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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How many of you out there sail boats over 50' ? Do you wish you were smaller? bigger still? We sail an Irwin 65 that has been set up for world cruising and we absolutely love the space. We don't like the additional costs for EVERYTHING, though. I am getting ready to paint the deck, house and masts and the variation in quotes is dramatic. Some yards treat us like we are a mega yacht and want to charge INSANE rates, at others the price isn't bad at all. (all relative I guess). At this point though I don't know that I could convince the family to move onto anything smaller, and I'd really hate to give up my workbench, but I can't say that I haven't imagined a few less small people on the boat and a 45'ter for the the two of us. :) We do love our boat though.
 

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I sail a 42 footer, and if I had the chance to do it without breaking me, I would go back to a smaller boat, 35-37 feet, or so.
 

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Hey,

I go through this every year. In the spring, when I'm working on the boat and sanding the bottom and washing the decks and buying things like bottom paint, I always think "Why wasn't I happy with a 28' boat?' Then, in the middle of a 3 day cruise, or when there are 10 people aboard I think "You know, a 42' would be pretty nice. I'm sure I could handle one."

Barry
 

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Not in the 'over 50' range (not in boat length anyway :p), but we had a 40 footer for 12 years and now down to 35.. We 'downsized' 9 years ago now, and the 35 is less expensive, easier to handle, still feels 'small and manageable' but we spend a couple of months aboard every summer in plenty of comfort.

While every once in a while we get an itch up upgrade/renew, it's never to go bigger, just maybe newer.. and then we can't see the benefit/cost ratio that makes sense and settle back to reality...
 

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Agree the cost is the main downside...4 times the 25 Macgregor...but the room and comfort level..no feeling of camping...
 

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I used to watch the reviews and walk the boat shows just sort of looking at the big ones with curiosity, not really thinking about them personally.

Now I've reached a point where I could afford a much bigger boat and I've looked at big boats more seriously. Doing so, I've realized how much it would diminish my pleasure. Owning and running a 50' boat has two options. Either you do all the work yourself, in which case it's a tremendous amount of time and effort; OR you hire out much of the work. When you hire it out you don't really get to know the boat. It's not personal. It's not "your" boat anymore. Same thing with having a captain working for you to run the boat.

I used to think I could never have a 50+ boat because the operational costs are 10x to 15x what I currently see. Now that I can almost afford to piss away an obscene amount of money I begin to realize that it's not about the money. It just would not be as much fun. It turns into a management task, coordinating crew, reviewing plans with marina staff, scheduling dock space. You cannot just show up anywhere with a 55' boat and expect to find dock space. I don't want to do planning, I just want to go sailing.

GTJ
 

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I used to sail duo an heavy 60ft steel boat and that was a big task for two (I was a lot younger and foolish). I doubt I would have done it now.

The difficulty of sailing a boat between 50 and 60ft has much to do with the weight of the boat. If it is a modern light one then it will need a lot less sail area and everything will be easier. Also it has to do with rigging. A lot was learned on the last 20 years regarding rigging for big boats solo sailed and a modern rigging adapted to it will make things much more easy.

Regarding interior space more modern boats have much more interior space and you can have the space you have in your boat probably in a boat 10ft smaller.

The big problem of managing a big boat has to do with docking maneuvers. Today not only the boats are lighter (and that makes it easy) as they have computerized docking systems that work with a joystick and that give to the boat the same agility of a smaller boat.

The problem with all that is that modern boats are expensive (because they are not old)...but maintaining an old one is expensive too.
 

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....
I used to think I could never have a 50+ boat because the operational costs are 10x to 15x what I currently see. Now that I can almost afford to piss away an obscene amount of money I begin to realize that it's not about the money. It just would not be as much fun. It turns into a management task, coordinating crew, reviewing plans with marina staff, scheduling dock space. You cannot just show up anywhere with a 55' boat and expect to find dock space. I don't want to do planning, I just want to go sailing.

