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How large can I go without a crew?

Discussion in 'Popular Yacht Topics' started by BenSeattle, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. KCook

    KCook Senior Member

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    Thanks! < gulp >
  2. Terry Day

    Terry Day New Member

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    I understand that this is a very old thread, but I had the same question too. We are looking at a 70'-80' trawler. Our concern was the amount of crew accommodations. We intended to hire a Captain and Engineer for the first year and then just an Engineer and deckhand there after.

    The trawlers we are looking at have very cramped quarters for the crew... Some have a dedicated Captain's cabin, but most are just 3 bunks. Really, on a $4m trawler, is it really so bad to pay a captain $1k a foot per year?
  3. Danvilletim

    Danvilletim Senior Member

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    Once you are up to speed I think one crew would do you well. It really depends on where you need help. I've always been a bit stubborn on this issue and we upgraded to a 62'. Currently I don't miss a captain, but sure would love someone to help maintain and entertain.! I do admittedly spend more time fix'in stuff than relaxing. Though fixing stuff is still a stree relief.
  4. Terry Day

    Terry Day New Member

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    We realistically feel that My wife and I and our 18 year old daughter (who has boldly stated she will never "move out") can crew a large vessel. I don't think a captain will mind, going into it knowing, that I only want him/her for a year to teach us how to operate a large vessel.

    We will then decide whether to keep a full time engineer on board after a year.

    Other than the Selene 66, we are having a difficult time finding a vessel with a stateroom set up for our needs as we plan to live aboard full time.

    We like the Marlow, Nordhaven, Selene, and Northern Marine yachts.
  5. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

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    Terry - Welcome to YF. What are your "stateroom set up needs?" No problem with hiring a captain to teach and assist for however long the task requires. Interesting that you mention needing an engineer subsequently. What jobs do you and your ladies want to take on and what do you want/need to delegate? Lots of manufacturers and options that might fill your cruising and layout needs. Give us more to work with.

    Judy
  6. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    There are so many parts to this question, Terry. Judy points out some of them. Others are where and how much will you be cruising, and how much time will you have.

    I had a friend years ago I worked with. He lived in town but had a lake cottage with a very large extremely well manicured lawn. Every Saturday he'd drive out and spend most of the day on that lawn. What little time not spent on the lawn he would do work maintaining his boat. I kept my boat at a marina and would be on the boat, enjoying the lake, 30 minutes after leaving home.

    So there are two components major components. First, is what capabilities you and your family have. Do you have experience navigating or docking or maintaining an engine or dealing with fuel problems while cruising? If not, what do you need to learn? However, just as important is what you want to be doing. Do you want to be changing the oil, replacing the filters and impellers, dealing with problems with heads, cleaning the boat stem to stern, doing the laundry, preparing the meals, navigating? Push do it yourself too far and it becomes like you work on a boat, but not only don't get paid, you pay for the privilege.

    Yes, the Selene 66 has a nice layout. Some other models in that range have nice crew cabins and some are lousy. Size and type of crew factors in here too. We have a 63' sport coupe that we have never put a captain in the crew cabin. We let one have a stateroom. Now we might put a kid serving as a deckhand in the crew cabin. We have larger boats where the engineer might use the engineer's or captain's cabin adjacent to the engine room, but at least a couple of the crew will use a stateroom. Sometimes it's a minor thing. A small crew cabin with a nice head which has a separate shower works decently for one person. However, change that to a wet shower (shower head over toilet or sink, not separate enclosure) and decrease the size and it's like a prison.

    We're both licensed captains and love being at the helm, but we have no desire to spend time in the engine room. Likewise we have no desire to clean the boat or do the laundry. On the other hand, we're fine with cooking.
  7. karo1776

    karo1776 Senior Member

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    Well... in Europe pretty much the largest you can self pilot... is limited to 24 m. Or about 78 feet.

    You can cheat that maybe a meter if you have the builders plaque redone and a measuring tape bow to stern on the deck stays less than 24 m... not to say I would ever do such a thing... ever never.

    Seriously...
    Now I am talking sailboats as that is my experience primarily... It can be done providing you have hired all the work out and just go for daysails... in good conditions... and things are not busy in port out and in. It can be done. Will you save money or not I doubt it.

    But remember you are pushing the boundaries of safety in other than ideal conditions sailing the boat single handed. In SOF during the summer the winds are usually very light and if the port is not real busy it is possible. Otherwise, you should even on a smaller boat, even 10m (about 37 feet) have at least one day helper aboard unless you in very good shape. However, usually in SOF or Italy even the smaller boats are crewed.

