I don't agree with single
handing, if it means "with no one on watch", but that issue aside...
One thing that we can all do, is have an emergency
way to get back onboard if we fall in at anchor
or on autopilot
, and going very slow. We have a hinged, folding, boarding ladder that is held in the "up" position by a plastic hook. If I needed to, I can barely reach the lower rung from the water
, (or easily reach a 10" rope
loop). With a good pull, the plastic hook would break and the ladder deploy. This is, of coarse, not useful sailing at speed, but there are many versions from folding to roll up, that serve the purpose...
Also, a thought for "short range" single
handers, (besides the obvious, tethers).
I met a single hander in the Bahamas
once who regularly trailed his dinghy
100' behind the boat. We later had occasion to meet and chat. It seems that he had been on a previous trip to the Bahamas
, on auto, and fell in half way across, (in the Gulf Stream). He was sailing about 6 knots, and by chance he had been trailing his dinghy
way behind. This allowed him to get to the painter, then with great effort, into the dinghy. After a rest, he pulled the dinghy forward, bit by bit, and made it to the mothership. SAFETY! He adopted this practice of trailing the dinghy way behind the boat, from then on.
On a long crossing this would slow one down too much, and you would likely loose the dinghy eventually, but on a Gulf Stream
crossing to the Bahamas, it saved his life!
I remember asking a fellow boatbuilder
where he was going to "keep his boat" after launch. He said: "Under my ass I hope"!
May we all be so lucky...