Sailing a Merlin single handed, mainsail only

17/12/2009 11:58:33
David R
Sorry to those of you who have already read this under a different subject, I am just trying to see if I can get a response to this question with a more direct title!

I am thinking of buying a Merlin. Some of the time I will sail with one of the kids which should be fine according to the design guide for our weights, but some of the time I will need to sail it singlehanded. The Merlin nominal mainsail area is only of the order of 7.5m^2, which is less than my Harrier (around 10m^2). That sounds about right, as I find the Harrier over-canvased a lot of the time! The question is how well will a Merlin sail with just its mainsail? I am wondering if I will be able to get away with just raking the centre board back a bit, or if I will need to have a second location for the mast forward of its usual site and alter all the string needed to make it work in either location. In this sort of class someone must have tried it!!? (I am currently leaning away from the idea of taking the rig from the Harrier and making a mongrel, which was the original plan.)

Many thanks for any options


17/12/2009 12:06:58

The rig on a Merlin is very finely balanced and removing the Jib would not work. You can sail them single handed and I have done so on many occasions. Your best bet is to sail with the jib and have your jib sheets joined in the middle so you can reach them on both sides. If you have twin spinnaker poles and a long tiller extension you can even use the spinny!

On this note, the New Potato that you have been looking at on the for sale list has a deck stepped raking rig which will enable you to depower the whole rig when on your own by raking it backwards, as being discussed in another thread, you cannot do this with a hog stepped rig.

This seems your best and simplist option to me, no messing about with rigs and retaining two complete boats!!

Hope that helps.

17/12/2009 12:40:25
What wind strengths and where will you be sailing?
If inland, then you can expect lighter winds than on estuarys or the sea.

Force 0: As long as its sunny, it doesn't matter what sails you use.
Force 1 to 2: You will want lots of power, so a jib will be good. And the spinnaker as well will be a challenge!
Force 3: Starting to de-power upwind, needing the jib down-wind.
Force 4: Full de-power / maximum rake.
Force 5: Time to find a crew from those other classes who don't sail when it gets fun!
Force 6 (inland): time for a camera...

VERY few wind strengths when sailing with the main and no jib is a sensible choice.

17/12/2009 13:51:41

The current "fashion" for jib sheets is to have them start at the jib, down to the hardpoint for a turning block, up to the side deck (same side), then across the cockpit (repeat for the other side).
That makes it ideal s/handed as the sheet is always to hand and can be cleated/uncleated easily.

Twin pole spinnaker is possible s/handed (pop the tiller extension under the side deck mine has a convenient knee for the deck - a bit of heel helps) pull up, then fix pole.
Getting it down is a little more exciting.


17/12/2009 14:39:27
David R
I will be sailing mostly at Port Dinorwic Sailing Club in the Menai Straits. With the Harrier I am OK up to about 12 knots as indicated on the club anemometer, but prefer less. (The club house is somewhat sheltered.) It sounds like I will be OK for a similar range in a Merlin. Unfortunately, I have trouble finding a crew because

a) I tend to come last
b) The straits are cold to swim in
c) I don't get to go sailing often enough
d) They are mostly very keen sailors who *like* a good force 5.

On the plus side I have children ;)

The good news is that the Merlin squeaks into the medium handicap fleet, are a generally more forgiving and less competitive bunch. As long as I don't start winning things then there will be no problem with crew that are often invisible etc.

This year has been windy a lot of the time, but last year it worked out pretty well. I was hoping to cover a bit more wind range with the new boat, but I think it is good enough. I can always hire a topper.

Thanks ChrisJ for your wind speed guide. It will be very useful for setting up the boat on shore as I suspect it will be a while before I can figure out what to do on the water.

Thanks everyone for all the input. I have decided to go for a Merlin and keep it standard. The Harrier will go as a going concern, or be broken for bits, or somewhere in between. Anyone want a Harrier with a few minor problems ;)


20/12/2009 15:43:14
Have you thought about coming to the Merlin Rocket race training?
30 April, 1 May, (2 May Silver Tiller), 3 May at Rutland Water

You will definitely learn the ropes.

Steve Watson

20/12/2009 17:33:47
B 3430 Fat Pig (crew)
And the training at Rutland is brilliant - well worth taking the time off work, the long journey, finding somewhere to stay etc. The coaches are among the cream of the merlin fleet (helms and crew), personable, approachable, friendly and massively informed and skillful. Plus lots of other learners. Lots of opportunity to ask all the questions you want. Good fun and good socialising. Highly recommended.


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