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Vagabond in Training
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Discussion Starter #1
I had my first single-handing experience a few weeks ago. Not much to say other than what you might expect, it was extremely empowering. I started sailing about 3 years ago with a basic keelboat course on a reservoir in Colorado and we've been the proud owners of a Wauquiez Pretorien for just over 2 years.

Docking was the one task I wanted to avoid solo. I had my husband sail out of town with me on Friday night to Friday Harbor, WA so he could help me dock to clear customs. We anchored that night and the next morning I touch-and-go dropped him at the dock and headed out across the Strait to Port Townsend, WA.

Details on our blog: SV Estrellita 5.10b: Single handing

The feeling of using the lines to un-dock by myself, the terror of navigating in the fog (run down to check radar, run up and blow horn and look around, run down to check radar...), the surprising ease of solo anchoring (at least in a large harbor), and being completely in charge of the boat.

It was way cool. The more I mention it to other women the more I realize how many women haven't single handed their boat. If you want to, you really should. It's super fun.
 

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Well done! I would love it if my wife would get to that same level of confidence, but I don't want to push. Especially with docking: I've had her try docking a few times on calm days, and most of the time it was necessary for me to do some fending-off... I think she's scared to try again. Any advice?
 

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Vagabond in Training
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Discussion Starter #3
Seriously, docking is the scariest thing you can do at one mile per hour IMHO. I would be scared-excited to be single handing our boat in 25 knots of wind and a chop. I am scared-unhappy docking in a tight/awkward spot in 5 knots. That said, I'm getting better at it and I keep doing it because I'm stubborn and a perfectionist.

Our method right now is for the captain to talk through each docking to the deck monkey (as we call that role) including a brief on what we expect the wind to do to us. The deck monkey's job is to provide honest feedback on the plan. Of course, the wind may change in the marina and the captain may have to alter. This way though, both people are learning about docking by talking through the conditions even when they are the deck monkey.

Perhaps you could start by keeping her as deck monkey but asking her to talk you through a plan. Then maybe next step could be to ask a third person to come aboard as a deck monkey and you (after talking through a plan with her) guide her through the docking (her on the wheel, you talking).

Everyone's relationships are different but in my limited experience I see a lot of couples punishing the behaviors they want in the other person and rewarding the behaviors they don't want. Doesn't make a lot of sense when you think it through - basic learning theory right?

When she docked the boat, after you fended off and tied lines, did you smile a huge smile, yell "WOOHOO!" and go give her a big hug and tell her how proud of her you were for trying? and how any docking where everyone is alive and the boat is hole-free is a success? and emphasize what she did right? and then later, when the adrenaline went down, did you ask her if she wanted any suggestions (and if she says "no" or "not right now" you let it be)?

Or did you get a panicked look on your face, yell something directive, then immediately get on your knees to see if she scratched the hull and finally ask her what she was thinking when she turned so early/late?
 

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Telstar 28
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Nicely done Livia... :)
 

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Go Livia! Well done!
 

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I had my first single-handing experience a few weeks ago. Not much to say other than what you might expect, it was extremely empowering. I started sailing about 3 years ago with a basic keelboat course on a reservoir in Colorado and we've been the proud owners of a Wauquiez Pretorien for just over 2 years.

Docking was the one task I wanted to avoid solo. I had my husband sail out of town with me on Friday night to Friday Harbor, WA so he could help me dock to clear customs. We anchored that night and the next morning I touch-and-go dropped him at the dock and headed out across the Strait to Port Townsend, WA.

Details on our blog: SV Estrellita 5.10b: Single handing

The feeling of using the lines to un-dock by myself, the terror of navigating in the fog (run down to check radar, run up and blow horn and look around, run down to check radar...), the surprising ease of solo anchoring (at least in a large harbor), and being completely in charge of the boat.

It was way cool. The more I mention it to other women the more I realize how many women haven't single handed their boat. If you want to, you really should. It's super fun.
NICE!

It reminded me of the way my wife single handed the first time - she towed me along behind in the dingy! I never said a word to her. Didn't even watch, much.
But in the end single handing that way was enough for her. She felt like she had done it all by herself and that's the important thing.

I love single handing. Mrs Selkirk has pretty much retired from sailing, and her love of being around the house meshes nicely with my love of single handing.:)

It's funny how the difference between two people can work to result in such resonance.;)
 

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It's a worrisome matter for most, male, or female the first time. WOW ...... what feeling once you are back to the dock..

The first time I went out it was an ordeal. We use to drop the sails at the entrance to the channel. Nobody was there to keep the bow in the wind. She kept falling off in 20+knots. I thought, well sail her into the marina where it is calmer. I got inside the marina, and suddenly everything looked so CONFINED! I was getting nervous trying to figure my next move. While thinking there was my slip in plain view. I squeaked the wind as tight as I could, and sailed into the slip with the motor idling in nuetral. I nudged the dock gently, stepped off the boat, and tied her up. It was nerve racking, but there was no stopping me after that.....CONGRADULATIONS on a great step forward, and BEST WISHES in improving your boat handling skills!.......i2f
 

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When she docked the boat, after you fended off and tied lines, did you smile a huge smile, yell "WOOHOO!" and go give her a big hug and tell her how proud of her you were for trying? ...

Or did you get a panicked look on your face, yell something directive, then immediately get on your knees to see if she scratched the hull and finally ask her what she was thinking when she turned so early/late?
I would like to exercise my Fifth Amendment rights here.

Although to be fair I was the deck monkey and I was really more concerned about the larger, significantly more expensive boat in the neighboring slip.

