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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019

    Default Newbie

    Hi All,

    I just joined the forum.

    I've been sailing since age seven and single handing my own boat for over 18 years. I've done a lot of single handing in the PNW in all conditions and all times of year but never done an ocean passage solo.

    Last summer I took my boat around Vancouver Island solo. That's my biggest boating accomplishment so far.

    I've done some ocean sailing and some passages with crew, the longest being Seattle to San Francisco.

    After a lifetime of trying to get to this place I now find myself ready to sail to Hawaii from Seattle but don't anticipate having crew so I'm resolved to single hand.

    I know it gets done that way all the time but I also know that doesn't mean it's easy. But the time is fast approaching. June of 2020 is when I'm free to go. That sounds like a long time from now but I know it will go by fast. The boat is ready to go for the most part. The real issue is going to be psychological. My biggest concern is how to deal with lack of sleep and watch keeping etc. I'd be interested to hear of other peoples experiences and practices in that regard. I don't really want to get run over or crash into something.

    Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm looking forward to reading and learning from folks here.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by Korrigan View Post
    My biggest concern is how to deal with lack of sleep and watch keeping etc. I'd be interested to hear of other peoples experiences and practices in that regard. I don't really want to get run over or crash into something.
    That's a big reason SSS runs the LongPac as a qualifier (the race this last weekend). For most, it's the first time they've slept underway while in the ocean. You can do the same thing yourself up there (and you'll get to pick your weather!) Plan a 3-4 day route that will get you far enough offshore to be out of the shipping lanes.

    An AIS with alarm will help a lot, especially if you can spring for a transponder vs. receiver. There's lots written about sleep patterns and you can see what works for you. When solo you don't keep watches so much as try to get into a sleep pattern that gives you enough sleep, in segments short enough to still manage the boat while underway and keep a lookout. 45-90 minutes seems to be common, but doing that around the clock. Some can sleep in 20 minute increments - that's never worked for me.
    Last edited by BobJ; 07-09-2019 at 06:46 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    Stay tuned, Steve. There will be lots of stories posted here on the LongPac thread by the sailors who just finished that race. It was a doozey.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Live in Phoenix, boat in San Diego


    Quote Originally Posted by Korrigan View Post
    June of 2020 is when I'm free to go. That sounds like a long time from now but I know it will go by fast. The boat is ready to go for the most part.
    No, that is not a long time from now. And 'ready to go for the most part' is a lot farther from actually ready to go than one would think. It sounds like you are now where I was in the fall of 2016. Similar path to the point at which I was thinking I was ready for my first ocean passage -- a solo sail from San Diego to Hawaii in the summer of 2017. Life as we knew it then did not cooperate, and I was forced to put off my sail until the summer of 2018. I haven't raced much since the early 90's when I was learning to sail, but I knew of this group and the Singlehanded Transpac, and had always planned to equip and prepare for my sail to Hawaii by following most if not all of the SSS requirements for the SHTP. So when my plans got pushed to an even numbered year, it was 'WTF, why not join the race?'

    Best decision I could have made. Did the 2018 race, had a blast, sailed back single handed, had a blast, loved it. And you have an advantage that I did not: you are upwind from SF. Were I in your situation, I would be thinking seriously about the race in 2020. There are many advantages, some obvious some not, to making your first ocean passage as part of an organized undertaking.

    But, whether you enter the race or not, you will find tons of great info and support on this forum. Welcome.
    s/v Morning Star
    Valiant 32

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    San Francisco Bay Area


    sleep-wise when I'm alone, I try to get my head down for 25 minutes at a shot for most of the night. If I can do 90 minutes nonstop once during the night, that means I'll get into REM sleep, and come out of it, once, naturally. I try to do this between midnight and 3:00 AM. 90 minutes without an AIS is kind of scary, as it takes about 20 minutes between when a container ship appears on the horizon, and when it goes SMASH into your boat, so anything over 20-25 minutes is a risk. However, being stupid is also a risk, so I take that chance.
    S-2 7.9: "Wildcat of Loch Awe"
    1968 Selmer Series 9 B-flat and A clarinets
    1962Buesher "Aristocrat" tenor saxophone
    Piper One Design 24, Hull #35; "Alpha"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Last summer I did the reverse passage, singlehanding from Kauai to Strait of Juan de Fuca (ultimately Orcas Island). My approach to sailing passages is to keep the boat sailing loose, fast, and comfortable -this translates into cracking off slightly to avoid being hard on the wind, ease sails and sheet outboard to keep power up, and reduce sail area to slow the boat down if we start jumping off waves. Sailing slightly eased is also makes it easier for the autopilot to steer the boat reasonably well.

    I aim to bank as much sleep as i can such that I don't get run down to exhaustion. I sleep for 20 minutes at a time and then pop up to see what's going on. Sometimes I'll sleep through the alarm (not often) and sleep for an hour. I can do that for rouighly four days and then I will sleep through the alarm for 2-3 hours. The alarm I use is the Screaming Meanie made for truckers - it's nasty loud.

    I run an AIS transponder and that has been extremely beneficial as regards large ocean traffic, they can see me and know if they are going to transit close, at which time I've received VHF calls from ships explaining how they intend to cross my path and I sometimes even get asked, "Will that be too close for you?" AIS transponders are useful in that regard.

    I also run a radar on 'Watch' mode, it wakes up every 10 minutes and does a minute of sweeps, if nothing appears in the guard zone it goes back to sleep. The alarm isn't that loud but I do wake up for it. This is helpful for passing fishing boats that aren't running an AIS (they should be on AIS, but often enough they are not - possibly they are doing something illegal and trying to not be seen). When you get down in the trades I re-tune the radar to pick up rain in the approaching squalls - that's also helpful at night when you sometimes can't see the squalls.

    Military ships do not seem to run AIS, they are out there running around, though their watch-keeping is amazing as is their equipment - they should know you are there long before you are aware of them.

    For an offshore passage, it's helpful to know where the major great circle routes are and try not to sail along one as you're going to find lots of shipping on those routes. It's normal to see nothing for 4-5 days and suddenly you'll be passed by 10 ships in four hours - you've hit a great circle route (e.g., Panama-Japan).

    Biggest issue you can't do much about is running into floating giant balls of polypropylene fishing net - hopefully you don't bump into one. That's where being somewhat fatalistic about the passage comes in (as Alan points out above) - if you can't do anything about it, then you can't worry about it. Even a full crew boat can't see net balls at night - so you're no worse off than they are.

    Have a great run to Hawaii!

    - rob

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