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Discussion Starter #1
Last spring I spent some time here on this website and many of your responses helped my looking at my first sail boat. Well things changed and I gave up, but!

Now I've been offered a lucrative job that I could do for a year and then pull the plug and go back to my retirement.

So here I am again with some questions. I sailed quite a bit in San Diego back in the early 70's, 26 foot sailboat with my buddy, his boat.

When I retired 5 years ago I bought an 11 ft Joel White shellback sailboat I could lift onto my truck and played with it for 4 years. Now the interest is back. With this job offer I could get serious about something in the 35-45ft range and $50-60K+ range

One: I'm in the Pacific Northwest so I'll be looking for a boat in the Portland and Seattle area. My big question is: Can a 77 year old (I'm still in pretty good shape), sail that size boat by himself?? I've seen boats with the roller reef Genoa/Jib deal that looks easy to handle. Then some boats with all the reefing available in the cockpit. So I think unless I'm missing something, with some kind of autopilot or tiller lock, (which I had on my little Shellback), I could power out and then rig the sails on my own.

Portland has a great Sailing Club that I have sat down and talked to. I would take their sailing lessons and if I bought a boat locally would enlist their help for some lessons.

All of this would occur next spring but I'm getting that itch and this job offer has really got me thinking??
 

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Depends, I mean if it has an auto jib and an autopilot and all that, probably. If it's all manual that might be a tall order. I can solo my 15ft WWP pretty easily but the pre and post flight are just SO much easier when I have extra hands on deck.

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A big difference between 35 and 45 ft! But at the lower end, I have no trouble single handing our 34 ft Bene with furling main and jib, and of course, autopilot. OK, I'm only 67, but still. For me, the autopilot is essential, as are the controls leading back to the cockpit.
 

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A big difference between 35 and 45 ft! But at the lower end, I have no trouble single handing our 34 ft Bene with furling main and jib, and of course, autopilot. OK, I'm only 67, but still. For me, the autopilot is essential, as are the controls leading back to the cockpit.
Yeah this is a good point, 10 extra feet in legth is basically doubling the hull size, for better (speed and comfort) and for worse (cost/maintenance). Although I guess you seem more concerned about just the handling of it.

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I'm 66 and I just bought a Bristol 35.5 from a 76 year old. He was still sailing it, and only sold it because his wife has Alzheimer's and he needs to be home more. It's set up for single handed sailing.
 

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I think the price range is going to keep you closer to 30 feet than 40 feet unless you buy a fixer-upper. If I was 77, I would buy a smaller boat 30 to 34 feet in better condition and spend my time sailing instead of working on her. Also for me at 60, it's not the sail handling once I'm out, it's the dock handling that would be an issue with a big boat and a little wind by myself for me. We have a Cape Dory 30 and I know we/I use it more than I would a 45 footer. As someone mentioned cost of ownership is exponential to boat size. Take running rigging, I use 3/8 and 7/16 line, around a dollar per foot. 5/8 and 3/4 is $2 per foot, blocks and such would probably double or more. Just my opinion, others may vary.

Now I do like to tinker also, so if you like to sit at the dock and get her ready to go in a year or two that's different.
 

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If all your lines are run back to the cockpit, with an auto pilot, I am thinking you should be able to handle things. You need to work it out. Work the problems as they come and get your playbook worked out. Het some lazy jacks and a stack pack for the main sail too. Then its pretty much just dropping the sail and done. You will of course have to go forward on some occasions, at the least convenient time of course. Even with an auto pilot, going forward in 20 kts is not going to be easy or fun by yourself. But, like I said above, work things out in lighter breeze. Make looking at the deck layout and what is run back and what you will need to run back and what that would take as part of your search when you look at boats.

Good luck, welcome back, and I hope you find a boat that works well for you.
 