    More than a few hours day sail stay with 8 m and under.
  8. milo12

    milo12 Member

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    Look at the site setsail.com.

    The Dashew's have sailed and motored all over the world primarily as a crew of 2. Their boats are purposely designed for safe handling with a couple and their countless trips on their 83 ft "Windhorse" have proven the concept.
  9. MaxPower

    MaxPower Senior Member

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    Hi mate,

    FWIW, I run an 80' (powerboat) just by myself and a boat boy - who really takes in the lines and fenders and gives me an extra pair of eyes, especially at night. And between the two of us, can manage most minor repairs.

    The family of course has to do its bit ... feed the captain, etc etc etc ... me ...

    :D
  10. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Welcome to YF Terry Day. As Olderboater points out, the way you plan to use the boat as well as where is critical to how you crew it. I can run an 80' and deckhand it by myself in a pinch, but I'd sure hate to encounter an emergency like a heart attack. Therefore I rarely run alone. I've also slept on a 4'x1' bench, but won't do it for long. Unless you're running out of country, that captain may be more critical than the engineer. Most captains know their way around the mechanics of a boat fairly well, and he should also make an ACE deckhand.
    If you're running stateside (or close to), most major repairs will be handled by a yard. So you need the second set of eyes while running, someone to help navigate, someone to troubleshoot mechanical issues and do minor and emergency repairs, and someone to deckhand. That's a captain. What you don't want to do is hire someone with the engineering qualifications of say a K1W1 and have him twiddling his thumbs 99.9% of the time.

    The crew quarters is another issue. Your description sounds like it's for a couple of kids you have aboard to clean and handle lines. If you hire a professional adult, expect to house him like a professional adult.

    So will this boat be used for extended cruising or just weekends and vacation cruising? Will you be staying stateside or heading for Central America? Will your crew be staying aboard only during cruises or living aboard for extended periods?
  11. MaxPower

    MaxPower Senior Member

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    good point mate ...
  12. Danvilletim

    Danvilletim Senior Member

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    Yeah, 80' is too big to risk having a heart attack. 60 would be fine.
  13. karo1776

    karo1776 Senior Member

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    I think I am slowly devolving as far as single handed capabilities go... 8m is about it... or less now.... and slowly going down not long and I will be down to 4m... kayak and I will be an accident waiting to happen.
  14. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    I am not sure that difference in length of a yacht will have much influence on your heart attack other that the chances of it being induced by the cost of repairs on either being a cause.
  15. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I would never run anything single handed, ever. Unless maybe a 40' express in inland waters. I have seen way too many variables that I NEEDED a mate for safety. Squal popped up out of nowhere with 50mph winds, fires, parts failures, tight slips, you name it.

    As to the OP, if you want a job cleaning, fixing and detailing a yacht your entire time just become crew on someone else's. Why would you want to take ALL of the fun out of yachting by going crewless and spend all of your time rinshing/chamoising and fixing things instead of enjoying yourself. About the largest size, and this is without being on a "schedule" that you could do it all yourself and still have time to have fun would be 55-60'. The other thing is, once you get above that size, lines and fenders become pretty heavy and bulky for your wife, as does it being critical getting lines on in a fast and efficient manner. Anything over that just hire someone.
  16. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    I don't quite understand why wind has anything to do with the size of the boat you can safely single hand. The bigger the boat, the less effect the wind will have.... Bigger boats just don't get blown around like smaller one. And what can crew do in higher wind? It's not like they re going to be able fend off or hold the boat by hand anyway... It up to whoever is driving to put th boat in position where lines can be secured, not up to the crew

    As to lines and fenders being to heavy for your wife, well... be a gentleman... And do it yourself. Just stop outside the dock or marina, rig the boat and come in. Obviosily it depends on where you re boating but in the US most marinas use wooden pilings where you don't need fenders coming in (unless you were stupid enough to buy a boat without rub rail...)

    I think the two most important factor, beyond not having a heart attack..., is boat layout, where you operate the boat and experience. Sure, on some boats if you need to back up into a slip without stern engine controls, you may need someone to help guiding you.

    Or take a smaller sportfish, without cockpit controls and a ladder, not stairs... Say 40'... I woudl hate to dock that thing alone yet it s only 40'... On the other hand, backing a boat twice the size in its piling lined home slip with lines hanging on the piling from aft deck controls is no problem. How is having crew going to help you unless you are in a wheelchair and can't grab your own springs off the pilings...