We had a day of docking practice with her and one of my regular crew. She actually did a reasonably good job (some deck monkeying required) and I feel like I rewarded her with a quantity of praise proportional in magnitude and sincerity to the degree of success she produced (which is what I would expect from my own instructor). Was that not the right approach? I will try the big smile and hug method next time, if you think it will boost her confidence.
 

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Adam—

One way to have her build up some confidence is to have her practice close quarters maneuvering with some buoys or other relatively harmless floating objects....kind of like learning to parallel park a car using traffic cones. :)
 

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thinking of this...
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I had my first single-handing experience a few weeks ago. Not much to say other than what you might expect, it was extremely empowering. I started sailing about 3 years ago with a basic keelboat course on a reservoir in Colorado and we've been the proud owners of a Wauquiez Pretorien for just over 2 years.
Congratulations, Livia.

I will always remember my first single handing sail.
 

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Crazy Woman Boat Driver
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I am so proud of you in your quest to single hand your boat. Congratulation!
Docking is scary at best and downright heart attack at worse for every sailor. To make docking as uneventful as possible I do a few things first.
First I set up my docklines whether on the dock or on the boat so I can easily get to them. I also color code my docklines. Since the springline is the most important both of mine are RED. That way there is no miscommunication with any helpers as to which line to grab first. My bow lines are gold and stern lines are white. This helps with anyone not familiar with boat terminology. I cannot tell you how important this color code helps out to prevent miscommunication with the end result in getting the right line in the right place. Always put the springline first. Learn how to spring your boat into the dock.
Second is to plan on every docking situation. I break it down into four phases; initial approach, turn into the slip, once in the slip and escape plan if the plan isn't working. All docking situations have to take into account the slip/dock environment, wind, current, freeboard of the boat, turning capabilities of the boat, prop walk, and what is the boat going to do once the boat stops. If the docking situation is new and/or going to be difficult due to any of the above, I had a dry board where I draw out all three phases to give a clear idea of what I need to do during each phase of docking. This helps me for two reasons. One is I have thoroughly though out the process and wrote it down. I draw the docking environment, with wind direction along with the current direction. Writing down the plan than helps because as the docking process starts, anxiety takes over and tunnel vision with thought process can start. Looking at the plan brings me back to what I need to be doing when I get overwhelmed. In addition, with crew members everyone has a clear idea of how the docking is going to take place and what their duties are.
I cannot emphasis how important it is to know how your boat handles under power. Power exercises is so important to do like MOB drills. Here is my power drills.
Spinning the boat both starboard and port. Know how to spin your boat within its own length or shortest distance. Prop walk can be your best friend here. By giving bust of throttle in forward and reverse one can usually turn the boat within it own length.
Backing your boat. Start with S-turns both to right and left doing each at least 300 feet. Do them also starting in different wind and current angles. I practice using my docking orientation taking into account wind and current. I know how the boat will handle exactly now.
Do circles backwards with your boat to port and starboard.
Final drill is starting from a standstill from 4 different directions (90 degrees) using wind direction as the starting point. Notice how the boat drifts, how much room it takes to get boat moving into the direction going with the wind and against. This shows how the boat will behave in tight quarters.
Hope this helps.
As always plans are made to be broken. Be flexible and adjust accordingly.
 

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Melissa: those sound like some really good drills to practice. I think we'll set aside a day to try some of them out.
 

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Vagabond in Training
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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Thanks everyone!

I would like to exercise my Fifth Amendment rights here.

...

I feel like I rewarded her with a quantity of praise proportional in magnitude and sincerity to the degree of success she produced (which is what I would expect from my own instructor). Was that not the right approach?
HA!

Certainly I wouldn't advocate praise not in magnitude for success, but to keep in mind that there are two possible successes here: the technical aspects of docking and the trying of something that is scary/new/difficult that the person may have screwed up royally before.

I think a hug and smile at least are warranted if the person helming (or whatever) is persevering in the face of previous failure at something they find scary/new/difficult. You don't have to tell them they docked perfectly if they didn't...but you can be really proud of them for continuing to go for it.
 

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Vagabond in Training
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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks Melissa! I love the idea of colored dock lines. Brilliant. We use the 4 normal lines but also run a line from our winch which the deck monkey cleats off first to a cleat aft of the stern and then we use power to push into that line and bring the beam against the dock. Then, all other lines can be cleated at our leisure. The other lines are, of course, also ready on the lifelines if we need them for any other contingency. Drawing it out is something I'm going to borrow if I have new/different crew.
 

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Crazy Woman Boat Driver
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We use the 4 normal lines but also run a line from our winch which the deck monkey cleats off first to a cleat aft of the stern and then we use power to push into that line and bring the beam against the dock. .
I take it you don't have a midship cleat?
 

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Vagabond in Training
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Discussion Starter #17
I take it you don't have a midship cleat?
Alas, no. For an otherwise superbly designed boat, it is an odd thing to not have. We could always put one in but we don't plan on being marina-folk as much after next year.
 

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I'd recommend adding one in any case, since they're very useful for rafting up and many other things. :)
Alas, no. For an otherwise superbly designed boat, it is an odd thing to not have. We could always put one in but we don't plan on being marina-folk as much after next year.
 

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For me;
First solo in Cherub (12' dinghy) out of river into Bay. Age 12.

First yacht - 30' - into bay in good breeze.

Now I go a little further.

Neither of us wish now to go solo - we want the other one to be there for the nice times/ things to share etc. However, I think its necessary for each of us to be able to handle the boat solo.

Yada Yada - just do it if you want to!!
 
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