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Old 11-07-2012, 21:32   #61
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

After cruising 8 or 9 thousand miles in the Pacific and only seeing one vessel when we were out of site of land, I did the east coast to Bermuda and south to the islands and was horrified at the amount of traffic we saw. Same thing on several similar trips. Even though I was not single handing I decided that I would never go without a watch in the Atlantic. Now days with AIS and good radar, I might consider single handing, but it would still make me uncomfortable. One day in the Bermuda High I counted 7 large vessels that passed within sight and one that passed close enough for a crew member to wave to us. Be careful out there. ____Grant.
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Old 11-07-2012, 21:37   #62
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing?

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You FUNNY!!! and true!!!
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Old 27-07-2012, 23:02   #63
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

It occurred to me, in the interests of balance, to mention some of the potential benefits of sailing solo.

Firstly, there's the upskilling which tends to follow from small things being potentially so consequential. You'll probably find all you senses are much more alert, you'll plan ahead a lot more conscientiously and well, and apart from anything else this can enhance the enjoyment of even quite ordinary conditions or happenings.
You'll also take a new interest in the reliability of the things you rely on, and this can be both interesting and beneficial.

Secondly there's a class of issues on any challenging trip which come under "tests of character". In a crewed situation, it seems that individual crew are increasingly prone to grabbing the handlebars themselves, after failing such tests.
In times gone by, (absent wholesale mutiny) the only person who absolutely had to pass the occasional difficult test of character was the skipper. If (say) three people have to individually pass a particular test, because they are not prepared to defer to the captain's decisions, the probability that one will fail is greatly increased.
Especially if some of them don't have the experience, judgement or disposition needed to have a good probability of passing, which is increasingly likely in an age where daily life tends to prevent few challenges of a similar nature.

At the root of a proportion of the harder test failures today is the "imperative" to arrive at a given destination before a given date.
Sailors used to remind themselves that the sea dictates such outcomes, by filling in the log at the start of each voyage "Rio towards San Francisco", or whatever. It would never occur to them to show disdain for the elements and contingencies by presuming to use the word "To".
Similarly it was not usual to speculate, with any firmity, as to what day (or week, or even month) it might be if the hoped-for destination was eventually reached.

I'm not personally hankering for that degree of uncertainty to return, but I am concerned at the rising prevalence of a sort of dogmatic certainty, in sailors' attitudes, assertions, and passage plans.

Sailing on your own might be a way of re-engaging with some of the better aspects of a less certain era. If it's only you who will be late, or arrive at the 'wrong' destination, it's a lot easier to pass the first few, hardest tests.

Finally it can be hard to find kindred spirits who are able to make a chunk of time available to do a worthwhile trip. It's a bit like the exponentially increased difficulties of managing a bunch of (say) jazz musicians, as opposed to playing solo. I've scored some great sailing trips simply by being available at short notice, because others have pulled out, putting the expedition in question.
My personal record was two and a half hours to arrange my affairs, throw together and mail off a wildly speculative tax return, make peace with my boss, pack and arrive back at the dock -- for an impromptu trip to the subAntarctic resulting from a lunchtime stroll along the dock -– in this case, to an island group to which (because of the fragile ecology) permission is never granted for landings, except in cases of authentic scientific benefit, like the trip I was lucky enough to snag.

If your plans are always at the mercy of being able to find congenial shipmates, it may be worth thinking if it would be viable to settle, if need be, for a crew complement totalling one.

