singlehanding

G

Guest

Guest
I will be singlehanding on a few trips next year and would very much like your tips & tricks (like a good friend explains he keeps awake on LONG passges by eating bananas and drinking Red Bull). Would you consider a windlass essential or merely desirable? How about self tailing winches?

I do have an a powerful autopilot linked to my wind instruments, so I can choose to sail or motor on any wind angle, and I have a roller reefing genoa + a hank on working jib. Boat is 10m sloop.

So how about some ideas for staying awake, and all the rest.
 

BrianJ

New member
Joined
24 Oct 2001
Messages
888
Location
Melbourne/Australia
Visit site
Where will you be sailing ? If its in shipping lanes then you know you are in trouble, if your way off shore in the middle of the India Ocean, then you can relax . I remember once being caught in a storm and I couldn't leave the wheel as I was too close to the shore (5 m off) .I should have prepard a meal in advance or just filled the thermos...didn't. So I couldn't get below to boil the billy. Now there was a leson learnt. So get food prepared in advance. Keep a few ars bars in your pocket etc.
BrianJ
 

claymore

Well-known member
Joined
18 Jun 2001
Messages
10,635
Location
In the far North
Visit site
How much sleep do you normally take? Most people are capable of an 18 hour day without too much trouble but then you may need a rest day fairly soon. Perhaps planning where your stops could be is a good place to begin. As BrianJ says - a lot depends on where you are sailing and perhaps planning to cover your night mileage - if any - in areas away from shipping lanes. Bit like driving a car really boredom is a strong influence - I think I'd avoid the Red Bull - performance enhancers mean you are handing over control and you'd probably end up more knackered after its effects have worn off.
 
G

Guest

Guest
Re: singlehanding - It will be coastal passages

My sailing is coastal - down the Bristol Channel and then across to Ireland, for example. In fair conditions, these are passages which can be done in a long day (18 hours or so) but if the weather changes they could easily become much longer.
 

Boatman

New member
Joined
18 Jun 2001
Messages
444
Location
Where I am
Visit site
Re: singlehanding - It will be coastal passages

Do most of my sailing singlehanded, if coastal or difficult pilotage than anything that makes life easier will help self tailing winches etc, as for the longer passages a thermos and pre made sandwiches are a must I always have 2 flasks made up one strong black coffee and the other soup, the soup goes first then the strong coffee to keep me awake. On those long night passages an egg timer is extremely useful even if anoying it certaily stops one nodding off for anything over 10 mins.
 

Twister_Ken

Well-known member
Joined
31 May 2001
Messages
27,585
Location
'ang on a mo, I'll just take some bearings
Visit site
kitchen timer

Single handing is not my thing, but I do remember seeing a pic of a singlehander with an electronic kitchen timer clipped to his oilies. Reason I remember is because it was exactly the same model that we have at home, bought from Robert Dyas. It has a spring clip on the back, plus a magnet. I guess for sailing, you might want to prise the magnet off and throw it away. When it pings it's loud enough for it be heard one floor away.

Set one of those to ring every 10 mins, and you'd be sure to wake up (with a start) so that you can scan the horizon before snuggling back down again.
 

jamesjermain

Active member
Joined
16 May 2001
Messages
2,723
Location
Cargreen, Cornwall
Visit site
If you don't have them already, I would say self-tailers are a must. Not sure about the windlass - it would be nice, but not essential on a 10m yacht. I expect you raise anchor by yourself anyway, don't you?

Don't forget the art of heaving to. Even if you can keep going under autopilot, there are times when this manoeuvre is invaluable. By effectively stopping the yacht you increase the time it would take a ship to close with you and the motion becomes significantly less, so cooking and chart work are easier. In open waters away from shipping lanes you can even take a 20 minute nap without putting.the boat at any serious risk.

I enjoy sailing singlehanded but I have always managed to arrange my passages so there is never a leg of more than about 20 hours duration, so sleep deprivation is not an issue. Food preparation can be. In practice I have found that many quite sophisticated meals can be prepared by making a few, short-duration visits to the galley. But in poor conditions, or just for convenience, a Thermos full of nourishing soup, coffee or cocoa is a good idea. So, too are pre-prepared stews and pies which can be stored in the over and just turned on when the need arises.

Preparation and early action are the keys to singlehanding. Things take longer and you get tired more easily. This applies particularly to navigation and pilotage. You don't want to be leaping up and down the companionway to the chart table while entering a busy harbour at night. An aide memoire of buoys and lights, courses and turning points is invaluable. Offshore, routes can be programmed into the GPS but keep up the log disciplin. I find the mental stimulation of writing up the log helps when I am feeling sleepy.

