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Old 07-06-2010, 14:54   #1
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Why Solo ?



Why Solo?

I don't see much chatter on the subject anywhere, so I thought I would drop a thread to see if we can record other sailor's reasoning for it, as well as my own. Having done it for quite a while of my sailing life, friends and other's either react as if I am crazy, or that I am going after some romantic super human achievement, and their reasonings at least for me are so off-base or misconstrued I tend to just agree with them to get to the next subject these days. You can try and explain it but they don't listen or turns it into some argument. You see, it's not because of arrogance or some 19th century idealogical Man vs Nature kind of thing. Hardly close to the truth. The reason is, at least for me is, I gravitate to sailing solo because of my "limitations" not for any strengths or to gain any strengths from the experience. Because perhaps I am not as good as other people in certain social situations, and sometimes it's just a matter of practicality and timing. And here are my reasons:

- I'm spontaneous and can't wait for other people at the dock or plan with other people.
- People moving on a boat or pointing to things confuses me and distracts my concentration while steering.
- Soloing is more affordable - smaller yacht, storage and supplies. Easier plans.
- I don't like group think or group decisions during journeys or even in rooms. My ideals are always right and sound.
- After 1-2 days in a closed space I might make your life living hell with my complaining and temperament.
- I need to know where everything is all the time. All forks must be in the fork box. A toothpick out of place will confuse me to know end and make me loose lots of precious calories trying to find it.
- Human voices annoy me in the morning. Banging pots annoy me in the morning.
- I don't like people sitting on my toilet seat. I do not want anyone else's cooties.
- I cannot stand any stereo system on the boat, yet alone music of any kind. I need to hear what is going on around me, i need to feel the vibrations on deck with bare feet, i need to feel the wave and ocean rhythms via the tiller. If I can't do this I will get bitter and yell at someone and panic and complain.
- I can't sit still and need to be active all the time or I will loose it. Relaxing is boring and useless to me.
- I am a horrible judgement of other peoples character. If I chose as crew a grinder who had climbed 7 peaks and walked solo across Australia, he might end up holding a flare pistol to my head panicked in a light gale crying for his mommy; while the skinny yoga instructor I picked up as crew in the supermarket sewed back on her severed arm with dental floss and is now making tea singing a beatles song.
- I have a real aversion to the situation that if the boat sank, and we were all in the water, life-craft busted, I would have to say to the crew "Well, I guess this is it. Can I just say to you all: you've been a great crew...sorry we are all going to die now? Hugs?"
- I would equally hate to come on deck in the morning and find my fellow cruiser missing.
- I can't stand useless conversations...conversations that drone on about nothing pretending they are meaningful:

CREW #1: "Why are people so complacent and insulting in our society these days?"

CREW #2: "Because that's just the way life is, you moron!"

There are of course gains by going solo. Besides the hyper awareness to the environment I describe, you are also hyper aware to yourself. Most of the times that "mirror" to yourself is frightening and ugly and raw. But you learn from it, and it helps in other areas once you do arrive somewhere. It's short-lived though. These weakness do not usually go away, but you learn to accept them and perhaps manage them better. And you go back out to get recharged from time to time.

SaltyMonkey
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Old 07-06-2010, 15:17   #2
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When I was heading out for the first time I worked hard to line folks up. A number of friends said they wanted to go and we even got a calendar going.

When it came time to go, they had other commitments or reconsiderations. After missing several good weather windows and paying way too much dockage I left. In the following years, some would come down when they planned it but the others developed new interests, so I sailed solo or got crew in ports.

We both did what we want but I'm convinced I had a better time, learned more, and had a life altering adventure.

Don't let dreamers keep you from fullfilling your dream. Going solo or shorthanded is neither difficult or dangerous, imo. You just have to understand the limitations and take steps earlier than if you had a crew.
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Old 07-06-2010, 15:44   #3
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I have done some limited single handing mainly when crew was not available and I needed to get from here to there on a time table. It was quite different from sailing with a crew and quite interesting, for all the reasons you mentioned; nice time for introspection, no distractions, go when and where you want.

However, my trips were coastal and I could anchor out every night. I still have concerns about sailing singlehanded without standing watch. In my years of cruising I have had three close calls with other sailboats where obviously no one on the other boat was on watch. In two of the situations if I had not been standing watch and changed course we would have collided. One was last year in broad daylight about 8 miles off Delaware Bay.

