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  #1  
Old 01-01-2008
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Another 10 feet ...

I'm considering moving up about 10 feet in boat size from the mid-20's to the mid-30's and I have a question.

Is it much harder or easier to single hand a larger boat, in what ways ?

I suspect it is more difficult because the sails are bigger and the boat is probably more unforgiving. I know in my mid-20's sized boat I am able to dock it pretty easily and if it starts moving in a direction I don't like I can just push it with my foot off of a piling or whatever and force it into place, I don't know if I will have as much success with a mid-30's sized boat.

What are the kinds of things I will have more trouble with on a bigger boat than on a smaller boat ?

Expenses will be higher, etc, obviously, but I mean in terms of actually sailing it, anchoring, and that type of thing. What type of strategies will I have to change with the bigger boat ?

I guess what I'm kind of asking is how much more trouble am I going to get into ?

Please don't ask for specifics of the boat (the usual first question) - I don't know yet.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 01-01-2008
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I went from a 22 to a 33 and single handed both of them. I thought the 33 was easier because it didn't react as quickly to changes in sail shape and allowed you to slow things down a bit and recover from tacking the boat and trim the sails without laying the boat over. If the boat is laid out correctly for single handing then you will have no issues and actually be a bit more relaxed. Docking will always be more difficult with a larger boat simply due to the inertia of a heaver boat. Anchoring will be the same.
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Old 01-01-2008
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I'll second what Brezzin is saying. Bigger is easier because of the reaction time.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brezzin View Post
I went from a 22 to a 33 and single handed both of them. I thought the 33 was easier because it didn't react as quickly to changes in sail shape and allowed you to slow things down a bit and recover from tacking the boat and trim the sails without laying the boat over. If the boat is laid out correctly for single handing then you will have no issues and actually be a bit more relaxed. Docking will always be more difficult with a larger boat simply due to the inertia of a heaver boat. Anchoring will be the same.
Hi Dave, thanks a lot for the response.

Anchoring I am sure you are right, I know I will be moving up from line and a relatively small anchor to chain and a much larger anchor. I have had an easy time with anchors so far and really haven't been in any bad situations. If the anchor wouldn't come up I was able to move the boat back and forth over it by just grabbing the line and giving a good pull until the boat drifted over it, then pulling again to try to pry it up off the bottom, things of that nature. Usually I could just grab the line and strong arm it off the bottom and pull it up by hand. I know things are going to be a LOT different with chain and a much larger anchor, that I will need mechanical advantage to do it.

You said docking will be harder, I believe you. I don't know in what ways it will be harder, but I think you are right that it probably will be harder.

I'm surprised that you said handling the boat on the water wasn't more difficult. For some reason I was thinking it was going to be much more difficult. I don't have any experience with a mid-30's or larger sized boat so I really have no idea at all.

Edit, thanks to you too Freesail99, you posted while I was writing my response.
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Old 01-01-2008
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I think a lot of it depends on how the boat is setup. If the boat is setup properly, with single-handing in mind, then a boat in the mid-30's is probably just as easy to single-hand as your current boat. However, some things, mainly due to scale, are just going to be harder to do.

Your sails are going to be larger and heavier. Raising the mainsail, reefing it, flaking it, raising the genoa, furling the genoa are all probably going to be more difficult.

Your ground tackle is going to be larger and heavier. Stowing your anchor is going to be more difficult. Raising it and dropping it may not be, especially if your next boat has an powered windlass.

Your lines are going to be longer and thicker. Coiling and storing them is a bit more difficult. Docking is going to be a bit more difficult, since the boat will be wider, longer, and often make it harder to see where the dock is in relation to the boat. Also, the distance from the deck to the dock may be considerably different... making getting on and off, and getting the docklines tied off more difficult. Finally, the boat will have considerably more windage than your current boat—which may make docking in a cross wind far more interesting than it currently is.

The boat is going to have far more inertia... so your old habits of fending it off manually are going to have to change or you're more than likely to get badly hurt. A boat in the 25-28' range is probably under 8000 lbs. A boat in the 35-37' range may well be 12,000-20,000 lbs.

A larger boat will be less forgiving in many ways as well. If you had a problem with the roller furling, dealing with it on a larger boat is a lot more difficult. If the windlass dies, raising and lowering the anchor is going to be far more difficult, not only because the anchor is larger and heavier, but also the rode itself will probably be heavier and longer.

Beth Leonard, author of the Voyager's Handbook, said that when they moved up to the larger boat, she was glad that she had started on the smaller boat, as the smaller boat was often far more forgiving in terms of poor seamanship. The forces on the larger boat's larger sails, and the boat's greater inertia means that it is often much harder to recover from making a mistake, as well as possibly more dangerous to make the mistake in the first place.

Yes, as the previous posts point out a larger boat tends to react less quickly...but if you make a mistake, the forces involved are generally a lot higher... A gybe with a 200 sq. ft. main is a bit different than one with a 300-350 sq. ft main.

