Re single-handing cats:
Most modern cruising cats are not very well set-up for single handing (not true of all, but of most). Not that it can't be done, and relatively easily, but they are not as convenient to single-hand as say a small traditional monohull
where everything is within easy reach of the helm
For example, most modern cruising cats (not all) have their jib
sheet winches positioned on either side of the cockpit
-- much like a monohull
arrangement. The difference of course is that the cockpit
is much wider and thus you have to scramble a bit when single-handed.
A few specific cat single handing techniques below:
Tacking. One way to deal with the not always conveniently located lines during a tack, if you have an autopilot
, is to make your turn with the autopilot
(Raymarine's have an "auto tack" feature that is quite handy for this). As the autopilot turns the boat you are now free to handle lines. Remember to configure so the turn rate is relatively slow and that, with cats, "tacking angle" and "sailing angle" are not the same -- so set your auto to tack through about 100 degrees and then come up to a tighter sailing angle as you build boat speed. Note that on cats with hydraulic steering
you can accomplish the same trick as with auto because they will generally hold their turn without your hand on the helm
Raising/reefing the main. You can let auto steer the boat into the wind as suggested or you can heave-to. I like heaving-to for reefing/striking sail when single-handed (on either a mono or a cat) because the boat is in a nice stable attitude and I can take my time (key consideration when single-handed). I also don't have to maintain boat speed, when it is otherwise unnecessary or unwanted, for auto to have steerage.
Re-route lines. Another trick is to temporarily lead the lines where you want them for single-handing. Use snatch blocks etc to re-lead the line to a more convenient position or to a more conveniently located winch
. Remember when doing this though that loads increase dramatically when lines make a turn around a block -- be sure and use sufficiently strong blocks and attachment points.
handling. One aspect of sail handling that is typically easier on cats is full symmetrical spinnaker
handling. With all that beam you don't need a spinnaker pole and this dramatically simplifies running a chute. I typically single-hand my chute with little or no help from crew....even through a busy anchorage (see pic)!