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Old 15-09-2019, 11:08   #16
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Originally Posted by SVTatia View Post
Beats being alone and solo leaving on land!
So true, can't imagine rattling around a house or flat living on your own. Easy to walk down the pontoon or harbour wall and strike up a conversation and friendship with someone.

What would I do, follow the sun. Northern Europe for the summer, the Atlantic Islands for the winter. Not too hot and not too cold in the winter.

What would I choose with the budget? well something from Westerly or Moody like this which fits nicely with Sailorchics recommendation for size.
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Old 15-09-2019, 11:19   #17
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Hi Hugo
I recently started my solo-adventure after buying a boat in Greece. Although my boat is a 42ft I thought I could add some thoughts to other responses given here. I have been sailing solo since June.
I try to stay within a budget of approx €20 a day excluding diesel, cruising tax and permit and repairs to the boat. I mostly lie somewhere at anchor for a few reasons: it is cheap!, you have privacy (most of the time), you can still choose to go ashore with your dinghy, and in Greece going into a marina or city quay single handed can be quite a challenge (Greek way is to throw your anchor out 3 boat lengths from the quay and then reverse back to the quay where you attach mooring lines, quite hard to do by yourself I find). If I go ashore and have some drinks and food, do my groceries that usually averages out with the days I stay on board and don’t spend anything. Lying on the city quay is about €12-20 a night, so that eats into the budget. Marinas tend to be a lot more expensive than that (€30-50 or more a night). I generate my own electricity with 4 large solar panels and I have a water maker on board so I can stay away for quite a long time and just go ashore with my dinghy. I also find that lying on the city quay can be nice provided there are nice people next to you, but my last 2 nights on the quay were spent frustrated with 2 huge catamarans on either side full of partying people. Not my cup of tea. However, seeing a country is about going on shore not just seeing it from the water, so I do make a point of checking out nice walking trails, museums or other things of interest.
Apart from some of the challenges of sailing single handed (as mentioned above with the Greek way of anchoring; another one is taking lines ashore in narrow bays: you basically need to leave your boat with the engine running, autopilot on at anchor while you either swim or row ashore to attach lines before your boat is pushed away by currents or wind, not easy on your own), being alone has its good and bad sides. I enjoy being on my own, even when I am on land I am on my own most of the time and have no issue with eating out, exploring villages etc on my own. I find that sometimes over dinner I end up chatting with people at the next table or if I walk through a marina or along the city quay where boats are parked I often enjoy having a conversation which can lead to an exchange of details or an invitation to share drinks or food. Exchanging information and tips about marinas, anchorages, winds, villages etc is valuable and useful. I guess your lifestyle on land and the way you like to socialise (or not) will extend itself to sea. I do need to ring my friends and family on a regular basis though just to have the deep and meaningful conversations too with people I care about; not just the chatting with strangers.
One thing I noticed wasn’t mentioned by anybody yet is the ability to take crew on board from time to time. That is a nice alternative, put yourself on and schedule in having one or 2 crew members on board for a week or 2. I bet after that you are very happy in your own space again or perhaps you would like to repeat it. Check the people out before you commit yourself, reviews they have from other skippers and have a chat beforehand over Skype or whatsapp and don’t be afraid to make your wishes and expectations clear. You can ask them to contribute to the kitty, for food, drink, diesel and mooring fees and that is totally expected by them. I crewed for a few months last year in Spain, Portugal and Morocco and had some really good experiences and some luke warm experiences but overall it taught be an awful lot.
My plan is to live like this continuously for 3-5 years so let’s how I feel after I have done it for a year ��. Hope this helps,
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Old 15-09-2019, 11:28   #18
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Before I discovered Nonsuch cat boats and the idea of leaving the country had not yet crossed my mind, I got interested in the Parker-Dawson. It's 26 ft with a center cockpit. I like unusual designs so it was an intriguing boat at the time. The aren't pretty boats, imo. Only about 300 were made, but at least one has crossed the Atlantic singlehanded. It is such a unique design that it might be of interest. Also the Hinterhoeller Nonsuch line might be of interest. It comes in 22, 26, 30 and 33 ft. versions. Of particular interest if you plan to single hand is that it only has one sail and a mast stepped all the way in the bow; basically the "main" is a huge Genoa. All the lines lead to the cockpit. The one pictured as my avatar is a 33 with some extra bells and whistles.

