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Old 13-04-2016, 20:33   #16
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

As long as you have good self tailers on the winches and a good anchor winch, you should be fine. It would also make life easier with lazy jacks on the main.

Aside from that 42 isnt "too" big if you are fair weather sailing.

The trickier part would be trying to do headsail changes in a southerly buster of 40knots or docking in similar conditions.

Having said all that, why not duck up to Airlie for week and rent similar size boat and see how it feels. (Or somewhere nearer if thats easier of course.) Charter boats are already set up for ease of handling.

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Old 13-04-2016, 22:03   #17
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

Yeah, it's not so much whether you can sail her by yourself, it's whether she can be tamed well enough to make close quarter maneuvering relatively easy for one person. I know a number of single-handed sailors with 40-foot-plus boats. Some sail a lot, some don't just because it's too hard to get in and out of the marina. So find a boat and place to keep it that you are able to manage and you'll probably have the answer to your question.

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Old 13-04-2016, 22:50   #18
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

I am in the group that thinks you will do just fine. I also think that a large catamaran may well be easier than a mono, even though the sails and all will be bigger, for two reasons: 1) more stability and room so your personal maneuvers will be easier, 2) twin engines, so the boat's maneuverability, particularly while docking, will be easier.

FWIW, I singlehand a 45 foot cat with lots of sail area. It can be a handful at times but it works just fine and is lots of fun.
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Old 13-04-2016, 23:03   #19
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

A mate of mine single hands a Catalina 36 and I know folks at my old marina who single hand similar size boats - they all seem to get a lot more sailing in than I do double-handed.

Preparation is key when it comes to approaching the marina - fenders out, lines ready, and has the Cat 42 got a middle cleat? If not, fit one - it'll be your best friend docking.

I wouldn't worry about the headsail changing comments - who changes a headsail these days if they have roller furling fitted? You could always fit an inner staysail as well, so you're covered across a much wider wind spectrum.

What else to make your life easier.... a bow thruster would definitely help, and low-friction single line reefing, plus a stack pack to help mainsail storage.

Nothing to it - I plan on single handing our new cat (42ft) quite a lot.

Off to the Caribbean after 5 years of building!!
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Old 14-04-2016, 00:01   #20
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
As long as everything works, you can single really large boats. With roller furling headsails, well set up slab reefing or in mast/boom furling sailing really large boats is possible. Getting them into a slip can be a challenge but quick turning fin keel boat makes that a lot easier.

The problem is what can you handle when things begin to screw up. Can you haul down that 135% genoa when it needs to be replaced in 30mph winds?? Can you get a replacement in the luff groove and crank it up quickly before it slats itself to pieces with those wind conditions. What happens if the electric windlass dies?? Can you haul the chain and heavy anchor by hand in 50' of water.

Thing are way different when the winds blowing a gale. Simple jobs become nearly insurmountable mountains with high winds and heavy seas. Something that is easily done at the dock in a calm isn't so easy to do when it's really rough out. Any reasonably fit person should be able to handle a boat up to about 40'/20,000#s displacement. Get much larger and you better be sure the sails and ground tackle aren't too much to take care when it's snotty,
I'd have to STRONGLY second this! My other comments still apply, but when you've got the depth of experience, it gets easy to forget that you have it.

If you go big, you'll want to have a more experienced hand with you a fair bit of the time. Mostly doing nothing. And then at times "creating" emergencies for you, so that you learn how to handle them. With someone there to step in, & direct the show, if things actually get dangerous, or you're about to make a serious mistake.
Plus, just as with a smaller boat, you're going to have to destroy some gear along the way as part of the learning curve, so...
And my personal fav when coaching, is to have folks spinnaker socks (snuffers) "jam", at the least convenient time. As if they can't get it down without the sock, Neptune & Aeolis, will.

Keep in mind too, that when you do make a serious mistake on a bigger boat, it costs a lot more. In terms of $, gear being out of action, time to get your confidence back, & to heal physically, if you ding yourself.
During all of which, you & or the boat, are all operating at reduced capacity. Which can create other downward spirals.

Plus, "bigger", is a length squared, or cubed thing (at least). In terms of costs, & the forces involved. As, for example, it takes one of the Pro's 15 minutes to gybe an OPEN 60', assuming that everything goes right. And that's 15min of non-stop, sweaty, well timed, back breaking work, on a wildly pitching boat. Where if you goof, the loads on the foredeck go from +5g's to -5g's
So, that may add a bit of scale to the "thinking ahead" thing.

That, & back before the advent of roller furling, & all of these other modern conveniences (say the 1980s). A 35' boat was considered about the biggest that a couple could handle.
And you have to figure that Everything on any boat needs to be able to be handled by the most pettite, or frail, crewman.
And that those terms aren't defined by physical size or gender. As evidenced by most of the world's great solo sailors. Both male & female. Most of them tend to be small.

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Old 14-04-2016, 07:28   #21
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

Just a quick comment I single handed my 60ft catamaran from Langkawi Malaysia to Turkey don't be concerned, as they say (just do it)
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Old 14-04-2016, 07:53   #22
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

I am now sailing a Catalina 42 and often singlehanded. The halyard winch is motorized which is a great assist and if used cleverly with fair leads can help with other line adjustments. One point that may not have been addressed in reply to your post involves your comment about "muscling" lines on smaller boats and whether that would scale up. The force on lines under load even in smaller vessels can be very high and should be relieved by seamanship tactics rather than resorting to human muscle power. Age has taught me to be patient and to expend my energy conservatively, and cautiously.

