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I've been reading a lot lately about learning to sail, and have found myself visualizing the techniques, etc. I know many people single-hand somewhat large boats, and am very much interested in making this a focus of my learning (eventually - I'm not crazy). It seems that, during a tack or gybe, that there is a lot to do - two headsail sheets to contend with, adjusting the mainsheet to keep from smacking the boom, keeping the tiller moving smoothly through the tack, and many more depending on the circumstances. I don't want to learn singlehanding by relying on electronic systems and automatic mechanisms - I want to sail a simple boat! (Not to mention, that's what I've bought).

So I was wondering if anyone would like to describe some of these basic procedures as they manage them:confused: singlehandedly... it seems that all of the basic books want me to learn only how each crewmember would do their job, and the books I've seen on singlehanding focus more on advanced subjects. How in the world does one man slack the lee sheet, prepare the windward sheet, and manage the boom, all while still holding a tiller and paying attention to the speed/progress of the helm through the tack?

Thanks all!

-Dave
'74 Coronado 23 MkII
 

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Telstar 28
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If you're really having a problem, you can always setup your jib as a self-tending jib.. This eliminates the ability to use a genoa, but then you wouldn't have to deal with the jib during a tack at all.

The main thing that allows a single person to do all of this smoothly and easily is practice and familiarity with the boat. There is a rhythm or flow to doing a tack or gybe on every boat... and the more experience you have doing it, the better chance you have of realizing what that flow is, and how you can best keep it going smoothly.

Another problem or obstacle to single-handing on many boats is the setup of the lines on the boat. If they're setup in the wrong places, then single-handing the boat becomes much, much harder.

It helps to have the mainsheet, the jib sheets and the tiller within reach of each other, on a boat that is being single-handed... but this makes the boat a bit more complicated to sail with a crew... since you'll now tend to step on each other's toes... A good tiller extension helps a lot too...
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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One of the main things you need to do when singlehanding, is to think through what you're preparing to do. Have a clear vision in your mind of what you need to do, and in what order you need to do it. You won't be perfect at first, but as sailingdog says, practice, does make perfect (or at least as perfect as you get sailing a boat).

What works for me is to loosen the jib sheet and hold it in my hand, then turn into my tack. I then put my foot on the jib sheet and take up the other one in my hand. As the jib starts to backfill, I begin pulling in on it and straighten the rudder. Once the tack is complete, I then trim out the jib. Unless I have the boom way out, I don't worry about it until the tack is complete.

As I said, this is what works for me. What works for you is something you have to figure out as you do it.
 

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A Tiller Helps

Sounds like your boat has a tiller, that will make life easier. I staddle the tiller and steer with my knees, you preset the stopper for the main on your traveler so all you have to do with it it pull it over by hand at the start of the tack, then let off one jib sheet and pull in another.

It is fairly easy but if you are doing much single handing you will want a good auto pilot. You will have to go down below for a beverage every now and then. :)

When you get good at that then try sailing away from and back to your berth.

Gary
 

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"How in the world does one man slack the lee sheet, prepare the windward sheet, and manage the boom, all while still holding a tiller and paying attention to the speed/progress of the helm through the tack?"

Pretty much just like you said!

You'll find that first you tend to the jib, let the boom swing over, try not to over steer through the tack, set your new course, sheet in the jib on the new heading, than tend to the boom ....... all in about 5 - 10 seconds.

Pretty much just let the boom do its own thing until required you’re required to trim it.

Just like Bzeer said.

Once you get the hang of it its a piece of cake.

On a smaller (25') boat I had no problems, but on our newer boat, when I'm out in open waters with nobody around, the Robot-Pilot does the work steering the boat through the tack, and I just tend to the sheet. I have no problem with that.
 

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My first suggestion is that you forget about adjusting the mainsheet while tacking. As a practical matter, the mainsail is self-tending when you tack. In a well-coordinated tack, the boom doesn't "smack." As the boat comes up to windward, the mainsail luffs, and then, as it falls off onto the opposite tack, the wind fills the mainsail gradually. When you're singlehanding a sailboat, you have to think like an expert in time and motion study. In other words, you have to eliminate every unnecessary motion, and accomplish everything as efficiently as possible, because you only have two hands, and, ideally, you need three or four.

