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Old 21-01-2018, 19:02   #1
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Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

I've almost talked myself -as a wanna be liveaboard- into the idea that i can manage a 40' sailboat singlehandedly. 40-ish feet seems to be best size for legitimately living aboard and not being cramped/ short of storage/ or still camping. 40 feet because i want to take my grown kids through the carribean islands. The realistic thought, however, is that I'll actually be alone most of the time...
I have a 22' sailboat on a lake, no furler/ no nothing, and it is a sobering thought to add 20 feet to the matter. And then there's that whole thing about the ocean...

Lake vs. Ocean?
20 vs. 40?
Stupid vs. crazy?

Many say it's not size, but sail setup is key.
I do love a cutter, and salivate at the idea of double furlers. Setting conservative sail would be my first thought, and quick to respond to higher winds.


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Old 21-01-2018, 21:27   #2
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

I see nothing stupid or crazy in what you wrote. 40ft is entirely manageable as a singlehander, but you can get what you want a bit smaller boat, too. 40-footers may have very different interior size.

About the ocean, you won't be the first one to climb that learning curve. Small steps, other people's boats, make sure you actually like ocean sailing before committing yourself, and you'll be okay. Don't buy a fixer-upper - it's way more complicated than your 20+ft soapbox, you'll have plenty of boat yoga just keeping it up.

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Old 21-01-2018, 21:32   #3
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

Also, if you are reasonably strong, in 35-40ft size, a sloop rig with a decent furler and slab reefing is the simplest thing that works. Detacheable inner stay for a storm jib is useful, double head sails - not really. If I was half the size I am, I'd probably have a different opinion...
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Old 22-01-2018, 03:18   #4
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

I'm not sure if this is helpful... but, try to always think in terms of what your cruising life will be like. Are you someone who is all about sailing? i.e. sailing daily... or lots of long passages? or are you more of the.. "Spend most of my life at anchor enjoying the life, and sailing is only a means of getting to the next location" kind of guy. How often will your kids be with you? other guests? will you be the host of marina gatherings?

I do NOT think a 40' is too big. I know lots of people live aboard with families on much smaller boats. But, you may be a lot like me, in that... I need my space... I want to have a galley that can be comfortably functional. I want a bed that is easy to get into, and plenty of lockers for my things to go in... I want a proper shower stall because I have an aversion to showering over a toilet... lol... nothing wrong with that.

Almost all boats these days are, or can be, set up for single handling. So, tacking, jibing, hoisting and furling the sails is pretty easy. The only problems I see are the same problems anyone would have single handing on any size boat... like docking... anchoring or mooring... and what to do if something goes wrong (sail rips... rudder breaks... etc.. ) And in those cases.. I think it would be easier on a 40' than on a 22' because there is more space for you to move about. I know on our 22' the walkways are so narrow, as are the stays... hard to get around.. trip factor.... etc. A wider flat deck makes things much easier.

There is a book out there that may be helpful. It's called, "How NOT to Buy a Cruising Boat" by Deb and TJ Akey. You can get it at Amazon (book or kindle)... It's good in that it helps you to think about how you will be using your boat, and how to identify features that may not work for you... anyway.. that's my 2 cents.
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Old 22-01-2018, 03:54   #5
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pirate Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

A 40ftr is not a great hardship to single hand for anyone with moderate fitness and mobility.. and the ability to think ahead.
Work out the routines for entering marina berths or anchoring and set things up ahead of time.. not a frenzied dash with fenders and lines 20metres from the dock.. prep your anchor before getting into the anchorage so all that needs doing is to knock the windlass lock off for the anchor to drop freely.
Sea time is the same as a 22ftr.. reef in a timely manner and you'll be just fine.
Your biggest handicap will be your mind..

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Old 22-01-2018, 04:15   #6
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

The only downside I have with a 40ft boat is docking. And that's solved by going slow, planning ahead and practice. The upside to living space and storage capacity is worth it
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Old 22-01-2018, 05:39   #7
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Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

As someone who is a live aboard and single hands a 40í, here are my thoughts:

Itís more than enough space for one unless you have some unusual storage needs or some space-gobbling hobby. Feels like I use 2/3 of the boat sometimes. I too chose the size to accommodate adult children from time to time.

Away from the dock, size is an advantage. The boat is more stable which means moving about it is more secure. Mine is a true cutter rig, with a manageable main, staysail, and 110 yankee. I never feel like any of the canvas are too big. Iím 58. You can easily make alterations and adopt strategies and processes to adapt to larger forces etc.

Docking the boat is challenging single handed but with forethought and experience itís fine. In fact, when you get good at it to the point where a dockhand stands there with nothing to do but give appreciative nods it feels good.

