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Princess Y78 yacht tour: The biggest boat you can run without crew

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The Princess Y78 is right on the cusp between owner-operated boats and superyachts. Nick takes us on a full yacht tour

For many, the joy of boating is the freedom to go where you want, when you want and with who you want – and for this reason, boats that limbo under the 24m LWL mark are always in demand.

This is the point above which all sorts of regulations around crew, licensing and more kick in as your yacht technically becomes a superyacht .

The Princess Y78 that Nick tours in this video is a great example and could be considered that largest boat that you can run without any kind of professional help.

It would take a very experienced owner-operator to run one of these, though, as the Y78 is a serious piece of machinery.

As well as offering four guest cabins and a decent crew quarters, the Y78’s engine room comes kitted out with a pair of MAN V12s for a top speed of 36 knots.

In boat that weighs over 54 tonnes, you need to know what you’re doing with that kind of power under your control.

And with an asking price just under £3m before tax, maybe a hiring a professional captain wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all…

Specification

LOA: 80ft 9in (24.67m) Beam: 18ft 11in (5.76m) Draft: 5ft 8in (1.72m) Displacement: 54,085kg (119,237lbs) Fuel capacity: 6,000l (1,320 gal) Water capacity: 1,350l (297 gal) Engines: Twin 1800hp MAN V12 Top speed: 36 knots Price: £2.95m (ex. VAT)

Bluegame BGM75 sea trial: The €6.8m powercat that thinks its a monohull

Cormate chase 32 tour: fast, stylish and practical weekender, delphia 10 boat tour: great value family cruiser.

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No Crew Required

  • By Chris Caswell
  • Updated: June 18, 2009

Nordhavn 47

ytgjun09cy2525.jpg

A growing number of yachts are being operated “short-handed,” the nautical term for a voyage with fewer than the usual number of crew members. In the yachting world, it was not long ago that owning a 70-footer meant having a dedicated captain and at least one crew member.

Today, however, there are a growing number of yachts in the 60- to 80-foot range being handled by husband-and-wife teams. And this isn’t just weekend marina-hopping, either, but voyages that stretch the lengths of continents and span oceans.

John and Linda Langan who, in 16 months, have ranged from Alaska to Mexico and are currently in the Caribbean aboard their Nordhavn 47, are now accustomed to short-handed cruising. “At first it was daunting, now it’s no big thing,” they happily report.

A multitude of factors have not only made this possible, but desirable. Modern technology has provided warping winches that can turn a 100-pound woman into Arnold Schwarzenegger when it comes to handling dock lines, while bow and stern thrusters make docking easier. There are more young couples acquiring larger yachts these days, yet not really wanting paid crew. And at the other end, there are “empty-nesters,” who want to be able to take out family or friends occasionally, yet still remain independent.

Regardless of the reasons, boatbuilders are seizing on this new market, creating fleets of yachts aimed at short-handed cruisers. We talked to a number of owner-operators, as well as boatbuilders, to gather some of the hard-won tips and techniques that make short-handed cruising possible. Here’s a look at what we learned.

Pick the Right Yacht

The design features needed for short-handed cruising are a matter of common sense. One of the keys to simplified boat-handling, according to one skipper, is the ability to “be everywhere at once.”

This means you need wide side decks that allow you to move easily from bow to stern, with bulwarks or rails high enough to make movement underway safe. It requires having doors on each side of a pilothouse so the skipper can step out to lend a hand quickly. Look for flying bridge stairs that are conveniently located and safe in all conditions. Inside, a pilot berth or convertible settee might be a good idea, so a second person is close at hand during night passages.

Outfit the Yacht

Once you’ve chosen the yacht, you need to outfit it with short-handing in mind, which generally falls into two categories: Extra power and simplicity.