As a singlehander the last thing you want to do is leave the security of the cockpit. If you fall overboard with the autopilot on that's it. Reefing which is ALL done from the cockpit is essential. The modern singleline systems are best, but I have rigged Sweet Lucy up with luff reeging pennants which lead back to the cockpit. They add to the chaos of string a bit but are worth their weight in gold when the need arises. You will, I am sure, have all the usual lifelines and harness eyes.

The only other thing that springs to mind is the question of mooring alongside. There are a number of ideas for making it easier for one man to bring a boat alongside, jump ashore and tie her up without losing control, but one of the easiest I have found is having a mooring line lead from the cockpit through a turning block amidships. A large bowline can be used to drop over a cleat of bollard, the warp made up round a priimary or spinnaker winch. (the latter is usually conveniently close to the help). By keeping the boat in slow ahead with the helm hard over so the stern is kicked towards the pontoon or jetty she will park herself and you can adjust her position with the winch. When she settles you can hop ashore and attend to the other lines. The position of the turning block is crucial to the neatness of the operation but this will only be determined by trial and error.

Good luck

JJ
 
G

Guest

Guest
Re: sleep etc

I heard that if you have the wakey juice (eg red bull) then you should sleep for 10 mins and then have the red bull.

Also, imho regarding long trips (driving or whatever) the danger of dropping off occurs as darkness falls. If you are actually sailing into the dawn, you'll stay awake, as the natural reaction is to wake up, so perhaps the best would be to set off 6pm, sail thru the night, and then be approaching midday as the 18hours comes up.
 

charles_reed

Active member
Joined
29 Jun 2001
Messages
10,413
Location
Home Shropshire 6/12; boat Greece 6/12
Visit site
From the postings so far I'm afraid you'll get possibly bizarre view of singlehanding - and some rather misleading information, because it is out of context.

Having singlehanded regularly for the past 10 years, I can recognise some of the points being made, but the trees frequently obscure the wood.

We each find our own answers to the challenges of life - singlehanding is no different, what's right for one may be improved on by another.

OVERVIEW

Single-handing requires a different attitude to most crewed skippering - and you need to do things slowly, which leads to giving yourself plenty of time, thinking things out IN DETAIL and then practising them exhaustively.
I always try to think at least 3 operations ahead and the fall-back plans for each of the things that could go wrong during each stage.
On the way you'll make lots of mistakes, so it's useful to not be too sensitive to others' opinions.
It has major advantages - the freedom from irritation by crew and their domestic problems - the freedom to indulge one's own obsessional nature.
The only real difficulties are when you arrive and, for me, washing up - I always leave it until the pile falls out of the sink when I tack. This saves time, water and one's hands.

EQUIPMENT

I'd suggest having a personal EPIRB on your person at all times - I only wear a harness in above a seastate 5/6, the damned thing snagging on things is more danger than any illusory safety it may give you.
Nearly all autopilots are grossly over-rated by their manufacturers, apart from a wind-vane I have a 4000ST with a back up actuator and a Tillerpilot as the spare on a 31' boat of an alleged 3500kg.
I only use the windvane offshore and when there is no chance of surfing.
The greatest feature of the chartplotter that I have is that it makes a regular record, every hour, of all the wind, weather, course and instrument data - this saves having to go down to plot positions and to write the log every hour, looking down is a sure recipe for seasickness.
Radar is a fabulous tool, my screen can be rotated to face the chart-table or to be seen through the companion way from the cockpit. When I need to get my head down, I set the inner and outer guard zones at 3 and 6M, set it to intermittent 6 sweep at 10 min intervals and crash out. The only thing you do need is a separate buzzer, the one in the set is far too discreet.
I found Gore-Tex boots and foul-weather gear and absolute godsend when they came out - you can now spend 48 hours in them without feeling an arthritic 102 years of age.

SLEEPING and EATING

The longest sail I am prepared to do in one hop is about 40 hours - or from S Brittany to N Wales. If the going is a bit bumpy and you want to get your head down or to get some rest, I heave to - a trifle old-fashioned, I know, but those Bristol Channel cutters used to do and they were shorthanded and out for a week at a time.
I find 4-6 x20 min naps every 24 hours sufficient to keep me alert - if you allow yourself to sleep longer than that you'll go out of REM into deep sleep, which isn't as refreshing, necessary or as easy to rouse from.
If you are going to cook anything and have it hot, make sure it's a bowl and spoon eating job - I use the pressure cooker and things like boeuf bourguinon, stew with dumplings (all home-cooked), generally though, it's easy enough to cook something.
My greatest weakness is seasickness - in seastates 6 and above I just don't go below, or I suffer.
For this reason dry biscotte or baguette are excellent with plenty of fizzy drinks - Coke, beer, Orangina and - fruit. Another very good nutritious snack is dates with cheese. If one is sick, just keep eating and drinking - it may come up, but it's easier on a full than on an empty stomach - and, like foul weather, it always passes - all you have to do is survive until it does.

