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Old 25-06-2013, 21:46   #1
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Singlehanding Tips?

I am looking to get into singlehanding my boat, mostly because I love fishing (whether I catch anything or have to lie and say that I did, lol) and am wondering if anyone has any great singlehanding tips.

I have a Columbia 26 Mk 2 that is rigged for singlehanding. Every single line runs to the cockpit, the only lines that arent are the halyards. Fishing rod holders and downriggers of course, I can see all the instrumentation (GPS/sounder) from the cockpit and I have an extended tiller that I can operate phalically by putting it between my legs. Self tailing winches for the jib and an extra four winches for everything else, cleats all over the place clam and regular. Whoever set this boat up for singlehanding was a master who know much more than I, I cant even guess what half of the clamcleats mounted to the cockpit toerails are for and beleive me I've tried but they do come in handy in all sorts of weird situations. It has an amazing lazyjack system with two lines so I can adjust the lines in any spot around the sail.

I have West Marine co2 harness/lifevest inflatables so I an rig a jackline or at least tie myself off to a cleat someplace (theres no need to run onto the foredeck for practically anything unless something goes wrong) and a continuous line furler so I can use the same line to furl and unfurl right from the cockpit, no holding jibsheets in one hand and tugging on a seperate furling line.

I've got a 12ft inflatable dinghy that I usually tow and my reef points on the main are also entirely operable from the cockpit. Reef 1 I can just pull on while holding the mainsheet loosely on a winch and reef 2 is largely the same.

I'm quite nervous getting in and out of dock even with crew. Hate the idea of hitting someone or some idiot's outboard spun up at a 90 degree angle with sharp prop blades three foot from his boat. On the water its not so nerve wracking, usually I'm mostly single handing anyway but having the crew is nice for moral support or when I need someone to jump a halyard line at the mast to raise the main or drop bumpers.

But I am pretty excited to get out there on my own and do some fishing, maybe even an overnight excursion or boat move to pick up the woman from a closer port or drop the boat off at the slip while dropping her off at a more convenient port because of the kid. I dont intend on doing anything at night after dark, I dont even do that with crew as I dont have radar and wouldn't trust my navigation skills without a plotter and while I love technology I wouldnt want to put all my trust in a plotter anyway.

Mostly it's docking, anchoring (no electric windlass and dont intend to buy one) and preparations for sailing so I dont end up knee deep in sh*t. Winds are feirce at my home port, noon on a sunny day 20-30 kts is pretty normal, but it does mellow out the further I get from home.

I have very much enjoyed solo camping/hiking/fishing inland on lakes and mountains and would like to start translating this to my most expensive outdoor toy, my floating RV of a boat.

Any tips given the above? I dont think I need any more deck hardware, its beautifully rigged. More just mental, physical, and material preparation as I'm nervous enough at sea knowing that the sea is a fickle mistress, and if she's p*ssed off at you you're completely screwed. Being alone means nobody can rescue you.
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Old 25-06-2013, 21:53   #2
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Re: Singlehanding tips?

When single handed and expect rough weather, I bring the anchor into the cockpit being very careful about how the anchor line is fed. That is, when you drop the anchor from the cockpit, the anchor line is fed out back to the anchor pulpit without running on top of your lifelines and crushing them and bending your stanchions.
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Old 25-06-2013, 21:57   #3
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Re: Singlehanding tips?

Another tip is to get an auto pilot. Most of them have a "Tacking" feature which makes tacking real easy. Just press a button, the auto pilot will tack while you tend the sheets.

And another.... keep a 1 gallon bucket and rope in the cockpit. When its rough out, you can pee on the cockpit sole and then rinse with sea water using the 1 gal bucket and never have to leave the cockpit.
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Old 25-06-2013, 22:00   #4
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Re: Singlehanding tips?

You're missing one incredibly helpful piece of hardware if you want to single-hand a lot...a wind vane. It would allow you to step away from the tiller to attend to other matters, be they boat or fish related, and have the boat stay trimmed to the wind.

Not all inflatable PFD's have a proper harness and tether for use with jacklines...we webbing is not designed for the hard stress of you falling over the side. Make sure that what you're wearing is specifically designed to work with a tether and jackline.

