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  #1  
Old 10-20-2011
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Common production boats I can singlehand?

I am hoping to stay in Italy for the long term sailing out of Rome.

Looking for a used boat most boats here are at least 35', very common to see 37-44' newer up to ten year old boats.

Jeanneau, Beneteau, Dufour, Comet, Elan and Bavaria seem to be the most common brands.

Any idea for a 10 year old boat for brand, model, length out of the above that are known to be at least passable in terms of singlehanding?

(The 2004 Jeanneau Sun Fast 37 I train on seems very challenging to sail alone as the traveller is in the way and there is no room to move from behind the wheel to reach any winches)

Thanks much,
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Old 10-20-2011
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If you can get a boat with an auto-pilot, especially one that has a wind direction sensor, then most boats in that size can be single-handed. I had no problem at all on the Jeanneau 43DS and 49DS but I never was in a great hurry, so tacking was usually a comfortably slow affair (hit the "tack" buttons on the autoilot, boat tacks through 110 degrees and while it is changing headings I loosen the genoa sheet on one side and winch it in on the other, if I get the timing right then I don't even have to winch much under pressure. If I have the traveler off the centre then I loosen it to the appropriate angle before tacking and don't have to touch any mainsail controls until I take the play out of the traveler after the maneuver.
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Old 10-20-2011
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That Sun Fast is a a cruiser/racer...kinda like the Beneteau First series. I'd agree - those boats aren't my first choice for single-handing. But to be truthful, most any boat with a modern rig and lines led aft can be single handed. My guiding principle for single-handling is keep the captain safe, and that usually means in the cockpit rather than up on foredeck or other areas managing the boat. Avoid older designs specifically the IOR era boats as they require a lot of manpower just to keep going.

While some may crucify me for saying this, if I were you I'd actively look at boats with in-mast furling system. When these systems work (and most do work well), the added safety of taking 3 steps from the helm to the coachroof to deploy or reefing the main is a *HUGE* value-add. I cant imagine being on a rough sea trying to set a reef by going forward on the mast. For me, reefing is 5 turns of the winch while the autopilot or wheel is locked for a minute.

I'd also look for a boat that has an owner that took the time to put in an anchor windlass...and put a remote on it or has buttons or a switch led to the cockpit as well. Pure luxury and more things to maintain...but again, my guiding principle is to keep Cap'n in the cockpit. Imagine being able to deploy and back down on an anchor while at the helm vs running back and forth between the anchor locker on the bow and the helm.

Additionally, Id be looking for boats with a sugar-scoop transom or other ways to quickly get back on board if you fall in the drink. In a nightmare scenario, imagine going overboard, but being able to snag one of your trailing safety lines...a miracle in itself. You claw your way back to the boat...but now, you're deadlifting yourself aboard? Not gonna happen. Look for a boat that has some way to scamper aboard...sugarscoops are good, but make sure there is a boarding ladder or swim ladder that can be deployed from the sea.

I'd also look at lifelines that aren't so low that they act is leg clippers and are substantial enough to take your weight if you were to slip/fall. Lots of anchor points for your harness...d-ring that have backing plates rather than just drilled through the coachroof top. Lots of areas to run your jacklines.

For single-handing, docking can be a scary...so I'd be looking for cleats forward, midships and aft (and beefy ones too) so that you can quickly grab any line and get it on a cleat and move to the next chaotic moment while docking.

Single-handing is seriously risky sailing...but can be sublime.
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Last edited by night0wl; 10-20-2011 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 10-20-2011
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The ability to single hand any boat is more about you than it is the boat.
But an auto pilot sure comes in handy when you want to go below and make coffee.
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Old 10-20-2011
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Many boats can work well for single handing. Equipment is more important, particularly for sail handling in a boat that size. Roller furling genny of course. A roller furling main is nice (as long as it works well), or a Dutchman system (or good lazy jack system) for the main. The ability to reef the main from the cockpit is important. And an autopilot essentially gives you the "second crewman".

I single hand my 33 footer regularly. Roller furling genny, main with Dutchman system and reefing from cockpit, autopilot. The hardest part is getting back on the mooring alone if the wind is up. Sometimes takes a couple of tries. I also bring it into the club dock alone and that requires planning and experience to do well.
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Old 10-20-2011
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I agree with BobPerry but a boat that has winches that you can reach staying near the wheel has an advantage. Another one and even bigger advantage will be a boat with the traveler near the wheel and preferably with a direct mainsheet with a purchase system. That will give you complete control of the main sail from the wheel...and if the winches for the Genoa are at hand...it will be perfect

Some Dufour will have it, almost all Comet, Some Elan, the First and all Salona, among others.

A boat with a good D/B ratio, a stiff boat that can forgive a lot, will also be an advantage.

Regards

Paulo
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Old 10-20-2011
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Probably a no brainer, but... Make sure all the winches are self tailing.
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Old 10-20-2011
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I'd take an SF over an SO ANY DAY of the week because it HAS the traveler in the cockpit, so I can reach it while at the wheel/tiller. Winches are also near me etc. The SO models have the main traveler on the cabin top, so no way to reach it and dump the main from the wheel/tiller of that model.

Also the SF37 in comparison to the SO and other SF models, has a lead keel, some will consider that to be better than an iron one. 6 and 1/2 dozen or another in my book.

BUT< reality is, ANY boat can be made to SH easy enough. Some will be easier, or are already more or less ready to go. The how you vs I set them up will also be different. With Jeanneau's, I'll take an SF, or my older Arcadia BECAUSE the main traveler is IN the cockpit!

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While I can't comment on the Sun Fast, I would also agree that the easiest to sail, decent performing, single-handers in that size range will generally have all major control lines lead aft, the traveller and mainsheet controls in the cockpit just forward of the wheel, and the genoa sheet winch just forward of the wheel as well. This ususually means stepping over the traveller, but it gives you much better sail shape control without having to run around the boat. In some cases, where boats are cruiser-racers intended for single-hnading, the spinnaker sheet winches are purposely sized the same as the jib sheet winches and are placed near the helm.

In Europe you also have access to a range of purpose built offshore capable, single-handed racer cruisers. These are a little stark, but they are fast and pretty easy to handle.
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Old 10-21-2011
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My dad loved his boat that he was planning on taking around the world. He sailed single handed for most of the trip. His boat is a Union Cutter 36 "Tenacious". He wrote me about many crazy experiences on the trip through horrible storms (I seem to remember him saying something about 50 ft waves) and how well his boat handled every storm, though they took a toll on him after a while.

I'm afraid I don't have any experience myself, but thought I would share this. Hope it helps.
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