Size. Does it matter?

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dmain4

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Been reading the forum for a while and think it's great. Looking to buy my first live aboard/cruising trawler and will be doing it myself (until/unless I can find a suitable first mate). What's the opinion on length and handling restrictions when shopping for a boat to ultimately do the loop in for the single sailor?
 
I've read most of those posts and while informative, I was asking mainly from a handling standpoint since I've never been in anything larger than about 20'. Can one man handle docking, anchoring, locking, etc. on a 40 to 45 foot boat?
 
I've read most of those posts and while informative, I was asking mainly from a handling standpoint since I've never been in anything larger than about 20'. Can one man handle docking, anchoring, locking, etc. on a 40 to 45 foot boat?

You can't do it if you have to ask......;)

Smaller is better, the smaller boat goes out more often, costs less in every way, and is much easier to handle given reasonable design. Top-heavy, overpowered, underruddered, boats with no keel are really hard to handle no matter what the size.
 
Can one man handle docking, anchoring, locking, etc. on a 40 to 45 foot boat?

Yes Sir

All you need is bow and stern thrusters, remote control and 10 hours of practice.After that you can run 65 on the same way like 30 feet vessel.
 
I've read most of those posts and while informative, I was asking mainly from a handling standpoint since I've never been in anything larger than about 20'. Can one man handle docking, anchoring, locking, etc. on a 40 to 45 foot boat?

So there you go, there is no absolute answer. Both replies are right of course.

Myself I'm in Tad's camp and the old advice still rules IMO. In your price range buy the smallest boat that will serve your purpose as the smaller boat will almost always be in better shape. It will also "normally" be cheaper to own, maintain and handle.
 
I took my 60' boat out solo this weekend. The only issue at all was after I backed into the slip was getting lines fastened in the breeze.

By the way I have 40 years of boating experience.
 
Yes Sir

All you need is bow and stern thrusters, remote control and 10 hours of practice.After that you can run 65 on the same way like 30 feet vessel.

The thrusters will probably be much cheaper and will require less maintenance than a fist mate.;)
 
Great Advice

Thanks to all who chimed in on my question. I'm not looking to impress anybody but I want to be comfortable. I hear you, Mahal. Besides, my first first mate only left me enough to buy a thruster anyhow.
 
Yeah, I wish. I'm getting started late on a lot of things. But I'm runnin' hard! How do you like your Halvorsen? I'm thinking of looking at one in Kentucky.
 
Been reading the forum for a while and think it's great. Looking to buy my first live aboard/cruising trawler and will be doing it myself (until/unless I can find a suitable first mate). What's the opinion on length and handling restrictions when shopping for a boat to ultimately do the loop in for the single sailor?

Having gone from a 25' boat to a 32' boat to a 42' boat (all single screws) I have found that in general the larger the boat, the easier it is to dock. Primarily, I think, because the larger boats tend to go and stay where you want rather than be pushed around by the wind or current. But heaven help you if the larger boat gets away from you!

Single handing any of them while docking is helped immensely by the ease of access between the helm and dock. Thrusters are nice but never had one until our 42 footer, and so far I hardly use it.

Can't speak for the loop, but around here (BC coast) once you're above 40' finding transient docking space along the way can be a challenge during the cruising season.
 
How do you like your Halvorsen? I'm thinking of looking at one in Kentucky.
We love it! We cruise it at 8.4 knots (It will go faster but just a increase in speed of 1 knot almost doubles the fuel flow.) She shows 10.3 knots at WOT.

The big draw to these boats is the state room, separate head & shower, large cockpit for a 32 and fit & finish. Also, heavy hardware was used throughout. (Cleats, chocks, hand rails, samson post, etc.
 

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I have found that in general the larger the boat, the easier it is to dock. Primarily, I think, because the larger boats tend to go and stay where you want .
I bought a 54' boat years ago and at first I was a little scared of it. I soon learned that it behaved exactly as Conrad has pointed out.
 
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Sounds great. The one I'm going to see is older (1989) and a little bigger (49). It's one of the reasons I asked my question in the first place. 49 seems big but it's got twins so maybe with some practice it would be alright. We'll see.
 
Sounds great. The one I'm going to see is older (1989) and a little bigger (49).

You'll be fine! My first "bigger boat" was a 48' Offshore and with one 2 hour lesson, I was on my way.
 

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The thing I am often surprised more boat handlers don't seem to realize is how slowly (relatively speaking) things happen in a boat, and the heavier the boat the slower they happen. We, and I'm sure most people on this forum, see boaters frantically hauling back and forth on their throttles and shifters as they over-react to everything they see the boat doing.

Perhaps we were lucky in that we learned a lot of what we know about larger boat maneuvering from the 25 ton, 60' steel narrowboats we've run in the UK starting in 1990, but we quickly found that applying a little power, a little rudder, a little opposite thrust, and then waiting to see what happens results in a far more controlled and calm maneuver than trying to counter every little boat motion.

While I am not always able to do this, my self-imposed goal when docking our boat is to shift each transmission no more than twice from when we approach our slip or a dock in gear to when we are stopped in or alongside it. The key, we have found, is learning our boat's reaction to inertia, both when applying power and taking it off, and how the boat reacts to the direction the props, or a prop, is turning and the angle of the rudders.

While wind or current can sometimes conspire to defeat meeting my two-shifts-only objective, usually even they do not speed things up so much as to warrant the seesawing of throttles and shifters we so often observe on other boats.

