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Old 21-02-2011, 15:20   #16
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Re: Short-Handing a Big Boat

44' 18ton, no problem. Everything everyone else has said applies. I love the in-mast furling for the main as a single hander. Everything critical is led back to the cockpit. Docking can be a pain, I back into my slip and it can be difficult when there is a cross wind. You will learn how to do it. Everything else is okay provide you remember to reef early and keep the help in balance.
My limit on size was 46' when I was boat shopping.
Gook luck and don't let being single handed be a hinderance - it is an advantage (in many ways).

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Old 21-02-2011, 15:34   #17
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Re: Short-Handing a Big Boat

I've been running "big"boats by myself since the early 70's. OK that's enough. One thing I would try to do is get one or 2 other folks to join you for a day, ply them with beer and food if you have to, just to be there in case something goes south. Then find a nice open turning basin with a buoy and practice "docking" to the buoy, running it under the bow to see where it is in relation to the hull and the same in reverse. Use the buoy both up and downwind. By backing to the bouy, you can see which way she will walk. By running at it, you will be able to be how much reverse you need to stop her. Up and downwind lets you find out about her drift speed. Now open water, I have found, and this is on a 60' steel cutter that weighs in at 44 ton net, that you can take things slower and think them out before you do anything. Safer and keeps the pulse rate to a dull roar. I leave the harbor reefed and a little of the genny flying. Once I am out of harms way, then I decide whether to let it all fly or continue on with shortened sails. Big boats require you to think things out carefully before you do them as bad planning could be a bad day,week,month or decade! Slow and easy is the order of the day. If you plan long distance single handling your boat, by long distance meaning more than 3 or 4 days, then make sure you always have a plan and are clipped in at all times. Big boats and fun! That's all I do. My range is 50 to 124' and most I solo or with a cook!

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Old 21-02-2011, 15:41   #18
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Re: Short-Handing a Big Boat

Windward dock with 'no' hands? Be unconventional but slick. Back upwind to the dock. Tie off over the transom. Then either warp the bow in. Or more slick take that stern line forward until she rotates parallel. Power or warp alongside. Slick.
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Old 21-02-2011, 16:47   #19
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Re: Short-Handing a Big Boat

65' and about 45 tons loaded, here. I had about an 80-90' section of dock with nicer, more expensive boats fore and aft, and I could pretty easily go into and out of it by myself, no bow thruster and ridiculously bad reversing with the motor. I never hit anybody, and never even really got close. Anchoring is a cinch for me, even with all my friggin' freeboard providing more windage than I care to admit.

Like most people here say, the trick is in being slow, deliberate and patient. If the opportunity isn't there, then don't push it. Just wait until the window is open. This applies to pretty much all sailing, but the potential damage goes up in direct proportion with your tonnage.

Sailing, with the proper blocks, winches and line is no different on a big boat compared to a smaller one, you just have to be a bit more conservative with when to pull the sails in, and not be thinking about the extra 1-3 knots that big genoa gets you, just in case that spat of snotty 30-40knot wind actually does come for you in the middle of the night.

And oh boy, does it help having all the extra room when you're a thousand miles from the nearest atoll. Plus like others have mentioned, you'll save yourself the upgrade down the road.
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Old 21-02-2011, 20:11   #20
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Re: Short-Handing a Big Boat

I do not like to singlehandle big boats. 40+ is still OK though.

Things are manageable as long as there is reliable support from AP, electric winches and accessible control layout.

Look at IMOCAs - they get singlehanded with all their clouds of sails.

Can be done.

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Old 22-02-2011, 08:48   #21
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Re: Short-Handing a Big Boat

Thanks to all who have responded to my query. Your comments include a lot of valuable insights.
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Old 22-02-2011, 09:06   #22
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Re: Short-Handing a Big Boat

The only problem I had was docking in a very tight space, about 1m clearance fore and aft, but after hanging off the berth for a few minutes, help soon arrived on the dock from some liveaboards - god bless 'em
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Old 22-02-2011, 09:25   #23
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Re: Short-Handing a Big Boat

It depends on how your boat is set up. If you have hank-on headsails and a difficult reefing system, running backstays, and no autopilot, it will be very difficult to single hand her.

If your boat is set up with furling headsails and single line reefing, and a good autopilot, then you'll be ok. I sail my 24 ton 54 foot boat practically single handed most of the time. Crew is usually someone with no sailing ability so just helps with lines and fenders. I tack easily with one unskilled crew by using the 100 degree course change function ("autotack") on the autopilot. All the crew has to do is blow the former active sheet on my command. Works a treat. I can do it by myself without too much trouble if I'm really single handed.

Docking single handed becomes impossible when the boat is big enough that you can't just step from the helm onto the dock. At that point you will need someone to take your lines.
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Old 22-02-2011, 15:43   #24
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I have found keel type having a greater impact then length. I single handed a Beneteau 46. With exception of the wind and currents at the City Marina In Charleston, SC, all was reasonably easy

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