Assisted single handed sailing on a Saphire 27

03 Aug 11:14

Single handed sailing made easy!

First I will give you an overview of how I equipped my Serafina III.

The equipment I chose should not be too expensive and offer a lot of possibilities. I use a Triton package with speed/wind/depth from B&G combined with a GPS to sail on the apparent wind. Further, I use a Simrad TP32 tiller pilote with remote control (82kg). I chose the most powerful type since it reacts faster and is stronger. It is important on a light displacement boat to have a quick reaction on the tiller to allow fast rudder movements.

On the first picture you see apart from the tiller pilote that I installed two clam cleats behind the cockpit seats for the jib sheet. Of course, also two extra winches could be installed on the deck in front of the helmsman.

On the B&G display you see the wind indication upwind with all the parameters. The difference from the AWA and the TWA is the apparent wind created through the boat speed upwind.

Now you can press a key combination on the remote control or on the tiller pilote itself to tack or jibe the boat automatically from one apparent wind angle to the other. The speed of the rudder steering and the angle can be parametrized individually according to the boat’s type. In light or medium winds this works very well whereas in strong winds it is more critical since the boat tacks slowly and bears off too much after the manoeuvre. Under gennaker it is recommended in strong winds not to use the tiller pilote for the jibe since you need to bear off for a short moment after the manoeuvre to avoid broaching.

Generally i noticed that the system works better upwind than downwind. Downwind, the pilote keeps working a lot which is probably due to the rolling oft he boat in the waves. Instead of using the wind-modus I  switch to autopilote modus so that the boat follows a compass track and then I correct the gusts with the gennaker sheet. You don’t get the best VMG in this way but it is prety comfortable and save.


This is a new development from Denmark inspired by the catamaran scene. On Serafina III I used a prototype for the tests. The deckchute lies on deck as its name suggests and the gennaker/spinnaker is hoisted. Head first then tackline and at the end the sheet. The sequence is differnent from normally putting the tackline first before hoisting. When using the jib, the gennaker is set winwards. Without the jib you can hoist is on either side. Taking it down starts with the tackline first. You pull the retriever line which is attached to the tack of the gennaker, through the deckchute and pull the whole gennaker to the back until the sheet and halyard entered the ring at the bow. After the gennaker is down through the deckchute and lying in the cockpit you have to put it back into the bag. You normally would do this when sailing upwind again. To do so, the bag can be opened and the gennaker is being foled like an accordeon from the head downwards starting in the bow of the boat. Once it lies correctly in the bag you just  close it with the zipper. Sheet and tackline just stay where they are since they come out of the deckchute last when hoisting again.

Advantage and disadvantage of the deckchute

As with most of the new things you first need some practice with the new products. After using the deckchute about a douzen times the handling became easier. First I let the jib up when doing the manoeuvres which allows only hoisting or taking it down windwards. It is also possible to pass below the jib but space is narrow in the bow area and you risk that the gennaker gets stuck somewhere. Windwards it is always easy but the tactical choices are limited thus. As such I furled the jib to allow hoisting wind- or leewards. Of course I have to change all the lines but this is easy since they are all there and you don’t need to run around the boat as with the normal bag.

To sail single handed the deckchute is a good tool while for racing I would not use it. Once the gennaker is up, I am always free to take it donw normaly, not using the bag. This opens more choices. This might be the case when I am sailing on a tight reaching course and like to set the jib first to take the gennaker down leewards into the cockpit. I can also take down the gennaker with the deckchute but in this case it is better to set the jib afterwards. However, manoeuvres like a kiwi drop work very well with the chute.

An other issue is changing from one gennake to another. In this case I change the gennaker flying and put the new one into the deckchute only when taking it down. Hoever, you have to install a retriever line together with the tackline which goes through the chute. For racing with a crew, the deckchute might not be your choice. However, for single handed sailing or cruising it is very nice. An interesting new development which will find its place in the market.


Assisted single handed sailing is easy, also in stronger winds, if you are supported by good tools. The tiller pilote creates working space and the deckchute security especially when taking the gennaker down in stronger winds. Both need some training to master them well. The one who installs all these tools but does not train himself to use them properly, will not be happy. Last but not least it is always the number of hours you spend on the water which make the difference.