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Old 07-11-2011, 15:06   #61
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

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Reefing the main on an older heavy ketch from the cockpit is a bit dicey. As for the Auto pilot holding in a 30 Knot wind; good luck. The manual will tell you what the cutoff wind speed will be and if it shuts down when you're on deck dealing with tangled rigging, I don't need to paint the ugly picture.
I agree with your comments but add: Reefing a sloop or cutter that is heavy and in a 30 knot breeze is also dicey no matter where the the halyard and reefing lines are. In my book prudent seamanship dictates the reefs should be in place before you need to reef. On a ketch the main, would, or should be down. You then remain in the cockpit to deal with the failed autopilot situation: preparation preparation preparation are the key elements to safety.
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Old 07-11-2011, 15:07   #62
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

my main is only sail i have to go forward to raise or reef. isnt a bad plan. my jib and mizzen are controlled from cockpit. in 30 +kts wind, you will NOT be using mainsail-- but you WILL be using mizzen and jib. same in 60+kts. yes the boat can handle it. is a ketch. simply keep main out of it and use jib n mizzen --reefed and keep going. your boat will love it and you will be amazed at how well it tracks with mizzen and jib.
my simrad hydraulic 2000 autopilot works GREAT in 60+kts wind. those wimpy lil wheel mount autohelm nonesensical toys do not steer our big ketches. make sure you have the right tool for the job. i had absolutely zero problem with auto in big winds. i dont know many with decent autopilots who do have problems. just need the right tool for the job. yes that tool is very very expensive, and is well worth the investment. hydraulic and mounted on the quadrant. the only way to continue steering a heavy boat in big winds without going manual. awesome. try it sometime.
seahunter, i dont know what autopilot you are using, but it sounds like the WRONG tool for the job. might want to research better and find a GOOD autopilot.
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:23   #63
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Please excuse my ignorance, but I would have thought that the autopilot would work regardless of wind strength as long as you are suitably canvassed ???
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:40   #64
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

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Please excuse my ignorance, but I would have thought that the autopilot would work regardless of wind strength as long as you are suitably canvassed ???
The key is "suitably canvassed", however, the amount of sail depends on the boat, type of sails and the rudder gain settings on the auto pilot. As the gain setting is not intuitive (an arbitrary setting set by the skipper) the average may cause undershooting or oversteer depending on wind conditions. Auto pilot failure usually happens when the rudder is stressed and feeds back causing the system to either shut down or overcompensate. Most auto pilot manuals indicate a warning to reduce healing in strong blows, and or to avoid heavy stern seas and/or wind, as the safe zone is best when set 30° from a dead run.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:28   #65
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

No problem on Singlehanding.

It is important to have a well thought out set up before hand:

1. Autopilot.
2. Self-tailing winches.
3. Reef lines lead to the cockpit.
4. Autopilot!
5. Reef early.
6. Perhaps an electric winch for the main halyard?

I don't have an electric winch for the main, but getting our main (Beneteau 47.7) up single handedly is a chore as I have to winch the entire thing up from the cockpit. With crew, jumping the halyard is fast and not that hard but requires someone to tail in the cockpit.

The sailing part is really no big deal, just do one thing at a time and eventually you will have everything flying perfectly.

For me, the hardest part about singlehanding a boat of that size is docking. On the other hand, every time you dock, you should do it as if you were single handed requiring only that the crew (or yourself) gently tie up the dock lines. It is just that when single handed, you have less chance to fend off a mistake, etc. So, just have your plan VERY well thought out. Have your dock lines ready (but be sure they can't fall overboard and get into the prop). Fenders ready, if appropriate, etc. Have full knowledge of wind direction, current, etc. Again, with a boat of that size, by the time you get the first dock line secured, the other end of the boat could already be blowing away, etc.

If you are on a mooring ball, then it is a piece of cake.

Zeehag,

I find that in lots of wind, the boat is easier to control with a reefed main vs. Jib alone even though it might be a little more complicated at first. Reefing our main is pretty easy. Point a bit into the wind, lower halyard. Then we have 2 lines for reefing. One is like a cunningham to the reefpoint tack of the main, and the other runs through the end of the boom through the new clew then back to the boom. So, with the halyard lowered enough, I snug up the reef line to the tack, then the one to the clew which becomes the new outhaul which gets snugged up pretty good as by definition there is some good wind when you are reefing. I think this next season I am going to rig it all with one line, and see how that works as I think they are long enough.

