multiple distant places at once. Think about which of those tasks may performed slightly ahead of the other, how much time can lapse between one task and the next, and what could be done to allow those tasks to occur more rapidly, and then at the dock, walk through them a step at a time

For example, when practicing leaving the dock in a cross breeze you can try releasing all of the leeward lines and only have a windward, bow, spring and stern line attached. Then experiment, perhaps removing the spring line and pulling the boat up to the windward side of the slip with the bowline. With the bowline still cleated, let go of the bowline, walk aft to stern line perhaps stowing the spring line as you go and to see whether you can get the stern line off the cleat before the bow line snugs up. This will provide a sense of how long you have to do that task.

If you find that there is adequate time, you have figured out a plausible process to safely get out of the slip. If there is not adequate time, then more preparation will be important. Lines should be rigged with eyes on the boat end so that they can be quickly be removed or dropped onto cleats. If you are of the mindset that a boat should be tied up so that line length can be adjusted from onboard, then these might only be light weight 3-strand lines that are only used when leaving and arriving at the dock until the permanent lines are reattached.

Rigging a taut line between the slips, might provide a way to pull the boat back up to windward or control the longitudinal position of the boat as you walk aft to the stern line. Hanging a short loop of line on the line between the slip gives a line that can be quickly dropped over a cleat or winch to buy a little time by preventing the boat from falling off to leeward on the way into the slip.

Similarly, while still in the slip, walk through sailing maneuvers. Look at how you move during that maneuver and how you might change where you position your body or the sequence of the

maneuver. You might try standing between the helm, and the control lines during a maneuver rather than your more typical position at the helm. It may mean adjusting the traveler for the next tack before putting the helm down to start the tack and then breaking the leeward jib sheet early to provide time to move to the new working sheet. It means coiling lines with figure 8’s to make sure that they are free to run reliably.

Preparation may include adding locking winch handles so that the handle can be placed in the winch before the tack taking one more step out of the tack. On a tiller boat it may mean adding a length of heavy shockchord that is run across the cockpit at the end of the tiller and which can be looped several times around the end of the tiller to hold it in a chosen position. The loops can be rotated around the end of the tiller to make fine adjustments and shockchord allows a quick adjustment in course without releasing it.

When you think you have it all figured out, go out and try it all with an observer on board. Go through each maneuver single-handed. (Programs like CHESSS’s Solo+one are a source of observers who are experienced single-handers The observer is only there to help you if something does not go as planned and to watch each maneuver and make suggestions on how they might be performed more easily. Don’t be in a rush to solo and do not rush to make large changes to your boat. The more you practice even with people on board, the better your techniques will become and the more natural single-handing your boat will seem, so that ultimately when ‘that day’ happens again, it will only be just another day on the water.
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post #9 of 47 Old 02-18-2019
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Re: Making it easier to solo sail.

You've received lots of great technical advice. So, the only thing I'd add is that when you're sailing solo, think out your moves ahead of time and take your time. There are really few times when you'd need to rush anything. One of the 1st things I'd practice is heaving-to, to stop the boat. Nothing has to be hurried, if you have enough sea room. Just take your time. Things break and accidents happen when you rush. Have Fun with your new toy!
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post #10 of 47 Old 02-19-2019
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Re: Making it easier to solo sail.

I have cam cleats on my traveler lines, but when the sail is loaded up (which is much bigger than yours), it's really hard to release from the clutch and oh-help-me if I accidentally release the line before I get it jammed in again. For the rest of the lines in the cockpit, I was able to find some really nice, used Antal clutches at the local chandlery for a fraction of new. It helped to be able to look closely at them before buying as some had stresses in which it looked like this might cause them to break. For a single clutch that might have gone for $140 new, I got them for $20. A couple are triples (~$60-75) that might have cost more than $200 new. It's really nice to have good clutches that don't cause my halyards to slip.

One other tip (in addition to getting an autopilot) is to make sure you are happy with and can easily use the reefing system. Singlehanding means not getting over-powered like you can with crew on the rail. It is not as efficient sailing, but that's kinda not the point.
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