Secondly, don't make any "fine trim" adjustments while you're tacking. You'll have plenty of time to make all those adjustments after the sails are filled and the boat is on it's new course. The essential actions are to (1) put 2-3 wraps on the lazy jibsheet and take up all the slack in the line, (usually 2 is best. After the tack is complete, you might want to put a 3rd or 4th wrap on the winch) (2) release the working jib sheet, (3) steer the boat through the tack, (with practice, you can tiller-steer the boat with a knee, or you can wheel-steer it, using the wheel brake to hold it momentarily) (4) watch the jib, and, as the jib crosses the eye of the wind, start hauling in the jibsheet, and bring it in as fast as you can, (the more you can pull in by hand, the less you have to crank in under load, using the winch handle.) (5) cleat the jibsheet, and (6) make fine trim adjustments.
 

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Dave,
Sometimes we think things are more complicated than they really are. That said, I used the simple approach and (rent/purchased) a hobie cat and just went out and gave her hell. You will learn a lot about wind, canvas, singlehanding and what your focus needs to be during a tac or jib. Then when you get back in your Cornado you'll realize it's just bigger.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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fireman - a number of the new upscale daysailers use them. Also the Tartan 3400.
 

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Telstar 28
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A self-tending jib is a jib that will tack itself, and has a single sheet, rather than double sheets, which are traditionally used on jibs.

One common design is to have the jib sheet running to a block on a traveler mounted on the foredeck, just forward of the mast. This design is often seen on boats, like the Sonar, but not as common on larger boats, as it prevents the use of a genoa. However, because the jib is sheeted to a traveller, it can be sheeted in tighter than a traditional setup, and may allow you to point a bit higher than a traditional rig.

Another common setup is to have the jib on a small boom, and have the boom rigged with boom-end sheeting, similar to the mainsail setup on a sailing dinghy.
 

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Start out solo in the right conditions. Light winds check tide if applicable. Practice refine. Practice reefing dockside so you'll no what to do before it starts to blow. It's not rocked science practice that's all and enjoy. My biggest advice when gybing is first head off the wind ease the jib sheet when your set bring in the main sheet traveler to center postion and tighten the main sheet accordingly, meaning the stronger the wind the tighter the sheet. Why, so when you gybe the distance the boom moves is minimized and in stonger wind that it very important you don't what to loose any hardware. Take one wrap with the lazy jib sheet so your ready. Now gybe, release the loaded jib sheet when it begins to luff, I like to do this all at a nice slow pace as compaired when tacking. The main thing now is not to headback up in the wind to far untill your in controll of the boat. It will want to head up naturally on it's own especially in stonger winds, so before that happens tighten the jib sheet accordingly and add one or two wraps around the winch. Now you can start to head up into the wind in a controlled manner and ajust the main. Best to practice gybing in light air it's basically the same in heavier air with more load so watch your fingers and the boat will really want to round up quicker so be ready for it. If it's really blowing tacking is safer. Also watch boat's around you, you can learn alot buy watching others. Good and bad. PEACE happy sailing.
 

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Ancient Mariner
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You get your control line all to the cockpit; get your lines ergonomically situated for your body:
sit there an think about yourself hauling various lines from the helming position, what fits YOUR body & range of motion.
so you can comfortably and safely control the boat's sailing controls all right from the cockpit area.
run the mainsheet, the boom vang, and the topping lift all centrally, on the boom if posible,
Then you can hold/control the tiller & mainsheet in your back hand
You have your for'd hand to work the jib sheets, and also the vang, the out haul, or topping lift to depower when a gust hits,
and they are also there just at the ready to power up in an instant,all from right where you are helming solo.

When you are comfortable controlling your baby solo, you can invite folks an let 'em feel like they are helpin but you are confidently in control !
a song I remember once said, "the canvas can do miracles" this is SO true, & so much more true when you can do all the controls by yourself confidently and comfortably.
 

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Ancient Mariner
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OK, so LOOK; there is a fellow, name of Ken $tingy Billings, who has designed a very inexpensive self tending jib system DIY that anyone can set up by themselves, look to $tingySailor.com under projects, , he has MORE, a whole bunch of really cool ideas DIY and he sells a ebook of all his plans for a paltry 20 bucks or so. Buy yourselves one , you wont regret it, this guy has done his homework.
 

