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Old 08-18-2015, 01:32 PM   #1
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Living on a 44ft Motor Yacht too much?

1979 Gulfstar "44" Motor Cruiser Power Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com

That's the boat I can't stop thinking about. . .I've decided it's too big to handle alone, and too expensive to maintain. . .but here I am asking about handling and maintenance

This is how it starts, isn't it?




So, just how much trouble is it to pilot a 44ft motor yacht? Single handed? Docking stern-to in a slip with a small finger pier on one side?

I know the per foot items will cost that much more, but other than those. . .is it any more expensive than an aft cabin MY of say, 36ft? Considering both would be twin diesel engine, dual A/C's, dual helms, etc. Is 7000 hrs on a perkins scary?
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Old 08-18-2015, 01:42 PM   #2
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I am New back into Large boats now that we have all the kids out of the house I have owned my bot about a year and half

My wife and I handle our 46 just fine several times I have docked alone only at my own Marina in a very tight slip on a bend in the main dock

at docks we visit I radio ahead and they almost always meet at the transient slip and help you tie off

I think it comes down to a comfort level and practice
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Old 08-18-2015, 01:53 PM   #3
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No, don't do it. It's too much for 1 person! You'll crash and burn!

I'm only kidding, I only say the because I keep looking at that boat online as well. It all depends on your comfort level. I could see that boat being tough to back in a slip alone because of the limited sight lines. I don't believe it will be a problem with 2 people.
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Old 08-18-2015, 01:59 PM   #4
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I don't think it's correct to assume 44' is too big to single-hand. Maybe THAT BOAT would be difficult, but her OAL likely isn't the issue.


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Old 08-18-2015, 03:16 PM   #5
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A single screw with no thruster would pose some challenges as a single hander. The largest single screw boat I have backed in a slip was Hunter 42 sailboat. It was an easy boat to "back and fill"...with no wind or current to consider and there were times I could back her in and my crew would just set the lines as the boat was in it's final desired mooring position...in other words...I could have done it alone. Most of the time, however, I would have had a little sniffing and fetching, if alone, to get it backed in. I have run a Bruno Stillman 42' (single screw 450HP DD J&T) powerboat a few times and I had to have crew to get it backed in even in no winds (the owner tried to pass that task off with success almost every time he took the boat out as it was a challenge with a little current/wind). The twin screw sportfishers I have run (up to 53') were a dream to work around a dock compared to the single screw. With all that said I could have even single handed the 53 Hat under no wind/current by taking it very slow and everything went 'texbook'...but add in anything unexpected and maybe some bad things happen. I would vote for twin screws and stay under 40 feet (give or take a few) if singlehanding a boat without a pilothouse and quick walkaround access.
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Old 08-18-2015, 03:28 PM   #6
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I don't think there is any way some stranger on the internet can answer this for you. We don't know your abilities, including the ability to learn. There are some good on the water training schools out there, I'd advise taking a course or two and deciding for yourself what 's right for you.

I know guys who live alone on bigger boats than that and cruise them extensively, but they are very adept and long time boaters. I have no idea what you are capable of.
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Old 08-18-2015, 03:31 PM   #7
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You need to weigh the pluses of space living aboard a 44 vs the added challenge of single handed docking. You can add some stuff like back up cameras that might help with the docking. Docking is 10mins per time you go out.(Plus if you live there, are there not some people you could radio to come grab a line?) Living aboard is 24/7. I'd take the space. That's a nice looking boat with a nice looking boat office too.
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Old 08-18-2015, 03:31 PM   #8
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I don't have a problem with the sight lines looking aft. There aren't any. But on my boat I don't have a view to the stern. But I do have a painted marker on the finger dock next to my slip to let me know how far back to go before I need to stop.


That boat would be a royal PITA to dock singlehanded. There isn't any easy access to the dock from either helm. If you're really talking about single handling the boat then you need to find a boat you can get on and off of easily. That boat is not the one. It also will act like a HUGE sail if there's any wind. That makes it even that much more difficult to dock.


