Originally Posted by stm
i would like to have a short list of sailboats from 35to 40 feet that are most easily handled by one person. I will be using the boat to sail the east coast.
If you really want to SAIL the boat I would look for boats that have sail controls for main and headsail close to the helm. J boats, C&C, some Beneteau's, will have the traveler aft, by the wheel, where the helmsman can reach it while steering.
I single hand (SH) my O'day 35 all the time but I really need an autopilot to do it. The main sheet and traveler are forward, and that requires me to leave the helm to make adjustments. With the autopilot (very old Autohelm 3000) on, and in decent weather, this is simple to do. In big winds and following seas the autopilot doesn't steer well, so I need to be very quick in leaving the wheel, going to the front of the cockpit, adjusting the sails, then getting back to the cockpit.
You will also want something to make raising and lowering the main sail easy. I have Lazy Jacks on my O'day and they work great. I can lower the main quickly, safely, and easily by myself. A furlling main would be even easier (but would not sail as well). A 'stackpack' or comparable would make covering the main easier.
A windlass would be helpful if you will be anchoring. The smaller and lighter the boat, the easier docking will be.
As mentioned, a good reliable autopilot makes it relatively easy to SH any boat. And again, smaller and lighter boats are easier to handle than larger and heavier boats.