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Old 19-01-2007, 22:40   #16
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I've done a little single handing.

I love sailing and if no one else wanted go. Several times I have sailed out of Hilo Hawaii. Just out for a few days and then back. One of the safetys I use is to tow a 300 foot polypropalein rope, it floates. I had a stern ladder and if I did fall in I knew I had a second chance, if i could catch and pull myself back in. My girl would jump off the boat just to be pulled for while in the bay. Might have lost a bathing suit now and then but never lost a kid.
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Old 19-01-2007, 22:43   #17
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CSY, I am reluctant, but I have to agree with your reasoning.

Rule 4

Rules in this section apply to any condition of visibility.

Rule 5

Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.

That said, I still think it can be done with a reasonable level of safety.

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Old 20-01-2007, 02:06   #18
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Originally Posted by CSY Man
The problem I have is with the solo passage makers. They are breaking all the rules and endangering others.

Pretty much like a drunk driver on the roads.

Solo passage makers - "Breaking the rules", I won't disagree with that, but my answer is "so what".

"Endangering others".........Whilst I am sure their are always examples I am not so sure about this being a significant factor in practice. I would say that the far greatest danger is to the solo sailor themselves, and probably not from falling overboard or hitting things or getting run down - but from bad decisions caused by tiredness.

Solo Sailing may well have higher risks than with crew (depending on the circumstances), but IMO not automatically unacceptable risks - depending on your own risk tolerance........
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Old 20-01-2007, 02:33   #19
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Love single handing but in the back of your mind on passages is the thought of hitting something while asleep. I set a radar alarm and try to keep sleeping for the day time. Longest is 7 days so far offshore and that was tough. The scary thing is you wake up in a cold sweat swearing you have hit someone!! This last passage - fell asleep in the cokpit and put my arm through the mainsheet so I'd wake if the boat tried to gybe (running down wind) of course the yacht gybed and broke the boom brake and threw me against the safety lines (thankfully wearing a full harness) that was scary!!
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Old 20-01-2007, 05:07   #20

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You'll do fine with the manual windlass if you choose to keep it. I singlehanded from close to NYC to Newport last spring and anchored in Newport (an extremely crowded anchorage) with the manual. I also pulled the anchor up myself on a few other crowded single handing situations (wife was moving the car, I the boat). The boat doesn't go as far as you'd think while you're pulling up the anchor. Plus... if you have it up off the ground you can always motor around to an open spot. You'll do just fine, and your boat sounds like it's set up well too. Good job on that.

CSYMan: You approach the sea like I do. With a lot of prudence and responsibility. I respect that. I wouldn't think of doing any solo multi-day passages for just the reasons you mention, plus I like sleeping. I'm not sure what the point is of not having someone to do watches with. It's more safe and I like living. Of course, to each their own... I don't have anything against those solo passagemakers, but I wouldn't do it personally. Oh, and to add to CSYMan's point, you can indeed cause others in large ships harm. How would you feel if you were at the helm of one and a little toy sailboat wandered into your path and you ran them down and killed them? It causes severe psychological trauma in some, and may even result in loss of your ticket. There are subway conductors in NYC who have had to quit after someone jumped on the tracks in front of them to commit suicide. They felt a guilt of not being able to stop the train, even though it wasn't their fault.

Originally Posted by speedoo

Anchoring in tight quarters and/or tough conditions will be a challenge if I'm alone, since the windlass is manual. May have to change to an electric windlass that can be remote $controlled.

I know.... a 38 footer is a lot of boat to be single handing. Let's just say I like my luxuries. Plus, it's just a wonderful boat, that was available at a price that was too attractive to pass up.
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Old 20-01-2007, 05:45   #21
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First, there is no arguing that any sailing situation that involves abandoning lookout violates the rules of the road. So in the tradition of "Well if you will not stop ... you might consider..."

For lookout assistance there seem to be three things that can provide at least some benefit: the AIS receiver, radar, and a radar detector. I have used radar and read about singlehanders using radar detectors. AIS may have similar benefits (comments about AIS?).

As for navigation I swear by the chart plotter in the cockpit. I'm not sure that it plots any better than I do but it does it much faster and while other tasks on the boat get done. Also an autopilot is a must. Most importantly planning a route that increases safety is pretty important. Until recently I was planning a solo trip through the Bahamas and into the Virgins (decided to finish a masters instead) and found that it was really a long series of day sails with a couple of sails that would require a lot of coffee.