The other was about halfway between Jamaica and the Windward Passage, at least 100 miles from the nearest land and in the middle of the night. This boat did not even have running lights, probably to save power. If two sailboats could potentially collide that far out at sea think of the odds closer to land.
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Old 07-06-2010, 17:00   #4
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I solo for the same reason I hike that way. It's how I learned, it's all I know. No one wanted to spend 25 miles hiked out in a racing dink with me. The first thing I do when I get a boat is rig it for single-handing. I don't know a lot of sailors I can trust at the helm. I've tried, Lord knows I have. I tell a helmsman to stay to the windward side of the inlet, he ignores me and we end up grounded on the leeward bank. I tell another to swing wide, that there's a sandbar there, he cuts across. I tell someone to reef if the winds heel us too much, I wake up on my butt. There seems to be a lot less stress if I have no one else to blame but me.

I think I have trust and control issues. Or stupid friends. I can never tell...
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Old 07-06-2010, 17:15   #5
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I wont blame my friends too much. I blame my judgement for expecting too much from them. I had one friend of mine - gave him a magnetic course and landmark to point too, monitored his steering for a while, then went down to get us something to eat. When I returned, we were headed 180 degrees.

Planning for one extra person is difficult. Planning for two is X^2 and so on. It becomes more and more complicated aligning things up.

Offshore, used to use a CARD system. 20 minute catnaps. Not any more. I'm getting radar. I must have been crazy.
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:10   #6
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Good stuff. I prefer small boats. I keep things simple. I don't need background noise. I'm not really anti-social but I'm rarely bored with my own company. I'm ashore at the moment doing some work on the boat but I'm still with others less than an hour or two a day. I've had my share of companionship on board and otherwise, and fortunately, I don't miss it much. I think Voltaire said: "Hell is other people."
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:16   #7
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Originally Posted by tgzzzz View Post
... I think Voltaire said: "Hell is other people."
Although Jean-Paul Sartre’s character Cradeau (in the play “No Exit”) concludes that “hell is other people”; we should not misinterpret the statement as implying that “other people are hell.”
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:22   #8
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Machts nicht...
-Nietzche
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:58   #9
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Machts nicht...
-Nietzche
Did you mean to refer to Nietzsche?
Who said: “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich starker.”
(That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.)

Or did you mean “Macht nichts”?
(Never mind!, Don't worry about it. , It doesn’t matter.)

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Old 09-06-2010, 09:17   #10
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I'm a new sailor. I race on OPB's, to learn how to sail well, at a rapid learning curve.

When I sail my boat, I singlehand nearly every time. I don't play music, the most complex electronic I have onboard is a hand-held GPS. I don't miss human company. For me, the boat is an escape from society. Society is probably as grateful for my exit as I am.

I enjoy not being beholden to anyone, not having to entertain, and not being disappointed by people not living up to my expectations (which really aren't that high). I don't miss idle conversation. I have no one to blame but myself for any successes or failures which occur, which is fine by me.
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:44   #11
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The latter, of course.
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:50   #12
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Originally Posted by RedBellies View Post
The latter, of course.
Lol..I've had some successes. I can't claim exclusive credit for them unfortunately. The credit belongs to those folks online who've offered positive, constructive, comments and advice, as well as those who've graciously invited me on their boats for experience and instruction.

I like being alone, but teaching myself exclusively would be a long, and arduous process.
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Old 09-06-2010, 11:27   #13
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Thanks Redbellies. It is IM oh so HO a distinction without a real difference.

JPS: "…'hell is other people' has always been misunderstood. It has been thought that what I meant by that was that our relations with other people are always poisoned, that they are invariably hellish relations."

I can't say they are invariably so, but often enough for me.
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Old 09-06-2010, 21:49   #14
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Some time back I read a biography of Albert Einstein and lo and behold unknown to most of the world he was an avid single hand daysailor and liked to push his boat to its limits( in a small keel boat). I dig it -Its the challange -its me and the elements -quiet and physically active yet very relaxing.I started sailing late(in my early 20s) single handed from the start Now going on 50 yrs 0f one on one with my boats(perhaps 20 or so different boats from gaffers,high speed multi,to J/44-I will sail with others and don't mind it if they are good and I will take a green horn out for a day- But it's best when it's me and the boat.When I cruise it is me and the wife but when I sail it is me and the boat
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Old 10-06-2010, 01:23   #15
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!. Feet stink
2. Breath smells
#. Pass gass loudly
4. Sexual diseases
5. Cannibal

Sorry it's all I could think of on short notice
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