Singlehanding Dangerous???

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John Christian
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Singlehanding Dangerous???

Post by John Christian » Fri Jul 20, 2007 5:49 am

I've had my 2007 Mac m for about 2 months now, have sailed quite a bit in moderate conditions with family and friends. ( 3 - 4 on board)

Previous to the Mac I've sailed Lasers, Hobies and smaller dingy's. The admiral required an ASA cert before she'd get on board so I completed the ASA 1 basic sailing prior to purchasing the boat.

I feel very comfortable sailing the Mac but the Admiral is concerned for my safety sailing single handed. I wear a life vest at all times sailing.

I'm sailing in the western side of Lake Erie usually less than 2 miles from shore, any tips or expieriences you "old salts" can give me to ease her mind would be appreciated.

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Post by Divecoz » Fri Jul 20, 2007 6:32 am

From the other side and maybe, just maybe, equally or maybe even more important than an Old Salt's input.
I am a new sailor. I have only been sailing for 3 short seasons.
I have made numerous mistakes that most here would never have made.
Yet this boat is Sooooo safe to sail so forgiving so tolerate of fools that here I sit, telling you just that.
Where do I and we sail, Lake Michigan, not exactly a farm pond.
We have some guys here who can and have put these boats thru some antics that Movies are made of . The interesting point is , so have I . I have unwillingly and unwittingly done a few of these as well and I am still here to tell about it and still go out every weekend. Albeit I have had to toss a few pair of undershorts over the side .
I am not a good enough sailor YET to be able to see and avoid some of the situations I have fond myself in, and I am not knowledgeable enough to realize they were not near as bad as I thought they were at the time.
I do manage to use a little common sense. I don't venture out when the seas are over 3 and building , or when they issue small craft warnings .
You ask , just how new am I ? The first time I came back from being out 10 miles in open water and returning , I was contemplating , cutting off one leg buying a wooden peg leg an eye patch and a Parrot. I was even high five-ing Power Boaters :|

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Post by DLT » Fri Jul 20, 2007 6:51 am

I've only sailed my boat a few times with someone actually helping...

Other than that, I always sail single handed, even with a boat full of folks...

This is the very first non-dinghy-type sailboat I have ever sailed. So, I started this adventure with well below average skills/knowledge/experience...

So, this is about as safe/forgiving of a boat as you'll find...

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Ivan Awfulitch
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Post by Ivan Awfulitch » Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:08 am

Having acquired our 26X only this year, I have to say it's about as forgiving as our old swing keel Mac 17. With the boat being so new, I need 2 sets of hands as I'm still learning the best ways to get this boat to respond. On our second time out, which was in 3-4 foot waves, the boat was amazingly stable and easy to sail and almost seems to try to correct itself long before you get into any trouble.

Where are you sailing from? We're sailing from Catawba Island, Ohio.

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Post by Catigale » Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:12 am

I wear a life vest at all times sailing
Rule number 1 duly followed.

If you add filing a float plan to always wearing your life vest, Neptune will much more likely claim the life of one not so careful.

Sailing the Great Lakes is really akin to offshore sailing - it can get really rough very quickly and many a sailor has been fooled by the thought they are 'lake sailing'.

In May, Erie will run at 50F or less - two miles offshore means you wont make it to shore in clothes even with a PFD on before hypothermia gets you. Summerime, you will be ok. Of course, sinking a Mac is very difficult, so that adds to the safety factor. You can buy a wet suit or like that reduces this risk to near nil.

If you always wear a PFD, tell the Admiral when you are to be expected to be overdue and where you are going, you are about as safe sailing as you can be imho. She should know the nearest Coast Guard Station phone number on your float plan so she can quickly report you missing if need be.

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Post by waternwaves » Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:21 am


It seems there rarely a movie camera around when all hull breaks loose. the only vids I see are the nice trips.... Somehow.. when the mast is in the water.....and green water is in my hair..... i can't find the camera....

Tho I did notice highlander got a short video of about 6 1/2 kts boat speed trimmed absolutely neutral with no hands on the wheel. It is nice that the boat is can be brought neutral and balanced like most tiller boats in winds up to about 12kts.


as far as the safety of the boat.

let be summarize it here........

In rough conditions...

winds over 30 kts.
seas over 8 ft.

and blowing spray with occasional visibility of up to 1/2 mile.

The boat is far safer than it is comfortable. And it takes a long time to get anywhere at 4 to 6 kts punching through those seas.