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s/v Ilya
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Just a matter of knowing what things need to get done, and following through on things one step at a time. I tend usually have a bungee-type self steering device on the tiller which helps me keep things going straight, and just release the leeward jib sheet from the cleat and hold it in my hand, then push the tiller over. Once the jib gets back winded, I release that sheet and grab the other one (it isn't as hard as you think) and trim it. With the bungee holding the tiller where I put it, it really isn't a hard thing to do once you get used to it. And notice that I don't usually need to worry about the main sheet at all.

Obviously practice makes perfect, and trust me, if I can do it, anybody can do it.
 

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I have two bungies that look like o- rings attached to my tiller it is just enough tension to keep the tiller straight but slack enough so i dont need to remove it to tack.
wind windward sheet around winch.
uncleat lee sheet prepare to take it off winch.
straddle tiller and start tack.
control sheet one as i tack and pull in the other as the boom moves past center i shift balance.
when tack complete i release tiller and trim for new tack.
clean up ropes cleat if necessary. check course and re-trim if needed.
I have a hank on foresail so the bungies are nice when i have to lower/change my foresail or other times when i leave the cockpit.
I have an old auto pilot but i only use it when travailing longer distance.
to reef the main I heave-too then reef as i have to go to the mast to hook the Cunningham into the reef cringle.
rolling furling and single line reefing and lazyjacks would be nice but this works.
 

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al brazzi
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Stand up, carefully out of the way of the boom, tiller between your legs practice short tacks with a small head-sail, then move up to a big one in lighter winds of course. Gybes are the same as tacks just sheet the main in tight on Gybes then let it out. Just think like its the same as having people on board without them being in the way:angel
 

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Stand up, carefully out of the way of the boom, tiller between your legs practice short tacks with a small head-sail, then move up to a big one in lighter winds of course. Gybes are the same as tacks just sheet the main in tight on Gybes then let it out. Just think like its the same as having people on board without them being in the way:angel
great
LOL if feel like a clutz and more nervous when i have some one on board. I also started with a small head sail slow but easy to handle. but i have found that with a bigger foresail "Not crazy big" the boat is more balanced. I am not a racer so comfort control is more important then a half a knot gain. IMO if i leave with a smaller foresail as mine is hank on and i find that it is too small i can change it. This is not the case if i pick too big of a foresail. Changing foresails can be tough just as it is harder to reef late. not impossible just a pain.
Break every thing down in steps and call them out like you have a crew.., and practice.. I am very new but this has help a lot. as you run lines back to the cockpit it can get a little crazy with a tangle of different lines. neatness counts.
 

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al brazzi
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great
LOL if feel like a clutz and more nervous when i have some one on board. I also started with a small head sail slow but easy to handle. but i have found that with a bigger foresail "Not crazy big" the boat is more balanced. I am not a racer so comfort control is more important then a half a knot gain. IMO if i leave with a smaller foresail as mine is hank on and i find that it is too small i can change it. This is not the case if i pick too big of a foresail. Changing foresails can be tough just as it is harder to reef late. not impossible just a pain.
Break every thing down in steps and call them out like you have a crew.., and practice.. I am very new but this has help a lot. as you run lines back to the cockpit it can get a little crazy with a tangle of different lines. neatness counts.
Sounds like you have the right idea, just practice. As far as lines back to the cockpit, what are you doing? are they already there, are you lengthening? I would get to know the Boat as set up before changing things if that's what you're saying. On small Boats get in the practice of making the first part of the trip up wind, down wind is always easier and faster, especially if conditions change.
 

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Sounds like you have the right idea, just practice. As far as lines back to the cockpit, what are you doing? are they already there, are you lengthening? I would get to know the Boat as set up before changing things if that's what you're saying. On small Boats get in the practice of making the first part of the trip up wind, down wind is always easier and faster, especially if conditions change.
I added 2 winches to the cabin top and clutches and boom preventer attached to bow cleat i line to each side and when i gybe i use PST TSP i use the preventer and main sheet together to haul the main in then move track to middle switch preventers gybe then move track then use preventer and main sheet to position then pull in main sheet so my main is not rubbing on the shrouds.
 
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