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Old 01-31-2019, 02:06 PM   #1
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I think I want to single hand the Great Loop

Most loopers seem to be couples. Do many of you single hand?


I'm looking at a 1980 Mainship 34, single engine, bow thruster.
Is this a suitable boat to single hand? The lack of a side door in the lower helm station concerns me for docking.
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Old 01-31-2019, 02:12 PM   #2
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Most loopers seem to be couples. Do many of you single hand?


I'm looking at a 1980 Mainship 34, single engine, bow thruster.
Is this a suitable boat to single hand? The lack of a side door in the lower helm station concerns me for docking.
You say nothing about your experience or lack thereof. Many here would have no problem single handing that boat on the loop, but we don't know your experience or skill level. If you don't currently have adequate, you could learn before looping.
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Old 01-31-2019, 02:19 PM   #3
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I was very active in the Power Squadron for a while, so I know most of the "rules".

All my experience is on outboard and sail coastal boats, up to 26 feet.
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Old 01-31-2019, 02:54 PM   #4
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Here's a similar vessel in layout with twins and stbd helm door. Easy boat to single hand.

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/198...owse%20listing
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Old 01-31-2019, 02:58 PM   #5
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When I think about going through locks single-handed I start to feel a thrill in my spline, I can think about two or 3 souvenirs when it would have been scary.

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Old 01-31-2019, 03:00 PM   #6
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Your biggest problem on the loop single handing will be locks particularly the Erie Canal which has big level changes on those locks. I have single handed all of the Atlantic ICW myself with few problems but never the Erie Canal.


Twin engines and a door at the helm would help some, but you still have to handle lines yourself on the canal walls.


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Old 01-31-2019, 03:59 PM   #7
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Welcome as board TF.
A good place for info
David and others are correct locks would be your biggest challenge. Calm days not do much but wind makes more challenging.
Also upbound locks a lot more challenging than downbound... and you will have plenty of upbound in the NY & Great Lakes portions of the trip.
I have a later year MS 34HT snd have no problem single handing but when I think about that many locks I think I would hesitate.
I do think a helm door would be a must for me.
I have a slightly different view on engines though.
I think I would prefer bow & stern thrusters above the need for twin engines.
We are looking at doing 112 lock next season - NY canals + Trent-Severn waterway to Georgian Bay and return. I added a remote control for my B&S thrusters so I can maneuver either / both ends while tending lines and assist my admiral on those windy days that can be challenging in locks.
If going via Canadian locks they require engines off in the locks so twins not as helpful as thrusters.
I have met an old salt that single handed major portions of the loop with a 24 or 28? CDory. He enjoyed it so much he returned several yrs later.
Not as comfortable as a MS 34 but livable for one.
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:35 PM   #8
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Why so much boat? Single-handing, I'd go for a 24-28' express cruiser or "pocket cruiser" like a Roseborough, C-Dory, etc. Plenty of room for one, easy to handle, and able to get up on a plane if conditions permit.
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Old 01-31-2019, 04:37 PM   #9
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I would prefer twin engines if single handing due to the easy of maneuvering around docks, not just negotiating canals. In general I favor singles, but it is surprising how useful twins are for the single hander. Coming into the lock you need to position the boat parallel along side the wall with the slider within reach. Having twins makes this easier than a single with a bowthruster.

I cruised from SW Florida all the way up to Maine single handing on a twin engine catamaran. I loved the twins in that case, much more than if I were cruising with a partner. Maybe the wide beam of the cat made the difference. I could easily make a circle within its length.


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Old 01-31-2019, 04:59 PM   #10
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We did 54 locks last year from the finger lakes in NY state to Lake Simcoe on the Trent Severn. Locks vary greatly in the way water enters and exits while filling or emptying and this can cause a big strain on holding on to just one end of the boat. Wind is a whole other issue. I too would recommend a boat in the mid to upper 20s for ease and comfort. Look out for the rental houseboats, they get a 20 minute lesson at best
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:17 PM   #11
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I say throw some old tires over the side and have a ball.

You only live once.

David, my twin will spin in place easily. Sometime I do it a bit fast just 'cause it's fun. I could probably do a 360 in 6-7 secs.

