When you are going sailing solo preparation is going to make it so much more enjoyable ... most of this is before you throw off the lines. So what should you know.....
Before you set sail the ‘iron genny’ as it is sometimes known; the engine, should always be checked.
Batteries should be well charged. Check the oil. Tanks filled with fuel and if you are going on a long voyage have extra drums of fuel lashed to the deck.
As a female solo sailor we have to have some knowledge of our marine engine.
Engines on a yacht are for negotiating marinas or needed to make headway when you have wind and tide on your bow or no wind at all.
They can also get you out of trouble when you are in a tight or dangerous situation. Like if you have to get out of a bay with a rocky headland or coral bommies, or if other craft are too close for comfort.
So before you head out make sure your engine is going to perform. Ask advice from your mechanic, read the manual and when getting a service be there and asks some questions that could help you fix small things when on the water alone.
It’s wise to have a good easy to understand book on hand in case you have to do some trouble shooting if your engine has a problem, a good book to have in your yacht library would be ‘Understanding Boat Diesel Engines by John Payne. He’s a marine engineer with a wide knowledge of the technical aspects of your yacht.
Remember there are no mechanics or garages out on the ocean, if you are sailing solo you need to know enough to get you out of trouble or if you are close to the main land you can call a marine rescue organization, so it’s a good idea to be a member.
There are courses you can take which give you ‘very basic’ knowledge of how to look after and trouble shoots a marine engine. A great idea, and not too complicated to understand.
This is a good time to put the necessary electrical switches on.
Talking to a friend who spends a lot of his time sailing solo we agreed we all have our ‘to do’ lists when we jump aboard, and comparing notes we were pretty much alike.
I was never really taught and have seen no books on what one should do as a lone sailor; all I can talk about is learning from experience, and the way I do things from trial and error and talking to other likeminded sailors.
When sailing with others ‘many hands make light work’ and a lot of these things can be done after casting off. When sailing solo don’t leave a safe harbour without preparation.
We are going sailing solo and we are nearly ready to cast off!
First though we must put in an accessible place every piece of gear we may need for the voyage.
I also like plenty of iced water and some easy snacks ready to go in a small esky/ice box on deck and out of the way. If it’s cold outside some hot coffee or soup in a flask with crusty bread.
Preparation complete!! And now everything is ready to go sailing solo!
Docking lines can be looped around the cleats and led back to the cockpit for easier control when casting off alone.
Think it through ...your motor is running ... you have not left any lines still tied to a cleat to hold you back (seen that happen a few times)and you have a couple of lines ready to be easily released.
Put your engine in reverse slowly, assuming the bows facing the marina, throw off the last line and you are away.
If at anchor ... your
motors running ... hopefully you have an anchor winch ... start pulling it up.
It may take a trip back to the helm to motor up to it before you get it on
board. Now back to the helm and you are underway!
OK ... You are going sailing solo... you’ve prepared well, and you have motored to an area close by and clear of other water traffic.
This it..... This is sailing solo!