GP14 Sailing Forums Forum Sailing GP14 single-handed

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    • #25227
      Chris Smith
      Participant

      I am relatively new to dinghy sailing and certainly new to GP14 sailing. I intend to predominantly sail single handed (no racing yet) and am very keen to hear advise and things I should consider given the boat is mainly a 2 handler. What do I need to think about and anticipate?

      many thanks,

    • #25228
      Simon Conway
      Participant

      Hi Chris,

      I sail predominantly single-handed and a few things I would consider putting at the top of your priority list.

      Tie your Jib sheets (ends) together. This will allow you to reach (and release quickly) the far side jib cleat without leaning over the centre of the boat, and thus shifting more weight on the leeward side, which could exagerate the situation which has caused you to want to release the jibsheet in the first place ūüėČ

      That’s the simple task.

      Next, create a reefing system for your mainsheet. I’m not a heavy person and if you’re anything like me then anything that’s an F4 or above will require you to reef your mainsail. I have two reefing lines in mine, one is quite deep (takes out quite a big chunk of sail area) and the second is VERY deep reef, leaving just the numbers upwards showing.

      As you’re sailing solo, being able to implement those reefs single handed should be factored in to your reefing system design and there is an excellent resource on here which explains how to build it in to your mainsail.

      If you want to make life even more slippery smooth for yourself then invest in a furling system for the headsail too (usually a genoa rather than a jib). These can be bought from Trident easily as they have a GP14 specific section on their website. But have a stiff drink before shopping, they’re not cheap! (Other vendors are available ūüôā¬†¬†¬† )

      I’m sure others will add to this ūüôā

      Welcome to GP14 sailing, I like them so much I have two of them!

      Simon.

    • #25229
      Oliver Shaw
      Moderator

      I note that Simon has already replied,  and I fully concur with most of what he says.   Including the depth of the mainsail reefs;   both of us have effectively what one might normally consider a second reef and a third reef,  missing out the usual first reef,  and we both find that that works very well for a day-cruising GP14.

      Simon and I differ only on the matter of continuous headsail sheets,  and that is a personal choice.   His approach works well for him,  and my different approach works well for me;   but both methods are fully viable.

      That apart,¬† a good starting point is the Members’ area of this site;¬† ¬†under the tag¬† “All about your GP” you should find my paper on “Suitability for Cruising & Single-handing”.

      There is one update to that;¬† Rob Helyar (Flexible Reefing Spars) retired a couple of years ago,¬† and there is a doubt whether his truly excellent genoa reefing system is still available.¬† ¬†He passed on the rights to Richard Hartley,¬† of Hartley Boats,¬† but I have emailed Richard three times now¬† –¬† as a potential customer¬† –¬† and for whatever reason he has not replied.¬† ¬†And last time I looked the system was not mentioned on the Hartley Boats website.¬† ¬† However I believe that the Bartels and Aeroluffspars systems are still available,¬† and Simon tells us that Trident are also now offering one,¬† ¬†and Edge Sails have introduced a different take on the matter which certainly works well in lighter conditions,¬† although I have yet to see it tested in seriously heavy weather.

      It is likely that you will eventually want a genoa reefing system,¬† although a short term alternative is simply to sail with the standard jib (if you have one) instead of the genoa.¬† ¬†When you do invest in a reefing system do be aware that reefing requires more than just a furling system;¬† ¬†you need a luff spar (or alternatively the Edge Sails longitudinal batten system) to ensure torsional rigidity of the luff.¬† ¬†Without that,¬† there is a likelihood of the top of the reefed sail unrolling¬† –¬† and by Finnegal’s Law that will always happen at the worst possible moment!

      See also,  again in the same location,  my paper on Reefing Systems.

