One of the greatest risks for a solo sailor is falling off the boat. When I’m sailing alone in all but the safest conditions, I’m wearing a lifejacket. I also clip on, especially when the autopilot or self-steering gear are engaged. What a nightmare it would be to fall in the water, away from shore, and see your boat sail away from you, suddenly freed of your weight!
Even if you’re clipped on it’s very difficult to get back aboard. When Tammy is at rest I’m able to haul myself up onto her side-decks, but not over the transom. And what hope is there that I could reach a side-deck if she’s sailing?
So I’ve taken an idea I’ve seen on mini-Transats: a permanently installed elastic step at the transom.
The trick is to use some webbing tube threaded with elastic cord, strung across the back of the boat. The elastic should be taught to keep the line out of the way, but the webbing should be long enough that it forms a step that you can reach to get back aboard.
Here’s the step strung between the drogue attachments at on Tammy’s quarters. It should be fairly easy to reach from the water, even if I’ve had to haul myself along the safety line to catch up with the boat. The elastic keeps it out of the way of things like the self-steering gear.
Here it is again with me standing on it.
I’ve adjusted the length so that my waist is at the height of the pushpit rail, allowing me to bend forward and flop into the cockpit even if my arms are exhausted.
It’s one of those things I hope I’ll never need to use. It was easy to put together and might save me. I might even be able to test it (with some help).