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Old 29-03-2012, 15:54   #16
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

DO,
The problem is apparent wind can vary a lot if you are hitting waves or if the wind itself is oscillating. The wind vane or an autopilot responding to a wind sensor input will begin turning the boat this way and that and that will in turn vary the apparent wind. You end up with an S shaped course.

I have a wheel pilot and it seems to track very steady. If the wind stays steady then we're OK. It it changes, you can have a jibe or lose way with the sails flapping. Kind of like my regular helm work.
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Old 29-03-2012, 15:57   #17
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

I'm curious, having no catamaran experience. Why would a catamaran be easier or more difficult or different to handle than a monohull, singlehandled?
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Old 29-03-2012, 15:57   #18
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

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Originally Posted by eliems View Post
So a plan is emerging whereby I search out the right cat (somewhere in the BVI region) and then my wife joins me later for our live-aboard adventure in the Caribbean.

This means that for some months I will be on the boat alone, learning the ropes, so to speak.

Question: for something like a FP 36 Mahe or PDQ or even a well priced Lagoon 380, is it practical to expect to single handle such a boat?

My experience will be limited to two years (with lots of sailing) in the Pacific North West.
Most important is pre-preparation.
For docking - all lines and fenders prepared before entering the harbor.
Often an unknown harbor - so contingency plans in place before hand - extra throw ropes at strategic locations etc.
Can't help you with moorings - don't use the things. But, can be difficult even with 2 people (so I have observed).
Anchoring is easier and most important skill. Easier to deploy than retrieve. And, again anchor systems prepared in advance. i.e un clip/cleat/tie anchor in advance so is ready to drop as you come up into the wind at your desired location. Also better in more remote locations as you practice.
Sailing easy too - with auto-pilot - could ont imagine a cat like that without one though...
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Old 29-03-2012, 15:58   #19
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

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Originally Posted by kaimusailing View Post
DO,
The problem is apparent wind can vary a lot if you are hitting waves or if the wind itself is oscillating. The wind vane or an autopilot responding to a wind sensor input will begin turning the boat this way and that and that will in turn vary the apparent wind. You end up with an S shaped course.

I have a wheel pilot and it seems to track very steady. If the wind stays steady then we're OK. It it changes, you can have a jibe or lose way with the sails flapping. Kind of like my regular helm work.
And that is why I think I won't sleep as well on a cat, darn. On my Cal 40, the wind vane did it all, except light winds, to keep me on the point I wanted for snooze time.
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Old 29-03-2012, 16:11   #20
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

A decent autopilot will be able to steer to the wind very well. Windvanes don't tend to work well on fast boats, too much change in AWA with increasing speed, and on a run the AWS is low. Also when surfing downwind the AWA will go well forward of TWA, which can cause accidental gybes. Good autopilots will switch to TWA for downwind sailing. You should be able to sleep better.
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Old 29-03-2012, 16:16   #21
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

Sounds like auto pilots are smarter than what they were 25 years ago, and yes I'll sleep better, thanks.
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Old 29-03-2012, 16:16   #22
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

Tried an Aries on a 36' cat (hydraulic wheel steering, so lines and blocks involved) and eventually gave up on it. As someone else commented, lack of clean air due to the superstructure and sails is a pain and waves on certain points cause a speed/movement differential that affects the air across the vane too. Shame. The theory was fine......
Singlehanding: Yes, most cats have everything led back to the cockpit, so if you anticipate your sailing conditions circumspectly there is no need to exit the cockpit until close to docking/mooring/anchoring.
Mooring: don't know if anyone else does the same, but bring the ball alongside the steering position, boat hook handy, with a line from a front cleat brought back to the same position, loop it in and walk it forward then bridle at your leisure. Not sure that sounds exactly clear, apologies if it doesn't. Works for me.......
Enjoy your solo sailing and don't forget to socialise with us other 'grotty yachties'!
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Old 29-03-2012, 16:27   #23
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