Docking is always the biggest concern for a husband-and-wife team, but several modern conveniences turn this into a “no worries” area. First, bow and stern thrusters allow the skipper to place the yacht precisely against a dock. Second, warping winches on the stern allow one person to easily move a 40-ton yacht. Third, remote helm controls put the skipper where he can see everything, as well as lend a hand as needed. And last (but certainly not least!), the dawn of Zeus or IPS drive power allows joystick control that can pivot the yacht in any direction and even hold station effortlessly.

For Barry and Alice Allred, the bow and stern thrusters aboard their Outer Reef 65, Risky Business, are a godsend. “Choosing hydraulic progressive Trac thrusters was our wisest investment,” says Barry. “I can place the boat against the dock and then hold it there indefinitely while I help with the docklines.” Progressive thrusters can be left in the thrusting position and, being hydraulic, can be used continuously because they don’t have overheating issues.

Warping winches were named as one of the most popular options by boatbuilders, and several owners noted that using them meant they could easily muscle in a spring line-even against wind and current. They also allow the positioning of the yacht to be done from on board, rather than relying on dock helpers. Lydia Biggie, who has cruised the length of the Eastern Seaboard with her husband, John, aboard their Outer Reef 73, SeeYa, always passes the eye of the dockline ashore, so she can control the length from on board.

The ability of the skipper to operate the engines and thrusters from locations other than the helm was also mentioned as very important by short-handed crews. Options include wing controls hidden in a bulwark outside the pilothouse or on the afterdeck, as well as corded control boxes that can be plugged in at various locations around the yacht. Aboard Risky Business, for example, plug locations include the bow (for anchoring), the stern, and both sides of the bridge.

Nordhavn 47

Ample and properly sized fenders were mentioned as valuable to short-handers, because they protect the yacht until all the lines are secured. Several skippers mentioned that they have premarked fender lines, so they can be secured at a set height before being hung over the side. This is particularly important with large or heavy fenders being handled by a small person.

Another valuable piece of deck gear that short-handers mentioned is “a really long boathook” which can be used for placing looped docklines over pilings or cleats when there are no helpers ashore.

Prep the Crew

If there was one tip given by absolutely every short-handed couple, it was to talk everything through beforehand. “Plan ahead, and take your time,” says Lydia Biggie. “John and I will discuss the order of lines to be given to the dock help, because sometimes it varies.” Aboard Risky Business, Barry Allred also tells his wife which lines to set first, and she passes these directions to the dock helpers.

Both John Biggie and Barry Allred go a step further in their preparations: “I talk to the dockmaster by VHF beforehand,” says Allred, “to find out the exact slip location, the wind or current at that spot, and what’s around my slip. That way there are no surprises.” Lydia Biggie adds, “We find out at least half an hour beforehand what side of the dock we’ll be on, and if they are floating or stationary. That way I can estimate the height and position of the fenders.”

Just as important as crew preparation are crew communications. John Langan is succinct: “We use duplex two-way hands-free communications, and this is a marriagesaver!” Barry Allred also has several pairs of voice-activated Eartec headsets, adding a third unit so his daughter “could hear what was going on” when she was aboard. “These work fine, even in a breeze,” says Allred, noting that they allow two people to work without being in sight of each other.

Lowering and raising an anchor brings a host of new challenges but, again, modern technology and ingenuity simplify the task for short-handers. Barry Allred has anchor controls on his remote controller and, once plugged in at the bow, can direct the whole process as he watches.

Aboard SeeYa, the Biggies use hand signals to communicate from the bow to the pilothouse. “I look at him and signal and call ‘taking the pin out.’ This is the safety pin that prevents the anchor and chain from going down. Now John knows my hands are clear, and it’s okay to lower the anchor. We have one of those neat ‘chain counters’ so he can raise and lower the anchor from the wheel and know how many feet are out.”

