Does size really matter when you’re single handed?

Bellinos

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Evening all,

what do you think? I intend to do a fair bit of single handed but Mrs B like a bit of space and comfort. I’ve got ambitions for longer passages when I have more time so my question is about boat size. A lot of my sailing friends think anything over 32 would be tricky but I love the idea of a go anywhere boat and have been eeying up nauticat 35-43, moodys, westerly oyster and bavaria oceans. I’ve seen plenty of you tube videos of folk happily sailing 40ft plus boats so what are the pro’s and cons?
 

Jonny A

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I much prefer something small but still seaworthy. Sailing single handed you should always plan ahead but anyone, however careful, can get caught out. When the inevitable happens I want the loads in the rig to be manageable, not life threatening.
 

lustyd

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I could sail any sized boat single handed with ease. Could I moor one though? My 36 is a challenge to leave and return a marina berth solo. I reckon I could do a mooring buoy alone, and I'm certain I could handle it on a calm day. That said, there's an identical boat in my marina and he comes and goes solo so maybe it's practice :)
 

Gary Fox

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Well laid out larger yachts are no problem, but if you are trapped at the stern for example, behind a huge wheel, and you can't reach anything, even the mainsheet, it will be awkward to say the least.
Luckily you can eliminate impossible designs quite easily by imagining how you would gybe or whatever.
I'm lucky, from sat in the cockpit with my arm over the tiller, I can reach all the winches and sheets and the engine controls without even standing up.
High freeboards as said^ and also centre cockpits would not be fun either.
 

pyrojames

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I sail a fifty footer singlehandedly, and up until 2020 she was on a swing mooring. It is marina that cause the greatest difficulties. You cant just push off when you get it a bit wrong. Gybing is the other challenge in stronger winds. I have a good autopilot, and can get the main up without winching except for the final foot or so when the boom starts to lift. That is only possible with external halyards with minimal friction, and my full weight on the halyard. Anchoring is the norm, and with enough deck space you can keep a dinghy or RIB on deck to get ashore or do local exploring.

The extra stability and space on a bigger vessel makes support systems more reliable, and the motion easier.
 

pandos

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I sail a 35 footer on my tod and believe that the stability helps with singlehanding. But all lines are lead to the cockpit and I have a remote for the electric windlass .

I too want to go further afield with a bit of space and comfort

Coming alongside always held a terror for me until I discovered the technique of putting a line from the midship clean to a winch and dropping it two handed out over a cleat on the pontoon, and then quickly taking in the slack so the boat comes alongside and stops... (There's a youtube somewhere)
 

KompetentKrew

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I sail a 40'er singlehanded, and it is a bit of a handful.

The great thing about your proposal is that you get to learn the boat as a couple, which is a lot better than starting out singlehanding a 40' boat with no previous experience of it.

My boat is particularly well laid-out for singlehanding - it was custom built for the PO, who chose a tiller - so I can't comment towards production boats.

Why do you need a larger boat, though? I only chose boat a boat this size because I anticipated crew.
 

neilf39

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I think it is the inertia and windage that should be taken into account around berthing and anchoring. If you are on your own then the forces involved on a heavy boat or one with high windage then things can get out of control very quickly if things don't go quite right. I reckon a 30-35ft boat is about as much as I would want to handle on my own . Depends on your level of skill and confidence though I guess.
 

Buck Turgidson

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There are many many larger yachts that are simple to handle in a marina compared to my 28 footer. Once at sea, as long as you have winches appropriate for your rig and an eye for the weather they are all much the same. Ive done a few long distance single handed trips, 18 day, 8 days, 4 days. All doable on my twister but would have been faster and more comfortable on an Oyster 46 for example. But I do like the simplicity of a small boat. Did 12 days double handed on a 25ft Vertue a few years back. Wouldn't want to go much smaller than that. Cosy!
 

prv

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Your challenge is parking. I have a 50fter, which I can happily sail single-handed. Anchoring is easy, as is picking up mooring buoys. Marinas are where it can get tricky.
Is it tricky because it's big and single-handed, though, or just because it's big? Genuine question, because I've only single-handed our current 34-footer and previous 24-footer (and found the smaller boat harder, incidentally, because of a traditional hull shape versus fin-spade-and-saildrive). But it seems like even with a crew or two on a 50-footer, that's too much boat to rely on them manhandling her around, and you have to do it with prop and rudder anyway, so the extra hands aren't as useful as they'd be on a smaller boat?

Pete
 

Baggywrinkle

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When things go pear shaped you can use brute strength to recover the situation on a smaller boat, on a larger boat you need to use intelligence and mechanical advantage - it can be learned and you can devise your own solutions - basically, buy the boat you want and learn how to handle it - hopefully, you'll learn before you end up in a situation where the boat/weather overpowers you.
 

RupertW

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Is it tricky because it's big and single-handed, though, or just because it's big? Genuine question, because I've only single-handed our current 34-footer and previous 24-footer (and found the smaller boat harder, incidentally, because of a traditional hull shape versus fin-spade-and-saildrive). But it seems like even with a crew or two on a 50-footer, that's too much boat to rely on them manhandling her around, and you have to do it with prop and rudder anyway, so the extra hands aren't as useful as they'd be on a smaller boat?

Pete
I don’t singlehand my 42 footer because of parking. It’s the ability of a crew member to drop in a roving fender to the perfect spot, to throw a rope from the bows to a marinero and generally to be at the other end of the boat at a vital moment even just to push off another boats pulpit if things really go sideways.
 

Athomson

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I've been inspired by Patrick laine's videos with his singlehanded adventures on his bav 40. I think I'll be limited to the south coast.
He does get tired though by the look of it. Watching one I did wonder if he could manage it if much went wrong.
 

Ningaloo

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I think experience and cockpit layout can make solo sailing easier. Very happy with all aspects of my previous Hanse 11m, including marina berthing. Self tacking jib and all lines led back to a single pair of winches adjacent to the wheels helps. A good autopilot is a must.
I wouldn't want to solo sail a smaller boat with large genoa, although I have managed the asymmetric in the right conditions.
Picking up a mooring buoy in wind/tide can be frustrating but anchoring is always possible with a wireless remote on the windlass.
Will I solo sail the new 14m ? Not at first but once I'm comfortable with it I'll probably do so from time to time. Electric winches will assist with the main halyard but I don't expect to use them for anything else.
 

NotBirdseye

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Man I saw this in the recent posts and thought everyone had gotten reallllly immature all of a sudden, was definitely expecting a stream of puns.

Size totally matters! You really don't want to be soloing a 40' without a decent amount of tech (not my opinion, the opinion of my instructor) involved for example. But does it matter between say 20 and 30... I'll find out.
 
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