SH downwing sailing questions from relative novice

SimonFa

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An excellent sail on Wednesday and Thursday. Downwind from Weymouth to Studland then downwind from Studland back to Weymouth on Thursday. Whilst I enjoyed it it also put my single handed techniques under a bit of pressure. This go me thinking:

1. When I set off it was still blowing a bit so I sailed on Genoa only and didn't raise the main until I got to just off Kimmeridge. I notice that not many other people sail on Genoa only, does this make me some sort of wuss :shame:?

2. More seriously, I needed to gybe when I got past St Albans race and it was still a bit lively. Getting to the main sheet quickly is a bit tricky and in the end I used the engine, furled the Genoa and brought the main in a bit then eased it as I went through the gybe. How do others gybe safely when they're on their own?

3. On the way back I started on a full main but then the wind built and I needed to reef. I know this can be done without the engine by coming on to the wind, but as I wasn't far from home, level with Worbarrow, rather than mess about I just dropped the main and sailed back on Genoa only as I was likely to need a couple of gybes. Does this make me a double wuss :shame: :shame:?
 

Spyro

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No wussing as far as I would say. Down wind with genoa only is fine by me. It just gets blanketed by the main anyway after a certain point. Much more pleasant especially when single handed. I have a masthead rig with large overlapping genoa so not a lot to be gained with the main up. I'd say you are just causing yourself problems using the main so just like the Southern Comfort ad. Do whatever's comfortable. :)
 
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cliff

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Next time pole out the genny to one side and the cruising chute to the other then sit back and enjoy the ride of your life.
 

laika

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One of the normal worries about running downwind without a main is what happens if someone falls off and you have to quickly turn round and pick them up.

Not really a concern single handed.
 

Tam Lin

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Nothing got broken, no one got hurt and you had an excellent sail. You can't get much better than that! You sailed within your abilities and made judgements that suited you. As you get more experienced you may try different things and make different judgements. FWIW I don't think there is any such thing as being a wuss when you are sailing on your own.
 

ronsurf

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Sailing with genoa only downwind is perfectly acceptable and a safe thing to do when singlehanded.

When gybing (especially in a bit of blow), pull the mainsheet in, start the gybe, then as the wind starts to get the other side of the main sail, start straightening the tiller, then ease the mainsheet, then sort out the genoa. The idea is to control the extent of the swing of the boom. You don't need so much tiller movement as you do when tacking.

Being a wuss is fine, imo. You went sailing, you came home safe and sound. Forget all this wuss stuff: Dull is good at sea, I find.
 

LadyInBed

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Depends how far the wind is off the stern fo me.
If more to the quarter then everything up as per my avitar, if more to the stern then just genoa and a poled out yankee on the inner forestay. As Cliff says, enjoy the ride.
Gybeing with main and fore, before I start the manoeuvre I pull the main in tight to centre the boom, ease the genoa a little, then turn so the boat is just passed dead downwind, ease out the main so I'm goosewing, turn the boat a bit more and then gybe the genoa.
I have never reefed the main on a downwind run, if it was too lively I would drop the main and run on genoa or the twin headsails with the genoa furled a bit.
 

FairweatherDave

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As I relative novice myself I would agree with everything you did, you were safe and cautious. As a single hander seeing other boats go by you are tempted to think I could do that. But the difference between what they might be doing, how many crew they have and their level of experience is simply not obvious from any distance. Following a lively down wind passage I wished I had stuck to just my genoa, the grief I gave myself raising the main was in no way worth it. Except from that experience I was extremely motivated to learn about poling out the genoa and how to rig a preventer. I have since tried these out and what a way to relax on a down winder!!
 

GregAC

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I head downwind genoa only with a fully crewed boat occasionally.

If the wind's up it makes for easier boat handling and may not even loose you speed. Perhaps you'll even go quicker as you'll be using less rudder to keep the thing under control and you'll be rolling around less?

Sail in a way that you're comfortable with, and crucially, are fully in control of. You don't want to be flying downwind towards some rocks feeling scared about gybing.
 

Monique

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We sail 2 up and typically have a solo on deck during night watch. Dual same sized foresails on a 53 foot ketch, furl one inside the other when needed.

Front wheel drive anyone? Works a treat. Single handling is easy if you choose the support systems judiciously

Enjoy.
 

RAI

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I hate SH sailing direct down wind, especially at night. So I always tack down wind with genoa only. It makes life a lot easier for the autohelm.
My mainsail is only about half the area of the genoa, so not much loss.
Putting the pole on the genoa is good in open water but when SH, slow to get rid of in congested areas.
 

Lodesman77

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No wussing as far as I would say. Down wind with genoa only is fine by me. It just gets blanketed by the main anyway after a certain point. Much more pleasant especially when single handed. I have a masthead rig with large overlapping genoa so not a lot to be gained with the main up. I'd say you are just causing yourself problems using the main so just like the Southern Comfort ad. Do whatever's comfortable. :)

+1

Large genoa only I find can be more stable as it removes any blanketing effect. Poling it out is even better...
 
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dancrane

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Genoa-only can often make a relaxing singlehanded sail out of what would have been an anxious one. The option to roll-away the genoa and stop the boat in seconds, is fantastic.
 

FairweatherDave

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Putting the pole on the genoa is good in open water but when SH, slow to get rid of in congested areas.
I am pretty much a novice at this poling out having only done it twice. In my reading there are obviously a few ways to do it but one method with three lines to the end of the pole allows you to furl the genoa and leave the pole up as long as you like, so furling is as quick as normal. As long as you know which tack you are going to want the pole on you can rig it as early as you like.
 

jwilson

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One of the normal worries about running downwind without a main is what happens if someone falls off and you have to quickly turn round and pick them up.

Not really a concern single handed.
Most modern boats sail perfectly well back to windward under headsail only, just a bit slower than under full sail.
 
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