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Old 16-07-2016, 23:33   #1
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Singlehanding a J44

How realistic is it to sail a J44 as a couple? If one of us were to sleep, the other would need to singlehand it. I've seen one on Yachtworld where the owner ran all lines aft. Would this make it more doable? Also would running the lines aft make the boat any less fast? I'm not just looking at the J44, but it's the fastest one I'm looking at, and I've read repeatedly that it's a handful for a couple to sail. Thus the question, especially the part about running the lines aft.

Here's a more complete list of boats I'm considering. The numbers are handicaps where higher is slower. Speed isn't my only consideration (not even my first consideration)--it's just one way that I'm helping filter down an already large list.

Tartan (40: 96-108), Sabre (42: 78-108, 402: 66-108, 425: 95), Island Packet (40: 156-168), Gozzard (44: 150), Hallberg-Rassey (42: 129), Morgan (41: 130), Najad (390: 129, 440: 57-66), Taswell (43: 102-114), Alden (44: 105-120), Amel (maramu 46/48: 130-160), Caliber (40: 96-144), Cambria (40: 108), J Boats (42: 66-90, 44: 21-44,), Norseman (400: 108-144, 447: 102-123), Taswell (43: 102-114)

Any other similar boats to check out would be wonderful! I'm looking in the 40-ish range, bluewater, liveaboard, ideally separate shower compartment, ideally one head, nice master suite, fast-ish, reliable, non-teak deck, and bonus points for pretty interior.
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Old 17-07-2016, 00:13   #2
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

I don't see the J44 being a good cruising boat, just from looking at the line drawings, it has check stays. That means handling running backs every tack or gybe. In light to medium air your can probably get away without them, but they add to the workload. For a cruising boat you want to optimise things to minimize workload. Workload issues aside the checkstays are an indicator that the boat was designed for racing. You can take a racing boat crusing but it usually involves some modification to the boat to do so.

The Mid-1980s Tartan40 looks OK
As does the 1960s Morgan 41. This would be a good boat for the Caribbean with its shallow draft.
The J/42 looks much more appropriate than the J/44. In addition to a more cruisable rig the hull is significantly heavier for it's length an beam. Despite being 2' shorter and 1' narrower the hull (disp - ballast) weighs almost the same as the 44. I would expect this to be a stronger/tougher hull.

Have you considered the J/40?


Oh yeah. For cruising, I would leave all foresail and spinnaker halyards forward at the mast. If you need to raise or lower a sail the halyard is closer and easier to deal with alone. Taking the halyard aft to the cockpit makes sense on a crewed racing boat.

For the main I would have the halyard and reefing lines in the same place, main or cockpit, don't split them. For a larger boat like that I would take them all to the cockpit for convenience.
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Old 17-07-2016, 00:52   #3
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

We have an older racing boat with quite complicated rig... 3/4 fractional, with running backstays and checkstays as well as a masthead backstay. It was designed to be raced with a crew of 9 or 10...

We can sail it as a couple for extended periods (i.e. multi-day non stop), but only really since we got a short hoist mainsail that only goes up to just below the hounds, so that we can tack and jibe inside the running backstays. With a decent autopilot, and a fufling headsail a single person can tack and jibe the boat while the other is asleep, even in 25+ knots of wind.
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Old 17-07-2016, 01:13   #4
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

Thanks for the info! I did look at the J 40 a little bit. It seems like the J Boats aren't as spacious for a given length compared to some others I'm looking at, but it's on my radar as an option.

Here's more info on what the J44 owner said: "She is easy to singlehand with her Dutchman system, roller furling headsail, electric halyard winch and all sail controls leading aft to the cockpit."
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Old 17-07-2016, 01:44   #5
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

Also here's a pretty good resource on the J44. Maybe I'll just steer clear. Crusing on a J 44
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Old 17-07-2016, 06:47   #6
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Singlehanding a J44

Quote:
Originally Posted by pontoon View Post
Thanks for the info! I did look at the J 40 a little bit. It seems like the J Boats aren't as spacious for a given length compared to some others I'm looking at, but it's on my radar as an option.

