Single Handing the Capri (how to?)

Thread starter #1
Does anybody have advice for single-handing the Capri?

I couldn't find any crew today so I decided to sail singlehanded. The winds were about 5 - 10 mph with gusts probably to 15 ... occasional white caps. I sailed with the main alone and chose not to cleat the mainsheet. That is, one hand on the tiller, one on the mainsheet, the way you might sail a laser or a sunfish. It was very tiring. I mean it was tiring in a good way, but the Capri sure seems to need about another 120 lbs of ballast.

I found it difficult to hike-out far enough and had to sail mostly by feathering the main sail to avoid capsizing. Has anyone else sailed single-handed? What do you suggest?
Aprilia SXV550


New Member
In the past, I've lake sailed my 14.2, mostly by myself, for over 10 years...sometimes in heavy weather. Although I still consider myself an amateur, I've always sailed with both sails. But, don't take my word for it. If you ask the experts here, they may agree that a main with the jib provides more control.
Thread starter #3
I agree completely that using the jib gives you more control. With just the main, I got caught in irons several times forcing me to sail backwards a bit to fall off the wind and get going again.

I guess my question has to do with capsizing. With just the main, the boat takes a serious heel with every gust. Laying flat on the gunwhales with my feet in the hiking straps was not enough to flatten the boat. I'd have to round up or feather the sail every time to keep it from going over. I didn't dare cleat the mainsheet and the idea of bringing my weight in to reach for a cleated jib would have been a sure ticket to the drink.

How did you manage to keep the boat flat while sailing in heavy weather with the jib?
smoking kills


New Member
I found this Capri forum because I'm renovating my 1985 14.2 after a dozen years of sitting on it's trailer in my backyard. Therefore, I should mention that I haven't sailed in over a decade. With that said, I named my then new boat "Gust-Ho" after my first outing when it capsized. That was the only time Gust-Ho went over. Your statement..."I'd have to round up or feather the sail every time to keep it from going over" was exactly how I sailed in heavy weather. I just figured that was my only alternative to getting wet.
Consider adding a reef or two to the mainsail , roller fuller on the jib. You did the right thing for what you had as cleating the main would have meant a capsize was in your cards.
I remember someone (I forget who) reversed their jib cleats and made a continuous loop with the jib lead. That way they could cleat and uncleat the jib while hiking out. I never tried it personally.

Search for posts in here from regularman. I think it was he who wrote much about heavy weather sailing single handed.

I second the suggestion for reef points and a furled jib. You have to reduce the sail area.
Thread starter #7
I'll have to look into setting some reef points in the main. Roller furling on this small of a boat seems, to me, a bit extreme, though. Age has tamed my interest in sailing in Force 5 winds. Although, I suppose, even a handkerchief up front would help keep me out of irons.

I used to have a Laser II that I was able to single-hand (when I was younger). As I recall, the cleats for the sail were on the coaming so in a hiked out position, with one hand on the tiller extension you could still reach the main sheet. Cleating the mainsheet, even if for only moments, helped keep your arm from getting too tired.

But the Laser II had a smaller beam, I think this provided more purchase when hiking out and exposed less windage once you started going over. Maybe, I'm just not used to all that beam without a keel.
Single Handing

Caerus--I ALWAYS singlehand my Capri 14, and I love the challenges it presents. As my nom de plume suggests, I began sailing in the 60's, and now I am in my 60's. Last year as a retirement present, at age 63, I bought a brand new Capri 14.2, Mod 3, specifically to single hand. I have sailed Sailfish, Sunfish, Hobies, Lasers, Odays and my last was a Pearson 26, and the Capri is the most fun of all. A couple words of caution: You need to match the cloth to the amount of wind. The right amount of sail is that amount which allows you control, yet still challenges your abilities. I sailed on the main only in a 20 knot breeze, and did indeed have to "feather" the sail to keep from being overpowered. I don't have reef points in the main--I guess I need a sailmaker to do that, unless someone can advise how it's to be done. In excess winds, I would sail on jib alone; mine is roller furling--a marvelous concept that makes Capri singlehanding doable. I have rigged a bungee system from the jibsheet cam eyes to the base of the tiller extension to hold the boat on course while I briefly attend to other duties. Don't be afraid to luff if things get too dicey. Use the full centerboard. I haven't tried extra ballast yet, but I imagine it simplifies things, especially tacking. Take care.
Thread starter #9

Wait !!! Back up. You said something intriguing.

You said you sail on jib alone !!! I never thought of that. That would be a lot easier that sailing with the main alone.