The more elemental question about why cats are more difficult to handle is due to cats accelerating more quickly and having less mass (lead) and usually more windage. A cat will sail along just fine, but when you bring them head to wind, they have no momentum to carry them on, and the windage comes into account. Steerage goes away when the speed drops. They don't spin around like a fin keel monohull, so you can get stuck in irons. The same problem happens when you try to dock or moor when it's windy, especially if the wind comes in gusts and calms. It's hard to guess where you will end up in such situations. A power boat will be able to pivot more quickly. A cat with twin engines can use them to control the boat a low speeds.
A singlehander has to plan way ahead. Treat the cat like a large ship and give enough leeway to maneuver. Use the sails to point the boat where you want, if the boat is dead in the water.
It's hard to stop the boat right at a mooring, but you can get close. Dropping an anchor, if permissable, can give time to warp over to the mooring.
Some practice with a half full plastic bottle as a target can help develop skills that can be useful later for MOB, if you have crew on board.
Once you get out of port, a cat is actually better for singlehanding, but coming into a mooring or dock requires skill and coordination and preplanned activity. I'm sure there are many skippers here who have some special tricks. I could certainly use some.
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Old 29-03-2012, 16:27   #24
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by deckofficer View Post
Sounds like auto pilots are smarter than what they were 25 years ago
And use a LOT less power.

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Old 29-03-2012, 16:32   #25
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

Thanks GypsyGal, from what others were saying, it wasn't looking good for the vane due to raised roof salon and other factors contributing to lack of clean air aft. I knew it was a problem on cats because I'm not sure I've ever seen a vane on a cat. The vane was sure a carefree device, and how many boat related gear can you say that about. If I don't allow for a tight course (and on a passage you don't need to) the AP shouldn't be too much of an energy hog.
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Old 29-03-2012, 16:36   #26
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

I can imagine that the distance from the cockpit/pilothouse to the side of the boat of a catamaran (as when docking) is further to travel than a monohull so one doesn't get to the boat's side as quickly.
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Old 29-03-2012, 16:38   #27
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

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Thanks GypsyGal, from what others were saying, it wasn't looking good for the vane due to raised roof salon and other factors contributing to lack of clean air aft. ...
Does that mean forward visibility is interrupted/blocked compared to the typical monohull?
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Old 29-03-2012, 17:21   #28
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

I have an autopilot but haven't got around to hooking it up yet. I find that the boat tracks so well that I just leave the wheel to reef. If I'm too slow and the boat starts to get off course I just reach over and give the wheel a nudge. I usually keep the jib drawing on a close reach while reefing which helps.

I haven't had to dock singlehanded as yet but my plan is to nose up to the dock, leave the helm and, as nonchalantly as possible, make my way to the bow, drop a line around a cleat with the boat pole then, slightly less nonchalantly now, make my way back to the helm and engage the dock-side engine in forward. This will bring the boat alongside.
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Old 29-03-2012, 17:35   #29
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

You've got to get on board any boat to see what the sight lines are, access to the water, access out of the water (!), and consider if singlehanding it is safe.
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Old 29-03-2012, 17:46   #30
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Re: Single Handling a cat ...

Getting on and off a dock easy too.
wind blowing on while landing come up beside it let the wind do the work.
Wind blowing off the dock when leaving strategically untie the lines and go. For instance if there are many lines out. set up the last 2 lines to be released nice and short. i.e run them from vessel around dock cleat and back to boat cleat. Then release all other lines and pull in remaining two. Again, this is preparing in advance.
Now getting off a dock when the wind is blowing on. Or onto a dock when wind is blowing off requires springs.
I helped some motor boaters get off a fuel dock recently - the wind was blowing strong onto the dock and they were unable to get off. An old salt tried to help but as soon as they got going the wind blew them back against the dock. I showed them how to do a bow aft spring.
cleat line to bow ( was on starboard side)
cleat other end aft on dock.
motor slowly forward (he gunned it - start again)
by motoring slowly forward - the line becomes taught - stern off boat moves slowly away from dock.
when at decent angle instructed to reverse out into channel.
flipped line off dock threw to crew.
Old Salt said he just learnt something new.
In the morning I did the same thing to get off single handed - just have to run lines for and aft on deck as well to retrieve...
I also mostly use old running rigging for pre and post docking manouvers - as they are lighter and disposable if something goes awry...
Getting onto a dock single handed when wind is "off-dock" is similar.
Nose up to dock - delicately hoverering at the optimum distance - walk nonchalantly to bow (run frantically) - flip the prepared line around post cleat etc.
Meanhwile the stern is getting blown off.
Again walk nonchalantly back to helm hit reverse outer engine - stern slowly creeps back to dock - cleat off.
Now take time to set up proper dock lines/springs etc...
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