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I would approach your question about age and boat size a little differently. The ease with which a boat can be handled is driven by a few factors. For each of us the answer will be different. Here is what I consider to be the main factors in order of importance:
-Your Physical Condition:
Obviously the most personal is your own physical condition. (Speaking for myself at 70, I need to continue to work at staying in shape enough to safely handle my 38 footer single-hand.) You need to be honest with yourself in terms of evaluating your physical strength, balance, mental acuity and so on. (I am not implying that you have not been)
-Displacement:
In terms of choosing the right boat the single most significant driving force is the displacement of the boat. The bigger the displacement, the bigger the sails, and the physically harder that it will be to sail the boat. I sail on a lot of boats and I found that somewhere around 15,000 lbs displacement the loads on the control lines were enough to make single-handing without motorized winches too difficult to be fun for me. I chose to buy a boat with a displacement under 12,000 lbs and have never regretted it. But my own person preferences are not to use motorized devices for sail handling. I consider the physicality of hoisting and grinding in sails, or manually pulling up an anchor without a windlass as a perk not a burden. But that is solely a personal call. I am not trying to suggest my choice is the right answer for everyone, or for that matter, anyone but me.
-Sail Area, drag, and stability:
Sail Area, drag, and stability are completely linked. The more drag that a boat has, the more sail area that it needs to sail. The more sail area that a boat has, the harder it is to sail, and the greater stability that is needed. The more stability relative to its drag thagt the boat has, the easier it is to adapt to changing weather conditions and the more efficient the sail plan of the boat will be. And here comes the counter intuitive point: generally the greater the SA/D that a boat has, the easier it is to handle. This is true because as the SA/D goes up, the boat is able to use smaller overlap headsail and more efficiently shaped sails. Smaller overlap sails are easier to depower, tack, and can be furled down to a smaller size more effectively, The more efficient sails a boat can use, the less sail area will be needed for any condition making short-handed sailing physically easier.
-Rig:
Some rigs are easier to sail short handed than others. By far the easiest rig to sail short-handed is a fractionally rigged sloop since they are easier to depower and generally are easier to tack and jibe, Beyond that the much smaller and more efficient headsails are easier to trim.
-Waterline length:
Once you have chosen the ideal displacement range to meet your needs and capability, within reason, the longer the waterline length the easier the boat will be to handle. There is a practical limit to this in either direction. Once the D/L is out of a 140 to 175 range, the boat will get harder to handle short-hand.
-Deck plan:
Here thinking is divergent, but I like to have the benefit of all of the sail shaping tools and have them led back to the cockpit. There are valid arguments for other options.

So, to answer your your question, "Can a 77 year old sail that size boat by himself?? " My answer would be, it depends.

But for myself, I personally plan to ideally find out 7 years from now. For now I will continue to sail hard. This is me a few weeks before my 70th birthday winning the spinnaker class in the Poplar Island Race in 10-12 knot winds gusting to over 20 knots.
Poplar Island Race- Synergy at Finish Line 2020-06-27

Good luck with whatever you choose to do,
Jeff
 
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I've told this story here before. One of my neighbors, now deceased, sailed his 42 ft catch into his early 90's. He would single hand it even then. I would offer to help him in the spring and fall with delivery to his dock. The storage yard was about 30 miles away. He would decline, as it was important to him to do it himself. I aspire to be him when I grow up (I'm only in my 60's).

His boat was rigged for what he called geriatric sailing. In mast furling, and roller furling jib. He was accomplished, having sailed everywhere and anywhere. Knowledge is important in this regard.

I was lucky enough at one point in my life to sail with Ted Hood. Ted said, you sail with your mind not your strength.

You can acquire the knowledge to do this. Physically, you need good balance and reasonable agility, but that's all.

Listen, learn, and do it. Best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks everyone for your response. Very good information for an old fart like me. Good point about a newer 30-35ft boat that doesn't require any/minimal maintenance. Since I'd probably be sailing mostly in the Columbia river, the boats draft might be an issue.

Question: The 27ft boat my buddy had in San Diego that we sailed, had a Fin keel, ( is that right). We could easily sail out of the marina, no motor. One day we were going to race a friend, for dinner, who had a 29ft boat. Silly me I volunteered to help on the 29ft boat, thinking it would be faster. Well it had a full keel and turned so slow we were 1/4 mile behind once we got out of the marina, ha ha.

So, sailing in the river which would be a better, possibly draw less the fin or full length keel?
 

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the only reason to have a full keel boat especially in a river is because you love everything else about the boat and it happens to have full keel.
 

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Thanks everyone for your response. Very good information for an old fart like me. Good point about a newer 30-35ft boat that doesn't require any/minimal maintenance. Since I'd probably be sailing mostly in the Columbia river, the boats draft might be an issue.

Question: The 27ft boat my buddy had in San Diego that we sailed, had a Fin keel, ( is that right). We could easily sail out of the marina, no motor. One day we were going to race a friend, for dinner, who had a 29ft boat. Silly me I volunteered to help on the 29ft boat, thinking it would be faster. Well it had a full keel and turned so slow we were 1/4 mile behind once we got out of the marina, ha ha.

