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Old 22-06-2018, 22:59   #1
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Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

Looking into buying a Saga 43, which I intend to singlehanded primarily. Offshore or coastal cruising I think the thing will be a dream and is equipped with an autopilot and windvane in addition to having self-tacking staysail and an electric winch, which will hopefully make things easier.

What Iím wondering, though, is which sail should I have at the ready when doing docking maneuvers in case of engine failure? The boat is a Solent rig, and again, has a self tacking staysail. On Bavaria sloops Iíve sailed before I was taught to keep the Genoa at the ready, but those boats were fractional sloops. On the Saga 43 apparently the Genoa has to be furled and redeployed when Gybing.

So wondering whether I should prioritize the staysail since it has the self tacking set up and doesnít have to pass between forestays?
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Old 23-06-2018, 00:01   #2
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

When you have a solent rig, the genoa (which is the sail on the foremost stay), needs to be furled when tacking or gybing. Therefore this sail is maybe not the best one to use if the engine fails, and in close quarters.
If your staysail is on a furler as well, then you need to try that and also try a (reefed) mainsail. Check with which sail you can control the boat best.
My guess would be the staysail in your case, particularly if it is on a furler; yours is self-tacking and you can furl it in quickly.
BTW, I have a solent rig as well, both my foresails on furlers.
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Old 23-06-2018, 00:05   #3
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

For me, it would depend on the apparent wind direction in th maneuver. Upwind, the main would be my choice, for tacking is easy, theboat will go to windward ok and luffing up to stop is easy.

Downwind, stopping with the main up is kinda hard, so I'd opt for the staysail (unless it is boomed). Plenty of drive, and you can simply dump the sheet when it needs to be depowered, or if fitted, furl it up. Still hard to stop, for the windage of the boat will keep her moving, but at least you can get rid of the sail.

The issue of having to furl the genoa to tack or gybe is the big drawback to a Solent rig. We have compensated by using a Milwaukee drill to drive the furling winch at high speed to get it in fast, and then using it to drive the sheet winch on the other tack. Still a PITA, but less grinding and a faster evolution. If I know that we will be short tacking, I'll often use the Solent jib instead of the genoa. Loose some sail area, but normal tacking is possible with little effort. A self tacker would be even more seductive!

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Old 23-06-2018, 02:35   #4
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

It depends on the natural balance of the boat.


With a schooner I sailed a bit, you could do almost anything with her, but very slowly, with a club foot staysail on the main mast, as the centre of effort was very close to the balance point of the hull.


With a 48ft international 8 metre, [small Americas cup racer] I had a short foot cruising main, only 70% the length of the full main. You could do anything with that up, with the full main the sail could overpower the rudder & get you stuck "in irons", if you went too slowly.


I have found that a head sail flapping around when you want to stop is a damn nuisance.
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Old 23-06-2018, 11:31   #5
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

I keep a couple of things in mind when I’m close quarters under power with the potential for engine failure (that is always a potential of course).

First wind and current. If given a choice stay up on both. This will buy a few minutes if things go to custard.

Next is the ANCHOR. It is always ready and tipped out if need be.

Third, which is more to your question, whichever furling headsail I can get out quick and safe.

Constantly be thinking “exit plan” ;-)

In addition become intimate with your engine and the odds of failure drop dramatically.
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Old 23-06-2018, 12:08   #6
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

Hasbeen, Iíll need to see how the boat balances. Iím generally thinking the staysail will be the best option in this scenario. Itís mainly supposed to be used for upwind, but hoping itíll be balanced enough to give the boat some steerage in case the engine goes out in a marina.

The anchor is of course an option, but to go forward and drop the anchor in a crowded marina while having no steerage seems riskier than trying to get one of the furling sails out.
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Old 23-06-2018, 13:21   #7
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

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Originally Posted by akprb View Post
I keep a couple of things in mind when Iím close quarters under power with the potential for engine failure (that is always a potential of course).

First wind and current. If given a choice stay up on both. This will buy a few minutes if things go to custard.

Next is the ANCHOR. It is always ready and tipped out if need be.

Third, which is more to your question, whichever furling headsail I can get out quick and safe.