If by single handling you're talking about having dock hands available whenever and wherever you go, then that boat might be OK. Personally, I think that would be a great boat to live on if you never planned on moving it or could line up a crew to go with you when you want to go somewhere.
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Old 08-18-2015, 03:33 PM   #9
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One thing I notice about boats like this, they don't move very often, now the disclaimer: this doesn't mean they are bad boats, just what seems to naturally happen.
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Old 08-18-2015, 03:38 PM   #10
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I single hand mine all the time with single engine and a bow thruster. that boat is several feet larger and sight lines and access to rear lines might be tough on a windy day. depends on the slip. getting it started in should be easy enough; the trick is once you're in is the slip set up with pilings so if the wind pushes you a little you won't be using your neighbor as a fender.
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:06 PM   #11
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Beans: I know a couple who lived aboard a 44 Gulfstar for three or four years and that was after 6 years aboard a Manatee 36. If you're really serious about the 44 GS, maybe you ought to talk to them.
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:46 PM   #12
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I think it comes down to a comfort level and practice
Practice, yes.
Comfort level, well, I don't know.

I spent another couple hours on the docks this morning and while there I saw 2 sets of comfort level. Well, 3 actually.

I watched a couple departing on a 36 GB bare boat charter. On the way out, the charter orientation fellow needed to be dropped at the last float before exiting the marina. It was scary to watch and lucky the guy wasn't dumped in as Mrs. yelled at skipper and skipper hit the throttle. It would seem skipper and the charter company were comfortable. It reminded me why I would not put my boat in a charter pool.

I then watched a couple untie and pull out on a 60 OA. They danced together perfectly and the boat was like a third partner.

Very nice to watch that comfort level.
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:47 PM   #13
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I took my 36' single screw (no thruster) boat off the dock single handed today and then brought it back the same way. No help from the dock crew either time. The only thing about a bigger boat is that the line loads would be bigger. If you get some practice I don't see any boat up to 50' as being particularly hard to handle. I have a friend who routinely (as in daily) takes 37-48 footers (twins with integrated thruster) on and off the dock single handed with no help from the dock crew. He never has a problem.

It all comes down to how experienced you are and how well the boat is set up.
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:51 PM   #14
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Hi Cool Beans,
Back in 2001, my wife fell in love with that boat after boarding one at TrawlerFest. At that time, they would be snapped up in a heartbeat when they showed up on Yachtworld. As a result, we wound up buying a 44 Atlantic, very similar in all dimensions to the Gulfstar...only it didn't have the semi-circular staircase to the aft cabin that my wife loved. The Atlantic had twin Perkins 6.354 Naturals with 2000hrs.

I essentially single handed this boat for 6 years. Docklines at our marina were set up and left at the dock. These were floating docks and when I would stern in, I had fenders on the docks so I could gently place the swim platform against them, leave an engine in reverse, and take my time re-attaching all the lines. Really not a problem.

When traveling, I always had a long spring line from a forward cleat rigged outside the railings and loosely tied so a dockhand could grab it and attach same as needed to aid in docking.

It's just a matter of developing a procedure and following through with it.

I remember the first time I went up to the bridge and looked forward....I thought the boat went on forever. This was coming from a 36' Uniflite Aft Cabin. Within a couple of days, it felt like I was at the helm of a small SeaRay!! You get used to it.

Now as far as 7000 hours on those turbo Perkins, you're nearing their end life, depending on how they were maintained. That's probably the reason for the low price.

If the engines and systems check out and the decks are not soft, including the hardtop over the aft deck, I would go for it. They are fantastic boats!!
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:54 PM   #15
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Beans: I know a couple who lived aboard a 44 Gulfstar for three or four years and that was after 6 years aboard a Manatee 36. If you're really serious about the 44 GS, maybe you ought to talk to them.
That is excellent advice...I would take up that offer if you really like the GS.
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Old 08-18-2015, 05:03 PM   #16
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Not a whole lot of difference between some 36 foot trawlers and some 44 foot trawlers in terms of single handling.


