20 August 2011
It was just about one year ago, that while on a trip to Catalina Island I decided that I needed to feel 100% confident in sailing Si Bon singlehanded. At the time I was single and thinking that I would be able to line up crew members along the way to help me realize my cruising dreams. I quickly learned that crew members may have a situation come up which requires them to leave the boat without being able to give much notice. When you are the owner/captain of the boat you don't have the luxury of just walking away. Sooo I spent the final 6 months of my cruising preparations practicing sailing Si Bon by myself. I took trips around Southern California by myself, I practiced anchoring alone, docking alone, picking up a mooring ball alone and of course sailing alone. When I left the marina and moved onto a mooring ball in San Diego Bay it gave me additional practice of the day to day routines of life on a boat away from a dock without having someone to help me.
As with most things once you practice them enough they get easier and easier, things that at first seemed impossible soon became routine. Docking is probably the biggest challenge, pulling a 42 foot sailboat into a dock and jumping off to tie her up with no one else onboard is lots of fun. I know that my family, friends and my girlfriend worry about me when I have to sail alone...there could be a huge problem if I should fall off the boat with the auto pilot on and not have anyone around to turn off the auto pilot and pick me up. I must admit that this also concerns me...so I ALWAYS wear my life vest, I have a tether and a harness that I am clipped into and I have Jacklines (heavy duty lines that run the length of the boat) which the tether is also clipped into (pic). So in theory if I should happen to fall off Si Bon I would be able pull myself back on board and continue on my merry way. I strongly recommend to anyone preparing to go cruising that you also learn to handle your boat alone, there can be many circumstances that arise which will require that you do so and you might as well be prepared.
All that said, Sharon has made the big decision to join me in late September for what is now going to be our cruise and I am hoping the days of singlehanded sailing will be over for me.