Then I use a little triangle of Jib as needed for power. I find the reefed main can handle a wider range of wind speeds (gusts) than can the same amount of jib required to achieve the same power. And, it allows for pretty good balance which is essential for the autopilot.
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Old 08-11-2011, 22:06   #66
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

"Zeehag,

I find that in lots of wind, the boat is easier to control with a reefed main vs. Jib alone even though it might be a little more complicated at first. Reefing our main is pretty easy. Point a bit into the wind, lower halyard. Then we have 2 lines for reefing. One is like a cunningham to the reefpoint tack of the main, and the other runs through the end of the boom through the new clew then back to the boom. So, with the halyard lowered enough, I snug up the reef line to the tack, then the one to the clew which becomes the new outhaul which gets snugged up pretty good as by definition there is some good wind when you are reefing. I think this next season I am going to rig it all with one line, and see how that works as I think they are long enough.

Then I use a little triangle of Jib as needed for power. I find the reefed main can handle a wider range of wind speeds (gusts) than can the same amount of jib required to achieve the same power. And, it allows for pretty good balance which is essential for the autopilot."(jzk)

i usually do NOT use my main , as my ketch handles beautifully in 60+kts of wind with reefed mizzen and reefed jib. i see no reason to knock down if not necessary,and to me, knockdown is unnecessary. my boom is 20 ft in length,and holds a helluvahuge sail. if i were going to use a reefed main and a jib i would sail a sloop. i sail a ketch with a full keel and a bunch of heft to her. i have sailed sloops and cutters as well as my ketch, and i still own a sloop but i am not cruising it. i am cruising my ketch. currently.
i find my ketch tracks awesome well under mizzen and jib and i reef when needed. i use my quadrant mounted hydraulic autopilot when i am sailing. it works awesome well , even with 60+ measured kts of wind, which found us north of cabo san lucas.
when i sailed a sloop in gulf of mexico, we had a wheel pilot--ick--wouldnt hold course nor prove reliable. we would get caught in thun der storms , and he would reduce sail to only jib and we hand sailed her. was bitch. the reefed main did nothing in 70+kts of thun der storm winds. reefed jib worked well. auto hell wore our nerves and we had to hand steer. i did not like that boat nor cruising a sloop. i like sailing a sloop for enjoyment but not for cruising. big difference. we were exhausted more than necessary.
i cruised a cutter in caribean--another opb...was a lil better than a sloop-- owner hand steered in wind , as his autohell pilot didnt work in winds. he came close to knockdown as he was flying all sails without regard for windy conditions and got caught with pants down, as it were.
autohell doesnt work in wind or seas. worthless junk.
my ketch is good with mizzen and jib with my hydraulic autopilot and someone on watch-- tracks perfect and doesnt require someone to constantly babysit it, as does autohell wheel mounted pilots. i have sailed alll day with just mizzen and jib--does fine. i would not want to try to sail her with just jib, as balance is destroyed.

for docking, i hand my midships line first, then i use the bow then stern lines --at fuel docks there is usually someone present- if you are courteous and call in advance- to help you dock for fuel they will also help you leave.
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:13   #67
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

I have been out of the loop for a while, and in the meantime there has been some great inputs and info from those who are actually sailing singlehanded or at least very close to it Thanks!

I have a bunch of other questions, but time does not permit at the moment, but I will be following this thread closely.
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Old 15-11-2011, 16:14   #68
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

Hi

For the past 6 years I have singlehand a 50' yawl, cruising the coast of Maine, its offshore islands, Bay of Fundy, Grand Manan etc. Before that singlehanded a 40'yawl for more than 10 years. I've learned a bit and here are some suggestions-perhaps of some help.

Problems are not usually encountered getting the sails up. Set the mizzen first and sheet her in. That will point her into or close to the wind. Then raise main, then head sail(s). Let the sheets on these run and let the sails flap until you're back in the cockpit. Then sheet in main and headsail (in that order) for the point of sail dictated by your chosen course and adjust the mizzen sheet. Remember that the mizzen is like a weathervane, sheet that in tight, let the sheets to main and jib fly and the vessel should come head to wind.

Problems arise when you need to get the sails DOWN, say when it gets breezy and you start freaking out.

1. First, you need roller furling on the headsail so that you can dowse it from the cockpit. If the boat doesn't have this, it should be your first investment if you are serious about singlehanding.

2. In a split rig (a ketch, yawl, schooner), once you get rid of the jib, all you have to do is let the mainsheet fly and sheet in the mizzen (flat). This should bring her head into the wind. Its a good idea to have the mainsheet leading back to the cockpit. When it gets rough, as a singlehander, you want to avoid going forward and if you do ALWAYS wear a PFD and hook on with a lifeline.

3. Practice raising and lowering sails in calmer weather and avoid going out when the wind is 15K or more - until you get comfortable with the boat and sailhandling. It's a real learning curve but after a while you'll find that its easier to single-hand than with a bunch of people who don't know anything milling around the cockpit and on deck and in your way all the time.

Hope this helps.

PJ.

