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Old 28-05-2014, 09:45   #1
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Single Handing for Beginners

So we are a couple of weeks before the first charter of the season and my partner has done something to her back. So now I am thinking I might be more of a single handed sailor than I am completely prepared for. Last time I had an instructor on board I spent an hour or so going though all the points of sail single handed, but we had an autopilot and it was pretty slick.

The 33' Bavaria we have booked has no autopilot and I am trying to work out the steps in my head in case the back doesn't smarten up. I've read through a bunch of threads, but the help is usually pretty generic.

Any hints on easy tacking for one? Mostly what seems fuzzy to me is how to handle the helm: is it better to move slowly through the wind to give you time to haul in the jib sheet or should you tack fairly quickly, let the jib flog and just lock off the wheel while you winch in the sheet? Or am I just not thinking it through correctly...

Any hints?

Bruce
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Old 28-05-2014, 10:27   #2
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

I use my auto pilot to single hand. It may be a little difficult without one.
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Old 28-05-2014, 10:36   #3
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I use my auto pilot to single hand. It may be a little difficult without one.
+1 on the autopilot. Near essential - it gives you time to get all of the sheets etc. prepared for a tack. Then you can go back to the helm, set a 80 degree or so course change (rate can be set in autopilot), as you come through the wind, dump the lazy sheet off the winch (I normally hold one wrap on the winch from the other side of the cockpit), and get as much sheet pulled in on the new tack. Fix your heading as desired, then go back and trim properly.

If you don't have an autopilot, then you're going to have to get good at locking off the helm at a slow turn rate - and do the same with the sheets etc. as with autopilot, remembering to go back and straighten up the helm before you've pulled all of the active sheet in (lest you run out of time),.

One of the biggest benefits with an AP is when you want to reef single-handedly.

At the end of the day, single-handing doesn't need to be more difficult than short-handing. You just need to spend much more time in advance of a maneuver to think through your actions step by step before you commit - and have a backup plan at each step in case events overtake you too quickly!
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Old 28-05-2014, 10:45   #4
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

Motor out on a light wind day where there is open water with no obstructions and practice. The exact tacking procedure will depend on your layout but do one step at a time. I find I overtack to a bit of a reach, get some way on then slowly harden up incrementally. Don't try to tack fast into the groove like racers.

Plan each procedure ahead, have all the lines layed out, when docking have fenders deployed early, coming to a mooring have the boat hook ready even if there's a pick up pendent. And think through the backup/get out plan if something fails or misses.

Redundancy and slow deliberate procedures and it's all smooth sailing!
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Old 28-05-2014, 10:55   #5
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

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Plan each procedure ahead, have all the lines layed out, when docking have fenders deployed early, coming to a mooring have the boat hook ready even if there's a pick up pendent. And think through the backup/get out plan if something fails or misses.

Redundancy and slow deliberate procedures and it's all smooth sailing!
..another great bit of advice!

There's been a few times that I've come into port, taken a look at the dock, the current, the breeze, other obstructions etc., then gone back out to place with little to run into - set my fenders to the right height, put them over the side, got my docklines ready and setup etc. and gone back in to take another look and maybe commit.
Some people may think that it smacks of bad seamanship to sail along with your fenders dragging in the water, but coming into port while running around on deck in a blind panic, way behind the power-curve doesn't look to "hot" either.
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Old 28-05-2014, 11:01   #6
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I use my auto pilot to single hand. It may be a little difficult without one.
Seriously

I mostly tack solo without the AP as I find it just too slow.

I hold the sheet as I turn the wheel full lock to tack letting go of the sheet when the sail starts to back wind. At this point I let go of the when and start sheeting in. Once I have have tacked through enough angle, I grab the wheel and center it, usually whilst winching still. Depending on the wind strength I may steer and winch or set the AP and then winch.

I think that having twin helms does make it easier for me to do it like this

For most other things I'd be lost without the AP
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Old 28-05-2014, 11:09   #7
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pirate Re: Single Handing for Beginners

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macblaze View Post
So we are a couple of weeks before the first charter of the season and my partner has done something to her back. So now I am thinking I might be more of a single handed sailor than I am completely prepared for. Last time I had an instructor on board I spent an hour or so going though all the points of sail single handed, but we had an autopilot and it was pretty slick.

The 33' Bavaria we have booked has no autopilot and I am trying to work out the steps in my head in case the back doesn't smarten up. I've read through a bunch of threads, but the help is usually pretty generic.

Any hints on easy tacking for one? Mostly what seems fuzzy to me is how to handle the helm: is it better to move slowly through the wind to give you time to haul in the jib sheet or should you tack fairly quickly, let the jib flog and just lock off the wheel while you winch in the sheet? Or am I just not thinking it through correctly...