Here's more info on what the J44 owner said: "She is easy to singlehand with her Dutchman system, roller furling headsail, electric halyard winch and all sail controls leading aft to the cockpit."

For the most part J-boats aren't as spacious but that comes from being narrower which was a conscious design choice. Arguably that makes them mildly safer boats in really heavy seas. It also makes the hull more easily drive so a smaller rig can drive the boat just as fast. Smaller rig is easier to handle, especially in heavy weather.

The owners statements are a sales pitch and can be taken 2 ways:
A. Makes the boat easier to sail.
B. More stuff to maintain in exotic locales (read high customs locales).

Note that when the electric winch breaks A. will no longer be the case and it may be more difficult to get the sail up than if there was just a manual winch to begin with, depends on the winch in question and the ability to reroute the line easily to a different winch if the electric winch in question doesn't work well in manual mode.


A related issue is where do you want to go?

If you want to sail the Caribbean then it's not that far, there are no long passages and the infrastructure is there for boat repair.

If you want to go to Europe then you've added a long passage but there's still infrastructure.

In the Pacific or cruising the 3rd world you've lost most of the infrastructure and means of easily maintaining relatively high technology.


Once you arrived in an area how do you see you life style? Park the boat in one marina or anchorage and live there or keep the boat moving?


A house is but a boat so poorly built and so firmly run aground you would never try to refloat it.
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Old 17-07-2016, 09:08   #7
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

You are listing boats from light to moderately heavy and from moderate racing to pure cruising.

I think many of the boats can be crusied / raced short-handed.

While in NZ, we met a couple that came down in a J-35. Another person sailed in with a Bull 9.

If you want a boat that is about 40' long and dead easy to single-hand, look at class 40 boats made in 'cruising' mode. Pogo makes them, Jeanneau makes them and I think Akilaria too. And then there are more.

I think many J's are good choice. A Hallberg, a Tasswell? Well too, just they are SO far apart from a J ...

There is a new new Hallberg, light fast, twin rudders, etc. Look it up. Also their 37 aft cockpit is racy, comfy and good quality. You may like.

Have fun finding THE one. It exists.

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Old 17-07-2016, 11:38   #8
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

Quote:
A related issue is where do you want to go?
My tentative plan is a few years of living on it in the norcal area, taking a few trips possibly as large as Hawaii. Then in three or so years take it west and circumnavigate via the canals/trade winds route.

Quote:
Once you arrived in an area how do you see you life style? Park the boat in one marina or anchorage and live there or keep the boat moving?
The boat will be parked plenty but depending on the stage of my life that parked percentage may drop significantly.

I watched a video where an Amel owner had some broken parts recreated by machine shops in Asia. It probably wasn't ideal but possible. That said, electric winches aren't a high priority for me, and relying on them to make a J44 single-handleable sounds like a bad idea, plus you all have good arguments against the J44, so I'll avoid it.

Would the J42 be any easier to singlehand?
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Old 17-07-2016, 12:36   #9
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

I looked at J/42's for a long time. Personally I think they are a great cruising setup. Not super spacious, but still enough space for a couple and occasional guests and a nice fun boat to sail as well
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Old 17-07-2016, 14:31   #10
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

Interior spaciousness is not really the thing that's important in a cruising boat. For a dockominium, it sells the boat but wide open spaces can be downright dangerous under way and useless for the living experience. You need storage capacity with the many lockers, nooks and crannies that you'll eventually need to store all the things a long range cruiser seems to accumulate. A usable layout with a galley that works in a seaway and passages with handholds for getting about the boat under sail. Some sequestered spaces that you can gain some separation from your SO no matter how much you like each other. Out of the way places are also nice to keep things like computers, printers, etc. away from the general living space. Single handing, I utilize a space about 10'x13' for living and occasional non overnight guests. That's my galley, chart area, saloon, food storage, sleeping, etc. The rest of the boat is cockpit, storage for seldom used or only in port items. Analyze how you live now and try and make that work for the inevitably smaller space of a boat.

