Any older sailors out there who have made some adaptations either to their boats or to their techniques for sailing as a senior citizen?

Any hints you would care to pass along to other older sailors?

I'm 61, been sailing since I was 18, owned four boats, sailed a lot of other people's boats, had a master's license for 20 years, and now that I'm getting older I find that I need to modify my boat and my techniques. Some are little things, like keeping a magnifying glass in the chart table. Some are bigger things, like adding lazy jacks and bringing lines back to the cockpit.

How about you?

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I have a 35 ft Freedom with a roller furled self tending jib, North stack pack with lazy jacks, two single line reefs in the main led to the cockpit, one each electric winch and windlass. I bought the boat ten years ago (@55) when health was not an issue and have have come to really appriciate all the goodies now, no regrets and no problem singlehanding. Also an Raymarine autopilot to mind the helm if I need to leave the cockpit.
Fred, nice to meet you.

Is your self tending jib on a boom of some kind?
No jib boom. It is a small jib whose leads are taken back to a traveler car mounted just in front of the mast. The car traveles on a track across the cabin top. So with one jib sheet I set the sheet and the traveler car slided back and forth as I tack.
I'm 71 and still sailing alone and with my 1st mate. I started modifying my boat after I had a stroke and lost strength and balance. 1st I built my own roller furling and lead it back to the cockpit . Then I switched to a trolling motor for aux. power, much less weight to wrestle on the stern. Hooked up solar panel to batteries for the motor. I sail mostly loose footed one reason is I can't duck as fast as I used to. I see very little difference in quality of sailing. I'm getting ready to install another winch on my trailer and a mast rising system to use it with. Making it possible to launch and reload on the trailer alone safely. I have thought about lazy jacks but don't have them yet. I sail a Com-pac 16/3 which is really 17' with bowsprit. I have a homemade helm with 10" wheel and raised decking area but don't use it much, rather use the tiller. I also designed a true bowsprit about 5' long making a cutter set up possible but haven't tried it yet!. So age may slow you down but it wont stop you unless you let it.
Congratulations on hanging in there! My hat's off to a guy who trailer sails at 71. I gave up wrestling masts up and down a long time ago.
I know a couple sailing on Lake Nockamixon, Quakertown, PA that are near 80 that rigs(raising mast, etc) and races a Flying Scot. I also purchased my Freedom 30 from a 85 year young retired doctor that scaped the barnacles off the whole bottom before I got there to look at the that is what I hope for when I get there!
Obviously, if you want to live long and stay healthy, you need to be a sailor!
Im 66 and my wife is 63, years ago we moved back down to our Bristol 29.9 so we would have a boat that we could handle as we got older. We have roller furling and lazy jacks, but that's it. The rest are creature comforts - alcohol/electric cooking, 12K BTU AC, H&C pressure water, refrigeration, etc.
Someone (I forget who) had an article in one of the sailing magazines (either GOB or Sail) on single-line reefing explaining his setup. He ran the line to the leech cringle before the luff cringle. He is a sailmaker and was never satisfied with single-line reefing because it didn't pull the leech down far enough. His new system works better. He later refined it by adding a small block at the leech cringle to reduce friction.

Looks like a good system and I think I'll give it a try on Ariel.
No photos with and detail on my lazy jacks, I will make a drawing and post it if you like.
I'm only 48, but I have a history of back troubles that makes me very sensitive to things that might hurt me and put me out of action. Accordingly, I'm a big fan of think-before-acting.

Stuff I already have that works for me:

I have one electric sheet winch (port side). It's a good-sized Lewmar 50; the clutch works great - I can't tell the difference between it and its mate when used by hand. A spinnaker sock has greatly reduced the effort to get the spinnaker head two-blocked.

I have a wireless remote for my a/p - I fitted it because it was cheaper than adding a second a/p head under the dodger. I like it but find I don't use it as often as I expected. It is worth having when the weather is cold or it is raining. A wind-vane mode on my a/p greatly reduced the need for control under the dodger.

I agree with your decision to go to all rope lazy-jacks. I started that way, added blocks, and have gone back to all rope.

I'm thinking about a stackpack - tying down the main can be a lot of work.

One of my personal observations is that my light adaption is getting poor. I have long chats about light discipline when I take crew aboard for night sails. I completely cover the portlight in the head with cardboard to prevent leakage. There are several other boat specific adjustments to keep light out of my eyes at night (get the flag off the stern to avoid stern light reflections, blanket over the translucent companionway slide, and a list of canvas projects to cover things up).

The electric winch I mentioned is magic. I just have the one (they are really expensive), but I can cross sheet if needed, and can run a halyard back through a snatch block for going up the mast. My next big investment in the boat is likely to be an electric winch on the mast. I love my full-batten main and shan't give it up, but it would be great to have some help getting it to full hoist. I have sailed lots of boats with in-mast furling and in-boom furling and will forestall the sailing performance compromises as long as I can.

I'm not a believer in the value of bow thrusters. They are expensive, use a lot of power, require maintenance, and take up valuable storage space. Finally, they have limited thrust and in high wind are often overwhelmed. On my boat I would have to give up carrying a sail or my forward air conditioner to make room. Not going to happen! *grin* I happily singlehand my 40' 22k# boat by virtue of practice with engine and rudder. At the risk of displaying pride, I have twice had a dockwalker (and once a crew-member!) make a comment to me about how nice bow thrusters are after watching me dock; you can imagine my inner glee at telling them I was sure they are nice but I don't have one. *grin*

I do carry spare eyeglasses and have a magnifying glass at the chart table. I'm ordering my first set of bifocals this week. *sigh*

I'm still thinking about how to make getting my dinghy on and off the foredeck and may end up with davits. If I do it will be because I come up with a way to rig the lines to lead to my electric winch ...

sail fast, dave
Dave, thanks for the observations. Very helpful.

I gave up the rigid dinghy for an inflatable. It's a very low-tech inflatable - no rigid floor, only 8 feet long. I can easily inflate it on the cabin top with a foot pump, I can easily hoist it off the cabin top and lower it into the water using the main halyard, and retrieve it the same way. Inflation/deflation takes only a few minutes. The only remaining problem is getting the outboard from stern pulpit bracket on the dinghy transom, and back again. I can handle this alone by lowering the O/B into the dinghy with a line attached to a lifting handle, then get into the dinghy and move the O/B to the transom. I will never tow a dinghy if I can help it.

I can singlehand the Cape Dory 36 just fine in everything except backing in or out of a slip. The modified full keel just doesn't back well. I never know whether she will back like a normal single-screw inboard, or whether she will decide to throw her bow to port or starboard (not much predictability). Someone likened backing a full keel sailboat to throwing an arrow feathers first. I think that's about right. Careful use of spring lines helps, but that makes singlehanding a bit busier. I used to be able to dash from the wheel to the bow and back, but I'm not quite as agile any more, so docking or undocking in a cross wind or cross current is the one and only place I miss having crew. A few years ago we had a slip on a river with a strong current. Getting in and out of that slip single handed was a nightmare. (Getting in and out with crew was a nightmare!) That's where I would like a bow thruster.


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