Tips for New Single Hander


Charlabud #623
Thread starter #1
I've been learning to sail my 14.2 this summer. I've had a crew (my 21 yr old son) on each sail so far and we've learned a lot together. (Great bonding time by the way... Nothing like capsizing to in cold water to create strong shared experiences).

He'll be going back to school and I want to sail this thing on my own. My biggest concern is handling the jib. My son has been in charge of the jib while I man the helm.

I sit pretty far back while he is forward on the jib. To single hand do I need to sit forward and use my tiller extender to pilot? It seems like the Barney Post would be in the way when tacking.

Also, what is the "order of operation" in a tack/gibe in releasing-setting the jib and the movement of the tiller.

Should I get a jib furler?

I hope this makes sense and appreciate any advice.

DaveM of Lake Grapevine (TX)
Single Handing

Working the jib sheets is not too difficult, and yes a tiller extension helps and for performance you need to sit up near the Barney Post which makes tacking a little difficult. I usually pass behind it but sometimes in front during the tacking manuver. Biggest problem is you need to keep the sheets out of your way so that you are not stepping or sitting on them when tacking. Also, the sheets can hang up on any projection, like the shroud plate or a mast cleat. I like to use a removable fabric sleeve at the base of the mast to cover most mast projections. Mine has velcro for easy removal.

If a jibsheet does hang up, the jib will back wind which in a strong wind can quickly lead to a capsize unless you are quite agile in keeping your weight in the right place. Best to learn in light winds which forgive most of our mistakes. And in strong or moderate wind, keeping the mainsheet in your free hand most of the time helps you quickly loosen the mainsheet when hit by a wind gust

Using a whisker pole for wing-on-wing downwind sailing is a bit challenging, but I find by attaching a bungee between lower hole in Barney Post to a loop I added to end of tiller helps keep it going kind of straight while I'm working up near the mast. And you'll find that moving your weight to balance the boat can help steer and will minimize rudder drag which otherwise slows your boat. RK


New Member
Dave single handling the capri can become a great joy with a little practice and preparation. I most often go solo on my 1987 MOD1. I have a furling jib which I find mostly comes in handy when I am launching the boat. I come of the shore so with that Working the centerboard, pulling the rudder down etc all at once one less sail makes the process easier. Same on return I ussually furl the jib when a distance from shore so I can concentrate on pulling up the board and hitting the beach gracefully.

I use the tiller extension pretty much all the time, staying up as close to the jib leads as possible. When on a reach I oftencleat the jib sheets then back cleat my jib sheets across the beam so that the sheet is up not on the deck and I can get to them quickly. In most cases I am conecntrating on the main sheet and main sail adjusting my course or just slight adjustments to the jib sheets as I go. When coming about I concentrate on the jib and Cleat the mail close to center with all the release, switching sides etc with the concentration on the jib, avoiding back winding etc. When heading on a run then since the jib is mostly blocked by the main I concentrate mostly on the main, in a broad reach or close to a run when I can goose wing the jib then i control both. with jibing the all my attention is on the main with the jib sheet uncleated so that I can be ready for the main coming over.

I sail in a 1500 acre lake in very protective waters, coming back to shore I furl the jib, release the centerbaord bungee lossen the rudder wing nut a littlewhile I am a good distance from shore so that all I am concentrating on is the main, the kids on shore, the boats on moorings and bringing up the centerboard as easy as possible depending on the wind direction.

As for preparation, in your note you mentioned about capsizing. This is something that you need to be ready for and Practice a way to get back on board with out help. I use a collapsable 5 step rope/pvc ladder that i have in the cockpit attached to the rear hiking straps. it works well for me as I had trouble getting back into the boat with no ladder. I practice in controlled conditions, as we all know capsizing usually happens in big winds, gusts and white caps. it is a good idea to practice in these conditions also when there is a rescue boat available

With that and getting used to the heel, sitting onthe rail it can be a sense of great freedom and accomplishment, you, your skills, the wind and waterfowl, how great. Enjoy


New Member
dropping the jib

Agree w Dave, much easier to dock with only the main. Looking for an easier way to drop the jib when single-handing. If I just run up and uncleat the halyard, the jib does not fully come down and often baloons out.
Have a thought.......
Attach a very light line to the upper jib hank, run the line down to a bow attachment/block and then back into the cockpit. Then uncleat the halyard and pull back on the little line. This should pull the jib almost fully down.
Suspect this has been tried and would appreciate an ideas/alternatives.
Boat is an Omega14, so open foredeck.
Morro Bay
I sit pretty far back while he is forward on the jib. To single hand do I need to sit forward and use my tiller extender to pilot? It seems like the Barney Post would be in the way when tacking.
As said above by others, I sit with my forward foot against the bottom of the Barney post; I am almost always up on the rail, and always use the tiller extension except when leaving and returning to the dock.

You'll find even with a crew, it is best to sit very close to the jib cleat. In fact you can play around moving back and forward coupled with tightening/loosening either sheet to steer the boat without the tiller. It is surprisingly easier soloing.

Being on the rail and that far forward means an extension (mine's 36") is essential. I'm hiked out, rear foot under the hiking strap, forward foot against the Barney post ready to react with my weight and main sheet at any gust, swirl, wave, etc. It is a blast to sail this way.

Also, what is the "order of operation" in a tack/gibe in releasing-setting the jib and the movement of the tiller.
Right before a tack, it is essential to have the working jib sheet out of the way. I put most of it on the seat, far forward of the jib cleat. I place the lazy sheet (soon to become the working sheet) across the floor just in front of the Barney post where it will be easy to grab during the tack.