I mean I've sailed with just a jib or a genoa on keel boats, but have never tried it with a centerboard boat. How does it handle ... with the center of pressure so far forward? Any different that with main alone?

I'm also glad to hear you're still sailing dinghies. I'm 55 and thinking about what kind of sailing I want to retire to. I've sailed on everything from a Butterfly (12' dinghy) to a 60 ft schooner. My favorite boat, though, was a Catalina 22 ... small enough to single-hand but big enough to spend the weekend ... but I like hiking out on a dinghy, so I'm a bit torn. If I can get the hang of the Capri, I might keep it.
Single Handing

I haven't yet sailed in wind requiring the jib alone. I prefer a reefed main because of more boat power aft, and I've always felt that the jib alone makes any boat a little "mushy." The Capri is probably the same way, but I would think it is very doable. Two thoughts here: I sit just slightly aft of the barney post with my forward foot under the hiking strap, and my rearward foot on top of the strap. I can lean way out, using the forward foot for balance, and the rearward foot presses down on the strap to keep me from sliding aft. I can get out far enough that I can see the center board, at which time I'm about near the end of the tiller extension. The second thought has to do with the jib sheet cleats located way across the cockpit on the downside of the boat if one is sailing on the jib alone: If the jib sheet gets hung up, and needs to be released, the weight shift would be counter productive. My self furling jib doesn't seem to produce a lot of extra power, and I think in wind of 18 kts or more it would make for pretty mild sailing. The key here would be locking and releasing, but once released, the jib doesn't have any stays to catch it so it can go into a full luff.
Thread starter #12

Thanks for the short hiking lesson. I have to admit it's been more than a dozen years since I've laid flat across the coaming held in only by my toes. I probably need to get my abs tightened up and get further out.

I'm also thinking more about installing a couple of extra cleats along the coaming for use when hiked out, for use by either the mainsheet or the jibsheet.
Single Handing

The links pretty much tell it all, and I appreciate the reefing info. A couple of thoughts about going into irons on a single sail: I keep the center board full down to give the boat a pivot point. Just prior to tacking, I will fall off a little, if necessary to gain speed. I begin the turn into the wind gently, because an initial "hard over" will cause the rudder to act as a brake and slow the boat. Once the bow is established in the turn, I put in more rudder. I continue the turn about 30-45degrees past my new course to let the sail fill and the boat gain speed before bringing in the sail and adjusting onto the new course. And, oh yes, I've just lengthened my traveler IAW with Ed Jones' recommendation. Keep in mind that these are single handed cruising strategies; racing is a whole different ballgame.
Last weekend my sailing club had one of their weekend races, which I decided to enter. Wind was about 10 knots and since I am new to boat and really wanting to learn how to handle it, so I single handed it for three races.

It was really fun and interesting. About four times it got away from me and I almost capsized, but I recovered. Of course by time I recovered most of the fleet passed me. Now keep in mind I was the only day sailor against a bunch of cruisers, 20-25 ft. Should have cleaned their clocks but, I learned a lot. Mainly followed the instructions in the tuning guide and tried to take it nice and easy, but at times trying to adjust the main sheet and the jib sheets all at the same time, an extra arm would have been nice, but it can be done. I found that on a close reach to loosen up the main sheet a little before the tack, throw off the jib sheet, and as the jib comes across tighten the opposite jib sheet close to where you think it should be, then once the boat settles tighten the main sheet and fine tune the jib. The biggest problem I had was keeping all the lines untangled, so I need to figure out a way to keep thing organized.

I found make some adjustments before the mark, others after you are stable after the mark and others don't worry about. Just go out, have fun and don't get upset if you get wet.

Thread starter #16
"Just go out, have fun and don't get upset if you get wet."

I think that's the key.

When I had my Laser-2 (a dozen years ago), I would sail right on the edge, capsize often, get right back up and have a blast. That is, until, one time, the boat turtled and the mast got stuck in the mud. I was alone (I mean, no one else was on the entire lake) and it took every bit of energy and nerve to get the thing righted. I immediately went in and guess I had spooked myself. I've sailed keel boats ever since.

Until last year, when I got the nerve to buy this Capri 14, I was out with my wife last fall and it went over and turtled and it was a real chore getting it upright again. That's why I was a bit nervous two weeks ago when I went out single-handed. But next week, I'm going camping for a week and the Capri is coming with me, so I'll have plenty of time to practice.