SAILS

I have a 160% roller genoa, a GP (triradial) spinnaker, a non-furling solent, a rolling 85% yankee and a reaching asymmetric setting on a bowsprit. Usage is as per the above order.
The boat is a 3/4 rigged lightweight and I have 4 slab reefing points in the fully battened main (the 4th reef is necessary for reaching in >30 knot winds). the main comes down and goes up on any point of sailing and I have a full lazyjack and sailbag system.
Despite the drudgery of it all, it is advisable to reef early - my first reef goes in at about 15 knots true. Have all your points marked on halyards by touch as well as sight and practise until you can do it with one hand and your eyes closed. (I'm not joking).
The yankee has replaced the storm jib as I can roll it down to about 1/2 the size of the storm jib - which like most storm canvas is OK for F8 but leaves you grossly overcanvassed in F9.

MOORING

If coming into a marina, I'll have fenders out both sides before entering the channel - I don't attach to the guard-rails but to the more solid grab-rail on the cabin top. If the fenders are shipping water just set them and bring them back over the guard-rail until you're in calmer water.
My mooring warps are x2.5 the length of the boat - this allows me to take 2 round & 2 half hitches round pontoon cleats and to leave with minimum fuss by just uncleating at the pontoon. Come in under power and stop on full reverse or under sail (if a long finger pontoon) with a loop onto the end cleat from the forrad bow cleat - just make sure the length is less than the pontoon.
Picking up top-ring mooring buoys I use a Bosco hook on the end of the boathook - someone I know uses an ordinary carbine hook on a line from a forrad cleat to a point in the cockpit - he's a genuine single-hander having lost his left forearm some years ago.
When necessary I moor bows to rather than stern-to, the stern anchor is a 5kg Delta on 5m of chain and 40m of tape on a reel mounted on the pulpit - just let it go 3 boat lengths from the quay and make it fast when somone on shore had grebbed your pushpit or the forrad warp which is artistically looped over the pushpit. If there is no-one on shore to perform that action you can sometimes lassoo a bollard, but don't get off the boat.
Anchoring is easiest, my bower is a 14-lb CQR on 65m of chain and 60m of Octoplait. Just come up to wind, drop the main, note the depth and go up forrad with the anchor just touching the surface, when forward movement stops (watch the anchor ripple) I smartly drop the anchor until it touches bottom, then pay out gradually as the boat falls back. I usually use about 3:1 scope at HW. If anchoring in a tidal stream, I'll drop back on the bower to about 7:1 drop the kedge (I've a Danforth as well as the Delta) from the bow and then gradually pay out on the kedge and pull up on the bower until scopes are the same on both.
It's usually best to do a couple of tours of the proposed anchoring area to check out the bottom - supermarket trolleys and sunken pontoons usually show up - if in doubt have a trip on the anchor crown.
My usual regime is three nights on the hook and one on a marina, but current Spanish marina prices are so low that I frequently linger longer in the marina.

Hope that screed helps
- if you want further info e-mail me direct via the board
 

charles_reed

Active member
Joined
29 Jun 2001
Messages
10,413
Location
Home Shropshire 6/12; boat Greece 6/12
Visit site
Re: singlehanding - It will be coastal passages

Your biggest risk will be lobster pots.

Didn't read James' contribution before I posted and I agree with everything he says EXCEPT about single-line reefing.
Frictional loss is too great for it to be any use in a real blow (unless you have a really undersized main)
 

Jeremy_W

New member
Joined
23 Jun 2001
Messages
1,122
Location
Liverpool, UK
Visit site
The other use of heaving to..

.. is reefing. With the jib backed and helm lashed with kicker and mainsheet dumped. Leave the "reefing while bashing into waves" bit to the macho men.
 
G

Guest

Guest
I thought I answered this last night.

Either I had had too many of glasses or for that Hilliard owner didn't like my response!
I must disagree with James utterly and totally but perhaps he has an excuse in that he sails a lightweight racing flyer. The only concession I will give him his prepare and then prepare but perhaps he is on the right track in saying that the best technique for single-handed sailing is to be able to heave to. Whatever you do you need it to consider review prepare and have a fall-back position. Whether it is deciding whether a ship will pass ahead for a stern off weighing up the problems off coming into port.
Technology in the form of self-taming winches a single line refilled chart plotters and auto electronic pilots parlance are just toys! Things that go wrong at the worst possible moment.
The most difficult manoeuvre you will encounter is stopping, just think about it when sailing with a full crew it is the one manoeuvre which keeps everybody jumping about. The easiest stopping for manoeuvre is to drop the anchor (here I would disagree with JJ and say an electric winless for recovering the hook makes life a lot easier.) second is to pick up a swinging mooring, third is to go between a pair of boys off piles last and only if you can avoid it go into a marina.