I initiate the tack with the tiller, cross as the boom crosses and release the old working jib just as I sit (it often just starts to backwind, so be careful). There's also a transfer of hands on the extension and mainsheet to do; it can be done with mainsheet uncleated (I learned to sail without a mainsheet cleat on a Vangard 15 -- not an easy skill to master, but much safer in avoiding capsizes).

The gibe, I found is easier to uncleat the working jib sheet before crossing to the other rail. So, the order of operation is uncleat, gibe the tiller, cross and exchange hands, cleat the jib. I find gibing easier and much less hectic than tacking.

Should I get a jib furler?
I'm envious of those who have one, but in all honesty I'd recommend saving your money and hone your skills with the non furling jib. I find leaving the dock with the jib sheet uncleated is easy. Returning to the dock, I will uncleat the jib during the last 15 seconds or so; then uncleat the main sheet just as I make my sharp turn upwind at dock side.

I find that I have time to lock my Tiller Tamer (get one!) and scramble out to grab my shroud and/or painter. I have dock lines laid out on the dock, ready to tie up.

I use a soft shackle on my jib sheets, so that is easy to release; I then wrap the jib around the forestay and secure it with a line through the clew fed back around the mast. This keeps the jib from flapping while I lower the main, flake it onto the boom, and secure the rest of the boat.

Hope all this makes sense. Believe me, it is a blast to solo our boats; but, it does take time to gain the skills needed. Just be very careful in cleating off that main sheet -- force yourself to learn how to sail, jibe, and tack with the main uncleated.

-- Ed
I probably solo my boat more then I have crew.

The only exception from Ed, is that I Gybe and Tack the same way. As I am coming across, I am releasing the old working jib sheet and once on the other side the first thing I do is lock in the new working jib sheet.

I also sail with the main uncleated, unless I am making adjustments the jib sheet, will cleat it in, until I have adjusted the jib, but then I release it.

As far as coming in or leaving, it depends on the wind. Normally I am on a run when I come in. My sailing club has a floating dock for the small boats, first dock as you come in, so I normally come in under full sail, sail past the dock, make what is basically a wide 180, turning into the wind and normally stopping with my bow just bumping the dock. If everything goes as planned. At that point everything is at irons, so I tie off and then drop the sails.

I have never had any luck sailing only on the main alone, the boat just does not want to handle well. One thing that I do to practice coming into the dock is my club as a number of mooring buoys, these are great to do touch and gos as I call them. Sail into the buoy, do a 180 and touch the buoy, with your bow, with boat at a dead stop. Bear off and then do the next one.

Would really like to do this with the charter boat, when we charter, but the admiral always says no, turn the iron jenny on.



New Member
Also, what is the "order of operation" in a tack/gibe in releasing-setting the jib and the movement of the tiller.
I was able to practice and improve my tacking this weekend and I wanted to share with you an important point. Of course you begin by going 'hard-a-lee'. Then you must switch sides. Then release the jib sheet and sheet in the other jib sheet. Well that is the physical motion.

But there is an important mental step that needs to occur first. You must choose a landmark to represent your new heading! But more importantly, you need to look over your shoulder and think 'I am going to turn the boat NO FURTHER THAN THAT LANDMARK. If you turn past the landmark things can get wild and out of control. So the key is to come up short of the new landmark, settle down in your new position, and then turn a little bit more toward that new landmark/heading! :cool:


Sailing on Shelter Bay
Like Avro mine is an Omega so I have the open fore deck. I am usually heading down wind at the end of the day and hook up the tiller tamer and go forward and drop the jib if the wind is strong. If the wind is just a light breeze (4 to 6 knots) I take it to the dock with the Jib sheet loose and flip around into the wind at the last moment. On larger boats I see they sometimes connect a small line to the top of the jib down thru an eye or pulley at the tac of the jib back to a cleat at the helm. If you have the halyard also run back you can release the halyard and pull down the jib at the same time. But with experience you will find that all unnecessary.

As for a furler: I'm ambivalent about furlers. They sure work fine when they work and are a pain in the rear end when they get fouled up. But I only have experience with furlers on larger boats. Perhaps they work flawlessly on the Capri 14.2's.

As for the solo Tack sequence; Lots of luck. I have tried everything and still I have some bad tacks where I over-steer or don't get the sheets in properly creating a sloppy tack. The biggest thing I try to do is to make sure I get the working jib sheet out of its cleat! (It is better to start the tack slow and get the jib free than it is to round up quickly and have it get locked up and back-winded). I have the slack out of the lazy (non-working) jib sheet so I have as little sheet to pull in or to get caught on the mast when coming across. If it is windy I release a foot or so of mainsheet and cleat it there before I tack. I make sure both jib sheets are accessible and not tangled. I try to be very careful about picking a landmark at 90 degrees from course so I don't tack over two far. I recently put in a (home made) Barney Post and now pass behind it as I tack. I pass the tiller over behind my back. I attend to pulling in the jib quickly, adjust the main some while carefully steering proper course, and fine tune the jib later.

As for the Gybe? The main thing I have learned is to carefully control the direction of the boat and make sure it is straight down wind. Even when racing and doing a "flying" gybe from reach to reach there should be a few seconds before and after the crew swings the boom over when you are dead down wind. A controlled gybe is when you head straight down wind, bring in the main sheet in some, push the boom across center and release it on the other side, all while staying dead down wind and the mainsail under complete control. Don't forget to have at least a little vang on so the boom stays somewhat level. I tie a knot in the mainsheet so the boom can't quite hit the shroud. An accidental gype can part a shroud, and you would loose the mast. When gyping with the crew of course communication is key. "Trim the jib sheet--Prepare to gybe--gybe-Ho!"