As far as docking and anchoring go, it's largely just a matter of designing a process that works for you that gives repeatable results. Your boat, for example, probably turns better to one side than another when under power, and probably backs MUCH better to one side than the other. Approach your docking maneuvers with your boat's abilities in mind
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Old 25-06-2013, 22:36   #5
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Re: Singlehanding tips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr-canada View Post
I am looking to get into singlehanding my boat, mostly because I love fishing (whether I catch anything or have to lie and say that I did, lol) and am wondering if anyone has any great singlehanding tips.

I have a Columbia 26 Mk 2 that is rigged for singlehanding. Every single line runs to the cockpit, the only lines that arent are the halyards. Fishing rod holders and downriggers of course, I can see all the instrumentation (GPS/sounder) from the cockpit and I have an extended tiller that I can operate phalically by putting it between my legs. Self tailing winches for the jib and an extra four winches for everything else, cleats all over the place clam and regular. Whoever set this boat up for singlehanding was a master who know much more than I, I cant even guess what half of the clamcleats mounted to the cockpit toerails are for and beleive me I've tried but they do come in handy in all sorts of weird situations. It has an amazing lazyjack system with two lines so I can adjust the lines in any spot around the sail.

I have West Marine co2 harness/lifevest inflatables so I an rig a jackline or at least tie myself off to a cleat someplace (theres no need to run onto the foredeck for practically anything unless something goes wrong) and a continuous line furler so I can use the same line to furl and unfurl right from the cockpit, no holding jibsheets in one hand and tugging on a seperate furling line.

I've got a 12ft inflatable dinghy that I usually tow and my reef points on the main are also entirely operable from the cockpit. Reef 1 I can just pull on while holding the mainsheet loosely on a winch and reef 2 is largely the same.

I'm quite nervous getting in and out of dock even with crew. Hate the idea of hitting someone or some idiot's outboard spun up at a 90 degree angle with sharp prop blades three foot from his boat. On the water its not so nerve wracking, usually I'm mostly single handing anyway but having the crew is nice for moral support or when I need someone to jump a halyard line at the mast to raise the main or drop bumpers.

But I am pretty excited to get out there on my own and do some fishing, maybe even an overnight excursion or boat move to pick up the woman from a closer port or drop the boat off at the slip while dropping her off at a more convenient port because of the kid. I dont intend on doing anything at night after dark, I dont even do that with crew as I dont have radar and wouldn't trust my navigation skills without a plotter and while I love technology I wouldnt want to put all my trust in a plotter anyway.

Mostly it's docking, anchoring (no electric windlass and dont intend to buy one) and preparations for sailing so I dont end up knee deep in sh*t. Winds are feirce at my home port, noon on a sunny day 20-30 kts is pretty normal, but it does mellow out the further I get from home.

I have very much enjoyed solo camping/hiking/fishing inland on lakes and mountains and would like to start translating this to my most expensive outdoor toy, my floating RV of a boat.

Any tips given the above? I dont think I need any more deck hardware, its beautifully rigged. More just mental, physical, and material preparation as I'm nervous enough at sea knowing that the sea is a fickle mistress, and if she's p*ssed off at you you're completely screwed. Being alone means nobody can rescue you.

Being alone does NOT mean nobody can rescue you. Your goal is to stay ON the boat. We have threads here about tethers, jacklines, and (gasp -- don't say it, you know who!) -- drag lines, which work exceptionally well with a tiller. If they're long enough and you use floating line.

If you have a roller furler, great. If you don't, rig a downhaul to bring your headsail down ifyou have to -- and put netting along the bow. It will keep the headsail from dropping into the water, which could be very bad.

THAT SAID: a fisherman drowned not far from me in 6' of water. How did it happen? Somehow, he got tangled the anchor, probably putting it down or pulling it in... and he didn't have the FIRST piece of advice I ever got for sailing -- buy a GOOD rigging knife, and strap it to your pants. (Shameless plug, see my blog for an article about this and pictures of what I use).

If that poor fellow had had a knife with him that he couldn't lose he would probably be alive today.

Raising and lowering the anchor? Please -- I'm a 67 year old woman with a physical limitation, and i do it all the time. You can also see my blog for a pretty foolproof way to get the anchor up safely, without driving over the anchor rode and without a windlass.

I like sailing with other people. I really do. I also like sailing by myself. Sure it's a little dangerous, but you can mitigate most of the dangers. You're probably in more danger on a ladder cleaning out your gutters, in all seriousness.