The way the Langans aboard the Nordhavn 47 see it, “You can’t be too rich or too thin or have too many anchors. I use 400 feet of 7/16-inch chain and a 105-pound CQR. We set the CQR on the roller nearing the anchorage so that when we let the windlass out, it goes down by itself and my wife counts the 50-foot paint stripes to the required scope.” John adds, “All this I do from the pilothouse, since the windlass can be operated from there, the flybridge, or the bow.”

For raising the anchor, Lydia Biggie has painted three marks on the chain, but hers are near the anchor. “When I see these marks come out of the water, I take over raising the anchor. I can now do this slowly, make sure the anchor is free of sand, oriented properly and, finally, seated properly. Besides, by the time I take over the anchor, John needs to pay attention to steering the boat.”

When it comes to signaling, the Biggies keep it simple. “I point to where the anchor chain is, port or starboard, so John can use the bow thruster to line up the boat with the chain. I use a circular motion with my arm to indicate ‘keep the anchor coming up,’ and I put my hand up in a ‘stop’ motion to end pulling the anchor in.”

The biggest concern for most short-handers is a man overboard because, with just two people aboard, you only have half a crew to handle a serious crisis.

Most short-handers carry comfortable lifejackets in addition to the U.S. Coast Guard-required PFDs-either in the form of automatic inflatable life vests that don’t constrict movements, or as float coats to wear when weathering colder climates. But many short-handers also admitted that they don’t wear them often enough. “Unless the conditions are really bad,” said one, “we don’t put them on. I know we should, but we’re lazy.”

High bulwarks, double or even triple lifelines, and plenty of rails can create a false sense of security and we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend that everyone on deck wear a life vest at all times.

Even in the best case scenario, when the MOB is wearing a flotation device, the situation is very dangerous because only one person is left to maneuver the yacht, spot the person in the water, and retrieve the crew. There are a multitude of devices designed to help locate and retrieve a crew member, large or small, from the water, and each has its pros and cons. Some require installations on the yacht, and all should be tested in practice situations with a full crew aboard in calm water. A dark night with your spouse in the water is no time to start reading the instructions.

The most popular MOB device for powerboats is the Lifesling, which comes in several variations but is basically a horseshoe- shaped collar that is thrown to the victim or towed behind the yacht so it can be reached without swimming for it.

It provides buoyancy as well as a secure attachment to the yacht and, when combined with lifting tackle on board, allows a smaller person to hoist a heavy and watersoaked victim on board.

Several short-handers that were interviewed have a basic rule: No one ever goes on deck without being watched. And one added that, when voyaging, they always bring the yacht to a complete stop before a crew member goes on deck.

Barry Allred uses a video camera that covers all the action on the afterdeck. “With that, one of us can be in the pilothouse and still keep an eye on the other if we’re rigging lines or fenders.”

Short-handed cruising a largish yacht may seem intimidating or even scary at first but, with a well-chosen yacht and the right equipment and practice, it can be a grand adventure.

“I wasn’t sure the two of us could do it,” says Barry Allred. “I was wrong…it’s great!”

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What is the largest yacht one can operate solo?

When it comes to operating a yacht, it is important to understand your capabilities and limitations as a captain. Solo yacht operation can be challenging, especially when it comes to larger vessels. So,?

The answer to this question is not straightforward and depends on several factors, including the yacht’s size, the operator’s experience, and the yacht’s onboard systems. In general, yachts up to 80 feet in length can be operated solo, provided the captain is experienced and comfortable with the yacht’s handling and navigation.

One of the most significant factors that will influence solo yacht operation is the vessel’s onboard systems. Modern yachts come equipped with advanced navigation and autopilot systems that can facilitate solo operation. However, these systems can be complex and require considerable skill to operate effectively. Furthermore, yachts with advanced systems tend to be larger and more expensive, limiting their accessibility to most people.

Another thing to consider is the layout and design of the yacht. Yachts designed for solo operation tend to have features that make them more manageable, such as simplified rigging, hydraulic winches, and advanced anchoring systems. These features make it easier for an individual to handle the yacht comfortably and ensure safe and efficient sailing.

