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Old 19-10-2012, 18:12   #16
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Docking and increasing winds. It's amazing the how the forces increase as the winds pickup. That's when things break - and that includes people as in injuries.

Think of a jammed roller furling genoa and heavy winds for example. Boat out of control and a dangerous scenario with a very powerful sail that gets more powerful as the boat gets larger.

Be realistic about what conditions you intend to sail in and get familiar with boat. It sounds like you are more interested in the comfort at rest than crossing oceans. I think most are in your camp.

Just remember that everyone is going to want to hang out on your big comfy boat!!
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Old 19-10-2012, 18:51   #17
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Good points, HeartsContent... however, when you live aboard and cruise, you get used to the creature comforts that extra five feet of living and storage space you get with a 50 footer. That extra 5 feet is added right in the middle of your boat, too. We've been in a few blows of 40-60 knots but always kept a weather eye out and reefed long before we had to and never ran at night with more sail than we could handle easily. Better to have a couple of reef tucked in and shake them out at dawn than try and fight a reef in in the dark with rising wind and seas. Just be a prudent sailor! Phil
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Old 19-10-2012, 19:07   #18
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

I know of two tall guys (friends, one 6.5 feet the other 6.25 feet ) that have a Baltic and a Swan respectively... The baltic is 55 feet long, and the Swan is a bit bigger, 57 or 59 feet long.

Both of these guys go out singlehanding and love their boats. The headroom is massive (more on the Baltic almost 7 foot in salon and other areas....) The Swan has 6 foot 8 inches in the salon....

The aft owners cabins have huge custom made beds that these guys praise....

Both vessels have power and manual winches....
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Old 19-10-2012, 19:13   #19
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post
......Systems wise... Agree completely! The trick is to be able to "manage" without them at a push... Which we can. I could manage at home without an oven and hob, central heating and electric kettle. I dont not have them because they will one day fail...
I'm not sure that's a persuasive analogy.

I can see at least two problems with it.

Firstly, it seems to me that being at sea is unlike other life choices, because there is often no possibility of outside support.
If all the cooking appliances fail at home, sure, anyone can 'manage without them'; they just eat next door or buy takeout.

Say the power to the in-mast mainsail furling fails on a big boat.

Say this leaves it fully canvassed in a rapidly deteriorating weather system.

Imagine furthermore that without power to the electric winches, the weaker partner hasn't the muscle to winch the stronger partner up the rig to do a knife-assisted takedown

We're looking at a completely different level of dependency, and of adverse consequence.

Naturally this particular example will never apply in your particular case, but I think it's illustrative of the general principle that there will be things on a big boat, essential things, which become difficult or impossible in the absence of power assistance and/or sophisticated technology.

And these systems typically fail WAY more regularly at sea than appliances in your kitchen.


Secondly:
Specific muscles and thinking patterns wither, given prolonged lack of specific use.

I don't think many people maintain for long the high levels of skill necessary to, say, extricate a big vessel from a tight situation using old-school methods, when they've enjoyed the luxury of a thruster for a while.

What's more, without a thruster, they wouldn't have been inclined to put themselves into a situation which only a thruster will get them out of.

It's kind of like a moral hazard, and it's a test of character most of us fail. How many can still get a decent position using celestial nav?
The difference is that GPS failures are extremely rare, so it's a bargain with the devil which most people happily sign.
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Old 19-10-2012, 19:17   #20
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

On a different tack: maybe it's a language thing, but to my mind, one valid answer to 'how big is too big' is it's DEFINITELY too big if it can be said to have "Beds", or "Bathroom/s", or "Staterooms"
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Old 19-10-2012, 19:18   #21
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EzzyD View Post
I know of two tall guys (friends, one 6.5 feet the other 6.25 feet ) that have a Baltic and a Swan respectively... The baltic is 55 feet long, and the Swan is a bit bigger, 57 or 59 feet long.

Both of these guys go out singlehanding and love their boats. The headroom is massive (more on the Baltic almost 7 foot in salon and other areas....) The Swan has 6 foot 8 inches in the salon....

The aft owners cabins have huge custom made beds that these guys praise....

Both vessels have power and manual winches....
the great thing about having a larger boat on ocean passages is you can
" under sail "it,and maintain good speeds underway.

slowing down to 6.5 knots from 8.5 with 2 reefs in is a definite bonus!
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Old 19-10-2012, 19:59   #22
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post

Say the power to the in-mast mainsail furling fails on a big boat.

Say this leaves it fully canvassed in a rapidly deteriorating weather system.

Imagine furthermore that without power to the electric winches, the weaker partner hasn't the muscle to winch the stronger partner up the rig to do a knife-assisted takedown

We're looking at a completely different level of dependency, and of adverse consequence.

Naturally this particular example will never apply in your particular case, but I think it's illustrative of the general principle that there will be things on a big boat, essential things, which become difficult or impossible in the absence of power assistance and/or sophisticated technology.
Nothing wrong with considering the "worst case" scenarios - Ultimately one balances risk, maintenance (of the furling system), options etc...

In mast furling is loose footed - power assisted winching of the halyard cutter aside - there are other options.

