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How large can I go without a crew?

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

  1. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Indeed a boat in the 50/60' range has benefits over a 70/80 footers including smaller slips and often (with exception) shallower draft.

    Also most owner operators don't go bananas about drying out the boat after a run...'they are boats after all, build to be wet. Rinse the salt is usually enough. Boosts don't need to be washed everyday either Mose owner operators have a boat washer come every week or two, they don't need to do it. And I be yet to pull in a marina in the bahamas where at least one guy didn't offer to wash the boat...

    I too have lost counts of the number of times I ve had to use a spring line in windy conditions... No big deal alone.

    Yes I ve witnessed those voice raising episodes between spouses on other boats... Well the best cure is for one of them to be able to single handle the boat and the problem is solved. Usually friction is a direct result of the skipper lack of skills...
  2. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    If you have to ask the question of how big of yacht a couple can run themselves. You're simply too in-experienced to even run the boat, let alone maintain it. Most people move up in size in 10-15' shots, and they know what the next step already entails in regards to running it, keeping it clean, and maintaining it.

    I disagree with the crew seperation, some 65's have a nice crew stateroom in the stern, seperate from the vessel and seperation can be maintained.
  3. bernd1972

    bernd1972 Senior Member

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    Ever hear of the Göta-Canal here in Europe? One of the most beautiful inland waterways over here with a ridiculous number of locks and many divorces... :D

    It´s all a matter of daring to get experience, communications, patience, no fear to risk minor damage (repaireable after all), beeing prepared and staying relaxed.
    Besides that, I´d like to contradict you, Capt J. I believe that 65ft is a perfect size for an experienced couple with kids and/or occasinal guests, but too small for a formal relationship between crew and owner. You have to be friends and respect each others privacy very much or you need a bigger boat.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
  4. MYTraveler

    MYTraveler New Member

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    Good point about the experience. Probably not even insurable for a large boat without demonstrable prior experience (except with licensed captain on board).

    Perhaps my point about crew separation and privacy was not well expressed. My boat has separate crew quarters off the engine room, and of course plenty of other boats in the size range offer separate quarters. Even so, in their off-hours it is impossible not to share the rest of the boat. In contrast, a 110'+ foot boat will provide crew quarters, lounge, galley, etc., which provides much more privacy. For someone whose desire to run the boat himself reflects a desire for privacy, I think a 75' - 90' boat would be a regrettable compromise, at least if 110' + is financially viable.
  5. karo1776

    karo1776 Senior Member

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    Now seriously like many questions here on YF it is rhetorical and a trap for argument. Not there is any of those on this forum.

    Some perspective is in order. Capt.J has mentioned the experience issue and if you are asking the question 'how large can I go operating the boat by myself' you have no idea what you are talking about from an experience standpoint. That is fact. When I was very young I read many boating stories and adventures... and came away with that I could sail a boat by myself. But most of the authors had vast experience and the boats in the 1950s were not large. I am going to now diverge this a little to sail boats because usually, other than runabouts, sail boats are what people talk about when it is "single handed sailing".

    As a pre-teenager the boats I got to sail (see below video) were open dingy types with ropes, pulleys and cleats. Only very large boats (remember America's Cup in those days, which were large boats, were 12m rule) had things like winches. The twelve meter rule allowed the boats to be rated at 12m though longer. If you go on Edmiston Brokerage and look you will see two for sale of the 12m America's Cup boats. Northern Light was a S&S design by Henry Nevins 22m long, notice it has manual winches. That would be hard to sail alone and only for a highly skilled sailor. Notice the listing shows it is USCG certified for 3 sailors and 13 passengers. That three sailors is about what it takes to sail safely... racing I would guess you could get by with 7-8. Then look at on the same site Gleam built by the same yard one year earlier in more original condition look it has one winch on the foredeck and a few aft... it is the same size and is certified for the same 3 sailors. That too would be hard to sail with less than three sailors... and it too is about 70 feet / 22m long. In racing form boat would have manually driven below deck coffee grinder winches.

    In those days few boats were manually controlled. In the later 1960s and 1970 more automated controls started appearing. This allowed one to operate without brute force a larger boat. Now in 2015 a very large boat can have the main and foresails operated (unfurled and furled. So one person can MECHANICALLY unfurl and furl huge sails.


    BUT THIS IS NOT SAFE OPERATION... just because one person can

    Just because there are videos online does not mean you can operate a boat in a reasonably safe manner.


    Someone without much experience would and could and very well could be a hazard... my prior postings of retards sailing bareboat charters proves this.
    Here is a favorite... "Credit Card Captain"


    Here is a video that gets interesting at 4:00 minutes in... so someone's experience factors in... even in a small boat... an open little boat similar to what I learned on that "anyone can sail by themselves".