Have fun and be safe.
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Old 14-04-2016, 07:54   #23
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

Nice thing about a ketch is smaller sails.
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Old 14-04-2016, 08:01   #24
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

I single-hand my Catalina (Morgan) 504, including trips of 500 miles +/-. It is 50 feet long and 36000 lbs. Before that, I had a 40 ft Benny at 16,000 pounds, and before that a 28ft Sovereign at 6,800 pounds. The advantages of the bigger boat are space and storage (I live-aboard), a more stable platform when sailing offshore or at anchor, and speed. The disadvantages are the higher costs to buy and maintain, including dock fees, repairs, insurance etc.; and docking.

At this point, fifty feet is as big as I want to go by myself.

There are many very useful comments above. Physically, the bigger the boat, the bigger the effort; hence more mechanical advantage is required. Problems are magnified on a bigger boat. For example, carrying the genoa or mainsail is next to impossible unless it is tightly rolled up. AND, never forget that when you do have a problem, no one is there to help you. I set my expectations lower and make plans accordingly. BTW, I do put up and take down spinnakers, only in winds up to 15 knts. I've done it at 18+/-, without sock/furler, and my is that thing a brute.

The key to success is getting the boat set up to single-hand at that size, including but not limited to:
* very reliable autopilot
* over-rated windlass (you can't always motor up to the anchor)
* bow thruster (for docking)
* boom control, such as a dutchman
* electric winch for raising mainsail, etc (I don't want electric winches for sheets--when I can't haul in the genoa on the 66s, it's time to get a smaller boat)
* all halyards, reefing lines, etc go back to the cockpit. Have spare winches on the mast just in case.
* a full complement of safety equipment
* real-time weather (SIRIUS Sat), and good forecasting (you will need to be more careful)
* Three reef points in main, with lazy jacks and 'stack pack', set up so you don't leave the cockpit to reef in or let out. (IMHO, you don't want to mess with in-mast furling by yourself)
* I also 'converted' the original sloop rig to an optional cutter, enabling a staysail to be used in mean weather.

The rest is experience, care and attention to detail, being able to fix things when they do break, and so on
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Old 14-04-2016, 08:04   #25
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

I went from a 30 I could easily single hand to a heavy 35. The 35 is expected to sell on Sunday. After 4 years I am sick and tired of fighting with her single handed.

I can do it and I have been doing it for several years but it's exhausting and frustrating.

Docking I don't find too bad but sail handling in confined waters is brutal and so is the maintenance.

I am now looking at much smaller boats.

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Old 14-04-2016, 08:07   #26
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

So much has to do with your confidence and experience. Currently our 40' feels like a dinghy. Last boat, 50' cat also singlehanded almost all the time. Tonga-Fiji, all over Bahamas, up and down NZ eastern coast.

Their was a time when the 50 felt like moving a football field. That changes.

Guess what I'm saying is no matter what you find you'll likely mold to her quickly.

Gotta go! Wife wants coffee!

"Take it all in, it's as big as it seems, count all your blessings, remember your dreams" JB
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Old 14-04-2016, 08:09   #27
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

Originally Posted by bruceinOz View Post
Hi All. For the last four years I've owned and sailed my first yacht, a Cavalier 32 here in Oz.
This was supposed to be my training boat, easily handled by a newbie.
Over the years I have rebuilt every system on this 30 year old girl. Rebuilt engine, rewired, new plumbing, new shaft and prop, new sails, new boom, you get the picture.
So here I am with a boat completely rebuilt around myself, with a wonderful safe sea motion, yet hankering for headroom.
That's the killer. I'm 6'7", and any tall sailor out there will tell you, very little beats headroom.
There are two places I can stand up in my boat. At the bottom of the companionway and under the butterfly hatch in the saloon.
After a couple of days away my back starts getting sore from stooping all the time. Some say sailing involves sitting most of the time, but that's daysailing
An American boat came into our marina a while back, an Apogee 50, custom built for a very tall sailor. Wow!, such room. Sadly you need dot com money for a boat like that. I have dot-some money, not dot-com.
One yacht that I know I can stand in the saloon is the Catalinas 42. Affordable.
My family are all avowed land lubbers. Can't even convince the boys that sailing would make them cool in the eyes of girls.
So I singlehand, and my boat is just about perfect for that. Well set up, new systems etc. a boat I can muscle around with warps.
If I go to a boat the size of the Cat42, will I lose that?
Do many of you fine sailors singlehand boats of this size? Or will it all go to hell in a handbag as windage, weight and inertia conspire together to once again make me marina entertainment fodder?

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Singlehanded my Catalina 42 from 1989 through 2012 when I sold her for a Beneteau 51.5 which I singlehand now. Can be done when alone out there you have to preplan everything you are going to do like raising sails, furling sails etc. You also will find anchoring or tying to a buoy challenging at first. You have to be patient with yourself.
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Old 14-04-2016, 08:09   #28
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

While I was living in the USVI, in the '70s, a 110' steel hulled schooner, the Antares, arrived in St. Thomas after crossing the Atlantic from England. It had been single handed by a 96 year old skipper. I was told that all equipment was hydraulically activated.
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Old 14-04-2016, 08:29   #29
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

Well darn, since I am only 5'9" and no longer growing I guess I need another excuse to move up. I am sure I could handle 40' most of the time but 35' is so easy to singlehand in general. Biggest fear for me is getting down a sail in a blow so I will probably stay short and on my current boat.
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Old 14-04-2016, 08:59   #30
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Re: Too big to singlehand??

You made me curious so I measured my boat. I had never noticed but over 6-2 you would have a problem. I am not sure headroom correlates closely with length. I would start with a lot of internet research to identify models with adequate headroom. You might need to look at pilothouse designs. Best of luck with your search.

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