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Old 25-05-2016, 10:27   #1
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Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Trying to decide on a preferable monohull size for liveaboard around-the-world cruising, by myself and as a couple. I'm sure I could ask 100 and get 100 different replies on such a subjective topic... perhaps someone can simply point me to an existing thread. But here it goes:

As a creature of comfort, I think bigger is better. Living aboard by myself or as a couple on a 43-48 foot boat with plenty of amenities and storage beats being cramped on a 34-38 foot boat, in my opinion. I'd also like to think that the boat handles a bit smoother in rough seas than a smaller one. It also seems more practical for necessary and unnecessary add-ons and toys, such as space for solar panels, storage of life raft, etc.

On the other hand, everything gets proportionally bigger, not just the cost for berthing, haul-out, and equipment repair and replacement. While I have no problem jumping the main halyard on a 34-footer, hoisting that main sail on a 48-footer is almost impossible without electric winches (or having a mast-furling main) unless it's perfectly calm. I'm also sure that whatever can go wrong will go wrong, especially when times are tough in rough seas, and fixing things will also be more problematic the bigger the boat gets.

So, my basic question is for feedback on cons regarding shorthanded sailing of larger monohulls. I don't mean for this to become yet another furling vs. reefing thread... preferably just some brief experience blips from cruisers with mid-40s monohulls and 1 or 2-person crews. What challenges should I be especially prepared for?

Thanks a lot,
Matthias
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Old 25-05-2016, 10:45   #2
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Based on your post, I think you've got a pretty good idea in terms of what to expect for boat size. I think that personally, the size of ~45 ft. is right where boats can go from simple setups to getting a bit more complicated. Larger loads require electric winches, you've got electric head setups, and more and more stuff to break. I love the KISS approach to everything on a boat. I think a boat in the 40-50 ft. range can be easily singlehanded and it is possible to keep the systems on the boat simple with that size as well. Even on a 45-50 ft. boat, you can use manual oversized winches instead of electric, and you can keep the heads manual as well. It all really depends on your personal case, but this is what I've found.
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Old 25-05-2016, 11:26   #3
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Not that long ago, 30 + or - was the "sweet spot", then 40'.
is it now 50'?
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Old 25-05-2016, 11:40   #4
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Not that long ago, 30 + or - was the "sweet spot", then 40'.
is it now 50'?


Hence, the exact question that I asked...

I am sure technology in part acts as an enabler for shorthanded sailing of bigger boats, so I suppose my topic was about finding the "current" sweet spot where I can have the biggest boat with the least complexities relative to the boat's size for long-term blue-water cruising.

Thanks,
Matthias
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Old 25-05-2016, 11:47   #5
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Might want to check out the Bestaever thread going on... they are building a 49 ft. aluminum boat with one manual head and a solar panel setup instead of generator. I think you can make any boat work with your ideas... it's just a matter of what you're comfortable with. What size boat would you like?
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Old 25-05-2016, 12:07   #6
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Beowulf (Dashew 80') probably has more sea miles on her than any other cruiser, almost exclusively done with two aboard.

Personally I don't really think it matters how big the boat is, just so long as you understand the systems that keep her running. Powered winches for instance allways default to work as manual winches if the electrics go out. So sure cranking up the main may take a while, but you can still do it.

Personally I think up to around 45' it's pretty easy to single hand. After that the sailing is fine, but docking can be a pain with just one aboard.
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Old 25-05-2016, 12:10   #7
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

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[snip]What size boat would you like?
I like being comfortable, having a more open layout of galley/main area, and more space for add-ons and toys, so about a 43-48 footer would be ideal. That conflicts with up-front costs, ongoing operation/maintenance/repair costs, and increased complexities of boat systems (and presumed lesser reliability).

I suppose my original thread question is my curiosity regarding complexities that might be considered acceptable by most other blue-water cruisers (i.e., electric winches, heads, furling sails, etc.), and which other challenges posed by shorthanding this size of boat should be considered and perhaps addressed before leaving port.

