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Old 15-12-2013, 22:55   #1
Jd1
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Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

The other day I had some nice conditions to try what I always wanted - sailing into my slip without engine power. I had the engine running as a backup and it was a good thing I did because everything went to pot right around when I lost steerage due to my slow speed. I still hit the dock but without any damage.
I have an end tie slip so I can get in real easy but do not know if it is possible to get back to my slip without power. My procedure the other day was to sail through the harbour under full sail, with a speed averaging about 2 knots. Just before I entered the basin my slip is at, I furled up the genoa. As I entered into my basin, I furled up the main followed with an immediate 170 degree turn to put me on approach to my spot. I had maybe 300 feet to go and after about 250 ft my speed showed 0 knots although I was still moving just a bit. Shortly thereafter, the little wind there was grabbed the bow and turned it towards the dock where I made contact rather awkwardly. I could not get a line onto anything because I was basically at 90 degrees to the dock. This was the point where I abandoned my brilliant attempt and went back to my normal (power) procedure.
There are only two boats at the end of the dock, one behind me and then myself so I come in close to the boat behind me and turn into the dock as I pass. I have lots of room in front as I just point into an open fairway.
I learned that steerage is important even when there is very little wind. I also learned that I had not thought out the stopping part of my docking maneuver.
This would not have as much of an issue with sufficient crew because it would have been safe to go a bit faster to have steerage. Crew could have stepped off and brought the boat to a safe stop with lines around a dock cleat.
Is there a way/trick to get a 36 ft sailboat into a slip when singlehanding ?
I am especially interested in any tricks that help to maintain steerage while at the same time allowing me to stop (short of running into the dock) while single handing.
Maybe this is one of those things that work great with a small boat (laser?) but that just don't translate well into a sailing vessel of several tons weight ?
Anyway, I have pondered this from all angles I can think of and have not been able to come up with anything other than throwing the hook overboard and swimming to shore (got no dinghy yet).
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Old 15-12-2013, 23:22   #2
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Done it dozens (docked under sail only) of times with a 28-foot, 4-ton sloop (Columbia Defender #60), and a 22-foot, 1-ton cutter (Bluewater Blackwatch, coincidentally #60) ... Need to consider the wind direction in relation to the berth and having the sails trimmed/dropped as appropriate. I was young then, and everything was possible.
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Old 16-12-2013, 00:13   #3
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

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Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
The other day I had some nice conditions to try what I always wanted - sailing into my slip without engine power. I had the engine running as a backup and it was a good thing I did because everything went to pot right around when I lost steerage due to my slow speed. I still hit the dock but without any damage.
I have an end tie slip so I can get in real easy but do not know if it is possible to get back to my slip without power. My procedure the other day was to sail through the harbour under full sail, with a speed averaging about 2 knots. Just before I entered the basin my slip is at, I furled up the genoa. As I entered into my basin, I furled up the main followed with an immediate 170 degree turn to put me on approach to my spot. I had maybe 300 feet to go and after about 250 ft my speed showed 0 knots although I was still moving just a bit. Shortly thereafter, the little wind there was grabbed the bow and turned it towards the dock where I made contact rather awkwardly. I could not get a line onto anything because I was basically at 90 degrees to the dock. This was the point where I abandoned my brilliant attempt and went back to my normal (power) procedure.
There are only two boats at the end of the dock, one behind me and then myself so I come in close to the boat behind me and turn into the dock as I pass. I have lots of room in front as I just point into an open fairway.
I learned that steerage is important even when there is very little wind. I also learned that I had not thought out the stopping part of my docking maneuver.
This would not have as much of an issue with sufficient crew because it would have been safe to go a bit faster to have steerage. Crew could have stepped off and brought the boat to a safe stop with lines around a dock cleat.
Is there a way/trick to get a 36 ft sailboat into a slip when singlehanding ?
I am especially interested in any tricks that help to maintain steerage while at the same time allowing me to stop (short of running into the dock) while single handing.
Maybe this is one of those things that work great with a small boat (laser?) but that just don't translate well into a sailing vessel of several tons weight ?
Anyway, I have pondered this from all angles I can think of and have not been able to come up with anything other than throwing the hook overboard and swimming to shore (got no dinghy yet).
I admire your courage. I used to sail in all the time with the Austral 20, but I would not even dream (nightmare) of it with the S42. Actually, it does kind of figure in my nightmares....

But are you talking about sailing in here or singlehanding in?

If the latter, then I have a line preset to the correct length, waiting on the end of the finger on a short stand (easier to reach, brings it up to deck height), to actually pull me up SHORT of completely in the pen. The reason being, the full length would allow the bow to swing over and clobber the power/plumbing/light box thingumy, which is already leaning sideways quite a bit. (It was like that BEFORE I arrived officer...)

