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Old 01-04-2002
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Sailing Solo

Can I sail a 40 to 45-foot monohull by myself? I am thinking about a sailboat this size for a liveaboard in south Florida.

Mark Matthews responds:
In a word, yes. Consider the single-handed races that go all the way around the world—like last year's Vendée Globe—in which sailors steer 60-foot planing machines through some of the roughest waters in the world. So it's certainly possible to single-hand a boat that's 40 to 45 feet in length, Of course you'll want to be sure that you and your boat are up for the ocassionally demanding tasks that the sea can throw at us.

I don't know if you're asking about daysailing or sailing alone on extended passages offshore. In solo-sailing situations offshore you'll need to sleep at least part of the time, and all the radar alarms in the world aren't a fitting substitute for having someone else awake, alert and on deck. Now if you're only talking about daysailing, that's a different matter, but remember that it takes a fairly expert sailor to maneuver the boat in and out of tight quarters, to say little of bending sails on alone, navigating, negotiating traffic, or docking. And coastal sailing in many instances requires a heightened sense of navigation and seamanship simply because there are more things to run into. I've always found that sharing the trip made life aboard easier, safer, and more enjoyable.

As far as the second part of your question about living on a boat that size, 40 to 45 feet should be more than ample. I say that, though, coming from my 26-foot background, so I may be a little prejudiced.

I hope this information helps. For more information, check out our Liveaboard E-mail Discussion List, found on the left-hand rail under Members' Center. There you can query other liveaboards for their thoughts on the matter.

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