Worried about falling overboard and not being found? Get a personal EPIRB.

Start out in waters you're very familiar with (less to think about) and gradually expand your horizons. I think single-handing provides a special joy.
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Old 25-06-2013, 22:37   #6
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Re: Singlehanding tips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
You're missing one incredibly helpful piece of hardware if you want to single-hand a lot...a wind vane. It would allow you to step away from the tiller to attend to other matters, be they boat or fish related, and have the boat stay trimmed to the wind.

Not all inflatable PFD's have a proper harness and tether for use with jacklines...we webbing is not designed for the hard stress of you falling over the side. Make sure that what you're wearing is specifically designed to work with a tether and jackline.

As far as docking and anchoring go, it's largely just a matter of designing a process that works for you that gives repeatable results. Your boat, for example, probably turns better to one side than another when under power, and probably backs MUCH better to one side than the other. Approach your docking maneuvers with your boat's abilities in mind

+1 for what he said about your PFD.
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Old 25-06-2013, 22:39   #7
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Re: Singlehanding tips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
You're missing one incredibly helpful piece of hardware if you want to single-hand a lot...a wind vane. It would allow you to step away from the tiller to attend to other matters, be they boat or fish related, and have the boat stay trimmed to the wind.

Not all inflatable PFD's have a proper harness and tether for use with jacklines...we webbing is not designed for the hard stress of you falling over the side. Make sure that what you're wearing is specifically designed to work with a tether and jackline.

As far as docking and anchoring go, it's largely just a matter of designing a process that works for you that gives repeatable results. Your boat, for example, probably turns better to one side than another when under power, and probably backs MUCH better to one side than the other. Approach your docking maneuvers with your boat's abilities in mind

I single hand without a windvane. I tack all the time. I bring the main in close to center, tack using the headsail, and then re-adjust the main. Sometimes I have to go back and tweak the headsail but that's really not a big deal.

Something else you need (whether with others or by yourself) is a well designed and EFFICIENT reefing system. You have to be able to do it quickly by yourself.
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Old 25-06-2013, 22:41   #8
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Re: Singlehanding tips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
You're missing one incredibly helpful piece of hardware if you want to single-hand a lot...a wind vane. It would allow you to step away from the tiller to attend to other matters, be they boat or fish related, and have the boat stay trimmed to the wind.

Not all inflatable PFD's have a proper harness and tether for use with jacklines...we webbing is not designed for the hard stress of you falling over the side. Make sure that what you're wearing is specifically designed to work with a tether and jackline.

As far as docking and anchoring go, it's largely just a matter of designing a process that works for you that gives repeatable results. Your boat, for example, probably turns better to one side than another when under power, and probably backs MUCH better to one side than the other. Approach your docking maneuvers with your boat's abilities in mind

We also just had a long thread about single-handed docking with a bunch of suggestions on how to do it.
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Old 25-06-2013, 22:52   #9
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Re: Singlehanding Tips?

Just practice. If you're bringing others, don't ask them to help with the maneuvers. I've got a 30' full keel cutter with a 3.5 foot bow sprit and regularly single hand it in Alaska (anchoring at night if single handing). No electric windlass, no self tailing winches, and no windvane. I do have an electric autopilot, but close hauled or in more than moderate weather, it doesn't do all that great. However, I have gone more than 30 minutes close hauled with the autopilot off and the wheel untouched on occasion just by trimming the sails properly (and having just the right conditions). Docking can be tight, but I've only had two poor docking experiences and both in the first year that I owned the boat. The first one put a minor scratch in the paint because I couldn't get a roving fender in place in time, and the second time, I couldn't get in my assigned berth the first two attempts and ended up choosing a vacant berth nearby and moving my boat the next day when conditions eased up a bit. Just don't be afraid to use some power when you need it, and have a contingency plan if things just aren't looking right. Don't be ashamed to back out and try again. Heck, maybe even just practice docking on a good day! Anchoring in my area tends to be easy since there aren't usually many crowded anchorages, and in most places if you run aground, you can step onto the shore without getting your feet wet. However, I usually just get underway with the engine in neutral (often at least the main up, but not the jib since I'm working on the foredeck and a roller-furling jib is easy to set) while I get her up to short stay. Then, if I have enough sea room behind me, I'll finish hauling up the anchor, then attend to engine/sails and I'm off. If I'm concerned about a shoal aft of me, then I'll clutch the engine in forward with the autopilot on, and then haul up the rest of the anchor (of course, monitoring if it's fouled). Good luck and get out there sailing!