It takes a lot to get a 30,000 pound boat moving and it takes a lot to get a 30,000 boat stopped. Knowing how much it takes in each case as well as being able to judge where inertia is going to make the boat end up is the key to an easy, smooth maneuver in my opinion.
 
...While wind or current can sometimes conspire to defeat meeting my two-shifts-only objective, usually even they do not speed things up so much as to warrant the seesawing of throttles and shifters we so often observe on other boats. ...

Agree. When approaching the berth/dock, I'm normally in neutral except when turning (increases turning rate), to maintain minimal forward progress, or in reverse to check forward progress after fully entering the berth, all at idle speed. Wind has minimal effect on the Coot because of its 14-ton mass, keel, and low profile.
 
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I single hand a 44' quite often...wish it had a bow thruster when it's windy, however.
 
One of the nice things about a pilot house trawler is that you can pull along side a dock, and easily step outside the PH door on either side and secure a breast line to the mid ship cleat. At that point the boat is captured and you have time to tie bow and stern lines. I have single handed the American Tug 34 on many occasions and never been intimidated regardless of conditions.
 
Agree. When approaching the berth/dock, I'm normally in neutral except when turning (increases turning rate), to maintain minimal forward progress.

We used to do it that way (neutral) but found that carrying idle-forward right on into the entrance to the slip gives us better steerage and better control over the boat and the wind/current. So we don't move the tranmissions to neutral until we're about halfway in at which point we go to opposing thrust to move the stern right over against the dock and bring the boat to a halt. We enter our slip on a curve so the forward part of the boat is already next to the dock when we go to opposing thrust.
 
One of the nice things about a pilot house trawler is that you can pull along side a dock, and easily step outside the PH door on either side and secure a breast line to the mid ship cleat. ...

Especially when one has wide, 360-degree decks and railings.

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I single hand my single-engined 34 more than 50% of the time. The thing that I find is that you have to be more precise because wind and current will cause you to drift away from the dock faster than you can get lines on. A few inches can make a huge difference when trying to get off the boat quickly. I installed a bow thruster, and use it regularly, but only for one, maybe two, one second bursts. Those are usually just to make sure that I'm up against the dock. It's not always easy to see the dock from the lower helm, and I don't want to try and climb down from the upper helm in a hurry. With experienced crew, I rarely use the thruster.

One other thing that a thruster helps with is backing into a slip. My boat is really easy to dock bow in, starboard tie. Faced with a port tie, I'll back into the slip. The bow thruster is a huge help then.

One of the reasons I selected my boat was because of the walkaround decks. If the dock isn't too low, I can often get a midship or stern line onto the dock without getting off the boat.

I agree that things happen more slowly on larger boats, but it's also no fun trying to muscle in bow line by yourself in a strong wind or current when things get away from you. That's one of the reasons I hate docks without cleats. It takes longer to get a lines secured.
 
We enter our slip on a curve so the forward part of the boat is already next to the dock when we go to opposing thrust.
I do the exact same thing with my single engine. I enter the slip on a curve, and when the boat is full in, I reverse, to kick the stern to starboard & when the boat stops, I walk out the door and step off the swimstep on to the dock.

I tried the stop, turn 90 degrees towards the slip method a long time ago but I think my judgement as to the wind, angle and speed is much better by approaching on a curve. Another thing the curve approach does (single engine) is aid the back and fill. Helm hard over, either side, and adjust everything with back and fill. I'm always at idle unless there's one hell of a wind. (Of course my bow thruster is always at the ready for those days that my judgment goes south.)
 
Here's a slightly different version of the question. How far would you go single handing? Solo sailboats cross the ocean on a regular basis. Given a suitable LRC, what's possible? What's been done?
 
Just for a day sail. I can't keep an adequate lookout when asleep.
 
Here's a slightly different version of the question. How far would you go single handing?

If I had no choice but to single hand our GB I would probably get out of this kind of boating. We got into cruising for the same reason I (and then we) got into floatplane flying and narrowboating--- because it's something we really enjoy doing together.

While I have no doubt I could take our GB to Alaska and back by myself if I wanted or had to, I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to do that. To us being out on the boat is all about sharing a unique experience.

I'm not interested in single-handing a boat as a way to "prove" something, either to myself or anyone else. I've crop-dusted pineapple fields in Hawaii with sterile fruit flies, something we did about ten feet off the ground under the phone wires. After mastering that, anything else I might want to do to "prove" something to myself would be fairly anticlimactic.:)

So to me cruising is all about a shared experience and becoming that much richer for it. When I say "shared" I mean with my wife. With a tiny handful of exceptions I have no interest in sharing boating--- or flying or narrowboating--- with anyone else.

Were I on my own I would probably keep using our 17' Arima as I enjoy fishing and this would be an easy and effortless way to stay connected with the inside waters in the PNW and BC that I have come to love more than anywhere else on the planet. But single handing our cruising boat? Not interested despite the fact it would be very, very easy to do.
 
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You guys have got me more fired up then ever! I've operated runabouts since I was young and knew early on that guiding the boat was better than controlling it. Sounds like it's the same principle no matter the size (re the title of my first post). Very much the same in flying. Thanks for the advice. No doubt I'll be looking for more in the future.

Dave
 
Good point, Bob. Guess I'm most concerned about docking (though most marinas have dock hands I assume) and passing through locks since I've never operated anything over 20'. Most of the comments seem to say with training and planning it should be doable.

Dave
 

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