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Old 10-03-2012, 07:29   #31
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Re: Most difficult thing about Single Handing?

No sleep.

But. running before a storm in the middle of the night and through reefs at the same time, would have to be tops for me.

I actually thrive on the solitude.
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Old 10-03-2012, 07:59   #32
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

Dealing with the unexpected, thing that you cannot think about and plan for.

Last summer I needed up anchor and it was windy. The wind was "offshore" but there was a small island 100m downwind. When the anchor was halfway up it brought up an old fishing line which jammed the windlass. I was drifting and in a mad rush had to manhandle the chain to get it off the windlass and force chain out so the anchor could dig in again. Thankfully it held and I had time to cut away the line and get the windlass working again.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:19   #33
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

The worst thing for me is docking in a tricky situation with wind, current, tight confines, etc. Once I get away from the dock the normal boat maneuvers are pretty much done singlehanded anyway as I usually sail with just my wife and myself, and one or the other of us can do all the normal sailing chores on our own. However, having another pair of hands when docking is always helpful.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:38   #34
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Re: Most difficult thing about Single Handing?

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Originally Posted by Randyonr3 View Post
I find that after a week or so, my life turns into a series of "cat-naps" for an hour or less..
The hardest for me is getting by without the wife and the little things she does to make the trip memorable..
Nothing better than the smell of her baking cookies or bread while underway, unless the eating of the hot morsels with a fresh cup of tea.
When I'm delivering or underway by myself, I find I'm kind of a grundge monkey, no reason to shower, and the food I eat is just crap..
Yep, the hardest thing to do is going without my wife..

without your wife or without your servant...
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:41   #35
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

Tight docking seems to be the nervy one, usually when particularly tired. Drop the hook and sleep before trying it seems to be the easiest answer.
For the Solent area the easiest pontoon is Wooton Creek, where the Portsmouth Car Ferry's dock IOW side. Sheltered and easy approach, showers and bar available, nice club.
Bigger boats might prefer the pontoons opposite the Southampton Car Ferry dock on the IOW. For one night their charges are reasonable and the yards office doesn't open 'till 8 or 9 am. Spots like these are valuable after a long day, or fortnight.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:47   #36
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

The other nasty jobs - dropping the foresail - a light line run inside the hank-ons can be used to pull the foresail down. Its not tidy, or particularly secure, but it is down.
From an earlier thread - Running a rudder line, run right around the decks, allow some steering when up on the bow.
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:44   #37
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

I remember a friend who single handed from Cape Town to Grenada in 2000, We had daily skeds on the SSB. It was not long before he was a blithering idiot from tiredness. He had one of those non-drip shaft seals that leaked because the hose-clamps were too tight and cut through. He could not figure out a solution because of fatigue. We had to instruct him one step at a time. He also catnapped, and in fear of sleeping too long, he Duct-Taped TWO alarm clocks to his chest, in such a way that the winding handles pulled out bunches of chest hair, and STILL slept through that in exhaustion. The thing is, when it is plain sailing, its wonderful and meditative, but when the poop hits the impeller, fatigue will interfere with decision making. Usually adrenalin can get you through, but, post stress, the come-down will result in exhaustion and your body will clock out for a day or so.

The best advice I can give is Plan Plan Plan, go through every possible scenario mentally many times, have the gear ready, the procedures ready, and then when it happens you can function on autopilot...

Good luck and NEVER PEE OVERBOARD...use the head and sit the hell down.
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:55   #38
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

Dealing with the unexpected is when crew can come in very handy. I once was on a short trip by myself and went to tack but somehow the flapping jib sheet managed to cleat itself neatly around a deck-chock mounted Danforth anchor, which was then promptly ripped off the deck when the sail filled. But, the sheet did not let go of the anchor, so now I had a large, lethal, and pointy steel object flying around the foredeck like a kite on the flapping jib sheet. That type of thing is easier to handle with help.
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Old 10-03-2012, 14:15   #39
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

