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Princess Y78 yacht tour: The biggest boat you can run without crew

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The Princess Y78 is right on the cusp between owner-operated boats and superyachts. Nick takes us on a full yacht tour

For many, the joy of boating is the freedom to go where you want, when you want and with who you want – and for this reason, boats that limbo under the 24m LWL mark are always in demand.

This is the point above which all sorts of regulations around crew, licensing and more kick in as your yacht technically becomes a superyacht .

The Princess Y78 that Nick tours in this video is a great example and could be considered that largest boat that you can run without any kind of professional help.

It would take a very experienced owner-operator to run one of these, though, as the Y78 is a serious piece of machinery.

As well as offering four guest cabins and a decent crew quarters, the Y78’s engine room comes kitted out with a pair of MAN V12s for a top speed of 36 knots.

In boat that weighs over 54 tonnes, you need to know what you’re doing with that kind of power under your control.

And with an asking price just under £3m before tax, maybe a hiring a professional captain wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all…


LOA: 80ft 9in (24.67m) Beam: 18ft 11in (5.76m) Draft: 5ft 8in (1.72m) Displacement: 54,085kg (119,237lbs) Fuel capacity: 6,000l (1,320 gal) Water capacity: 1,350l (297 gal) Engines: Twin 1800hp MAN V12 Top speed: 36 knots Price: £2.95m (ex. VAT)

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What is the largest yacht one can operate solo?

When it comes to operating a yacht, it is important to understand your capabilities and limitations as a captain. Solo yacht operation can be challenging, especially when it comes to larger vessels. So,?

The answer to this question is not straightforward and depends on several factors, including the yacht’s size, the operator’s experience, and the yacht’s onboard systems. In general, yachts up to 80 feet in length can be operated solo, provided the captain is experienced and comfortable with the yacht’s handling and navigation.

One of the most significant factors that will influence solo yacht operation is the vessel’s onboard systems. Modern yachts come equipped with advanced navigation and autopilot systems that can facilitate solo operation. However, these systems can be complex and require considerable skill to operate effectively. Furthermore, yachts with advanced systems tend to be larger and more expensive, limiting their accessibility to most people.

Another thing to consider is the layout and design of the yacht. Yachts designed for solo operation tend to have features that make them more manageable, such as simplified rigging, hydraulic winches, and advanced anchoring systems. These features make it easier for an individual to handle the yacht comfortably and ensure safe and efficient sailing.

In addition to onboard systems and yacht design, a critical factor in solo yacht operation is the captain’s experience and skill level. To operate a large yacht solo, a captain must have significant experience and confidence in their abilities. They must also possess advanced navigation and seamanship skills, including sailing techniques, engine maintenance, and troubleshooting.

The largest yacht one can operate solo is largely determined by the individual’s experience, yacht design, and onboard systems. While it is possible to operate yachts up to 80 feet solo, it is advisable to take additional crew members onboard for yachts that are larger than this. Always consult with the manufacturer’s guidelines and regulations to ensure safe and efficient yacht operation.

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How Big Of A Sailboat Can One Person Handle?

sailboat size for one person

During all the years I have been sailing, especially as a small-boat sailor, one question invariably comes up. And depending on where the discussion takes place, possible answers are all over the board from well-meaning people accustomed to traditional answers to this classic question.

With social media and the general free-for-all of everything now published, printed, texted, emailed, and discussed on the dock and at boat shows, it seems to be as popular as ever.

Just how large a sailboat can one person sail single handed?

A 40-foot sailboat is the maximum size for one person to be able to single-handedly control safely . It can be successfully argued up or down a couple of feet, based on the experience and abilities of the sailor. This has been proven by a great many accomplished people.

Many sailors have done amazing voyages in boats well under this length, and others have made serious cruises on boats that are considerably larger. But a word of caution is in order. To focus only on length overshadows other important criteria. Other factors figure heavily in determining the suitability of a big sailboat for single-handed operation.

I am not talking about racing around the world by professional sailors, or across oceans to some destination hundreds (or thousands) of miles away. Rather, I am talking about an average sailor, man or woman, of average stature and physical condition, who has experience and chooses to sail alone. It may be a temporary lifestyle situation, or some other factor that sets the solo requirement for a boat that is to be safely sailed on a regular basis.

( Below: Youtuber Captain Christa sailing her 31-foot boat by herself. )

Another often overlooked kind of solo sailor is one whose spouse or partner cannot meaningfully contribute to operation of the boat. They may be disabled in some way that keeps them from taking part in the activity. Or they may be completely uninterested or inexperienced in sailing, or both, and they come along for the travel and adventure experience. I suspect this may be a larger part of the sailing community than many of us will admit. But if the boat can be out sailing under the control of the short-handed sailor, everyone is happy, and they get to explore new places and see the world together.

There has never been a size unanimously accepted for sailing voyages in the past. Even a brief look back at sailboat cruising shows that size is not universally important. John Guzzwell sailed around the world in his 19-foot Trekka, Tanya Aebi circled the globe in her Taylor 26 (the Canadian version of the Contessa 26), and Frank Casper cruised extensively on his 30-foot Elsie. On the other end of the spectrum is Bill Pinkey on his Valiant 47 circumnavigation, and, of course, who could forget Alain Colas crossing the Atlantic on his 236-foot, four-masted Club Mediterranee?

Mark Schrader sailed around all five capes on his Valiant 40, as did Jeanne Socrates more recently on her 38-foot Najad. Robin Lee Graham went around most of the world on his 24-foot Dove, and 16-year-old Laura Dekker made the record books on her 40-foot Guppy.

So, it should be clear that overall size is just a number, and not the only factor. Keep in mind that many of these voyages, particularly ones going after a record of some kind, did not involve regularly getting in and out of slips and marinas. And for others, it is just common sense that many small boats were chosen for financial reasons (and perhaps it was the boat they already had).

( Below: Solo-Sailor Jeanne Socrates on S/V Nereida arrives in Victoria Harbor. )

Jeanne Socrates on her sailboat

When we look at many of these examples, I acknowledge that having a boat with only sitting headroom in the saloon is certainly doable, if not all that comfortable for full-time living. Small boats are inherently slower (forget the notion of 200-mile days), and simply don’t provide the quality of living experience many of us expect in the 21st Century.

Even as I write this, though, I know there are people quietly living aboard a 20-foot Pacific Seacraft Flicka or some other munchkin cruiser. I know, I was once one of them.

I have always enjoyed the simplicity and tuck-into-anywhere versatility of a small cruising boat. While I never harbored the dream of sailing to Hawaii like John Letcher in his 20-foot Island Girl, I did fantasize about living the good life in a sailboat under 26 feet. Those were the days. Every inch needed to serve double duty, interior furniture regularly transformed for other purposes: a galley, chart table, and liquor cabinet all in one. In my mind somehow it all worked.

But I was young and immortal.

Again, we are talking about an average man or woman, without Olympic-level physical ability, who is simply looking for a boat to enjoy cruising or perhaps live aboard. People like you and me, who may be young or old, and possess some sailing experience. A Catalina 30 or Southern Cross 28 is quite a comfy home for the right person, fully capable of extended coastal cruising. A well-appointed 36-footer may be the height of luxury for others.

There are many examples of boats out there with only a single person aboard. But as these sailboats get larger, so does their volume and weight, and the required equipment and deck gear gets more expensive and complex to handle the increased loads. At some point the relatively complicated systems to ease the chores of sail handling and close quarter maneuvering include electric or hydraulic winches, furling gear, windlasses, autopilots, and electronics. These systems are generally very reliable, if not foolproof, and require regular maintenance and occasional service.

Big boats also need lots of electric power for these systems and general house service, so it is not uncommon to run a generator much of the time under way when sailing. In recent years, new forms of power generation are out there, including more efficient diesel generators. And there are more choices for water, wind, and solar power generation as well.

The original 64-foot Kiwi Spirit II, sailed solo by 80-year-old Stanley Paris , proved too much boat for the aging sailor, as its systems were too complex and required continuous work to keep operational. His next KSII was only 53 feet overall but, while it was easier to handle, still too proved too much. The reality is that big boats are rarely, if ever, simple boats. And simple is good when it comes to solo sailing.

( Below: Stanley Paris on board Kiwi Spirit II. )

stanley paris on his sailboat

That being said, Jimmy Cornell, author of World Cruising Routes and founder of those popular ocean crossing rallies, gave a slideshow of today’s current cruising scene, based on data collected as host of his many events. The size of cruising sailboats has steadily increased over the years, mainly because current designs and systems fit the needs of many cruising couples and others. In his most recent survey, presented at the start of the Covid pandemic, he showed that the average size of cruising yachts cruising around the world (but not necessarily going around the world), is just over 43 feet. Most of these boats are sailed by couples. Yachts checking into Tahiti now average 45.2 feet. So, it seems that for extended world cruising with two or more crew, larger sailboats are mainstream, whether monohull or catamaran.

I am a member of the Ocean Cruising Club , and the biannual publication shares the adventures of members who are out cruising. The trend for most of these people, again mostly couples and those cruising with friends, is to be on larger boats than one would have expected some years ago. To read stories from people cruising on 54-foot yachts is common. The few solo cruisers who publish are in much smaller boats, often well under 30 feet.

There is an often-repeated “rule” that single sailors should not expect to handle a sail larger than 300 to 400 square feet. I don’t know where this came from, but it seems to be a universal belief. And there is also the conclusion that interior comfort can be sacrificed if the reduced boat size makes it easier to handle. As far as I am concerned, neither is the case these days.

While the complexity of systems on a large sailboat (50 to 60+ feet) may be intimidating for the average sailor, systems sized for a 40-foot or smaller sailboat are not, and often include some form of manual assist or backup. Electric winches on a 40-foot sailboat are really nice to have and are nothing compared to the monsters one finds on large sailboats. I sailed to Bermuda on an 83-foot sailboat with hydraulic winches, and they were impressive. And huge.

I spoke to Jonathan Bartlett , who runs the Annapolis loft for North Sails. North Sails is a big player in today’s sailing world, with over 70 lofts around the world. Jonathan’s years of experience certainly qualify him to speak with authority.

He never mentioned the 300 to 400-square-foot argument. His more immediate concern was the importance of a single person being able to get a big boat in and out of a slip. Even with a bow thruster, one often must be at the bow to fend off a piling or another boat, and if you are alone, who is driving at the helm? There may also be windage issues. And if one’s boat proves too difficult (ie., scary) to move in and out of the slip without drama, how often will he or she be inclined to even go out???

Jonathan said that, in his opinion, the largest boat size to be considered for a single sailor is 40 feet. And he feels that is more than enough boat for most everyone. Today’s boat designs offer as much interior volume and accommodations in 40 feet as the 45-footers of the 1990s. That is more than enough room for a single sailor, even for living aboard. Anything above 40 feet is just too much…living space, overall volume, and effort.

On the flip side, he added that the decks of small boats are often difficult to move around without stepping on tracks, cars, lines, and all sorts of other obstacles.

“A boat’s deck layout is really important for a single sailor,” he said. “Great footing is critical, and there should be fewer tracks to walk on, or having to walk between shrouds when moving around the boat.

( Below: The 348 from Hanse Yachts gives you the ability to control the entire Helmsman system from the cockpit. )

hanse 348 sailing yacht

“How a boat is set up is way more important that the size of the sails.”

Jonathan pointed out that many of today’s sailboats are intentionally made to be easy to sail, with furling mainsails and smaller headsails. “Compared to the mid-1990s, we are getting away from large genoas, replacing them with larger mainsails. These mainsails are captive, easily reefed, and under complete control with full battens.”

He went on to say that smaller headsails are easier to trim, and for the solo sailor, why it is also vital that sail trim duties take place at the helm in the cockpit, so the single sailor can do it all from one place without a lot of moving around. The days of working at the mast are over.

“Look at the French designers and builders,” he went on. “They get it. The Jeanneau and Beneteau lines, for example, are all about very simple-to-sail controls, sails are easy to put up and take down, and the boats are very sailor friendly. That is what gets people to go sailing, because it is easy and fun.”

Big, powerful mainsails have mostly replaced large headsails, and short-footed headsails are easy to manage. Bartlett pointed out that the J/105 is a good example of a boat that is easy to sail. When it is easy to trim the main and jib from the helm, it is simple…and makes people want to go sailing.

( Below: The J/105 from builder J-Boats. )

JBoats sailboats

To further the simplicity argument, he suggested that, instead of the traditional spinnaker or Code Zero for light air, a gennaker in a sock is a better fit for the single sailor and probably the way to go. The gennaker is a free-flying asymmetric spinnaker that does not require a spinnaker pole and is flown from the bow. It is easy to control and can even be used when the boat is steered by an autopilot. It is easy to put up and take down, and one can drive the boat downwind in full control.

“Our sport pushes bigger boats than is usually called for,” he added. “And some builders consider their boats suitable to be single-handed, even when they probably aren’t. Hallberg-Rassy and Hylas come to mind.”

Two boats that he mentioned in our conversation as good examples of nice sail plans and controls are the Harbor 20 daysailer and the Outbound 44. I know the Harbor 20 fleet is a popular one-design at the Annapolis Yacht Club, as it epitomizes a sail plan that is so easy to sail, easily managed by one person. And he thinks the Outbound has a great deck layout and overall consideration for sail handling by a short-handed crew. While it is on the bigger side of the 40-foot mark, especially now as it is replaced by the Outbound 46, he feels the builder continues to work to make it fit the needs of the solo sailor. But at 46 feet, it can be a challenge to dock in close quarters.

Another line he feels hits the mark are the newer, 39 to 40-foot Jeanneau and Beneteau boats. They are also very simple and easy to sail from the helm. This makes people want to go out sailing again and again. The lack of drama is a lot more important than many realize.

The Tartan line of sailboats from Seattle Yachts now come with the Cruise Control Rig (CCR), designed to make sailing easier and put the controls back in the cockpit where they belong. Self-tacking jibs and furling boom mainsails go a long way to make life easier, safer, and more fun.

As far as sails go, Jonathan said the solo sailor should look at sails that are lighter and have lower stretch qualities. Traditional Dacron sails are heavy and “stretchier,” whereas new composite sails offer light weight and are flatter in shape that won’t easily stretch. Heavy Dacron sails are also harder to trim and tack.

If one is outfitting a boat for solo sailing, composite sails are the way to go.

I have long been told that a larger boat is easier to handle at sea, as the motion is more settled. I think that is true, especially when compared to a 28-footer bouncing around in choppy seas. Up to a point (and that 40-foot mark) a boat’s motion can be more comfortable, under way, at anchor, or at the dock. That is especially true if one minimizes weight at both ends of the boat. Small boats tend to hobbyhorse when sailing because it is difficult to keep the ends light.

On a bigger boat from a good designer, the boat’s motion is not only easier to live with but is decidedly faster through the water. Daily runs are possible that can not be achieved in smaller hulls.

Another consideration is space. Small boats compromise space in every respect. For a single person (and the sailor who cruises with a non-sailing spouse), accommodations on a 40-footer are more than enough, and there is still space for increased fuel and water tankage for longer range and self-sufficiency. Being able to motor a long distance is no longer a luxury in many cruising areas and having sufficient water supply lessens the requirements for a watermaker.

Additional space also means one can carry more batteries, and the components of other systems, and proper access to them. It is imperative to have good access for a happy ship.

As I already mentioned, having a way to generate electricity while sailing is vital, to power all the systems, electronics, and autopilot. This gets harder to fit inside a small boat and represents a real challenge. Access is usually also compromised in the process of fitting it all in.

I am not pushing that everyone buy a big boat, but I know from past experience that when sailing a smaller boat, under 36 feet for sure, even more so under 30 feet, there is a greater chance of tripping as one moves about. It is almost unavoidable, as there is just so much under foot. Cars and tracks, running rigging, trim, shrouds, items secured to lifelines, and those hideous wire jacklines that some idiot came up with that roll when stepped on, causing many a sailor to lose their balance. On a larger boat, deck space is often less cluttered, and provides more sure footing, even as we eliminate the need to go work at the mast or foredeck in the first place.

( Below: A young Bill Parlatore in 1977 putting baggywrinkle in the rigging of my wood, gaff-rigged Tahiti ketch. )

bill parlatore on his sailboat

And staying on the boat is a top priority no matter what size boat you sail. For anyone sailing alone, the use of strong, non-stretch webbing jacklines is highly recommended. Being attached to the boat is critical for personal safety. If set up properly, wearing a harness and staying clipped onto the boat as one moves around the deck is neither inconvenient nor difficult. It is also the only way to have two hands free with any degree of security. The alternative of not being attached to the boat is unthinkable, as there are no good ways to get back aboard if one goes over the side.

I once asked Dodge Morgan about his man overboard contingency, if any. He gave a presentation of his around the world trip on the 60-foot American Promise at a Safety at Sea seminar in Annapolis. American Promise was a heavy, yet fast sailboat designed by Ted Hood, specifically to sail nonstop around the world as quickly as possible. It did so in record time, cutting the previous record in half.

When I asked Dodge about what provision he made for falling overboard, he said that any overboard rescue device he might have for that situation was just “a sick joke” in his mind. Once you go overboard when sailing alone offshore, the game is over.

Every effort should be made to make it safe to move about the boat when sailing and to stay aboard. This is important no matter what size boat you sail.

While I have many fond memories of sailing small boats and making coffee in the early morning at anchor on a swinging stove by the companionway, now I am older, wiser, and no longer immortal. So, offsetting any flexibility and balance issues, I have more wisdom and budget to pursue what makes sense now.

If I went looking for sailboat to continue sailing by myself, I suspect I would be looking for a boat that does everything I want, and is close to, if not dead on, that 40-foot mark. I might start looking at 36 feet, but I expect my interest in creature comforts would dictate a larger platform. The idea of a separate shower is appealing to me now, as are the many spaces and lockers that allow me to put things in proper places where I can get to them easily without fumbling through lockers. The main anchor on the boat would be big, but not as overwhelming as one finds on larger boats.

I also think my comfort level in a roomy interior would make a world of difference as I relax at anchor these days. I’m no longer interested in transformer-style accommodations. I relish the idea of easily stepping into a dinghy or water taxi from the stern, which is a much higher priority than it might have been years ago. A proper chart table and saloon are also well worth the price of admission, as well as plenty of opening hatches to let in the breeze.

And for the solo sailor with a “guest” aboard, it is much the same. They should be able to handle the boat by themselves and accept that the second person really only contributes to the enjoyment of the accommodations, and perhaps reading the cruising guide, leaving the physical aspects of sailing to the sailor.

There is no reason why a single person should have to give up much of anything with today’s modern sailboat, and they should get the smallest big boat that works for them, all the way up to 40 feet, plus or minus a foot or two.

The right boat will provide a great platform for adventure, without the drama, anxiety, and emotion of trying to handle too much, or suffering from too small a cruiser that forces us into camping mode at the stage in life where we should be enjoying the fruits of a successful life.

See you on the water.

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What Size Sailboat Can One Person Handle?

What Size Sailboat Can One Person Handle? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Getting the right size of boat for your sailing adventures will significantly impact your sense of security and safety, comfort, and your activities aboard the boat, especially if you're planning to embark on solo sailing. It's, therefore, of great importance to get it right from the start as it will save you time, disposal expenses, and determine whether or not you can sail solo.

Whether you're an introverted loner who loves going it alone or love the unique challenges that solo sailing presents, one of the most important questions that you've probably been asking yourself is; how big a sailboat can one person handle? In most cases, solo sailing will mean that you assume all the roles: bow-person, skipper, engineer, navigator, dial trimmer, and chef. Under such a scenario, the main intention is to make these roles as simple as possible for you and this calls for the right sized sailboat.

