Singlehanding Dangerous???

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Post by Scott » Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:40 pm

Yes singlehanding is dangerous. So is taking a shower. Its all relative.

Make sure you know what your doing and plan well. Dont take any unnecessary risks and start small. Work your way up to circumnavigation slowly.

I find that the best place to singlehand from is between the binnacle and the companionway.An unmodified boat can be controlled handily from there.


Post by eric3a » Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:59 pm

Last edited by eric3a on Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Gerald Gordon » Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:00 pm

Nothing has zero risk. Risk awareness and management is about all a skipper can do. An experienced sailor singlehandling a properly setup boat in conditions that he and the boat can take is not a significant danger to himself or others.
Did you ever hear of the expression "sh~t happens"? By the way, I'm not saying someone will get hurt single handing a Mac. I'm saying handling a 4000lb machine on land or at sea has its risks and the risk for injury increases when your alone.

I can't help it if you don't agree. Just be careful and don't get hurt.

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Post by Moe » Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:47 pm

Given that none of us have seen you skipper a boat, and your wife presumably has, it's possible she's a better judge than we are about how dangerous single-handed sailing is for YOU. That said, here are some things you might tell her. Some will carry more weight if you show her, rather than tell her, when she's aboard.

- That you need the jib halyard and a jib downhaul led aft to the cockpit if you don't have roller furling.

- That you need sail slugs on the mainsail if you don't have them.

- That you need the main halyard and reefing lines in the mainsail led aft to the cockpit if you don't have them.

- That you need a boarding ladder and a safety line to be able to deploy the ladder from in the water if you don't have them.

- That you need a strobe, whistle, knife, and handheld VHF to wear on the PFD that you'll always wear.

- That you need a cell phone to call her with if you aren't going to get back to port at the expected time. Never fail to do that.

- That you won't go out when the water temperature is below X degrees while she's looking at a consciousness/survival rate table. That's 60º for me.

- That you'll keep a change of dry clothes and shoes aboard, as well as rain gear.

- That you won't go out when the weather forecast for the next 24 hours or so includes 3-5 foot waves and/or small craft advisories. There aren't that many bad days out of the season on western Lake Erie.

- That you'll monitor the WX channel on the handheld VHF periodically.

- That you'll take a weather course and keep a weather eye out.

- That you'll reduce sail before you need to and keep heel below X degrees.

- That you'll learn how to heave to so you can go below rather than stand on the seats or coamings to pee over the side.

- That you won't use an auto-pilot when sailing alone.

- That you will wear the outboard kill switch tether when motoring alone.

- That you won't leave the boat to retrieve something that fell overboard, regardless of how valuable it is.

- That you will stay with the boat if it capsizes, regardless of how close the shore looks.

- That you won't bring alcoholic beverages aboard.

These are just a few off the top of my head.


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Post by Terry » Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:33 pm

Very Good Moe. Curious though,
- That you won't use an auto-pilot when sailing alone
- That you won't go out when the weather forecast for the next 24 hours or so includes 3-5 foot waves and/or small craft advisories. There aren't that many bad days out of the season on western Lake Erie.
So what is Auto-pilot for if not for use when single handling? :?
Many years back I took sailing lessons on a 26' Thunderbird through the YMCA and the instructor told us all that 'small craft warning' was the sailors call to get out there and sail, 8) albeit he didn't say alone. I hate anything under 10 knots myself. All said I have yet to attempt single handed and my wife feels the same way as the OP's wife, she frets. I finally just finnished getting rigged for single handling, all that is left to do is a lazy jack and reefing line, everything else including Auto-pilot is done. I guess if I do some practice runs with her as a fly on the wall observing it might help aleiviate her fears.
Oh, and one more thing, the courage. :D I still have some apprehensions, but I am also fed up to here with finding sailing companions, they are never available. :(

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Post by johnnyonspot » Fri Jul 20, 2007 9:38 pm

Terry wrote:Very Good Moe. Curious though,
So what is Auto-pilot for if not for use when single handling? :?
Yeah, what is the auto pilot for and why not use it while singlehanding? I do have my halyards led aft, but have no jib downhaul. I just go to the foredeck and pull it down and stuff it under the bungee I have looped around the pulpit and across the bow. Then I go back aft and douse the main. All with auto pilot engaged. Taking the sails down usually goes more smoothly than putting them up, and that is done totally from the cockpit.

I think singlehanding is as safe as you want it to be, and when you have an auto pilot or your "crew" is a non-sailor it is not much different from doublehanding.

I hear you about finding sailing companions. If I had not a slip my sailing opportunities would be dictated by availability of crew, since I find launch and retrieval alone unappealing. For those with the courage, or who are sufficiently cavalier, singlehanding is a must if you want to avoid being at the capricious mercy of the landlubbers.


Post by eric3a » Fri Jul 20, 2007 10:15 pm

Last edited by eric3a on Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by James V » Fri Jul 20, 2007 11:34 pm

I single hand almost all of the time. Broke all of the suggestions listed above. But that is just me. Still, I think, that being on the water is safer than driving a car. Look at the stat's.

I suggest that you ease into it. A little at a time.