In addition to onboard systems and yacht design, a critical factor in solo yacht operation is the captain’s experience and skill level. To operate a large yacht solo, a captain must have significant experience and confidence in their abilities. They must also possess advanced navigation and seamanship skills, including sailing techniques, engine maintenance, and troubleshooting.

The largest yacht one can operate solo is largely determined by the individual’s experience, yacht design, and onboard systems. While it is possible to operate yachts up to 80 feet solo, it is advisable to take additional crew members onboard for yachts that are larger than this. Always consult with the manufacturer’s guidelines and regulations to ensure safe and efficient yacht operation.

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What is the largest boat one can single hand?

  • Thread starter Lighthouse_35
  • Start date 14 Jan 2018
  • 14 Jan 2018

Lighthouse_35

Portofino

Well-known member

Depends on your insurance and how big mentally you are prepared to fund gel coat repairs L is not the factor  

The ability to drive a boat singlehanded is only the tip of the iceberg. Nowadays with all the mod cons of bow and stern thrusters, pod drives, and even simple old fashioned twin shafts, big boats are very manoeuvrable...... but that’s only the beginning of it. What a half decent boat handler can manage in flat calm, windless conditions, with all gizmos working is not the same as when there’s a strong tide, a side wind, or something isn’t working properly like a bow thruster, or one engine. The problem is not what happens when things go wrong but because the boat is bigger the implications are more serious. Big boats weigh more and have considerably more momentum, the damage that follows is also larger and invariably more expensive. Even if you are the sort of boater who expects the odd scrape and ding, then do spare a thought for the individual on the other end of that “nudge” who may prefer his or her Boat to be like new at all times, And for whom even a blemish takes away some of his fun afloat ! A rule of thumb is, are there enough people on board to deal with the main issues, and if not then there should be.... Boat handling, making fast or releasing relevant lines, and being able to cope when something goes wrong - those are the things you need t9 think about, and for that you are the only one who can make the decision...... but a 60 ft Boat feels almost twice as big as a 50 ft boat, you can’t fend off by hand, nor pull a line tight by hand...... There are other factors to take into account too. It’s fun to clean and polish a 40 footer, buts it’s damn hard work on a 60 footer. Maintenance is greater, with more systems, and larger and more complex ones too. I have always had crew on anything over 55 foot..... not because I can’t drive it myself, but because I don’t want to do all the necessary chores. If the manufacturers include a crew cabin, then assume having crew is a good idea. If you have 3 strapping sons, or a big family of keen hands on boaters then you can manage fine without professional crew, but you will likely still need a hand for most regular boaty occurrences. Sorry I don’t have a more scientific reply. But if I had to guess, I would say that for any Boat from 12 tonnes (might be a better way to think about it rather than length) displacement up to about 30 tonnes displacement, then a competent driver and at least one extra capable pair of hands, Two pairs if they aren’t strong, or experienced ones. Anything over 30 tonnes, you need a good driver and a competent pair of hands at both ends....... Other essential crew roles include glass fillers, washer uppers, and a fantastic chef....... but I fear I may be digressing.  

  • 15 Jan 2018

So ok listening to your feedback, I realize that 60 foot will be too big. So if I move it down a notch to 55 feet, how much does that help out?  

Lighthouse_35 said: So ok listening to your feedback, I realize that 60 foot will be too big. So if I move it down a notch to 55 feet, how much does that help out? Click to expand...

jcwads

Active member

As others have said, I think you need to account for conditions and also for potential failures that may be rare, but could happen, such as a bow thruster packing up. I single handed my last boat which was a 28ft single screw outdrive, but only did so once I was a year into using it and had confidence. Now I have a larger Targa 40 and would not single hand it. Even if I had more experience I would not do it, because the boat is sizable, and having my wife or a friend there ensures we have a second pair of eyes on berthing and close quarters. Also, the tide can really catch you and I wouldnt fancy being alone if conditions decided to get the better of me.  

petem

Lighthouse_35 said: So been thinking of this, and I want general ideas on how large one can go in single handing. So would something like Princess yachts model 62 from the Flybridge collection be too large to effectively single hand? And what about if one has a helper like a spouse? Or is that too big? Any help is welcome! Click to expand...

john_morris_uk

petem said: How much boating experience do you have? Click to expand...