So how big a sailboat can one person handle? Well, a sailboat measuring between 35 and 45 feet (10.5 - 14 meters) with a draft of about 2 meters, plenty of sail area, easy reefing, and well-working assistive equipment can be ideal for one person to handle. The boat shouldn't be over 9 tons as things can get a little tricky and out of hand if the boat exceeds this weight. In essence, the boat should have automated systems that work properly including a properly working electric windlass that makes hauling an anchor as simple as possible.

In this article, we'll look at some of the reasons why sailboat measuring between 35 and 45 feet can be perfectly handled by one person.

Table of contents

Why 35 to 45 Feet?

Generally speaking, vessels that measure between 35 and 45 feet normally steer well and have a good sea-keeping ability. They usually have assisting self-steering arrangements, tolerable sailing speed, and good storage capabilities. Better still, such sailboats can be designed in such a way that a single person may perform all the sailing tasks completely unassisted.

Below the decks, these sailboats generally offer comfortable seagoing sleeping berths for one person, as well as additional space for the occasional guest. That's not all; the galleys are usually very workable and safe even for continuous use. The navigation station is independent, comfortable, and large enough so that you can lay the charts out flat and permanently. You also have additional storage that is perfect for additional charts.

One of the most overlooked factors when considering the ideal boat that can be perfectly handled by one person is the storage capability. If you're planning to sail single-handedly to far-flung areas, the boat should have a hoard of equipment. The boat should have fuel storage, a dinghy, oars, secondary chains, life jackets, anchor rods, EPIRBS, storm equipment, engine spares, additional batters, and many more. There should also be enough storage to accommodate food and water provisions for at least two months. With that in mind, 35-45 feet long sailboat should have enough storage space to accommodate everything that you need to sail perfectly, safely, and single-handedly.

Other Factors to Consider

While your physical strength, fitness, experience, determination, and nautical skills can impact the size of a sailboat that you can single-handedly handle with confidence, these are just a few definitive factors. As such, the size of the boat's sails will play a critical role. It doesn't matter how fit or strong you are, it's almost impossible to perfectly handle sails that measure 300-400 square feet on your own, and these are more common on vessels measuring 50-60 feet.

This is exactly why you shouldn't go for a sailboat that exceeds 46 feet if you're planning to sail single-handedly. You should refrain from going for a larger sailboat as it can be far trickier to dock in a crowded marina if you're sailing single-handedly. If anything, a boat measuring 35-45 feet will allow you to see around. It's also maneuverable, especially when anchoring and docking. You should also keep in mind that boats measuring 35-45 feet are generally designed with engine props, keels, and electric bow thrusters that can make a huge difference in the handling and maneuverability of such boats.

Here are a few factors to consider when looking at the size of a sailboat that you can handle on your own.

The anchor - Any sailor will tell you that it's always advisable to go out there on the water with an anchor that's large and strong enough to hold the sailboat safely in case there's a storm. But because you want a sailboat that you can handle on your own, you should ask yourself; can you raise the boat's anchor back to the deck with the help of a winch or another person? This should help you determine the size of a sailboat that you can handle alone.

Configuration of the Sailboat  - This pretty much revolves around the maneuverability of the boat. Simply put, the sailboat should be designed in a way that you can single-handedly maneuver it to a dock even when strong winds are blowing. You should also be able to get a line from the sailboat to the dock without losing control of the boat.

You should also make sure that you can reef, lower, smother, and work with the sails in all kinds of weather without any assistance.

Hardware - Another important factor to consider when looking for the right size of a sailboat that you can handle alone is the hardware. Many equipment manufacturers now offer affordable hardware that can be used by lone sailors at the highest levels. For example, there are canting keels and roller furling headsails that are generally used in short-handed racing and these technologies have filtered into the mainstream.

There are also robust and reliable sailing handling systems such as electric winches, top-down spinnaker furlers, code zeros that can be of great help if you want to sail single-handedly, especially for offshore adventures. You can also go for reliable autopilots that are interfaced with wind instruments to enhance your safety and navigation. You can also use releasable inner forestay designed with hanks to make your headsail reef a lot easier. The boat should have enough reefs and the seat should have a comfortable cushion to make long hours of sailing more enjoyable.

Safety and communication  - Sailing single-handedly always requires that you take your safety into serious consideration. You do not have a crew that will help you when there's a mishap so there's always an increased risk. For this reason, your safety and communication should be paramount if you're looking for a sailboat that you can handle alone. Some of the most important things to have in place include stout webbing straps that run from bow to stern and should be clipped into the tether on your harness. These are some of the safety devices that you should use even when the weather is very calm. You should also have an appropriate life jacket and wear it at all times.

That's not all; you should have a perfect sail and communication plan that you can share with a trusted contact on land. Of course, this should include your sailing route and projected timeline. You should have satellite phones and Wi-Fi onboard the boat, as well as other reliable communication devices. You should also have an extra battery. More importantly, you should attend safety as sea courses as this will enhance your skills of staying safe in case there's a mishap when sailing single-handedly.

Going Smaller than 35-45 Feet

As we noted earlier, a sailboat measuring between 35 and 45 feet is the sailing sweet spot if you want to sail single-handedly. This is because such sailboats do offer almost everything that you need to sail without any assistance. However, you may decide to go smaller but this would mean that the storage capabilities go against you.

In most cases, a sailboat measuring about 25 feet long would mean that you lose about 4 tons of storage space as well as the overall weight. This would mean that the boat is much lighter and this might affect your speed. Remember, the longer the boat, the faster the speed and this is essential for seagoing passages. On the other hand, a shorter boat will be slower and this means that you'll have to carry more food and water if you're going for offshore adventures.

As such, the volume of accommodation required may overwhelm a smaller vessel and this can make the operation of such a boat quite challenging. Other areas such as the navigation and galley table may be cramped and this can compromise the way you operate the boat. Worst still, the possibility of having a friend or a loved one join you aboard the boat is nearly impossible since there may be not enough accommodation for the two of you.

Another notable disadvantage of going smaller is the violent motion that it endures when sailing. This can be stressful and very likely to cause seasickness and this is something that you don't want when sailing single-handedly.

Going Larger than 35-45 Feet

If you're not on a limited budget, then you may choose to go for a sailboat that is larger than 35-45 feet. Larger sailboats are more speed and will always deliver sea-kind motion. You also have ample storage and accommodation for friends and family. But even with these advantages, the fundamental weakness of a larger sailboat is that it's almost impossible for one person to perfectly handle it. In other words, it's impossible to perfectly handle, maintain, and manage all facets of sailing a larger vessel. In fact, it can be even challenging or two people to handle it.

In essence, handling a larger vessel single-handedly can be brutal, to say the least. You may have lots of equipment but you'll still require more manpower to have them working appropriately.

To this end, it's easy to see why sailboats measuring 35-45 feet are the best for solo sailing . Smaller vessels might be ideal for the weekends but they are slower and do not have enough storage and accommodation space for offshore sailing. Almost similarly larger vessels (46 feet and above) are faster, beautiful, and spacious, but handling them on your own is almost impossible. So if you're looking for a sailboat that you can perfectly handle on your own, go for a vessel measuring between 35 and 45 feet long.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Best Sailboats for One Person (With 9 Examples)

One of the most common challenges of sailing is finding the right boat to sail alone. Luckily, there are some good sailboats out there suited for one person. Let's take a look at them, and find out why they're especially good for single-handing.

In this article, I talk about single-handed sailing and look at the nine best sailboats for one person, ranging from small lake dinghies all the way to comfy cruisers capable of oceanic crossings.

Here are the best sailboats for solo sailing

Jeanneau Sunfast 3200

Beneteau oceanis 62, pacific seacraft flicka 20, tartan 3700, hunter channel 31, j boats 109.

Now let's look at them in detail so that you can choose the one best for you.

largest yacht single handed

On this page:

What you need for short-handed sailing, features of a good single-handed boat.

Before talking about anything else, let's take a quick look at the features you want in a sailboat for short-handing (a fancy way of saying sailing alone ).

Scroll down to the list of sailboats here .

largest yacht single handed

What to look for in a single-handed sailboat:

  • Easy-to-operate sails
  • Self-tacking jib
  • Self-reefing sails
  • Good autopilot

It's nice to have a team of friends, each with their own position within the crew, taking care of their specific thing. One behind the helm, one at the navigation, one trimming the mainsail, one taking care of the foresail, and an extra deckhand just to be sure. But if for whatever reason you want to sail on your own, you'll be the one to fill all those positions.

To make sure that it is physically possible and as easy as can be under the circumstances, start with a good boat choice. The idea is to pick a design that will be easy to operate with just one person available.

Now the good news is that since around 1990, many boat manufacturers have been focusing on ease of operation. That's just what the current market demand dictates. In other words, good single-handed sailboats aren't a rare find.

So what are the specific features to look for when sailing on your own? Let's clear a common misconception first - single-handed doesn't mean the boat has to be small.

Sure, small boats are easier to dock, and things tend to be within reach… but you will find large numbers of 70-footers that are designed as single-handed projects.

You can operate 100-footers on your own. Read all about it in our article What's the largest boat one person can operate?

Easily Operated Sails

A good start are sails that can be operated without much hassle. That doesn't necessarily mean being able to reach all the lines and winches from the helm. If you can, that's great, but if the boat has an autopilot, all you need is to be able to tweak the sails from the front of the cockpit.

Try to avoid setups where you'd have to walk to the mast to play with your sheets - not only it takes time but doing that in heavy winds, tall waves, on a boat that is healing, is a recipe for disaster that nobody is there to save you from.

When solo sailing, the ability to reef and tack quickly is important since those are oftentimes time-sensitive maneuvers. So self-tacking jibs would make your life way easier.

Individually Suitable Boat

The best test, though, is to take the boat out and try it out for yourself. A boat that handles easily in the hands of one person can be unmanageable in the hands of another.

A spinnaker pole might be a handful for the shorter folks, while a 6'2'' 200lbs bloke won't have issues with it.

But don't go around shopping with a 'must-have' checklist. Sometimes the boat is almost there, and all it needs is a little DIY technical push, like adding an extra jammer to the cockpit and running a reef line through it, or getting your hands on a windvane self-steering kit.

As somewhat touched upon before, manufacturers are trying to cater to the ease of use and since technology is going forward, what used to be a hi-tech racing equipment piece years ago, has now made its way into the affordable mainstream.

The canting keel is such an example, something you used to see on racing sailboats only, but now can be put on your average cruiser.

Autopilot Matters

An important part of solo sailing is a good autopilot, for obvious reasons. Luckily, nowadays, these are very reliable compared to what the standard used to be years ago in the cruiser world.

That being said, if you can get your hands on a boat with a proper below-the-deck autopilot with a gyrocompass, you will be much happier than with your average on-deck system, which does the job well, but when things get windier, it might become less reliable.

By the way, racing boats tend to be good solo sailing vessels—they are set up for efficiency. They feature more robust rigging and hulls that can withstand rough conditions and gusts better, and thus are more forgiving, without the necessity to tweak to detail.

I'm not saying that to necessarily have you look for racing boats for your short-handed trips, but rather so that you don't steer away from them on purpose, thinking they would be too much of a handful.

On deck, navigation is a big one too. Again, nothing to cry about if your boat of choice doesn't have one, as it can be easily solved with aftermarket solutions. Or an iPad with the proper app. But having to run below the deck to see where you are isn't the handiest of scenarios, especially in tricky situations.

If possible, consider investing in side thrusters. They can make maneuvering your boat infinitely easier, docking can turn from an unpleasant procedure to a relatively simple joystick play, and especially if you are on a bigger boat, you will appreciate this feature.

We haven't touched on the topic of interiors since it isn't as sensitive as a matter. But having plenty of handles to grab onto regardless of where you are is a good idea, since hitting your head and passing out is unpleasant with a crew, but potentially fatal without it.

To continue with the topic of safety, equipment and boat design aside, remember that you can't really afford mistakes you could make with friends on board. So make sure you have enough spots to clip your harness to, that the boat is sufficiently equipped with communication devices and that all the equipment works as it should.

So let's get specific. What are the nine boats that make great companions for solo sailors?

Let's start with the obvious one—a dinghy. It won't probably be your choice when crossing an ocean, but for practice or a fun day close to the shore, this is one hell of a boat. In comparison to its rivals in the same category, RS Aero is super light weighing 66 lbs. It is among the most technologically advanced sailing dinghies designed specifically for one person.

All of this comes for a price though - 10 000 to over 15 000 USD. You will be getting your money's worth for sure though. An enormous amount of hi-tech work went into this project, and you'd be buying a design that won more awards than could fit on its 13-foot body.

This is a big step up from a dinghy, while still keeping things very simple. It is a lightweight boat, originally designed for a transatlantic race. Thanks to that and its small size, it is easy to handle, the racing pedigree shows in the efficient layout, so everything is within reach. Despite its smaller size, it can reach speeds you would expect of much larger boats.

You can find small family cruisers of the same size, but don't let that fool you. This is very much a Spartan sailboat. Inside, you won't find much more than the bare necessities - two aft cabins, curtains instead of doors, simple seating, not much lining or wood, just a notch above barebones interiors. You get a toilet though, a chart table and a galley as well as much stowage. But you will be reminded of being on a racer, because unless you are shorter than 5'7'', you won't be able to stand up straight.

As mentioned, this boat was designed for a cross-ocean race, so it is a seaworthy bluewater mate that should be able to take you more or less wherever you want to.

Time to go big. As previously mentioned, solo sailing doesn't mean you have to stick to smaller sizes. Why? Because it is a trend now. Even though just some ten years ago, the situation was vastly different, these days, single-handed 60+ footers aren't anything rare.

So why this Beneteau? Well, for one, to meet the new kinds of market demand, it was designed for ease of use, meaning it can be successfully operated by a single person. I don't know what you'd do alone with all that space, but if you want to enjoy oceanic solitude while not giving up the luxuries of having space the size of a family apartment, you can.

And while there are more boats of this size suited for short-handed sailing, like the larger Jeanneaus, Hanses, or even Bavarias, the Oceanis 62 can be yours for around 600 000 EUR new, which is a figure unheard of in that size and quality range up until relatively recently.

This is not the first time I am mentioning this boat in an article, and no wonder, it has so much character! Like others in this list, this one has been designed for single-handed sailing - it had to be. You couldn't fit two people on it comfortably anyway.

So aside from its solo capabilities, why does it deserve to be on the list? Well, it's towable, which you could say about the RS Aero too, but you can actually live on a Flicka, and it is seaworthy. It is about as small as you can go while still being able to cross oceans.

There is no question about everything being within the hand's reach on this one. Ergonomics almost don't matter at this size. Given its towability, the fact that you can park it in your garden, and its short-handed potential makes for the perfect spontaneous getaway mobile.

Another boat you can live on. It is a seaworthy ocean crosser, and thanks to its setup and a self-tacking jib, it is a proper short-handed boat. It also has quite a wide beam, thanks to which you'll get additional stability, further supporting comfort when operating it solo. It is made by a brand that proved its worth over time, as since the 70s, it is still going strong. It's comfortable enough for long distances, with a spacious salon, shower, and space for a small family.

Used, you can get one starting around 150 000 USD, which is one of the reasons why it belongs on this list - if you are serious about solo sailing and want a proper boat without compromises that come with smaller sizes or sportiness, this one is within a reasonable reach. Among the affordable, high-quality, short-handed sailing cruisers, Tartan 3700 has its definite place.

This is the kind of boat I was talking about when I mentioned that formerly racing design aspects started to make it into the cruising world. Hunter started as a racer builder and then shifted to cruisers, while, of course, taking its know-how with them, which makes for boats that are easy to operate, also well-performing ones.

This specific model got on the list because of its low center of gravity, high ballast ratio, and stable hull, which means you won't have to trim the sails all the time to go fast. And less work is always welcome if you are the only person to do all of it.

Another reason it's gotta be here is it is very efficient layout, self-tacking jib, and single-line mainsail reefing system—a smart choice for solo sailors.

If you like what you saw in Hunter Channel 31, but fancy something a bit faster, with a higher quality build, this one's what you want. It has lost much of its sportiness as it is too heavy to be thought of as a proper performance boat today, but in the worst-case scenario, it is a quick cruiser capable of satisfying sprints.

It was designed for single-handed sailing as well as for full crewed racing, so if you want to push as much as you can out of it with a team of your mates, you can, while knowing you will be able to cruise at a good pace when they leave.

So unless you mind the slightly higher price tag, which comes with the high build and components quality, as well as the less generous interior fanciness usually seen in racers, you've found yourself a boat.

The best thing about solo sailing is also the most dangerous thing about it - you will be alone. So you want your boat to be your buddy - forgiving as much as can be, having your back. Amel 60 is such a boat. It has watertight bulkheads, so it is hardly sinkable, its cockpit has a solid roof and windows, so no matter the weather, you'll be protected while behind the helm, it has a stable hull, offering support even in tricky weather, it features electric winches, so you can operate the sails without even touching a line…

...and inside, you get more space and luxury than you could wish for, including a washing machine. All in all, if there is a boat that's got your back even if your skill level isn't the greatest, it is Amel 60. All it wants from you is to be ok with the 1.5 million USD price tag.

Have you seen the film "All Is Lost"? An incredible project without dialogue, where a solo sailor on a Cal 39 makes his way through an ocean. Now, what makes Cal 39 such a great boat for solo sailing? As it turns out, nothing in particular. It wasn't designed with this in mind. It isn't even a notably successful model - though that's mostly due to technical circumstances rather than a lack of quality.

And that's why it must be on this list. To represent all the boats that aren't single-handed projects by design, but make it possible, if you get to know the boat, spend some time with it, and, as mentioned at the very beginning of this article, tweak it so that it makes solo sailing easier.

largest yacht single handed

By this, I want to encourage you to get into solo sailing, even if you lack a sailboat that is specifically made for a one-person crew. Quite a few single-handed passages have been done on boats that wouldn't make it to this list because technically, they don't fit the profile. But they were made to be, either with tweaks or with skills. Be honest to yourself regarding your skill level, the boat design, and if it passes the test, go for it.

Happy sailing!

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You may also like, what’s the largest boat one person can operate.

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Single Handed Sailboats: The Ultimate Guide for Solo Sailing

by Emma Sullivan | Aug 22, 2023 | Sailboat Gear and Equipment


Short answer single handed sailboats:

Single handed sailboats, also known as dinghies or small keelboats, are sailing vessels designed for easy handling by a single person. They typically feature smaller sizes, efficient rigging systems, and self-tacking jibs to facilitate solo sailing. Popular examples include the Laser, Solo, and Sunfish.

Exploring the World of Single Handed Sailboats: A Comprehensive Guide

Exploring the World of Single-Handed Sailboats: A Comprehensive Guide


Ah, the allure of sailing – the freedom, the wind in your hair, and the sense of adventure as you glide through pristine waters . While sailing with a crew can be a fantastic experience, there is something uniquely special about single-handing a sailboat. It’s just you and the elements, testing your skills and resourcefulness. If you’re ready to embark on this incredible journey, then keep reading as we dive deep into the world of single-handed sailboats .

Getting Started:

Before setting sail on your own, it’s crucial to become familiar with the basics. Single-handed sailing requires heightened awareness and expertise compared to traditional sailing. Begin by understanding how to handle different types of sails and rigging systems. Mastering reefing techniques – reducing sail area during strong winds – is an essential skill that ensures safety.

