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Old 24-12-2010, 07:58   #1
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Single-Handed Sail Equipment - Looking for Advice

I have a 30 foot sloop that I want to set-up for single-handed main sail control. I've googled and searched this forum. I'm sure it's been discussed but don't know where to look. Before calling a rigger I'd like an idea of required equipment and cost. Maybe it's something I can do myself.
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Old 24-12-2010, 09:16   #2
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Hi Ken,

It shouldn't be that difficult. You'll need a linestopper or clutch or two, some turning blocks on deck, if you don't have a winch on the coach near the companionway, you might have to add one or else relocate the main halyard winch from the mast. I don't remember how your reefing system is set up but they too will have to be led aft, presumably through the same deck organizer and back to their own line clutches so you can use the one winch for multiple lines.

You might take a look at how Lee did his Saber 28, give me a holler when you are going to be at the boat and we can probably put together a shopping list.

Rich

ps. I suspect that if you don't have single line reefing you may have to convert over to that. It would kind of defeat the purpose of leading lines aft if you had to go forward and slip a reef cringle over a reefing horn at the gooseneck.
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Old 24-12-2010, 09:40   #3
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A lazy jack system for the main makes handling that sail simple. You don't need to buy a kit, just look at other peoples systems and ask around about what designs work well for them, why it works, and how they use it. You don't need blocks all over the place, with the exception of the mast lift, everything else can be simple brass/stainless rings.

You need to get the sail controls to the vicinity of the helm. Might have to move the mainsheet and/or the jib winches to make that happen. Self tailing winches are convenient freeing both hands for winching. The old fashioned ones work fine though take longer to haul a sheet in.

Bringing the reefing back to the cockpit makes it way easier and safer. I use a double line system, one for each clew and tack reefing line led back to either side of the companionway.

You'll need some form of self steering. If the boat has a tiller, a simple one armed tiller pilot will suffice for short distance/motoring. Personally, I prefer a self steering vane. No electronics to worry about and works tirelessly 24/7 with no demands for food or rest. Self steering vanes aren't cheap but they come up regularly on Ebay and Craigs List so you can buy one for a 1/2 or less of the new cost.

Easiest thing is to find one person to go sailing with. Takes care of almost all the problems of short handed sailing. Know from experience, that's not the easiest thing to do, however.
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Old 24-12-2010, 12:37   #4
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Originally Posted by Ken Andersen View Post
I have a 30 foot sloop that I want to set-up for single-handed main sail control. I've googled and searched this forum. I'm sure it's been discussed but don't know where to look. Before calling a rigger I'd like an idea of required equipment and cost. Maybe it's something I can do myself.
Thanks
Ken
no.1 is the ability to leave the tiller / wheel and the boat remaining under control (in vaguely same direction ). So autopilot my no.1 for singlehanded.

no.2 would be lazy jacks (as said, can DIY based on what others have).
A top loading / stack pack style mainsail cover would also be nice but not essential.

no.3 would be a boomstrut MarineStore: Barton Boomstrut up to 7.5 metres to avoid the topping lift aggro when dropping the mainsail.


I wouldn't bother with running all mast lines aft - with the above, trips to the mast (to raise / lower / reef) won't take so long. If I didn't have an autopilot I would prefer to have the main halyard run back to the cockpit - but out of a choice would spend the cash on the autopilot.

Of course could also then go for something like Harken Battcars and maybe a battened main........but for that $$$ you might need the help of Santa
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Old 24-12-2010, 13:29   #5
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If you were to do a forum search under single handing, that would be fairly informative.
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Old 25-12-2010, 03:55   #6
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Still some issues

Thanks Rich, Of course I know that you and Lee are the go to guy for infor at the marina but don't always see you around. Expect a call.

David O, (1) I have an autopilot, but you're spot on when you say "vaguely same direction". So far my experience as a single handed sailor is this. Head boat into wind, idler down, set pilot, go forward, begin lowering main, wind or current pushes boat off course, main flops into lazyjacks and won't come down. Okay, back to helm, reset course, set autopilot, back forward, repeat process 4 or 5 times until I'm exhausted but have somehow accomplished chore. I just don't see anyway to avoid running the lines aft so that I can stay in the cockpit and man the helm and the lines at the same time. I'll look into the boomstrut. I'm looking for anything that will help.

