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Old 03-07-2011, 08:14   #1
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Single-Handed Cats

Would a Leopard 46 be too much for one person to handle?
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:18   #2
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Re: Single Handed Cats

Depends
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:32   #3
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Re: Single Handed Cats

I realize that experience, equipment, weather conditions play into point here..I'm speaking "in general" I'd be sailing from New Orleans to Key West etc. No Ocean crossing.. mostly coastal..maybe a bit nore...
It just seems like a lot of boat to sail by yourself.
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:49   #4
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Re: Single Handed Cats

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Originally Posted by NolaScott View Post
I realize that experience, equipment, weather conditions play into point here..I'm speaking "in general" I'd be sailing from New Orleans to Key West etc. No Ocean crossing.. mostly coastal..maybe a bit nore...
It just seems like a lot of boat to sail by yourself.
Once again, depends

If it seems like a lot of boat for you to sail 1 up, may I suggest that there be your answer.

But a few more questions

Are you experienced?
Are you capable?
Are you confident?
Do you have experience sailing larger multi's?
Have you had experience sailing any larger vessel ?
Have you done it for a few days by yourself (500+nm)
Have you had experience in tight quarters, docking and moving off?
Have you done any of it single handed?
What are the systems on board, are they set up for single handing?
Plus a myriad of other questions

Personally, I wouldn't have an issue with it, if it was set up right and I knew the boats characteristics, but I am not you.
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Old 03-07-2011, 09:18   #5
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Re: Single Handed Cats

seems the hard part is docking, in a strong cross wind or current- and no one around to help you with the lines, a good way to scrape and ding your boat up- im working on all the little scrachs and chips from doing this myself
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Old 03-07-2011, 09:48   #6
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Re: Single Handed Cats

Cat Man Do summed it up, but I can add a few things to the "myriad" catch-all.

* Docking can be tough with an unfamiliar boat. Anchor-out. Practice on a simple bulkhead. Don't force tough conditions; wait until another time. Request line-handlers from the marina.
* Take time. A single-hander learns not to force a situation, because he doesn't have help. What ever it is --weather, mechanical issues--shouldn't be forced.
* Plan. Every sail change, course change, every detail of storage, every anchoring, every docking, should be planed. Though these things become simple with practice, the first few times you must have a basic plan and several contingency plans that you are well prepared for. You can't be running around like an idiot. Every action should be deliberate and look easy.
* Always have the anchor ready to go in harbor. Sometimes things happen that one person simply can't solve.

That would be step up in size for me, but I've changed boats before. Certainly a few easy local days before heading out (preferably with company) to shake EVERY system down is common sense. From the stories I've heard, it seems 2 things cause the most trouble: not understanding the mechanical systems (or they are crap) and not understanding the sail balance required by a new boat (poor balance and she becomes uncontrollable).
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:14   #7
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Re: Single Handed Cats

I appreciate the info. And I certainly understand that I need more miles..(and more salt) before I take the plunge.

Is there a rule of thumb break point on the size of a cat that you would need at least two people to manager her?.
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:40   #8
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Re: Single Handed Cats

N.S. My wife and I have a leopard 46. We have 20+ yrs of costal and ocean experience, 10 yrs on monohulls and 10 yrs on cats. we have had our leopard now for 3 yrs and although I am confident that I could single hand the cat, I would not like to do it. Cats of this size are powerful platforms and one needs to be fully aware of the forces involved. We have electric primaries winches and can raise the main using them so that helps and I am sure that there are other modifications that can be carried out to make the boat more one person friendly. (single line reefing etc) but the fact remains that it is a fairly large boat and for safety reasons we feel that two people are better than one.
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Old 03-07-2011, 13:03   #9
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Re: Single Handed Cats

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I appreciate the info. And I certainly understand that I need more miles..(and more salt) before I take the plunge.

Is there a rule of thumb break point on the size of a cat that you would need at least two people to manager her?.
A better question might be what is the largest size you want to maintain. For example, sails and anchors and chain start getting really heavy. If you really intend to primarily single-hand, then 36 feet is probably the upper limit of practicality; above that size you don't need the room and are only buying more work. It isn't that you can't handle more--why would you want to? Stacy has good points; as the size goes up the loads go up exponentially.
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Old 03-07-2011, 13:39   #10
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Re: Single Handed Cats

In general, coastal cruising is much more difficult for a singlehander than is ocean sailing. Even on a 20-footer there comes a time when the skipper has to take a leak, make a cup of coffee, or needs to take in a reef. When you are in shoal water, surrounded by other boats, or near docks these things are difficult to do by yourself, and the huge size of a cat makes them more difficult. Offshore, you generally have plenty of time to plan and execute whatever you have to do, and in the worst case scenario, you can just take down all sail and drift while you sort things out. Personally, no matter the size of the crew, I think cats are less handy in confined waters, because they simply take up more real estate. For example, when you're docking the boat it's a long dash from the cockpit forward to one of the bows to hand off a bow line. A smaller mono would be easier singlehanding if your primary aim is coastal cruising.
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Old 03-07-2011, 14:58   #11
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Re: Single Handed Cats

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Personally, no matter the size of the crew, I think cats are less handy in confined waters, because they simply take up more real estate. For example, when you're docking the boat it's a long dash from the cockpit forward to one of the bows to hand off a bow line. A smaller mono would be easier singlehanding if your primary aim is coastal cruising.
Slow down, there. Is this an experienced cat hand speaking?