Moreover, make sure you’re well-informed about navigational tools such as charts, compasses, and electronic navigation systems like GPS. Familiarize yourself with weather patterns specific to your chosen sailing grounds so that you can plan journeys accordingly.

Selecting Your Vessel:

Choosing the right boat for single-handed sailing is paramount. Sailors often opt for smaller vessels due to their maneuverability and ease of handling without crew assistance. Cats, dinghies, pocket cruisers or some cleverly designed keelboats are popular choices among solo sailors.

Determine whether you prefer a monohull or catamaran; both have distinct advantages depending on your desired cruising style. Monohulls offer stability in rough seas while catamarans provide greater living space for extended voyages.

Downsizing to Minimize Hassles:

Sailing alone means taking on multiple roles simultaneously – helmsman, navigator, cook – leaving little time for relaxation if everything feels cluttered onboard. Downsizing becomes crucial in ensuring efficiency and smooth sailing. Opt for compact navigation and communication equipment, such as multifunction displays that combine multiple tools into one device.

Similarly, embrace minimalism in your provisioning strategy; smart food choices that require minimum preparation will save you valuable time onboard. Utilize clever storage solutions to maximize the use of limited space without compromising on essential items.

Safety Measures:

When it comes to solo sailing, safety should always be a top priority. Ensure your vessel is equipped with all necessary safety features including life jackets, fire extinguishers, rescue flares, VHF radios, and an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). Regularly check and maintain these devices to ensure their reliability during emergencies.

Don’t forget about personal safety equipment as well. Consider investing in a personal locator beacon (PLB), which broadcasts your location in case of man-overboard situations. Stay vigilant by practicing regular drills for emergency scenarios like heavy weather conditions or medical emergencies.

Navigating Challenges:

Single-handed sailing isn’t without its challenges – rough seas, unpredictable weather patterns, mechanical failures – they can all add extra pressure when you’re alone on the water. Mitigate risks by keeping a close eye on changing conditions and take preventive measures such as paying attention to weather forecasts before heading out.

Maintain a well-stocked toolkit onboard with essential spare parts and tools for minor repairs or adjustments. Additionally, familiarize yourself with a pre-determined inspection routine to identify potential issues before they become serious problems at sea.

Embrace Technology:

Technology has revolutionized single-handed sailing over the years. Embrace the digital era by incorporating innovative gadgets like autopilots or windvanes that aid in self-steering while you concentrate on other tasks aboard. High-quality electronic chart plotters can help track your progress accurately while reducing navigational stress.

Online communities are also a valuable resource for connecting with experienced sailors who share invaluable tips and advice on single-handed sailing techniques . Engaging with these communities can provide you with a support network and endless inspiration.


Single-handed sailboats open up a world of adventure, freedom, and self-reliance that is uniquely rewarding. By understanding the fundamentals, making strategic vessel choices, prioritizing safety measures, and embracing technology, aspiring solo sailors can confidently embark on an unforgettable journey.

So hoist those sails, chart your course, and set out to explore the mesmerizing vastness of the ocean – all on your own terms. Single-handed sailing awaits; prepare yourself for an experience like no other!

Sources: 1. “The Modern Cruising Sailboat” by Charles Doane 2. “Practical Freedom – The Minimalist’s Guide to Sailing & Adventuring” by Heidi Nielsen 3. “Complete Ocean Navigator: Using Celestial Navigation & Electronics Together” by Bob Sweet

How to Master the Art of Sailing Alone: Single Handed Sailboats 101

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling journey filled with adventure, solitude, and the thrill of sailing alone? If so, then mastering the art of single-handed sailing is an essential skill you must acquire. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of single-handed sailboats, providing you with invaluable tips and insights to ensure a smooth and successful voyage. So hoist your sails, grab your compass, and let’s dive into “How to Master the Art of Sailing Alone: Single Handed Sailboats 101.”

1. Understanding Single-Handed Sailboats: Single-handed sailboats are specially designed vessels that allow one person to navigate through open waters effortlessly. With their streamlined hulls and efficient rigging systems, these boats offer enhanced maneuverability while ensuring minimal physical effort.

2. Preparing for Solo Sailing: Before embarking on any solo sailing adventure, it is crucial to be thoroughly prepared. Start by meticulously inspecting your boat and its equipment; check for any signs of damage or wear. Ensure that your safety gear is up-to-date and in good condition – life jackets, flares, first aid kit – never leave anything to chance.

3. Knowledge is Key: To conquer the art of solo sailing, equip yourself with extensive knowledge about navigation techniques like chart reading, buoyage systems, pilotage planning, tide calculations – the more adept you become at handling these skills on your own, the smoother your journeys will be.

4. Harnessing the Power of Technology: With advancements in technology, sailors now have access to an array of gadgets that can simplify their voyages significantly. GPS navigational systems allow for precise positioning while autopilot functions provide temporary relief from steering duties during longer trips.

5. Seamanship Essentials: Developing competent seamanship skills is crucial for navigating alone effectively. Improve your understanding of wind patterns and currents; practice reefing maneuvers (reducing sail area) for varying wind strengths. Knowledge of anchoring techniques and man overboard procedures is essential to ensure your safety in adverse conditions.

6. Optimizing Your Boat’s Setup: Single-handed sailboats are designed with ergonomics in mind, but optimizing the setup according to your preferences is highly recommended. Familiarize yourself with winch mechanisms, ropes, and lines to ensure smooth operation singlehandedly – make adjustments that facilitate ease of use.

7. Safety First: Solo sailing entails a certain level of risk; therefore, prioritizing safety precautions is non-negotiable. Always inform someone ashore about your plans and anticipated return time. Maintain regular check-ins via radio or satellite communication devices to provide updates on your progress. Carry backup essentials like extra food, water, and emergency supplies.

8. Developing Self-Reliance: Becoming self-reliant at sea involves honing skills in all aspects of boat handling. Practicing docking maneuvers solo will boost confidence when facing potential challenges in crowded marinas or unpredictable weather conditions.

9. Enjoy the Solitude: Sailing alone offers a unique opportunity for introspection and personal growth beyond the nautical realm. Embrace the solitude as you connect with nature, appreciating breathtaking sunsets, stargazing under clear skies, and experiencing the freedom that accompanies this lifestyle.

10: Learn from Seasoned Solo Sailors: Lastly, never forget that learning from those who have mastered single-handed sailing before you can be immensely valuable. Seek out books written by experienced solo sailors, join online forums or attend seminars conducted by yachting associations – their wisdom will guide you towards success on your solitary adventures.

Mastering the art of sailing alone aboard a single-handed sailboat requires dedication, knowledge, and experience – but it is an exhilarating pursuit worth undertaking for those seeking solitude amidst nature’s most beautiful expanse: the open ocean. So start preparing today – your solo voyage awaits!

Step-by-Step: Navigating the Waters with Single Handed Sailboats

Sailing, with its romantic allure and sense of freedom, has been captivating adventurers for centuries. However, sailing solo brings a whole new level of excitement and challenge to the table. Enter single handed sailboats – vessels specially designed to be operated by just one person.

In this blog post, we will take you on a journey through the intricacies of handling single handed sailboats step-by-step. From preparation to mastering sailing techniques, we’ll cover it all with a professional touch and sprinkle of wit.

1. Choosing the Right Single Handed Sailboat: Just like finding your soulmate, selecting the perfect boat that matches your skills and preferences is essential. Factors such as size, stability, maneuverability, and equipment options should be thoroughly considered. We will guide you through this critical decision-making process so that you can find your ideal vessel.

2. Planning and Preparation: Before venturing into the majestic waters alone, thorough planning is crucial for safety and success . We will discuss everything from selecting suitable sailing routes to checking weather conditions and tides. Our expert advice will help you prepare both mentally and physically for your solitary voyage.

3. Safety First: Being alone at sea requires extra precautions to ensure your well-being throughout your sailing adventure . We’ll provide comprehensive tips on safety equipment selection, emergency procedures, signaling devices, first aid kits – all geared towards minimizing risks so that you can fully enjoy a worry-free experience.

4. Navigation Tips: As a single-handed sailor, navigating efficiently becomes even more critical without a co-pilot’s assistance. We’ll delve into advanced navigation techniques using charts and GPS systems while imparting wisdom gained from seasoned sailors on how to navigate tricky situations such as strong currents or sudden changes in wind direction.

5. Mastering Sail Trim: Properly adjusting sails is an art that leads to smooth-sailing experiences even on the most challenging waters. With our step-by-step explanations and clever insights, we’ll help you understand the intricacies of sail trim , from setting up your rigging to fine-tuning sail positioning. You’ll be able to catch every whisper of wind with finesse and grace.

6. Simplifying Maneuvers: Single handed sailors need to master various maneuvers that may ordinarily be shared among a crew. We will break down essential skills like tacking, jibing, reefing, and mooring into manageable steps. Equipped with our comprehensive guidance, you’ll smoothly perform these maneuvers as if you had a whole team by your side.

7. Boosting Confidence: Sailing solo can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially for beginners or those transitioning from crewed sailing . Our blog will offer practical strategies and confidence-building techniques derived from experts and experienced solo sailors alike. We aim to inspire you to push boundaries while testing your abilities in a responsible and thrilling manner.

So whether you dream of conquering vast oceans alone or simply desire the freedom that single-handed sailing brings, our step-by-step guide will give you the tools needed for an unforgettable adventure. Join us as we navigate the waters together with single handed sailboats – combining professionalism, wit, and clever insights throughout your journey!

Frequently Asked Questions about Single Handed Sailboats Answered

Title: Demystifying Single-Handed Sailboats: Expertly Answering Your Burning Questions

Introduction: Setting sail on a single-handed adventure can be an exhilarating experience, allowing you to chart your own course and reconnect with the raw power of the ocean. However, before embarking on this thrilling journey, it’s essential to address some frequently asked questions that commonly arise when discussing single-handed sailboats. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll navigate through the most burning inquiries, providing you with professional insights intertwined with witty and clever explanations. So fasten your life jacket and get ready for a voyage of knowledge!

1. What is a single-handed sailboat? Isn’t sailing traditionally a team sport ? Ahoy there! While sailing has historically been associated with collaborative efforts aboard larger vessels, the rise of single-handed sailboats has revolutionized the sport . A single-handed sailboat refers to any vessel designed and rigged specifically for solo sailing, encompassing various sizes and types tailored to meet individual preferences. Solo sailors prove their mettle by skillfully maneuvering these boats all on their own.

2. Is it safe to sail alone? Safety is paramount in any seafaring adventure! Single-handed sailing can indeed be safe if proper precautions are taken. Skippers must ensure they have extensive knowledge of navigation techniques, weather patterns, emergency procedures, and possess adequate skills in boat handling. Additionally, equipping yourself with safety gear such as life jackets, flares, EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons), and having reliable means of communication is crucial.

3. How challenging is it for beginners to learn how to solo-sail? Learning anything new always comes with a learning curve! For beginners venturing into the world of solo-sailing, it’s recommended to start small with simpler boats like dinghies or small keelboats . These vessels provide a manageable learning platform where inexperienced sailors can grasp the fundamentals – like boat handling, maneuvering, and understanding the effects of wind and currents. With time and practice, aspiring solo sailors can organically progress to larger vessels.

4. What are some popular single-handed sailboat designs ? In the vast sea of single-handed sailboats, a few designs have captured the hearts of sailing enthusiasts worldwide. The Mini Transat 6.50, renowned for its compact size and exceptional seaworthiness, is a favorite among adventurers seeking thrilling offshore endeavors. For those craving high-performance precision, the Laser Standard or Radial Olympic-class dinghies offer incredible speed and agility. The Contessa 32, with its classic charm combined with sustainability and simplicity, continues to attract sailors seeking elegance in their lone journeys.

5. How do solo sailors handle sleep during long trips? Sleep – every sailor’s treasure! During extended passages on single-handed sailboats, skippers face the challenge of managing rest alongside navigation duties. Cleverly designed autopilot systems can help maintain course direction while allowing brief periods for napping. Employing alarms, timers, or even physical cues (such as bucket-and-string techniques) enables skippers to wake up periodically to verify their boat’s safety and make adjustments if needed.

6. Can single-handed sails be set up by one person alone? Certainly! Single-handed sailboats are explicitly designed for self-reliance in all aspects – including setting up sails . Innovations such as lazy jacks (ropes that guide sails down into neat piles), furling systems (which allow sails to be rolled away easily), or even simplified rigging techniques grant solo sailors confidence in quickly adjusting their sail plan without relying on additional crew members.

Conclusion: As you navigate your way through these frequently asked questions about single-handed sailboats, it becomes clear that venturing out on solitary voyages holds a unique allure for adventurous souls around the world. Armed with knowledge on boat selection, safety precautions, and learning the art of solo sailing, you can confidently embark on a remarkable journey across tranquil waters or daring offshore expeditions. Single-handed sailboats embody freedom, self-reliance, and the boundless adventure that awaits those who dare to embrace the rhythm of wind and sea alone.

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The Advantages and Challenges of Sailing Solo: Single Handed Sailboats Unveiled

Sailing solo is a remarkable feat that demands both courage and skill. It requires sailors to navigate the open seas without any crew members by their side, relying solely on their own strength, experience, and intuition. For those with a longing for adventure or a desire to test their limits, single-handed sailboats provide both advantages and challenges that can truly unveil one’s capabilities.

One of the primary advantages of sailing solo is the unmatched sense of freedom it offers. There are no compromises or limitations imposed by others; you have complete control over every aspect of your voyage. Decisions such as course alterations, speed adjustments, or route planning are made solely by you, allowing for maximum flexibility and independence. This empowering experience not only strengthens your sailing skills but also fosters personal growth and self-reliance.

In addition to freedom, solo sailing allows for an unparalleled connection with nature. The serenity of being alone on a vast expanse of water surrounded by nothing but wind and waves provides an opportunity for introspection and tranquility that few other activities can match. The sheer beauty and vastness of the ocean become your constant companion, promoting a deep sense of appreciation for the natural world.

Moreover, single-handed sailboats often boast innovative designs specifically tailored to meet the needs of solo adventurers. These vessels are equipped with advanced technologies that simplify tasks usually carried out by multiple crew members. Features such as self-steering mechanisms or automated navigation systems make handling the boat more manageable and less physically demanding.

However, despite its many advantages, sailing solo also presents unique challenges that require careful consideration. One must possess extensive knowledge of seamanship techniques as well as advanced navigational skills to handle unpredictable weather conditions or unexpected emergencies effectively. Unlike in crewed voyages where individuals share responsibilities during watch shifts, solo sailors must remain alert at all times throughout their journey—daytime or nightfall.

Loneliness can also pose severe mental challenges during extended periods at sea. The absence of companionship and the constant exposure to solitude can test even the most resilient individuals. It requires a strong sense of self-motivation and mental fortitude to overcome feelings of isolation, boredom, or homesickness. However, for some, this isolation becomes part of the appeal—an opportunity for deep reflection and personal growth.

Furthermore, physical exhaustion is an ever-present challenge for solo sailors. Without crew members to share the workload, tasks such as navigating complex waters, handling heavy sails, or anchoring become physically demanding and potentially exhausting. Stamina and physical fitness are vital attributes that must be cultivated in order to withstand the rigorous demands of solo sailing.

In conclusion, sailing solo on single-handed sailboats offers adventurers a unique experience filled with advantages and challenges that unveil one’s true mettle. The freedom to chart your own course while basking in the beauty of nature is unparalleled. However, it demands a thorough understanding of seamanship skills, mental resilience to combat loneliness, and physical endurance to conquer tiring tasks at sea. For those seeking an extraordinary voyage that tests limits both internally and externally, solo sailing is an adventure worth exploring.

Dive into the Best Single Handed Sailboat Options Available Today

Dive into the Best Single-Handed Sailboat Options Available Today

Are you a sailing enthusiast, yearning for the ultimate solo adventure on the open sea? If so, you’ll be delighted to know that there is a wide array of single-handed sailboat options available today. These boats are specifically designed to empower sailors with the ability to navigate and operate their vessel independently, providing an unmatched sense of freedom and adventure. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at some of the best single-handed sailboat options currently on the market.

First up is the renowned Laser. This iconic boat has become synonymous with single-handed sailing due to its simplicity and maneuverability. The Laser’s streamlined design allows for swift and effortless sailing, making it an ideal choice for beginners and experienced sailors alike. With its durable construction and versatile rigging options, this sailboat offers incredible performance in various weather conditions . Whether you prefer leisurely cruises or competitive racing, the Laser is undoubtedly one of the top choices for any solo sailor .

For those seeking more speed and agility on the water , consider exploring the RS Aero. This cutting-edge sailboat represents a true revolution in single-handed sailing technology. Built with lightweight materials such as carbon fiber composites, the RS Aero offers exceptional speed while maintaining optimal stability even in strong winds. Its sleek design not only enhances performance but also makes it effortless to transport or store. Designed by expert sailors who understand the thrill of sailing solo, this boat guarantees an exhilarating experience like no other.

If you’re looking for a balance between comfort and performance, look no further than the Melges 14. This stylish sailboat combines modern design elements with practical features tailored specifically for solo sailors. Its spacious cockpit provides ample room to move around while ensuring easy accessibility to all controls and rigging systems – essential for those operating alone at sea. The Melges 14 boasts impressive acceleration capabilities and responsive handling, making it an excellent option for both recreational cruising and exhilarating races .

On the more adventurous side, you may want to explore the magic of trimaran sailing with the Corsair Pulse 600. With its innovative folding features, this sailboat offers unmatched flexibility in terms of transportation and storage. Capable of reaching high speeds and exceptional stability, the Corsair Pulse 600 is perfect for those who crave excitement on their solo sailing adventures. Its lightweight construction allows for effortless single-handed operation while being well-equipped with user-friendly systems that maximize control and safety.

In conclusion, if you’re a solo sailor seeking the thrill of navigating alone on the open sea , there is a wide range of remarkable single-handed sailboat options available today. From the timeless simplicity of the Laser to the cutting-edge technology of the RS Aero and Melges 14 to the adventurous nature of trimarans like the Corsair Pulse 600 – these boats are sure to ignite your sense of adventure. So grab your gear, set sail , and let these fantastic vessels take you on extraordinary journeys filled with unforgettable moments. Happy exploring!

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The Largest Sailboat You Should Get For Your Solo Adventure

largest yacht single handed

I still remember the day like it was yesterday when I asked myself: “How big of a sailboat can one person handle?” I had absolutely no idea and didn’t even know how to sail back then. Many years later, I’ve got the experience and knowledge to answer this question for you in detail.

A beginner should stay below 40 feet until they get some experience. With moderate experience, one person can comfortably handle a 45-foot sailboat. To exceed 45 feet, you want to have a high level of experience and a boat with systems to assist you in handling your sails and equipment.

As with everything else related to sailing, the ability to handle a sailboat depends significantly on your sailing experience, physical fitness, and how the boat you want to sail is set up.

Determining the size of sailboat you can handle depending on experience and sailing systems

Beneteau Oceanis 48

There is a massive variety of sailboats; many are well suited for single or short-handed sailing, while others require a crew to be sailed safely. One thing to also keep in mind is that even when sailing as a couple, you’ll be in situations where only one of you will be available to handle the sailboat.

Especially if you plan on doing extended sailing with frequent overnight passages. There may be situations where your better (or worse) half is sick or unable to help in a tense situation, and you’re on your own to handle the boat. So please do yourself a favor and be realistic with yourself and your capabilities before choosing the size of your boat.