Naturally, easing into the whole deal is essential ... it's quite a different sort of challenge, requiring different skills and attitudes.
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Old 27-07-2012, 23:17   #64
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

Well put, Andrew,
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Old 28-07-2012, 02:45   #65
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

You've almost convinced me to put some more money into the ocean/boat and buy that tiller pilot to hold the course set. That gets rid of one redundant member/source of unreliable course keeping and dubious decision making. Making coffe, bacon butties, becomes possible again. Trimming sails, reefing, changing headsheets, lifting un-photgenic fenders all become possible. And it doesn't smoke or talk back or want to go a different way. And of course it doesn't eat it's weight in rations either, or need privacy on the loo, - .
I'd better stop now.
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Old 28-07-2012, 02:54   #66
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

For me, the most difficult thing is the preparations. Windvane, Solar, Radar, AIS. Being able to reef alone, planning for every eventuality. Once I am out there I love it, but only if I have prepared correctly for the journey. But being alone on the ocean- what a trip!
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Old 28-07-2012, 03:49   #67
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

At the risk of stretching credulity, you might be surprised, Eleven, to find that (at least on a close reach or closer) with a bit of practice you might persuade your Jag to sail happily with nothing more sophisticated than a simple pair of tiller lines (given a reasonably constant strength of breeze -- it's OK if it fluctuates in direction, as long as the headers and lifts are not sudden)

I did a lot of my early sailing on a similar boat (20' masthead sloop, swing centreplate, stub keel), and still have access to a 23' cousin (designed and built for offshore sailing, in which I'd happily cross the Tasman if I could talk the owner/builder into it) which I sail whenever possible, as it's my favourite size and style...

The Tasman 20 never had a tiller pilot, and it didn't stop me having a wonderful time single-handing her on occasions. With the centerplate swung aft, on occasion we even got her sailing downwind, goosewinged, with nobody in the cockpit for extended periods...

She was a tender boat, beautiful lines and balance, and you could often make course corrections just by moving your weight judiciously - I have happy memories of her sailing herself off an anchorage in an idyllic dawn zephyr while I stood on the rail brushing my teeth and steering by leaning further in or outboard...

Her bigger cousin has a tiller pilot built into a cockpit coaming (which gets around the fact that they hate salt water) It's oriented fore & aft, so we had to make a mounting block with (bronze bushed) angled holes so the whole tiller pilot gimbal bracket could be inserted into the appropriate hole for the tack we are on.
The extending rod drives an endless line round pulleys, with a simple metal link in the midsection with a notch which can be snapped onto a vertically disposed, headed pin (actually just a stainless self tapper, but you don't see it unless you get down on the cockpit sole!) under the tiller on the centreline at the radius where a drive hole would normally be.

However even though this system works brilliantly, I still like the peace and satisfaction of doing without, and resort to it only when I can't persuade the yacht to sail herself with the pilot turned off. If I can, the cord is used simply as a convenient tiller line. (there's a spring takeup at the return pulley, so it can be snapped on and off in a flash)

To find out if the idea of tiller lines might work for you, the first place to start is close hauled. Get the sails (and the weight distribution) trimmed as well as you know how for the conditions, then slightly oversheet the headsail and slightly ease the main, just enough for a softness in the zone just aft of the luff.
To get a feel for whether you're in with a candidate for tiller lines, just block the tiller with your knee for a while and see if you can fine tune things to get her sailing herself. It's very rewarding, and I quite frequently surprise other owners by surreptitiously working out how to do the same with their pride and joy. When the surprise wears off they're inevitably delighted. It can make a big difference to battery charging hours on passage, for one thing, and it's always good to become less reliant on technological aids...

An easy way to rig tiller lines is to get a couple of the Clamcleats they sell for fender lines
Clamcleats - Cleat Information

and rig them with the cleat at the end of each tiller line. One line is tied at the outboard end to (say) the foot of the pulpit. Chuck the line over the tiller and cleat it back to itself. Do the same with the other from the other side. If you want to get fancy, whip a length of stretchy cord to each line, near the outboard end (clear of where you would cleat it) so that it tries to shorten the line maybe 100mm. This makes it a bit easier to play with adjustment without having to alter both cleats every time. Also sometimes it can help to have a bit of 'give' in one line or the other.
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Old 28-07-2012, 04:12   #68
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

Good guide to tiller lines here Singlehanded Tips Book
also plenty of other tips and idea's on single handing.
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Old 28-07-2012, 04:13   #69
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

