Single handed sailors - Ships Nostalgia
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Single handed sailors

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  #1  
Old 30th July 2012, 08:22
Julian Calvin Julian Calvin is offline
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Single handed sailors

What is your opinion?
I have a great admiration for the men and women who do these trips but cannot help but feel unease about them.
The fundamental rule of the sea is that a good lookout must be kept.
These single handers obviously fail in this basic rule.
Not only are they a danger to themselves, running blind at up to 20 kts they can easily take out another small craft or fishing boat.
Remember when one of our famous sailors did his single handed Atlantic crossing around 1968; he was overdue by several days and had Coastguard vessels out and ships diverted looking for him. When asked why he had no proper radio, his response was that sailing ships of old never needed them!!
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  #2  
Old 30th July 2012, 09:43
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Julian, this subject has come up a couple of times over the last three or four years and opinion and views among SN members proved to be quite divisive.
The solo round the world voyage by young Jessica Watson was a case in point and her credibility was sorely tested at the start of the voyage when she collided with a bulk carrier off the NSW Coast.
She did remarkably well after that and the latest I heard she was learning to drive a car.

Bob
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  #3  
Old 30th July 2012, 10:54
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Varley Varley is offline   SN Supporter
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Providing (a big request, that) they are insured to the point that commercial vessels are recompensed for any diversions forced upon them by rescue attempts and for potential dangers they cause to others then let them do what they want.

I know a very senior industry member, now retired, whose elegant little motor cruiser's AIS is receive only. One rule for the essential sailors another for those playing at it.
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  #4  
Old 30th July 2012, 12:17
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Stephen J. Card Stephen J. Card is offline  
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I remember reading an account of a (well known) single-handed round the world yachtsman who wrote.....

"As I was appropaching shipping lanes I decided that I should now sail with my sidelights and mastlight on at night."

Stephen
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  #5  
Old 30th July 2012, 15:22
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Varley Varley is offline   SN Supporter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen J. Card View Post
I remember reading an account of a (well known) single-handed round the world yachtsman who wrote.....

"As I was appropaching shipping lanes I decided that I should now sail with my sidelights and mastlight on at night."

Stephen
A certain Technical Director, probably known to both of us, sailed his yacht from Helensburgh to the South Coast of England (to where he was retiring). Onboard for the voyage with him were a slack handful of admirals and David Underwood (by then Chief Executive I think).

On TDU's (happily safe) return I was ticked off not having made sure they had sufficient electrickery to run the navigation lights throughout the night. They had kept them lit only while others could be seen!
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  #6  
Old 30th July 2012, 21:40
Ian Brown Ian Brown is offline  
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I just don't see how the Rules apply to some seafarers and not others.

Especially now that some single handed yachts are big enough and fast enough to do some damage to another small vessel.

Worst case scenario:
Single hander has a collision at night that results in anothers death.
Do they expect to be excused somehow?

Do a bit of sailing myself and I would no more sail with no lookout than drive at night without lights.
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  #7  
Old 30th July 2012, 23:53
garry Norton garry Norton is offline  
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Single handed sailors are a danger to themselves and all at sea but try saying that to the general public and they look at you if you were mad.What would happen if you tried driving a car at night with no lights.
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  #8  
Old 31st July 2012, 20:36
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Once upon a time I bought a 1979 35 ft Robert Perry Cheoy Lee sloop, whose owner twice single handed from Long Beach to Hawaii and back.

He flew a LARGE radar reflector 24/7. During hours of darkness he ran his radar with an alarm to ring when a target was detected at five miles. He slept, most of the time in the cockpit, in thirty minute intervals awakened by a loud alarm clock.

He would get up and survey his surroundings and if everything was fine go sleep another 30 minutes.

If his radar alarm awoke him the first thing he did was flip the switch on his bright masthead 360 degree strobe light. In theory masthead strobes are not allowed on US flag civilian vessels, yet there were no written rules about their use on yachts, many sailors had them.

He had a LOT of solar panels, really more than he needed, but they would charge his batteries even on overcast days. He did run his engine once daily, while he used his amateur HF short wave radio to check in at home base.

He had a home made wind vane automatic steering system he copied out of a late 1800's book. He built his entirely of stainless steel except the marine plywood rudder. It had a stainless steel frame covered with canvas to match his tanbark sails up in the wind at the stern connected to its own rudder. You can see the top wind vane part sitting there in the cabin in the top middle picture of Alegria-1.jpg. The vessel rudder was lashed midship.

That is me climbing aboard in the top left picture. View of the cabin top, top right. Cockpit with Dodger lower left. Original boat brochure that was on board bottom middle. Everything paper wise for this vessel dating back to day one was on board. We were the fourth owners. Bottom right two cylinder Volvo diesel engine access in the galley.