Here's the Wikipedia link for the Parker-Dawson.

Good luck on your search and your dreams.
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Old 15-09-2019, 12:52   #19
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Great post.. Thanks
Has anyone experienced the three weeks (?) of lonesome psychological/emotial/ human/ communication desert required of a solo transatlantic voyage?
Never even dreamt about I.... Just read extensively about the issues....
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Old 15-09-2019, 13:06   #20
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Being a singlehander dosen't mean your alone.

I haven't been a singlehander for years but are again for the time being. Theres no shortage of people if you like a chat, to be honest often theres to many!

I'm on the hard at the moment trying to get work done, it's always social witch results in only getting a few of the jobs done that you had planned each day.

I think it really comes down to ones personality, if you like your own company and space punctuated by passing conversation you'll enjoy being a singlehander.
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Old 15-09-2019, 13:40   #21
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

at 50 your getting there..i single handed across the pacific and back to fiji where i currently live in my bcc 28 foot. my biggest issue was health concerns while doing crossings....if your body screws up you can be in real trouble. also (though most will deny it) there is a prejudice among cruising couples with regard to single handers. i found couples tend to hang out together. so i go into marinas when i want to socialize. this tends to eat into the budget. further. make sure your boat is in good working order with proper spares. airfreight and customs fees and be astronomical expensive.
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Old 15-09-2019, 14:37   #22
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

It's probably like law enforcement-- long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Also like law enforcement, when the excrement strikes the revolving wind machine, you take the action that you are trained to take until you either win or go down.
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Old 15-09-2019, 15:15   #23
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Originally Posted by Hugo B View Post

Lastly I suppose there are two broad categories of livaboards (of course I am generalizing here): young people often on small budgets with an adventurous spirit, or older people, often retirees that choose for this lifestyle more as a reward for having slaved away in an office for decades. They often have bigger budgets and want more comfort. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Have you considered at least two more?

--- young people who "have it made" financially and leave when young

--- old people on small budgets with an adventurous spirit

and then all the ones in between.

Can you tell from the replies so far who is in which category?

See? Doesn't matter.

Great feedback, much of it is all in your head and what YOU like and how you like to live.

As far as space, even my 34 footer gets small for just me and I've owned her for 21 years and don't cruise full time, but do a lot of short week long cruises.

sailorchic34 is right about boat size unless you find "that special" sdmaller boat. Elbow room is great.
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Old 15-09-2019, 15:35   #24
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Most singlehanded boats have odd skippers. I saw a guy wearing a fancy dress with fake boobs once.. I've done some solo cruising and I started talking to myself.
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Old 15-09-2019, 15:48   #25
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Originally Posted by Sojourner View Post
Many times we walk the dock with a coffee or beer after boats come in and just strike up a conversation with the most interesting looking boat or people, and almost always have a night of drinking, eating, whatever. At anchor, we do it in the dinghy when we're craving a little extra conversation too, it's easy and fun. You can meet amazing people every single night if you want, or keep to yourself and not talk to anyone for weeks. Buy a flag with a big pint of beer on it (the BEER FLAG). Hoist it at anchor and you'll get people coming over if you like.
This is nice, but you don't need to sail singlehanded to enjoy this type thing.

Actually you don't even need to own a boat.

This is simply about being alone too long and needing companionship.

Most any beach bar near a marina will provide this sort of entertainment.....
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Old 15-09-2019, 16:08   #26
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Hugo, Having lived aboard for 5 years in the past there are a few questions you have to ask yourself. Comfort, how tall are you is important. Enough head room so as to not be bent over below decks and large enough berth to sleep without problems.

Large cockpit and above all very reliable refrigeration. Never enough insulation from boat builder for me. I added insulation and fiberglassed over it and installed new refrigeration. A nice stove with temp controlled oven.