PS: When you get older, you may appreciate power cockpit sheet winches.
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Old 15-11-2011, 16:30   #69
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

Quote:
Originally Posted by kellyp08 View Post
Hi

For the past 6 years I have singlehand a 50' yawl, cruising the coast of Maine, its offshore islands, Bay of Fundy, Grand Manan etc. Before that singlehanded a 40'yawl for more than 10 years. I've learned a bit and here are some suggestions-perhaps of some help.

Problems are not usually encountered getting the sails up. Set the mizzen first and sheet her in. That will point her into or close to the wind. Then raise main, then head sail(s). Let the sheets on these run and let the sails flap until you're back in the cockpit. Then sheet in main and headsail (in that order) for the point of sail dictated by your chosen course and adjust the mizzen sheet. Remember that the mizzen is like a weathervane, sheet that in tight, let the sheets to main and jib fly and the vessel should come head to wind.

Problems arise when you need to get the sails DOWN, say when it gets breezy and you start freaking out.

1. First, you need roller furling on the headsail so that you can dowse it from the cockpit. If the boat doesn't have this, it should be your first investment if you are serious about singlehanding.

2. In a split rig (a ketch, yawl, schooner), once you get rid of the jib, all you have to do is let the mainsheet fly and sheet in the mizzen (flat). This should bring her head into the wind. Its a good idea to have the mainsheet leading back to the cockpit. When it gets rough, as a singlehander, you want to avoid going forward and if you do ALWAYS wear a PFD and hook on with a lifeline.

3. Practice raising and lowering sails in calmer weather and avoid going out when the wind is 15K or more - until you get comfortable with the boat and sailhandling. It's a real learning curve but after a while you'll find that its easier to single-hand than with a bunch of people who don't know anything milling around the cockpit and on deck and in your way all the time.

Hope this helps.

PJ.

PS: When you get older, you may appreciate power cockpit sheet winches.
For me a very informative post. Plenty of experience on sloops but never on a Ketch or yawl.
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Old 15-11-2011, 17:15   #70
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

mexdon--forget that--- you looking at a garden ketch-- first jib up, then mizzen up.... in heavy weather, keep jib and mizzen reefed but up. douse main. with main you will have overpower problems. these love to sail with mizzen and jib in big winds. reef if you anticipate over 40 kts.......when ye want to win the race, add main. otherwise, they do well without. easier down wind--wing n wing is jib'n' jigger----is a cruiser--they dont sail to weather. they also do not sail in breezes under 10 kts.
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Old 15-11-2011, 17:23   #71
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

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mexdon--forget that--- you looking at a garden ketch-- first jib up, then mizzen up.... in heavy weather, keep jib and mizzen reefed but up. douse main. with main you will have overpower problems. these love to sail with mizzen and jib in big winds. reef if you anticipate over 40 kts.......when ye want to win the race, add main. otherwise, they do well without. easier down wind--wing n wing is jib'n' jigger----is a cruiser--they dont sail to weather. they also do not sail in breezes under 10 kts.
OK Zee, thanks....I have read your posts about sailing with mizzen and jib, but the sail hoisting process was a topic I was and maybe still will open a new thread with just to get some varied reactions to the question. I am sure that it will stir up some sort of debate.
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Old 15-11-2011, 17:30   #72
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

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Please excuse my ignorance, but I would have thought that the autopilot would work regardless of wind strength as long as you are suitably canvassed ???
Hoppy, as Zee states, you need to have an autopilot drive system that can handle the loads of heavy weather. Small drive systems like tiller or wheel pilots, some mechanical drive systems and undersized hydraulic systems on the quadrant just can't handle the loads imposed by heavy weather.
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Old 16-11-2011, 06:43   #73
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

Now I dont want to start an argument between experienced sailors such as Kellypo8 and Zee, but I see here almost complete opposites in the sequence of raising the sails.

I can see the sense in raising the mizzen and sheeting home first, as it well aft of CoF and so she will automatically come round to weather. Then sheet in the main so she will start to fall off, then sheet in the jib and trim, then trim the main, back to the jib trimming to taste.

Zee: why are you adamant that the jib goes up first, then the mizzen, then the main? You mention about a Garden Ketch being different. I am sure many here have not sailed on one, what makes it different?

I guess each boat will have their own character, so it cannot be set in stone what way is 'best'...bit like anchors really

I am learning lots here on how to handle a ketch, thanks!
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Old 16-11-2011, 07:32   #74
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

jib is a steering sail--you have no steering capability without it unless you are under power. even under power, when wind hits you, the jib will steer you. main is a driving sail. mizzen is a balancing sail. main douses first--is HUGE, on a 20 ft boom. down wind, wing on wing in these ketches is mizzen and jib. you do not want to douse jib before tight maneuvering, as you will not be able to steer boat. remember, engine is auxiliary.
these are FULL KEEL boats.
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Old 16-11-2011, 08:34   #75
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Re: Singlehanded on a 49' Ketch

This is a very informitive thread. Im also looking at a Ketch, 38 Downeaster.
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