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Old 02-09-2007, 01:46 PM   #1
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OK, here's my new question ... and concern. To solo or not to solo?!

I'm the kind of person who really doesn't mind spending long periods of time by myself, quiet and content, reading, walking, hiking, backpacking, fishing, thinking, etc. I don't "thrive" on the company of other folks ... I don't mind spending time with other folks, it's just not something that I have to have. I expect that when I finally untie from the dock for a long awaited cruise to parts unknown that I will be going solo. I kind of yearn for that. However, I have been noticing that for many this is considered irresponsible, mostly due to the fact that a person can't be expected to stand watch 24/7 and the potential of "bumping" into someone (or something) else is certainly possible even out on the big blue, and can be devestating to all involved.

So, how does the cruising community view these kinds of folks (the soloists)? While I like my solitary and quiet time, I really don't care to be ostracized because of my choice of going solo. And, how do the solo folks handle what they do? I mean the practical pieces like taking precautions not to become a nuisance out on the big blue, etc.

Again, thanks in advance for any and all responses and advice!
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Old 02-09-2007, 02:44 PM   #2
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Hi Matey,

You certainly would not be ostracised by any cruisers I know, maybe even the opposite.

How does one cope - well never having spent longer than a day sailing solo - can only assume from reading others:

1. Develop short sleep programme to pop up each 20 minutes when in traffic zones.

2. Ensure you've all sails easily handled, ie small sails or roller reffing to most.

3. Copious battery power to handle electric autopilot or a good wind pilot.

4. Always call in before arriving and have some shore hands available to help you park up.

5. Install AIS and radar, use alarms on both, plus maybe add a radar detector alarm also.

Can't think of anything more one would need - except a good pile of books!

Cheers

JOHN
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Old 02-09-2007, 03:56 PM   #3
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Swagman raised some very good point which I fully agree with. I came across a smal number of soloist, some with gears, some with very little. I have not done much solo myself but used to work for several days in a row with very little sleep if at all. I think this is the key. First assess your capabilities to live on "slice sleep" for a week or so, if your metabolism accept that, then perhaps read a couple of books on how to perfect the technique.

Fair winds.
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Old 02-09-2007, 04:21 PM   #4
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I single hand often, short or long sails. Everything John said is true except for needing dock help. I prefer NOT to have help unless I'm trying to tie up in a wind storm.

The biggest hurdle to overcome is the fatigue. I can't describe this as you have to experience it for yourself. After 4 to 5 days at sea it becomes difficult to do the simplest chore. Sometimes it takes hours to do what may take just a few minutes. Critical items envigorate you and get done quickly but everything else is near impossible.

The cruising community is very helpful to single handers. In a crowded harbor they will come on board to help move the boat, invite you for dinner, lend a hand when possible and stop by to check on you. It's not a problem. As a single hander your repair skills will tend to be better then many cruising couples and your help is appreciated.

I believe that Ken would have saved his boat if he had not been at sea for 80 days...he was totally fatigued. His boat was still afloat and not in danger of sinking; he had options but could not perform the repairs necessary. This is not a criticism as I understand entirely his state. He was in a slow boat, being hammered from the weather. You have to experience it to understand.

It's surprising how different it is just having one more person on board. You will see more and have someone to share the experience with. JMO
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Old 02-10-2007, 01:06 AM   #5
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Hey folks -

Thanks very much for the input. The comments are quite helpful, and will give me something to ponder. I get along well with small doses of sleep (a 20-30 minute nap can keep me recharged for many hours), and can adjust my sleep/wake pattern without much trouble. I am also a very light sleeper, and small changes out of the ordinary tend to wake me (and I go from sleep to full wakefulness without too much trouble).

I'm also aware of the change that exhaustion can bring down upon a body. That's probably one of my more critical concerns. But, I'm not planning on any super-long hauls (no non-stop circumnavigations for me); I just want to go from place to place, see new ports, islands, cultures, etc.

I know that it can certainly be gratifying to share the experience with others, and I expect that will happen from time to time, but I am truly one of those kinds of folks who just loves the solitude (I suppose I'd make a great hermit - lol!).

So, until later - I'll keep dreaming til I meet up with some of you all out there!

Phil
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Old 02-10-2007, 06:10 AM   #6
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I do not have the same question, but very similar, in the sense of maintianing a 24 hour watch.

It was a question I had comtemplating cruising with a partner, but wanting to have 6-8 hours sleep, together, and share the day and the experiance together.

My question was "have a 24 hour watch or allow gaps and lapse?" It did not take much online research, and memories of military experiance to realize, gaps and lapse on watch is not a wise choice.

One can argue, "needle in a haystack", the ocean is large, what are the chances? So a 36 foot cruiser at 5 knots, bumps a 42 foot cruiser at 6 knots, broadside? Everybody is jarred awake! and the ripples are, and some paint is missing, and slightly deeper. What if a 100,000 ton frieghter at 15 knots is asleep at the wheel and cuts your boat in half? Are you a gambler? Are you lucky?

I am not opposed to soloists by any means. I ask myself these questions in determining what I must do, should do, and what if, as I prepare to sail.

