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I came across an interesting article from the March/April '09 Ocean Navigator (BTW, a great magazine for those not familiar with it).

See Lonely emergency | Articles & Archives | Ocean Navigator: The magazine for long-distance offshore sailing and power voyaging

It points out the importance of being prepared -- attitude, experience and gear -- when one ventures off the beaten track. It also points out how cruisers hang together when things get tough, which is one of the really nice things about being "out there".

It's an interesting read.
 

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Yes, Ocean Navigator is a good magazine, and this article is actually one that has been printed in other magazines previously. This paragraph makes the same point I generally do—that either person in the couple should be able to single-hand the boat completely, in even storm conditions.

The majority of voyagers have two on board, a man and a woman. How many have put learning all aspects of sailing and running the boat on the “must do” list? We learn to sail and we get out there, but is that enough? We must be honest. Is there a plan if a tragic event happens? Many voyagers dream of an extensive voyage, a life of cruising, freedom, the vast oceans, enchanting lands, adventure and independence. These are all powerful lures to the voyaging life, but you should remember that you are potentially on your own out there!

It is a huge hurdle to have the patience to teach, learn, and practice, but the value is in confidence. I couldn’t go to sea without knowing both my partner and I could both run the boat alone. Long haul or short. Fortunately, for our situation, we’ve both been solo sailors.
Most couples are effectively single-handing the same boat at different times for various reasons.
 

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Yes, Ocean Navigator is a good magazine, and this article is actually one that has been printed in other magazines previously. This paragraph makes the same point I generally do—that either person in the couple should be able to single-hand the boat completely, in even storm conditions.



Most couples are effectively single-handing the same boat at different times for various reasons.

This is why we're planning a circ in a 41 footer instead of a 45 or 50. My wife is five feet tall, and while strong and younger than most, the mechanical aspects of sail handling in 30 knots are beyond her abilities on a bigger boat. Everything aboard is sized to what she can handle solo, not me (twice her size and then some). This is done in full acknowledgement that not only will we essentially hand off to each other on passage, but that illness or injury could mean that there is no other option than solo passagemaking for some time. She has to be as good as I am at working the ship, so to speak.

So far, so good!

We naturally fall into specialities: she's the ship's doctor by default (being a biologist and a sort of vet!) and I'm more mechanically inclined, but we try to duplicate the basics. A large part of this is indeed attitudinal, and a large part of that is prudence and caution. We are pretty well on the same page on that score, probably because we take our seven year old boy sailing a lot.
 
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