I could see blowing the outhaul, taking a spin halyard and wrapping it around at least the lower half of the mast to partially secure the main. Failures of equipment require problem solving skills - not always 5 crew and sweat equity...

Once you get above 50 feet power systems (usually) become part of the landscape and contingencies must be planned. It's not a reason for avoiding the boat.

These folks are in their 40's - no drama here. I have a buddy with a 53 foot cutter rigged sloop and no electric assists. He single hands everywhere except docking - Of course he prefers to have crew. This boat has tons of sail handling to do.

I'm also with Atoll - Nothing wrong with sailing your 50 footer 2 knots slow.
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Old 19-10-2012, 20:17   #23
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Well, as far as winching someone up the mast without power assist, it's easier on the bigger boat, since it has much bigger winches.

Having seen too many in-mast roller snarling (oops, furling) systems that have failed at sea, I personally would not be comfortable with one on any size boat. If some sort of main handling system is needed, the boom furler does at least allow a conventional drop fi the systems fail.

Anyhow, Ann and I manage our 46 foot Solent sloop with no power winches (save the windlass, which does NOT have a practical manual override), and we are regrettably in our 70's. The tasks are made easier by the boat being pretty light and easily driven, so that good speeds are achieved with well shortened sail if we choose to reef early (and we often do).

Finally, re a statement made in an earlier post: here are two experienced cruisers who strongly prefer sleeping in the forward berths. We will even do so at sea unless going to windward in a blow... then all bets are off and we retreat to the aft cabin or a settee.

So, how big is too big? Only the skipper and the crew of a particular boat can answer that, not pundits on the CF !

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 19-10-2012, 20:26   #24
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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....

I could see blowing the outhaul, taking a spin halyard and wrapping it around at least the lower half of the mast to partially secure the main. Failures of equipment require problem solving skills - not always 5 crew and sweat equity...
Regarding the proposed action - it's an interesting idea which hasn't previously occurred to me, and nicely exploits the lack of battens in such a sail.

However I think the bunch of unrestrained cloth above the first spreader would be a major liability, in most situations involving lots of wind. Especially bearing in mind how much more drag a given area of cloth creates when flogging than when drawing...

Nevertheless it's a lot better than doing nothing, and perhaps buys some time to come up with something more satisfactory.

It seems to me it's not so much that problems become insoluble as the boat gets bigger, it's that the degree of physical difficulty, and the need for major throughput of "bright ideas", both rise ever more steeply as the size increases.

I completely agree that the upper size limit is elastic.

For instance, Eric Tabarly won the solo Transatlantic on a heavy maxi designed and rigged for a crew of one to two dozen, despite the self-steering breaking early on. He hand steered day and night for about a week, put up kites etc etc... and solved innumerable problems, in order to get to the finish line.

But the much bigger boats he beat, he beat because they were unable to solve their problems, and none even finished.

Everyone has to decide for themselves how much comfort (when things go well) to trade for how much difficulty (when things go badly)

If it was mainly about a bigger bunk (OK, I'm being flippant, I know it's not JUST that), it seems to me that going to a bigger boat is ... let's say ... a wee bit like building a mausoleum to bury a mouse.

It also pays to remember that a 50' boat is 1.25x as long, rougly 1.25x as wide and maybe 1.25x as deep, meaning it's actually nearly twice the size of a 40' boat.
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Old 19-10-2012, 20:37   #25
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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Well, as far as winching someone up the mast without power assist, it's easier on the bigger boat, since it has much bigger winches.
True enough, Jim, but it's also further to winch them, and people who sail with power winches lose both general fitness and specific technique and muscle tone.

Furthermore, there's no law against fitting one big utility winch on a smaller boat, so you have the best of both worlds.

Comes in particularly handy in self-salvage situations - ideally situated somewhere fairly central, and reasonably high - where lines can be routed to it from any part of the boat, and you can "put your back into" grinding it.
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Old 19-10-2012, 20:43   #26
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Well, as far as winching someone up the mast without power assist, it's easier on the bigger boat, since it has much bigger winches.

Having seen too many in-mast roller snarling (oops, furling) systems that have failed at sea, I personally would not be comfortable with one on any size boat. If some sort of main handling system is needed, the boom furler does at least allow a conventional drop fi the systems fail.

Anyhow, Ann and I manage our 46 foot Solent sloop with no power winches (save the windlass, which does NOT have a practical manual override), and we are regrettably in our 70's. The tasks are made easier by the boat being pretty light and easily driven, so that good speeds are achieved with well shortened sail if we choose to reef early (and we often do).

Finally, re a statement made in an earlier post: here are two experienced cruisers who strongly prefer sleeping in the forward berths. We will even do so at sea unless going to windward in a blow... then all bets are off and we retreat to the aft cabin or a settee.

So, how big is too big? Only the skipper and the crew of a particular boat can answer that, not pundits on the CF !