I know sleep deprivation. I can do it fairly well for 36 hours on my feet. I've function often with less than 6 hours of sleep in 72 hours; trained for it. After 9 days of no sleep you can not spell your own name.

Sleep deprivation paralells drunk or drug impaired in court. Why would you want to? As the CAPT or taking the helm, one takes on all kind of responsibilities? Correct or not?

I am not telling you what is right or wrong, what to do or not; but I just confirmed my future craft will have a 24 hour watch. Your question answered mine. Thank-you.
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Old 02-10-2007, 12:09 PM   #7
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I haven't done solo for more than daysailing so I can't comment personally. I will say that I know commercial fishermen who run trawlers SOLO! All it takes is gear. The one guy I know that did it regularly would go for 3-4days at a time. He had two radars running 24/7 with contact alarms, multiple bilge water alarms, engine alarms, etc. He would set and then let the boat run a course on autopilot for 4hours or so. Then get up, check the nets, set again and go back to sleep, repeat for days on end until the hold was full. Tough/crazy dude.

Seems that running a radar with "watchman" mode that comes on every 20 minutes with a contact alarm would work well and conserve energy on an ocean passage. Combine that with multiple bilge alarms, etc. and maybe AIS and radar detector as well would make for decent sleep periods.

RT
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Old 05-28-2007, 07:17 PM   #8
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Sailing solo Two years ago in November I was sailing solo up the coast of California on a two day run from Montery to Rio Vista in the Delta. I would take cat naps in the cockpit and wake up every few minutes to look around. The boat was on auto-pilot. About three in the morning I was cold, tired and more cold when I opened my eyes and saw a man wearing slickers looking like Jesus behind the wheel of my boat. He paid no attention to me and I was totally confused. I quickly got up and looked out over the bow and everything was clear. Looking back at the wheel the man was gone. I have never cat-napped again sailing coastal waters. A few days after that I put into San Francisco and thought I had timed the tide properly and the weather was to be great. It turned out that I had 50kn winds and following seas that were totally wild in the fact that they didn't seem to have any set direction to them. That area of the bay entrance is called the potato patch. I had already reefed my main sail and rolled my 150%genoa. I looked out to sea when turning into the bowling alley and found no boats in sight. After fighting the wheel for 5 hr. with following seas that wanted to broach me if I tried to let go of the wheel for just 2 seconds, I looked back and saw a freighter coming fast. I still had 2 miles to go before reachig the bridge. I had battened down the boat but I just knew what was about to happen. The ship passed me doing about 15 knots and I saw a swell heading my way with no way to turn the boat into it. I was hit broadside by the ship's wake and from the stern by a 10 ft wave all at the same time. My cockpit was 100% filled with sea water as I rose a hand above the water in a feeble atempt to signal the ship's Capt. a one finger salute. Now I was really cold, needed a cigar and a head call. I could do none of these for eight more hours. The next eight hours are another story but tring to sail the bay and navigate a river alone at night in a storm when tired is something I will never ever do again! Sailing in these waters is never a solo operation. Too many weather patterns can pop up including fog, winds and heavy freighter traffic. I thought with my experience that I could handle it. I was screwing with mother narure. ( I did, though, manage to quit smoking cigars.)
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Old 05-29-2007, 09:19 PM   #9
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" And, how do the solo folks handle what they do? I mean the practical pieces like taking precautions not to become a nuisance out on the big blue, etc.

Again, thanks in advance for any and all responses and advice! "

You can check mu husband's website

Sailing Solo
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Old 06-22-2007, 02:37 PM   #10
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I too am a solo sailor but here is a link that may give you some inspiration. I personally know this old salt, our vessel's are at the same marine in Texas. He is totally deaf due to childhood injuries and he solo circumnavigated the globe. Great guy and quite remarkable fellow. I am not plugging his DVD although I own one but there is also logs and info on his site, plus he is very helpfull as well if you have question or concerns, I am sure he would answer any emails.

www.silentvoyager.com
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Old 06-23-2007, 04:18 PM   #11
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You know Charl?? I just talked to him a week ago. He's been over in Port Lavaca working on repainting and modifying a power boat. We keep our boat just down the dock.

VERY nice guy. His wife seriously injured herself on that boat. Charl had the engine hatches open, she didn't know it and fell into the engine- broke her arm quite badly.

We live in Magnolia beach and I have my boat building shop there- where are you?
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Old 07-05-2007, 10:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Jones View Post
You know Charl?? I just talked to him a week ago. He's been over in Port Lavaca working on repainting and modifying a power boat. We keep our boat just down the dock.

VERY nice guy. His wife seriously injured herself on that boat. Charl had the engine hatches open, she didn't know it and fell into the engine- broke her arm quite badly.

We live in Magnolia beach and I have my boat building shop there- where are you?
Yes, Charl is good guy. I hadn't heard about his wife getting hurt, I have been out of town the last couple of weeks. Is she going to be ok?

I am in Palacios at Serendipity Marina when in town. I manage a drilling rig over in Louisiana, so I work the week on & week off deal.

I guess you are over in Nautical Landing. I know a couple of guys over there that use to be in Palacios. Going to try and get my boat out next week if the rains ever quit.
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