If you have a partner that will help you should be fine with a 50 footer. On my Targa 40 my wife does the bow lines I drive the boat and do the stern lines. However if it is very windy that changes and I keep the boat in position untill the boat is secured. I occasionally single hand for test drives and for that purpose I have a remote on the bow thruster to keep the bow in position while I sort out the stern lines.  

john_morris_uk said: I suspect the answer might be in the question. PS IMHO you can single hand many sized craft, but you need to bold enough and brave enough to NOT do a manoeuvre and go and anchor or ask for help sometimes. People forget that there’s no law that says you have to park the boat back in its berth... Click to expand...
Boatbore said: The ability to drive a boat singlehanded is only the tip of the iceberg. Nowadays with all the mod cons of bow and stern thrusters, pod drives, and even simple old fashioned twin shafts, big boats are very manoeuvrable...... but that’s only the beginning of it. What a half decent boat handler can manage in flat calm, windless conditions, with all gizmos working is not the same as when there’s a strong tide, a side wind, or something isn’t working properly like a bow thruster, or one engine. The problem is not what happens when things go wrong but because the boat is bigger the implications are more serious. Big boats weigh more and have considerably more momentum, the damage that follows is also larger and invariably more expensive. Even if you are the sort of boater who expects the odd scrape and ding, then do spare a thought for the individual on the other end of that “nudge” who may prefer his or her Boat to be like new at all times, And for whom even a blemish takes away some of his fun afloat ! A rule of thumb is, are there enough people on board to deal with the main issues, and if not then there should be.... Boat handling, making fast or releasing relevant lines, and being able to cope when something goes wrong - those are the things you need t9 think about, and for that you are the only one who can make the decision...... but a 60 ft Boat feels almost twice as big as a 50 ft boat, you can’t fend off by hand, nor pull a line tight by hand...... There are other factors to take into account too. It’s fun to clean and polish a 40 footer, buts it’s damn hard work on a 60 footer. Maintenance is greater, with more systems, and larger and more complex ones too. I have always had crew on anything over 55 foot..... not because I can’t drive it myself, but because I don’t want to do all the necessary chores. If the manufacturers include a crew cabin, then assume having crew is a good idea. If you have 3 strapping sons, or a big family of keen hands on boaters then you can manage fine without professional crew, but you will likely still need a hand for most regular boaty occurrences. Sorry I don’t have a more scientific reply. But if I had to guess, I would say that for any Boat from 12 tonnes (might be a better way to think about it rather than length) displacement up to about 30 tonnes displacement, then a competent driver and at least one extra capable pair of hands, Two pairs if they aren’t strong, or experienced ones. Anything over 30 tonnes, you need a good driver and a competent pair of hands at both ends....... Other essential crew roles include glass fillers, washer uppers, and a fantastic chef....... but I fear I may be digressing. Click to expand...

longjohnsilver

longjohnsilver

I sometimes single hand our 48 footer, it's no big deal if you are well prepared with lines and fenders etc, but I much prefer to have someone with me to have another pair of eyes and hands, just makes it all more sociable and relaxed.  

Irish Rover

Irish Rover

This is a question that has been exercising my mind as well since I decided to change my boat. My last 2 boats have been around 8M single engine sports cruisers. The most recent was a Jeanneau Leader. I recently bought a motorised catamaran 10.3 x 4.45 metres which I will take proper delivery of in early April. I frequently take the boat out alone day cruising or fishing and occasionally do short 1 or 2 day trips alone. Up to now I've managed quite well mainly because my home marina and most of the ones I visit have assisted docking. I imagine I will get used to the new boat in time but in the meantime I'm a bit apprehensive.  

