3th or 40 ft is a difficult change? - SailNet Community

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Old 12-27-2001
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3th or 40 ft is a difficult change?

Well as you may know I am thinking on swithching from a 31 foot moody to an Elan 40. This time my question is about if you think a 40 foot boat can be managed by a single person ....Where is the limit, I donīt want my boat to get stock in the marina year arround, now I enjoy just finishing work taking my motorbike and be sailing in about 30 min. Will I be able to do that in a 40 foot modern cruiser-racer?
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Old 12-27-2001
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3th or 40 ft is a difficult change?

Much of this answer depends on your physical condition and how the boat is set up. Everything either has bigger loads or takes a longer effort on a bigger boat. The 40 may be a third larger than the 31 but it probably weights close to twice as much. If I remember right the Elan has masthead rig which makes single-handing a more difficult as you are wrestling with bigger jibs and its harder to shift gears as the wind builds.

I just made a similar move from a 28 footer to a 38 footer. I am not sure how useful my recent observations will be to you but I have found that sailing the 38 takes a different set of skills and a bit more physical fitness to do things that were a piece of cake on the smaller boat. For example, I could hand over hand my main halyard until the mainsail was right up to the masthead on the Laser 28. On the Farr 38 I find that somewhere above half way up I put the halyard on a winch and crank for all I am worth. When the sail is up I feel like I have used my muscles.

I am not sure how much the Elan''s extra couple feet and extra 8000 lbs over the Farr 38 will affect the ease of single-handing. You are dealing with substantially bigger loads than I am. Also my boat was set up for racing with some substantially over sized hardware (and some that still needs to be upgraded).

Single-hand I could tack the Laser 28 without using a winch handle. No matter what I''ve tried, I end up cranking for a bit on the Farr 38. I could tack the Laser 28 in all breezes and I did not have an autopilot. The distances in the cockpit and the wheel steering means that I have to use the autopilot to tack in winds over about 5 knots.

Then there is a time/distance thing. In the smaller boat, I had gotten used to the speed with which I was closing with another boat or other object. From the time I decided that I need to tack or alter course, I could easily leave the rail, adjust the sails, and make the course change. I find with the greater speed of the bigger boat, I need to make decisions much sooner because the distances covered are so much greater in the time it takes to set up for a tack for example.

I really find the wheel a bit of a hinderence. The wheel pulls you back toward the aft end of the cockpit. With a tiller you are further forward and within reach of the various adjustments and in easy sight of the sails. (I am considering getting rid of the wheel and returning my boat to tiller steering.)

Getting underway takes about the same time but putting the boat to bed, with longer lines to coil and more equipment to shut down and put to bed seems to take noticably longer.

The bigger boat has a roller furling jib which is a mixed bag. It has already jambed on me in a stiff breeze. I ended up on the bow wrestling with the drum. As the wind built the sail shape with the partially rolled #2 genoa was so poor that I ended up rolling the sail in and just sailing under the mainsail.

I could drop, stow and send up a new sail single handed on the 28 footer. I am not sure that there''s a prayer that I could haul the bigger genoas off the deck of the 38 in a breeze by myself.

I could easily fly the sym. chute on the 28 single-hand. I am not sure that I will be able to douse the chute by myself without a sock on the bigger boat. I was able to douse the sail with two people using the autopilot to steer and the other person to ease the halyard.

On the other hand the bigger boat is a more stabile platform. Its easier to move about and do things. The 38 footer has some great electronics. The autopilot is a great equalizer. It buys you the time to accomplish what needs to be done at the slower pace of a bigger boat or to just plain sit and navigate in ernest. It also lets you do some things that are a bit more frivilous such as the big kick I got out of sitting on the bow and watching the old girl roar along at over 9 knots.

I don''t regret my step up at all. I am still sorting things out a bit but the move feels good. After years of sailing on a lot of different boats I had decided that a 38 foot fractional rigger was a practical limit for me if I was going to single hand with much frequency(I am a reasonably fit not especially large {5''9" or so & 165 lb} 51 year old). I considered a number of masthead rig designs and after sailing aboard a few I had decided that 35 feet was a practical limit for a masthead design for me.

Good luck with what ever you do.
Regards
Jeff



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