In short go out and enjoy yourself single-handed sailing is the greatest experience you can do and remember 99.99% of other single-handed sailors own their own boats and consequently are interesting people .

:)-{)>
 

Gazza

Member
Joined
30 Jul 2001
Messages
218
Location
Cornwood near Plymouth, Devon
Visit site
I find the kitchen timer trick to be useful - set for fifteen minutes or so it provides a useful reminder to look around even if you're not asleep.

I also use a "walkman" tape player and have a stock of talking books (obtained cheaply from charity shops, markets, etc.). These make the long night watches pass surprisingly quickly, and do not detract from concentration too much.

I would strongly agree with setting everything up as far ahead as possible. I try to navigate from the cockpit, with the chart in a portable chart holder, using two compasses (one for lat and one for long) to quickly plot a position from the GPS. I have set up a hand-held GPS under the sprayhood, as well as an external speaker for the VHF. Being able to use the VHF handset from the cockpit could be a godsend in certain situations. Also use waypoints for any item of interest on passage including alternative ports - helpful to pencil CTS and distance from each WP to the next on the chart - this provides a very quick indication of any errors as the GPS reads info. to the next WP. I find it useful to mark WPs with small Postit type markers - the ones with a clear sticky tab with a coloured top part.

I also try not use the heads - apart from the discomfort of bouncing about down below, a call of nature will no doubt occur at the most inappropriate time. I got a device (a plastic bottle with a top really) called a Little John (no comments please) from West Marine on a recent trip to US, but before the luxury of this I used a plastic container.

Good luck - there are few things more enjoyable than singlehanding with no untoward excitement.

Gary Miller
 
G

Guest

Guest
Apologies to him with the large Hilliard. (I was o

where JJ cannot touch!
(or admit to)

:)-{)>
 

Mirelle

N/A
Joined
30 Nov 2002
Messages
4,532
Visit site
heavy displacement boat is very different

JJ's boat is lightweight. A "heavy"does not need reefing lines, etc., led back to the cockpit or self tailing winches. You just slip a line over the tiller, potter up the deck (clipped on!) and potter back again.

If you boat is fairly light you may want to check that the primary winches are get-at-able from the steering position, in addition to JJ's "gadgetry"!

The only singlehanding gadget that I have is one that goes back to about 1910. Under the sliding hatch is a sheet of plywood on runners under the hatch (inside the cabin). A folded chart goes on this, with a crayon, parallel ruler or whatever, (and the handheld GPS!) and a loose sheet of acrylic over the top to stop the chart blowing away or getting wet. I recently added a chart light!

You cna now do pilotage up a strange estuary or whatever without dodging down to the chart table or worrying that a portable chart table or loose chart will go OB.
 

claymore

Well-known member
Joined
18 Jun 2001
Messages
10,635
Location
In the far North
Visit site
Snotty tones nm

What a condescending and partonising opening to your post.
You'll probably find that contributors have been sailing singlehanded for a lot longer than your ten years. I certainly have. Perhaps you should think of the wider audience when posting
 

brian_neale

New member
Joined
5 Jul 2001
Messages
123
Location
Winchester, UK
Visit site
Re: Snotty tones nm

I think I read that last posting as "don't bother contributing unless you are the oldest member present". Unfortunate, if that is what was meant. People with experience and knowledge sometimes do come over as self-opinionated (although I did not read the post in that light and it did contain significant food for thought and consideration). However, if there are those present with more experience and knowledge, then please let's hear from you.

My own single-handing has only been for about 7 years, mainly in the Solent, and in a 16' gaff cutter, which combination rules out my comments from consideration on almost every count, I think. My next boat is going to be significantly bigger and heavier, though, and I anticipate sailing single-handed in that as well. Part of my preparation was to go off on a week's skippered charter on a similar boat with a skipper who was very willing to share his experience and allow me to experiment with techniques.

Apart from preparing everything well in advance for any manoeuvre, my main learning has been that there is no-one to help when things go wrong - so try to avoid them doing so. For example, on a gaff cutter the sheets are always looking for something to get fouled on, so part of the preparation when dropping the mooring is to rig lines across the foredeck and up to the mast at gooseneck height, and to fit wedges under the aft deck mooring cleats to keep the mainsheet out of them. It only has to go wrong once when manoeuvring at close quarters to understand why!
 
Top