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Old 15-10-2013, 11:03   #1
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Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

Best size sailboat for singlehander that comes and goes a lot. I have a Bristol 27, and it is pretty easy to handle sailing and coming in and out of the slip.

Plus, it's old so if I bang something a little hard it's not the end of the world.

I've been looking at 35' and 36' sailboats as a next boat but then started thinking this size boat may be a bit harder to handle. Example, I rarely use my wench handles unless it's blowing say 15+. I'm guessing this will be different on a larger boat.

I understand you can singlehand a 40 footer, but I'd like to know what boat is "about right" for a singlehander to sail that comes and goes a lot from the slip?

Btw, on the Bristol, you have to go forward to raise the main and to reef which I usually do under autopilot.
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Old 15-10-2013, 11:11   #2
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

I'm sure that this topic has been raised before, but what you will find is that the more experience you have, the more comfortable you will become single-handing bigger boats. A lot has to do with the autopilot capabilities as well has thinking ahead on things, such as sail changes and sail handling in general. I am very comfortable handling my 37 as I am sure some will take out their 47.
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Old 15-10-2013, 11:30   #3
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

I can remember failing miserably trying to raise the main on a Nic 55. Reason? the main weighed more than I did, however, the No 1 made a great mattress to sleep on the deck when it was too hot below.

So don't forget the costs really mount up the bigger you go. Mooring costs in Europe tend to be in 2m bands so at 31ft we just slip into the cheap band below 10m. We never have a problem turning up on spec for a berth, but the look on harbour masters faces when 45ft plus yachts turn up is a picture. If you are happy with the Bristol, I would keep her but perhaps look at bringing the reefing lines back to the cockpit.

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Old 15-10-2013, 11:36   #4
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

I took my old boat 37 cutter out solo all the time no problem. Autopilot and st primary winches helped. Just as easy if not easier to do than my 30.

Just took the new to us 50 out solo last Friday. No autopilot no st winches halyards at masts. Not as easy as the 37 but doable. You are right to be concerned about docking. Sailing is not the problem, work on using spring lines to help you on your current boat. As you move up in boat size they help much more.
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Old 15-10-2013, 12:10   #5
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

I solo my valiant all the time, but it is not as much fun as soloing in my 23. I say use the smallest boat you can complete your dreams in. If it is crossing an ocean, then a bit bigger. If not smaller is more fun.
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Old 16-10-2013, 06:52   #6
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

Single handing larger boats is not that much more work than smaller boats on long passages, but is a lot of work for day sailing. I singlehanded my 44' over 2,500 miles in the last couple of years, and sailed with a guy who was by himself on a 58' with electric winches and hydraulic furling. A lot depends on your experience and your attitude. If you believe bigger boats are more work you will probably convince yourself it is true. When you get right down to it though all sailboats have roughly the same number of sails, and winches that require your attention.
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Old 16-10-2013, 08:49   #7
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

I see our club employees single hand boats ranging in size from 28'-46' with amazing alacrity. These are the guys who routinely take all the boats out of their slips, to the refueling dock and pump out station, and back to the slip again ready for the next charter.

They scamper around the decks of those boats with agility and purpose the way the rest of us might on a dry tennis court on our best day.

Watching them I know all things are possible single-handing, but when you've been sailing since you were a little kid, your instincts about wind drift, docking angles, speed, prop walk, and what to do when things go south regardless of boat size are no doubt sharper than mine will ever be.

Based upon what I've seen them do, I'd say anyone can get comfortable single-handing anything up to 46' - it just takes hours and hours of practice.
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Old 16-10-2013, 08:59   #8
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

My suggestion for a single handling sailor is: Beneteau-Oceanis 31 or 34. That's it! (Disclaimer: Not affiliated with Beneteau, in any capacity.)

