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Old 19-10-2012, 14:22   #1
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Boat Size - How big is too big?

Hi All!
Havent posted for a while. My wife and I have just passed our RYA Day skipper and Coastal skippers respectively.
Currently looking for a yacht to live aboard. In the Med for at least a year, maybe more and then possibly Atlantic crossing.
We are completely convinced that a Jeanneau will serve our needs well.
We have sailed, among others, a Jeanneau 45.2 and a Beneteau 473.
My Q is how big is too big for 2?
We have found that with a yacht set up for easy handling ( in mast reefing, electric winches, bow thruster for occasional ease etc ) the size does not seem to be much of a challenge. We are both 40ish and fit.
I see a 45ft Jeanneau Sun Oddysey as being suitable but could run to a 50ft if warranted...
The advantages of the larger boat being more space ( duh ) but also a far better bed in the forecabbin ( this matters as I am not short and we need to have some creature comforts ), better sea keeping, a fab lazarette in the bow etc etc....
Now I cant see why this should be disproportionately harder to handle than a 45ft???

Any thoughts?
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Old 19-10-2012, 14:26   #2
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

As you say, a lot of the modern assistance can make it easy for two to sail a big boat.

That said, you might want to think about what it will be like when some of those systems fail, and they will fail, usually at the worst possible moment.

The rule of thumb I have always heard is 50 ft. is the biggest boat for two to handle. But as with every rule of thumb , that is an opinion.
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Old 19-10-2012, 15:13   #3
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

I have heard the same. 50ft would be our upper limit as it gives all the space we could wish for. I think it more likely that we will end up wussing out and going with a 45 BUT.... I also think we may end up trading up in a year or two!
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...
Annoyingly, the only yacht that does it all perfectly for us is the new Jeanneau 469. Its so new that there wont be any 2nd user boats for a while and I cant bring myself to take the depreciation hit on a new boat...

To be a sailor you need a black belt in "Compromise" :-)

Mark n Sam
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Old 19-10-2012, 15:29   #4
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

I am surprised that at 45 foot you can't find a boat with a suitable bed.

Maybe it's the style of boat you are looking at? the ones you listed appear to be those aimed at the cram as many bunks in as possible market rather than those centred around a couple (plus kids / occassional guests). Not that I would turn my nose at any of those you mentioned!

My take is that once you get above arm muscle for many things that a bit more size does not really matter if the boat has been set up around a shorthanded crew (and some thought has been given to the what if's).

Probably what bites folks on bum with "Too big" is the gap between being able to buy and being able to afford - whilst using, maintaining and enjoying.

Of course I am at 30' (with no intention of going bigger!) .
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Old 19-10-2012, 15:34   #5
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We have many of the same criteria and are excited about the new Bavaria Visions, which have a spacious foreword stateroom on as little as 42 feet. I would prefer to stay under 40, but we love the layout. If you are planning on upgrading in a few years, you should get one of these now and sell it to us when you upgrade.
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Old 19-10-2012, 16:23   #6
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

We have a Catalina 47 and have plenty of living space, but like all other sailboats, wish we had more storage space. We have power winches and furling sails (Boom Furler), which allows my wife to single hand the boat when I am asleep.... It is a great convieneance for us.

Although highly unlikely, I suppose the comments about power winches failing is valid. Of course if they fail you always put you winch handle in and use them as they were intended, just make sure they are large enough from the get go. My primaries are Harken 70.3 and my halyard winches are Harkin 44. Both can easily handle the loads of my boat using the winch handles, instead of the electric motors.

One thing that comes to mind is how big of a boat can you get into a slip or the fuel dock, doublehanded. Things like a bow thruster might make that boat a little bigger, since you have more control.

Another is that if you add more feet, you also add more expensive overall and particularly dock fees. Sails are bigger, lines are bigger, engines are bigger and burn more fuel and they all cost more money to repair or replace.

Lastly, you should talk to people with a forward state room and ask if they like it. If they are regular cruisers they will tell you it is uncomfortable, especially in rolly seas, either moving or on the hook... The best is a midship cabin (Over teh keel) or second best a rear cabin.

So how big is too big.... A boat is too big if you cannot safely double hand it and/or if you cannot afford it.