Can you reef a massive sail by yourself in a sudden 50-knot storm in the middle of the night? Only you know the answer to that after you’ve tried it. Since we’re all different in our level of fitness and capability, I’ll keep the average person as a reference throughout this article, and you’ll have to consider where you stand in relation to this before making a choice.

Right, with the pep-talk done, let’s move on!

After chatting with several oldtimers with half a lifetime of bluewater sailing, we all came to the same conclusion. The table below shows approximately how big of a sailboat one person with good physical fitness can handle depending on configuration and experience level:

Experience LevelNo System AssistanceMedium System AssistanceModerate System AssistanceFull System Assistance
<35 ft40 ft45 ft<50 ft
<40 ft45 ft50 ft55 ft +
<45 ft50 ft55 ft60 ft +

Windlass, Self-Steering

Windlass, Autopilot, Bow Thruster, Electrical Winches

Windlass, Autopilot, Bow & Stern Thruster, Electrical Winches, Electrical Furling, Steering Assistance

Critical elements to consider for handling a large sailboat alone

Amel Super Maramu 53

This article refers to sizes above 45 feet when discussing large sailboats. Once we get past 45 feet, we reach a point where the sail area is close to or bigger than 500 ft 2 or 45 m 2 on a modern sloop. It takes serious physical strength to handle sails of this size manually. Ketch-rigged sailboats spread the total sail area over an additional mizzen sail to allow easier sail handling of the individual sails.

Handling big sails is just one task that gets increasingly difficult on bigger boats. Your lines and equipment are more substantial in size and heavier as well. Leading all the lines back to the cockpit makes for an easier short-handed setup and keeps you in the safety of the cockpit in most situations.

Another thing worth mentioning is the price tag for buying and maintaining a large boat. The cost increases exponentially with size, so I recommend purchasing the smallest boat you are comfortable being on and the biggest you feel comfortable sailing and operating within a price range you can afford.

Most people looking to sail solo will end up with a sailboat in the 35-45-foot size range, especially if they plan to spend extended time onboard. You may be looking at smaller vessels too, but remember that you’ll sacrifice more space and speed the smaller the boat you choose.

There are many good reasons why you want to go bigger as well, and you should know that you definitely can. Just consider what can be challenging on a larger boat versus a smaller one and understand what you get yourself into.

Finding the right size range is all about the balance between what your capabilities can handle, the size of your cruising budget, and your preference for comfort and amenities onboard.

Let us have a look at some of the tasks we need to be able to handle on a sailboat alone, which might be more demanding on a larger boat.

By the way, I wrote an article about the ideal size for a liveaboard sailboat that is more relevant for those who won’t be sailing solo,

Operational tasks at sea

  • Hoist, lower, furl, and reef sails in various conditions
  • Trimming the sails
  • Steering the boat
  • Navigating in various conditions

Managing the sails can be solved in a couple of ways. If you choose a ketch, you’ll have less sail area to handle at a time at the expense of an additional mizzen sail. Many modern sloop-rigged sailboats above 45 feet have electrical winches, making hoisting, furling, and trimming sails easier. Electrical winches are usually reliable and can still be operated manually in case of failure.

Even below this size range, most modern boats have an autopilot, making it dramatically easier to handle the boat alone. A good autopilot is said to be the most valued crew member onboard, and I agree. My autopilot even has a name; Raymond is a trusted companion who hasn’t disappointed me. ( Yet, knock on wood )

The problem when relying on electric systems is that we might be in big trouble if they fail, which is an essential factor to consider and make a backup plan for. When you have years of sailing experience, you know how to handle situations well and what you can do to make things simpler for yourself.

Think about this: Can you manually reef your massive sails if the wind suddenly increases to 50 knots?

And yes, that does happen offshore.

Operational tasks going to port or mooring

  • Dropping and lifting the anchor
  • Maneuver the boat in and out of a marina or port
  • Tie the boat to the dock or pontoon

On a 45-55 foot sailboat, you will typically have an anchor that weighs 30-45 kg or 65-100 lbs. That anchor is attached to a 10-12mm chain. If you anchored at a 10m water depth, you probably have at least 50 meters of chain out.

The weight of 12mm chain is about 3.4 kg or 7.5 lbs per meter. This means you have 170kg or 375 lbs of chain in the water plus the weight of your anchor. Pulling that weight up from the seabed is a challenging workout that makes you want to rely on your windlass. But windlasses can fail, and I speak from experience.

I have pulled my 25 kg Rocna together with 75kg of chain off the seabed a few times, and I sweat at the thought of handling anything larger. On a smaller boat, the ground tackle weighs a lot less and is more manageable for one person.

Docking a large sailboat

Maneuvering any size sailboat into port is nerve-wracking for most people their first few times. I remember being scared to death my first few times docking by myself, and I didn’t have a bow thruster to assist. You won’t be able to push or single-handedly move a sailboat above 45 foot by yourself if there is a little bit of wind.

Modern vessels of this size usually have a bow thruster, making it significantly easier to maneuver the vessel into tight areas and marinas. My friend, who has been sailing his entire life, lives aboard and sails his close to 55 foot sailboat. His boat has a bow and stern thruster, making it easier to maneuver than my 40 foot boat!

Now, most boats don’t have that luxury, and a lot of practice will be necessary for getting confident in and out of a marina. NauticEd has a course on maneuvering by engine and docking that you may want to look at here .

The Largest Sailboat You Should Get For Your Solo Adventure

Conclusion: Is it realistic to sail a large sailboat by yourself?

With a decent level of experience and a well-equipped sailboat adequately set up for single-handed operation, it is absolutely possible to handle a large sailboat alone. I know several sailors who sail large vessels by themselves.

As long as you have some sailing experience and good physical fitness, are aware of your limitations, and have a decent plan in case of equipment failure, you will, in most everyday situations, be able to handle a 50 foot sailboat and possibly larger alone. If you plan on buying a large sailboat, remember to consider the factors we have looked at in this article and be realistic about your budget.

There are just as many people upgrading to a bigger boat as downgrading to a smaller one. What size sailboat is right for you comes down to your needs, experience level, and budget. Take your time to make the right decision if you want to buy a boat, and be realistic about your capabilities and experience before you take on the task of sailing a large sailboat by yourself.

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Robin is the founder and owner of Sailing Ellidah and has been living on his sailboat since 2019. He is currently on a journey to sail around the world and is passionate about writing his story and helpful content to inspire others who share his interest in sailing.

I am writing a novel in which knowledge of sailing and sailboats would be helpful. Would you be available to answer an occasional technical question via email? The setting is primarily the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Pontchartrain, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but will include time in the Bahamas and Caymans. The time is 1964-65.

Hoping to hear from you, and thanks.

Send me an email and I’ll do my best to assist you!

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largest yacht single handed

The Biggest Catamaran One Person Can Sail Safely? (A Study Of Sailors Experience)

largest yacht single handed

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Sailing is an exhilarating experience, and one thing that gets me the most passionate is teamwork and seeing everyone doing the correct things at the correct time. Although I love teamwork, I find sailors that take their boat out on their own, amazing and very inspiring.

This has led me to ask the question: What is the largest catamaran one person can sail on their own (solo sailing)?  I started a poll and collected data from over 100 sailors, and here you have it! This is how big of a catamaran people can safely sail single-handed.

Size doesn´t matter (But gear, skills, etc. does)2019%

Keep reading to understand which factors make a boat more or less suited for short-handed sailing.

Table of Contents

Conclusion of The Study

Most people (46%) who took the poll answered that they would not be comfortable sailing  a catamaran larger than 40 ft safely. This is also the same size that I recommended in my video on best on the best-sized catamaran for ocean sailing, which you can watch below or  read this article .

Many commented that larger boats, and the sails would be difficult to reef efficiently and safely and also that their view would be hindered, making docking and port navigation much harder.

33% of the responders said that they would be comfortable with a boat a big as 50ft  before the size started becoming a problem; most of this group also mentioned that they are sailors with a lot of experience and many years in the industry. Some argued that navigating offshore is very easy, but the difficulty mainly lies in stormy weather, where most would appreciate a helping hand.

19% responded that they would handle any boat as long as it was set up correctly and they were taught the right skills.  This, of course, makes sense in an imaginative world where it is possible to outfit any boat with the most recent automatic equipment and train anyone to the highest level. Respecting this answer, I have put a section further below discussing the technical aspects of solo sailing.

Above 50ft in length, very few (1 respondent) felt comfortable sailing safely independently.

Why Size Does Not Matter

Considering the 20% that answer size doesnt matter, let’s look at what they thought did matter. Skills and Gear

There is no better enabler than actually knowing what you are doing; if you lack the skills, you will probably end up in a bad way no matter what gear you have.

The skills that were mentioned surrounded mainly the ability to handle rough weather and to dock and navigate a marina safely. Long calm passages under autopilot seemed to be very easy.

Bow thruster and High Tech gear

Solo sailing a large catamaran means you will have to leave some work to computers and machinery, which includes hoisting and reefing sails by electric winches. On some exclusive cats, it will also do the trimming of the sails for you.

Most people will never sail a boat with automatic trimming due to it being very expensive; electric winches, on the other hand, are common on 38ft+ cats.

One of the most nervous aspects of sailing is docking, this is where many accidents happen, and this is where it becomes very tricky if you are on your own. Bow thrusters (impellers that can move the boat sideways) activated by the move of a joystick make docking much easier, sadly it is a costly system that very few cats employ.

The assumption is that if you are properly trained and have enough money to buy allt the gear in the industry, you can safely sail any size vessel. This is not the reality for most people, so let’s look at most respondents’ experiences.

largest yacht single handed

Limiting Factors

The limiting factors are the things that make it hard to solo sail your boat; anything that makes it less safe and manageable will be on this list. Let’s check it out!

Heavy sails

Once the cat gets longer, the larger the sails’ surface area will be, and therefore also their weight; this means that unless you are on an electric winch system, getting your sails up might be very hard or impossible. This problem usually starts around 45ft. Getting physically prepared is necessary for safe sailing.

Limited view

Once you pass 40ft, many people mentioned the problems of seeing what’s in front of you ; on some cats, this is not a problem at all, especially with flybridge, but on most small movement in a marina can get really tricky.

It’s common to the sensation you get when you are used to driving your mom’s fiat, and then you get back into your truck. It’s hard to know where the car or boat actually is.

Time to move from cockpit to cleats

Another aspect is simply the time it takes, from changing the engine settings to attaching your boat to a cleat. The longer the boat is, the longer time it takes you to move from one to the other when you need to make corrections.

And if you are unlucky, it will take just a little bit too long, and you scratch your neighbor’s boat. Something that is not too uncommon.

Setting Up Yourself and Your Boat For Solo Sailing

largest yacht single handed

Here are some essential tips for setting up your boat for solo adventures; if you want the complete guide, I would recommend you  read this.

  • Ensure all controls go to the cockpit; this is vital for safe cruising since it eliminates the need to move around the boat to access various controls.
  • Use a center cleat for docking; this really is a pro tip that will make life so much easier. The center cleat makes attaching the lines much more accessible and will make it possible to “spring of the dock,” a maneuver that solo sailors love since it allows them to use a single line to untie from the dock. Something that the captain can do from the cockpit.
  • Use an autopilot. This is probably one of the most useful tools since it allows you to multitask while at sea. Instead of always being on watch and steering the boat, you are now able to pop your head up from time to time and use the rest of the time for cooking, repair, or get some rest!

Practice sailing solo

The respondents’ most important factor was skills; the list below tries to summarize the data and help you take the next step towards your solo sailing adventure.

  • Bring a crew  but let them be passive; if something happens, they will be there for you to solve the situation, but until then, you are on your own. This will create a safe learning situation where you are able to see where your skill level is at and to become better and better in a safe way. This is especially useful when docking!
  • Dry practice before you go out;  walk through different situations in your head and then do it in the safety of the dock. This is a potent skill that will increase your learning curve, and once you get out on the water, you already know most of the moves you need to do, where the different lines as, etc.

Check out this article on Short-Handed sailing of catamarans

Thanks for reading, and I hope you like this type of data collection and analysis useful! Safe Sails!

Owner of A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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No Crew Required

  • By Chris Caswell
  • Updated: June 18, 2009

Nordhavn 47


A growing number of yachts are being operated “short-handed,” the nautical term for a voyage with fewer than the usual number of crew members. In the yachting world, it was not long ago that owning a 70-footer meant having a dedicated captain and at least one crew member.

Today, however, there are a growing number of yachts in the 60- to 80-foot range being handled by husband-and-wife teams. And this isn’t just weekend marina-hopping, either, but voyages that stretch the lengths of continents and span oceans.

John and Linda Langan who, in 16 months, have ranged from Alaska to Mexico and are currently in the Caribbean aboard their Nordhavn 47, are now accustomed to short-handed cruising. “At first it was daunting, now it’s no big thing,” they happily report.

A multitude of factors have not only made this possible, but desirable. Modern technology has provided warping winches that can turn a 100-pound woman into Arnold Schwarzenegger when it comes to handling dock lines, while bow and stern thrusters make docking easier. There are more young couples acquiring larger yachts these days, yet not really wanting paid crew. And at the other end, there are “empty-nesters,” who want to be able to take out family or friends occasionally, yet still remain independent.

Regardless of the reasons, boatbuilders are seizing on this new market, creating fleets of yachts aimed at short-handed cruisers. We talked to a number of owner-operators, as well as boatbuilders, to gather some of the hard-won tips and techniques that make short-handed cruising possible. Here’s a look at what we learned.

Pick the Right Yacht

The design features needed for short-handed cruising are a matter of common sense. One of the keys to simplified boat-handling, according to one skipper, is the ability to “be everywhere at once.”

This means you need wide side decks that allow you to move easily from bow to stern, with bulwarks or rails high enough to make movement underway safe. It requires having doors on each side of a pilothouse so the skipper can step out to lend a hand quickly. Look for flying bridge stairs that are conveniently located and safe in all conditions. Inside, a pilot berth or convertible settee might be a good idea, so a second person is close at hand during night passages.

Outfit the Yacht

Once you’ve chosen the yacht, you need to outfit it with short-handing in mind, which generally falls into two categories: Extra power and simplicity.

Docking is always the biggest concern for a husband-and-wife team, but several modern conveniences turn this into a “no worries” area. First, bow and stern thrusters allow the skipper to place the yacht precisely against a dock. Second, warping winches on the stern allow one person to easily move a 40-ton yacht. Third, remote helm controls put the skipper where he can see everything, as well as lend a hand as needed. And last (but certainly not least!), the dawn of Zeus or IPS drive power allows joystick control that can pivot the yacht in any direction and even hold station effortlessly.

For Barry and Alice Allred, the bow and stern thrusters aboard their Outer Reef 65, Risky Business, are a godsend. “Choosing hydraulic progressive Trac thrusters was our wisest investment,” says Barry. “I can place the boat against the dock and then hold it there indefinitely while I help with the docklines.” Progressive thrusters can be left in the thrusting position and, being hydraulic, can be used continuously because they don’t have overheating issues.

Warping winches were named as one of the most popular options by boatbuilders, and several owners noted that using them meant they could easily muscle in a spring line-even against wind and current. They also allow the positioning of the yacht to be done from on board, rather than relying on dock helpers. Lydia Biggie, who has cruised the length of the Eastern Seaboard with her husband, John, aboard their Outer Reef 73, SeeYa, always passes the eye of the dockline ashore, so she can control the length from on board.

The ability of the skipper to operate the engines and thrusters from locations other than the helm was also mentioned as very important by short-handed crews. Options include wing controls hidden in a bulwark outside the pilothouse or on the afterdeck, as well as corded control boxes that can be plugged in at various locations around the yacht. Aboard Risky Business, for example, plug locations include the bow (for anchoring), the stern, and both sides of the bridge.

Nordhavn 47

Ample and properly sized fenders were mentioned as valuable to short-handers, because they protect the yacht until all the lines are secured. Several skippers mentioned that they have premarked fender lines, so they can be secured at a set height before being hung over the side. This is particularly important with large or heavy fenders being handled by a small person.

Another valuable piece of deck gear that short-handers mentioned is “a really long boathook” which can be used for placing looped docklines over pilings or cleats when there are no helpers ashore.

Prep the Crew

If there was one tip given by absolutely every short-handed couple, it was to talk everything through beforehand. “Plan ahead, and take your time,” says Lydia Biggie. “John and I will discuss the order of lines to be given to the dock help, because sometimes it varies.” Aboard Risky Business, Barry Allred also tells his wife which lines to set first, and she passes these directions to the dock helpers.

Both John Biggie and Barry Allred go a step further in their preparations: “I talk to the dockmaster by VHF beforehand,” says Allred, “to find out the exact slip location, the wind or current at that spot, and what’s around my slip. That way there are no surprises.” Lydia Biggie adds, “We find out at least half an hour beforehand what side of the dock we’ll be on, and if they are floating or stationary. That way I can estimate the height and position of the fenders.”

Just as important as crew preparation are crew communications. John Langan is succinct: “We use duplex two-way hands-free communications, and this is a marriagesaver!” Barry Allred also has several pairs of voice-activated Eartec headsets, adding a third unit so his daughter “could hear what was going on” when she was aboard. “These work fine, even in a breeze,” says Allred, noting that they allow two people to work without being in sight of each other.

Lowering and raising an anchor brings a host of new challenges but, again, modern technology and ingenuity simplify the task for short-handers. Barry Allred has anchor controls on his remote controller and, once plugged in at the bow, can direct the whole process as he watches.

Aboard SeeYa, the Biggies use hand signals to communicate from the bow to the pilothouse. “I look at him and signal and call ‘taking the pin out.’ This is the safety pin that prevents the anchor and chain from going down. Now John knows my hands are clear, and it’s okay to lower the anchor. We have one of those neat ‘chain counters’ so he can raise and lower the anchor from the wheel and know how many feet are out.”

The way the Langans aboard the Nordhavn 47 see it, “You can’t be too rich or too thin or have too many anchors. I use 400 feet of 7/16-inch chain and a 105-pound CQR. We set the CQR on the roller nearing the anchorage so that when we let the windlass out, it goes down by itself and my wife counts the 50-foot paint stripes to the required scope.” John adds, “All this I do from the pilothouse, since the windlass can be operated from there, the flybridge, or the bow.”

For raising the anchor, Lydia Biggie has painted three marks on the chain, but hers are near the anchor. “When I see these marks come out of the water, I take over raising the anchor. I can now do this slowly, make sure the anchor is free of sand, oriented properly and, finally, seated properly. Besides, by the time I take over the anchor, John needs to pay attention to steering the boat.”

When it comes to signaling, the Biggies keep it simple. “I point to where the anchor chain is, port or starboard, so John can use the bow thruster to line up the boat with the chain. I use a circular motion with my arm to indicate ‘keep the anchor coming up,’ and I put my hand up in a ‘stop’ motion to end pulling the anchor in.”

The biggest concern for most short-handers is a man overboard because, with just two people aboard, you only have half a crew to handle a serious crisis.

Most short-handers carry comfortable lifejackets in addition to the U.S. Coast Guard-required PFDs-either in the form of automatic inflatable life vests that don’t constrict movements, or as float coats to wear when weathering colder climates. But many short-handers also admitted that they don’t wear them often enough. “Unless the conditions are really bad,” said one, “we don’t put them on. I know we should, but we’re lazy.”

High bulwarks, double or even triple lifelines, and plenty of rails can create a false sense of security and we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend that everyone on deck wear a life vest at all times.

