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Old 06-02-2010, 19:25   #1
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Size of The Largest Cruising Multihull That You Would Singlehand?

When we sailed Exit Only around the world, I often considered the voyage to be a singlehanded experience in terms of managing the yacht. I could raise the sails by myself, anchor by myself, and much of the time I managed the yacht as if I was the only person on board.

At 39 feet 5 inches long (12 meters), I found Exit Only to be a very manageable yacht. A 500 square foot mainsail was easily raised and reefed with the help of the autopilot. The roller furling genoa was no problem at all. I could climb to the top of the mast on the mast steps and inspect all rigging. I could manage the yacht on a daily basis without the help of crew. It was nice when the crew pitched in, but it rarely was essential.

I had a Autohelm 7000 that was extremely reliable, and that was the one crew member that worked around the clock. I would not have wanted to sail without the Autohelm.

I never seriously considered cruising on a larger catamaran because my Privilege 39 is the right size for me. It fits me like a glove. I don't really want to have to raise a larger mainsail or deal with heavier ground tackle. I don't want to have to depend on crew to make ocean passages.

I met a captain in New Caledonia on a sixty foot trimaran sailing with his wife. They had more trimaran than they could comfortably handle. When he had lots of guests/crew on board, the sixty footer was not a problem. He told me it was much easier to sail his forty foot trimaran that he used to have.

I met a captain in Whangarei, New Zealand who had a sixty foot catamaran, and he told me he wanted to trade down to a forty foot catamaran.

Every person has their own comfort zone regarding the size of multihull that is best for them.

What is the largest size multihull that you would consider singlehanding on a major voyage?
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Old 06-02-2010, 23:18   #2
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Interesting topic. I've heard that folks who transport multihulls across the Atlantic do not want to go below 35 feet because below that length the motion of the boat can be uncomfortable on long passages. Maybe between 35 and 40 is the sweet spot. Some boats towards the 40' range have electric winches. I don't think I'd want to have to rely on auxiliary power for anything to do with the sails. I wonder when that could become a safety issue.
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:28   #3
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Interesting topic. I've heard that folks who transport multihulls across the Atlantic do not want to go below 35 feet because below that length the motion of the boat can be uncomfortable on long passages. Maybe between 35 and 40 is the sweet spot. Some boats towards the 40' range have electric winches. I don't think I'd want to have to rely on auxiliary power for anything to do with the sails. I wonder when that could become a safety issue.
Don't most (all) electric winches come with a backup winch handle?
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Old 07-02-2010, 08:02   #4
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Don't most (all) electric winches come with a backup winch handle?
Yes, the winch is a standard winch with a shaft connecting to a drive motor. You can use it as a normal manual winch at any time.

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Old 07-02-2010, 09:07   #5
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Can't really tell since we've never been on multihull....yet. We will charter a Lagoon 380 next month.
We did have our own Sigma 33 OOD which I was really comfortable with; I managed to use a symmetrical spinnaker (without chute) singlehanded in winds up to 15-20 (this is where getting it down becomes challenging) knots regularly; I did rely on my Autohelm of course. We chartered monohulls 31, 33, 39 and 47 ft (last year). The 47 ft was a bit challenging at the beginning but we got used to it quickly. When I say we it was probably as with most couples with me doing most of the work (work...?; well you all know what I mean). I didn't really single-hand but feel sure I could have done it if so required (you do need a good autopilot of course).
I can tell more about multihulls in a couple of months.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:16   #6
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I did a daysail on a Catana 50. It felt much too large for two people to manage in high winds.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:29   #7
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From my reading you appear to have it right on. The sweet spot for couples appears between 32 and 40. Single handed I would be concerned that I needed the autohelm. Speaking with cruisers all equipment seems to fail at the time you need it most and that means I would need to be able to do everything to get a boat into port without one.

