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Discussion Starter #1
I have some experience singlehanding but whenever I was out alone, I only sailed with the main. Now, I want to go out and sail the boat with both a mainsail and a headsail. My question for you guys it how do you deal with the tiller and sheets through maneuvers.

I am talking about monohulls without self-tacking equipment. So let's say you execute a tack or gybe. Do you deal with the mainsail then get the boat steady on its new heading then let go of the tiller to deal with the headsail?

Any tips or tricks? The two scenarios I'm thinking of are:

Singlehanding: Alone
Singlehanding: There are others on the boat but they are not sailors. Do you teach them what to do?
 

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When I tack my boat and spouse is aboard but say below, I preset the main where I want it on next tack, then tack while releasing the jib lines, then attempt to pull jibs with one hand and then two as I straighten out, then with a foot or equal on the tiller, I pull in the sheet with one hand, and turn winch with other. Joys of non self tailing winches!

You just do this as simple and to a degree slow to a point, then fix everything as you can. It will not be as fast as when you have two or more. You need to find a "what works best" for you and your boat.

Marty
 

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I am guessing you are talking about bigger boats than mine, but I can generally keep the tiller in my off hand and work the sheets one at a time with the other hand. My kids like to hold the tiller sometimes, which can help. The key is to pay attention to which side they (they being anyone who doesn't respond to sailing commands) are sitting on so you can ask them to "push the handle away" or "pull the handle toward you" and always say "a little". My free footed jib will make a mess of the sheets if you let it flap, so I tend to deal with it before the main (other than ducking under the boom). But I am not a very good sailor, so take this all with a big grain of salt. I generally get to where I planned to go for the day and get back to the dock, but not necessarily with a style you would want to copy...
 

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When I SH Oh Joy, I set the tack up by getting three wraps on the Leeward winch prior to the tack or gybe. I then tack through and backwind the Genny prior to throwing off the old Leeward sheet. As the sail comes across, I hand trim like mad trying to minimize grinding, even if I go around further then I want. Once I've gotten as much of the new Leeward sheet in by hand as I'm gonna get, I adjust course, put my knee against the tiller and grind the last bit. Gybing is tougher because the pressure never really lets off the headsail. Then again, you can take more time trimming it offwind. Gybing the A-sail can be tough if ya screw it up but easy in light air if your launch correct to start with. I do outside Gybes with mine.
 

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Try it with just the jib, work up to jib and main once you have the jib down. I'm not tiller, not monohull, and have (but don't use) self tacking equipment, but -
that's how I figured it out and got comfortable with it.
 

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I kept the sheets as organized and as far separated as possible. Center the main over the traveler, tighten down the boom vang and traveler so the boom moves as little as possible. Get the winch handle ready under my leg.

Once I was sure I had enough headway I'd move to the side I wanted to be on, push the tiller all the way over and hold it there with my foot <hey, it worked> while hauling away on the foresail sheet wrapped around the winch. Get the sheet roughly trimmed and cleat it off.

The main thing I had to watch was making sure that the sheets were sliding cleanly with nothing to snag them.

Getting the foresail over the lifelines was always a bit of a PITA but with something small like a 110 it shouldn't be a big deal. Then when I got heading in the direction I wanted I'd tweak the boom vang and main sail. It took about 15 seconds and was not graceful but it worked. This is from a fin keel 22 foot fractional rig with a hanked on foresail BTW. Even with the 150 I never needed the winch too often except to fine tune the foresail once it was full.

In my very limited experience so far in any sailing manuever the best thing to I can do is think out what I plan to do and how I'm going to do it and then make sure nothing is in the way that will hang up the manuever once it's in motion.

I always sailed with a foresail. Wasn't the boat hard to handle or out of balance with just the mainsail? I've never tried that. I'd guess tacking and gybing will be easier than what you're used to with the extra power. What was the purpose of just using the main? Just curious.

Best Regards,
Mike
 

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I single hand alot and have got some pretty reliable routines. Number one, keep the cockpit neat, no spaghetti on the deck. When tacking, I preset the stops on my traveler, get the main sheet in hand, straddle the tiller, get 3 wraps on the windward winch and take the leeward sheet off the cleat. Using my legs, take the tiller to lee and hold back the jib sheet to let the wind assist in bringing the bow around. As the bow comes about and the traveler shifts, I release the now windward jib sheet and unwrap it from the winch with a lariet kind of action, then I quickly pull in on the now leeward sheet. Notice there is no mention of a winch handle. With practice you should be able to get the jib in really close. I generally sheet in very tight and then trim the sheet out.

To gybe, it's pretty close to the same routine, just more main sheet action. Again, I preset the traveler stops and get my sheets in hand. As I start the gybe,using my legs, I'll haul in the main and ease it through the cockpit, holding back the jib and letting the wind push the sail to the lee side. Release the windward and haul in the lee, trim and return to your refreshments.