Alegria-2.jpg top left bullet proof steering, the auto pilot is the electric version, with a wired remote; that had a mind of its own. Top middle that cockpit sun shade made all the difference. Top right stainless steel West Marine barbecue clamped on the rail dockside. Un-shipped and stowed below before leaving. Bottom left and middle the galley. After setting the drapes on fire twice, we abandoned the use of Lucifer -- the alcohol burning stove, adding our Coleman camp stove that ran off small portable propane bottles atop it. We stored pots and pans in Lucifer's oven. Bottom right the Head.

Alegria-3.jpg top left peering down into the saloon from the companionway. Top middle forward v-berth. Top right looking aft in the saloon. Bottom left pilot berth and seating for the chart desk, right at the bottom of the companionway ladder, starboard side opposite the galley. Bottom middle Alegria.

How could a man sleep in 30 minute increments? Well ya see much of his adult life this man was a hospital emergency room MD physician, who worked a 24 hour shift with three days off. He was experienced in going immediately to sleep yet awakening bright eyed ready to go to work.

Would I do this? I have sailed some, but no, not me.

Once upon a time when the San Francisco Bar Pilot boarded our inbound C4 cargo ship, when he walked onto the bridge the pilot asked "how long has that been there"?

To which our Captain asked "what been where"?

"Why that sailboat rig on your starboard anchor."

Single hand? No, not me.

Greg Hayden
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  #9  
Old 31st July 2012, 21:24
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Single hand? No, not me.

On a more - sorry, less serious note, surely Lord Nelson must have been one of the earliest recorded single handed sailors .....

Jack
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  #10  
Old 1st August 2012, 00:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Union Jack View Post
Single hand? No, not me.

On a more - sorry, less serious note, surely Lord Nelson must have been one of the earliest recorded single handed sailors .....

Jack
A quick Google suggests Capt. Christopher Newport beat him of the immortal memory by over a hundred years in this handicap stake.
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  #11  
Old 1st August 2012, 00:36
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Union Jack Union Jack is offline  
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Thank you, Varley - a very erudite response, and I especially liked the bit about the statue!

Jack
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  #12  
Old 2nd August 2012, 01:35
barrinoz barrinoz is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Varley View Post
A quick Google suggests Capt. Christopher Newport beat him of the immortal memory by over a hundred years in this handicap stake.
Valiant attempt, Varley, but no cigar, mate. I think this might be the Gold medal winner in this event.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Hand_of_Ulster

Mythical origins is a matter of opinion, to be sure, to be sure.

For those familiar with the relevant religio-politico history of the area there's more than a tad of irony in the Red Hand of Ulster being part of The MacNeil of Barra's Coat of Arms.

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  #13  
Old 2nd August 2012, 04:41
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John, is that where the expression "being caught red-handed" came from !!?

Bob
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  #14  
Old 2nd August 2012, 04:59
barrinoz barrinoz is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spongebob View Post
John, is that where the expression "being caught red-handed" came from !!?

Bob
More to do with blood on hands, I think, Bob, as in murder or similar evil deeds.
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  #15  
Old 3rd August 2012, 14:02
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I think this might be the Gold medal winner in this event.

Nice one, Barrinoz, but as we all know there's a big difference between a volunteer and a pressed man!

As an aside, and noting the references in Barrinoz's link to the Red Hand of Ulster being a cross-community symbol, it was also the funnel badge for all ships of the Londonderry Squadron of the Royal Navy.

Jack
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  #16  
Old 3rd August 2012, 14:32
Klaatu83 Klaatu83 is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julian Calvin View Post
What is your opinion?
I have a great admiration for the men and women who do these trips but cannot help but feel unease about them.
The fundamental rule of the sea is that a good lookout must be kept.
These single handers obviously fail in this basic rule.
Not only are they a danger to themselves, running blind at up to 20 kts they can easily take out another small craft or fishing boat.
Remember when one of our famous sailors did his single handed Atlantic crossing around 1968; he was overdue by several days and had Coastguard vessels out and ships diverted looking for him. When asked why he had no proper radio, his response was that sailing ships of old never needed them!!

I agree completely. I was a merchant marine officer for 30 years. If I operated a ship they way those yachtsmen do, then my license would be revoked for negligence, and rightly so. Furthermore, there seems to be a certain degree of arrogance in the attitude of these yachtsmen, that it should be left entirely up to us, on the ships, to keep a look out for them while they sleep.

The yachting magazines love to publish stories about yachtsmen, single-handed or otherwise, sailing all over the oceans of the world. However, what those periodicals don't publish are the reports of small private boats at sea which are reported in distress, overdue or "unreported", of which we receive so many on shipboard.