As far as single handing....I think you learn more & faster than any of the times I took lessons from "experts". People who race do not necessarily know more about the area, vessel handling, sea kindliness, and trimming practices than than what you learn on a couple of good outings in foul weahther with a good chartplotter and GPS.

and unless you have plenty of running room.....and a staysail, maybe 8 to 9 oz.... dont go out if the winds are over 40. The boat hull is your sail then and you wont go upwind, and you can forget unpowered tacking.
Last edited by waternwaves on Fri Jul 20, 2007 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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John Christian
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Post by John Christian » Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:07 am

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!

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Post by Andy26M » Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:28 am

In addition to the items mentioned above, the other big safety factor with the Mac is to be meticulous about the details, specifically the ballast and the foils. The Mac is a very "forgiving" boat IF you are sure to always pay attention to these things. There are lots of very "forgiving" and extremely safe keelboats out there, the difference being that with those boats, you don't have the option of forgetting the ballast because it is bolted onto the bottom, nor can you leave the foils down when going too fast because (a) you cannot bring them up and (b) you can't go fast enough for it to be dangerous!

So, to assuage the Admiral's fears you can tell her that, handled properly, the Mac has all the safety of a basic "regular" sailboat, PLUS adds the element of being able to power home in a hurry should weather or other issues demand it.

- Andy


Post by eric3a » Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:35 am

Last edited by eric3a on Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Richard O'Brien
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Post by Richard O'Brien » Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:38 am

waternwaves wrote:Dive......
It seems there rarely a movie camera around when all hull breaks loose. the only vids I see are the nice trips.... Somehow.. when the mast is in the water.....and green water is in my hair..... i can't find the camera....
I do envy you guys on the ocean, and I really look forward to waves someday. I was racing with a couple, (good sailors) on Wednesday, and we were in last place after a dead calm on the upwind leg. Macs cannot sail upwind in low winds due to excessive weight. Suddenly a storm blew in and we were back in the race. We had about a 1/4 mile to finish upwind and the winds were maybe 20-25 kts. Yes, I did have a camera as I wanted to catch us riding the rails at 30 degrees. I was down below when a gust caught us, and I thought I got a picture of the porta-potty flying out of the head, (empty, thank God). Gotta anchor that thing down better! As it turned out we broached, and the only picture was of the cloth liner which I was standing on?
Boat came right back up, and we continued on our merry way. A quick "Is everyone all right?" , and " I don't think we better put the spinnaker out." was all that we said.

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Post by NiceAft » Fri Jul 20, 2007 9:32 am

I sailed a Phantom (14.5' of fun) for twenty-five years and then jumped to a Mac 26M. It was like going from a PT Boat to a Battleship :o The Mac is forgiving. :)

:idea: When you do go out solo, make certain someone has knowledge of where you are going, when you are scheduled to call in, and numbers for the Coast Guard, so they can be notified if needed. :idea:

If you get real comfortable so as to enable you to heel 45 degrees without fear, install some portholes. Then anyone below deck can watch the fishes go by :D (After they pick themselves up and yell nasty things to you)


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Post by beene » Fri Jul 20, 2007 10:02 am

install some portholes.
.... so you can forget to close them and experience first hand what it is to be truly "SINKING"

.... as some of us have. :P


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Post by tangentair » Fri Jul 20, 2007 11:44 am

To tether or not to tether..... I tether but keep it short and always wear PFD (though I think the wet suit idea is a good one also but of course I won't because it would involve changing clothes) my lines run aft and I can do the jib through the hatch so there is no reason to have a long tether. Another advantage is a short tether will drag you into the boat when it rights itself, big upside with the high freeboard. And the conversation when single handed sailing is always sparkling and on subjects I am interested in.

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Post by LOUIS B HOLUB » Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:27 pm

eric3a wrote:The Mac is a fairly easy singlehander in my opinion, especially if you have the lines brought back to the cockpit.

"What do I do if..." scenarios should be on your mind at all times.

How safe it is always remains a matter of risk tolerance, skills and experience of the skipper.

I'd say: Go for it, and built your experience and confidence.
Dittos :!:
Single handling the Mac, in my opinion, can be a problem of not having that extra hand with the "boat hook" when docking--especially during wind issues. I get a little white knuckled occasionally at certain docks in my area, but in summary--no serious problems so far (er ah--scratches :) )

Roger says in the video that the Mac is the "easiest boat to sail of all" "more people have learned to sail on our boats than any other". I think he may be right.

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Gerald Gordon
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Post by Gerald Gordon » Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:27 pm

Are you kidding? Men, women and children die at sea all the time. If you don't recognize a rattlesnake when you see one--you'll get hurt. Single handing IS dangerous!

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