As others have stated, bigger is better as you will need room for all your STUFF. Tools, spare parts, food, etc.

Self steering and a windless with remote control to be operated at the helm help me quite a few times. I went over budget and install a sonar so I could see anchor at rest on bottom for piece of mind.

An older boat fitted for cruising with solar panels, wind generator, water maker optional but nice when on the hoof for some time. Mine was a heavy duty cutter rig which worked well as I could put small sail up when getting some shut eye and not worry about change in wind as much. Also, what did you do for a living ? There are needs for many trades all over the world and many in the sailboat maintenance area. I found the Pacific cheaper than the Atlantic if you stay away from French Islands and shop at village markets. Mine was a Tayana 37 designed by Robert Perry. Very solid buit slow and comfortable. Good luck and stay safe.
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Old 15-09-2019, 16:29   #27
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Originally Posted by SVTatia View Post

So read all the posts above twice then binge watch on Youtube:
  • Adventures of an old sea dog
  • How to sail oceans
  • Junkming (Ming Ming)
  • And last but not least WindHippieSailing
You can add Winded Voyage Sailing to that list too.
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Old 15-09-2019, 17:05   #28
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

I enjoyed 14 years of living on a 27 foot sloop on the Queensland coast and Papua New Guinea. Always something to fix or clean.
Loneliness a big downer. Other boats with couples don't welcome lonely old men. (and single young men are not welcome by alpha males.)
Good if you can take backpackers for trips. Very tiring and vexing. But can be exciting and full of adventure.
You can meet many single sailors, most are alcoholic and somewhat mindless and stuck somewhere.(my experience so don't criticize)
You need headroom and good storage capacity. You will need a good windlass.
The Mediterranean scene may be very different.
Tulku Tim.
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Old 15-09-2019, 18:25   #29
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

I agree with previous posts on boat size, 32 to 34ft is ideal. One person needs almost as much stuff as 2! Also once you get above 30ft boats tend towards a more substantial and durable construction and will handle rough weather better. Sailing I have never found being alone a problem. Being in port can be different though. Being on your own surrounded by people you don't know can be lonely. The other issue is that if you are cruising you quickly make freinds in each port but never have people you have known long. You can find yourself in a world of aquantainces rather than freinds. Skype does let you keep in touch more but it is still an issue. Having a home port that you return to each winter could be a solution. Just thoughts we are all different
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Old 16-09-2019, 01:59   #30
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Re: Single-handed cruising lifestyle: what is it REALLY like?

Thank you all for your wonderful advice.

Certainly some things to think about. One common thing seems to be to opt for a slightly larger boat than I was thinking of. I actually used to own a larger boat, a 34 ft Sparkman and Stephens, a real beauty. I did find though that it was quite expensive to keep (longer boat = larger berth = more money), and I also had a bad episode once coming into the marina with a very strong crosswind whilst trying to get into the pen on my own and nobody else around. Luckily no damage was done but it was a very close thing.

That and the Lynn and Larry Pardey books, plus googling some wonderful under 28 ft boats like Twisters, Cape Dorys and Vancouvers made me think that a smaller boat in fact may be the better thing. But after your posts I will definitely think about it some more. I like the Hallberg Rassy Monsun, that is 31 ft, who knows.

Great info about Greece by the way, thanks Ms Lili on giving me all that info on backing into marinas, costs etc. A very long time ago I spent about 8 months in Krete (not on a boat) and in the back of my mind I always thought that as a cruiser I would be happy to end up in Greece somewhere, maybe I will. Greek boat tax is a bit of a nightmare though.

As to being alone, I actually enjoy my own company, but as with everything, extreme isolation is not my cup of tea either. But it does not look like this is what most people experience as cruisers.

I have watched "The Adventures of an Old Seadog" - good on him, he is giving it a real go although I would never opt for a steel boat. There is also my namesake, Hugo the "Sailing Frenchman" now doing the Clipper race. He seems to get by on a fairly small boat. I will have a look at some of the sailing blogs of others mentioned here. Anyway all food for thought and thanks again.
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