Getting the anchor up in windy weather is manageable if you have an autopilot with a remote. Put the engine into forward at idle or a bit above if it's really blowing. Go up on the foredeck with the remote and pull up the anchor with the windlass while guiding the boat up the chain with the remote. Once the anchor's out of the water, use the remote to turn downwind and motor out of the anchorage while getting everything sorted.
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Old 10-03-2012, 14:35   #40
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
The worst thing for me is docking in a tricky situation with wind, current, tight confines, etc. Once I get away from the dock the normal boat maneuvers are pretty much done singlehanded anyway as I usually sail with just my wife and myself, and one or the other of us can do all the normal sailing chores on our own. However, having another pair of hands when docking is always helpful.
There are solutions:
1. End ties
2. Anchor-out
3. Get help
All 3 are better than pushing in a bad situation. I distinctly remember trying to dock in a strong cross tide in Chincoteague when short handed (one young child). Every time I started to line up, things moved too fast. Embarrassed in front of a pair of sailors on shore, I didn't let that stop me from choosing a safe but less convenient end tie. When I got off the boat and walked down to see them, I learned they had lost a LOT of paint on a piling. I felt smarter.

The most important the singlehander must know is what he cannot do by himself. Oaten you must choose the safe way, even if it is not what you want.
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Old 10-03-2012, 14:53   #41
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

Sleep deprivation can be a killer. I have had difficulty figuring out the difference between dreaming and hallucinating at times. Easy to get 'zoned' out and act irrationately. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages if you are prepared, embrace the solitude and are pulled by the siren song of the ocean.
Sailing with a partner who shares your love of the sea beats everything IMO... Capt Phil
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Old 22-06-2012, 20:57   #42
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

I endorse the suggestions of backing up to moorings, because at low speeds, the stern of a yacht under motor is inexorably drawn towards the eye of the wind. It's a fringe benefit that you are nearby, and that sightlines are not lost on approach.
If you have a boarding platform, putting you on a level to grab the naughty buoy, it's game, set and match to this method.

In any sort of breeze at all, plan ahead by leading a boat length line, wrapped around the bowcleat or windlass warping drum, through the bow roller and back along a sidedeck, ideally with a maxi-sized snapshackle or strong carabiner to clip around the pickup line or chain (NOT to the pickup handle!). You can then throw the buoy straight back into the tide and pull the boat up to it at leisure.

Forget about tradition and elegance. One fatal trap for the singlehander is playing to the audience. They don't have skin in the game.

It's also worth thinking about retrieving anchor from the cockpit or the transom, at least up to 32' or so. Unless you're in a seaway, it's generally easy enough to hitch a temporary line to the chain outboard of the bow fitting, pay out a boatlength of chain, take the line to the stern, put on some gardening gloves and haul aboard. Particularly good in tight situations where you want to exit essentially downwind.

To me the main thing to avoid if you're going to be singlehanding is reliance on sophisticated aids, like thrusters, autopilots/wind vanes, even engines.
Furlers are a difficult one: the advantages for a single hander are so considerable, on all boats above a certain size, it's hard to argue against 'relying' on them, but they MUST be in excellent condition and well maintained.
There are ways to soften the reliance: for instance I'd strongly recommend using slugs not boltrope on ALL sails, including furling, for serious singlehanding, and having at least one hanked sail (probably a staysail).

Regarding autopilots: I've had a number of passages on sailing vessels belonging to others where they've been perplexed to find the batteries still fully charged after I've taken a night watch. They didn't realise their baby would steer itself (especially to windward or close reaching). Generally it's enough to slightly oversheet the headsail and slightly ease the main, then lash the helm after hand-steering for a few minutes with the helm immobilised, to find the sweet spot.

This is just a start: by experimenting with various techniques you'll eventually find you can persuade your boat to do lots of things without assistance which sailors on crewed vessels would never contemplate.

Experimenting with the numerous different ways of heaving to is fruitful. Some quite outrageous manoeuvres are possible, but should first be attempted in quiet conditions. I've had a sloop hove to when things were set up for a reach, with a long whisker pole and the main boom both guyed out to leeward. I found it was possible to heave the boat to in quiet conditions without touching the sail setup: gybing gently around to bring both sails to the windward side, with the wind flowing in the reverse direction to 'as designed' (ie their leeches acting as luffs.)

Trying seemingly fanciful stuff like this gives you a lot of options when a ship suddenly appears around a bend, or something comes up which simply needs your full attention, without having to stampede around dropping sails, starting engines and such.