Any hints?

Bruce
Contact the Charter Company.. explain the situation and ask them if they can change you over to a boat with an AP..
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Old 28-05-2014, 11:10   #8
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

This might provide insight. It is worth a read IMO.

http://sfbaysss.net/resource/doc/Sin...irdEdition.pdf

Hope it helps.
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Old 28-05-2014, 11:13   #9
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

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Originally Posted by hoppy View Post

I think that having twin helms does make it easier for me to do it like this

For most other things I'd be lost without the AP
Now that I think about that Dufour we practiced on did have twin helms...

Thanks for the good step-by-steps... Anyone care to talk gybe?
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Old 28-05-2014, 11:15   #10
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

Even with a sore back, if your partner is able to be on the boat and move about I would think they could man the helm during a tack. And either way it doesn't have to be pretty or even maintain the speed, just get around and then get the boat back on its' feet.

tighten up on the low side sheet, put the other in your hand, tack and release the sheet when on the new tack, then trim
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Old 28-05-2014, 11:17   #11
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

Bruce, I find I run out of time occasionally during a tack even with the autopilot. If you leave the Genoa until you are through the wind then you end up "hove to" and dead in the water. If you release the Genoa and then tack, the sail flogs. The main is less of an issue as mine is small enough to lower with one hand down to the leeward side.

Currently I am practising being faster by ignoring the main, so autopilot to tack then Genoa and finally sort the main out.

Without an autopilot it all goes to poo very quickly with the boat drifting off as you try to adjust the sails.

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Old 28-05-2014, 11:19   #12
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

Ease of single handing varies from boat to boat. The best methods to use also vary. As an example, some boats like to have you back wind the jib to help get the nose around before you loose boat speed, others don't take well to that at all & will fall off too far if you use that method. Ease of single handing also depends on how the boat is rigged. If the lines are all run back to the cockpit, where you can get to them from the helm station, then single handing is much easier compared to a boat with lines that are way up front somewhere.

I've single handed several different boats. I had to learn the idiosyncrasies of each one individually. Most of the boats did not have auto-helms. Several different tricks can be used, such as lashing the tiller, handling the sheets while head to wind and then backing down into the next tack, but each trick has it's disadvantages that need to be considered. Some people use a piece of shock cord when they lash the tiller & try to balance the stretch of the cord against the weather helm. Like most other tricks, this works better on some boats than others. I've never seen "singlehanding 101" written up as a universally applicable set of instructions that you can always count on to make things work for you.

Trying to do a drop & go on an unfamiliar boat with injured crew is a roll of the dice. Have you considered inviting along an additional person? If there is a chance you might get caught in heavy weather, this becomes even more critical.

What happens if you fall overboard? Do you plan to be tethered?
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Old 28-05-2014, 11:23   #13
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

First, check with the charter company to make sure they will let you go solo. Some charter companies do not allow solo sailing.

I solo sailed my ex charter boat from Puerto Rico back to the states this past summer, most if it without using my autopilot. (Didn't work well once there was any seas and wind)

Some things that helped me when gong solo:

Have everything you need for the day in the cockpit, or where you can grab it in a second reaching below - sunglasses, rain coat, lunch, etc.


To tack, I usually stood forward of the wheel so I could reach back to spin the wheel and then reach forward to winch.

Over reef, so it's less likely you'll have to reef underway and are more prepared if unexpectedly hit by a squal. - yes you will loose some boat speed, but to me it's worth it.

Anchor where it's unlikely to have other boats very close by. Getting the anchor down isn't the problem, but it's nice to have more room when getting it up and having to scramble back to the helm.
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Old 28-05-2014, 11:40   #14
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

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To tack, I usually stood forward of the wheel so I could reach back to spin the wheel and then reach forward to winch.
Now that right there makes some things make more sense spatially. Thanks.

Yes, she will be on the boat, yes, she will likely be at the helm for most manoeuvres and so yes, it shouldn't be much of a problem. I just find that trying to learn to cruise 3 or 4 weeks a year means I do a lot of mental walking through from 1000 miles away from the nearest boat. Sometimes its hard to keep it all in my head.

Maybe what CF needs is an on demand video channel. Posters ask question and some friendly live-aboard posts an quick demo video. Any takers? Maybe this can be added to the Make A Living Thread... I'd easily pay a beer a question.
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Old 28-05-2014, 11:46   #15
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Re: Single Handing for Beginners

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... I'd easily pay a beer a question.
I think you'd find the production value of many posted videos only to be worth a beer!
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