Solo Sailor’s Gear Box

Singlehanded TransPac racer Skip Allan offers his rundown of safety and electronics necessary for short-handed sailing or singlehanded sailing.

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First sailed in 1978, the Singlehanded TransPac (SHTP) crosses 2,120 miles of Pacific Ocean from San Francisco Bay, Calif., to Hanalei Bay, Kauai. Practical Sailor contributor and SHTP competitor Skip Allan took time out from his race preparations onboard Wildflower—his Thomas Wylie-designed 27.5-foot sloop/cutter—to open his notes on solo sailing. Last month, the veteran offshore racer and singlehanded cruiser discussed his gear, sail inventory, storm tactics, and his approach to provisioning. This month, Allan focuses on the electronics, safety gear, and routing tactics he employs when racing alone. Allan’s onboard systems include two deep-cycle wet-cell batteries that total 165 amp hours, two solar panels, and a 35-amp alternator on Wildflower’s10-horsepower Yanmar single-cylinder diesel. He has a fixed and handheld VHF, an Icom SSB radio, a Pactor modem for weather charts and weather faxes, and Winlink email. Other electronics include handheld GPS, LED lighting, and a small portable radio.
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Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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