Roverhi, self-tailing winches would be the ideal way to go but they don't come cheap. Even the smallest (I won't need a large one) is twice the cost of non-self tailing. I retire in the near future. Having another person aboard is always a great help but I need the freedom to sail at my convenience not someone else's schedule.

Delmarrey, I tried using the search function. I ended with pages of sail related posts.
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Old 25-12-2010, 04:42   #7
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Head boat into wind, .......... Okay, back to helm, reset course, set autopilot, back forward, repeat process 4 or 5 times until I'm exhausted


Try not going head to wind.
I do it at 30 degrees to 60 degrees. That way a bit of genoa can stabilize the boat. A bit of engine then helps to keep the bow up.

I haven't bought anything special yet, but I have been analyzing each thing as I do it and trying different ways to make it work.

One thing when I was trying to raise the anchor in 15 to 20kts I put the engine just in gear and the auto pilot on. as the bow was head to wind with the pick the auto pilot didnt switch off at zero knots, and the boat slowly comes forward so the anchor chain comes up... works like a dream.

My biggest pain in the neck is reefing the mainsail. Theres always *something* that makes me have to go up to the mast. The other day it was the Lazy Jacks getting caught in the top mainsail slug... ripped the bugger out! (Note to self: replace slug on Monday!).
I would ONLY ever choose a boat with in - mast furling main. But I got what I got. so I need to work a better solution - and the creative one may be to make sure theres a better safety Jack Line so I can clip on at the reefing clutches and have a straight walk to the mast.
I have a Jack line in the cockpit so I wan walk al around it and not be able to fall out of the cockpit! (not even get close to the water).

So I think one of your tricks will be to get out there and practice all the maneuvers with a closed-wallet mentality. I am sure 90% of the problems will be solved by working smarter, not harder

Any specific problem (like the bow to wind raising) put it up to us all and lets see if we can help


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Old 25-12-2010, 05:11   #8
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more power

maybe not full hull speed but enough to maintain steerage way and generate some headwind. plus about being at the mast is being able to tug the mainsail down by hand - might also want to look into making the cars / track run as freely as possible either with brand name lube or simply soap quicker down the less aggro.

might also have a good long hard look at your lazy jacks to see if they could be tweeked.

but as Mark says, a lot about working out what works for you / your boat - the little things can often make a big difference.

and I would argue that for singlehanded part of the answer is accepting that somethings will simply be more of a PITA / more likely to sometimes go less smoothly than with an extra pair of hands, but that no reason not to seek a better way.
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Old 25-12-2010, 06:04   #9
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Yes Mark, like yourself it's the main sail that's my trouble. A new roller furler and proper wind angle makes controlling the jib easy. And like you I appreciate having a windlass on the bow and an autopilot in the cockpit. A long time cruiser recently told me to install a remote for the windlass in the cockpit for those times when it's blowing hard and hard obstructions close by. He said that I need to be at the helm as soon as the anchor breaks free. Makes sense.

David O, You could be right about increasing speed for better steerage. I'm new at this single-handed stuff. Although my main travels freely I think my main problem is the cheap lazy-jacks I installed. With the guide wires attached 3/4 of way up the mast it's too easy for the top of the sail to flop over and consequently get hung-up.

So I agree with you all. Fine tune the equipment and practice, practice, practice.

Thanks,
Ken
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Old 25-12-2010, 08:27   #10
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Roverhi, self-tailing winches would be the ideal way to go but they don't come cheap. Even the smallest (I won't need a large one) is twice the cost of non-self tailing.
And worth 4 times as much at least, IMHO.
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Old 25-12-2010, 08:52   #11
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Poor solo sailor dropping main...
Roll in 50% of Genoa and sheet in tight.. alter course to max possible head to wind for Genoa to function... set autopilot... release main sheet so main feathers to wind.... stroll to mast with sails ties in teeth... drop main fast using hands... tie first two ties to lash main... wander back to cockpit and sheet in boom... place last two ties to secure main from cockpit area.
Put auto on standby and alter course to that required to reach anchorage/marina then at required moment furl remaining genoa and wander forward to drop hook... or start the engine to enter marina..
Once snug on the hook or pontoon you can tidy the main into pretty flakes and retie...
But as folk have said above... practice your technique till its casually automatic... in fact this way you should one day even be able to pick up a mooring without starting the engine
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Old 25-12-2010, 09:17   #12
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Poor solo sailor dropping main...
Roll in 50% of Genoa and sheet in tight.. alter course to max possible head to wind for Genoa to function... set autopilot... release main sheet so main feathers to wind.... stroll to mast with sails ties in teeth... drop main fast using hands... tie first two ties to lash main... wander back to cockpit and sheet in boom... place last two ties to secure main from cockpit area.
Put auto on standby and alter course to that required to reach anchorage/marina then at required moment furl remaining genoa and wander forward to drop hook... or start the engine to enter marina..
Once snug on the hook or pontoon you can tidy the main into pretty flakes and retie...
But as folk have said above... practice your technique till its casually automatic... in fact this way you should one day even be able to pick up a mooring without starting the engine
Yikes! boatman. Pick up a mooring without starting the engine? I don't do any serious maneuvering without the engine running, ready to lend assistance if I get in trouble, real or imagined. "stroll to the mast"??? No wonder I'm wore out I've been doing the 60 yard dash. I'm sure that in time all my fumbling will pay off.
Ken
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Old 26-12-2010, 10:19   #13
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Thought I’d share some of my trials and tribulations of sailing shorthanded/single handed.