Constantly be thinking ďexit planĒ ;-)

In addition become intimate with your engine and the odds of failure drop dramatically.

Basically, this. Short of keeping a 10 HP long-shafted four-stroke on a well-backed armature that can drop, running, at a moment's notice off the stern, you have to plan accordingly. When we had two boats, one on the hard in refit and the other on a mooring, I took the opportunity to learn to sail on and off the mooring in various conditions, including ones of adverse wind. You soon find out how much speed you can bleed off in sharp turns or (my favourite) S-turns, and you also learn how long you can coast in neutral. I'll wager going from dead slow forward to neutral in a Saga 43 gives you six to seven boat lengths of coasting, for instance. I used to shift from this to neutral before making my turn into my row of slips, knowing a second sharp turn into my NE-SW dock awaited.

Another slightly alarming "dead stick" maneuver is to compensate for being blown off. This can involve aiming directly at the dock end, knowing you will have the bow blown off before you divot the stem head. For obvious reasons, this is best practised with a crew and a stout boat hook on the foredeck, and all fenders deployed.

Practice, preferably on a plastic spar buoy, makes perfect. Because you don't want to ding that Saga 43, which is near the top of my "lottery win boat list" as a near-perfect passagemaker.
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Old 23-06-2018, 20:00   #8
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

I had a Passport 42 with a self tacking, club foot staysail. Loved it especially when single handed into the wind where a lot of tacking was needed. I would practice docking under sail constantly with the engine running. Practice makes perfect. Some people would think I was odd but what is new.
So many different combinations of wind and current that there is no one answer. When in doubt, anchor, if possible, or ask for assistance.
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Old 23-06-2018, 21:28   #9
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

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Originally Posted by CaptainErk View Post
Looking into buying a Saga 43, which I intend to singlehanded primarily. Offshore or coastal cruising I think the thing will be a dream and is equipped with an autopilot and windvane in addition to having self-tacking staysail and an electric winch, which will hopefully make things easier.

What Iím wondering, though, is which sail should I have at the ready when doing docking maneuvers in case of engine failure?

A boat that size is a handful to single-hand in open waters, let alone coming into a marina. I don't even want to think about loosing the engine right there... but rather making sure that this will never happen to your engine. A lot of that effort should go towards keeping the fuel clean.



On a side note: A few years after buying my boat I eventually got around to opening up the tanks and eventually pumped/scooped out more than 2 kg of sediment from the bottom (of each tank). Just as well the pickup is quite high in the tank, about 10-15cm off the bottom.
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Old 23-06-2018, 23:33   #10
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

IMHO, if you are out someways a jib is nice. Or a main.



If there is ANY clue the engine is not running right, anchor out. Make certain all lines are inboard, start the engine at least 10 minutes before you arrive and test reverse. The chance of engine failure is remote if you take these steps.



If you are a little closer, anchoring fast should work. Use any momentum to shoot into the wind and drop it.


If you are in a fairway, this is plain fantasy in anything larger than a dinghy. The best strategy is generally to try to get a hold of something to windward, or failing that, simply to stabilize the boat against whatever you come against. Don't try to be a hero and really crash into something. Just get the boat stopped and don't make it worse.
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Old 24-06-2018, 01:03   #11
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

Are you sure the boat has both a solent and a staysail? Or maybe I am misunderstanding. Looking at images of the Saga 43, isn't it the solent that is self-tacking? If it has no staysail then of course the solent is the one to have at the ready.
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Old 24-06-2018, 08:18   #12
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Re: Which sail to use for single hand Close Quarters maneuvers

I did a week long cruise and learn on a saga 43 in Vancouver area. It is a very responsive boat, easy to handle in light air as long as you have some way on. Even 1 knot was sufficient for steering. It actually felt very similar to my San Juan 7.7 (barely half the length and maybe a quarter the weight)
We didn't have a self tacking jib, but it was quite easy to tack. I would suggest playing with jib only out in the Bay. Set up a course around buoys and see how it goes.
Once you are confident, have the motor running as back up and sail into an empty area of a marina. Try this in light to medium winds first. If you need to bail, use the motor.
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