Length limit for single handers??? - Page 5 - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #41  
Old 11-16-2011
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I single hand a 22,000 lb 42 foot Catalina sloop. As someone mentioned above, its all about the last 5 feet to the dock. I did not purchase this boat with the intent of single hand live aboard cruising. I might have purchased something a bit smaller to reduce the physical effort of sail handling. However, in adverse conditions you generally are working to reduce sail, much easier than putting sail up. Also, as a cruiser I don't do "racing" changes. If it takes 15 minutes to raise the main, with appropriate rests in between cranking, so be it. That is all good.

What is difficult to control is the last 5 feet to a dock by yourself under adverse conditions. With a heavy boat you can not muscle it. You have to sail/motor it into the dock. Amateurs use bow and stern lines, the initiated use spring lines. A spring with a big loop on the dock end that can be hooked over a cleat gets that very important first attachment without ramming the bow or the stern into the dock or having the boat stream out at a 90 degree angle to the dock.

This leads to three conclusions:
1) You can't go bigger than a size at which you are comfortable that you can handle the sheets and halyards with whatever equipment is on the boat - which could include electric winches etc. Of course anything but people power gives you the additional risk that things might fail.
2) If you have the boat handling skills it doesn't much matter how heavy the boat is when you are docking, you are using the engine and rudder to make your approaches.
3) You need to have the common sense to not sail over your head. I have chosen to anchor out rather than try to approach a dock in adverse conditions, sat in port more than once waiting for a weather window, and run from adverse conditions in the open ocean (not fun, and it usually only makes things a little less adverse, but heck, you got to do what you got to do!)

Fair winds and followings seas.
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  #42  
Old 11-16-2011
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If you like the idea of having space. Look at multihulls, and get the space with a shorter boat, twin engines, smaller gear, and still get the speed of a big boat........i2f
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  #43  
Old 11-16-2011
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8' sabots are good for single handing... Then there is the extremine the "Maltese Falcon" a computer controlled mega yacht.
My own is a 45' ketch.... Which is plenty big for me...
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Old 07-16-2012
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Re: Length limit for single handers???

Well .....

The length limit historically is probably held by Alain Colas, on Club Med, in the Observer Single handed Transatlantic Race of 1976

As for displacement, ditto -- Club Med's keel alone weighed 85 tonnes (depleted uranium, courtesy of the French government, so about half the size of a lead keel) ... that's 190,000 lbs hanging under the hull

However the sheer macho record surely goes to Eric Tabarly, in the same race, on Pen Duick VI.

This was possibly the most heavily equipped ocean racing maxi ever built, and was intended for a crew of dozens of strong guys, whereas Club Med was designed specifically for single handing -- although not well enough, as it turned out: the halyards chafed through, one by one, in the race in question -- which incidentally Eric Tabarly won, after his self-steering broke (AFAIK the ONLY concession to being solo which was fitted to the boat), and he hand steered 24/7 for about the last two days..... He even put up a friggin spinnaker, and this was before the days of virtually all labour saving devices for solo sailors. Certainly NO roller reefing or furling. Headsail sheets were wire rope, the kind you tow trucks out of ditches with; shackles were D shackles the size of a small fist.

Colas, OTOH, couldn't even finish the race: he ended up pulling into Newfoundland IIRC because one by one all the sails had fallen down, and it was not possible for a single guy to rehoist even one of them, let alone eight. (He had brought a whole team on board specifically to raise sail, and they all had to get off before the warning gun)

Which only goes to reinforce the excellent point made by Foolish Muse about a page back: they both had stupidly inappropriate boats, but one guy coped when things went wrong, and the other couldn't.

Tabarly was deservedly a sailing legend, absolutely one of a kind, but single-handing was really his forte: he had none of the leadership skills it takes to run a big boat successfully other than the ability to do most anything himself better than 99.9 of potential crew. A generation of starry-eyed, hero-worshipping young French sailors were (generally) privately disappointed when they finally made it onto his crew list and found out his limitations as a manager of men.
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Length limit for single handers???-alain-colas-club-med.jpg   Length limit for single handers???-tabarly-pen-duick-vi.jpg  

Last edited by Andrew Troup; 07-16-2012 at 06:29 AM.
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  #45  
Old 07-16-2012
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Re: Length limit for single handers???

FWIW, I don't know of anybody inexperienced who taught themselves to sail, singlehanded, on a big boat.
I personally think it would be the height of foolishness to try.

You really need to have lots of years and thousands of miles under your belt before you would be ready to cope with misadventures alone on such a vessel.

Last edited by Andrew Troup; 07-16-2012 at 06:27 AM.
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Old 07-16-2012
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Re: Length limit for single handers???

Consider low profile above water to be a single hander's advantage over one tall and proud but with lots of windage. A huge keel and lots of windage present a hazard to docking. I believe you'll find docking the largest challenge other than sudden changes in conditions. Another advantage would be more sails, only smaller ones. For example, I sailed a 31' Alden Gaff-rigged Yawl, Cutter rigged on the bowsprit with roller furling, and a small marconi aft. The Main had 3 reef points, so with 4 sails it lent itself to single handing even in a stiff breeze. I found the full keel a bit unmanageable back at the dock when the currents were ripping.
Of course if you have lots of technology you can stretch your limits and you may enjoy this video:
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