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Old 12-08-2009, 06:44   #1
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How Big Is Too Big to Singlehand ?

As some of you might know I am looking for a first boat. I have found a Pearson/Triton 25 it needs a bit of TLC but is about half the price of a Macgregor 21 that I am also looking at. Is a 25 fin keel to big to solo sail? By a novice? Thanks

Ken
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:15   #2
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Too big or well laid out for short handed sailing?

The multihull Daedalus, skippered by Tony Bullimore, was something of a handful at 100 feet. Of course the sails are huge and there is a lot of rigging to attend to tacking or gybing.

Mostly I think the answer is how well the boat has been laid out for short handed sailing following the experiences of the singlehanded racers that have blazed that trail.

25ft is a great size to start in. A dinghy, too, is even better: you can use it to go shopping and visiting. Any small mistakes at that size should not be too catastrophic.
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:21   #3
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25 should be easy to single hand as long as it is set up properly.

If you will be primarily hand steering and the boat is wheel steered, it will greatly improve the quality of your life if you can reach the primary winches from behind the wheel. If the boat is tiller steered, you will want some way to lock the tiller in place.

If you will primarily be steering by autopilot, then sailing a 25 solo will be a breeze.

The only hard part of single handing is docking. Make sure you think out docking in advance. Get comfortable docking with crew before you try it alone. Make sure you have long docking lines.
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:22   #4
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Is it the Pearson Triton 28 perhaps? It is a fine boat and should be a good deal, at this point in its life. Depending on what it is you wish to do, the boat may or may not be a good choice. For long distance, offshore cruising on the cheap, it might be a good choice. For learning how to sail, it might be a poor choice.

It is a heavy displacement, full keel, short waterline boat. Fine in its day, but it will less responsive to sail trim and tack slowly. I cruised on one years ago and at the time, just loved it (except how slow it was...never liked that). At the time, however, I also did winter camping. I would NEVER do that now

Is a 28 too big to learn on? Also depends. Here is a trick....do not try to learn on your own. Hire a captain...not a friend or a good sailor, but a real captain and sailing instructor for some private lessons. Discuss with that person, what they will go over with you. Just a few little tricks for heaving to and docking and you will be in GREAT shape. You will be able to polish GOOD skills and not be embarrased by smashing into the dock too many times.

I spent some time teaching sailing and captaining boats and just loved it. I was able to teach complete novices how to master a 49 footer in 5 days. I taught a 82 yo gentleman who had never been on a boat how to single hand a 38 in a week. And they had a BLAST doing this with me; I had a blast too. [..this is not an advertisement, I no longer am doing this].

I wish....all those years ago...that I had been smart enough to blow some cash and just hire someone to show me a few tricks, rather than banging up the gelcoat on my earlier boats.

So...depends. The triton is a fine boat, you could learn a lot on her...sailing, but more importantly all the systems you would find on a big boat (plumbing, electrical, sailing handling, etc). So...depends on your goal. If it is learning to sail and day sailing....no. If making trips, yes.

Hope this helps

best

J
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:04   #5
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It's definitely a matter of layout.

I've seen 30 foot boats that were rigged in a way that it seemed like they'd be a hassle for two people much less one. I've recently seen a 65' Bermuda custom that was set up for single handling (although it looked like it wouldn't have been much fun) and a Beneteau 50 that was straight up set up for single handling, but it just about every bell and whistle on it too.

There is a boat out there, can't remember the name but it's around 200' with these crazy sails where the whole mast rotates. It's a computer controlled single-handler and there is a company in Genoa that makes sailing megayachts in the 20 mil range where everything is power and controlled from the cockpit.
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:13   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Drake View Post
Is it the Pearson Triton 28 perhaps? It is a fine boat and should be a good deal, at this point in its life. Depending on what it is you wish to do, the boat may or may not be a good choice. For long distance, offshore cruising on the cheap, it might be a good choice. For learning how to sail, it might be a poor choice.

