I’ve been sailing Tortuga, my 1969 Westerly Centaur, since 2003, and about 75 percent of the time I’m alone, so needless to say I was thrilled when asked to review Andrew Evan’s book, Singlehanded Sailing: Thoughts, Tips, Techniques & Tactics. As it turns out, Evans has been sailing about as long as I have. True, he has a lot more miles under his keel than I do, but like me they’re mostly singlehanded, so in that respect I felt a kinship with his writing.
To be sure, Evans is a racer and a large portion of the book is devoted to racing techniques and racing boat design and operation, but there is still a lot of information that can be applied to cruising boats. He addresses stress and sleep management, food storage and preparation, hygiene, dealing with emergencies, sail handling, going aloft, and a host of other topics many of us can learn from. One comment he makes rather early on that I found particularly interesting: “Older fiberglass boats, built twenty to thirty years ago, have design features that are best suited to singlehanding.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Since those early days I’ve managed to figure out a lot of things on my own, many that Evans has validated because he does them the same way I do. For example, as a singlehander I have developed routines that work, with minor adjustments from time to time, and I’ve found that having a crew can sometimes throw me off my game. Evans concurs, stating, “Perhaps I found it too exhausting, as skipper, to be responsible not only for my own actions but also for the actions of every other person on the boat.” Knowing that I’m doing things and thinking the way a “pro” does is very reassuring. That in itself makes this a worthwhile read for anyone who goes it alone.
Singlehanded Sailing: Thoughts, Tips, Techniques & Tactics, by Andrew Evans (International Marine/McGraw Hill Education, 2015; 244 pages)