My 32-footer is exactly the same length as other 32-footers I have seen. However, I do have the space of a 36-footer and speed of a 40-footer, so those would be more fair comparisons. My decks are a good bit wider and the bow is plenty wide. I back into my slip each time, with only a foot on each side, no problem. I just center the helm and play with the throttles.

I have not seen other 32-footers that could use twin engines to turn in place.

I think cat maneuvering problems is a common false conception, perhaps fostered by the occasional incompetent. Yes, there is greater beam and more windage, but there are better walking surfaces, less mass, and twin engines (yes, single engine cats can be less handy, but not always; most have stearable stern drives and can do some neat tricks too. My last cat was that sort. I could easily make a u-turn in the fairway between slips rows).

Actually, coastal sailing is where cats shine brightest, primarily because of shallow draft (lots of short cuts and many more anchorages). I've heard the "marinas are difficult" saw, but most have a bulkhead free and often a shallow end they save for cats and power boats. I've never paid extra and I've never even had to go to a "second choice" marina because of beam.

There are down sides: price and a quicker motion. But the ease of coastal single handling a 32-foot cat compared to a 36- to 40-foot mono is WHY I sail cats. If I were sailing the high latitudes or crossing oceans alone, I would make different choices.
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Old 03-07-2011, 15:10   #12
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Re: Single Handed Cats

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Even on a 20-footer there comes a time when the skipper has to take a leak, make a cup of coffee, or needs to take in a reef. When you are in shoal water, surrounded by other boats, or near docks these things are difficult to do by yourself, and the huge size of a cat makes them more difficult.
None of these things are a problem for the single hander, because none of these should come as a surprise. Take a leak when you have time (no crew to watch), skip the coffee, reef early (a singlehander watches the weather more closely). All of these things are done when there is enough space through the use of autopilot or sail balance if need be.

Equipment failures are trouble, since there is no one to hand the wheel while you sort things out. Any single hander needs to be a good jack-of-all trades and master of the work-around. Passages over 16 hours in crowded waters (no sleep). Illness and injury. Complex piloting can be a grind, but GPS has taken most of the bite out of that and you can generally heave-to for a few minutes and sort it out.

But sailing alone is a joy, if the systems are dialed in. It's just a matter of planning, being observant, and being meticulous.
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Old 03-07-2011, 15:14   #13
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I dont have the experience of Stacy, but friends of mine who own leopard 46 + 47 sail with me on my lagoon 440 and I with them on regular occasions. I would most certainly not want to be sailing either single handedly and especially when things do get hairy - such as a line getting snarled and a sudden pick up in wind - I really dont think you want to be doing that .... Not to say it cant be done though!
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Old 03-07-2011, 16:29   #14
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Re: Single Handed Cats

I have a 43 foot cat and single hand it all the time... Key I think is a good auto pilot and systems set ups..... Its not hard at all to sail, Anchor windlass is set up with a remote at the helm station. Again the key to this for me is having an extremely good autopilot. When I reef I dial mine to about 12 degrees to the wind angle... the boat slows down heads up and I go reef the main..... Only time I would honestly be worried about single handing my boat is if the weather was really nasty and things started breaking... the rest of the time I honestly have not had any problem whatsoever single handing my boat. If you are at all worried about the conditions reef heavily and go slow..... Sailing alone is truly a pleasure for me in my boat. It has a big rig and takes some effort to get the main up ... but after that it's just sailing ......
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Old 03-07-2011, 16:34   #15
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Re: Single Handed Cats

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I appreciate the info. And I certainly understand that I need more miles..(and more salt) before I take the plunge.

Is there a rule of thumb break point on the size of a cat that you would need at least two people to manager her?.
Noooooo! Start with a couple of day sails.... just take a friend if you are nervous and tell them not to do anything.... once you get the boat set up for the conditions and the auto pilot driving there is nothing to it........ If it gets windy... go reef.... or furl but honestly don't be scared of taking your boat out and sailing it on your own....Does it have a good autopilot? I am sure there are a lot of people out there that will tell you sometimes inexperienced crew are worse onboard than if you were alone.
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