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Old 04-19-2001
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Good boat for singlehanded cruising

I need advice. I am moving from my Mac 26X to something in the 40'' range for cruising/liveaboard in the Carib. Much of the time I expect to be alone or with someone who won''t be much help. Besides all lines leading to cockpit and furling jib what else should I look for in design and equipment of my next boat so I can handle it easier by myself? Seems clear that I will need an autopilot or would a wind vane be adequate? Would a cutter rig be more difficult for one person to handle than a regular sloop?
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Old 04-19-2001
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hamiam is on a distinguished road
Good boat for singlehanded cruising

I would suggest a hardy below-deck autopilot, rollering furling head sail(s), and a sto-boom or lazy jack system for the main. Make sure that the winches are self-tailing, 2 or 3 speeds, and are BIG.
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Old 04-20-2001
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Good boat for singlehanded cruising

This is something that I have spent a lot of time contemplating. First of all, 40 feet is a very big boat for a single person to handle and frankly for most single cruisers (or couples for that matter) 40 feet is unnecessary. I would suggest capping the length at 36 to 38 feet.

I personally think that a fractional rig sloop makes the most sense for single-handing. The smaller jibs are easier to tack and you can use a bit of mast bend to depower instead of having to reef or furl. The smaller jibs are more able to be used across a wider range of windspeeds meaning fewer sail changes. (I will talk about furlers in a minute.)

In a real, blow you end up sailing under a reefed mainsail which is self tending allowing you to short tack quite easily. (I did a sail trial last weekend on a 38 foot fractional rigged sloop. It was blowing in the mid 20''s and what a pleasure it was to be able to reach at 8.5 knots and short tack up a channel at close to 7 and not have to deal with a jib.)

I personally do not like furlers for single-handing. Last weekend''s experience has once again reinforced that. Here I was on a boat with a virtually new Harken furler (which, with Profurl, is as good as they get in my book)and the darn thing jammed. It took two guys plus someone steering and someone tending the retractor line to free it up. You don''t have 4 guys on board when you are single-handing and there was no way in the shifty conditions, heavy traffic, and narrow confines of the Beaufort shipping channel that you could have freed that yourself. The owner says it never happened before. I say that is exactly why I would not want that darn thing on board.

I am currently leaning towards a hank on jib with a downhaul lead back to the cockpit for offshore. Then you know you can strike the jib whenever you want. No questions asked. Hank on jibs are easy to flake and stow.

I really feel strongly that Lazy Jacks are a bad idea. This too was reinforced by last weekend''s sail. It really made it much more difficult to flake the sail. I suppose if they were easily removeable they might make sense but then you would be rigging and de-rigging them constantly.

I agree that all lines should be lead back to the cockpit. On a cruising boat in the range that we are talking about this means using high quality roller bearing blocks otherwise the friction will make everything a major chore.

I don''t like cutter rigs for everyday sailing. I owned one for many years and tacking the genoa is much more difficult. Its the kind of thing that single-handers don''t want to deal with. If you are concerned about having a flexible sail plan you can rig a removable jib stay for your storm jib. If it is on hanks you can leave the sail hanked on even when the stay is unrigged making setting up much easier. With a fractional rig a strom jib is not really as necessary except to hove to in which case it can be very very small in area and does not need to set off of a special stay.

A good below deck autopilot is a good idea for times when you are motoring and some of those can be rigged to read through your electronics to steer under sail. I also like the idea of a windvane since it uses no electricity and so you don''t need to run your engine as much.

I''m out of time here.

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Old 05-06-2001
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Good boat for singlehanded cruising

I''ve been considering a Macgregor26x, but preferred something just a little bit larger.
Could you offer a suggestion....
Something easy to sail alone, can motor reasonably well, etc....
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Old 05-24-2001
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Good boat for singlehanded cruising

I can recommend a C&C 27 (MK3 - MKV). I sailed it for many years single handed in Florida and recently in San Francisco bay. I spinnaker single handed in 20-30 knots of wind without a problem. Very stable and fast boat, big enough to have some people aboard and small enough to singlehand easily.

Good luck


I would stay away from a motorboat with sail (macgregor)
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Old 05-29-2001
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Good boat for singlehanded cruising

Jim, I think you got a good deal of useful advice from Jeff. But also some generic statements that may not serve your purpose well, so I''d like to add these thoughts:

The length of the boat is not the critical factor IMO but rather, within reason, the displacement & therefore amount of power (sail area) required to cruise the boat. As one example, consider adapting a Cal 40 with more easily handled sails than when it was raced: light displacement, decent volume, great sailing performance, and routinely sailed by single-handers. The fact it''s a 40 footer is secondary.

Sail handling, ease of self-steering, a functional navagation station in proximity to the cockpit, and working the boat in confined spaces (e.g., ID''ing & passing thru reef cuts, anchoring) are critical issues for the single-hander. Given that a larger boat''s sail plan can be broken into smaller, more manageable size sails, I don''t think any of the above issues suffer from a 40'' boat. Having said that, a 32-36'' boat would certainly be adequate for your needs, wouldn''t it? This time out (about 18 months) we''ve seen soooo many cruisers who felt they needed bigger, more complex boats, I''ve got to believe its essentially a trend made possible by the profitable 90''s. Twelve years ago, we saw far more smaller boats with less complex gear and think the folks were perhaps enjoying themselves more. My point: don''t get more boat than you need, as there isn''t more pleasure in bigger or more complex.

Vane + autopilot means you''ll have redundancy. Were I single-handing, I''d even consider duplicate autopilots or a good selection of spares. We''re a husband/wife team, and have both a vane & a/p because that''s how essential they are for our passages; we''d hate to lose both. (I highly recommend the cockpit-mounted CPT a/p now sold by Scanmar. It handles our 23,000# Pearson 424 easily. You could carry 2 of these for half the price of a full below-decks a/p system, tho'' the latter will give you redundant steering should you lose the steering cable).

I understand Jeff''s aversion to furling gear but would definitely NOT give up our Profurl. And while we don''t have lazy jacks, they are on my list to add. Both systems generally make sailing short-handed (I single-hand at times, both day & night) easier. Schaeffer has a nice arrangement for making lazy jacks instantly removeable from the mast (to accommodate putting on the sail covers as much as to avoid sail fouling); I recommend you look at it.

Finally, don''t overlook the value of navigation by laptop or chart plotter (tho'' ONLY in addition to keeping a current DR on paper charts), *especially* if coastal cruising. We left without this gear, added it later, and have found the added peace of mind & ease of navigation when short-handed to surprise us. It gives you situational awareness (the "bird''s eye view") unavailable in any other form when sailing along an indistinct coast with poor nav aids). But as I said, only as a supplement to the stone-simple navigation practices we should have all learned first.

By the way, a great boat choice to consider IMO: The Tayana (Vancouver) 32, which is still being made on order by Tayana, or a Vancouver 32 or 36 that can still be purchased in the UK (by Nor''Star?). I mention these if you truly are interested in going offshore as they''re not well known but great designs & boats.

Normally aboard WHOOSH, currently lying POS, Trinidad, WI
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Old 05-29-2001
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Good boat for singlehanded cruising

Jim, Check out Cascade Yachts at I did a circumnavigation in a Cascade 29. They also have larger sizes..36..39..43 etc. They are strong hand laid up hulls that have proven the test of time. They will build one for you or you can order anything starting with the hull
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