Practice this is fun and actually gives some purpose to that otherwise lazy day on the lake.


Fair Winds,
LakeEscape
Charlotte, NC
 

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I agree with the tiller tamer suggestion. Once your third "hand" is holding the tiller then it gets pretty easy. I just use a line to both sides of the cockpit abeam the end of the tiller with three wraps around the tiller. It easily slips off when I want it free and it holds it well when I want it held.
 

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I tend to stand with the tiller between my legs, take two wraps on the winch with the jib sheet (makes it easier to sheet-in) and release the holding sheet with an upward pull as i jib through.

I use three bungies (i'm cheap) instead of a tller-tamer as cam mentioned. Wrap one around tiller and connect the others to each side. The one around the tiller has enough grip to hold but is easilly ajusted with a twist.

Then sheet in tight and relax.
 

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I do pretty much what LakeEscape very nicely described when singlehanding a smaller boat. I have found that as the boat gets bigger, the winds get stronger, or a line get tangles/unwrapped/loose etc it can quickly get a little hectic in the cockpit. I second camaraderie's suggestion for a "tiller tamer" (other options are out there, but not as easy to set-up) - a lot of security for only a few bucks (about $30 if I remember correctly).
 

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Like Blueranger: Center the main and forget about it until after you tack.

In dealing with the genoa/jib, self-tailing winches sure help. If you don't have them, it helps if you can use spring cleats to trap the lines, and if you tack slowly, so you can stay ahead of the sail and not fight the winches. As LakeEscape says, a winch handle is not necessary if you can stay ahead of things.

Position and cockpit layout really count with singlehanding. If you can't straddle the tiller, you may want a tiller extension, or one of the various tiller-tamers or the arms that snap into a pocket to hold the tiller over. Holding an exact course during the tack is not important. Avoiding a chinese fire drill and then trimming things back up in an orderly manner is.

It is way too easy to tack too quickly, so use "all due speed" rather than making the fastest possible tack. Once you get into a pattern, you'll speed things up.
 

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I almost never use the tiller extension, partly because I can generally reach the jib sheets if they are how I like them to be (when I have kids on deck - no guarantees) and partly because my extension swings freely and is pretty hard to control. That makes me curious - is that normal?
 

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An autopilot is very valuable. I sail my Catalina 30 single handed most of the time. I have the ability to do any crew work that is needed because I can let the autopilot do the steering.

If you have a tiller you should consider a tiller pilot. It is not that expensive and the fact that it keeps you from being tied to the tiller is a God send!
 

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A lot of this is boat dependent, since each boat might be setup differently and require a different approach, even boats of the same make are sometimes setup differently.

There is also a big difference between being singlehanded and sailing with non-sailing guests, since even a non-sailor can hold a tiller and steer the boat in a straight line if taught.

On my boat, I worry about the genny sheets, but ignore the main, since the main will generally take care of itself for the most part. I'll also use the autopilot to tack the boat, since that allows me to use both hands for dealing with the two genny sheets.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for all the helps folks. This gives me some ideas that I'll try out. It should be interesting. I'll definitely use available non-sailors to aid me during maneuvers as necessary.

As you guys mentioned, I know a lot of this is boat dependent. I am sailing on club boats so I can't really alter anything but everyone's comments are helpful nonetheless!
 

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On my Pearson 30, I straddle the tiller (as some have already suggested), get a couple wraps on the winch, and steer with my knees as I tack. I wouldn't want to do it this way without self-tailing winches.

I have a tiller pilot, but the throw is so short that it takes forever to come about. Doesn't work very well in light airs.

Aside from my weekly races, I seldom sail with people who know what they are doing, so I'm usually single-handing even when there are other people aboard. It's good practice for when you're actually alone!
 

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The mainsail is, more or less, a self-tending sail. Set it before you tack, and then let it flop over during the tack by itself.

Steer the boat between your legs. It's awkward at first, but you'll get the hang of it with practice. A tiller tamer won't help you tack, but, after you come onto the new course, it'll help you hold that course.

If you can steer with the tiller between your legs, then that frees up both hands to haul in the jibsheet. Put two wraps on the lazy winch (I've found that 3 wraps often results in the jibsheet overriding itself) and pull in all the slack before starting the tack. While holding the lazy jibsheet in one hand, release the working jibsheet with the other hand, and pull in the lazy sheet as fast as you can. If you can steer the boat through a slightly wider arc than normal, it will increase the amount of time you have to handle the jibsheets.

After the tack is completed, you can put an extra wrap or two on the winch, if necessary, and trim the jib and mainsail.
 
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