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Old 07-04-2015, 07:31   #31
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

Single handed is easy. Take it easy and learn quickly from your mistakes. If you go ICW to florida believe your markers with a grain of salt. If you are not sure about something ahead ask for information by VHF. There are many great anchorages on the ICW. There are great books on the ICW with 5 mile maps and all the information you would ever need. One of the best pieces of advice I can give if from experiences. Purchase salt and fresh water boat us or sea tow insurance. You will need it some day.
I have hit just about everything a boat can bang against except the moon when it is rising and give me enough time I am sure I can it it also.
For some information on ICW New York to Florida and Florida to New York try this blog

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Old 07-04-2015, 07:36   #32
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

I single hand my Alberg 35. Roller furling job, halyards at mast, Simrad autopilot. Getting in and out of a dock was challenging to learn but isn't all of sailing learning? I'm 63, I find sailing her alone can be tiring but that's just one more thing to deal with. The full keel really helps: it adds a lot of directional stability. And the peace and sense of accomplishment are immense. The biggest challenge to me is keeping a good watch when doing something like raising/lowering sails or reefing. I get caught up in what I'm doing and have to consciously remember to look around. I do use jack lines and a tether when alone, wear a PFD and have a waterproof VHF handheld clipped on. So yes you can definitely do what you describe. I'm planning a whole singlehanded cruise on the Chesapeake this summer. My challenge to myself this year is to learn to fly a spinnaker alone.

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Old 07-04-2015, 07:46   #33
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

Yes, you can do it. I did about 15K NM single-handing years ago, in a 42' mono. Believe it or not, going solo in the ICW will be harder than going offshore solo: in the ICW, 50' off course and you can run aground; offshore you can be miles off course with no problem.
If I were in New England and heading to the Bahamas solo, I would start by heading offshore: quicker (no bridges to open for you), safer (fewer things to hit), cheaper(you're sailing, not motoring). To me, it's clear.
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Old 07-04-2015, 08:30   #34
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

Single handing is really not a problem, often easier than having inexperienced people aboard. An autopilot is pretty much a must though. You will find that it is much easier outside than going up or down the intracoastal. You have to be at the helm ALL the time on the ICW, hardly ever outside.

Many people talk of running everything into the cockpit, but I disagree there, I like things at the base of the mast where you can work and see. Working under a dodger you can not see the main, so hoisting or reefing is a lot of guesswork. At the base of the mast you can see what you are doing and any problems developing. Also less resistance on your lines so easier to hoist and reef. Singlehanded, you can not be afraid to go on deck.

The mechanical aspects of docking are the same whether you are alone or have 20 crew, it is just handy to have someone step ashore with a line or drop one over a piling. Learn to use a spring line, and preset all your lines and you will have no problems. I singlehanded an alden 54 up the Tombigbee/Mississippi once, which is mostly docking and locking, and it really was not a problem. (Got tired of driving though…)
Good luck and have fun!

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Old 07-04-2015, 08:38   #35
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

At least one roller furled sail would be good to get things started and be able to douse sail from the cockpit. You will rarely need to make long passages and should most of time find a place to anchor and take a breather. For long passages consider a wind vane steering gear. I'm setting up a 45 foot steel ketch with full keel for singles handing if I have too, but most of time I expect I'll have friends aboard. Just take things slow and easy, plan ahead, wear a harness and use it, make sure you can climb back into the boat if you do fall overboard.
A bad day sailing is 100 times better than a good day at work.
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Old 07-04-2015, 08:52   #36
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

Originally Posted by Sailsarefull View Post
Hey everybody,
My first post and questions? I am retiring and looking to buy a sailboat. In my previous younger life I built sailboats and lived aboard for a year. Have dreamed of returning to the sailing life. Now is the time. I have some questions for those experienced.
1. Going to be solo, until I meet the right woman.
2. Looking at 35-37' boats, monohull, full-keel.
Goal is to buy in the NE, take the Atlantic coastalway down to Florida and cross gulfstream there to Bahamas.

???Is it feasible to do this solo? If not, can certainly find friends to join me. Is it feasible to handle that size boat solo? Is it safe/feasible to sail the islands solo?
I appreciate any feedback. I hear alot of stories both pro-con about it. But, I want an adventure and warm weather.
It is definitely doable. But would probably be more fun with a friend.
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Old 07-04-2015, 09:11   #37
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

Some boats are easier to single hand than others. If you have not purchased your boat yet, your list of must haves should include:
- all lines running to the cockpit
- furling head sail
- self tailing winches
- jiffy reef system

Consider the work involved if you have to hank on your head sail, go to the mast to raise or lower the main, or stand on the dodger to reef your sails. Yikes, I don't even want to think about using a winch that is not self tailing when I am single handing.
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Old 07-04-2015, 09:17   #38
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

Single handing is often more pleasant than arguing about what to do next with someone you have already grown hostile to having aboard your boat. However, and I can not be more serious about this, in desperate situations, the very first move you make is often crucial. To screw up FAT as you are being dragged toward a rocky shore may well be the end of the boat. Inexperience is a cold-hearted bitch and as unforgiving as anything on Earth.

You have two options: either get someone who is experienced to go along (this will involve cash, and the ability to swallow your pride and let him lead during dicey times), or, my choice, plan your trip in short hops, over prepare, and take careful notice of weather patterns. Leave anchorages early and arrive at destinations early. If in doubt, always ask for information about your next hop from cruisers going the other way. Never leave a great anchorage on a doubtful day - after all, it is your intention to enjoy this, Do so.