      Hope this helps,

       

      Oliver

    • #25231
      norman
      Participant

      Hi Chris,

      I have sailed mainly single-handed in recent years without any modifications other than tying the jib sheets as recommended by Simon, but I had already been sailing the boat for quite a number of years and readily agree that the reefing suggestions made above are far more seamanlike. Sailing mainly from a lee-shore beach I have found  an anchor very useful in allowing me to stop and lower the main before coming ashore. My biggest problem is handling the boat ashore, so I suggest that you also look carefully at an easy loading, easy rolling, well-balanced trolley.

      Enjoy,

      Norman

    • #25232
      Oliver Shaw
      Moderator

      I concur with Norman in the advisability of having an anchor;  indeed in tidal waters I would regard this as essential anyway.   But I have what I consider a better solution to the problem of the lee shore beach,  albeit that this does rely on the fact that I have a decent reefing system anyway.

      On various occasions around the country I have sailed from a lee shore beach,  and my home club has what is predominantly a lee shore beach with a concrete slipway,  and a strong tide setting across the slipway.

      Given that the boat is already suitably equipped,  my preferred technique is to drop the main while still in deep water,  and come in under genoa alone,  using the genoa reefing line almost as a throttle to control the speed,  with the aim of arriving very gently at the slipway and stopping exactly on the slipway in shallow water.     The gentleness is because I have no wish to graunch my centreboard on the concrete!

      Sailing mainly in locations with ample expanses of water (at my home club the estuary is about two and a half miles wide at our location) I usually have no need to anchor while dropping and stowing the main,  but if sailing on a small lake I can well see that this would sometimes be very useful.   I normally use the anchor for other purposes.

      But the genoa reefing system is more or less essential to that technique;   far more effective than merely dumping sheet.

      Hope this helps,

       

      Oliver

    • #25234
      norman
      Participant

      I’m perhaps being Nannyish, but Oliver has much experience and a very well set up boat.¬† An inexperienced sailor might prefer to prepare for coming ashore with a stationary, rather that potentially moving boat, at least until he/she has had a bit of practice and developed confidence and technique.

      Norman

    • #25235
      Chris Smith
      Participant

      I’m loving the responses guys very useful thank you so much.

    • #25236
      Frank whitley
      Participant

      Hi Chris

      I think I’m a little late to this thread and pretty much everything that needs to have been said, has been done by Simon, Norman and Oliver.¬† If I may add,¬† Simon’s point about weight (or can I politely say lack of it?) is crucial.¬† I am a tad heavier than he is.¬† Even so,¬† I would say your reaction times need to so be much quicker when on your own.¬† If you can anticipate the gusts, you can shift your weight before your boat is knocked flat.¬† ¬† The same gust would pass by a double handed GP14 almost unnoticed.

      Apart from a reefing main, the most useful thing I did was fit a furling and reefing jib. The GP14 sails very well with a mainsail only and being able to get rid of everything up front is a huge plus when coming ashore.  A big flapping genoa is a nightmare when on your own.  Equally, if coming in on a lee shore, a furling jib on its own (having already ditched the mainsail) is a delight.

      Another one you might think about is fixing your tiller.  I have a bungee secured at each end to my toe straps underneath the tiller.  In the middle of the bungee I have tied a loop which I simply pull over the end of the tiller.  If your boat is well balanced, you can attend to those other jobs at your leisure.

      Frank

      • #25237
        Oliver Shaw
        Moderator

        At the risk of bragging,   both Simon and Frank have participated in past iterations of my Advanced Cruising Course,   and we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

        I think most of the ideas which we have each espoused are included in the two online documents which I referenced previously,¬† in the Members’ Area of this website.

         

        Oliver

      • #25238
        Oliver Shaw
        Moderator

        >¬†If you can anticipate the gust …

        Tactfulness:¬† ….

        Last September my old friend Steve White invited me down to Southampton to run a further iteration of the Advanced Cruising Course there for his club.¬† ¬† ¬†For other reasons I had borrowed A Capella back from her custodian,¬† my godson,¬† and I took her down as the demonstrator boat.¬† ¬†For the third day of the course we planned a day-cruise to the head of Southampton Water,¬† and Steve and I teamed up in “my” boat,¬† A Capella.