I'm sure you could single hand the J Boat as long as everything works. The boat will be driven by the self steering/autopilot most of the time. Running backs will complicate life but not a big deal unless the stick is a wet noodle that will collapse without them for short periods. The bilge will be an issue because it won't have one which will make the boat wet if any water gets below, and it will. This is something that's a common problem on all the newer boats, however.

Last but not least, if the boat has to have electric motors for anything more than the windlass and autopilot for you to sail it, the boat is too large.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pontoon View Post
Thanks for the info! I did look at the J 40 a little bit. It seems like the J Boats aren't as spacious for a given length compared to some others I'm looking at, but it's on my radar as an option.

Here's more info on what the J44 owner said: "She is easy to singlehand with her Dutchman system, roller furling headsail, electric halyard winch and all sail controls leading aft to the cockpit."
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Old 17-07-2016, 17:01   #11
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

Boats designed for crewed sailing are as a rule not designed to singlehand. I think Jeanneau 3600 and Figaro II are nearly sole exceptions.

Avoid boats built for crewed races, or modify them. Or get a cruising boat designed with two in mind. Not sure there are many big cruising boats designed with one in mind.

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Old 17-07-2016, 17:07   #12
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

While I am usually not a fan of designs that are meant to be the "best of both worlds" or "crossovers," the J 42 seems like a pretty damn good example of a cruising sailboat that can be handled by a couple or even solo, while still being able to hold it's own in regattas or even transatlantic races with a full crew on board. Truly a really great sailboat imo.
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Old 17-07-2016, 17:23   #13
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

I had a J-40 for 5+yrs and sailed it mostly single-handed and for a yr around Mexico with just my wife and I. Great sailing boat, comfortable and easy to handle. No need for electric winches. Had plenty of space. I did install a water-maker and replaced one water tank for a fuel tank. This was back in the '90's. Wonderful memories of that boat and that year.
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Old 17-07-2016, 18:03   #14
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

I cruised a J37 for a few years. One thing about cruising J's with short handed crews is that they need very little sail to get decent boat speed. Little sail means lower loads which are much easier to handle.
I don't buy the fears of an electric winch or two. It only means that you can more easily do a task like raise the main. Since it is easy and the boat sails so well, that's what you -- sail when most are motoring. If the electric motor breaks then you use it like a normal winch just slower.
The J's point high. This means that you can crack off when beating to weather to get nice speed and some comfort while still pointing higher than the typical cruising boat. The J's tend to have relatively small tankage. There was typically a factory option for additional water tankage.
I think of the J 40,42,44 and 46. The 44 is least cruiser friendly. It has a really low PHRF rating for a 44 ft boat, a big stick and needs a skilled sailor to sail it. Many were raced hard and will be showing the wear.
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Old 17-07-2016, 18:16   #15
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Re: Singlehanding a J44

All depends on what you want, I came up through racer cruisers and didn't feel intimidated by them, but of course it's a much more performance oriented boat, which means higher effort. If you enjoy the performance and don't mind a little extra effort it's a solidly built boat, but it is a bit more effort.
It means you'll definitely be reefing earlier, the living quarters will be a bit more spartan, but you'll also keep moving when the wind drops and others are running the iron jenny.
My current boat is a 40,000 lb cutter rigged performance cruiser and it has running checkstays, I don't find it too much of an issue since I'm not tacking it constantly on long runs, I only need them tensioned if I'm running the yankee or a storm sail on the inner forestay, or sometimes in confused seas to reduce mast pumping. Otherwise it's just an added step to the tacking procedure.
Adding weight with tons of gear/provisions will also cause you to lose some of the performance the boat offers so it's best to decide what your really going to be using it for before spending hard earned cash. I'd cruise one, but my wife would divorce me, sooooooo........if the queen ain't happy, no one is happy.
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