Reading about getting older--it is happening to me as I write--it occurs to me that many cruisers and sailors could keep their present larger vessels if they simply made them more elderly-friendly.
For instance--fitting a hydraulic anchor windlass
instead of the electric
one requiring a pony battery
which has to be lugged out for maintenance--or hauled in a cradle
up through an open hatchway.
has a lower mast
than some, because a previous owner sailed her in the seas off Tasmania. Tall masts mean larger and heavier sails
which increase the danger
of tipping. Not only that--it is pointless to sail most of the time with large heavy sails reefed--when smaller sails can be fitted to begin with--and these are more easily handled by older folk and can be easily reefed further if needed.
Sometimes converting an existing rig might make sail handling easier. If the time has come to replace or do serious maintenance
to masts or standing rigging--one could easily convert the vessel to more and smaller sails.
If not--then fit lighter wingsails to the existing masts--or perhaps alter their geometry to rig the vessel as a staysail schooner or ketch--with loose-footed sails flying from the mast
stays. Certainly not as efficient--but self-tacking for the most part and far more easily handled.
It does not take much of a spread of sail to equate to the power of a twenty horsepower diesel engine
. A small set of sail equates to enough power to make three ior four knots--maybe more. Multiply that by two or more masts and one can cruise
the vessel effectively.
Certainly one can sell one's larger vessel and go to a smaller one--but this means a smaller less secure and more unstable deck
area and more cramped living quarters.
As long as one has a diesel engine
of sufficient power to pull one away from a dangerous lee shore (large hulls do have more windage abeam) then powering down a vesel by using smaller more easily handled sails and rig makes some sort of sense, since the alternative to sailing anything is a powered vessel.
Then there is the compromise of a motorsailer--where one motors much of the time and uses the sail to steady the ship and save a little fuel--and almost everything aboard can be power operated--.
I think sail boats have a more comfortable motion than power vessels. They do not roll as much or as quickly because of the steadying effect of the sails. While this effect might be lessened with a lower aspect smaller rig--it would still be a factor to consider on deck
battering one, especially as one gets less steady on the legs. Keep the harness fastened at all times--
As soon as the wind
rises a bit one reefs
down one's sails--so running a smaller rig is a bit like sailing reefed down in fine weather. One will lose some performance--but maybe not as much as one might expect. Once one approaches hull speed
a lot of extra sail and power is required to make any noticeable difference to performance.
Turning a sloop
to a ketch
or a schooner will make for smaller sails set on additional mast/s. A sixty foot vessel could become a three masted staysail schooner with five small sails set, and a possible loss in power of about thrirty to forty percent--but since the best most sailboats can make is hull
speed--a loss of this amount of power might only be noticeable in light conditions. Then one can comfortably motor--since motoring in rough weather is not as much fun as even a modest spread of reefed canvas
One can use power winches--but with a smaller sails on shorter masts one might not need them. Ordinary lightweight manual winches should be adequate.
So--you can keep your old vessel easy to sail if you wish--provided it has a good engine and you use reliable powered mechanical aids to do the heavy stuff like anchor retrieval and davit lifting of cargo, stores, tenders etc.
Or you could buy a trimaran--or a cat--which need less power from the sails to shove 'em along--and if you have to motor
will use a heap less fuel
than a displacement hull
travelling as fast.