        Both of us are now dyed-in-the-wool cruising men,¬† but both of us are also erstwhile seriously good racers from our youth;¬† I was a regular member of my University Team and also my College First Team,¬† while Steve was on track for a place in the Olympics FD squad until he had to drop out because of the financial cost of it (no sponsorship in those days!).¬† ¬†So we were two expert dinghy cruisers,¬† and erstwhile high-level dinghy racers;¬† and we each had great respect for each other’s abilities and seamanship.

        I confess that nowadays,¬† when not racing (which is most of the time),¬† I am less assiduous than I might be at continuously watching for changes in the wind and adjusting the set of the sails accordingly.¬† ¬†Of course that won’t do when racing¬† –¬† it may cost you a place or two¬† –¬† but provided you remain safe it doesn’t greatly matter when cruising.¬† ¬†And on this passage there were numerous eddies,¬† so the wind was almost as variable as on inland waters¬† –¬† which as primarily a coastal and estuary sailor I am no longer used to.

        I helmed on the outward passage,¬† and we swapped ends for the return.¬† ¬†When I was helming,¬† Steve was the master of tact.¬† ¬†If I had failed to adjust to a change in the wind,¬† Steve would quietly remark that “My end of the boat is on (such and such a point of sailing)!

         

        Oliver

         

      • #25239
        Oliver Shaw
        Moderator

        With apologies for possible repetition,¬† we seem to have a technical problem;¬† ¬†my reply to one of Frank’s points seems to have been published by email but not on the website,¬† so¬†I am posting it again:¬† …

         

        >  The GP14 sails very well with a mainsail only and being able to get rid of everything up front is a huge plus when coming ashore. 

         

        True,  but her pointing is very limited.    Even just a pocket handkerchief of headsail makes a big difference.

        I first learned the limitation of sailing under mainsail only in the late sixties,  in my first GP14,  in one of the then Tideway Races run by my home club,  Liverpool SC;    roughly 10 miles downriver on the ebb to New Brighton,  adjourn ashore over Low Water,  then back again on the flood.

        On this occasion the return leg was a beat¬† –¬† it is much more usually the other way round¬† –¬† and soon after the start of the second leg the port shroud carried away.¬†¬†¬† With no spinnaker on that boat my jury rig was to drop the jib,¬† and use the jib halliard as a jury shroud.¬†¬† When the same thing happened a couple of years later in an Anglesey estuary in my next GP14 I used the spinnaker halliard for that purpose,¬†¬† and so still had the benefit of the genoa for the passage back to shore.

        So we now had a sailable boat,  but with no headsail,  and a beat to windward of still about 8 miles yet to go.    We duly made it,  but it did seem to take us an eternity!!

        Looking back,  many decade later,  I had a total of four shroud failures in three different dinghies within the space of just a few years;   and absolutely none thereafter.   Why none subsequently?   Because I had learned my lesson,  and improved my maintenance!!

        My other experience of sailing under main only is more recent.   When A Capella was a new boat,  around 2006 or 2007,  I had a week’s day-cruising holiday on Anglesey with a good friend who had limited sailing experience,  and on our first day the wind was dead offshore and borderline too strong;  so I chose to launch with main only,  and probably one reef at that.    We had a good sail until it was time to return home,  which presented us with a beat to windward;   and the boat really would not go well at all.    But as soon as we unrolled just a mere pocket handkerchief of headsail she was transformed;  this made all the difference to her ability to go to windward.

         

        Oliver

    • #25278
      Chris Smith
      Participant

      All may I once more thank you all for your wonderful advice and guidance. If the pesky consistent N/NEs ever subside even a little (where have the predominant SEs gone?) I’ll attempt some of your advice. Would love a furling gib but my wife has reacquainted me with the fact I am retired and no longer earning.
      What a wonderful club I’ve joined, my thanks once more, Chris.

    • #25712
      Will
      Participant

      Great boat to sail single handed, fast and roomy but not too heavy onshore. I fully agree with the recommendation for a genoa roller, it makes a big difference to reduce sail quickly. I use a smaller mainsail, unless it is light wind.