Having gone from a 30ft SD to 44ft SD to 43ft IPS to another 43ft IPS to a 64ft shaft. The most difficult to control (if you discount my total in-experience in the 30ft) would of been the 44ft SD (gobbi 425sc) never really got to grips with it. By far the easiest of the 5 boats is my current 64ft (targa 64) shaft drive boat, a combination of big props with loads of bite and hydraulic bow/stern thrusters with remote, makes the boat a very predictable beast to berth. I've single handed all my boats, but tbh i try to avoid it where possible and think its always better to have a companion on-board, even if they don't have a specific role/purpose, just in case you fall ill or fall off !!  

Hurricane

IMO, the bigger the boat, the easier it is to handle. I don't consider handling to be the issue. After all, what do the crew do whilst you are actually handling the boat? Docking is probably the place where help is needed. The problem comes if something goes wrong. On passage, again, everything is fine until something goes wrong. I single hand our Princess 67 but most of the time, there is a crew (or someone who can "be an extra pair of hands") Last year, rather than wait for SWMBO to come out to the marina in Spain, I single handed the boat across to Mallorca. Then flew SWMBO out to Palma - thus giving me an extra 3 or 4 days in the islands. In fact, I was "in company " with another boat for about 75% of the way and there were yachtie friends in Palmanova when I got there. It was very rewarding and I would do it again. As far as the boat was concerned, she didn't even know that I was the only one on board. It is all about planning. Getting away was easy - I just found an empty space of water to put all the fenders away. Under way, it was just the auto pilot and me "on watch" all the time (whereas with crew, we would share the watch). On arrival, manoeuvring the boat was just as usual - only instead of SWMBO lowering the anchor from the fore-deck, I used the flybridge remote switches. Again - preparation - released the anchor ready for launch before approaching the anchorage. It was a couple of days before SWMBO joined and I moved the boat to other anchorages on my own. Recovering the anchor is a little more difficult - we have a big Rocna and it really needs to be stowed on board carefully - during that time, I have to be on the fore-deck so I was watching the drift all the time. In fact, conditions were so good that there wasn't any problems. And thats the point, you always "factor in" the conditions. In the Med there are no tides so it is really only wind and other idiots to watch out for. If I need to go into a marina, I would contact the dockmasters for their help. If the conditions were bad, there is always the waiting pontoon/berth where you can pick up some helpful dockmasters. So, to recap. Actually handling isn't the problem. It is always what could happen if anything went wrong. So, that said, the size of the boat isn't the big factor.  

Bouba

Irish Rover said: This is a question that has been exercising my mind as well since I decided to change my boat. My last 2 boats have been around 8M single engine sports cruisers. The most recent was a Jeanneau Leader. I recently bought a motorised catamaran 10.3 x 4.45 metres which I will take proper delivery of in early April. I frequently take the boat out alone day cruising or fishing and occasionally do short 1 or 2 day trips alone. Up to now I've managed quite well mainly because my home marina and most of the ones I visit have assisted docking. I imagine I will get used to the new boat in time but in the meantime I'm a bit apprehensive. Click to expand...

jrudge

Hurricane is spot on. About 4 weeks ago I moved the Boat round the marina ( andraxt). I was on board for the week and my spot was pretty bouncy. There was me. 2 marinaros in the Boat , 2 on the dock. It was blowing a gale ( literally a real gale ) and with all those people it still went a bit wrong. Med mooring on a nice day with a boat either side no problem. Come in stick a line mid cleat to mid cleat with the Boat next door and slowly do the ropes Much simpler all round with someone else on board in general.  