It is a heavy displacement, full keel, short waterline boat. Fine in its day, but it will less responsive to sail trim and tack slowly. I cruised on one years ago and at the time, just loved it (except how slow it was...never liked that). At the time, however, I also did winter camping. I would NEVER do that now

Is a 28 too big to learn on? Also depends. Here is a trick....do not try to learn on your own. Hire a captain...not a friend or a good sailor, but a real captain and sailing instructor for some private lessons. Discuss with that person, what they will go over with you. Just a few little tricks for heaving to and docking and you will be in GREAT shape. You will be able to polish GOOD skills and not be embarrased by smashing into the dock too many times.

I spent some time teaching sailing and captaining boats and just loved it. I was able to teach complete novices how to master a 49 footer in 5 days. I taught a 82 yo gentleman who had never been on a boat how to single hand a 38 in a week. And they had a BLAST doing this with me; I had a blast too. [..this is not an advertisement, I no longer am doing this].

I wish....all those years ago...that I had been smart enough to blow some cash and just hire someone to show me a few tricks, rather than banging up the gelcoat on my earlier boats.

So...depends. The triton is a fine boat, you could learn a lot on her...sailing, but more importantly all the systems you would find on a big boat (plumbing, electrical, sailing handling, etc). So...depends on your goal. If it is learning to sail and day sailing....no. If making trips, yes.

Hope this helps

best

J
This is a great answer to the OP's question. A boat of similar size to the Triton that would probably be a much better choice for the OP if he wants a larger boat, would be the Catalina 27, but they are typically several thousand dollars if they are in decent shape.

The Catalina 27 is a better choice IMO because:

It's a much more modern design. Lighter, fin keel, much more responsive and fun to sail, and maybe even a bit roomier below.

It is likely to hold its value pretty well, which might not be the case with a Triton.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:06   #7
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Different tricks

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This is a great answer to the OP's question. A boat of similar size to the Triton that would probably be a much better choice for the OP if he wants a larger boat, would be the Catalina 27, but they are typically several thousand dollars if they are in decent shape.

The Catalina 27 is a better choice IMO because:

It's a much more modern design. Lighter, fin keel, much more responsive and fun to sail, and maybe even a bit roomier below.....

John Drake: Here is a trick....do not try to learn on your own. Hire a captain...not a friend or a good sailor, but a real captain and sailing instructor for some private lessons.
That is an excellent trick; however: most people cannot learn for more than 20 minutes at a time. We would get one student to practice something like tacking, beating to windward, while the other students helped: learning to handle the sails. After the first sign of fatigue, or 20 minutes, we would get the helmsperson to swap with one of the sheet handlers. While perfecting sail trim that old helmsperson would also be reinforcing learning by watching. 3 or 4 students to an instructor would be just fine: much of the time.

I don't mean that my ideas of learning are better than John's. There are perfect times and students for his ideas, too. Perfect voyages for Catalinas and for Tritons: Eg. the Catalina is going to need a very reliable windvane and electronic pilot: because it is so much more responsive...
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:28   #8
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In one of the first Atlantic single-handed races was a 236ft boat. The footage maybe wrong, but it's close. I would agree it's also ridiculous. Depends on how the boat is rigged, your experience, and where you're sailing. I single-hand a 46ft. cat with out any problems except anchoring, and docking at times........i2f
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:30   #9
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Mnemosyne

There is great memory training software for learning and revising or reviewing stuff: course plotting on paper and onscreen; collision rules & regulations; docking; sail trim; anchoring.

Freesoft Mnemosyne Project: Welcome to the Mnemosyne Project | The Mnemosyne Project Mac, so there should be Linux, and Win.

Timed flashcards. The spacing in time gets longer as you learn and score yourself higher. That is efficient as it opens up time for new cards AND it is more interesting trying to remember after some time has passed but not too much time.

Adding words to the Q & A flashcards is really simple. Adding media: like a series of photos of tacking ~ or a video ~ is just a matter of following instructions, about folders, mostly.