P.S., if you're on the west coast of Canada, the conditions are likely very similar to what I'm dealing with in Alaska.
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Old 25-06-2013, 22:53   #10
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Re: Singlehanding Tips?

I have no autopilot, windvane or otherwise. My PFD is designed to double as a harness though, very strong webbing with a stainless ring at the front, its the West Marine inflatable type with 3" webbing and two stainless rings and it instructs by icon on the front where to install the tether to the jackline and how.

I'd like to get an autopilot, I have the mount for it in the cockpit but that is yet another purchase to be made. I dont plan on going more than a days travel on my own and with all the rigging and extended tiller my only need for an auto is to go down below to drop a duece in the head or grab a drink or grab some lunch. It would be useful.

The reef lines as described are a dream to operate. Using the spinny downhaul to pull down the jib is an interesting and crafty idea I hadnt thought of at all.
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Old 25-06-2013, 22:55   #11
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Re: Singlehanding Tips?

yeah i'm westcoast BC in howe sound. not too big of waves in most weather except squamish where the wind is nutty and hard - my home port that I have to deal with every entry and exit from the slip
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Old 25-06-2013, 22:58   #12
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Re: Singlehanding Tips?

you've reminded of the time a few years ago taking the boat some miles to be wintered. it was late in the year and howling. a 10 hour ride with the rail buried. i got to outside the marina and decided to drop an anchor outside until the winds laid down rather than enter a place i didnt know in those conditions and with my relative (in)experience. I still think it was a smart decision...besides the rum was of good quality....so no hurry.

i singlehand often and enjoy it although i can't speak to the fishing part and none of my halyards are lead aft.
i find everything is related to anticipating moves and situations a bit more ahead in time and distance and this scale is wholly dependent on weather situation, sea state, and your ability. the trick is to take your time, think everything through and prepare all lines etc. before they are needed. vhf in the cockpit. charts ready and accessible....tides known and understood, etc.

finding a way to get your boat to steer a course while you're fiddling around with other things is key while underway.

Anchoring is usually a walk in the park but has its moments...and they are usually at 02:00 when the wind swings around and picks up. Know the weather forecast and plan for it.

docking is always a concern....and i've finally learned the value of midship spring lines. for docking (which i hate btw) knowing how your boat handles in different situations i.e. windage, steerage and reverse.

dropping sails: here the old adage definitely applies: if you think you need to drop sail - do it. being singlehanded often doesn't afford the luxury of waiting until the uh-oh moment...thats when things can unwind fast.

Generally with every sailing action, sooner is always the prudent course from which you can more readily recover

It's when i don't prepare and get cavalier is exactly when i get into trouble.
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Old 25-06-2013, 23:01   #13
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Re: Singlehanding Tips?

Ahh, I forgot the PFD part. I'm always wearing when single handing, and not an inflatable. Due to the temperature, it's usually a Mustang jacket, but I've also got a lighter weight vest for the odd warm days. Also, when I tack, I very rarely use the autopilot (no windvane on it, just a compass). However, with a wheel I might not have as many challenges as with a tiller. I do generally prefer a tiller in most cases, though. Also, when tacking in lighter winds, I often have to go forward to get the genoa around the cutter stay. Personally I don't use jack lines or clip in unless it's getting rougher out. I also usually have at least a dozen charter fishing boats, whale watching boats, or personal skiffs in the vicinity and keep a waterproof VHF radio in my pocket and tied on to the brightly colored lifevest (never understood the blue, black or camouflaged ones).
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Old 25-06-2013, 23:05   #14
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Re: Singlehanding Tips?

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besides the rum was of good quality....so no hurry.
I always stock ten times as much rum as I need

And bottled water for when I'm sailing

;-)
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Old 25-06-2013, 23:11   #15
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Re: Singlehanding Tips?

to get an idea of the kind of weather i have to deal with in and out of the docks, visit
The Squamish Windsports Society :. Wind
and pop in this date
2012-08-26

i was out in that with a green crew it was nutty

check a bunch of summer dates it gets kind of crazy on a regular basis there
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