John and Sean both touched on the temprement of the single hander. Being alone for long periods of time, passage making or sailing a coast alone is not for everybody. Not everyone can live with an hour of sleep at a stretch or are willing to face injury without someone else there to help them just like not evey one can deal with a novice onboard. In reality this may be the most important factor of safer single handing. Until one has spent some time alone you never really know. Remember the Donald Crowhurst story?
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Old 20-01-2007, 07:29   #22
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Single handed sailing

Singlehanding is not an issue is you are competent and prepared (mentally and physically.)
My wife is visually impaired (legally blind) - she is hell on wheels during the daytime, she can handle nearly every task that I can (visual piloting excepted.) Night comes and I am singlehanding regardless, the world disappears for her - though she still does her watch, holds course, trims sail...the proximity alarm on the radar does quite well (and I only cat-nap as a singlehander would) I am comfortable with that.
Our boat is our only home. When switching from Freedom to Holding Pattern, as with every boat, there is a learning curve. We learned each system as if the other one wasn't there to handle a problem. We each learned tactics singlehanded. Why? Even with a crew or family aboard, an emergency could put anyone in a singlehanded position.
Our solution (one of them anyway)... HP is cockpit rigged. All lines can be handled (with very few exceptions, of course) from the cockpit, preventing the need to be in a precarious position on deck. Many others, of course...but we know many singlehanders and they are all safety conscious, careful sailors. They get around as well as anyone else and in some ways have fewer distractions and more skills than some who have full crew.
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Old 20-01-2007, 07:29   #23
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I have been a single handed sailor for 21 yrs. Most of my sailing has been solo or with non sailors who actually can be more of a liability on board than an asset.

I have sailed also back and forth to the carib from NE several times.

Keeping watch is the main issue for single handing. Short handed with landlubbers... at least they can function as a watch.. even is they are not skilled "observers"... they might be able to cook and so forth... so some assistance can be had from non sailing crew.

When I first decieded to sail I was middle aged, know only one other sailor (he had his own boat) and I made the decision to buy Shiva and grow into her... learn sailing and all the bits and pieces about systems, and their care and feeding... at least the ones on Shiva.

I got that friend to sail with me at first, but I realized early on if I was ever to leave my mooring, I would HAVE to singlehand (or find competant crew which for me was impossible because I did not know sailors).

So all my sailing was aimed at single handing and self reliance... and this extended to repair and maintenance. I just decided to be more self reliant and was forced to learn all sorts of things I never even contemplated... like a diesel engines.

I am by no means an expert at any of the many things one needs to know about sailing. But I pretty good and foolish enough to sail with the limitations I have. I try to be reasonably prudent, but one can NEVER be prudent enough.

On the other hand one can spend a lifetime preparing and then not get a chance to sail. My sailing life took me 6 years from the time I purchased Shiva till I set off with a crew to live aboard in the Caribbean for a few yrs. Once we arrived there, they all returned to the States and I cruised alone with the occassional guest.

I prepared Shiva to be a singlehanded vessel... not only her size 36' and 16,000 displ... but all her handling systems.. running rigging, steering and so forth. Shiva is a very easy boat to sail singlehanded... I can sit in on the bridge deck of my companionway... under the dodger, our of sun and rain... see all my nav instruments, access my auto pilot and engine contols and even the main sheet. I do have to move my butt to trim the head sail.

I can reef and hoist the main from the cockpit and sleep under the dodger too. Thanks to the design of the cockpit.

I love to get good sailors on board... I can really relax knowing that they know how to sail, navigate and stand watch. Only then can I enjoy a good sleep underway.

And speaking of sleeping underway... you really Do become extremely sensitive to the slightest changes in the environment.. sounds etc. You feel a change in heel by the tiniest amount, boat speed and so on. You really get tuned into your boat... Amazing that is.

So far so good... but as I grow older I am more cautious... and aware of how easily a situation can spiral out of control...

Nothing like sailing solo on a long passage... mostly made possible by modern technology.

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Old 20-01-2007, 08:11   #24

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I think we should define "singlehanding." The definition, I suppose means to operate one's boat by one's self with no crew. This could mean taking a Lazer out in a pond, or taking a 50' sailboat across the Pacific. Both have very different characteristics. While I have singlehanded more times than I have had crew, I have never done passages single handed. The passages I have made were the same as DefJef's, most of which were actually aboard megayachts, where the owner or captain wouldn't be foolish enough to deviate from accepted watchkeeping practices. You just can't do that on a professional vessel. Maybe we should be talking here about two terms:

singlehanding: Operating one's boat by one's self without crew


singlehanded passagemaking: operating one's boat for 3 or more days continuously, without anchoring, by one's self without crew

Both are worlds apart. Even when my wife is my crew I often singlehand since I like to let her take it easy if I can. I volunteer for the 12 hour watches, graveyard shifts, etc.. and let her relieve me for a few hours here and there mid-watch. I easily and frequently "singlehand" my 45' sloop, but would not do a "singlehanded passage" on her due to the lack of sleep and dangers involved in not sleeping. That's my personal makeup. I have a low tolerance for sleep deprivation and there would be danger in my case.

