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How tiring is single-handed sailing?

blackbeard

Active member
Joined
17 May 2003
Messages
1,001
Location
Hampshire
I ask because after having spent quite a lot of summer sailing s/h on a 25-foot yacht (Hunter 245) I am left feeling as if I have over-trained (as in training for running) and need a bit of a rest! despite not having (so far as I can recall) done anything especially taxing. Is this normal, or is it just me?
There's a good side; despite having eaten well, I tend to lose a bit of weight ...
Blackbeard (age 77 - is that the problem? I hope not)
 

mbroom

Active member
Joined
4 Apr 2015
Messages
578
Location
Troon
It is tiring, especially in a small boat. Apart from all the sailing stuff, your body is constantly bracing against all the movements. I find a 20footer more tiring than a 40 footer for anything over a night in a decent wind. Keep at it!
 

WoodyP

Well-known member
Joined
18 Aug 2004
Messages
1,126
Location
East Coast
I think that the most tiring part of single handing is never being able to switch off. You are entirely responsible for the boat and yourself, and if you are inshore you can't relax in the same way as you can offshore.
 

chriss999

Well-known member
Joined
9 Oct 2012
Messages
3,903
Location
Devon, England
I agree. Very tiring.
I tend to pop the autopilot on, trim the sails, look around and then aim to spend most of a day passage lying down. Hopefully emerging only to check course and check on collision risks. (60-ish and not racing.)
 
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Buck Turgidson

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Joined
10 Apr 2012
Messages
1,368
Location
Zürich
It very much depends on where how long and how hard you sail. it is physically more demanding than sitting on the sofa but not much if you do it right.
Of course i can only speak from my own experience.
 

matt1

Active member
Joined
11 Feb 2005
Messages
747
I ask because after having spent quite a lot of summer sailing s/h on a 25-foot yacht (Hunter 245) I am left feeling as if I have over-trained (as in training for running) and need a bit of a rest! despite not having (so far as I can recall) done anything especially taxing. Is this normal, or is it just me?
There's a good side; despite having eaten well, I tend to lose a bit of weight ...
Blackbeard (age 77 - is that the problem? I hope not)
Great boat, the 245. Bionic upwind. I owned one before building a Channel 31. I singlehanded both, but more on the Channel 31 - which was actually quite sporty and often left me feeling tiered And I’m quite a bit younger than you and generally in condition. By contrast I now have a 40’ Hanse which is very easy to sail singlehanded, and easier than the Channel 31. When I’m old and decrepit I will try and find myself a 245 or even a Hunter Horizon 21

How do you get out to your boat? Marina or dinghy / row / outboard. Eg How much of the strain is getting to the boat Vs sailing. Do you know what aspects are causing you strain & can you eliminate them or work round it. As an example, if you need to adjust the jib sheet; rather than winching it, just come head to wind and pull it in when it’s not loaded and then come back on course
 

Buck Turgidson

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Joined
10 Apr 2012
Messages
1,368
Location
Zürich
One thing to consider is that fatigue is cumulative and although it's ok to go into deficit for a while you can't go too deep for too long so you should make sure you catch up regularly if you can.
 

LONG_KEELER

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Joined
21 Jul 2009
Messages
2,237
Location
East Coast
I find day sailing more tiring than a cruise of say two or three days when anchoring for each night.

As mentioned, you not only have to do everything yourself but you have to stay focused the whole time.

Just being able to drop the hook takes all the pressure off.
 

Concerto

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Joined
16 Jul 2014
Messages
2,616
Location
Sail on the Medway, Kent from Chatham Maritime Mar
I singlehand my 32ft Fulmar virtually all the time. To relieve the strain make sure you have everything prepared before you need it. Navigating, fenders and warps, food and snacks, drinks, avoid heavy weather, sail mid week to avoid crowded places, and learn to relax. Sailing can be tiring if you do not relax. A good autopilot is a must, I also have a quick set rope system as well on the tiller. My longest single handed distance to date is 110 miles and frequently sail for 14 to 16 hours. I love to cover distance if the weather is suitable. Also be prepared to use an engine to assit your performance if there is a time critical tidal gate. At the end of the day have good meal and sleep well so you are ready for the next day sailing. A few years ago I went from Chatham to the Isles of Scilly. I expected to take 8 or 9 days to get there. For the first 4 days I went for long days, stopping at Brighton, Weymouth, Salcome, and then Falmouth. I then had a days rest. Then I planned to go to Newlyn, but decided to continue on to the Scillys and arrived there in just 6 days. A few days rest soon had me back on top form. I am 11 years younger than you, but you should allow yourself more time than I did to do journeys like that. In 2022 I am planning a round Britian to include the Orkneys and Shetland. I should mention sailing is in my blood and I started in 1965 and have also done a lot of offshore racing.
 

TernVI

Well-known member
Joined
8 Jul 2020
Messages
1,362
A lot of it is in the mind.
This covid year has been very tiring without going anywhere.

There is 'good tired' i.e. well exercised, will sleep well.
Then there is 'bad tired', weary, stressed.
I find singlehanded dinghy racing a good source of the good sort at the moment.
 

Buck Turgidson

Well-known member
Joined
10 Apr 2012
Messages
1,368
Location
Zürich
I can trim for upwind, lash the tiller and leave her all day so long as the wind speed doesn't vary enough to require a reef. My record is 9 hours with the tiller lashed and no sail changes.

Of course it helps if 55° true wind direction keeps you clear of hazards :)

This year I only managed 3 sails. First was 45hrs second 143hrs and third 23hrs. i like single handing :)
 
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Buck Turgidson

Well-known member
Joined
10 Apr 2012
Messages
1,368
Location
Zürich
I only heave to if I have to fix something, otherwise just ease sheets and plod on whilst cooking or whatever. Find out what point your boat likes to sail and use that to rest en-route.
 

dunedin

Well-known member
Joined
3 Feb 2004
Messages
6,410
Location
Boat (now back in) the Clyde
Yes, to a degree, solo sailing for more than a short period is an exercise in tiredness / energy management - whether coastal cruising or racing on Open 60 round the world (though much more extreme in that case ;-)
But it can also be an excellent way of improving skills, as the key is thinking all trips and manoeuvres out fully in advance to pre-prepare everything that is needed.

As others have said, singlehanded sailing of a modern, well setup 40 footer is often much easier than with smaller or older equipped boats.

A very effective autopilot, preferably with ram drive to the rudder head, is the most important thing - mine prove to be happy even in waves when going flat out over-pressed in 30+ knot gusts, which gives time to plan the remedial action (PS If you haven’t experienced the sudden winds yo can get off places like Arran, don’t say I should have anticipated a trebling in windspeed.)
Electric anchor windlass also helps, as anchoring much easier than mooring buoys or pontoons.
And the luxury of an electric halyard winch makes sail hoisting easier (a 1 metre wand helps see what is happening as press the button), plus used carefully can help with things like furling jib when the wind gets up, or putting reefs in.

The biggest problem by far for me was pot buoys, even if properly marked. Often not visible in any waves, and so even nipping to the loo runs a risk of hitting one. In the end I managed to dodge all of them this summer - but did get entangled in a large (50+ metre) submerged pipe, fish farm debris, which was totally invisible even on a flat calm day.
 

MickeyP

Member
Joined
6 Oct 2011
Messages
41
Location
Live: London Boat: St Vaast
Getting ready to berth is always a pain. Going into a marina and not knowing what to expect for me means having a line rigged on both bow , midships and stern cleats As well as a lasso line if the potential of getting blown off. I prefer to berth stern to as the French pontoons are so short so six lines & fenders both sides takes a while to set up.
 
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