Yachting Monthly experts and seasoned skippers share their advice on a whole range of issues for the cruising sailor. Do you have a tip to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Adapt the boat to meet your needs
Most tasks onboard are easier and faster with two people.
Dan and I usually work as a team to get jobs done on Uma, whether it’s boat work or sailing related.
However, we also believe it is essential that we are able to sail the boat individually.
You never know what may happen: one of us could get sick and be unable to help.
It is vital each of us can confidently reach the next port solo.
Over the years we’ve practised single-handed sailing several times, and found ways to better configure our rigging so that I, as a small female sailor, can also easily operate everything by myself.
One of the myths about sailing that I have come across is that it requires sheer strength.
I am not a very tall person, nor do I have the muscles that average male sailors possess, but I find you can develop the right technique to meet any challenge, even if it takes a bit longer to get the task done.
Invest in dinghy chaps
There is no doubt that we have found our dinghy chaps (covers) well worth the investment.
A good sound dinghy is absolutely essential when cruising, and particularly important if there are no marinas or you want to avoid using marinas.
We have found on our travels that dinghy pontoons have been of very variable quality, frequently crowded with outboards left tilted up, and often with numerous dinghy-lethal sharp edges and old nails.
Beach landings can be frequent, and they have their fair share of dangers for the dinghy.
Combined with the very damaging effects of ultraviolet light, particularly in hot climates, the poor old dinghy can have a hazardous time.
Dinghy chaps are canvas covers and will extend the life of your plastic dinghy and reduce the amount of time spent patching and blowing it up.
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The job of patching the dinghy chaps is much less urgent and relatively easy.
We have found just sticking a new bit of canvas over the damage works very well.
We had our chaps made in Bequia in the Caribbean, but any competent canvas worker should be able to do this job reasonably easily.
Julian & Patricia Morgan
Preventing corrosion on your boat
Aluminium and stainless steel are two dissimilar metals that are often found together in the marine environment.
Because the two metals are quite far apart on the galvanic corrosion scale they will react together in a salty environment to cause the aluminium to wear away.
This will make it difficult to take them apart, and could cause the failure of the aluminium part.
Whenever you put a stainless bolt into aluminium remember to dab it with a corrosion inhibitor such as Duralac or Tefgel.
Tidy your mast lines
Unless you’re lucky enough to have all your lines led back to the cockpit, there will usually be some tail ends at the mast.
One could hank them and tie them to a handy cleat, or leave them suspended from a winch: the only issue is that when you need to use the winch all the lines have to be removed.
A rope bag works, but a cheaper option is a loop of bungee around the foot of the mast; tight enough to hold the ropes in place, but not too tight to make pulling the bungee a struggle.
If the thought of fiddling with a bungee with cold wet hands puts you off, you can attach a toggle to the bungee for grip.
Get an early start
It’s always best to arrive an an unknown port in daylight.
Passages don’t always go to plan so give yourself extra time by leaving early.
If this means leaving your home port in the dark you’ll have the advantage of familiarity.
If you don’t feel confident leaving in the dark, start getting everyone on deck an hour before sunrise; you’ll still have enough light to see what you’re doing.
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