I love that bit about the yachtsman not carrying a radio because the old-time sailing ships didn't have them. How typical. It reminds me of one I encountered who was sailing his yacht off the coast of Spain, at night, with his running lights turned off. I nearly ran him down with an 850-foot container ship because I didn't see him until I was almost on top of him (they also hang a tin pie-plate on their mast in the belief that it will make them show up on radar, which it doesn't). That yachtsman very indignantly told me that kept his running lights off because they used too much electricity!

Last edited by Klaatu83; 3rd August 2012 at 14:40..
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  #17  
Old 3rd August 2012, 14:52
Klaatu83 Klaatu83 is offline  
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Once upon a time when the San Francisco Bar Pilot boarded our inbound C4 cargo ship, when he walked onto the bridge the pilot asked "how long has that been there"?

To which our Captain asked "what been where"?

"Why that sailboat rig on your starboard anchor."


I recall a similar well-known sea-story that used to make the rounds, in which a harbor pilot boards an incoming ship and says to the captain, "Don't you think you ought to take the cover off your anchor?" The captain replies, "Cover? What cover?" The captain then tells the Mate to take a look over the bow, and the Mate reports back that there's a sail draped over the anchor.
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  #18  
Old 6th August 2012, 15:53
Sailtie Sailtie is offline  
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Ok. All points fairly made with a bit of embroidery thrown in.
I was at sea for a good many years with Royal Mail, P&O and Gray Macs. I hold a Master FG ticket.
I am also a yachtsman, often sailing single handed with a YachtMaster Ocean Certificate.
Ther is no doubt that sailing without keeping a look out is illegal and shouldn't be done. There is no excuse for sailing at night without nav. lights. I have enough ways of making electricity on my boat plus I use LED nav lights to keep consumption low. I can easily last through the hours of darkness.
GPS is the main reason you now see so many yachts around compared to the time we all carried sextants. I also carry AIS, radar, a proper radar reflector, VHF and SSB radios. Having said I'm no different to many other singlehanders I know. There are cowboys on yachts just the same as there are on merchant ships.
So let's have a bit of give and take there, mates.
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Old 7th August 2012, 12:18
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In 1977 when working temporarily for BSNC, on passage from Cork to Avonmouth; dark night, SW gale, lashing rain, heavy seas, reduced visibility, out of the blue a searchlight appears to port, very close indeed (best guess 100 yards) shining on to a yacht sail. Quickly take a swing to stb'd to clear said yacht. Unable to establish communications with said yacht but once passed the searchlight went out again.

Contemplating this event later, I got angry, the yacht had no navigation lights of any kind, had produced no echo on the radar and no attempt to shine a light until the yachtsman or woman felt they were in danger. These days AIS might assist.

Since that incident, and other lesser encounters with yachts, single handed or otherwise, I believe firmly that single-handed yachts are a menace to professional seafarers and suffer from grandiose self-inflated ideas of their own worth. Unfortunately the public and media don't see it that way and if, in the future, some lone yachtsman/woman is inadvertently run down by a ship I'll bet the navigating officer and master will be pilloried unmercifully even if exonerated by due process.
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  #20  
Old 7th August 2012, 12:55
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Other interesting times used to be when proceeding down the Solent to Fawley refinery in Summer, when the whole of the Solent would be filled with sails going in all sorts of directions. It was amazing how many of then adhered rigidly to the belief that steam must give way to sail, even when the "steam" was a full loaded ninety thousand tonne tanker that possessed all of the maneuverability of a brick. The brick was expected with confidence to take avoiding action in spite of the limited sea room so that the twenty-foot sailboat could continue on its way unhindered, particularly if it was engaged upon the nationally vital task of trying to win a race around the buoys.

In the engine room we could get through the whole gamut of telegraph orders several times from the Nab tower to Fawley.
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  #21  
Old 7th August 2012, 16:13
Sailtie Sailtie is offline  
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Of course I sympathise with both Waighty and ART6 but I don't think there is any indication that the yachts you speak of were single handers.
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  #22  
Old 25th August 2012, 17:46
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It's something that has always baffled me. The collision regulations are enshrined in law in most countries. Sailing single handed clearly means you cannot comply with the collison regs with regards to lookout.

Every vessel must at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight ..... etc etc

Therefore anybody sailing single handed for a prolonged period of time is committing a criminal offence !! I guess its a bit like speed limits on our roads, the majority ignore them and the authorities chose to draw a blind eye.

I am very surprised though that large corporations put their names to sponsoring single handed events and also that insurance companies insure these multi million pound vessels.
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  #23  
Old 25th August 2012, 18:57
China hand China hand is offline  
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Single handed long distance yachties are going against the rules.
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  #24  
Old 18th October 2012, 20:54
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I agree with most of the comments, it's illegal, unsafe and at times suicidal.
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  #25  
Old 18th October 2012, 21:39
trotterdotpom trotterdotpom is offline  
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Another one rescued 120 miles east of Sydney. Back ashore this morning. See

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/dramatic-r...017-27pwj.html

John T
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