Heaving to is (or should be) a very routine manoeuvre when single handed, which can on some occasions be useful for anchoring, raising anchor, picking up moorings (with practice, you can set the boat up so it will forereach quietly to bring the buoy to your boarding platform for snaring as above), checking pilotage, yielding right of way, making adjustments to sail disposition including reefing and shaking out reefs, and dealing with breakages and malfunctions. Not to mention throwing a meal together...

It's essential, to my way of thinking, to be able to 'hold station' without relying on the engine.

Apart from the obvious problem that relying on an engine leaves you desperately exposed and lacking in strategies when it won't run (for some trivial reason which you cannot remediate because you're 'needed on deck') ....

... the other classic problem is that it's much harder to prevent sheets going temporarily over the side when you're on your own. You just can't be everywhere at once. (And it might be dark, so you can't necessarily see where you should be)

It's not generally a problem as long as there is no prospect of a propellor turning.

So it's important to work out ways to, say, raise, lower and reef the mainsail alone without running the engine. In any conditions.

Anyone who hasn't sorted out ways of doing this (and a few other crucial set-pieces) should, in my opinion, think twice about heading offshore alone.


Remember that when there's no prop turning, it's sometimes a good option to throw halyard tails overboard before dropping a sail. This achieves two aims: if the boat's sailing along, this keeps a modest tension on the halyard so it doesn't swing around and tie itself to the rig. Secondly, halyards bunching up and jamming can screw up a simple manoeuvre. Streaming the tail overboard means there's nothing for it to whip around and latch onto, and if you're the only person who can stop the sail blowing over the side, you really don't want to have to run back to the mast.
Cockpit-led halyards and reefing lines, BTW, are problematic for single handing.

When dropping hanked-on headsails, it's often better to lead the halyard around a suitable diverter (like a winch, granny bar, or even a metal vent cowl) so you can take the halyard tail to the bow with you. That way you can ease the halyard under control(and remove any hockles) as you pull the sail down, so it doesn't wrap around a spreader.

Ruses like this are best learned by taking manageable but adventurous bites, understanding the conventional wisdom applied on crewed yachts, but being prepared to strive for different (and often very satisfying) solutions to the problems the conventional wisdom is designed to address.

Many situations encountered inshore are actually more difficult than most offshore situations, but getting it wrong is usually less consequential, and flatter seas encourage experimentation, so I'd argue that it's good to get to know your vessel and hone your skills inshore.
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Old 23-06-2012, 01:10   #43
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

Wow, some excellent stuff there, Andrew. I guess the idea is to keep an open mind, try lots of different things when the weathers and you are in the right mood, and don't worry about spectators, they'll just make you panic more. I'm all for forgetting targets too, time or destination. Single handing is never going to be easy, arriving a day late in one piece, having anchored off rather than pushing on for an evening arrival can avoid a lot of mistakes.
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Old 23-06-2012, 09:10   #44
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

Excellent advice, I will try the trick with the halyards. How well does anyone trust their electronics? When soloing offshore, more than 100 fathoms, and out of a sealane, does anyone just set their radar, their AIS and get some sleep?
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Old 23-06-2012, 09:47   #45
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

I never trust my electronics for anything serious.
After spending 25 years fishing alone on a 45'er - 30 -500 miles offshore, I've learned to sleep with one eye open. I use a watch alarm most of the time.
Some times you just have to shut down and drift and go below and sleep - let your guard down and trust in Lady Luck.
The thing I miss the most is my big powerful hydraulic drum anchor winch that was controlled from my wheel house. I hate going on deck in the cold, wet morning when it's blowing 40 and hand cranking the anchor up - but I'm going to remedy that one of these days!
Anything on the foredeck can be a a pain in the ass.
I hank on all sails and I just deal with whatever comes up. I had roller furling on a couple of boats and I've had some real hassles with them out by myself - I've always been able to get a hanked on sail down one way or another so as far as I'm concerned, a hanked on sail is the only way to go if you are single handed. Any roller furler/reefer will jam up on you someday when you cant afford it to happen - then what the hell do you do?
Over the years, I've learned to take it easy and not over extend myself, reef early, dont get in a hurry, try not to get exited and think before you act. But then Murphy usually bites you in the ass every once in a while no matter how good you think you are - I lost my main mast a month ago to Murphy!
As far as docking go's - deploy lots of fenders!
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