The first problem I encountered was raising the main, the battens hooking the lazyjacks. The LJ’s were not really adjustable, being fixed to the top part of the mast just above the upper spreaders, and the 4 lower legs being tied off to loops on top of the stack pack.
I’ve re-rigged the LJ’s, and fitted a block to each side of the mast above the upper spreaders with the upper single line of the LJ’s passing through the block and back down to bottom of the mast. I could now really slack of the LJ’s before the hoist which helped but now I had the LJ’s flapping about. This was fixed by reeving a 5mm light line through the LJ’s back to the mast, so I could now pull the LJ’s right forward and out of the way.
In the process I discovered that the stack pack could be bundled up and secured to the boom with integral straps, this was good as I could now see the foot of the sail.
Dropping the main can be a problem, it falls OK about 50% of the way and then friction prevents the lugs dropping through the groove on the mast, must get up mast and spray the track with dry lube. I had a deep reef fitted during the summer which allows me to pull the sail down most of the way, but the last bit I need to get to the mast with a boat hook and hook the last few lugs to get the sail down. Which is then secured with ties until alongside or moored and the stack pack can be released.

Other problems is that the boat has a bastardized cutter rig, the inner forestay is secured to the top of the mast just below the forestay, and the genoa (140%) wont pass cleanly through the gap between the two stays, getting hooked up on the staysail. The choice,
light winds, go forward and walk the genoa through the gap, otherwise I have to roll the genoa about 50% and then tack.
If the passage calls for short tacks, I decided to leave the genoa rolled up and go with the staysail, and this showed the next problem, staysail hooks up on the baby stay. Fixed this by fitting 6m of 40mm polypipe over the baby stay, with end caps in the pipe to keep the stay centered in the pipe, this really worked, the staysail now just rolls over the stay.

Other things still need fine tuning, but after a year with this boat I’m getting there, and there is as much enjoyment in figuring out ways to overcome the problems as there is with sitting back and enjoying the sail
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Old 26-12-2010, 11:22   #14
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The only change I made was to run the topping lift down a backstay onto a cleat attached to the stay. Nearly always when reefing the main I wouldn't change course at all, just ease the sheet, up to the mast and slowly pull the main down as the pressure backed off each time the boat rolled in the swell. Most sailing was downwind. If things were getting a bit brisk then going hove to is a good move, nice big foresail between you and the wet stuff and a more stable boat on which to work. Don't think I'd ever bother running lines back to the cockpit, too much mess, friction and things to go wrong.
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Old 27-12-2010, 04:41   #15
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Agree with conachair above - running lines back to the cockpit is especially unwise for a singlehander. There's too much rope, too many points where things can jam and tangle, and then far too few hands to fix the problem.

Lazyjacks are another potential problem for singlehanders for much the same reasons. When the thing snags, and it will, you've only got two hands to fix it. If you have a choice, find one of the old boom furling systems popular some decades ago. I know some don't like them but they are beautifully simple.

It's counter-intuitive I guess but much of the gear "they" say you need to single hand boats tend to cause the greatest strife. Too much gear is the singlehanders enemy; it's smarter to heed the KISS principle.

The best way to discover what gear is needed is to go out with just the basics and only add what experience teaches you is absolutely critical. That's what I found anyway.
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