Cheers,

Jim
great post as usual jim!

i for one love having a big boat for long distance,mainly because it is a working boat and provides a source of income from carrying crew(read passengers!),also we have about a 4ton cargo capacity and extensive workshop,so can earn income from sail repair and stainless fabrication etc.

the downside is that you end up working for a living on a big boat!
my current thinking is with limited funds and a small monthly income is to find something in the range of 33 ft,as most marinas have favourable rates for boats less than 9.99 meters.

the 33 ft cape dory i delivered across the pacific a couple of years ago,averaged 5.2 knots over 4500 miiles,so in real terms living light on a small boat does not need to be slow!
it all comes down to the zen of travelling....and how much baggage you need to cart around with you
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Old 19-10-2012, 20:53   #27
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Interesting discussion. Doing all the physical work has turned me off a larger boat than perhaps 40' Shiva is 36 with a fractional rig and a very large main. The forces when the winds pipe are are enormous. And they increase exponentially not in a linear manner.

When I am asleep it doesn't matter how big the cabin is or how many heads there are. I need basic comfort and space... which I have on Shiva with lots of stores and spares and empty lockers too!

Sure more space feels nice at time. No doubt about it. Our cockpit is huge dry and comfy as many boats 10 feet longer. We can lie down and sleep in it fore and aft or athwartship.

Size to me means waterline and faster, but exponentially more costs and work maintaining, cleaning and so forth. I'd rather be spending that time sailing or relaxing. Having lived on the 36" I can say for the tropics it was just fine.. head room and easy to dock, anchor and sail.

Although I single hand I have crew.. reliable and electric...

Alison - Alpha 3000 AP - tireless helm girl
Max - Maxwell windlass... does all the anchoring shores and never complains
Ray - tells me where I am and he's got is little helpers Garry (Garmin) and Harry (standard Horizon)
and finally Millie.. (Milwaukee w/ winch bit) who raises the big main without a drop of sweat or losing her breath.

With this crew I can single hand. Without them it's a struggle and not fun... but I can do it. I don't if I could say the same for a 50 footer. My friend who had a Lecompte 46 without a windlass and never anchored.. or hardly ever and to this day is anxious about anchoring his Omega36.

I have found that Shiva is big enough for my needs... including wife... but with more it's crowded.

Less is more. And she's more than enough for me to handle.

And I average 150 per day offshore too!
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Old 19-10-2012, 21:36   #28
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Having spent most of my life working alone, commercial fishing alone, and sailing alone, I have found that 42' is the lower end of length for me and 53' is just about right, though I did look at a 70' unit, it was more than I could afford. I like the comfort of the 53' for space available, I am fairly wide, not too tall. When you are working shorted handed you develop the problem solving skills needed to adapt to the circumstances. Primary one is anticipating the possible problems and have a work around when they arise, be it failed electric winches or bow thruster.
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Old 19-10-2012, 22:04   #29
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

It's obvious that these two old puppies (us) are trying to run with the big dogs here.

We are looking for our next, possibly our last, boat and for the two of us we are thinking 35 is our upper limit. Mostly for economic reasons. It's not just the purchase price, but the refitting, maintenance, upkeep, dock fees and all the rest. Also we won't have to put a lot of money into complicated systems in order to enable us to manage the boat.

I have read many times that the difference in cost between a 30 footer and a 40 footer is double. Anyone here care to confirm or deny that??

35' actually seems big to us, but as others have mentioned, it is all in your frame of reference. We have only owned one large boat, a Cabo Rico 38 (that was a train wreck, not the typical gorgeous boat most people envision when they think of a CR38), all the rest of our boats were 30' or less. Since we have spent most of the past 30 years sailing, and often living aboard, boats that are so small, a 35 footer would be a huge step up for us. I think we could be perfectly happy with the right 30 footer also.The biggest challenge will be finding a boat in that size range that has the storage capacity to carry enough supplies and water for extended cruising.

Two of our favorite books that have shaped our cruising philosophy, "The Cost Conscious Cruiser" by Lyn and Larry Pardey and "Sensible Cruising" by Don Casey and Lew Hackler.

We rather like the small, cozy, intimate spaces. We are also not terribly materialistic and find the value in the experience rather than the material entrapments. There are certain things that are necessary for comfort, safety and wellbeing. The rest is expensive window dressing. (I am only speaking for us, and by no means judging anyone elses choice of boat or lifestyle. No doubt if we had unlimited financial means we would probably do things very differently.)

We will have a decent retirement income for cruising. (By the word "decent" in no way do I mean deep pockets.) Our concern though is to conserve enough of our income and savings so that we can have a comfortable lifestyle and meet all of the needs we may face as elderly people when we do return to shore. And let's face it, that's a step most of us will have to take at some point in time. It's important to us not to take any chances that our children or grandchildren will be burdened with that. So for that reason more than any other we will go small and simple.
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Old 19-10-2012, 22:14   #30
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

My wife and I sail our Oyster 53 most of the time just the two of us. I have no problem sailing, anchoring and docking singlehanded, but planning ahead for docking proceedures is essential.

We actually prefer docking without assistance from deckhands or folks on the docks.... Much less to go wrong. We have it down to a science where neither of us is required to jump off the boat and onto the dock; everything is well rehearsed and never hurried.

There are quite a few folks on larger Oysters up to 60 feet and Discovery 55s that we know who also sail most of the time as a couple.
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