BruceK

Hurricane IS spot on as usual. I have a 36 foot LOA sports cruiser. The length some say is still manageable. I'd say that is very much boat dependant. I could handle mine all day solo but have to have crew for docking. No way round it unless the conditions are perfectly calm as I simply cannot get from the helm to a cleat and back to the helm again should something go wrong or I miss my throw because where I am you typically get one chance only and then have redo the manoeuvre. Also who handles the fender when things go awry otherwise? It's my experience the fenders hung from the sides / freeboard are never quite suitable when you are about to hit someone else's boat. Rails, stern quarter corners, pulpits etc seem to gravitate there of their own free will. If you have dockside help, all is fine, but that's not solo handling. For me the criteria would be boat layout, remote control availability, home berth typical prevailing conditions that precede size  

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What is behind the surge in new 60ft plus yacht designs and can you sail one safely without pro crew?

  • Toby Hodges
  • January 13, 2017

New yacht design has taken a giant leap in average length. Toby Hodges reports on the boom in big boats

Oyster 625

Looking along the row of new yachts berthed stern-to at Cannes Boat Show in September, it seems impossible that just a few years ago a yard might hold up its 55-footer as the flagship of its fleet. In 2016, it’s the new yachts between 55ft and 80ft from the production yards that really stand out. So what has changed? Why the sudden surge in new large yachts and is it really possible to sail them without professional crew?

The 60ft plus market represents only around 120 yachts worldwide per year, but according to Oyster CEO David Tydeman, there is a need for variety. “Where Beneteau likes the fact that we series-build €5m boats, we like the fact that Beneteau does €1m series builds,” he says. “It brings people into the industry.”

Customers range from those wanting short-term sailing holidays and second home use, to those exercising long held dreams to sail offshore in the utmost comfort. It’s a wide range of people being targeted by a wide range of brands and from the list of boats yet to be launched, it’s evident that the majority of builders have bet against this size segment being a passing fad.

Who is building new yachts over 60ft?

The volume production yards have been growing their flagship models, mostly launched in the last year or two, to fulfil demand in the 55-65ft sector. This is perhaps indicative of an increasing number of impulsive buyers on today’s new yacht market; those who don’t want to wait for a couple of years for their yacht are going to be more attracted to the volume-built boats.

Models over 65ft are typically still the domain of luxury bluewater cruising brands, such as Oyster and Contest; prestige brands, such as CNB and Euphoria; or performance semi-custom designs from the likes of Swan, Solaris, Mylius and Advanced Yachts. Highlights include X-Yachts’s 65ft X6 (see X6 on test ), the Grand Soleil 58 Performance; Mylius’ striking new 76; the Turkish Euphoria 68 (see Euphoria 68 on test ) and the luxurious new Contest 67CS ( see video review here ), not to mention the new Oysters 675 and 745.

Contest 67CS: The owner of this first 67CS started sailing in Norway in September 2009, aged 40. Since then he has owned two yachts, completed an ARC crossing and sailed with his wife in the Caribbean five times a year. “We were looking for a bigger yacht for longer stays but which we can still sail with the two of us.” They plan to sail the boat themselves, but add that for “maintenance and preparations it is smart to have professionals who know our Contest 67CS.”

Contest 67CS: The owner of this first 67CS started sailing in Norway in September 2009, aged 40. Since then he has owned two yachts, completed an ARC crossing and sailed with his wife in the Caribbean five times a year. “We were looking for a bigger yacht for longer stays but which we can still sail with the two of us.” They plan to sail the boat themselves, but add that for “maintenance and preparations it is smart to have professionals who know our Contest 67CS.”

At the 60ft plus size range, yards have to be flexible to be competitive. Prospective buyers expect their yachts to be semi-customised; rather than simply ticking options boxes, they want the yard to listen to their individual choices, styles and needs.

Volume producers will offer a lengthy list of layouts, fabrics and finishes, while the high-end builders will typically offer major hull variations, including different transom designs, rig options, and appendage types, with interior layouts only really constrained by watertight bulkheads. Those braving the first of a new model line may get extra privileges in this respect.