Even in the best case scenario, when the MOB is wearing a flotation device, the situation is very dangerous because only one person is left to maneuver the yacht, spot the person in the water, and retrieve the crew. There are a multitude of devices designed to help locate and retrieve a crew member, large or small, from the water, and each has its pros and cons. Some require installations on the yacht, and all should be tested in practice situations with a full crew aboard in calm water. A dark night with your spouse in the water is no time to start reading the instructions.

The most popular MOB device for powerboats is the Lifesling, which comes in several variations but is basically a horseshoe- shaped collar that is thrown to the victim or towed behind the yacht so it can be reached without swimming for it.

It provides buoyancy as well as a secure attachment to the yacht and, when combined with lifting tackle on board, allows a smaller person to hoist a heavy and watersoaked victim on board.

Several short-handers that were interviewed have a basic rule: No one ever goes on deck without being watched. And one added that, when voyaging, they always bring the yacht to a complete stop before a crew member goes on deck.

Barry Allred uses a video camera that covers all the action on the afterdeck. “With that, one of us can be in the pilothouse and still keep an eye on the other if we’re rigging lines or fenders.”

Short-handed cruising a largish yacht may seem intimidating or even scary at first but, with a well-chosen yacht and the right equipment and practice, it can be a grand adventure.

“I wasn’t sure the two of us could do it,” says Barry Allred. “I was wrong…it’s great!”

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What is behind the surge in new 60ft plus yacht designs and can you sail one safely without pro crew?

  • Toby Hodges
  • January 13, 2017

New yacht design has taken a giant leap in average length. Toby Hodges reports on the boom in big boats

Oyster 625

Looking along the row of new yachts berthed stern-to at Cannes Boat Show in September, it seems impossible that just a few years ago a yard might hold up its 55-footer as the flagship of its fleet. In 2016, it’s the new yachts between 55ft and 80ft from the production yards that really stand out. So what has changed? Why the sudden surge in new large yachts and is it really possible to sail them without professional crew?

The 60ft plus market represents only around 120 yachts worldwide per year, but according to Oyster CEO David Tydeman, there is a need for variety. “Where Beneteau likes the fact that we series-build €5m boats, we like the fact that Beneteau does €1m series builds,” he says. “It brings people into the industry.”

Customers range from those wanting short-term sailing holidays and second home use, to those exercising long held dreams to sail offshore in the utmost comfort. It’s a wide range of people being targeted by a wide range of brands and from the list of boats yet to be launched, it’s evident that the majority of builders have bet against this size segment being a passing fad.

Who is building new yachts over 60ft?

The volume production yards have been growing their flagship models, mostly launched in the last year or two, to fulfil demand in the 55-65ft sector. This is perhaps indicative of an increasing number of impulsive buyers on today’s new yacht market; those who don’t want to wait for a couple of years for their yacht are going to be more attracted to the volume-built boats.

Models over 65ft are typically still the domain of luxury bluewater cruising brands, such as Oyster and Contest; prestige brands, such as CNB and Euphoria; or performance semi-custom designs from the likes of Swan, Solaris, Mylius and Advanced Yachts. Highlights include X-Yachts’s 65ft X6 (see X6 on test ), the Grand Soleil 58 Performance; Mylius’ striking new 76; the Turkish Euphoria 68 (see Euphoria 68 on test ) and the luxurious new Contest 67CS ( see video review here ), not to mention the new Oysters 675 and 745.

Contest 67CS: The owner of this first 67CS started sailing in Norway in September 2009, aged 40. Since then he has owned two yachts, completed an ARC crossing and sailed with his wife in the Caribbean five times a year. “We were looking for a bigger yacht for longer stays but which we can still sail with the two of us.” They plan to sail the boat themselves, but add that for “maintenance and preparations it is smart to have professionals who know our Contest 67CS.”

Contest 67CS: The owner of this first 67CS started sailing in Norway in September 2009, aged 40. Since then he has owned two yachts, completed an ARC crossing and sailed with his wife in the Caribbean five times a year. “We were looking for a bigger yacht for longer stays but which we can still sail with the two of us.” They plan to sail the boat themselves, but add that for “maintenance and preparations it is smart to have professionals who know our Contest 67CS.”

At the 60ft plus size range, yards have to be flexible to be competitive. Prospective buyers expect their yachts to be semi-customised; rather than simply ticking options boxes, they want the yard to listen to their individual choices, styles and needs.

Volume producers will offer a lengthy list of layouts, fabrics and finishes, while the high-end builders will typically offer major hull variations, including different transom designs, rig options, and appendage types, with interior layouts only really constrained by watertight bulkheads. Those braving the first of a new model line may get extra privileges in this respect.

Mylius 76

Mylius 76: In many ways, Mylius’s yachts are a total contrast to the large, luxury cruising yachts of northern European yards. The all-carbon builds are super-minimalist throughout; modern turbo-charged Italian head-turners for smoking across the Med in style and enjoying the odd regatta. Pictured right is the flush-deck version. The deck saloon model (far right interiors) is novel and niche – a fascinating combination of space, speed and style.

High volume production

Of the volume yards, Hanse arguably led the way with its 630e back in 2006, 70 of which were built. Equally impressive is that the German yard then went on to sell 175 of its 575 in the last four years. This year Hanse launched the 675, its largest volume production yacht to date.

Hanse 675 interior

Hanse consistently wows with its loft-style interiors – more like a luxury apartment in fact on this, its largest model yet, the new 675.

Groupe Beneteau brands all now have yachts in the 60ft plus size range. The Bordeaux 60 caused a stir when it launched in 2008 – hull number 46 is in build – bringing trappings of superyacht glamour to the production market. The follow-up CNB 76 made a striking debut at Cannes in 2013. This contemporary Briand design uses an innovative construction method to reduce build time and cost. Seventeen of the €2m 76s have now sold, leading CNB to commission designs for a new smaller sister, the 66 (see page 33). To give some indication as to the demand at this size, CNB has already sold eight of the smaller yachts despite only releasing initial designs in September, and has also just announced it will take on 100 more workers to meet demand.

CNB 76

CNB 76: The 76 is a powerful yet elegant yacht with a well-camouflaged deck saloon, proper crew accommodation and a practical tender garage. A modular build scheme allows CNB to construct the entire interior of the 76 outside of the hull, dramatically reducing build time (to six months) and cost. The win-win result is superyacht styling and engineering, yet with a serial production price starting at €2m.

Unlike CNB, which is originally a builder of large custom yachts, the other volume production yards and Groupe Beneteau brands are upsizing. Superyacht designers Philippe Briand and Andrew Winch collaborated to produce one of the most successful of these – the Jeanneau 64 launched in 2014. It marries the worlds of big boat design, luxury and comfort with production boat pricing – its base price was kept below €1m – offering 10ft more yacht than an equivalent-priced semi-custom model.

Sister brand Beneteau has now followed suit with its Oceanis Yachts 62 this year. This is the first of a new luxury range from 53-73ft for which Beneteau went to a motorboat designer to find new styling solutions. The result is a bold look and a host of new comfort solutions throughout. Also, the goal with the pricing was even more ambitious than Jeanneau – its €650,000 base price shows how competitive pricing has become, even at this size level.

Oceanis Yachts 62

Oceanis Yachts 62: Beneteau is arguably the most innovative production yacht brand. Here it’s taken ideas and styling from its motorboat side to create this first of an entirely new line. The 62 brings a commendable feeling of luxury both on deck and below, plus has a proper tender launching solution for a Williams Jet Rib. The crunch part? Its base price starts at just €650,000.

Dufour will have a new 63ft flagship as of January, which, like the Oceanis Yachts, is the first of a new premium-end ‘Exclusive’ range.

All of which leaves Bavaria as the last big volume yard without a 60-footer. This is mainly down to its in-line production method, which has, to date, limited the maximum length of yacht it can build. However this summer Bavaria changed the set-up of one of its production lines to address this limitation, so we can presume that it’s only a question of time before the largest sailing Bavaria model yet is announced.

The practicalities

Large yachts are getting ever easier to handle. Push-button electrics and hydraulics that allow loads to be managed reliably have created new possibilities for managing sizable yachts short-handed. Thrusters – both bow and stern – are the norm at this size and can alleviate concerns with mooring, while advances in deck-gear technology have made sail-handling much easier.

As in the car industry, space has become king. Added length in yachts can bring increased comfort, elegance and speed, but there are downsides. With extra volume and weight comes a linear increase in the size and cost of each bit of deck gear and rigging needed to bear the extra loads.

Sailing a push-button power-assisted yacht might be a one-person affair, but managing and maintaining it is a different prospect altogether. Large yachts increase the crew’s dependence on powered systems and machinery, from gensets, watermakers, air con and thrusters to the hydraulics needed to operate winches, sail systems, garage doors etc. Keeping such a yacht shipshape is likely to involve a great deal of time afloat servicing machinery, or regular shore periods and pit stops. The less mechanically minded owners will probably need to employ a skipper or paid hand for this purpose.

Solaris 58

Solaris: Once a custom yacht builder, Solaris has become a serial manufacturer of premium performance cruisers. Its range now spans from 37-72ft, with an Acebal-designed 55 and 68 in the pipeline.

Need for crew?

Up until 2011, when Hallberg-Rassy brought out its HR64, a yacht that was designed specifically for two people to sail and manage, I would have said that 57ft was the transition point from owner-operated yacht to crewed yacht. But yachts have continued to grow since then.

Skip Novak, who runs two expedition yachts – one 54ft and the other 74ft – says: “We can do things with [the 54ft] Pelagic that we wouldn’t dare do with Pelagic Australis . Pelagic is ‘man-handleable’, while the big boat at 74ft and 55 tonnes displacement is not. The systems on the smaller boat are by nature simpler, and the cruises usually are more trouble-free technically.”

Most new yachts over the 55ft mark have the option for a crew cabin of some sort. The big question is, are you happy sharing your yacht with paid hands? For temporary quarters, during a short charter for example, the forepeak-style box that is self-contained away from the rest of the accommodation may be all that is required in terms of accommodation. But for any owners seeking a longer-term crew – and wishing to retain reliable crew for any period of time – a more comfortable arrangement within the interior, like the use of a Pullman cabin, is necessary.

The current Oyster range spans the crossover between owner-operated yachts and crewed yachts, which helps to illustrate where the actual dividing line between the two might lie. For example, none of the 20 Oyster 625 owners uses a skipper full-time, although three of the 20 use skippers for when the boat is in charter mode. The new 675, which has been developed as a larger version of the 625, is also designed to be a yacht that can be owner-run. The new 745 on the other hand, which also launched this September, is designed to be run with two professional crew.

I sailed with Tim and Sybilla Beebe six years ago on a passage test of an Oyster 575 from Palma to Spain. They have since run an Oyster 68, a 72 and Tim is currently skippering Eddie Jordan’s Oyster 885, Lush. We discussed at what size level an owner should be thinking about employing a full-time crew.

“Firstly it’s dependent on experience,” says Beebe. “Can the owner sail the boat safely and do they want the responsibility? I agree that after 60ft, the time spent on upkeep starts to outweigh the enjoyment of it… unless you are living on it full-time.

“There are companies that will look after a 60ft boat and have it ready for owners when they arrive,” Beebe continued. “The amount of time needs to flexible. You can allot time for cleaning – inside and out – but maintenance must be flexible. There are always surprises.”

So where might a potential new owner be caught out? “The basic maintenance to keep the boat running is not too bad on a 60-footer but it’s the little bits that might get overlooked, which can quickly add up. You have to stay on top of everything. Winch maintenance, for example, might surprise the average new owner: to properly service all the winches takes a good deal of time – and is a once-a-season job.”

What advice would Beebe give owners of 60-70-footers looking to employ and keep a good crew? “Maintaining good relations is key. You all have to get on in a small space. From my experience, forward planning is nice to have, plus adequate time with guests off the boat for maintenance. Of course the occasional day off doesn’t go amiss either.”

Case study: Oyster 745 for bluewater cruising with family and friends

Henrik Nyman has sailed all his life on a variety of different sized boats, including owning and chartering various yachts and is now upgrading from an Oyster 625 to a 745 for bluewater cruising with friends and family. Why move to a yacht that needs crew? “Size alone is not a factor. For me, quality, engineering and function were my drivers… I thought 60ft was the maximum I could handle without crew, but in fact I feel that the 745 should be no trouble mainly due to very well thought-out functions and engineering. Handling is one part, but also you want crew for comfort, to go to the supermarket, some meals, formalities etc… I can sail basically alone but I want a good deckhand, mainly for safety purposes and for maintenance as well. “My biggest concern is that the equipment installed does not meet the same quality as the yacht itself. My experience from the 625 is that the majority if not all warranty issues are caused by third party installations.”

Oyster 745

Case study: Discovery 67 – trading up for extra space

Simon Phillips is a highly experienced cruising and racing sailor, who has gradually scaled up in size from a Sonata, a Sadler 29, a Hanse 47e and a Discovery 55. He bought his 67ft Sapphire 2 of London this June and his main reason for trading up was to gain space. “ Sapphire is 40 per cent larger inside which makes a big difference if you’re planning to spend 18 to 24 months on board. My wife and I are actively planning for the World ARC.” Phillips hasn’t used a professional crew before, but has employed delivery companies to do short deliveries due to time pressures. He normally sails with friends and contacts. “Sapphire is much more technical than the Discovery 55. Her size requires more planning and thought on where you can go etc. While it is possible to sail the yacht single-handed you really need one crew on the helm and three on lines to come alongside in any sort of windy and tidal conditions.”

Discovery 67

Showcase boats: Recent and upcoming launches in the 60ft plus category

Vismara 62

Vismara 62: Vismara is a custom carbon yacht builder that has now introduced some semi-custom series. The V62 is based on the success of the Mark Mills designed racer-cruiser SuperNikka . A mould was taken from her hull and adapted to make it more cruiser friendly.

Hallberg-Rassy 64

Hallberg-Rassy 64: “Push button controls are the only way you could handle a boat of this size without a big crew and our owners absolutely don’t want that,” said Magnus Rassy at the time of our HR64 test. “A huge amount of care has gone into making a boat that will be easy to sail long-distance, to maintain and to continue to use when things stop working.”

Dufour 63 Exclusive

Dufour 63 Exclusive: Due to launch at the Düsseldorf Boat Show in 2017, Dufour’s new flagship is a response to those from Beneteau, Jeanneau and Hanse and is the first of its new Exclusive range. The 63 is a yacht that maximises exterior comfort with a 5m long cockpit and exterior galley option alongside a tender garage.

CNB 66

CNB 66: The Bordeaux 60 and CNB 76 have both been true success stories. This 66 is very much the smaller sister to the 76 and looks set to replace the 60. “With the 66 the idea was to be able to sail without crew,” says CNB’s Thomas Gailly. “So we wanted it to be very simple, with no lift keel option or retracting anchor arm – easy to maintain and use.”

Baltic 67

Baltic 67: Over the past few years, Baltic Yachts has launched some of the finest new carbon superyachts, but its recent announcement of a new serially produced model marks a return to the more moderate-sized fast cruisers it was known for in the past.

Advanced Yachts 62

Advanced Yachts 62: Advanced Yachts uses some of the leading design firms to represent Italian luxury performance at its best, with models from 44-100ft. And this new A62 looks simply sensational.

Amel 64

Amel 64: This is one of the first 60+ footers truly designed for a couple only for bluewater cruising.

Find out more here – or in the videos below.

Below is the video of our two day liveaboard test aboard the smaller sister Amel 55, a model which launched at a similar time to the 64 and shares her updated design features.

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largest boat I can sail alone

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Hi all, I'm new to sailing, so new in fact, I don't have a sailboat and actually have never been on a sailboat. I will not be deterred however and within the next year, I will be living aboard. My plan is to purchase the largest boat that I will be able to sail alone once I've spent a year or so learning to sail. I will want as much space as I can afford and will be seeking a boat in the 35 to 41' range. In research on this site, I came across a thread that mentioned a 41' Hardin Seawolf, researched it a bit, and fell in love. It looks like it would require a crew to sail though. Is that the case? Thanks in advance for your patient ear and advice.  

largest yacht single handed

In the past the big issue would be handling sails buy your self with modern furling systems that is no longer a problem If your single handing then you really want a boat built around a self tacking JIB becasue again it makes it easy for a solo sail  

You can sail a very large boat by yourself, 50' 60', not out of the question. It's the docking, anchoring and picking up mooring balls that get real tricky alone. Lots & lots of people sail very large boats double handed so no need for a 'crew'. The second person aboard makes a huge difference. If you have no boat handling experience, you will have a VERY difficult time with a 41', especially alone.  

Thanks... Thanks all.  

largest yacht single handed

I agree with xort, Sailing is not the issue, its all the other stuff.  

Sailsoon, if we are talking about a Hardin ketch Thats a lot of boat to single hand. They weigh 30,000 pounds. Thats a good thing for a comfortable motion when at sea, However docking alone is a whole other issue. Tacking that monster ought to be a treat also. The ketch rig just adds more things to tend to (I know Cam will disagree). This would not be my first pick for a boat if I was going it alone. In fact, I would be looking for something 32 to 35 foot range and fractional rigged sloop.  

you all rock! I think I may have found my tribe in the sailing community.  

tis a great place  

largest yacht single handed

No...actually I don't disagree. For single handing I would be looking in the 35-38' range myself and looking at a simple sloop or cutter rig with everything rigged to the cockpit for furling and reefing. (And a reliable auto-pilot!). Soon2...the choice of a boat will depend on your resources and your future intentions. So far we know you want a lot of room and that you will be singlehanding and like a salty looking vessel. Need to know more.  

largest yacht single handed

As I read your post it really sounds like you are looking for two boats; one to learn to sail on and one to live on and long term cruise. Boats that are big enough to live on, especially if described as 'the biggest boat that I can single-hand', are usually too big to learn on if you intend to learn to sail well. Ideally, if you really intend to learn to sail well, (and not everybody cares whether they actually learn to be good sailors but that's another topic) then I suggest that you would be well served buying a small (23 to 30 foot max with 26-28 feet being more ideal), tiller steered, used but in good shape, responsive, fin keel-spade rudder, largish production run, ideally fractionally rigged, sloop. You can own a boat like that for a couple years, sail the living daylights out of her and sell her for pretty much what you have in her. You will be years and many dollars ahead of the game in terms of learning boat handling skills and what it takes to own and maintain a boat. The deductible for the repair costs for single accident with a boat big enough to live on could well exceed the entire cost of owning and learning on a smaller boat. When it comes to the biggest single-handers that you can can handle, the traditional rule of thumbs were based on displacement and not length. Before the advent of modern deck hardware, and lower drag hull forms and rigs (easier to handle) the rule of thumb used to be a range 2 1/2 to 5-6 tons (long tons) per person. That would suggest that anything over about 11,000 lbs would start to press the convenient limit (roughly a 38 footer max). With modern gear and efficient rigs that number can be extended so that it is possible to handle a much bigger boat, but as boats get bigger they become dependant on higher levels of skill, lots of luck, and much better equipment than a new sailor is likely to have. Lastly, the Hardin's were a miserable boat to sail. To me they are a characture rather than good sailing boat. So while they may shiver your timbers, I suggest that spend as much time as you can, sailing as many boats as you can, of as many types as you can, and I suspect when you are done doing that you won't have to ask us what kind of boat you should buy and will know why the Hardin is probably not a great choice for whatever you want to do with a boat. I do not mean this as a put down in any way. We all had to start somewhere. I think that I completely understand where you are coming from. When I bought my first 'live aboard' in 1973 it was a totally inappropriate choice that simply captured my imagination. Respectfully, Jeff  

NEVER single hand, no one to bring you drinks  

I like the way you think! Okay, I don't usually open up so quickly, but I'm among friends, right? My other half just a couple of weeks ago decided that 22 years was Lomg enough with her other half and now, though I'll miss her landlubber ways, am ready to move on to the water I've missed so much for these past 2 decades. I'm not trying to escape. I'm just ready to run off win my second bride--the sea. So, all of my new helpful friends, I"m thankful for advice received and of that yet to come. When not working, I plan on being a devoted student to the sail and sea. I want to sleep at night to the heart beat of sea. Then, after learning to sail along the shorelines and hrogh the bays of the Gulf of Mexico, I want to sail without boundary. I need a lot of space because I have avery cool dog, a lot of camera gear and just in case a like-minded beautiful woman wants to join me some day. I think that covers all it requiremts. Thanks again for the help.  

largest yacht single handed

soon2sail said: I need a lot of space because I have avery cool dog, a lot of camera gear and just in case a like-minded beautiful woman wants to join me some day. I think that covers all it requiremts. Thanks again for the help. Click to expand...

largest yacht single handed

zanshin on here was sailing a Jeanneau 43 by himself, not has a 49 deck salon model, he has had out a few times over the last 2-3 weeks IIRC. He might have had a bow thruster on the 43, don;t quote me tho. Not sure the whole specs of the 49 off the top of my head. But a quote on the Jeanneau-owners site, he mentioned that the extra 6' was more than he thought it would be manuvering. I'm sure he will do fine figureing out tho. For me, a mid 30' boat is plenty for what I do. For others, something bigger is nicer. I would also stick to a sloop style, or a ketch/yawl that is self tending for the most part. hanse has a few newer models that have self tending jibs, as does Tarten, which may rufle some feathers on mentioning this brand, but the 3400 or the 3700CCR setup have self tending jibs. Either should work for your needs, the 3700 is probably the better of the two, and if you go back to a 98-04 models would be best. The 3400 is new wit int he last 3 yrs or so, again go used. marty  

Bummer...but I guess every cloud has a silver lining. So...if you want to cross oceans and only buy ONE boat...then you should be looking at bluewater boats in the 35-38' range. Check the sticky of bluewater boats here in posts #6 & 8 for some ideas then check for some pictures and prices to help you begin to narrow things down. The upcoming Miami sailboat show might be a good place to get started if you're looking to kick things into high gear. Lots of new boats and sailing seminars as close proximity to all the brokerage boats in Miami & Ft. Lauderdale. Strictly Sail We're here when you need us.  