Sure bigger and heavier...but many can't manhandle a 36.... so you probably can't manhandle a 44 either....so approach and tie up have to be orchestrated carefully...but not really impossible most of the time.


When traveling...much of the time you can get a face dock and help from the marina..not always..but much of the time.


Also , youdon't have to back into a slip...many trawlers and their owners prefer to pull in.


On my boat and others...boarding from the stern isn't all that great compared to side gates...so pull or back in...it's a coin toss for the conditions and length of finger piers.
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Old 08-18-2015, 05:06 PM   #17
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Docking a small boat is often a two man operation -- one guy at the helm and a second to jump off and tie the boat up as it bounces off the dock and comes to rest. With larger boats, that can increase to three -- helmsman and one on the bow and one on the stern. Often a greater effort is made not to actually hit the dock, so the dock crew uses some muscle to help out.
But, once the boat gets too big for the strength of the dock crew to be of any real help, the skill of the helmsman improves by necessity. All but the most inexperienced develop the skill to bring the boat perfectly along side the dock and to rest before crew has to think about tying up dock lines. In that sense, large boats are easier than small ones.

I often run my boat with just my wife aboard, and often if she is busy with something else, especially if there is little wind or current, I will cast off myself. Coming back in is a little trickier, but I also often single-highhandedly retie the boat.

There will be times when there is too much wind or current for you to safely leave the helm -- you will need someone else to tie and untie, but that is going to be a problem with even a much small boat.
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:06 PM   #18
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I think it comes down to a comfort level and practice
Something I wish I had more with my sailboat. . .I've got plenty of practice in fair weather and I'm comfortable docking stern-to if the wind is favorable. If there is a breeze out of the south to south east, then I get white knuckles. I don't even leave the dock if there is a S-SE breeze now. This I doubt would make me an expert, but I'd like think I'm not a total novice

I will say though, I take for granted that I can manhandle my current boat like it's nothing. . .same goes for the big spade rudder, very responsive in reverse if you have some speed. When I back in, I actually drive it in reverse by standing forward of the pedestal and facing the stern. . .drives just like a car

With a trawler, I want to either find a training class or hire someone out a couple times to show me the ropes. Oh yes, I will need to practice. I pick up on things pretty quick, but the finesse takes time.

Very informative thread, I know I haven't addressed most of the posts here. Lots to read and digest, thanks!
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:14 PM   #19
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I do not use any of these fancier hooks but have seen them used one of boat neighbors loves hers









I use a basic telescoping aluminum old school one although it is time for a new one the telescoping lock is getting worn out

to me having the right equipment is very important yet the right equipment gor me is not the same for others
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:27 PM   #20
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I often run my boat with just my wife aboard, and often if she is busy with something else, especially if there is little wind or current, I will cast off myself. Coming back in is a little trickier, but I also often single-highhandedly retie the boat.

There will be times when there is too much wind or current for you to safely leave the helm -- you will need someone else to tie and untie, but that is going to be a problem with even a much small boat.

George up thread a ways had a great reply regarding your experience level but the above bears re-reading. MYTraveler is talking about moving a 70+ footer mostly single handed. I follow several cruising blogs and the largest boats are handled the same way by experienced couples often acting alone.

A few months ago I met a gentleman who brought his Hatt 70' down from Washington state to SFO bay with just his greenhorn girlfriend as "crew". We also have a member here that owns a 120' that have no problem running without crew. It's all in how much effort you desire to put into being a competent skipper of your boat.

If you desire to emulate the best, don't fear buying any boat. The boat you're considering is obviously a good one as a poor cruiser wouldn't accumulate the engine hours.
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