This line is dropped over the starboard midship cleat as I come up to the short finger on the starboard side (at this point I am in neutral, but with a enough speed so the rudder is still giving SOME control, I have stepped out of the cockpit, away from the wheel , to the midship break in the safety rails), the idea being that I make contact with the finger at a bit of an angle, mostly parallel but bow out a little. I SHOULD be able to step down to the finger at this point, with the boat still moving forward slightly, and grab the spare line hung over the starboard side of the bow to pull the bow in should it move away from the finger. BUT, generally, the bow swings toward the finger as the midship line tightens up and I have to be ready to push it away. (one day I will have too much speed and there will be a bit of a thump).

Once all the kinetic energy of a 17 ton boat has been dissapated (sometimes in the form of smoking lines), I am free to attach the correct length (longer) springer to the midships cleat, release the short line, and generally heave and haul the high-freeboard-wind-sock monster into the correct position.

Then I tend to go and have a little quiet lie down for a bit.... let the heart rate return to a steady thump from the high pitched whine...

It's a bit nicer with someone to help to be honest...

I once got this completely and totally, UTTERLY WRONG, and ended up at 90 degrees to my correct position, sprawled across my berth and the neighbours, but as luck would have it, and I mean SERIOUS luck, the immaculate Duncanson 36 who lives next to me was out for the day. It took some frantic work with lines and winches to crank the old wind-sock-monster back into position and I have sworn I will NEVER try it again with a Westerly blowing, as that hits me from the starboard side. The neighbours came back to their pen completely oblivious to the close shave, and probably wondered why I was looking so hot and sweaty on what was a pretty chilly day.

Matt

Oh... Sorry, I get it, you are talking SINGLE HANDED SAILING IN.... right. Well, good luck with that and ignore everything above, it's useless.
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Old 16-12-2013, 00:21   #4
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Actually, thinking about it some more, I think the midship line would work.

My logic with our boat is to turn forward velocity into rotational velocity. Since you need more forward velocity than you'd really like to have as you approach the pen (and we need that even under engine because of our hideous windage and crap reversing, so in some ways we are in this dillema EVERY time we approach) you need a way of killing off speed.

You can do all the 0.5 x mass x velocity squared stuff, but at the end of the day, you need friction to kill speed, and I found the rotational friction of our sort of longish keel does eat up the energy pretty well.

I suppose the Catalina is much happier to spin in the water than our old tub, but it is probably a lot lighter too. So if you could approach at a tangent and use the midship line to "spin" around the end of the pen, you might get the same result.

Mind you, then you'd be dealing with flapping sails and lines etc... a bit of a handful.

Matt
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Old 16-12-2013, 02:27   #5
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GILow View Post
My logic with our boat is to turn forward velocity into rotational velocity. Since you need more forward velocity than you'd really like to have as you approach the pen (and we need that even under engine because of our hideous windage and crap reversing, so in some ways we are in this dillema EVERY time we approach) you need a way of killing off speed.
<snip>
Mind you, then you'd be dealing with flapping sails and lines etc... a bit of a handful.

Matt
When I come in under power I go in at maybe half a knot (I think) where I still have steerage but then I flip the transmission into reverse. This slows me down and the prop walk tucks in my rear end. Done correctly I end up with zero forward speed, totally parallel to the dock with just a smidgon of sideways movement to just kiss the dock and step off to a round of applause (yeah, I wish) .... captain Ron style but veeeery much in slow motion.

I didn't want to risk flapping sails as I had visions of me trying to stop the boat and the boat still having some forward power even though the sails are flapping to prevent me stopping
BTW, I have turned into the wind by that time so maybe this could work but I think I am missing the balls to try that while single handing. Amongst various horrific scenes when I play this through in my head is me losing forward speed too early and the little bit of wind there is grabbing the boat and, with all that windage, smacking me into my neighbour behind me.
Again, this would be ok if I had crew to fend me off the boat I am about to smack.
Maybe the answer is to try all of these various ways with a crew first, get it down well enough to do it blindfolded and THEN doing it as a single hander.
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Old 16-12-2013, 02:57   #6
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Thanks for the suggestions guys!
I have pondered this for a bit and am pretty certain I have a plan. I don't know how it will work in real time but it works in my head (famous last words). I will try all my future approaches with the engine idling out of gear as a backup and just practice drifting in just slow enough to still have steerage. I will set up some kind of a method for getting a line over a dock cleat to provide the braking action. This will really be the key to all this that has eluded me so far. I will try a pole with a loop at the end to catch the cleat, nylon line for lots of give. A back cleat on the boat will be used to help tuck in the rear end, the front will swing into the dock by itself and the fenders will do their job. If I run into a situation where I am too fast or too slow in the approach, I will have the engine as a backup. I should be able to get enough practice this way without too much risk.