Only you can answer those questions....
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Old 19-10-2012, 17:00   #7
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

If you are happy to rely on electrics, yachts significantly larger than 50' can be easily handled two up if set up for this.
Also its not size but sail area that is the biggest consideration. I think Reid Stowe sailed his 70 footer (gaff rigged schooner) singlehanded for most of his three year non stop voyage.

Having said that, managing to tack and gybe and reef without electric winches and with it blowing 30+ knots is more than just an "inconvenience" if your boat is much above 50 foot and there are only two of you on board. I have learned the hard way that when systems fail at sea it is usually at the worst time and if it is in any way possible to keep things simple, I am happier in the long term. Very personal preference though.

Our boat is 47 foot cutter rigged and without electric winches. Not sure I could handle much more than this on my own (apart from reefing, all our sailing is essentially singlehanded for longer passages as one of us tries to get some sleep).
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Old 19-10-2012, 17:12   #8
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

Our 41' boat became huge when we had our two teenagers move away on their own. The same boat was also huge when we move aboard from our 33' boat with a seven and nine year old. Big enough depends upon where you are coming from!
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Old 19-10-2012, 17:21   #9
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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Our 41' boat became huge when we had our two teenagers move away on their own. The same boat was also huge when we move aboard from our 33' boat with a seven and nine year old. Big enough depends upon where you are coming from!
I'll second that!
Our previous boat was a 25 foot trailer sailer and we had twenty odd years of spending up to month at a time on the water. 47 foot seemed HUGE when we first bought our latest boat. Not hankering for anything larger yet even after 5 years living full time on board.
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Old 19-10-2012, 17:34   #10
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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Originally Posted by Thames 4 Blood View Post

Any thoughts?
40-ish and fit you should be able to handle a boat up to 50 feet manually. The only concern being docking in challenging conditions but 90% of the time there will be dock handlers available.

Get as big as you can afford and maintain.

The size is a personal choice but if you feel you "need" 50 get 50. For a couple I can't see myself "needing" more than 40 or so but again it's personal.
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Old 19-10-2012, 17:42   #11
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

My wife and I managed a 49 foot transpac cutter rigged ketch without problems during over 5 years of cruising, living aboard and through some rather challenging weather all with only furling on the jib and slab reefing on the main and mizzen.
I agree with Seaworthy Lass that if you have power assisted reefing and/or winches something will fail at the worst possible time and in the worst possible manner. Nice to have but get accustomed to doing without if you plan on doing any long distance passagemaking. Phil
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Old 19-10-2012, 17:47   #12
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

I skipped through the prior responses...have a set response. I should have looked to see if others feel the same I suppose....but here; who's the crew? Who does the cleaning? Day to day? I live with my airedale terrier. Went from a 30 to a 37 to a 40 in the last few years. 40 is lots of cleaning. Inside. Outside. Lots of work. If you gave me a 50? no thanks. Unless I had help. Alone my B40 is all I can handle. And sailing (tho I haven't splashed yet) will be the upper threshold of singlehanding also. I have lots of singlehand experience, so no problem, but even then it'll be a handful. So how much work are you prepared to do? How much help will you have. I had a girlfriend, but she had no interest in working on or cleaning the boat, in or out...so now I'm alone....less mess that way....lol....
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Old 19-10-2012, 17:51   #13
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

I was acquainted with a NASA astronaut from the Apollo program. His 72' ketch was a joy and he could single hand sail it. Everything, and I mean everything, was electric. (only fitting since he was a genius in servo-electric and paid very well in consulting around the world) Anyway, surely if you use the criteria of single-hand to determine "too big", the sky is the limit.
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Old 19-10-2012, 17:57   #14
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

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I was acquainted with a NASA astronaut from the Apollo program. His 72' ketch was a joy and he could single hand sail it. Everything, and I mean everything, was electric. (only fitting since he was a genius in servo-electric and paid very well in consulting around the world) Anyway, surely if you use the criteria of single-hand to determine "too big", the sky is the limit.
single handing a large boat is easy.......maintaining and paying for it is another story lol!
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Old 19-10-2012, 18:08   #15
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Re: Boat Size - How big is too big?

The bigger you get, the forces become huge. I'm not a big person, but on my Passport 47 , (which had big self tailing winches) there were times when I could not, with both hands....move the winch handle. The sheets sometimes seemed as rigid as bars of steel.... just sayin'..... 45 is a lot of boat for 2 people... 50+....planning a party? :>)
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