As you mentioned someone is always on duty, that sounds like there is at least two of you and that would make sense that you have your sweet spot. Again, could a single person do it if they had to? A neighbor broke his ankle stepping off a two step stool cleaning his car. If you or your partner broke a wrist or leg could the other rig it for the time it took to get to help? If yes, it sounds like a good match.
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:05   #8
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I find the boat can be larger( good thing) if the rig is divided into a ketch or schooner. Even at 40ft the sails are large and heavy and the loads extreme if sloop rigged. Loss of auto pilot and fatigue leads to trouble. Remember the early CSK's, Pivers and Horstmans? Many ketches in the stable. Laminated sail cloth and low stretch high strength line has led us away from our roots. Dave
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:11   #9
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I suppose that too large occurs when I can't hoist the largest sail by myself or recover and handle my anchor by myself. Our 41' cat is really just right, at least I haven't felt like it's too big although every once in a while I'm grateful when I have someone else to help dock in a challenging wind/current situation. Probably I'm about at the limit for my comfort zone. Can I do a larger boat by myself? Yup. But I will increasingly find occasions where I probably wouldn't go for a sail or move the boat without another person. Remember, too, it's not just loa but also disp that defines 'big'.
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:08   #10
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For me displacement and rigging would be more determining factors than LOA
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:22   #11
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FP43 - Single Hand

Never have, but I could under the right circumstances. All systems would have to be working! e.g.-Autopilot to point into the wind for raising/lowering main. Anchoring singlehand would work, unless the wind is blowing 30kts.

I would not want start a long passage alone.....like I said, I could do it, but I'd be leery of a chain of events that would get me in trouble. Storm comes up, autopilot quits, windlass quits, lose an engine, etc. Just too much than CAN go wrong.
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:46   #12
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The size of the boat has nothing or almost nothing to do with being singlehanded. The design of the boat is key.. To give you an example within FP range that I am familiar with, 44 ft Orona is much more keen to be singlehanded than 40 ft Lavezzi..
For me, the essential factors to be considered are;
-where are located the winches for tackling, reefing. etc. Are they all taken to the helm station or you have to move to the mast or aft ?
-the position of the helm station (how protected it is, how easily it can be accessed, how is the overall view, etc
-does she have enough electrical winches, very well and strong autohelm, remote autohelm, radar, warning systems, etc..

I agree with Dave that this is a crucial issue that many people is overlooking. To me, one of the worst cat in this respect is Catana..Orana has many defects but as a capability of being singlehanded, I would rank it among the best.



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Old 07-02-2010, 14:11   #13
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For me displacement and rigging would be more determining factors than LOA
Spot on. My boat is 44feet long, but is lighter and has a smaller rig than a lot of boats in the 35 - 40 foot range.
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Old 07-02-2010, 16:07   #14
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Dave,

Right now it is 33'6" for me.

I am practicing doing things without other things helping, like raising and lowering the sails and reefing etc. without the use of the engine and autopilot.

Sometimes the wife wonders just why I am "doing it the hard way, sometimes having to run from mast to wheel and back again.

But I am just practicing.

I practiced ungrounding the other day.

But I had a son with me and he just stepped off the scoop, pushed for three or four steps and got back on. Man that fog can disorient you quick when you can't see more than 20-30 yards.

Just learning.
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Old 07-02-2010, 16:15   #15
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Dave,

Right now it is 33'6" for me.

I am practicing doing things without other things helping, like raising and lowering the sails and reefing etc. without the use of the engine and autopilot.

Sometimes the wife wonders just why I am "doing it the hard way, sometimes having to run from mast to wheel and back again.

But I am just practicing.

I practiced ungrounding the other day.

But I had a son with me and he just stepped off the scoop, pushed for three or four steps and got back on. Man that fog can disorient you quick when you can't see more than 20-30 yards.

Just learning.
Since practice makes perfect, you are well on your way to perfection.

I once practiced running aground in Suva Harbor in Fiji. Everyone on the boat was yelling turn right, turn right, turn right. I turned left and went up on a sandbar. My teenage kids jumped off the bows and pushed Exit Only back into deep water. No big deal.

When we were in the Bahamas, we were cruising with a 44 foot catamaran that got set up on a sandbar in a falling tide. We all jumped in the water and tried to push it off, and we were not sucessful even with the help of two dinghies. The boat was too big and there was too much current. We had to wait for the tide to reverse to free the catamaran. Once the tide came back in and the current direction reversed, it was no problem getting off.
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