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Safe to sail alone?

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RS400atC View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote RS400atC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Apr 13 at 12:56pm
I used to sail alone, or just the two of us in a dinghy quite a bit.
A time of my life that would not want to have missed.
We used to go out wave jumping in an old 505 when racing was cancelled due to too much wind.
There was a risk element, but chances of not hitting shore eventually from any point in the eastern solent are not too extreme.
Then again, when I wasn't sailing I was usually going too fast on a motorbike in those days.
These days, I would carry an Icom and a phone in an aquapac.
And have a few key numbers like harbour offices in the phone memory.
Also be aware that if you break something, you could be other a while, so another layer under the drysuit and/or don't forget the sun grease.
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patj View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote patj Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Apr 13 at 6:29am
For most pond sailors, sailing alone isn't an option due to club/landlord restrictions so consider yourself lucky to have the option and treat it with the respect and care others have suggested.
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winging it View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote winging it Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Apr 13 at 8:16am
At Hunts you can sail whenever you like, alone or accompanied, even in the middle of the night should you wish.  Our pit is about a kilometre square, so some risks are lessened - you can't drift far - but it's still not something I'd advocate unless you have someone on the bank keeping an eye out, or better still, a buddy on the water with you.
the same, but different...

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didlydon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote didlydon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Apr 13 at 10:07am
I've sailed alone on quite a few occasions from Margate. But as mentioned before if you've got a like minded buddy it's loads more fun & safer too making passages along the coast. Assess the weather carefully & if it starts looking a bit black over Will's mothers, start making for shore. It's also important to be aware of the tide if the breeze is light, staying uptide of your launch site & being aware of when it'll change. Check your boat over carefully & an odd length of string can work wonders at holding stuff together. Mmmmm...... I must get an Aquapac for my phone or carry a VHF.... Importantly though..... HAVE FUN!  
Vareo 365

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alstorer View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote alstorer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Apr 13 at 10:32am
swimming even 500m without touching anything, especially if tired (which you'll be if you're in difficulties), wearing full sailing kit, and especially if the water gets rough, is not easy- something that you need to take into account. "swim for shore" is not a good safety plan!
-_
Al
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sargesail View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sargesail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Apr 13 at 11:13pm
I'd add that a mobile phone signal can be hard to find at water level if you are disconnected from the boat....but there is nothing better for maximising time float and focussing on what you and you alone need to practice than being out alone.
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ohFFsake View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ohFFsake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 13 at 1:02am
My advice would be to have a careful think about all the things that could go wrong and make plans for coping with the likely eventualities, then have a look at the forecast and as long as you don't have a bad feeling about it get out there and go for it. This isn't a rehearsal!

There's always something unexpected that can go wrong and make your day end badly, but the same applies to the drive home. Life isn't about eliminating risk, it's about mitigating it to an acceptable level and then, well accepting it and living!


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fab100 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote fab100 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 13 at 11:56pm
Life is for living. The "should n't have been out there" brigade are part of the elf-n-safety mafia.

But google the first sentence of Swallows and Amazons too. 

Know your capabilities. Be aware that the wind blowing off the land makes it look easier than it is and vice versa. Know what the tide is doing and when - flood is your friend, ebb less so.

If something on the boat looks dodgy, fix it first. Tell someone where you are going and when you should be back. Take a cheap phone in an Aquapak (with a SIM that gets a signal in the locality). Learn to paddle your laser in no wind and contrary tide (lie face down on foredeck, facing forwards, one leg each side of the mast, and 'swim' it. Far faster than a paddle. You only need to get to a mooring buoy or some land you can hold on to until things change for the better.

Make sure the rig is tied down to the boat and cannot fall out if the boat turtles. (a class rule actually, and very sensible too). And make sure the elastic is sufficiently tight that the plate cannot fall out either.

Keep a decent whistle on a lanyard in your buoyancy aid pocket. Also keep 3-4m of 2mm dyneema in a pocket too - to act as a spare if a rope breaks. Run another spare rope as a painter, from the bow loop, around the mast and back and tied off as another spare and tow-rope.

If you are really worried, fit the boat with a hatch cover  and pouch and keep a flare in there (in a waterproof sandwich bag).

If something does go wrong (Murphy's Law), count to 10, don't panic, rationalise and act accordingly. Stay with the boat whatever you do. Don't panic is easier said than done, I know, when the wind is screaming, the boat bouncing on the waves, upside down, with the plate fallen out for example. Nevertheless.

If the toestraps break or you fall out, keep hold of the mainsheet and let go of the tiller. The boat may capsize but you won't get separated. Or break the extension.

Finally, Lasers are pigs until you know how to master them. Learn how to get the rig right and the chance of falling in fall dramatically.
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fab100 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote fab100 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 13 at 11:57pm
Sorry, dup posting deleted

Edited by fab100 - 03 May 13 at 9:52am
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dohertpk View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dohertpk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 May 13 at 12:07am
Dear all,
Many many thanks for your responses. There's been a lot in there I wouldn't have considered without your input. A couple of key themes have emerged on the thread which I'll take to heart if I consider venturing out alone. I will certainly inform someone of when I'm leaving and intend to return, carry a mobile in an aquapack, and bring spare rope. Apart from anything else, I think staying inside the harbour and not venturing out into the bay is probably the most important thing I can do to minimise risk. Many thanks again; never fail to be impressed with people taking the time to respond on this forum.
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