GTJ
There are many 55 ft boats that can be easily sailed by a couple even solo. I don't know were you sail but in Europe it is the opposite regarding to find a marina place: you will have more difficulty in finding the space for a 36ft than for a 55ft simply because they are not interested in having spaces for small boats that occupy proportionally more space and are not so profitable. So they have lots of space for big boats and a much smaller number of places for smaller boats. The spaces for small boats are also on the ugliest place in the marina, away from everything.

Of course those big places costs a lot of money but since you can piss a lot of it:D, than it would no be a problem.

Here on the last years the size of the average cruising boat that you actually see cruising increased a lot. 12 years ago I had a 36ft and that was a small cruising boat. Today I have a 41ft and that continues to be a small cruising boat:D Most cruising boats are between 42 and 55ft now, at least the newer ones. If you look at the several mass market brads you will see that their flagship is always increasing in size. That increase is proportional to the demand of bigger sailboats.

Regards

Paulo
 

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I singlehand a 57' sloop and, for the moment, don't want to go back to a smaller boat. I really enjoy the two main advantages of the bigger boat: (a) longer LWL and commensurate faster passages and (b) the interior volume that allow me to keep all sorts of "stuff".
 

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.... I don't know were you sail but in Europe it is the opposite regarding to find a marina place: you will have more difficulty in finding the space for a 36ft than for a 55ft simply because they are not interested in having spaces for small boats that occupy proportionally more space and are not so profitable. ...

Regards

Paulo
May I, humbly, point out that Europe is large, has a corresponding variation what regards "difficulty in finding space".

Best

J
 

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We sail 44 ft.

For us the biggest issue is really haul-outs - and it's not about cost which is only marginally more expensive.

When in the South Pacific or any other wide cruising area (perhaps the Caribbean is the same) if you have a problem that requires the boat to come out, there will be nowhere in the islands that a 50 ft boat can be hauled out. Even at 44 ft we're marginal and many places are not equipped for this.

As for sailing 44ft, I have over the years upgraded from 26 to 33 to 36 and now to 44 and I can't say I have any issues managing the bigger size. Whilst I have no intention of going any further up in size (this boat is my last), the prospect doesn't frighten me.

Certainly I would not sacrifice the comfort of our boat for the alleged ease of handling something smaller.
 

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Issue for us was could we sail the boat if everything breaks i.e. power winches, autopilot, pressure water, chartplotters etc. As a couple on the way over the hill 46' was just right. Two private staterooms/heads so no long term visitors unless we want. Can sail the thing regardless of failures, dedicated mechanical/work room. But still enough LWL for excellent hull speed. Think for a couple mid 40s is perfect. Still can sleep 7 without hot bunking but small enough to easily handle. Getting in adout of slips is still a horror show but we're learning.
 

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Based on my unbiased experience (since I don't own a boat) I found the optimal combination of comfort, space, complexity and cost for a couple or a small group being 46'-52'. Assuming that O&M costs are affordable (and I agree that the money-pit becomes exponentially wider and deeper with the LOA) it will be difficult to downsize once one gets used to the comfort. And if one feels lonely on a big boat there is never lack of people willing to join.
 

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There are many 55 ft boats that can be easily sailed by a couple even solo.

Paulo
I know Dashew and others have been making large boats that can be run by a couple or solo, but those solutions have the problems I mentioned. The complexity of the systems, with thrusters, power winches, generators, zoned air conditioning, and much more, all add up to the fact that the boat is far less "personal". It's not just that the large boats are expensive. They either take a lot of crew (management problems) or they have labor saving systems to allow short crew. The labor saving systems leave the skipper highly subject to electromechanical failures (cannot raise the sail w/o power winch) and are too complex for a single skipper to self-maintain.

GTJ
 

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SailingJackson - while everyone is welcome to an opinion, when it comes to singlehanding bigger boats, with offshore passages and equipment failures and complex systems, there are those who say it cannot be done and then there are others who just go out and do it.