One last point—a bigger boat will often draw more water... so some of the routes you're used to using may need to be revised. One of my friends found this out the hard way, going from a 24' trimaran with a 4' draft (dagger board down) to a 36' monohull with a 6' draft. Got stuck a few times in the learning process.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wind_magic View Post
I'm considering moving up about 10 feet in boat size from the mid-20's to the mid-30's and I have a question.

Is it much harder or easier to single hand a larger boat, in what ways ?

I suspect it is more difficult because the sails are bigger and the boat is probably more unforgiving. I know in my mid-20's sized boat I am able to dock it pretty easily and if it starts moving in a direction I don't like I can just push it with my foot off of a piling or whatever and force it into place, I don't know if I will have as much success with a mid-30's sized boat.

What are the kinds of things I will have more trouble with on a bigger boat than on a smaller boat ?

Expenses will be higher, etc, obviously, but I mean in terms of actually sailing it, anchoring, and that type of thing. What type of strategies will I have to change with the bigger boat ?

I guess what I'm kind of asking is how much more trouble am I going to get into ?

Please don't ask for specifics of the boat (the usual first question) - I don't know yet.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 01-01-2008
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I went from a 27 footer to a 33 footer, primarily single-handing both. The 33 displaces about twice what the 27 did, so in theory I have twice the boat to handle. I agree with what the others have said about the bigger boat being easier to handle. My take on it is that the bigger boat is more foregiving in most ways compared to the smaller boat because of the slower reaction time. And as for docking, follow the adage that you should only approach the dock at the speed at which you'd like to hit it. In other words, slow and steady coming and going. My experience is that leaving and entering the slip are the two toughest things about single-handing. Once underway it gets easier -- and get an autopilot, too.

One last tip for docking -- practice, practice, practice. Study how the boat reacts at slow speeds both in forward and reverse. If it has propwalk in reverse, don't cuss it -- learn how to use it to your advantage.
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Last edited by SailorMitch; 01-01-2008 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 01-01-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wind_magic View Post
.
You said docking will be harder, I believe you. I don't know in what ways it will be harder, but I think you are right that it probably will be harder.
With a twenty something boat your probably talking about 2000 to 3500 lbs moving into the slip at say 1 knot You jump onto the dock with dock lines in hand maybe grab a stanchion to slow the boat and tie it up.

Now repeat that with a 10,000 to 12,500 lb boat. Stop that at 1 knot by man handling it. Lets add in an adverse wind or current and it's even more fun. Also a larger boat will have a higher free board to step off of.
This is all mitigated by developing docking skills for the larger boat. It's very doable just don't think you man handle the boat all the time like you can with a 22.
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Old 01-01-2008
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A few thoughts:

1. Modern boats, properly equipped, can be single or double-handed into the 40' range within reason. If you plan to cross an ocean, then single handing takes on a different meaning than single handing on an afternoon sail. But that's a different topic handled elsewhere on Sailnet.
2. As breezin says, the boat will be slower in it's reactions. That's good and bad. Good because you have more time to pull off a maneuver. Bad because you can't get out of a situation as fast..... you can't just snap the wheel over and expect to avoid a piling, boat, etc.
3. The boat is heavier, probably by a factor of about 2 or more. This means that beyond being a bit slower to react, don't expect to be able to stop a boat by hand when docking or to avoid a collision. You'll need to plan your actions and use your sails, engine, lines, to to the work.... it's a seamanship thing. Planning what you do before you do it is probably the single biggest lesson to learn when moving up in size.
4. Don't underestimate cost as follows:
4a - Lines are heavier and longer.
4b - Ditto for the ground tackle upon which you life may depend. Since the boat is heavier, so too will the ground tackle.
4c - You'll need more life jackets, etc.
4d - Slip rental may go up at your home marina. If you cruise, transient slips will be more.
4e - Insurance may double
4f - Single handing? Buy an autopilot (~$1200 for a tiller or wheel model) 4g - Intellectually, the costs are understood, but that cheap halyard for the 25' boat will be another story when the line goes from 60' @ $.60 to 100' @$1.10
5. A larger boat generally means better creature comforts below.... which means more systems like pressure water, refrig, A/C, etc... more maintenance costs and/or time.
6. Greater responsibility due to more guests? You may end up taking out more guests because of the greater size. It may sound trite and obvious, but the moral responsibility really hits home when you look at a boatload of kids and have to make the decision to return to port because it's blowing too hard FOR THEM, even though they want to stay out.
7. The good news? Better sea handling, better stability, faster, more comfortable, more confidence during a blow, greater cruising range.

Finally - don't make such a big jump without spending some time away from the dock in a boat of the size (and preferably brand) that you expect to buy. I don't mean a 60 minute checkout sail around the harbor. Try chartering a boat for a week or weekend. Spend some time on a friend's boat. Try tacking by yourself. The differences will be obvious.