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Old 16-10-2013, 09:13   #9
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

Single handed my 38 for years (first wife didn't participate) and have single handed my new/old 47 but still figuring it out. Yeah it's a bit more work but with a few rigging changes and a little more time with the 47 it will get easier. It has no bow thruster, but using prop walk and planning for wind/current help in making docking doable.
Knowing your boat, having experience and planning ahead make a huge difference. The biggest mistake I see a lot of people make is running too much sail, shaking out a reef is much easier than putting one in, if single handing always err on the conservative side. Self tailing winches and an autopilot help, but depending on an autopilot heavily is not a good habit, they always seem to quit at the worst time.
Also, what kind of bigger boat are you thinking of? It makes a big difference.
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Old 16-10-2013, 09:18   #10
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

You're going to get answers that are all over the place. I single hand our 53 ft Oyster all the time, 'just takes some advance planning and the realization the 25 ton boat can't be manhandled, it's almost as easy as our O'Day 20.
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Old 16-10-2013, 09:35   #11
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
I solo my valiant all the time, but it is not as much fun as soloing in my 23. I say use the smallest boat you can complete your dreams in. If it is crossing an ocean, then a bit bigger. If not smaller is more fun.
+1

I used to single-hand my 27 all the time. On my 34, it is less fun and more work. On the 27 I would look for excuses to slip away alone. On the 34, I always try to find crew first and only single-hand if I cannot find any.
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Old 16-10-2013, 09:50   #12
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
Best size sailboat for singlehander that comes and goes a lot. I have a Bristol 27, and it is pretty easy to handle sailing and coming in and out of the slip.

Plus, it's old so if I bang something a little hard it's not the end of the world.

I've been looking at 35' and 36' sailboats as a next boat but then started thinking this size boat may be a bit harder to handle. Example, I rarely use my wench handles unless it's blowing say 15+. I'm guessing this will be different on a larger boat.

I understand you can singlehand a 40 footer, but I'd like to know what boat is "about right" for a singlehander to sail that comes and goes a lot from the slip?

Btw, on the Bristol, you have to go forward to raise the main and to reef which I usually do under autopilot.
My first boat was a Pearson Triton, which as you may know is almost the same boat as the Bristol 27. This year I moved up to a Catalina 34, and I find the C34 easier to single-hand than the Triton. Admittedly, this is due in large part to the way things are set up, on the C34 all lines come back to the cockpit whereas on the Triton I had to go to the mast to raise/lower the main. I do need to use winch handles now and then whereas I never did on the Triton, but that's no big deal.

I also find (although I know opinions will vary) a wheel easier to use than a tiller. Particularly in combination with an autopilot (never quite got the hang of the auto-tiller on the Triton). Docking the bigger boat felt a little intimidating at first, but with the fin keel the C34 virtually spins on its own axis so I got comfortable with that after just a couple times out.

So I would say that (within reason of course) size is less a factor than the characteristics of the boat and how things are set up.
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Old 16-10-2013, 10:08   #13
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

I singlehand my Passport 42 (custom steel) and for the past 4 years have crossed N.Pacific, S. Pacific, S. China Sea, Straits of Molucca, Indian Ocean, S. Atlantic to BA. No self tailing. No autopilot. Ripped 3 sails in bad conditions (where an autopilot may have helped). No bow thruster. I think the determining factors are weight. Can you lift your anchor by hand? I can't now. I have a 30 kg Bruce knock off with 100 m of 10 mm chain and a Lofrans windlass. Can you lift your mainsail to take it in to get it repaired? As far as docking and anchoring there is always someone to help. I have seen plenty of bigger boats singlehanded in the past 4 years (with advantages like electric winches etc.) but I would say 40-42 is max for non-modern cruising boat.
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Old 16-10-2013, 10:20   #14
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

I almost never solo sail unless my crew* breaks or dies.

It seems that the answer to what is a "big" boat is totally based on what the asker currently sails. Since the smallest boat I have ever sailed on was 33' my 43' boat doesn't seem all the big except when I stand under it on the hard.


*by crew I mean the autopilot. I used to sail with Ray but he died and now I sail with Ray Jr. Both are blind and can not see where they are going but do a great job staying on a course and turning when I direct them, which is better than a lot of real people I've had on the boat!
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Old 17-10-2013, 10:54   #15
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Re: Best Size Sailboat For Singlehander

I believe I've seen Capt Kirk handle the Star Ship Enterprise singlehanded also when Mr. Sulu was SIQ and Mr. Scott was home on leave, but I was looking for the best size vessel for a single hander.

I'm thinking maybe 30' to 34' for cruising ...................Coastal or Blue Water. You are still gonna need a lot of Stuff, right? On one of these 27' boats like my Bristol it always seems to be " where in the hell did I put that ..........whatever it is you are hunting for"
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