Latest News: Forums Cruising Single handed pottering

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  • #4056

    Hi Everyone, I bought an old MK2 Wayfarer last season and intend to potter about a bit with my Dad as crew. He is 85. I was interested to see one member mention he sails single handed (he was replying to the question of which sails to buy). Single handed will be my situation most of the time- given my Dad’s preference for near perfect conditions! I am very interested to hear about other people’s boat set up and experieces on this matter. Best regards, Mark


    Have a good reefing system that’s quick to put in. Reef early. Tie jib sheets together. Give yourself plenty of time to carry out manoeveures. Consider upgrading your buoyancy aid to a life jacket, cos if you go overboard no one is coming back for you. Make sure you have an easy system for launching and recovery. Once you’re happy, enjoy the peace and quiet.



    I really enjoy sailing single handed from time to time with a suitably cautious approach and moderate conditions. My priority is to make absolutely sure everything is rigged and running correctly before I set off. I often sail with just a reefed main and have no concerns about using the storm jib if I want a bit of headsail up. Adding headsail reefing/furling is a priority for me this year which I hope will be a great benefit for any future single handing trips.

    Let us know how you get on.



    No, no, no, no! Life jackets are dangerous on a dinghy!

    I once had a last minute crew replacement and the chap brought a life jacket. Unfortunately he had no dinghy experience what so ever and we capsized on the first tack because he stayed on the lee. By the time I realized he did not know what to do it was already too late. 😳 We had to retire from the race because my crew was floating on his back and could do nothing except wait for a rescue boat. Even after I righted the boat single handed he was unable to crawl in because he couldn’t turn on his belly.

    In other words a life jacket is a big *NO* on a dinghy, except for non sailing passengers like small children perhaps. Everyone else should wear a swimming aid and persons with life jackets should not be allowed aboard for safety reasons. Self inflating life jackets are even worse because the sometimes spontaneously inflate from the spray water that gets to the salt tablet of the mechanism.


    On lifejackets, I’m afraid that I disagree with Swiebertje.

    If you are sailing in sea conditions, then you might just need a real lifejacket. I do know about staying with the boat, but I have managed to be in a situation where a boat blew away faster than I could swim (flat water and high wind). I’ve done even better on a windsurfer, the sail ‘bounced’ as I crashed, and the board sailed another 50 yards or so, which gave the wind an unfair advantage.

    There is certainly the problem of deciding if it should be auto or manual; I use manual, because I don’t want it inflated by mistake, but that is debatable (do you propose to capsize, or be bashed on the head by the boom?).

    I certainly avoid a salt tablet mechanisms which is likely to go off the first time I get damp. On this we agree. (One winter my SECUMAR masthead buoyancy saved my garage from inversion 🙂

    Other single-handed things, as usual copied from other Wayfarer cruisers:
    I use a bungee across the rear hatch which allows me to fix the tiller temporarily, albeit rather ineffectively – I can change my jacket, pour coffee, but not lump about too much.

    Any means of fixing the tiller makes me worry that one day the boat will be well enough balanced to simply sail off without me. So I do have a lifeline attached to the base of the mast, I rarely use it. Others have said that this might capsize the boat. I don’t mind – I’d rather have the boat capsized within reach than sail into the distance on its own.

    By the way, I rather enjoy single-handed sailing. I like working with/as a crew too, but the two experiences are different.

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