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Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
For me, the most difficult thing is the preparations. Windvane, Solar, Radar, AIS. Being able to reef alone, planning for every eventuality. Once I am out there I love it, but only if I have prepared correctly for the journey. But being alone on the ocean- what a trip!
Bit the same here. Usually a feeling of apprehension before casting off the lines when single handing, but once the sails are set, its a pure joy.
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Old 28-07-2012, 05:13   #70
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

Thanks AT, I'm working towards it, with a cord looped around the tiller arm, tied off to one side, and a bungee to the other to give enough grip but allowing me to adjust when needed. I understand the physics of sailing, but haven't got decent self sailing yet. I do want to reduce rudder drag for a start, having to keep rudder on isn't right and I don't want to see vortexes coming off it. The sails are old and not necessarily right for the boat.
When I get the chance (work demands) I'll be out solo again for a day just learning. The real problem solo is raising/dropping sails, particularly foredeck work, when the boat won't run slowly in a straight line. Southampton Water generally has a cross breeze over land, many boats, many shallows and some serious cruise ships, tankers and container-ships. Strong tides too, so it doesn't even stay still with no wind. I'm not nimble on the boat, I need to be sure I stay on board it, especially single handed.
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Old 28-07-2012, 07:27   #71
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

Well said AT. I have not had crew on board when cruising for several years now and I rather enjoy it. Rations last much longer and there is less need to head to land to replenish them. Your schedule (including when and what to eat) is your own. Though there were times I would have like to have an extra pair of hands on board to take the helm while I went to check on something below. Those situations were few and far between.
I don't have any ocean passages in mind right now but, I have had strange travel suggestions in my head to sail out alone into the ocean and be out of sight of any land for a few days. The biggest hurdle I think will be able to get some rest in various conditions. Lack of sleep which can make for bad decisions. Which I think is the greatest threat I see when single handing. I'd like to avoid that if possible.
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Old 28-07-2012, 07:30   #72
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

One of the things that make single handing more do-able must be a bimini hard roof, allowing sleeping in the cockpit in most weathers, and just being able to open one eye and nd off again must be a plus. Getting out of a bunk, clambering out, doing a watch is a diferent thing.
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Old 28-07-2012, 09:03   #73
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

do not forget---safety factor--there have been 2 missing solo sailors here on west coast this summer, so far.....they are not 1 or 2 days overdue for mommas fone call--they have been missing for months. each ocean has peculiarities specific to itself--so do our gulf of mexico and sea of cortez. these should not be taken lightly.
sailing to a schedule is a killer.
folks do too much in too short time frame to be able to be rested and ready for action, which happens here without warning in many cases.
reef before going out.
do not sail to schedule.
give someone your approximate sail plan.
give also emergency landing places for just in case of storm..they do form when you are sailing-they do not stop forming just because you are out in it.
make sure your emergency landing places have protected anchoring so you dont have to pull and run in middle of storming activity.
be safe and have fun--is a great time!!! i try to have crew with my passages-- for now anyway--is a loooooong lee shore here--need attention and care in travelling.
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Old 28-07-2012, 11:15   #74
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Good advice z. I would never go out in the ocean (as apposed to a lake or protected water) without a proven self steering and a way to sleep comfortably in the cockpit. For that matter radar,jacklines and a harness and a way to control ur boom. I heard that most soloists are lost when the boom hits them
See what I mean about preparation?
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Old 28-07-2012, 12:00   #75
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Re: Most Difficult Thing About Single Handing ?

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Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
Good advice z. I would never go out in the ocean (as apposed to a lake or protected water) without a proven self steering and a way to sleep comfortably in the cockpit. For that matter radar,jacklines and a harness and a way to control ur boom. I heard that most soloists are lost when the boom hits them
See what I mean about preparation?
I would never go without a kindle

And some wasabi sauce. Since you mention preparation.
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