Matthias
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Old 25-05-2016, 13:33   #8
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Once you get to about 40' going bigger doesn't change the complexity much. At 50' you may add a third AC, possibly a bow thruster, but otherwise it's the same stuff just bigger. It's a misnomer that as boats get bigger the systems get more complicated, the AIS on a 50' is the same as on a 40', there are still going to be either one or two heads, still one coffee maker, etc. Now you may have a bigger generator, a bigger battery charger, a bigger battery bank, etc, but that's it.

As for electric winches.... We had three, for 15 years, that never required anything but routine service. The J-130 I raced on has one thats now 15 years old with nothing but routine service, our current electric is pushing five years with nothing but routine service... So in my experience other than cleaning them (which is the same as for a non-electric) the only difference is you hit a button and they turn. I have never seen an electric winch with an electrical problem.

The major difference with a bigger boat is cost, after that is room. There is plenty of space for good tool storage, maybe a work shop, a real engine compartment, etc.
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Old 25-05-2016, 14:32   #9
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

I've been considering asking a similar question, so maybe I can just jump on here. Aside from the already noted items, two other things might come up as boat size creeps beyond 50'. Draft, which has been discussed.

And facilities. With a really big boat (say 60'), how hard does it become to find moorings and marinas? Do you get left out of the cruiser social activities because you've had to tie up miles away at a fishing boat marina? Are you forced to anchor way out in the swell because all the protected area is filled with moorings, and none can handle a large boat?

I've been looking at a couple of boats in this size range, and haven't had much luck ciphering out the difficulties (aside from the costs of ownership going up by powers of two).
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Old 25-05-2016, 14:46   #10
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

124.5 ft with a captain and stewardess is preferable.
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Old 25-05-2016, 14:50   #11
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

I'd say most marinas should be able to accomodate up to a 60' monohull no problem. If the marina can't, chances are the owner of a 60' sailboat wouldn't want to be there anyway...
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Old 25-05-2016, 16:34   #12
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Keep n mind that size is only roughly correlated with draft. When you include swing keels, lifting keels, and daggerboards into the equasion it gets even less predictive. Admittedly minimum draft can be a serious limitation in some areas, but there are plenty of ways to have a shallow draft big boat.

We never (54' LOD) had a real issue with finding a dock. Worst case you anchor a little farther away and take the dingy in to the party. In most cases this is what you are doing regardless of the boat.
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Old 25-05-2016, 17:09   #13
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Seems to me this question can only be answered by each of us. If money is no issue, then it's demonstrably clear you can have a boat well into the 50s, if not 60 feet. But size matters when it comes to the pocket book, and with the systems that support. Not necessarily the complexity (and AIS is an AIS), but the number of units multiply with the size of vessel. The need for good maintenance, either by crew or by pocketbook, goes up. And it's certainly true that there are some areas where 50+ footers would have an added challenge finding dockage (Great Lakes, for example).

Personally I've approached this question from the other side. Not, what is the largest boat I can manage, but rather what is the smallest boat that will fit my needs. I think by looking at it from this perspective you automatically address all the issues you seem to be concerned about.

The whole boat size thing is much like house size; it keeps creeping up due to a range of consumerist/cultural/economic trends. Yet what people really need hasn't changed.

Figure out what you really need, and then find the smallest and simplest boat that will do all that.

Works for me .
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Old 25-05-2016, 17:15   #14
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlobalPlayer View Post

(...)

So, my basic question is for feedback on cons regarding shorthanded sailing of larger monohulls. I don't mean for this to become yet another furling vs. reefing thread... preferably just some brief experience blips from cruisers with mid-40s monohulls and 1 or 2-person crews. What challenges should I be especially prepared for?

Thanks a lot,
Matthias
I would max out at 40' for shorthanded sailing.

Going 40'+, I would very VERY carefully consider what leverage I want and where. In my humble case, this would be the the bare minimum:

- shorthanded cockpit and deck layout,
- central winch,
- tiller,
- hard dodger racing style,
- all fore sails furling,
- staysail,
- twin installation, top shelf AP.

I would take a modern hull shape. (A wedge).

Some well laid out 50+ boats sail pretty well single-handedly and very well by any crew of 2. Example: Amel 54.

Cheers,
b.
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Old 25-05-2016, 17:15   #15
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Re: Monohull sailboat size for shorthanded cruising

To me the perfect size for a couple is 46-48'. That gets you a center-line berth, gfspace for guests but not really more for the couple.
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