Thanks again and sorry for the stupid typos. The rum & cokes are starting to wear off and I'm off that damn iphone. Cheers  

Alain Colas sailed a 70m (210+ feet) 4 masted sailboat alone back years ago. Became "Phocea" later on. The sailor (and money for the necessary systems) is a greater limiting factor than the boat in my opinion. Since you don't know how to sail, may I politely suggest buying a live aboard in a reasonable range (28-32 feet) for cheap-ish AND a go out everyday dinghy type. Sunfish, laser (tricky for beginner). Learn wind/handling on the small boat. In any case, no big fan of single handling sailing offshore passages as there is no way to properly comply with Colregs Rule 5. Eric  

Sage advice! I can't wait to get started.  

largest yacht single handed

Even though my boat is only 27' I'd never single hand it. I just hop on a Sunfish, Daysailor or Hobie when "I want to be alone!!"  

largest yacht single handed

i single hand my nimble 30 express but i have in boom furling on the fully battened main & roller furling on the headsail ( genny or self tending jib ) i don't try to use the asymmetrical spinnakers when i am alone . an autopilot is essential to hold the bow into the wind when raising the main.  

largest yacht single handed

I single hand my Gemini 105Mc catamaran all the time. I'd never single handed either of my previous boats even after years of owning them and even though they were smaller. The summer I bought the Gemini I got bored and one day took it out solo for a 'down wind jib only run', wound up sailing circles around the bay until the Rum ran out. Everything about singlehanding is (in no certain order) planning, practice, and boat setup and equipment. Of course you do need to know your boat and how to sail her. Mine is flat, stable and well balanced. I practiced by taking her out with crew and having them observe only while I did everything as if alone. No need to have someone serve the drinks, the refridge is on the same level as, and only 4 steps from the helm.  

How would the Gemini 105mc be for a live aboard?  

largest yacht single handed

Probably quite good, for two-to-three people, given the size of the boat, weight carrying capacity, and such.  

You'd have to ask the dozens of folks that do live aboard, or the handful or so that are circumnavigating right now. is a good example, or my personal favorite SV Footprint Me and mine, we can't wait to find out.  

largest yacht single handed

14 months ago I would have said 36 feet is about the limit single handed, but now 47 is manageable if you plan and take you time. What I think is forgotten is while every thing is going well it is easy, but physically a bigger boat can be tough. Could you pull down a torn 135% cruising head sail, fold it and get it inside on your own. I probably should post a link but cut and past is easier, here is a little story of my first single handing of my new to me Ericson 39B: Solo sail on the bay, started All wrong nice ending -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Well today is, Sunday the 17 Feb 2008, BF piked it, said he was feeling a little under the weather. Not me I was going for a sailing, solo. Put everything away down below, a quick trip to the bins to get rid of the empties and rubbish. Double check everything and headed out of the Marina. Head into the wind with the engine just over idle giving 3 knots (no auto pilot), lock the wheel and sprint to the mast grab main halyard and winch away, nothing. ... Realise the main halyard is still connected to the topping lift. Rush back to the wheel, unlock and correct course, try to release halyard shackle, but it is still under tension. Correct course lock wheel. Rush to the mast release halyard run to wheel correct course, lock wheel, remove halyard and take to mast attach to main. Rush back to the wheel correct course lock wheel, stagger to mast and pull up main. Main stops at the second spreaders won’t go up, will come down. Stumble to wheel correct course and study situation, whilst sucking in large quantities of air. Realise main halyard is on the wrong side of the lazy jack line. Lock wheel run to mast drop the main, redo halyard hoist main.... main only gets to the first spreaders (feel heart attack building). Pull on halyard harder. Engine revs, drop main as the third reefing line is around the engine controls. run to wheel correct course, untangle reef line move it out of the way lock wheel stumble to mast start to raise main reef line now hooked on stanchion gate, lower main shake boom while shouting a bad word or two, line come free sail goes up, stagger to cockpit, wait for the heart attack. After calming down and now doing 2.5 knots with just the main up, and a nice main it is, I get passed by a bout with about 10 people on it. Got to go faster ,so now I have my breath back and the throbbing between my ears has stopped it’s time to let out the Genoa, release the furler sheet and pull on the Genoa sheet, perfect, no winch handle, it is still on the mast. Luff up into the wind, pull the sheet in tight then bring her back off the wind and all is good with the world. Who needs a winch handle? I did go up and get it latter. And that was the bad part; the rest of the day was a great solo day with lots of tacking and just playing around. In fact, I think I will do it all again tomorrow as I had the biggest smile on my face once things got sorted.  

While a Gemini 105 might be a reasonable live aboard or even a decent coastal cruiser, it would be near the bottom of the list of boats to learn to sail on. Back to the original post, single-handing requires a very unique skill set and a well set up boat. As has been noted, anecdotally there have been huge, purpose built boats that have been single-handed by skilled sailors. As you have probably noticed, there have been a lot of posts from folks who single-hand boats of a variety sizes and descriptions. The size boat that you personally can single-hand comfortably will be dependentg on your own skill levels, level of prudence and taste in boats. I myself routinely single-hand my 38 footer; sailing her in winds up to the mid-30 knot range, in and out of the slip by myself and routinely flying her sym. spinnakers. Its not all that hard once you have done it a while. But you are just starting out and should try to set reasonable expectations, do a dilligent 'apprenticeship' and then you will be able to answer these questions for yourself. Jeff  

There is a substantial difference between the largest boat you can sail alone, and the largest boat you want to sail alone. How do you envision yourself sailing? For long passages out of sight of land, a single person can handle quite a large boat. Things usually happen slower, you're not worried about hittings things, like land. If you are mostly gunkholing, with daysails thru sometimes narrow or congested areas, something smaller and quicker and easier to tack and handle might be more appropriate. I'm pretty confident that you would have plenty of room for a dog and camera gear on a 35', and the ground tackle and sails on the smaller boat will be lighter and easier to handle. Some of the boats I see being frequently singlehanded in Maine are smaller schooners, with club footed jibs. Just push the tiller or turn the wheel to tack. I see these being sailed on and off anchor in some pretty small places, but by obviously experienced hands. Think about the way you are likely to actually use the boat. Will light air performance be important? Light air upwind? Do you want something that is fun and easy to take for a daysail, or are room, salty looks and load carrying going to take precedence? You sound like a pretty social person, do you have friends you want to take daysailing? Make sure the cockpit can hold them. Boats aimed for offshore, shorthanded cruising sometimes have pretty small cockpits, for a reason. Boats meant for coastal cruising will usually have a bigger cockpit, again, for a reason. Our usual crew is three: Me, the bride, our young son. For us, a smaller 42', fairly narrow with long overhangs, works perfectly. I don't want any larger or smaller. If I were sailing alone, I would definitely have a smaller boat, probably 30-36', for coastal cruising. If I were going to go long range soloing, I would probably keep the 42'. Good Luck!  

I'm not fond of bigger boats I like a smaller one that can be handled without too much stress, although this goes up with experience.  

One other point--A boat that you might be able to sail and handle alone in 15 knots of wind, might not be a boat that you can manage in 20-30 knots of wind. So you don't want to get anything bigger than what you can safely handle when it starts getting nasty, and saying that you never go out when it gets nasty is not a good answer.... since Mother Nature has a really nasty streak at times. Yes, there have been people that have single handed 60-70' boats, but these boats were generally heavily and expensively customized to make them possible to singlehand, and the sailors involved were not your average sailors in most cases. Dee Caffari, Ellen McArthur, etc., are not your typical sailors.  

sailingdog said: Yes, there have been people that have single handed 60-70' boats, but these boats were generally heavily and expensively customized to make them possible to singlehand, and the sailors involved were not your average sailors in most cases. Dee Caffari, Ellen McArthur, etc., are not your typical sailors. Click to expand...
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Biggest size for single handing?

  • Thread starter purplerobbie
  • Start date 24 May 2017
  • 24 May 2017



Active member.

What do people think is the optimum size for single handing? As a liveaboard cruising yacht? A friend said 40ft but I think that might be a big big for getting in and out of marina's. What are the panels thoughts?  


Well-known member.

I've got a 33' and it's fine but I do have it set up for when I'm sailing on my own. Autohelm a must as well as a central cleat for coming alongside, easy reefing and engine start in cockpit.  

purplerobbie said: What do people think is the optimum size for single handing? As a liveaboard cruising yacht? A friend said 40ft but I think that might be a big big for getting in and out of marina's. What are the panels thoughts? Click to expand...
alant said: My mate single hands an Ocean 60. Click to expand...

I have a 43ft boat and mostly singlehand in the Med. Marinas are a challenge depending on wind conditions but generally they send someone to help with stern lines and pass the lazy line. Bowthruster and remote controls make things much easier. Last week I met a chap who must be in his 70's singlehanding a Nauticat 42. Genoa and in mast furling are electric and all winches hydraulic so he was quite relaxed about it. As always with single handing on any size of boat planning ahead makes things much easier!  

I single hand my 43 footer. I've no great desire to sail single handed so I only do it when the boat needs to be moved and I can't conveniently get crew. I took it into a marina last week on my own but I chose fairly benign conditions. So it is possible. The big secret is not to attempt anything that would need crew. So berthing where lines need to be got on quickly to avoid been blown into another boat or similar is to be avoided.  

purplerobbie said: Does he take in in and out of marina's singlehanded? Click to expand...

The maximum size can be quite flexible provided the boat is suitably configured and the skipper is very familiar with it. A lot will depend on how well it handles at low speeds - long keelers are notoriously difficult to manoeuvre and having multiple crew on board will not improve that - a friend of ours with a particularly pig headed long keeler could not park it in a small space with half a dozen others on board. Deep keelers tend to be a lot better behaved and are likely to be easier to single-hand. Ours is a deep keeled 43 footer and handles very well both forward and in reverse. I can single-hand it under most conditions and can park it in a space that is just a couple of feet larger all round. If it handles well in reverse, it is often easier to park it in a relatively small berth than a large open space - I just have to make sure it is well fendered up all round, then reverse slowly into the gap - tucked in between a finger pontoon and another boat, it's not going anywhere and I can simply let it slip backwards till the stern (also well fendered) is pressed up against the main pontoon, leave it in tickover astern and step off to tie up the lines. Have a range of line types available - short and long - and choose the lines that fit the situation. There are tricks that you can play with a very long line - as in more than twice the length of the boat - which can help a lot with single and short-handed sailing. If the boat handles well in reverse, you can set up a bow or midships line that you can deploy onto a cleat from the helm as you reverse past it and then control from the cockpit to keep you suitably close to the finger pontoon. The primary problem with large boats is likely to be the height of the deck off the pontoon - a boat with a lot of freeboard is going to be difficult to get off. Modern walk-through transoms can help a lot there.  


Well I am 69 and single hand my 44 ft cutter a fair bit. But I almost never go into marinas preferring to anchor out where I am free of looky lous rapping halyards and mosquitoes. I don't think I would want to go any bigger without getting power winches.  

The issue is not size per se, but figuring out what you need to do to handle the boat in the conditions you expect to be using it in. some boats adapt very easily to single handing because of the basic underlying characteristics and then the way the gear is installed and operates. most modern boats are fundamentally easy to handle because they have the gear - winches, clutches, furling sails etc that make sail handling relatively easy. Cockpit layout is key - can everything be reached easily from the wheel? (invariably a wheel rather than a tiller). does she go backwards easily - saildrives and big spade rudders help here. Is the rig mainsail or jib orientated? (Small jibs are easier to handle as are big mainsails, particularly furling ones). Mooring is perhaps the biggest concern and a bow thruster is a positive, but more important is a well practiced routine of attaching the boat to the land or pontoon from on board. Easy with a home berth but needs more thought when getting into a strange berth. Finally, recognise that you have limitations because of now back up crew and don't attempt to do things that need a crew. Choice of boat and size depends on so many factors, but if you approach it logically you should be able to find a boat that suits. Just for information i downsized from a 37 to a 33 mainly because of the difficulty of getting in and out of my home berth. At sea it was not a problem, although the new boat has a small 106% jib and bigger main which is much better. Out sailing today on my own and dare I say it, completely under control - because I went through the process described above when specifying the new boat, so have confidence in it.  

purplerobbie said: What are the panels thoughts? Click to expand...
As a liveaboard cruising yacht? Click to expand...

Foolish Muse

I'm laughing because most of the discussion so far has been about motoring in an out of marinas. What we should be considering are the issues that face someone who is actually singlehanded SAILING a boat. So first, you have to decide if the boat is actually for Sailing or for motoring. They are completely different things with different requirements. What you absolutely don't want to do is buy a boat based on your ability to motor in and out of marinas, but then find that you are out of your league any time that you are sailing the wind gets up to 15. Every day I go out in 15 knots of wind and watch boats, with a crew, motoring because they are too frightened to raise the sails. Do you want to be in this situation? Once you get above 40' in length, then you are working with sizes and forces that are exponentially larger. For example, what happens if your genoa flops over the lifelines into the ocean in a 20 knot wind. Will you be able, by hand, to drag it back on board? What if you broach with your spinnaker. Can you get it back down into the cockpit? Can you even raise and reef the mainsail by yourself in a breeze? What happens WHEN (not IF but WHEN) your engine fails. Will you be able to sail up and stop at a dock? Yes, if everything is perfect then you can singlehand any size of boat. But when things go crooked, then you have to be able to manage it by yourself, in the worst weather conditions and with a lee shore just minutes away. So I would suggest that before all other factors, you consider the sailing aspects of your boat. I can tell you from long experience that if you plan to actually sail the boat, and if you are moderately adventurous, then you probably want to stick in the 35' range. Yes, you can go higher, but the forces increase rather quickly and your ability to play will become limited.  

Foolish Muse said: So I would suggest that before all other factors, you consider the sailing aspects of your boat. I can tell you from long experience that if you plan to actually sail the boat, and if you are moderately adventurous, then you probably want to stick in the 35' range. Yes, you can go higher, but the forces increase rather quickly and your ability to play will become limited. Click to expand...
  • 25 May 2017


Foolish Muse said: I'm laughing because most of the discussion so far has been about motoring in an out of marinas. What we should be considering are the issues that face someone who is actually singlehanded SAILING a boat. So first, you have to decide if the boat is actually for Sailing or for motoring. They are completely different things with different requirements. What you absolutely don't want to do is buy a boat based on your ability to motor in and out of marinas, but then find that you are out of your league any time that you are sailing the wind gets up to 15. Every day I go out in 15 knots of wind and watch boats, with a crew, motoring because they are too frightened to raise the sails. Do you want to be in this situation? Once you get above 40' in length, then you are working with sizes and forces that are exponentially larger. For example, what happens if your genoa flops over the lifelines into the ocean in a 20 knot wind. Will you be able, by hand, to drag it back on board? What if you broach with your spinnaker. Can you get it back down into the cockpit? Can you even raise and reef the mainsail by yourself in a breeze? What happens WHEN (not IF but WHEN) your engine fails. Will you be able to sail up and stop at a dock? Yes, if everything is perfect then you can singlehand any size of boat. But when things go crooked, then you have to be able to manage it by yourself, in the worst weather conditions and with a lee shore just minutes away. So I would suggest that before all other factors, you consider the sailing aspects of your boat. I can tell you from long experience that if you plan to actually sail the boat, and if you are moderately adventurous, then you probably want to stick in the 35' range. Yes, you can go higher, but the forces increase rather quickly and your ability to play will become limited. Click to expand...



GHA said: The question has an awful lot more to it than handling the boat.. How much space do you need? Thinking of having lots of visitors? (They never show up anyway ) How much budget - under 12m can make a big difference if you're thinking of spending time in marinas; Click to expand...


Muse, I presume you consider it is impossible to sail non stop round the world in a 60 foot screaming machine that carries more canvas than half a dozen Contessa 32's all by itself? All of which without any powered assistqnce such as electric winches? And doubly impossible if you are female?  

Tomahawk said: Muse, I presume you consider it is impossible to sail non stop round the world in a 60 foot screaming machine that carries more canvas than half a dozen Contessa 32's all by itself? All of which without any powered assistqnce such as electric winches? And doubly impossible if you are female? Click to expand...


ctva said: Only real sensible answer so far. Bigger, more gadgets, hydraulics, electrics, thrusters and god knows what other automatic aids are all great, but when it all goes pear shaped and the gizmos fail, can you still handle it? I've seen more than a few singles or couple as with far too big a boat for situations. My criteria for our current 34' boat was that I had to be able to handle it one up when the wife was with the kids below. Click to expand...