So, sailing in the river which would be a better, possibly draw less the fin or full length keel?
Generally, full keels have more drag and so require more sail area making them harder to sail. Fin keels tend to have lighter helm loads and get by with less sail area,,

Jeff
 

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There are so many different options, and it always comes down to that trade-off decision, of what type of sailing are you most likely to do, leisure cruising, gunkholing, or racing? Each of those activities are best served by different types of keels. Everything else is a compromise. There are also wing keels, shoal keels, and retractable centerboards. I spent the past six years reading reviews and debates (many debates on here), about all the different types of keels, before I bought my boat this summer. I settled on the Bristol 35.5 with it's abbreviated (cutaway) keel because I decided that it was the best compromise for the type of sailing I intend to do.

Critics have told me, "That's a bad choice of a boat for the Chesapeake. It's too heavy and, the nearly full keel will make it too slow for the light air days that often occur on the Chesapeake. Plus, the 5'9" draft will seriously limit where you can go and you'll get stuck a lot". Then I joined the Chesapeake Bay Bristol Owners Club, and found out that the previous owner sailed with that club, with my boat, for 10 years. The other members of the club have told me that my boat often won friendly races against many of the other Bristols, particularly the Bristol 41.1s in the club. When they had weekend raft-ups, they tell me that they saved a spot on the end, for my boat, in the 7 foot water. The previous owner told me that he had my boat grounded a few times, and was usually able to get unstuck by waiting for the tide to come up, or heeling her over. When that failed, he used his BoatUS Tow Insurance.

After doing some research on the history of my boat, I found out that this boat, that I've been told is too heavy, too deep and too slow, for use on the Chesapeake, has spent her entire 45 year life on the Chesapeake, since she was delivered from the factory in Bristol Rhode Island. She was raced for awhile, against other boats of her class.

So, as you do your research on various boat types, and keel configurations, you will hear many conflicting opinions. I've spent the past several years wading through all those discussions.
 

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Why do you need a 40 ft boat if it's just you? Are you planning on taking others out with you?

If I were going to single-hand and going out by myself, I'd want something like the Rhodes 19 or West Wright Potter 19. But I don't know if you have cruising plans or just daysailing plans.
 

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There are so many different options, and it always comes down to that trade-off decision, of what type of sailing are you most likely to do, leisure cruising, gunkholing, or racing? Each of those activities are best served by different types of keels. Everything else is a compromise. There are also wing keels, shoal keels, and retractable centerboards. I spent the past six years reading reviews and debates (many debates on here), about all the different types of keels, before I bought my boat this summer. I settled on the Bristol 35.5 with it's abbreviated (cutaway) keel because I decided that it was the best compromise for the type of sailing I intend to do.

Critics have told me, "That's a bad choice of a boat for the Chesapeake. It's too heavy and, the nearly full keel will make it too slow for the light air days that often occur on the Chesapeake. Plus, the 5'9" draft will seriously limit where you can go and you'll get stuck a lot". Then I joined the Chesapeake Bay Bristol Owners Club, and found out that the previous owner sailed with that club, with my boat, for 10 years. The other members of the club have told me that my boat often won friendly races against many of the other Bristols, particularly the Bristol 41.1s in the club. When they had weekend raft-ups, they tell me that they saved a spot on the end, for my boat, in the 7 foot water. The previous owner told me that he had my boat grounded a few times, and was usually able to get unstuck by waiting for the tide to come up, or heeling her over. When that failed, he used his BoatUS Tow Insurance.

After doing some research on the history of my boat, I found out that this boat, that I've been told is too heavy, too deep and too slow, for use on the Chesapeake, has spent her entire 45 year life on the Chesapeake, since she was delivered from the factory in Bristol Rhode Island. She was raced for awhile, against other boats of her class.