Having someone to catch a line obviously helps in many circumstances, and other times you choose to anchor until conditions are more favorable to approach the dock/slip but that is pretty rare.

If there is one downside itís maintenance. More systems, more surface area etc but thatís a small complaint in the face of the advantages.

There are times I wish I had a smaller boat and there are times I wish I had a larger one. In general I think 40í is a good compromise.
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Old 22-01-2018, 08:21   #8
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

I second Suijun, a slightly bigger boat is more stable and things happen more slowly. Single handing is all about thinking ahead and planning and you will soon get into it. Would definitely recommend a cutter and at 40ft it is well worth looking at a ketch. The ideal is to break the sail plan up so each sail is manageable. Also it is much quicker and easier to drop a sail than to reef. On a ketch dropping the main into a stack pack instantly gets rid of a large chunk of drive if you are hit by a sudden squall.
The other thing I would say is to make sure you can reef from a single point. Whether that is the mast or the cockpit is less important but you don't want to be running back and forth. Same for anchoring, remote windlass control from the helm would be a godsend (I don't have it!)
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Old 22-01-2018, 08:32   #9
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

I have lived aboard and singlehanded a 46 foot cutter for many years. the only "problem " is as Suijin says is maintenance. you really have to keep at it.

I would suggest a cutter with jiffy/slab reneging and all lines at the base of the mast as it keeps things simple, easy and manageable.
a GOOD autopilot is a must.

Good luck in your travels.

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Old 22-01-2018, 08:40   #10
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

I've lived aboard a 48' Maple Leaf for 7 years now. I too sail alone most of the time. My office is on board so I spend the summer living at anchor and working during the week and sailing on weekends. I love the space and comfort that the size gives me. I may still be naive, but I haven't had too many challenges sailing alone. Anchoring is much easier with a control in the cockpit. Adding an autopilot tied to an electronic wind indicator made tacking painless. As mentioned in previous posts, the biggest challenge is close quarters manoeuvring in marinas. It's a matter of getting to know your boat and how it will react to wind and current, and then planning ahead. Maintenance and upgrades are definitely more costly. I'm still learning but have never regretted the size of the boat.
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Old 22-01-2018, 09:07   #11
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

40 foot is totally handle able by one person as everyone has admitted but you have to remember the costs from repair and maintenance to moorage fees goes up exponentially the bigger the boat gets. The other question is do you plan to spend most of your time at the dock or out at sea? Smaller boats are a lot easier to sail and control while at sea while the larger boats make a better home. The other alternative "Which several of my friends have done" is to go small and carry "Green Luggage" . In this case they sail from resort to resort staying on land when they get to where they are going then sailing to the next destination when they feel like it.
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Old 22-01-2018, 09:09   #12
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

You dont mention your age. 15-20 years ago a 47 was a bit much, but doable, for 55-60 year olds. 40 would have been much more easy when the weather was snotty and I'm not sure we had "more" in the 47 than a 40 would have had... as far as berths etc go. For more room vs size for visitors it's going to depend on the particular boat.
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 22-01-2018, 09:26   #13
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

I agree with Suijin and Roland.
I have a ketch rig. Smaller sails = easier handling.
However, I personally prefer to sail with crew. Primarily for safety reasons.
The most difficult thing for me single handed is launching and retrieving the dingy from the davits. Especially getting the motor from the deck into place on the dingy. If I had a gin pole it would be easier.
Getting into a slip with adverse wind and current is also challenging, even with crew.
Then of course there is cocktail hour, in a slip or at anchor. I do not like to drink alone. ( rolling my eyes )
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Old 22-01-2018, 09:56   #14
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

After a few weeks she will feel “small.”

Not delusional and I even have just the boat for you!

1994 Hunter Legend sailboat for sale in Florida

"Take it all in, it's as big as it seems, count all your blessings, remember your dreams" JB
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Old 22-01-2018, 10:16   #15
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Re: Self delusion, or stalwart seamanship?

Forty feet of itself tells you little about a boat – rig, displacement and layout are a big part of the tale. I lived aboard a 14-ton 42-footer off and on for half a dozen years and effectively single-handed 99% of the time (crew was more interested in reading or sleeping) and it was manageable under way; docking was as breeze – a real pussy-cat. But the aforementioned maintenance that never seemed to stop eventually soured me on the “large” notion and I now think “small.” I think dock-queens (serving more as condos than boats) tend to be larger than vessels owned by skippers who plan to sail regularly, but that is my suspicion… However a relatively modern 40-footer of reasonable displacement with a well thought out rig and cabin (thinking Perry, Bingham or Crealock, etc.) can be quite practicable and enjoyable for a disciplined skipper (just not me...).

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