My point is that there enough people doing successful big-boat shorthanded sailing to show that it can be done. While it might be imprudent, or perhaps dangerous, or inadvisable to do this, it can be done.
 

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I know Dashew and others have been making large boats that can be run by a couple or solo, but those solutions have the problems I mentioned. The complexity of the systems, with thrusters, power winches, generators, zoned air conditioning, and much more, all add up to the fact that the boat is far less "personal". It's not just that the large boats are expensive. They either take a lot of crew (management problems) or they have labor saving systems to allow short crew. The labor saving systems leave the skipper highly subject to electromechanical failures (cannot raise the sail w/o power winch) and are too complex for a single skipper to self-maintain.

GTJ
I don't understand your point. You said that you have plenty of money so what is the problem with maintenance? When you do maintenance of systems you don't sail. Pay someone else to do the job and if the boat starts to give too much maintenance get a new one, assuming as you said you don't have money limitations. New models are always better than older ones, nicer and with better performance.

Regards

Paulo
 

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My point is that there enough people doing successful big-boat shorthanded sailing to show that it can be done. While it might be imprudent, or perhaps dangerous, or inadvisable to do this, it can be done.
Well, I'd amend that slightly - to sometimes... by some people... :)

Stanley Paris originally planned to go without any electric winches on KIWI SPIRIT... Then, after she was launched, they figured out he was unable to raise the mainsail without one, so it was added...

One of the major contributors to the failure of his voyage, was the destruction of one of his headstay furlers after wrapping one of his spinnaker halyards at the upper swivel... The evidence would appear to indicate that he probably left his finger on that winch button just a bit too long... :)


 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
First I must say that I really enjoy working on my boat its kind of my zen... I love to sail, but to be fair I enjoy fiddling with my boat almost as much. We do 90% of all our maintenance, even with the more complex systems, none of it is rocket science, though some of the electrical can feel like it at times. The only thing I won't do is the exterior paint work, not because I am incapable, I choose not to. As to the safety of sailing the larger boat- the Ketch rig helps somewhat, the all in boom furling is additional help, and we have significant redundancy in the sail handling systems. There are five electric winches and back up, upon back up. I suppose it all could fail, but I'm thinking that is unlikely. The setup to single hand this boat is not entirely complex, but is not by any stretch of the imagination an inexpensive endeavor to set up. The boat can be sailed from the cockpit only with no need to go forward. The boom furlers allow the sails to be dropped easily in an emergency if there is a jam. I have yet to have a problem with the furlers. Yes we have a thruster, which makes docking relatively easy, but we can and have done it without the thruster.

Now to the issue of space, I get that a lot of you are sailing couples, we are as well, but my guess is not all of you sail with five additional small sailors aboard. We have five kids on board full time, and two of them teenage boys. I think on a forty foot boat we might have to drag the kids behind in the dingy some days. LOL... Anyway that makes seven people on board full time. Five of us scuba dive, we have an air compressor on board and all our gear. Space is not an insignificant factor for us, and the alternatives have positives and some big negatives for our not so small crew.
 

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TC - most impressive . Yes you truly need the space. People forget sometimes we all need some quite time ideally behind a closed door or up on the fore peak by yourself. With teens I expect that's even more apparent.
Other issue is at about mid forties wind vane self steering becomes less effective. Boat is moving faster and displacement greater. Then there is even more dependency on having electricity. At mid forties when the lights go off you can still sail the boat.raise,reef and strike.
People forget cruising isn't day sailing. Usually the main goes up and stays up a good part of the time. Even motoring if there is any wind you power sail when you can. Been debating about hydrovane v. second A.P. Design of stern makes any servo pendulum less appealing. And ease of having emergency rudder sounds nice with simplicity of hydro vane. ? Do you have backup if rudder fails.
 
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