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largest yacht single handed

BenSeattle New Member

Greetings from semi-sunny Seattle, As my golf career winds down I'm becoming increasingly enamored of the boating life, particularly because I'm exposed daily to the wonders of Seattle's expansive waterways. I've always been envious of friends who've invited my family to tour Lake Washington or cruise up the Puget Sound to the San Juan Islands... particularly during this time of year: Seattle's four-month summer! While country club and resort golf has been my passion for years, I've recently come to the conclusion that a whole new chapter of exploration, recreation and education could be opened with the purchase of an appropriate power boat. Naturally, the costs of yachting are significantly more than those associated with even the most enthusiastic golf endeavors, but at this stage of my life I continue to ask myself, "Why not buy a boat?" and every answer continues to tell me I should. Like many first-timers, I'm both excited and cautious... eager to jump in but also determined not to make a mistake. I look forward to using this Forum to interreact with others whose knowledge is vastly deeper than my own. First question: how large can I go without a crew? Certainly, I would in the early stages of ownership antaicipate being accompanied by a Captain who can accellerate my education, but at some point I would expect my use of the boat will find such a presence unneccesary, save for special events where would be devoting most of my attention to guests. I envision most of my time on the water to be one-day excursions around the lakes as well as three-to-four day outings through the San Juan Islands and into the waters off Canada. Alaska? Perhaps one day. Our family includes myself, my wife and teenage boys, 15 and 17. Therefore, I'm curious as to whether this "crew" will one day be sufficient to manage what I would consider to be a fairly large vessel. At this point, I'm most attracted to yachts in the 75 to 95 foot range. Do I have enough bodies or should I already count on bringing aboard a handful of hard-working seamen? Please feel free to include any advice and counsel regarding this or other topics suitable for a newcomer. Happy cruising.


OutMyWindow Senior Member

Having my share of mishaps very long time ago when I first got into boating, my thoughts are that a 90 foot yacht for a first timer may be courting disaster. I suggest you take your family on a charter yacht of about the same size up to Alaska, and do a lot of watching, talk to the captain and get a feel for things first. Good luck I don't want to scare you but the Pacific Northwest is and can be very treacherous for the unexperienced.


goplay Senior Member

Good question... I got into boating last year and bought a 47'. I used it a lot, running it myself and put 100 hours on it in less than 12 months. After having a larger boat, and knowing what I wanted in a larger boat I decided to commit some major dollars to buy something bigger. Your question was my first question... how big can I go with just my fiancee and myself running it? I had a range of answers, including professional captains who run single handed 80'+. A lot has to do with experience and a lot has to do with the type of boat. I personally came to the conclusion that 60-65' is probably optimum for two average boaters to handle, have reasonable chances of finding slips (transient and permanent), size for a greater range in seas, fuel range, accommodations etc. I would stretch this to the 70' range but slips become much harder to come by (at least in CA). The key issue to consider is insurance. Most insurance will only allow you to jump in 10' increments if you are running it yourself. With the 62' I am buying I will have to have a captain with me. I don't see that as a big issue most of the time since it is a cheap way of avoiding trouble and learning at the same time. I do plan on, however, operating it myself but with the captain's presence. Hopefully I will be able to drop the requirement for a captain. If slips and insurance (jumping up 25') weren't an issue I would go for a 72-74' and avoid a possible future upgrade!
outmywindow said: Having my share of mishaps very long time ago when I first got into boating, my thoughts are that a 90 foot yacht for a first timer may be courting disaster. I suggest you take your family on a charter yacht of about the same size up to Alaska, and do a lot of watching, talk to the captain and get a feel for things first. Good luck I don't want to scare you but the Pacific Northwest is and can be very treacherous for the unexperienced. Click to expand...


nas130 Member

One of my bosses tried to run a 70 something footer by himself and wound up hiring a captain. Bigger boats need a lot of attention. Most work can be subcontracted out, but you still need to manage the boat. If you want to show up and go, hire a captain. If you do not mind putting in the time, you can run a large boat by yourself. You can hire dayworkers for wash downs and some of the dirty jobs. Once you get the experience if you buy a bigger boat you can drive the boat and hire a mate/engineer and stew to keep things ship shape. nas
Not just me! Please know that I appreciate the replies, but I'd better make it clear that I certainly would not run a boat totally by myself. This ain't like, "Honey, I'm going for a spin in the Porsche.... be back in an hour." No, I envisious -- at some point down the road -- putting the wife and two strapper teenagers to work, serving as crew, in addition to acting as guests. Trust me.... should I buy a boat for this family, it won't be so a pair of teenagers can sit below and hammer at the X-Box all weekend! Still, from all indications, on anything above 60-70 feet, an experienced captain sounds like a VERY good idea. Happy cruising.


sailronin Senior Member

Ben, The USCG will require a licensed captain on any vessel 200 gross tons or greater (46 CFR 15.805). So that will be the absolute maximum, however that doesn't make it a good idea to plan on running your own 110 footer. It depends how much time you want to put into the yacht. A boat over 65 to 75 feet will be pretty much a full time job for one person to clean and maintain. If you are retired and want to spend 4 to 6 hours five days a week taking care of your boat, it's a great hobby! Plan on starting with a smaller boat and decide if this is something you want to devote a lot of time to master or if you want to enjoy your time on the water without all the worry, hire a professional. Dave


Billy1119 Senior Member

I agree with most of the above. The time required to clean and keep up the boat is only one aspect you need to think about, and the experience and knowledge needed by a captain isn't just the piloting of the boat, but also the knowledge of the mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and other systems on the boat that need maintenance and repairs. If you are very mechanically inclined, and your sons are as well, then over time spent with a captain training you what to do, you would be able to handle a boat that size. There is a lot to know, especially on newer boats, and a lot to break. I can spend at least 25 hours a week just keeping up with maintenance and repairs (no cleaning at all) on our 84. There's always something that needs doing. If you want to run a boat of that size (around 80 ft) without crew after a while, just know it's not all going to be fun, it will be a lot of work too. Some if it's fun work. When it's your own boat, though, the work is more fulfilling. 95 ft? Your teenagers better be hard, willing, knowledgeable workers! Hopefully this will give you a little more knowledge of what will be required.


KCook Senior Member

I like the approach outlined by "goplay". Seems to me that a sub-50 foot flybridge would make an excellent "trainer" yacht. baby steps Kelly
Wise counsel Greetings from somewhat somber Seattle: Sage advice, gentlemen, and much appreciated. Billy the Sunseeker made lots of sense especially. Obviously, this may be a case of my eyes being bigger than my capabilities. Naturally, I look forward to appreciating all the "fine points" of yacht ownership, but because I even moreso look upon this venture for its pleasures more than it's pains, it's apparent now that if I'm determined to "run my own boat" a vessel MUCH smaller than 75' is going to be the necessary order. Ah yes... a "trainer" boat. Now, of course, I'll have to decide: go with smaller and "be my own captain" or find myself so attracted to that 75 to 95' length that professional captain and mates should also be factored in. Frankly, while there is much appeal to becoming well-versed regarding all that goes into a skilled yachtsman, it is also true that I'm certainly not looking to take on a full-time job (I already have one of those!) Equally important, I suspect that a smaller boat simply will not have the room nor the amenities that I would like to see. All this, of course, is pure speculation at this point, of course, but I'm delighted to receive valid impartial advice. (Certainly I will shortly be speaking with brokers but those boys tend to want to sell me something....) Happy cruising.
So find a broker who also charters Kelly


TomTom Member

how big There was an info in the mag. Boote exclusiv this year, that Ralf Schumache (the little one of both f1-drivers) changed his MY down to a elegance 64, because he can run it by himself. First it was an 115 Dynasty if i rember right. ( ) Then in the boot-fair Hamburg Boot last year Drettmann showed a 28m-elegance and they told me, that this the owner is running with 1 multiple skilled captain for quarter-year trips in Europe. The vessel looked well. TS


yachtbrokerguy Guest

In the 60 -70 foot range the cost of a GOOD captain will be substantially lowered by the reduction of yard bills, cleaning bills, and more. A new boat will need someone to oversee warranty work, an older boat takes lots of maintainance. Having fun is hard work, but all work and no play doesn't make for enjoyable yachting. Having had a captain's license for 32 years, I do not hesitate to jump a boat in that size range and run it alone, after the first 5000 landings they are easy, but for a beginner, a knowledgeble captain who wants to teach the new owner will take much of the stress away. After owning a boat in that size for awhile you can later decide if crew makes it more enjoyable or if you can do it yourself. Bigger than 75' almost always has crew except for long term owners who have spent years moving up. Finding the right captain is often as hard as finding the right yacht, do not try to save some money there, if you pay peanuts you will get monkeys.

Garry Hartshorn

Garry Hartshorn Senior Member

Talking about monkeys I saw a guy cleaning teak decks today on the boat next to me with straight teak cleaner and a wire brush, may have been cheep labour but what is the damage done worth ???
A WIRE brush? I think most monkeys would know not to do that.
Well it would have been worth employing a professional crew rather than a monkey even though most monkeys would know better......
Garry Hartshorn said: Well it would have been worth employing a professional crew rather than a monkey even though most monkeys would know better...... Click to expand...


MYCaptainChris Senior Member

My suggestion I would definately say stick to the 40-55 foot range, I have a friend back in the UK who runs a 46 foot Princess very well with his wife and two teenage sons. His problem at the moment is that his sons are at that age where they don't want to spend it with the parents, and however capable his wife maybe it is proving alot of work for just two. Saying that I run a 111ft steel yacht with just two. This is only because my budget has been reduced to the extent where the yacht can no longer go to sea. With just the two of us working approx 8am-6pm (often more) monday to friday and at least 6 hours over the weekend (once again often more) I would have to say we are still not keeping up with the maintenance. We need at least another two crew and a new owner!!!! The larger the yacht and the older the yacht the more maintenance you need to do. If you really want to enjoy your yacht either get full time crew or stay on the smaller side.
Chris, could you expand a little on what chores are eating up the most manhours on your yacht? curious Kelly
Man hours Mostly cleaning, but the engine room needs constant attention on a yacht of this age. I am currently re-wiring one of the Gensets as all the old wiring has oxidised. Fixing leaks in the fresh water system, keeping the water makers maintained and in the case now pickled, running up the mains and gens on a weekly basis which then requires the topsides to be washed down. Flushing through the a/c, clean all sea strainers, exercising valves, preparing the boat for viewings (as it is for sale) and I probably spend 2 hours a day on the phone to the owner. The deck hand spends most of her time recently removing and resealing all the caulking around the cap rails, varnishing, washing down on a weekly basis, (1 person takes 2 days to wash down properly inc decks) perparing and painting any rust and maintaining the yachts tenders which includes a 28ft Chris craft. I am currently researching the costs to rebuild or replace a genset for a potential buyer along with a breakdown of the general running costs of the vessel.
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Singlehanded sailing for the first time

  • Toby Heppell
  • August 31, 2020

Toby Heppell looks at the art of singlehanded sailing and considers what constitutes good seamanship when it’s only you on board

Singlehanded sailing on Sadler 29

Sailing alone gives you freedom to set off when you want, but requires a different approach. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Singlehanded sailing is often something we associate with feats of adventure and endurance, bringing forward ideas of the lone sailor heading off across oceans.

Setting off on a significant offshore voyage on your own is a truly specialist activity.

You are likely to experience sleep deprivation, the stresses of being alone for long periods of time and the possibility of facing inclement weather by yourself.

That may well not be for all of us.

A Sadler 29 on the Solent

Editor Theo Stocker headed out on his Sadler 29 to put the advice into practice. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

But closer to home, many of us are likely to go singlehanded sailing – be it regularly or just the odd occasion, a short coastal trip or a longer voyage, or when a crew member is laid low by seasickness or other ailment.

You might end up without a crew and face the choice of leaving the boat in a distant port or taking a fair wind home alone.

You may be a couple sailing with a young child that needs constant attention, leaving the skipper to handle the boat alone.

Understanding the skills and kit necessary to successfully and safely sail by yourself is, if not an essential skill, certainly a useful string to the bow.

Freedom and responsibility of singlehanded sailing

‘Sailing solo there is the dependence on oneself that is really appealing,’ say Mervyn Wheatley, veteran of many solo ocean races and trips.

largest yacht single handed

Toby Heppell got his first boat aged four and grew up sailing on the East Coast. He has been a sailing journalist for over 15 years. Credit: Richard Langdon

‘A great deal of that appeal is that you know if something goes wrong then you are going to have to sort it out yourself.

As a solo skipper, you are master of your own destiny, entirely free to run the boat exactly as you wish.

With that comes total responsibility for everything on board: food, maintenance, sail choice, pilotage – it’s all up to you.

‘There’s an unmistakable excitement in slipping the lines and knowing that success or failure is entirely down to your resourcefulness and seamanship,’ says Wheatley.

‘Completing a solo passage satisfies like nothing else. But with that responsibility comes a significant reliance on making sure everything onboard and yourself are up to the challenge.’

In this article, I’m going to look at the various aspects you should consider to make sure you’re ready for solo coastal daysails, rather than long-distance offshore singlehanded sailing, when considerations around sleep management become more vital.

Is your boat up to singlehanded sailing?

Though the recent trend has been for ever-bigger boats, you need to be fairly agile to singlehand a boat much over 35ft, or have invested some serious money into automation.

Typically at about 35ft you are reaching the point where sail size is a big factor in terms of managing reefing and winching.

Setting up your boat so that you have to leave the helm as little as possible is important.

If you do have to leave the helm when sailing, doing so on starboard tack, keeping a good lookout and setting an autopilot will keep you in control.

A singlehanded sailor clipper on to his yacht

Clip on: Make sure your jackstays are in good condition, and let you work on deck effectively. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

A furling headsail saves foredeck work and in-mast or in-boom furling makes mainsail reefing simpler, and the slight loss of performance may not be important to you.

A slab-reefed main can take longer to reef but lines led aft make it easier.

Crucially, if you drop it as you are coming in to harbour, the main will block your vision forward unless you have lazy jacks.

Fortunately, these are easy to add if you don’t have them already, and a stack-pack sail bag makes stowing the sail even easier.

Leaving the cockpit for any reason is among the highest risks for solo sailors, particularly as handling sails at the start and end of your passage is likely to be close to harbour with more traffic around.

Lines on a Sadler 29

Lines aft: Leading lines aft helps avoid trips forward out of the cockpit. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Leading lines back to the cockpit will make life easier, with the caveat that any friction points, particularly in single-line reefing systems, need addressing.

Taking the main halyard back to the cockpit at the very least is a must.

When it comes to mooring by yourself, ‘midships cleats are often underrated and underused, but they are invaluable,’ says ex-Navy navigator and cruising author Andy du Port.

‘With only two of us on board, we have become adept at lassoing pontoon cleats from amidships and hauling in reasonably firmly before the boat has a chance to start drifting off.’

In terms of safety, eliminating risk of going overboard is key and staying clipped on is a good way to do that.

Make sure your jackstays can be reached from inside the cockpit, and let you get to the mast or other working areas on deck.

Webbing rather than wire won’t roll underfoot.

Sensible cockpit strong points should let you move from helm to winches, halyards, instruments, and companionway without unclipping.

Optimal cockpit layout for singlehanded sailing

Whether you have a wheel or tiller, the layout of the cockpit is important as to whether it works well for singlehanded sailing.

It is worth noting, however, that a tiller can be slotted between your legs when hoisting sails or handling lines.

The ability to see a chartplotter on deck is important, as you will need to do much of your navigation from the helm and modern chart plotters make this easier.

Particularly in coastal waters, you will want to spend as little time as possible down below at the chart table so you can keep a proper lookout.

Navigation equipment fitted on the deck of a Sadler 29

Navigation: A setup that works on deck reduces time spent below. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Effective self-steering is essential for singlehanded sailing.

An autopilot is excellent under power as the engine keeps the batteries topped up but under sail, if you haven’t trimmed correctly for a neutral helm, the autopilot has to work hard and will draw more power.

Modern units draw 2-3A but older models can draw double that.

For this reason, an easily visible battery monitor will help.

Some autopilots include a remote control you can wear on your wrist or on a lanyard to alter course.

For smaller boats or longer passages, a windvane is effective on every point of sail and draws no power.

A midships cleat on the deck of a Sadler 29

Midships: A midships cleat is a big help if you don’t have crew to help. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

However, they are vulnerable in port, and struggle under motor as prop wash confuses the servo blade.

‘If I am in coastal waters then I use an autopilot as it’s easier,’ says Wheatley.

‘If I’m nipping across the Channel then I know I can plug into the mains on the other side. I use a windvane on ocean passages.’

Ensure essentials such as handbearing compass, sunscreen and water are in place before you slip lines. Finally, get to know your boat well. A refresher on the key parts of each of your main systems might be a good idea before a singlehanded passage.

Physical limitations

Singlehanded sailing requires a reasonable level of physical fitness.

Every manoeuvre is slower and more arduous when sailing alone, so you’ll need the endurance to handle longer passages.

It’s really easy to become dehydrated, so keep a bottle of water in the cockpit, preferably in a pocket along with a few biscuits to keep your energy up and help you deal with tiredness.

Yachting Monthly editor Theo Stocker helming a Sadler 29

The demands of helming, sail handling, manoeuvring, navigation and other tasks on board while singlehanded sailing should not be underestimated. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

‘If you’re feeling a bit tired to begin with, if you’re going to sail a long way that is only going to get worse and will probably guarantee seasickness,’ explains ocean sailing legend, Pete Goss.

‘Sometimes if you just take it a bit easy at the start of a longer passage that makes things easier for the rest of the trip.

‘Plan to only go a short distance before possibly anchoring up for some hours, to make sure you get some rest and you have properly got your sea legs.

‘That can be the difference between a great solo passage and a terrible one where you are tired and sick from the off.

‘No-one functions well in that sort of condition.’

A skipper lighting a gas cooker on a boat to make a cup of tea

Nutrition: Keep yourself rested and fuelled. Heave to and put the kettle on for a break. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

‘Eating is a really important thing to focus on too,’ says record breaking skipper Dee Caffari.

‘It is really just getting the balance right and realising the effect hunger has on your body and mind.

‘I did a lot of work with sports psychologists before doing big races to understand myself a lot more.

‘Much of it was focused on understanding when I am tired and when I am hungry.

‘There are moments now when I realise I just need to eat and take a 10-minute break, and then I am a totally different person.

‘Clearly not everyone has access to a psychologist, but taking the time to notice the signs of sleep deprivation and hunger and what they mean in terms of how you function is crucial.’

Solo safety

Singlehanded sailing should be approached much like sailing at night in terms of safety.

You want everything you might need ready to hand, and to take a much more cautious approach.

A solo skipper navigating in the cockpit with a paper chart

Make sure you can navigate from the cockpit, whether on a plotter or paper chart in a plastic wallet. Time below is time not keeping a look out. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Going overboard is not a good idea at the best of times and becomes even more serious when solo.

Everything should be done to minimise this risk.

While much of this is a matter of attitude, and planning each manoeuvre to predict the main dangers, having the right equipment in the right place will also help.

Navigation and communication

Being able to manage your boat, and all of the key navigation and safety systems from the cockpit is the key.

Think through your navigation and communications equipment.

A chart plotter and a VHF radio handset on deck will save the need to go below.

A mobile phone showing details of the SafeTrx app

Shore contact: Register your vessel details with the Coastguard on the SafeTrx app, then let a shore contact know your ETA. This can also be done with the app. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Should you need to make a distress call, having a radio that is set up with a DSC button will make things easier.

Modern handheld VHF radios are capable of this, as are command microphones for fixed VHF sets, which also have the advantage of a longer range.

It is worth having binoculars, flares, and a grab bag easily to hand too.

AIS and radar

Making your boat more visible to others will help make up some of the potential shortfall of only having one set of eyes to keep lookout.

A properly working AIS unit, radar reflector, and potentially a radar enhancer and alarm, will help alert you to approaching vessels and you to them.