    Now if you're going back a boat in med moor setting without pilings, then yes you ll need crew to man th fenders

    It s not about size, it s about conditions, layout and experience.
  17. bernd1972

    bernd1972 Senior Member

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    I think Pascal is right. It all depends on how practical the boat is concerning layout and how time-consuming it is regarding maintenance and keeping it clean. Choosing a boat that is too small will always cause headaches with storage space, going too big means the boat needs more attention. Lightweight boats tend to react a little more nervous in unfavourable wind conditions, but generally bigger boats will give you more time to react if a docking maneuvre fails. And ouf course it´s very practical if you can get to wherever you need to be from the helmstation fast and easily to grab a line, correct a fender position, etc. I run my 65 ft. alone for short trips if needed and the only annoying situation in that case is when you can´t leave the helm station due to traffic but want to get yourself a coffee or feel the need to go to the head. Of course it´s allways prefereable to have 2 people with adequate skills aboard when entering an unknown or more difficult berth or even while cruising. Besides the fact that beeing ot alone is just plain boring.
    So I´d say a couple (both able to handle a line and take the helm) can handle about everything up to 80 ft. with some experience, reasonable preparation and a known berth to tie upt the boat.
  18. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    If it's really windy or there is a lot of current, how can you be at the helm and at the lines at the same time? I've had to use a spring line in order to pivot off of it to keep the boat at the dock on many occasions. On another note, I'm only 38 years old and the very last thing I want to do is rinse and chamois a 80' motoryacht down after running it for the day, let alone a 60'. Much less wash them. If I was in the position of an owner, I would WANT crew so that I could enjoy myself and have fun, not buy myself a job as a mate on a yacht spending all of my time washing and fixing things.

    The biggest thing I've seen turn off wives in yachting is having to get the lines and fenders and also the tension it creates when things don't go right. I've seen couples get out of yachting many times because of this. I've also seen many people not truly enjoy the good places to go yachting because they don't have the skills to get the boat there or aren't confident enough in their Captaining and they miss out on most of the good stuff. You're going to spend a ton of money on buying a yacht and maintaining it and then skimp out on crew so that you can truely enjoy it? That just makes no sense. Also how often does a couple truly need a yacht larger than 60'? A 60' is large enough to do a week or two with a total of 3 couples on board, a lot easier to get dockage without reservations and in general, a lot easier to maneuver, and can fit in a lot more places than most 80'.
  19. bernd1972

    bernd1972 Senior Member

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    Well, I´m no typical yacht owner. Starts with not beeing adequately wealthy and ends with living aboard alone. Besides that I´m not much older than you.
    My sidedeck cleat is just a few steps away from my helm station and I usually tie the boat up alongside a quai. I don´t go out alone in conditions when I expect to have difficulties to tie up the boat alone again.
    Concerning cleaning and maintenance: I must confess that I neglect the boat from time to time and I am somewhat behind with paint an varnish. But I try to have a live besides beeing a janitor at sea.
    I occasionally even hate my boat... :D
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
  20. MYTraveler

    MYTraveler New Member

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    Here is my experience, for what it is worth:

    After about 65 feet, it becomes increasingly difficult to run the boat yourself. With the "crew" you have, at least once trained, and the 1-3 day use you envision, I think you would be good up to about 80 feet.

    Other than more staterooms, I don't think you will get many more amenities by going from 65 feet to 90 feet. A Jacuzzi is about the only thing I can think of. One of the best amenities, even for three days, is having help, but even a 90 foot boat is a little small for that, at least if you want some privacy. On the other hand, once you get 110 feet and above, you have room for crew and amenities not otherwise possible. Stuff that puts you truly in the yacht category -- helicopter, multiple and large tenders, formal dining, sky lounge, etc.

    On the other hand, going from 50 feet to 65 feet can make a big difference in terms of amenities: multiple heads, room for a crane and nice big tender, full-service galley, king-sized bed (at least in the master), big showers, stabilization (possible, but not common on 50'ers).

    In any event, I don't think you should let maintenance considerations be a significant part of your decision. You don't sound like the kind of guy who will do maintenance himself, and at least for a new or already well-maintained boat, paying someone else to do that stuff is really not a very big cost.

    Admittedly, I am biased, but often do run my 64' boat with just my wife, and find the boat much more comfortable and accommodating than our prior boats, two of which were in the 50 and 55 foot range.

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