So, as you do your research on various boat types, and keel configurations, you will hear many conflicting opinions. I've spent the past several years wading through all those discussions.
I personally would not think that the 35.5 would be a bad boat for the Bay. Despite being a pretty heavy 35 footer for a coastal cruiser, the fin keel version of the 35.5 is a pretty low drag boat. Dieter and Ted tended to do cylindrical hull sections that help reduce wetted surface enormously. The fin keel versions were somewhere around 500 to 800 lbs lighter than the centerboard versions and had a lot more stability and so were able to carry more sail area. Most of the keel versions of the 35.5's that came to the Bay (or Long Island Sound) had the taller rig as well which helped a lot in light air. As far as the draft I have been cruising the Bay for 20 years with 6'-4" draft and it hasn't been that restrictive. By the way, I would not call that an "abbreviated (cutaway) keel". By any definition that I know the 53.5 has a pretty conventional fin keel with skeg hung rudder.

Jeff
 

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Cape Dory 30
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Thanks everyone for your response. Very good information for an old fart like me. Good point about a newer 30-35ft boat that doesn't require any/minimal maintenance. Since I'd probably be sailing mostly in the Columbia river, the boats draft might be an issue.

Question: The 27ft boat my buddy had in San Diego that we sailed, had a Fin keel, ( is that right). We could easily sail out of the marina, no motor. One day we were going to race a friend, for dinner, who had a 29ft boat. Silly me I volunteered to help on the 29ft boat, thinking it would be faster. Well it had a full keel and turned so slow we were 1/4 mile behind once we got out of the marina, ha ha.

So, sailing in the river which would be a better, possibly draw less the fin or full length keel?
We had two fin keel boats, a Pearson 26 and a Pearson 30, they were very quick to tack. When we got the Cape Dory we thought we were doing something wrong, much slower to tack but the ride is so much better in the chop in the lower bay. Dennis
 

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I personally would not think that the 35.5 would be a bad boat for the Bay. .... the fin keel version of the 35.5 is a pretty low drag boat.

...... By the way, I would not call that an "abbreviated (cutaway) keel". By any definition that I know the 53.5 has a pretty conventional fin keel with skeg hung rudder.
Jeff
See OlsenKent. This is what's great about these keel debates, and any debate on sailboats.
All of my research and, now my first experiences with my new boat, tells me that what Jeff_H said above is the truth about my boat. (The keel of my Bristol 35.5 is a little wider than a Catalina 34)

But back in August, just two weeks before I finalized the sale, some other experienced sailor told me in very certain terms, the exact opposite.

When I referred to the Bristol 35.5 as a partial keel boat, he said, very firmly, "No! the Bristol 35.5 is not a partial keel boat. You may be led to believe that because it's cut off for just a very brief section between the keel and the skeg, but it is essentially a full keel boat, and you should expect it to handle like one. If you expect it to handle like the fin keel boats you have sailed, you will be very disappointed. It really isn't a good boat for the Chesapeake".

My more than six years of research, and my first experience with actually sailing my new boat, have proven his viewpoint to be in error.

This is an example of the diverse and often conflicting viewpoints you will get from people, when you research these things.
 

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So, sailing in the river which would be a better, possibly draw less the fin or full length keel?
Lighter, faster, smaller more maneuverable are all attributes I would look for in a boat for river sailing. The problem is with short tacking against a current, a heavier boat that is slower to turn and slower to accelerate out of tacks will get pushed down by wind and current, potentially making it impossible to make ground. Based on this, fin keel would probably work better. Faster to turn, faster to accelerate (all other things being equal).

Another thing to consider with river sailing is short tacking can be a lot of physical work. I sail on the St Lawrence River and can be looking at a quite a few tacks over a mile or two getting up river, so I wouldn't want to go with a boat with a big head sail. Fractional sloop or cat boat. I sail a quick cat boat. No jib to worry about, fast into and out of the turns, although won't point quite as high as a sloop, still it's worth it to me to not be tacking a jib single handed a couple dozen times in a short time frame. Just push the tiller over and the boat takes care of itself.

Here is my spot track from a typical sail up river to get groceries while out cruising. Was reefed and going against the current. A lot of tacks in short order. Shoals to the south kept me from using the whole river :)

20201017_074553.jpg
20201017_074611.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Great points about tacking into the current. The fellow I talked to at the sailing school said the Columbia current was a function of how much water was being released from the dams up river. Then again if it's a nice day with little wind you'd need the motor, which is why I'd like a sailboat, questions, questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Oh, I was thinking of the bigger boat since I have a 34 ft motor home and I though I could sail out somewhere, anchor down and relax like I do in the motor home.

Another question was. In my RV, I pull my pickup, I'll stop someplace for a week and jump in my truck and go play some golf. Well that doesn't look like that will work from a sailboat at anchor.
 
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