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hoppy 16-09-2009 09:34

Going Solo - How Big Is Too Big?
I'm just wondering what is the biggest sized boat that can be handled by just one person. I'm especially thinking about when it comes to docking the boat as I figure you can rig yachts to be easily handled at sea but be a pig to dock alone.

I assume the design of the boat can make a difference whether it has a fin keel or a bilge keel as this affects manoeuvrability in port.

My last experience was 20+ years ago with a Columbia 34. It was pretty easy to dock solo, at least at the marina we kept it.

Bash 16-09-2009 09:39

how good is the skipper?
I've docked my 46 footer solo many times. Not that I'm recommending such a practice for the casual yachtie.

hoppy 16-09-2009 09:52

My sensible hat says I should keep looking around the 37 foot mark, but then I see 40 footers and then 43/44 footers that could be possible purchase options.

At the start I will always have a crew, but eventually I hope to do some solo sailing even if it is just day trips.

John A 16-09-2009 09:58

There's several factors to be considered besides the size of the boat: type of keel, design of rudder, type of prop. Also what type of slip: upwind, down wind, single finger, double finger. Then there's the conditions: curent, tide, wind.
You'll get better with practice and yes you'll do some embarrassing attemps as the rest of the people at the marina watch. We've all been there.
Part of the enjoyment of boat ownership is learning new skills.

MikeinLA 16-09-2009 12:49

If I were buying a 40+ ft boat and was at all concerned about it's handling characteristics under power at low speed, I wouldn't hesitate to drop the cash for a bow thruster. There was a good article lately in SAIL magazine recently showing a guy pulling up to a dock alone, hopping off and securing his stern line and then (with the REMOTE!) bringing his bow into the dock to tie off. Sure made it look easy.


PS - All Old Salts who would like to say how pussified bow thrusters are must first dispense with their GPS, Weatherfax, cell phones, etc.:D It's just another tool.

Hurricane Harry 16-09-2009 13:02

Bernard Moitessier liked the optimal sailboat to be around 30 ft. For singelhandling.
That man had a clue on this issue.
Best of luck

Curmudgeon 16-09-2009 13:50

Well, docking is one problem, getting overpowered is another.

jimking100 16-09-2009 14:40

I drive a Cal 39 singlehanded. The first half dozen dockings were ugly (and embarrassing). As others have suggested, practice makes perfect. My boat has a fin keel and spade rudder. One has to obtain significant speed to back into the slip and this will test your nerves. I got out and practiced at an end dock and around bouys (this drew a few enquires). One has to do this to learn the feel for propwalk which can be significant. IMHO the size of the boat is not that important...practice and increased confidence will make you the envy of others when you back into a slip fast, slam the boat in forward, and allow the propwalk to walk you to the pier at which time you kewlly step off the boat and secure your lines. I once saw a Youtube video in which a young lady (in a long red dress and high heels...honest) brought a large yacht into a seawall. She was elequent in her tight dress and high heels as she stepped off the boat and secured a line.

sailorboy1 16-09-2009 15:18

I don't think the size matters all that much for docking. Yes the boat handles different (slower), but what difference does it make wheteher is is just you or there is someone else standing on the deck waiting to step off once you get there? The hull/rudder/prop design probably going to make more difference for the boat handling in general.

barnakiel 16-09-2009 17:45

My friend docks a 46 HR prob noblem. I believe a much bigger boat can be docked by an experienced driver too.


MarkJ 16-09-2009 17:53

Get the bigest boat you can afford and when it comes time to dock it... learn.
It wont be that difficult.

The first time I had to take a Swan 65 (not alone) out of a dock I didn't have a moments pre-thought. The skipper just said: 'Mark you take it out' and he walked off and dropped the lines! :confused: The bow streached off into the distance somewhere....

Anyway, look at me... I'm still alive ;)

David M 16-09-2009 19:06

Too big...

Too small...

In between is perfect. :D

Seriously though, docking is a major factor. If its too big to dock in a good wind or a good current by yourself then its too big. There is no hard number on whats too large or too small. Its a big gradient where at the extreme ends you definitely know 100 feet is too much and 10 feet is too little. Much comes down to how the boat is rigged, how much comfort you desire and how much work you are willing to accept.

dana-tenacity 16-09-2009 19:11


Originally Posted by jimking100 (Post 333082)
I once saw a Youtube video in which a young lady (in a long red dress and high heels...honest) brought a large yacht into a seawall. She was elequent in her tight dress and high heels as she stepped off the boat and secured a line.

And you haven't provided a link??????????

speciald@ocens. 16-09-2009 19:29

I often handle my 60 footer by myself.Docking is my only problem but that is what marina dockhands are for. Actually,this boat (see avitar) is easier to handle than my 40 foot C&C was. All winches are electric, the headsail and mainsail furlers are electric, the windlass is controlled in the cockpit, and there is a thruster.

Hurricane Harry 17-09-2009 00:14

There will always be a limit to what one can handle. Understand if you have everything electrified its easier. But lets say a boat without electric winches when you get up towards 40 ft with sails made of some sort of fiber sails are getting so heavy it takes two to manage getting sails mounted. I prefer sailing as in the old days its also a good workout for our bodies.
Most people I know with big yachts wants smaller. You can get in everywhere.


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