We've all made the jump to ever larger vessels and it's a natural part of life on the water. Seamanship skills develop for those sensitive enough to care, the costs become manageable as we become used to them. It's forums like Sailnet that help us to become aware of that to which we were oblivious. To me boating isn't something that you learn and do. It's a lifestyle, a learning experience that only ends when you die or sell the boat.

Good luck!!
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Old 01-01-2008
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Hi SD and Sailor Mitch, thanks for responding to my questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
I think a lot of it depends on how the boat is setup. If the boat is setup properly, with single-handing in mind, then a boat in the mid-30's is probably just as easy to single-hand as your current boat. However, some things, mainly due to scale, are just going to be harder to do.
By properly setup I think you mean making sure the lines are all led back to the cockpit and that kind of a thing. If not, could you say a little more about this ? I would appreciate it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SD
Your ground tackle is going to be larger and heavier. Stowing your anchor is going to be more difficult. Raising it and dropping it may not be, especially if your next boat has an powered windlass.
What I was thinking here is that I would keep some manual winches, come-alongs I guess they are called, in case I get into trouble too. As a last resort if the windlass fails I could probably use them to figure out how to get the anchor up even if it takes a while to do it that way. I have a good 12 vdc winch too that I could bring along in case things get really stubborn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SD
The boat is going to have far more inertia... so your old habits of fending it off manually are going to have to change or you're more than likely to get badly hurt. A boat in the 25-28' range is probably under 8000 lbs. A boat in the 35-37' range may well be 12,000-20,000 lbs.
I think this is going to be a real challenge to learn. So far I really haven't had to learn proper docking techniques, I've kind of figured it out as I went along. I know about spring lines and such but I have not done those kinds of things in any routine way on my current boat. I guess it's time to break out the docking book I have and start reading it again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SD
Beth Leonard, author of the Voyager's Handbook, said that when they moved up to the larger boat, she was glad that she had started on the smaller boat, as the smaller boat was often far more forgiving in terms of poor seamanship. The forces on the larger boat's larger sails, and the boat's greater inertia means that it is often much harder to recover from making a mistake, as well as possibly more dangerous to make the mistake in the first place.
One thing I know I will have to learn more about is doing things like putting a gybe preventer (discourager ?) on the boat, things of that nature. So far I haven't had to do much of that. I've actually never gybed my boat accidentally, yet, I attribute that to good sailing instruction more than any genius on my part, but I know that things can happen when you aren't paying attention and it's best to be safe. I have put my boat in irons a few times, and I suspect that would be harder to recover from on a bigger boat. One thing I really am worried about is that on my current boat I have on occasion got the sails and/or lines wrapped around things and that is difficult enough to recover from on a small boat, I can't imagine how that's going to be with much larger sails. Even doing something dumb like accidentally sending the bitter end up the mast would be a real PITA with a higher mast, I've done that once on my smaller boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SD
One last point—a bigger boat will often draw more water... so some of the routes you're used to using may need to be revised. One of my friends found this out the hard way, going from a 24' trimaran with a 4' draft (dagger board down) to a 36' monohull with a 6' draft. Got stuck a few times in the learning process.
This should be pretty straightforward for me because I'll have to change to a new location to dock the boat anyway, my current location doesn't have the bridge clearance for a higher mast, probably doesn't have the depth either. So for better and worse it'll all be new with a new boat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor Mitch
I went from a 27 footer to a 33 footer, primarily single-handing both. The 33 displaces about twice what the 27 did, so in theory I have twice the boat to handle. I agree with what the others have said about the bigger boat being easier to handle. My take on it is that the bigger boat is more foregiving in most ways compared to the smaller boat because of the slower reaction time.
This is a bit of a comfort to me because it's one of my bigger concerns. My concern is I will get a bigger boat then get out there and not be able to sail her out of trouble if something happens. I'm not even sure what I mean by that. I guess I mean that on my smaller boat I can kind of figure things out as I go along, I can try something and if it doesn't work I just change my sail configuration, direction, etc, and try again. I guess I can do that on a bigger boat too, but I doubt with the ease I currently enjoy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor Mitch
Once underway it gets easier -- and get an autopilot, too.
I'll definitely have wind vane self steering, and I was considering getting one of the small tiller type autopilots for moving around under power when I don't want to steer the boat.

Thank you again for the responses!
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Last edited by wind_magic; 01-01-2008 at 01:27 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 01-01-2008
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I had a hunter 23 and even though it was a great little boat I really feel it was harder to handle then my Oday 30. Docking with an outboard, tiller and reaching over the transom was a pain in the A$$!

It is very important to know the conditions before bending sail when your solo, but that's true on any boat. I'm already dreaming of a 37-41 ft for my next boat (if there will ever be a next boat)
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