    Remember... we want to enjoy things not make things dangerous or difficult so lets take it under our stride... and accept our limits so we can all can enjoy our islands in the sunhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFjGsYvB8oc
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2015
  6. bernd1972

    bernd1972 Senior Member

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    Well, karo1776, handling a sailboat shorthanded is allways another thing and the more complex and big it gets the more you need afew hands with minimum qualification. Now throwing the 12mR yachts into this discussion is somewhat irritating. These were pretty extreme sports machines, ment for racing with a crew of 8 during regattas. Just imagine handling a spinnaker of their size. But they were not really able to provide comfortable cruising for a racing crew, they´re not ment to be cruising boats at all. Besides the fact that during regattas there´s sometimes a bigger risk for accidents than during normal cruising which is a reason why in some insurances regattas are excluded.

    But even when we´re not talking about racing machines it´s quite obvious that sailboats require 2-3 times more crew even for safe handling. For those who would like to live aboard or cruise without paid hands obviously a motorboat/yacht offers more living space per number of required hands.
  7. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Not necessarily. A motoryacht is a heck of a lot more volume to wash and keep clean inside and out. A motoryacht also has a lot more systems than a sailboat that also need to be maintained. Much larger machinery that needs to be maintained.
  8. bernd1972

    bernd1972 Senior Member

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    ...everything comes with a price tag. ;)
    What I was talking about was the required number of hands for normal use. Of course more technical stuff means more work, maintenance and costs. But sometimes also more convenience in daily use...
  9. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Bringing in racing, 12 metres etc in this discussion is totally pointless. Although just like with a MY the boat layout and setup is more important than the size.

    While I woudl not argue that the maintenance requirements of 60+ MY exceed that of a smaller boat or sailboat, mAintencnace is another issue altogether which has nothing to do with someone's ability to occasionally enjoy their boat single hand.

    An experienced and qualified owner could very well handle an 80 footer for a day or even a weed end trip and not need any maintenance or detailing, that can be done once back at the dock by outside contractors, not necessarily by a captain or even first mate.

    Now whether or not this same owner would benefit from a crew during a longer trip is another issue altogether
  10. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Gad, everybody is still on this topic?
  11. capt.stone

    capt.stone New Member

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    I run/teach/deliver dealership yachts for a living - The largest boat that I will run solo (generally) is a 65. Anything larger and I try and get a mate. This applies to short distance (under 50 miles) delivery only. There's a lot more to this, some of which is already addressed above. Bottom line is for the average recreational (but well experienced solo) operator I would say keep it at 45-48 feet and express style. A flybridge will add some more distance to cover for the singlehander. Having pre-set docklines, skyhook (automatic position holding system), thrusters and similar devices helps when you are by yourself. Oftentimes strong winds and stiff current can make things difficult for the solo captain, even for the best of us. Capt. Tony
  12. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    I don't agree about the express style, if anything it s a longer walk from the helm, around to the often narrow side deck to your spring line.

    When I got my 53 back 12 years ago, coming from a 37 express, my first thought when approaching a dock the first time was "oh s... This is big what did I get myself into". Then I realiZed I could just walk a few steps out of pilothouse to set a spring making handling totally painless.
  13. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    A lot of FB boats, do not have a lower station these days. Hence the recommendation for a lower helm. However many motoryachts like Hatteras have a control station on the stern which helps when docking.
  14. capt.stone

    capt.stone New Member

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    I ran a Jeanneau NC-14 solo across the state via Okeechobee Waterway a few weeks ago. That side door sure sure made things easier when going through the locks. A cockpit control station would have worked as well but this boat did not have one.
  15. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I will not deliver a yacht without a mate. With all of the years of experience I have, throughout the years I have encountered steering failures, engine failures, very strong winds, very rough seas, and everything else. It is not safe nor is it prudent.

    About the largest boat I will run solo and that's local only would be around 40' provided it has easy access to get around the boat to get lines. But long distance no way. My job as a Captain is for the safety of the vessel and crew. I cannot guarantee that by myself to handle any condition or situation that may arise, and it's simply not prudent to do so. Part of being a good Captain is your decision making skills and doing things NOT to put the vessel or crew in jeapordy.
  16. capt.stone

    capt.stone New Member

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    All good points Capt. J. Can't say I disagree.

    I deal mostly with dealership inventory boats so as you may guess, things are a bit different for us dealership Capt's. There are times when I put my foot down for a mate, such as an upcoming Ft. Lauderdale to Lyford Cay delivery but fortunately the big bosses here have no problem with that.
  17. Blue Ghost

    Blue Ghost Member

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    Apparently.

    I've helmed boats upwards in the 100 foot range ages ago, but I never tried to sail one by myself. Seeing the videos with mechanical assistance to hoist and trim sails, in my book, almost makes handling a big boat by yourself doable. Almost.

    When I was a teenager all I remember is being part of a team hauling like hell on some lanyard or other rigging. I guess that's why I never went back to blue water sailing.

    p.s. If I had the confidence, I'd love to take a 65 footer from SF to the south Pacific.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015