Are Single Handers "Odd"?
By Little Gidding - Published January 12, 2006 - Viewed 527 times
I am a single hander with a 40 foot ketch. I am refitting her for a 2007 Baja-Ha-Ha jumpstart to the cruising life. In your logs you occasionally mention single handers, but I would like to know more about how these folks are doing out there. Are there any particular difficulties I need to prepare for? I've heard from other cruisers that single handers are thought of as "odd". What are your experiences with this group of cruisers?
We know a lot of single handing sailors and overall they're probably no more or less odd than the rest of us out here. Most of them are male, but we've also met a few female solo sailors (who tend to attract their male counterparts like magnets). We've found that single handers generally fall into two camps: those who are single due to circumstances; and those who are single by choice. The first category is more fluid; in the last couple of years, two of our single cruising friends have gotten married to women they met sailing.
The confirmed single handers who comprise the second category don't appear to be socially isolated. On the contrary, it often seems that other cruisers seek them out because they fear they might be lonely. Our good friend Ted on "Take It Easy", a Dufour 27 he's sailed on his own from California to the Caribbean twice, claims he almost never has to cook his own dinner because he's always being invited to dine on other boats.
Another friend Dave on "Coriolis III", a 27 foot Westerly Pembroke, told us, "People often ask me if I don't get lonely living alone. I tell them when you're sailing you've got enough to do ... But when you get to port, I've found people approach you because they realize you're by yourself. They'll talk to you and you'll meet people, lots of interesting people. If I have someone with me on the boat -- which occasionally happens, friends come along -- I always notice when they leave that I really didn't meet anybody else. Sailing alone is not boring and it's not lonely."
Depending on how you've set your boat up and where you're planning to cruise, your biggest challenge might be the practical aspects of managing a fairly large vessel by yourself. Sailing the west coast of the Baja is going to involve some overnight passages. If you feel uncomfortable keeping 24 hour watches, you might consider inviting crew along for some of the longer legs. Our friend Betty has managed to move "Parrothead", a CT 47, all around the Caribbean by taking on crew at various points. Latitude 38, one of the sponsors of the Baja Ha-Ha, provides a crewing service, as do a number of other print and online publications. You might also consider joining the Seven Seas Cruising Association (www.ssca.org), which offers a free crew exchange and lots of camaraderie.
We hope this helps. We look forward to seeing you out here one day!
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