Sailing the Catalina 320 Single Handed
~~ Paul V. Hartman ~~
First Do A Boat Check
A Checklist is handy - refer to Appendix A which reviews the things you should check before doing anything else.
Preparing Your Boat For Departure
In the cabin, test both batteries for charge. Set the battery switch to ALL so that both will charge when the diesel is running. Switch on the in-cabin 25watt VHF, set on 16. (The bilge switch should always be On.) Switch On Speed and Depth and other instruments at the helm. Switch on Autopilot if you have one. Be sure the hatches are closed as you may either step into them or snag a genoa sheet on them. Gather up any flags you wish to fly. If you keep the boat hook below, bring it topsides.
Management of Dock Lines on Departure
In Figure 1, my 320 is shown with seven dock lines attached, anticipating bad weather at any time. I berth stern-to-the-dock and with the slip dock on the port side. There are dock lines at the four corners (3,4,5,6), two spring lines to stern cleats (1,7), and one spring line to a bow cleat (2).
Dock lines are removed in order from least needed to most needed.
Figure 2 shows lines 5, 6, and 7 removed, with 7 left on the piling (on an attached wooden hook) in an easy-to-grab fashion (the loop is upper-most) ready for my return.
Actually, these dock lines are not used by many sailors, and not by me at docks other than my own. Lines 1,2,3,4 constitute the usual dock line arrangement for most sailors.
Line 5 is also left on the forward piling, line 6 is left on the dock.
I check again, at this point, to see that other things are ready. The port-side life line gate was opened when I came aboard. The boat hook is ready. In the minutes of preparation so far, I have been listening to the chatter on the VHF, attentive to any special situations or weather reports.
Start the engine. Check fuel level and engine gauges. Check to see that the exhaust water has the familiar sound and look to it.
Figure 3 shows my 320 ready to leave. Line #2, a bow spring line (with the formed loop on the boat's port bow cleat), has been removed from the dock cleat, wrapped once around a piling near the center of the berth, and the bitter end returned to the boat's port genoa winch (or to the boat's stern port cleat). The wood piling provides friction on the single wrap, and this snugs the boat's port side to the dock, preventing fore or aft movement, although the boat may drift a bit laterally to starboard.
So Line 2 is the only dock line that goes with me. However, in the cockpit locker are 3 or 4 other 35 foot lines if needed at other locations.
With the engine running, I whip line 2 off the piling and onto the deck inside the life lines. Since my harbor employs a lock, I will need it while exiting through the lock.
Gear into Forward; give her some throttle; exit the berth.
Going to the Fuel Dock
This is another situation requiring preparation before getting underway. The fuel filler on the 320 is aft on the starboard side. You should fit a dock line to the bow cleat, starboard side, led outside the life lines to the cockpit, wrapped on the genny winch - the same arrangement as my dock line #2 on the port side. (Read my essay on motoring to a starboard side dock.)