Yup, the more I think about it, the more I like it ...... just need to install a bigger cleat on the dock as a bigger target ....
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Old 16-12-2013, 02:59   #7
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Sailing into your slip single handed should only be done when you have another person to come to your aid if you screw it up until you are able to do it with some ease. The worst condition in my mind is with a good tailwind(pilot talk) because it really adds complications. I used to do it all the time when I sailed a 29 footer but to be fair I picked my days. Have a spring line attached and step off with a little way on and as soon as it hits the cleat the boat will tuck into the dock and stop, then you can go about getting your bow and stern lines secured. Like everything it takes lots of practice so go have fun.
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Old 16-12-2013, 03:39   #8
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
Thanks for the suggestions guys!
I have pondered this for a bit and am pretty certain I have a plan. I don't know how it will work in real time but it works in my head (famous last words). I will try all my future approaches with the engine idling out of gear as a backup and just practice drifting in just slow enough to still have steerage. I will set up some kind of a method for getting a line over a dock cleat to provide the braking action. This will really be the key to all this that has eluded me so far. I will try a pole with a loop at the end to catch the cleat, nylon line for lots of give. A back cleat on the boat will be used to help tuck in the rear end, the front will swing into the dock by itself and the fenders will do their job. If I run into a situation where I am too fast or too slow in the approach, I will have the engine as a backup. I should be able to get enough practice this way without too much risk.

Yup, the more I think about it, the more I like it ...... just need to install a bigger cleat on the dock as a bigger target ....
I love a sailor with courage! Particularly when they are not moored next to me.

Your plan sounds good, and if it helps, I found the short pole at the end of the finger with a little hook at the top (think sort of miniature trident) to hold the midship line REALLY made a difference. No scrabbling round with the boat hook to grab the line. This way, the line is already made fast to the dock on a good strong cleat and you simply reach over and pluck it from the top of the post at an easy reaching height.

To clarify, this line lives on the dock, not the boat, and you arrange it on its hook before you leave the pen, making sure it will not snag on anything as you grab it and drop it over the midship cleat.

Got the idea from the bloke opposite me who has a Catalina 42 and has to come in backwards. Have not seen him do it yet, but I understand he makes it look easy, which is impressive as he would also have the prevailing wind on the nose blowing him into the pen. At least the prevailing wind slows me down as I come in.

Matt
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Old 16-12-2013, 03:50   #9
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
When I come in under power I go in at maybe half a knot (I think) where I still have steerage but then I flip the transmission into reverse. This slows me down and the prop walk tucks in my rear end. Done correctly I end up with zero forward speed, totally parallel to the dock with just a smidgon of sideways movement to just kiss the dock and step off to a round of applause (yeah, I wish) .... captain Ron style but veeeery much in slow motion.
I too have dreams... but doing that with our boat is just a little too far fetched to even dream about. Right now I would settle for stopping in the pen and NOT being in a lather of sweat with white knuckles and a heart rate of 200.

Let us know how your approaches go, and if you nail it, post it on YouTube.

Remember, you are not having fun if nobody sees you having it. (Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)
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Old 16-12-2013, 03:52   #10
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Best practice coming on to a mooring buoy, I've sailed on to and off a buoy single handing a 47ft boat. Still not tried it coming on to a slip, my home slip has boats moored 6 feet either end, way to much risk involved
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Old 16-12-2013, 04:55   #11
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

I have done it, so it is possible. My engine quit after I entered the marina breakwater. I had to go forward then a quick manoeuvre to port then a small turn to starboard then a hard port and then port again into the slip. It was a small boat, a Catalina 25. Of course there were no witnesses. Witnesses only are present when you do something wrong like when we arrived at our new marina in the Globe and I went to back down prior to turning into the dock and the gear shift cable broke and we ended up grounding at the end of the pier. No shortage of witnesses then!

I wouldn't want to try it in my Globe 38, but I would if given no choice. I am seldom solo in it though.
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Old 16-12-2013, 06:04   #12
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

When we used to keep our Hunter in Long Beach, CA, we'd show off by sailing into our slip without the sails up, on only the windage and high freeboard. It worked pretty good except when the current speed exceeded boat speed and we'd loose steering ability. But it was fun to do.
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Old 16-12-2013, 08:12   #13
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

I have my slip rigged so that I can do that right now if I need to. I have two lines crossed that form an "X" that I snug my bow up against. If I sail into the slip, all I have to do is roll up my jib, maintaining enough speed for steerage. The X catches my boat like a big baseball glove. And, I have 42 foot boat.

Now on my smaller boats, 32 and 25, feet, I felt more comfortable sailing them into the slip and catching them by lassoing a piling and snugging to to a cleat or winch to stop me at 1 or 2 knots. Too much inertia with the 42 foot to try that.
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Old 16-12-2013, 10:01   #14
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

I did it with a crew of 2 once. 41' 16t boat. Transmition failed and we had limited choices. With a long sprit and dolphin striker we were concerned but a good spring line was all we needed. Worked well although I wouldn't want to do it again.
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Old 16-12-2013, 10:16   #15
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Re: Single handing a yacht into a slip under sail - possible?

Consider dropping or furling your main first. The jib can either be let to fly or furled at thew last moment.

Midships spring line. If you have dock cleats, set the line ON THE BOAT and as you come in drop it over the aft cleat and wind it around your winch.

Alternatively, try this: Single Handing 101 single handing, see the Dock-O-Matic link, Reply #15, on page 2.
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