Some of us will HATE computerized everything ~ some of us !
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:44   #10
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Wow that incredible. I would never have even thought something that large could be single handed. Well thanks for the info. I guess going by what you and the others have replied, it really all boils down to experience and rigging. I like the idea of a bigger boat 25 vs 21, but I think I am leaning more toward the trailerable 21, just because it will make getting the boat in and out easier when the need arises. Plus the 25 needs both sails which could run some pretty good money. Money that i could spend on some intstructional lessons. I just hope I don't turn it into an accident waiting to happen.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:53   #11
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It won't be an accident if you get proper instructions. Many times those who teach themselves do survive, but have bad habits without knowing it.........i2f
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:53   #12
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Wow that incredible. I would never have even thought something that large could be single handed. Well thanks for the info. I guess going by what you and the others have replied, it really all boils down to experience and rigging. I like the idea of a bigger boat 25 vs 21, but I think I am leaning more toward the trailerable 21, just because it will make getting the boat in and out easier when the need arises. Plus the 25 needs both sails which could run some pretty good money. Money that i could spend on some intstructional lessons. I just hope I don't turn it into an accident waiting to happen.
No, it's not JUST experience and rigging. Displacement and boat length matters a lot as well, particularly when you are docking or anchoring or handling a boat in close quarters. The stories about huge boats being singlehanded in the middle of oceans are not realy relevant to your situation, except to make the point that huge boats can actually be sailed by a single experienced, highly qualified and very fit person, with a great deal of help in terms of rigging expertise and equipment.
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Old 13-08-2009, 07:18   #13
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- - Ellen McArthur, a 28(?) year old British female sailed single handed a 80footer around the world and almost won the race. So it is not about size but skill and willingness to learn plus a certain degree of lunacy.
- -Most sailing schools use 30 foot Hunters and similar boats for primary sail training. They are very light and nimble so you can make mistakes and correct them before any damage is done. You can find them for almost free in southern Florida as a lot of folks buy the boat, put it in a slip and then lose interest in the boat but are still paying slip fees. You can get them for basically what the back slip fees are. Also boatyards have a lot of small boats that the owners has abandoned and you can also get for back storage fees. Then there are the outright abandoned ones on both coasts that you can get at a Sheriffs Auction just like abandoned or confiscated cars. Finally, there are the boats seized by the "Feds" for taxes and drug busts. These are listed in auctions sheets from the Feds and you can get really good boats of any size for 10 cents on the dollar if you learn how to do it. I have several friends that make their living this way buying them, fixing them up, and selling them to New Englanders.
- - For pure primary sailing lessons, Hobby Cats, really small sailing dinghies, and under 20ft monohulls are perfect. You learn the wind, tacking, backing, docking without power and it makes you a much better sailor when you move up to larger boats. They have little "cubby cabins" so you can "camp out" on weekends on little deserted islands.
- - For single-handing (and when you are young = 20-30 years old) 30ft and under - 28ft seems to be the magic number - heavy displacement double-enders with full keels are perfect and available at good prices from other young folks who are returning from a Caribbean or an around the world journey. These boats are rigged and basically ready to go out again. They sail themselves and go straight and steady in most any weather conditions without fancy electronics, auto-pilots, etc. I teamed up unofficially with a young man in a such a boat, with me in my 60 foot coastal boat that would do 8 kts or more, on the way back from the Virgin Islands to Florida. He could lay back in his cockpit with his leg over the tiller in any weather doing 4 kts while I was hiding in harbor waiting for weather. He beat me back to Florida - the old "tortoise and hare" story in real life.
- - You could upgrade a little and add a good-looking young lady who is also into the "back-pack" "minimalist lifestyle" (especially about bathing suits) on such a sturdy solid boat and really get addicted to island cruising. It is a seriously good quality lifestyle. But anybody older would need to work up to the 40ft'ers especially with a first mate to maintain any level of civilized life afloat and harmony onboard.
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Old 13-08-2009, 07:25   #14
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I'm over 60, have cardiac problems but frequently single-hand my 70,000 pound, 58 ft cutter. Of course, it is set-up for this with all lines brought back to cockpit, electric winches, remote windlass control, in- boom furling, etc.It is easier to handle than a smaller boat without mechanical assistance would be. My only problem is getting it back into the slip. That's what dock hands are for.
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Old 13-08-2009, 07:58   #15
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Speciald@ocens - I am exactly in that same situation. However I improved my health and boat skills by adding a "minimalist lifestyle" young lady to my crew to help with docking and line handling, etc. (a lot of that "etc.")
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