Wish I had a pic with the pink tires installed on the sides. They're hard to find.
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:20 PM   #12
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I have a '78 Mainship 34, and have put 8000 miles on it in 3 years, almost all single-handed. Twice through the Rideau, Trent Severn, and western Erie canals as well as down the Mississippi from the great lakes to Florida. It's the first inboard power boat I've owned, so I can't speak to features or handling vs alternative boats. But the boat has served me well. Lots of room for one or two and good economy at slow speeds. I have lots of experience with single handing sailboats up to about 40 feet and haven't had any problems maneuvering with the boat.

I might have been equally happy in a smaller boat like a Cape Dory 28, but don't regret my choice of boat. If you can find one in good shape it's a fine choice.

I almost always drive from the flybridge, so the lack of a side door hasn't bothered me. Have gotten pretty good at scampering up and down the ladder :-)
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:56 PM   #13
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I have a '78 Mainship 34, and have put 8000 miles on it in 3 years, almost all single-handed. Twice through the Rideau, Trent Severn, and western Erie canals as well as down the Mississippi from the great lakes to Florida. It's the first inboard power boat I've owned, so I can't speak to features or handling vs alternative boats. But the boat has served me well. Lots of room for one or two and good economy at slow speeds. I have lots of experience with single handing sailboats up to about 40 feet and haven't had any problems maneuvering with the boat.

I might have been equally happy in a smaller boat like a Cape Dory 28, but don't regret my choice of boat. If you can find one in good shape it's a fine choice.

I almost always drive from the flybridge, so the lack of a side door hasn't bothered me. Have gotten pretty good at scampering up and down the ladder :-)
And that is relevant to the OP how? He's asking about himself, not you. Many of the answers about agility, coordination and general adeptness only he can answer.
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Old 01-31-2019, 06:10 PM   #14
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I single hand my Mainship 34T routinely through locks with a single and bow thruster. But I've been locking through on rivers for a long while. Experience WITH YOUR BOAT is the key. Make sure that you can sidle up to a bollard, leave the helm and tie off before drifting off. Learn how your boat acts when turbulent flow comes into or leaves the lock. I've never seen locks on the Erie, but I'm certain that they are different from the ones that I've been through on the Illinois that are different from the Miss from the Ohio from the Tn.... It's very doable, but get some help and develop a system before you try it on your own.
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Old 01-31-2019, 07:51 PM   #15
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And that is relevant to the OP how? He's asking about himself, not you. Many of the answers about agility, coordination and general adeptness only he can answer.
I think that the answer addresses the OP question directly. He asked if a Mainship 34 could be single handed around the Loop. The reply answers that question in my opinion quite well.
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:07 PM   #16
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The trick to single handing is being prepared before you dock. Have your fenders out and lines made up and ready. Sometimes there's too much wind or current to dock without line handlers. You need to be smart and not in a hurry.
The only time I had trouble in a lock was when one engine refused to shift to neutral. Because I had twins, I could stop and control the boat with the other engine until I could go below and manually shift the balky transmission. Right after that incident, I installed kill switches in all stations.
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:49 PM   #17
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I think that the answer addresses the OP question directly. He asked if a Mainship 34 could be single handed around the Loop. The reply answers that question in my opinion quite well.
Really? You know the OP and his abilities first hand? Then why didn't you say that?
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:08 PM   #18
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I did the Loop single handed in 2017 with the single engine boat with bow thruster that that you see in my avatar. Erie canal and Ohio river locks were probably the most challenging. I would guess most people in your situation with that boat, could do it solo......with practice (not learn as you're looping). Do you have / are you willing to take a year before Looping, to learn the boat, solo handling and solo locking? Do you think spending 80 to 100 days of short cruising trips and day outings is unreasonably long to make you proficient with the boat and what you want to do?

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Old 01-31-2019, 09:17 PM   #19
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Really? You know the OP and his abilities first hand? Then why didn't you say that?
Really, give me a break. The OP asked if the boat was a reasonable boat to single hand the Loop. He didnít ask about his abilities just if the boat was decent for the Loop single handed. I am not going to argue but the reply in question did address if the boat was a reasonable boat to single hand the Loop.
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Old 02-01-2019, 06:04 AM   #20
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Don't overthink this if you do it, after a few days and yes maybe a bump or two and slight embarrassment you'll have it figured out. The important thing is if it's really what you want to do and have the means go for it. None of this is rocket science, learn how to take care of your engine and other systems for basic maintenance and have fun. If you need a little confidence boost find someone experienced to go out with you a few times.
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