On board equipment

Though they are key bits of safety kit on any yacht, the lifebelt and danbuoy aren’t so important for singlehanded sailing, as there will be no-one left to throw them after you if you did go overboard.

But the rest of the boat’s standard equipment should be located, inspected and brought up to spec before a solo passage if they aren’t already.

These include the liferaft, fire extinguishers, bilge pump, flares, first aid kit and so on.

Man overboard

Falling overboard, serious enough with a fully-crewed boat, becomes even more unpalatable solo.

Everything should be done to avoid this possibility.

Clearly, a mindset that is consistently aware of the risk is your biggest asset, and will help you avoid doing things that could leave you exposed.

An emergency ladder aft of a yacht

MOB: You’re most likely to fall overboard when mooring. Make sure your bathing ladder can be operated from the water or rig an emergency one. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Keeping clipped can serve as a reminder of this, and goes some way to keeping you connected to the boat, though being overboard on the end of the tether may be little better than being overboard without one.

‘I do wear a tether often,’ says Wheatley.

‘But the thing to remember about going over the side is that a tether does keep you there, but if you go over by yourself and you are tethered on, then you are not going to get back onboard.

‘However, it is much easier to find a boat than a body so I take the view that I wear one to make it easier for my family should I go over.’

Emergency ladder

Often the biggest risk of going overboard for a singlehander is actually in harbour.

Picking up the mooring buoy, or even stepping across from pontoon to boat has often led to an unexpected dunking.

This can rapidly become serious if you are wearing heavy clothing or the water is anything less than balmy, and do not have an easy means of climbing out.

For this reason many solo sailors carry an emergency ladder with a line that can be reached from the water.

In this scenario, a lifejacket will help you float during the initial phase of cold shock, and should therefore be worn, not just when things start to get ‘a bit lively’ out at sea.

Modern lifejackets are far more impressive than their early counterparts.

Lightweight, slimline, and comfortable to wear, the hood helps prevent secondary drowning and the bright colour and light makes it easier to locate you by day and night.

Crucially, technology has moved on so that it is possible to carry AIS and satellite distress beacons in or on the lifejacket.

Along with a VHF radio in your pocket, this is likely to be your only chance of calling for help at sea should the worst happen.

It should therefore be a serious consideration for anyone sailing solo, however far they venture.

Passage plan

As a solo sailor, it is a good idea to have a shore contact who you keep updated with your plans and your estimated time of arrival, and who knows to call the Coastguard with the details of your boat if you become overdue.

A grab bag and other gear on the deck of a Sadler 29

Cockpit kit: Gear close to hand should include binoculars, compass, knife and PLB, as well as grab bag, food and drink. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

This can be supplemented by having your details up to date on the RYA SafeTrx app , which the Coastguard now uses as its leisure vessel registry, as well as being an active passage-tracking tool.

Even if the alarm is raised, hopefully a phone or VHF radio call will quickly establish all is well.

Tangled ropes

It’s easy for piles of rope to mount up when there’s no second pair of hands to help.

Keep up with tidying lines away, so you don’t end up with a tangled mess that could jam just when you need a halyard to run free.

With a little patience, singlehanded sailing is rarely more difficult than sailing two- or three-up for the experienced skipper.

Manoeuvres take longer to complete and you are likely to spend more time in the cockpit than you otherwise might, but your approach to most situations will be broadly the same.

Where things can get tricky is in slipping the lines and mooring.

A solo skipper on a deck of his yacht preparing for departure

Springing the stern out is fine with crew, but springing the bow out means you can handle lines without leaving the cockpit. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

The latter being all the worse for coming at the end of your passage and so your decision making is likely to be impaired through weariness.

Slipping the lines is clearly much easier if the wind is blowing you off the pontoon.

Here your midships cleat will come in handy as you can get yourself tight to the pontoon with this and then drop the bow line, before heading back to remove the stern line and finally slipping the midships line.

Do remember to have plenty of fenders fore and aft as the boat may pivot around the midships cleat, depending on wind and tide direction.

A solo skipper steering his tiller yacht with his knees

Multi-tasking: Tiller boats can be steered with your knees while coiling lines, but don’t get distracted. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

As ever, the process for leaving a windward berth can be trickier.

It is easier to spring off the bow first as you have cockpit access to your sternline.

So this is your best option if there is little to no tide, or the tide is coming from ahead.

If there is no tide running and the wind is blowing to onto your pontoon, then you will probably need to motor astern with the stern line firm to help bring the bow out.

A Sadler 29 moored against a pontoon

Midships cleat: If you can get a midships line on, it will hold the boat to the pontoon while you sort the other lines. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Once it moves clear of the pontoon you can motor ahead as you slip the sternline.

With the tide from astern, use a slipped bow spring.

With sufficient tide the engine does not have to be engaged; simply slip all the lines bar the bow spring, go to the foredeck, watch the stern come away from the pontoon, slip the spring and return to the cockpit.

Once you are in open water, set the engine slow ahead and engage the autopilot while you recover lines and fenders.

Lines can be coiled and fenders tidied away in the cockpit.

On the water

Before taking on any planned singlehanded sailing, your boat handling should be up to scratch, but even the best sailors will find their skills improving quickly from a bit of time on the water alone.

Thinking through manoeuvring into and out of marinas berths and moorings, and then practising this a few times can take away some of the stress of a solo trip.

A Sadler 29 being singlehanded

Heaving to: Lash the helm and back the jib to give yourself a break, but get the boat balanced first. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

At sea you need to be able to heave-to or stop comfortably, as this will give you time to boil the kettle, tend to any problems, or even have a quick break.

Manoeuvres such as tacking or reefing can also be rehearsed: which lines are eased or hauled in first, and when to put the helm down will be particular to your boat, but can be practised.

Once you’re at sea, it is worth keeping manoeuvres to a minimum when possible, as they take time and energy, and incur an element of risk.

As beating will involve a heeled boat and some tacking, it is, by its very nature, the toughest point of sail.


Vane steering systems or an autopilot that can adjust the course to the wind shifts, will keep the boat steering effectively.

Some newer autopilots also have tacking and gybing functions, leaving you free to concentrate on trimming the sails.

Autopilot on a Sadler 29

An autopilot or self-steering is vital. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

An autopilot remote is also an option, giving you access to control from anywhere on the boat (usually worn on the wrist).

It’s also worth spending time on your passage planning and general theory.

Going below for five minutes to check when the tide turns or to find out what a specific light means will be five minutes that you’re not on deck keeping a lookout.

When coming in to harbour, start the engine relatively far out from your destination to give you time to douse sail and prepare yourself.

Lazyjacks prevent a dropped mainsail blowing off the boom and restricting visibility forward.

Rig your fenders and lines in open water where you have space to drift or motor slowly under autopilot.

If you do not yet know where you will be going it is well worth fendering port and starboard with stern and midships lines on both sides.

A Sadler 29 rigged with fenders entering Lymington harbour

Rig fenders and lines once you’re out of the waves, but before you enter confined waters. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Most marinas will send someone to help you if you radio ahead and let them know that you are on your own, or others on the pontoon will normally be happy to catch a line, but you should be prepared to do things alone if needed.

Coming alongside a pontoon, the midships line is critical.

Position the tail so that it is easily picked up when you move forward from the helm.

Prepare bow and stern lines and bring the ends amidships so you can reach them from the pontoon.

A Sadler 29 coming alongside a pontoon in Lymington

Boat handling: Without someone to take the lines ashore, being able to get your boat stopped where you want it makes life much easier. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Stop the boat dead with your midships cleat as close as possible to your selected pontoon cleat, and throw a lasso of rope over it – a skill well worth practising.

Sweat the line to bring the boat as close as you can.

You are then secure and have more time to take bow and stern lines across and adjust your position.

You can also use the midships line as a spring.

A skipper wearing a lifejacket throwing a line from a yacht

Stern line: Throw a coil of line from each hand to lasso a cleat at the stern. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Once the line is made off, put the engine ahead with the helm towards the pontoon.

This will hold the boat snug alongside while you sort the other lines.

A main sail being dropped on a yacht

Lazy jacks: When dropping the main, lazyjacks help prevent the sail blocking the view and let you delay a trip on deck. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

This is harder if the wind is blowing off the pontoon; your boat handling has to be positive and accurate.

If coming alongside isn’t working, getting a line onto a cleat from the bow or stern will get you secure and give you time to warp the boat in.

A solo skipper putting on a midships line

Which line first? If the wind is offshore, the midships line is useful to get on first. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

If you don’t fancy it, consider picking up a swinging mooring or dropping the anchor until help is available or the conditions change.

The key to mooring alone is to be ready beforehand, in open water, and to have planned what order you will do things in.

A sadler 29 coming alongside a pontoon

Midships spring: Helm to the pontoon and forward gear will hold you alongside. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

This can be practised while you have crew by getting the boat to stop in her berth without relying on lines to take the boat’s way off.

It looks much better too!

Don’t get overpowered

Managing the amount of sail you have set before you become overpowered is more important when you are singlehanded sailing as it takes longer to reduce sail and you will have no extra pairs of hands if things get exciting.

If you know it’s going to be a windy sail, reef before you leave your mooring.

If you have a ramshorn for the tack reefing point, you may need a small piece of bungee to hold the cringle in place until you have hoisted the sail.

Cockpit of a Sadler 29

Reef earlier than you would with crew. It’ll save energy, reduce risk and reflect a more conservative approach. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

If you are already out on the water, reef early, before the wind increases too much.

Be conservative with how early you reef.

Before you tackle reefing the mainsail, furl away some of the headsail.

This will slow the boat, making the motion easier and reducing heel, so making reefing the main easier.

Having a more heavily reefed main, and using the genoa to fine-tune the sailing area with the furling line also makes changing gears singlehanded less arduous and avoids trips on deck before needing to shake out or take in the next reef.

A singlehanded sail clipped on to his yacht via a harness

Going forward to the mast, make sure you are clipped on. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

‘For short-handed crews, mainsails need to be quick to drop in an emergency and require no feeding when hoisting, to avoid unnecessary trips out of the cockpit,’ says Pip Hare .

‘Avoid using a main with a bolt rope, because when the sail is dropped it will not remain captive at the mast and can quickly become uncontrollable.’

Downwind, keeping the rig under control requires some forethought.

A main boom preventer should be used if you’re sailing deep downwind, but is precarious to rig at sea, so have this ready before you set off, or even rig one on each side.

Most singlehanders are likely to be reluctant to set coloured sails off the wind in all but the best conditions and using a headsail, poled out, is more likely.

A man pulling on lines on a yacht

Keep rope tails tidy when singlehanded sailing to prevent a dangerous tangle in the cockpit. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

To set your poled-out headsail, begin by furling it away while you ready a pole on the windward side with uphaul, downhaul and guy.

This will give you full control of the sail from the cockpit.

Once you are set up it is simply a case of unfurling the sail and trimming from the helm.

It’s an easy and easily manageable solution and can be furled away without dropping the pole.

Yellow bungee holding a sail in place on a yacht

If your reefing system has ramshorns, a piece of bungee can hold it in place while you go aft. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

It will be easiest to furl the sail before you gybe, then attend to changing over the pole before again unfurling.

Setting a spinnaker or cruising chute is a more long-winded process solo so should only be taken on if you have a long leg ahead of you and you are sailing in relatively traffic-free waters.

A cruising chute is simpler to set up than a spinnaker.

Rigging can be done with the headsail furled and hoisted in its snuffer.

You’ll probably need to be on the foredeck to raise the snuffer, so make sure you are secure before doing so.

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Set the boat on a course deep downwind until you can get back to the cockpit to trim the sail.

Hoisting a spinnaker takes more planning and more time both to set and douse.

For gybing either of them, you would be best to snuff or drop the sail and reset on the new side.

Singlehanded sailing checklist

  • Boat well maintained with all known faults rectified
  • Sail handling arrangement set up with lines back to cockpit if possible
  • Autopilot or self-steering set up, calibrated and working, with remote if available
  • Hove-to practised and balanced sail plan checked
  • Furling headsail and mainsail lazyjacks set up and working
  • Enough fenders and mooring lines to rig both sides, and means of getting midships line onto a pontoon cleat
  • Confident you can handle the boat for the given forecast
  • Practised mooring, manoeuvring and sail handling alone
  • Well rested ahead of passage
  • Food and drink prepared in advance and available on deck
  • Familiar with boat’s key systems and how to troubleshoot each of them
  • Short passages and daysailing in coastal waters are better
  • Avoid overnight passages initially
  • Full passage plan completed with necessary notes available on deck
  • Passage plan and ETA shared with shore contact, coastguard or RYA SafeTrx app
  • Boat details registered on RYA SafeTrx app or website

Safety and kit

  • Adopt conservative approach to risk and safety
  • VHF radio on deck
  • Chartplotter or paper chart on deck
  • Wearing lifejacket at all times, particularly start and end of passage recommended
  • Carry personal safety equipment, including VHF, knife, torch, and PLB or AIS beacon
  • Jackstays rigged, tether clipped on
  • Emergency ladder in reach from water
  • Have easily available: wet weather gear, binoculars, handbearing compass, knife, sunscreen, snacks, and water.

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Charleston, SC (29403)

Considerable clouds this evening. Some decrease in clouds late. Low 78F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph..

Considerable clouds this evening. Some decrease in clouds late. Low 78F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.

Updated: June 25, 2024 @ 11:13 pm

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See what happens when 50,000 people pile into charleston's entertainment district.

The M5, the largest single-masted sailing yacht in the world, while docked at the City Marina on Monday.

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A small plane sits on top of the M5.

  • Gavin McIntyre/Staff

The M5 sailing yacht is docked at the City Marina on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. The M5 is the largest single-masted sailing yacht in the world.

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A Texas flag flies on the M5, the largest single-masted sailing yacht in the world, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Owner Rod Lewis is founder of Lewis Energy, an oil and natural gas drilling company based in Texas.

Boaters along the Ashley River check out the M5, docked at the City Marina on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. The City Marina has been under construction over the past year to allow larger ships, mainly yachts, to dock along the Ashley River. The M5 is the largest single-masted sailing yacht in the world.

The M5, the largest single-masted sailing yacht in the world, while docked at the City Marina on Monday, June 24, 2024, in Charleston.

A small plane sits on top of the M5, the largest single-masted sailing yacht in the world, while docked at the City Marina Monday, June 24, 2024, in Charleston.

The world's largest single-mast yacht is docked on the Ashley River in Charleston. 

World's largest single-mast yacht docked in Charleston

Caitlin Bell

Caitlin Bell

Quick Response and Public Safety Reporter

Caitlin Bell is a breaking news and courts reporter for The Post and Courier Charleston. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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  • Jun 23, 2024

The world’s largest single-masted sailing yacht is docked in the Ashley River.

Previously known as the Mirabella V, the M5 superyacht garners attention due to its incredibly unique build and one-of-a-kind features.

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The behemoth boasts a nearly 300-foot mast sporting a 36,000-square-foot sail, according to .

To give some perspective, the mast is about the length of a football field, minus the end zones . The sail? A little over the square footage of one end zone to the 50-yard line.

According to MarineTraffic , the vessel departed from Palm Beach, Fla., and docked at the Charleston City Marina around 5:36 p.m. on June 18.

The vessel was built in 2004 by architect Ron Holland of New Zealand. The yacht attracted the attention of natural gas magnate Ron Lewis, who purchased it in 2011, according to

Lewis is the proprietor of Lewis Energy, an oil and natural gas drilling company based in Texas.

The Charleston City Marina declined to answer questions about the planned route of the M5 and why it remains docked on the Ashley River, citing customer privacy.

'Harry Potter' author J.K. Rowling's yacht anchored off James Island

The M5 is hard to miss and has drawn the attention of countless in the Charleston area. Some folks took to Reddit to find out what the yacht was called, and over a dozen commented.

One commenter said it was “trippy” seeing the yacht from the nearby bridge connector.

At the time of reporting, four sailing vessels were observing the yacht up close, according to live MarineTraffic data.

Reach Caitlin Bell at 843-790-9433. Follow her on Twitter/X @CaitlinPatBell

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Four seasons yachts announces upcoming launch and 23 itineraries.

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Four Seasons 1, the all suite yacht due to launch in 2026.

Travelers accustomed to Four Seasons style in design and service will have a chance to experience both at sea when Four Seasons Yachts sets sail in 2026. Earlier this year, the company announced its first 10 itineraries; earlier this week, it announced 13 more. All offer the land option of pre or post trips at the company’s resorts.

As Timothy Littley, VP of Itinerary and Planning at Marc-Henry Cruise Holdings LTD and co-owner/operator of Four Seasons Yachts explains, his intention was to design experiences that resonate deeply and truly express the spirit of adventure and discovery. "In our debut year, we're set to explore over 130 distinct destinations across more than 33 countries and territories,” he says. “My professional journey, alongside years of personal exploration, has been dedicated to understanding the nuances of these locales—their culture, their people, and the unique experiences they offer—to ensure we curate something truly extraordinary for our guests.”

The living room of the Loft Suite.

The first sailings are set for January,2026 heading to Croatia, Gibraltar, Montenegro, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Türkiye. The Mediterranean itinerary will also highlight Greek islands with stops in Athens, Ios, Santorini and Milos but not always in the usual way: arriving in the tourist favorite island of Santorini, for example, at 5 PM when the other cruise ships are leaving, allowing passengers to enjoy a less crowded island in the evening. Under the radar but islands also worth visiting such as Hydra and Naxos are also included. Caribbean sailings are also among the first itineraries traveling to Saint Barthélemy (St Barths), Nevis, the Grenadines, St Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Curaçao and Aruba. While there, passengers disembark to experience the nightlife of St Barths, Martinique’s volcanic coral reefs and lush rainforest landscapes and a sail in St Lucia’s Tobago Cays among other experiences.

The upper terrace of the Loft Suite

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Among the itineraries announced this week are five-, seven- and nine-night voyages that include legendary ports of call such as Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Capri, Positano, Taormina, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia plus lesser-known gems including Italy’s Portovenere, France’s Fréjus and Mandelieu-la-Napoule, Spain’s Ciutadella de Menorca and Malta’s Gozo. Offshore activities to truly experience the destination are being selected ranging from exploring the esteemed rosé vineyards in Bandol, France to truffle hunting in Viareggio, Italy.

The four level Funnel Suite.

The yacht, Four Seasons 1, is being constructed by renowned Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri in Ancona, Italy and will contain 95 suites with modular walls that will allow 100 different connection options including reserving one side of a deck for a large family or group of friends traveling together. The largest accommodations are seven signature suites ranging from 2,981 to 9,975 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space offering two to three bedrooms, separate living rooms, indoor and outdoor dining space, splash pools, outdoor showers, and the option to connect to additional suites. The largest, the 9,975 square foot Funnel Suite, includes four levels of living space and floor to ceiling wraparound windows. All feature a design described by Fredrik Johannson, partner and executive director of Tillberg Design of Sweden as welcoming in the same way that the group’s resorts are but unique to the yacht. “It had to have this incredibly elegant aura to it without being over-the-top opulent,” he says. “To this end, we strove for a beautiful simplicity with the interiors.”

Elsewhere on the yacht are 11 dining options, spa and wellness offerings and a 65 foot long stern pool. Taking care of all are staff members on a 1:1 guest to staff ratio, along the lines of what Four Seasons regulars experience on land. And there will be at least 41 opportunities to experience it; that number of sailings at this point is planned for the first year; more may be added.

Laurie Werner

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