Get Tow Boat US tow insurance, and be quick about making a decision if you need them or not. Make sure you have extra anchors and they are at the ready. And NEVER, NEVER eat anything even remotely 'experimental' before starting or under way. The last thing in the world you need to do is shoot your own self in the foot. There were times when I lived on fresh water and trail mix, with only a cup of cold coffee each morning.

Enjoy. You will be amazed at the things you see and the places you go. Amazed.
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Old 07-04-2015, 09:25   #39
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

An inexperienced 18 year old girl named Tania Aebi single handed around the world. So did many others.

Sure it's possible. I am now 73. I single hand a 50' Hinckley yawl up and down the coast of Maine and New Brunswick. Had her over in the Med 2 seasons ago. When you're single handing you meet the most interesting people that quickly become friends.

The key is rigging. Have all of your controls and lines lead back to the cockpit. I Have roller in-mast furling for main, mizzen and headsail. It helps if you can avoid going on-deck when the weather turns foul.

Someone mentioned docking - agree 100% with his comments. The key is a midship spring line amidship and cleated aft.. Get that secured with the engine engaged and you've got it made simply by the helm. Then send stern and bow lines ashore to line up with the dock. Finally - the forward spring line. Think of the letter "W" - that's the way your lines should be arranged.

The key to single-handing is conservatism. Anticipate problems. Spot on Navigation is key. Never get yourself in a position that you can't get out of. Watch the weather. If you see it coming douse all sails and wait it out until you see what nature has to offer.

Finally, the best part of single-handing is the people you meet. Singles, couples and people cruising the docks. And, of course, the thrill of waking up in the morning an saying, " This day is mine. I can do whatever I want with it. And around boats you'll always meet the greatest people - other sailors, dreamers and those who will admire your courage in your lifestyle.

Henry David Thoreau once wrote: "The majority of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Single-handed sailors are not in that majority.

Good luck and smooth sailing!

PJ Kelly
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Old 07-04-2015, 09:32   #40
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

To the OP, have a look at the Bristol 35.5. It's in your price range, a nice size, has medium displacement, skeg hung rudder with a large keel, and is available with keel only, or keel/centreboard. Some people consider it the perfect cruising boat.
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Old 07-04-2015, 09:35   #41
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

I second the recommendation to find a boat already set up for solo sailing. The size, 35-37 ft. is fine, but I wouldn't go any larger. My rig preference would be ketch, yawl, cutter, or schooner, which are easier to trim for self-sailing than a pure sloop. Also, split rigs have smaller sails. Full keel hulls are easier to balance and are heavier (so, more comfortable). And if you're doing the ICW, you will be doing a LOT of motoring, so make sure the engine is in good shape. Finally, get a boat that when you walk down the dock or row out to the mooring you say to yourself "Damn, that's the prettiest boat in the harbor!"
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Old 07-04-2015, 09:45   #42
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

Well I for one am in almost exactly the same situation. I'm ready to retire and plan to single hand until I'm either unable to function solo or "lost at sea."

I'm closing in on a 42' ketch and my plan is to equip her with a bow thruster and even possibly a stern thruster just ahead of the skeg. I feel this takes the worry out of docking and undocking and can in a pinch allow you to turn pretty much in the length of the boat.

Having both bow and stern units allows a hold against the dock while you secure your mooring lines.

Good luck with the search for the right one.... Who ever she may be.

Me I'm just into "catch & release" when it comes to female sailing partners.
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Old 07-04-2015, 09:58   #43
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

My experience has been that the bigger the boat, the easier it is to singlehand.

I singlehanded my Hunter legend 35.5 all over the place with no trouble at all. Single line reefing, a reliable diesel, good furler, no problems. I should mention that my wife was often with me, but literally holding the baby, so not able to assist in any way.

Later I single handed my C&C25. Usually with my two young kids aboard. Not only were they too young to help, but I needed to keep an eye on them as well. Often I would sail off an anchorage, or leave the dock before they awoke in the morning...just easier that way. That meant sailing off docks and anchorages without using the engine (which would wake them). This turned out to actually be much nicer, quieter, calmer, and simpler than using a noisy engine. They loved waking up under way, under sail, the autohelm steering, and I could give them my attention. To them it was like living in a cartoon pirate adventure!

Now I single hand my Pearson 30. It does take planning and preparation. And I take plenty of precautions, no pushing myself hard, or the boat.

I think you will find singlehanding will be a pleasure. Very few arguments with the crew. You might consider getting a dog though, for company. Preferably one that doesn't talk much.
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Old 07-04-2015, 10:19   #44
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

Just five years experience on a 32' for me and I think I hit a sweet spot for a solo liveaboard. When at a marina I've averaged over a hundred day sails a year and currently been wandering and on the hook for six months.

As a coastal cruiser with occasional gulf crossing I prefer my fin keel. That and only seven ton displacement makes me think the boat is still quiet nimble and sporty, sails and tacks in the slightest of breeze and maneuvers with little drama in a marina. I don't find controlling forces difficult and very rarely reach for a winch handle as it's all in the timing during execution.

The previuos owner traveled far and wide from Nova Scotia to Trinidad, serving him well for two decades.

I think if you want to really enjoy sailing and not dock lounging don't go much if any larger than 32'. You will be much more inclined to take her out if getting off the dock is less intimidating. In my last marina I noticed I was the only boat going out in 15+ knots just when things start to really get fun. Always got a chuckle when others said I was nuts and told them they were missing out big time.
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Old 07-04-2015, 11:32   #45
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Re: Single Hand? Is it possible?

I took a 37 ft boat to Trinidad from East Coast solo. I would be sure to have radar and AIS

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