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David and I firmly believe that we should both be able to manage Starry Horizons on our own if, heaven forbid, one of us were to fall overboard or become incapacitated. Much of this requires advanced setup.
Here are some things to think about when setting up your boat for single-handing.
David and I are both licensed USCG captains and I used to own a marine business, where David worked as a captain. All of my staff had to go through man overboard training on a routine basis to refresh their knowledge – and David even used his man overboard skills!
Read more about Man Overboard Safety on a cruising boat.
As such, it’s important to run practices on your boat. Toss a lifejacket overboard, and then go retrieve it.
Strengthen the Weakest Link
While I may have been a badass licensed captain, mostly my job was management. When we got Starry Horizons, I was pretty nervous to dock her.
So, I kicked David out of the helm, and I drove Starry Horizons EVERY TIME WE DOCKED.
Of course, I got a hell of a lot better at it and given some assistance on the dock, I could easily dock Starry Horizons all by myself – and I still do!
All Lines to the Helm
One of the things we did when outfitting our boat was setting her up so that all the lines went to the helm. From the helm, I can raise and lower the mainsail and furl or unfurl the genoa.
Know Your Autopilot
The autopilot is more than just a turn-on/turn-off feature of your boat. When I raise the mainsail by myself, I am relying on the autopilot to keep us directly into the wind. When I’m tacking or jibing, I can just hit a button on the autopilot and leave the helm to manage the sails.
Don’t Forget the Dinghy
I can not tell you how many people (typically women, unfortunately) who are out here cruising and don’t know how to drive their dinghy. There are so many reasons why dinghy skills are important – independence being one of them – but being confident in driving the dinghy means you’ll save valuable time in an emergency.
Our dinghy davits are electric, so I can easily get the dinghy up and down by myself.