DefJef, on the other hand, sounds like he can take a week without sleeping much. There is no right or wrong in general, just for each individual, I think.

At least we should draw a distinction between taking a boat out for a spin solo, and doing an actual singlehanded passage as DefJef describes.
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Old 20-01-2007, 08:41   #25
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Radar to help keep watch is a fine idea, but radar sucks the juice like crazy. We typically use radar when the diesel is running (low visibility). I would like to hear from any that actually use radar on batteries only and how they manage their consumption.

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Old 20-01-2007, 09:30   #26
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Rules is rules. Safety is safety. Sometimes the two do not match up.

(a) If your doing 7 knots in a small sail boat, and wake each 20 minutes to maintain a lookout, IMHO you are sailing safely.
(b) If you are doing 25+ knots in a huge ship, maybe even one person on continual lookout is not safe.

IMHO one rule to cover both (a) and (b) is not sensible and definately not enforced by people far higher up the rule enforcement ladder than you or I..

By all means keep ranting on about this, but its not going to change anything, is it?

Thats enough from me - I'm out of this one.

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Old 20-01-2007, 09:43   #27
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wake each 20 minutes to maintain a lookout, IMHO you are sailing safely.
Well, you will miss plenty of flares and emergency signals in those 2o minuttes.

You may not agree that rules and safety are the same thing, but each individual's idea of safety is different from another person's and there can be a pretty wide range: From the crazed lunatic's to the one that never leaves the dock since it is not "safe".

Instead of each skipper making his own rules, why don't we just stick to the International Rule of the Road?

Pretty easy and straightforward.

By all means keep ranting on about this, but its not going to change anything, is it?
Well, this board is for expressing opinions, not sure we should quit doing that just because it won't change the world...
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Old 20-01-2007, 09:46   #28
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Swagman, I agree with your point, but I really appreciate the counter point CSY has made. It is a valid issue. Of course, if we all conformed to every rule, would we ever go sailing? The issue is safety. The real question is, can a single hander make safe passages? When Slocum did it, ships were far and few between, and not moving at 20kts. But, there were no radar alrms, or GPS. There are a number of single handers who have made reference to use of controled substances when approaching land in order to assure alertness. Not sure I agree, but certainly not in my personal list of options. Still, there is an important difference in personalities between the mind that can be alone on the water for weeks on end, and remain sane, vs those who get lonely on a day sail. My personality is such that I really only enjoy my wife's company for any extended period of time. Aside from her, I prefer to be alone. Were sh not there anymore, I would be single handing.
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Old 20-01-2007, 11:53   #29
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Radar to help keep watch is a fine idea, but radar sucks the juice like crazy. We typically use radar when the diesel is running (low visibility). I would like to hear from any that actually use radar on batteries only and how they manage their consumption.
Modern radar does not use many amps. We have ours set up to go every 10mins and do a sweep of the ocean to check for possible targets. Other than that it is on standby using around 0.4 of an amp.

It's interesting hearing people's different approaches to watch keeping at night. Personally I could never do a full 12 hr watch as ssullivan does. It's just too cold down here to do that unless you were superman. It find my maximum is 3 hours in poor conditions - any more than that and I'm had it and need a sleep. Normally half an hour's sleep and I'm able to be up on watch again.

The other interesting aspect is how do you quantify watch keeping. To some people watch keeping is looking around the horizon every 20 mins while to other's it's a continual scan. I've sailed with people who were asleep on watch and I've done it myself! I think mainly it depends where you are - coastal sailing is far more watch draining than offshore for instance.

The main aspect to this thread was single handing so let's look at other aspects of single handing which are more interesting. How for instance would you climb the rig by yourself to free a halyard? How much communication is required - ie. do you think it's a good idea to stay in touch on a regular basis via ssb? The problem then comes if you sleep through a sched and people start to panic. How would you cope with the windvane blade breaking and having to hand steer, or the autohelm failing? What about setting that Trisail by yourself?
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Old 20-01-2007, 11:54   #30
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Originally Posted by CSY Man
Well, you will miss plenty of flares and emergency signals in those 2o minuttes.
Ever consider the fact that if singlehanders were not out there to begin with, even more flares and emergency signals would be missed?

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