Friday I went out all day on the boat by myself - it was great. By now I've left the docks and gotten back to them by myself enough to be (foolishly?) confident. Its still a little nerve wracking but its familiar. I left the docks in the morning and headed south through the breakwater. The autopilot came in very handy - I turned it on in the breakwater while going slow to remove fenders and lines. Once out of the breakwater I headed up into the wind, engaged the autopilot and raised the sails. The winds were light, 5-10 from the north. The boat moved well, the seas were light, the skies were blue - it was a great day out on the water. The autopilot was only used as a second hand when needed. If I wanted to adjust a line at the mast I could engage the autopilot while I moved around the boat doing what I needed. The auto tack feature isn't working properly yet, the controller needs some adjustment. But tacking while standing in front of the helm and turning the wheel is just fine. I headed north into the wind until around 3:15 at which point I turned around and headed back. Again the autopilot was very valuable when taking the sails down and putting the fenders and lines back on. I shouldn't rely on it as it could fail one day - but for now I'll be using it. I got back at around 5pm, docking in 1-2 knots of wind. Beautiful.
Saturday was pretty much a repeat of friday. The winds were pretty much the same all day and I got to around the same turn around point. There were more boats out on Saturday so it was fun to measure my boat to others as we tacked north and ran south. I got smoked by a few boats while heading north and then passed another heading south. Its not a race! And Luckness is not a race boat, but she's fun to sail.
On Sunday the winds were calm and I worked on various projects rather than going out. Monday was even more calm and I got some more things done on the boat.
Its a lot of fun to sail with others, and I like to learn what I can from them in whatever ways I can. When sailing single handed however, I find myself becoming familiar with sailing in a different way. Certainly being on the helm all day gives me more hours of sailing than with a larger crew, but the experience I'm gaining is more than simply more hours at the helm. Being out sailing by yourself seems attractive to me. I may change my tune when I'm out sailing alone and the winds pick up to 30kts or more and things get busy. But for now, I'm really enjoying my time out on the water, alone or with others.