When you have somebody with you, do it all yourself and see what it is like. Don't go to far or do to much. Reef early and return/anchor early. When you get tired, stop and rest. Eating and drinking water is a must that I have to make myself do when underway.

Getting trained up to bareboat will help you read the charts and other chores onboard.

Docking is the hardest, use the wench as the first tie off point and try to get somebody to assist if in much wind or current. Sailing with the main sail only is easier than with both. If you do not have a roller fuller on the jib make sure you have a downhaul (just a light piece of line tied to the top of the top of the sail and run through a cleat and then back to the cockpit, it really makes a difference getting down the jib).

You really have to plan ahead. Get everything done ahead of time if you can.

Takes practice and it will keep you busy. Make sure that when you lower the sails you have a lot of room and the motor running. A Sail Caddy for the main or something for the main to fall in is very nice.

When handling the lines make sure that you do not have any that if suddently move with bind or pull you, hands and feet to watch out for. Take it easy with the back.

Have fun, we do it all the time.

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Post by beene » Sat Jul 21, 2007 4:00 am

I sail single handed most of the time. When the wind is up and the chances of excessive heel increases.... so does your chances for a divorce if your Admiral is onboard. :|

Thanks to Bill, my Mac is quite easily single handed.

Most of the main points have already been covered by the other fine folks on this site, but I will add a couple that I find invaluable..

- Keep the ropes not in use out of the way
- Keep the ropes needed and in use readily available and free from knots
- When I say available.... I mean with you, where you are sitting, within reach at all times.
- Know your limits

Just a few off the top of my head.

Fair Winds


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Post by Ivan Awfulitch » Sat Jul 21, 2007 6:39 am

john Christian wrote:Ivan, I'm sailing out of Gibralter, MI at the mouth of the Detroit River. usually just off the Ferimi Reactor which requires that I keep some distance off the shore.

We made one trip down your way to Put N' Bay a few weeks ago, Great sailing although docking a Mac in that mess of rafted boats is a real adventure!
Agreed, and that's why going there on any Friday or Saturday the boat stays in the slip and we take the ferry. Seen too many boats damaged with the rafting. During the week things are much calm.

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Post by Moe » Sat Jul 21, 2007 7:03 am

We were in our Whaler in a line of boats moving through PIB harbor, when a large cruiser backed out of a fuel dock toward us, the skipper with martini in one hand, throttle in the other. Fortunately, the boat behind us saw what was happening and peeled off, giving me room to reverse hard and keep from being backed over.

We did our honeymoon at PIB during the weekdays, and have also come in by boat during the week, and it's a great place. But insane on the weekends.

Kelleys Island is for boaters who also like to party. PIB is for partyers who also like to boat. I understand another destination to consider is the State marina on Middle Bass (previously the Lonz Winery marina). Haven't been there yet.



Post by eric3a » Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:26 am

Last edited by eric3a on Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Divecoz » Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:43 am

I agree that Moe has a very long list. But that is Moe, or at least his concern for your safety. As much as we might like to, it's just not physically possible to be ready for every situation that might arise.
USE Common Sense. Don't try to out sail (by toooo far/big of a degree) than your present ability. I will add this, you will never get good or even better at any physical endeavor if your not reaching for the next plateau.
I am not condoning , pushing things to the limit like Eric3 does or even the way I do or have in the past. Keep it relative if at all possible to what your able to bail yourself out of in a time of trouble.
IF things go bad ? Blame only yourself. Just like Eric has done . He took and takes chances that he holds himself totally accountable for.
He is alive to talk about it and has gained additional skills and knowledge from his adventures.
Hey Eric how about taking my boat down to Cozumel for me? I will fly down and meet you at the Pier :wink:


Post by eric3a » Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:15 am

Last edited by eric3a on Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by waternwaves » Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:29 am

and as eric points out...

Finding crew you trust with this boat in rough conditions when you are asleep or in a bunk is a pretty rare occurance for most of us.

And as Terry points out.... finding great crew with our busy lives is very tough. His boat is only 50 miles away...... but tucked in a great little corner fo the state, yet I know I havent seen it...

But would like to sail up there.

As far as Dives long distance passages... We are pretty lucky here in the northwest. All the way to alaska the mac has many more places to moor and anchor than most other boat..... if you have enough line. i cant think of any place between here and the queen charlottes where I didnt have a real marina or excellent anchorage within 40 miles. So many islands..... so many more lee shores.

SO longer trips are possible up here.... The longest passage was the last bit to the queen charlottes......., and the iffiest was a short cut attempted from cape Scott. I dont recommend that in a mac....unless you like surfing.

But you have to sleep, and eric... I just don't understand how guys single hand and sleep in busy waters like the gulf..... I am way to chicken $#!- and when I flew over the gulf it looked like lots of things to hit.

Up here, when I anchor in 20 ft of water at night...... I am damn sure a night passage runner is not going to run me over.

After those first 24 hours........of alertness I need 2 to 4 hours of rest or else it gets pretty dicey, what I could stay awake at 25,35, and 45 I cannot do now.

that is why I have 470 ft of anchor line, and a drougue, cockpit cushions and an alarm

So as others have said, managing the risk is real key.

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