      Also think about how you will right the boat single handed after a capsize, and climb in unaided from the water, it’s quite high. I copied the grabline/righting line system from (I think it was) a Laser 2000, elasticated but with stoppers to make a loop to stand in to get a step up.

      • #25714
        Oliver Shaw
        Moderator

        A smaller mainsail in medium or stronger winds is a very good alternative to fitting a good reefing system;¬† ¬†but it is fundamentally less flexible,¬† and buying a decent one¬† –¬† even second-hand¬† –¬† may well cost about as much as fitting a reefing system to a full-size sail.

        If the wind freshens further,  you may be glad of the ability to pull down a further reef.

        And if the wind eases off and becomes light you may well be very glad of having the full sail available¬† –¬† especially if you need to buck a foul tide to get home.

        For my money,¬† I choose to go for a decent modern slab/jiffy reefing system for those reasons;¬† ¬†but an owner then needs to learn how to operate the system at sea,¬† in whatever conditions the weather may throw at you.¬† ¬†Once you have learned the basics,¬† then practice,¬† practice,¬† practice¬† …,¬† until the procedure becomes absolutely second nature,¬† and totally safe and confident and reliable.¬† ¬†I repeat;¬† ¬†in whatever conditions the weather may throw at you.

        When we were caught out in that unforecast force 7/8 off a major Anglesey headland we immediately pulled down the first reef,  followed immediately by the second reef,  and only after that did we look around and see the one capsized and inverted casualty.   But we were able to pull down those reefs because,  first,  we had a good system well set up;   and,  second,  because I had done the operation countless times previously (both single-handed and fully crewed),  so actually doing it was a routine operation and was no difficulty.

        However sailing permanently with a smaller sail is a viable alternative.   If you happen to have such a sail anyway,  without needing to buy one specially,  that of course skews the cost comparison.

         

        Oliver

    • #25713
      Oliver Shaw
      Moderator

      I concur with fitting permanent righting lines,  although there are several different ways of doing this.

      I first came across them in 2009,  when the Cruising Fleet were caught out in an completely unforecast force 7/8 (on a forecast of only force 3!) off a major Anglesey headland.  The one single-hander in the fleet capsized,  and then inverted;   then,  in conditions in which I would have been desperately struggling had I capsized,  he righted his boat without outside assistance and resumed sailing.    Alright,  he had a wineglass wrap in his genoa,  but he had successfully righted his boat,  in horrendous conditions,  single-handed.

      Talking with him after the event,¬† he told me that the key to his recovering from the inversion was his righting lines.¬† ¬†These were a pair of long lines,¬† secured to the boat amidships,¬† with an overhand knot about every foot of their length,¬† and terminating in a monkey’s fist.¬† ¬†From amidships he reached under the inverted hull,¬† pulled out the nearest righting line,¬† and held onto the end,¬† and never let go of it;¬† ¬† that is the reason for the monkey’s fist at the end of it.

      He swam down to the stern,  and round to the other side of the boat,  flicking the line over the transom and across the hull.

      Then he lay flat in the water,  supported by his buoyancy aid,  with his legs braced and his feet on the gunwale,  and hauled in the line,  one knot at a time.    Doing that,  the boat has just got to come up eventually.

      Another accessory that I fitted to A Capella,¬† because 15 years ago (at age 65 then) I was concerned about my ability to climb back aboard after a capsize,¬† was a “rope ladder”.¬† ¬† This was a commercially produced one,¬† using lightweight synthetic rope and plastic rungs,¬† and it is permanently secured to the boat,¬† adjusted so that it can readily be deployed over the side of the boat at the aft end of the cockpit.¬† ¬† I can’t tell you how well it works,¬† because I have never needed to put it to the test¬† –¬† and I have always aimed never to need to do so,¬† ¬†but it seems like a sensible precaution,¬† just in case.

       

      Oliver

       

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