Oh, and my wife suggested getting different colored lines for the jibsheet and the mainsheet. I thought that was a good idea.
Turtling is probably my biggest concern. The first time I had the boat out, I turtled it. It was the on the weekend before the 4th of July, wind was about 15 gusting 20. It got away from me. It capsized and once the mast hit the water keep right on going and turtled.

The lake was full of power boats, sail boats, you name it. A power boat helped us get set up right. The boat was full of water, the hatch came off, but we were able to sail it back in, until a power boat decided to try to swamp us. Every have a power boat do a hard turn within about six foot of your transom, when you are already full of water. Luckly a friend in a another power boat came to the rescue and towed us in.

I have since foamed the mast, (of course I think most of it has ran out of the bottom), repaired the seals on the hatch and the hatch latch, and learned a lot about how to handle the boat.

I am very comfortable with anything having to do with the water, so I don't mind capsizing, I just don't want to turtle again, to much work, and if I do I probably never will get my wife back in the boat. So that is another reason I have been working on single handing the boat so much, so I can learn all the particulars and all the actions and re-actions, so she might be more comfortable.

Thread starter #18
Yeah, turtling a boat is no fun. But it's going to happen so I guess it's best to develop a procedure.

When I got my Laser-2 stuck in the mud I found that the only thing that worked was to undo all the sheets (of course) and then run a sheet from the far side of the boat, across the bottom (which is now on top) to the near side. I then used the line to climb up onto the bottom side of the hull and, with my toes in the coaming, lean way back while tugging on the line. Slowly the boat came loose and eventually the mast went horizontal. At which point I had to quick release the line and grab the centerboard, then right the boat the rest of the way from there. This was after I tried numerous other things that take all the energy out of you. The important thing was to back it out of the mud in the opposite direction that it went in.

I only started making progress when I stopped being in a panic and relaxed enough to study the situation. Then meticulously going around the boat undoing critical lines and surveying the best approach. When I dumped the Capri, last Fall it was not nearly as bad cause, first of all, I had an extra hand and, more importantly, I chose not to panic. Probably, knowing that I had that extra hand, helped keep away the panic (although watching the centerboard disappear into the trunk gave me a bit of a scare).
Single Handing, and the turtle

I am 84, and I sail a 14.2 on a large lake in MI. My wife does not like a boat that "leans", so I mostly sail solo. Also have a Hunter 146 (14.5ft) that I sail on inland waters near Gulfshores, AL. It "leans" even more than the Capri.

I turtled the Capri last summer, so now I sail with the triangular closed foam device that fits over the peak of the sail that came with the secondhand boat. Apparenty it came from Catalina. I tested it by laying the boat over in shallow water, and pushing down on the mast top, I feel that it will keep the mast afloat (except in a really strong wind?).
Turtling is truly "no fun", and I never would have gotten the boat upright alone. My wife was in the area in her pontoon boat, and we did get it back up.
Maybe she's right about not liking boats that "lean"?

Sail on,
Single handing

Howdy Folks.

I have a 91 capri that I primarily single hand (unless I can con someone into going out w/me). I am still what I would consider a amatuer but I have been fairly successful single handing. Some things that I have done have helped.
1) Practice hiking out. ... It is awkward at first, but once you get used to it it really makes a HUGE difference in the speed that you are able to sail at. Try practicing in lighter winds so if you make some mistakes w/ the tiller you will be less apt to capsize.
2) In heavy winds DO NOT CLEAT THE MAIN SAIL... did i mention DO NOT CLEAT THE MAINSAIL .... when you are sailing solo even fully hiked out ( I weigh 184lbs.) if you get hit with a strong gust your only hope at not capsizing is to ease out the main, if it is cleated you may not react fast enough and guess what happens... well if you havent figured it out it involves getting wet and the term righting. Also by easing out the main you can control your speed. In heavy winds (15-25 knot) sometimes it just gets to hairy, you can give yourself a moment to regroup by easing out the main and letting some wind spill out of your sails.
3) Some modifications I have made that have been helpful..
a) install a padeye and cleat to run your furling line aft. obviously if your not equiped with a furling this won't work.
b) install cleats on both sides of the stern, then you can take a line and cleat one end and then wrap tiller and cleat other side which will keep your tiller from going crazy if you need to untangle or any other task that requires you to move forward in the cockpit. This is the white trash version of a "tiller tamer" which can be purchased at most boat stores. The upside is that you can use the cleats to tie off at a dock. The down side is that occasionally your boom block line will some times hook on the cleat so if you go with white trash solution leave a piece of line wrapped around the cleats even when you are not using the tiller tamer. this way their isn't much cleat for that line to hook on.

Good luck and fast sailing