Mylius 76

Mylius 76: In many ways, Mylius’s yachts are a total contrast to the large, luxury cruising yachts of northern European yards. The all-carbon builds are super-minimalist throughout; modern turbo-charged Italian head-turners for smoking across the Med in style and enjoying the odd regatta. Pictured right is the flush-deck version. The deck saloon model (far right interiors) is novel and niche – a fascinating combination of space, speed and style.

High volume production

Of the volume yards, Hanse arguably led the way with its 630e back in 2006, 70 of which were built. Equally impressive is that the German yard then went on to sell 175 of its 575 in the last four years. This year Hanse launched the 675, its largest volume production yacht to date.

Hanse 675 interior

Hanse consistently wows with its loft-style interiors – more like a luxury apartment in fact on this, its largest model yet, the new 675.

Groupe Beneteau brands all now have yachts in the 60ft plus size range. The Bordeaux 60 caused a stir when it launched in 2008 – hull number 46 is in build – bringing trappings of superyacht glamour to the production market. The follow-up CNB 76 made a striking debut at Cannes in 2013. This contemporary Briand design uses an innovative construction method to reduce build time and cost. Seventeen of the €2m 76s have now sold, leading CNB to commission designs for a new smaller sister, the 66 (see page 33). To give some indication as to the demand at this size, CNB has already sold eight of the smaller yachts despite only releasing initial designs in September, and has also just announced it will take on 100 more workers to meet demand.

CNB 76

CNB 76: The 76 is a powerful yet elegant yacht with a well-camouflaged deck saloon, proper crew accommodation and a practical tender garage. A modular build scheme allows CNB to construct the entire interior of the 76 outside of the hull, dramatically reducing build time (to six months) and cost. The win-win result is superyacht styling and engineering, yet with a serial production price starting at €2m.

Unlike CNB, which is originally a builder of large custom yachts, the other volume production yards and Groupe Beneteau brands are upsizing. Superyacht designers Philippe Briand and Andrew Winch collaborated to produce one of the most successful of these – the Jeanneau 64 launched in 2014. It marries the worlds of big boat design, luxury and comfort with production boat pricing – its base price was kept below €1m – offering 10ft more yacht than an equivalent-priced semi-custom model.

Sister brand Beneteau has now followed suit with its Oceanis Yachts 62 this year. This is the first of a new luxury range from 53-73ft for which Beneteau went to a motorboat designer to find new styling solutions. The result is a bold look and a host of new comfort solutions throughout. Also, the goal with the pricing was even more ambitious than Jeanneau – its €650,000 base price shows how competitive pricing has become, even at this size level.

Oceanis Yachts 62

Oceanis Yachts 62: Beneteau is arguably the most innovative production yacht brand. Here it’s taken ideas and styling from its motorboat side to create this first of an entirely new line. The 62 brings a commendable feeling of luxury both on deck and below, plus has a proper tender launching solution for a Williams Jet Rib. The crunch part? Its base price starts at just €650,000.

Dufour will have a new 63ft flagship as of January, which, like the Oceanis Yachts, is the first of a new premium-end ‘Exclusive’ range.

All of which leaves Bavaria as the last big volume yard without a 60-footer. This is mainly down to its in-line production method, which has, to date, limited the maximum length of yacht it can build. However this summer Bavaria changed the set-up of one of its production lines to address this limitation, so we can presume that it’s only a question of time before the largest sailing Bavaria model yet is announced.

The practicalities

Large yachts are getting ever easier to handle. Push-button electrics and hydraulics that allow loads to be managed reliably have created new possibilities for managing sizable yachts short-handed. Thrusters – both bow and stern – are the norm at this size and can alleviate concerns with mooring, while advances in deck-gear technology have made sail-handling much easier.

As in the car industry, space has become king. Added length in yachts can bring increased comfort, elegance and speed, but there are downsides. With extra volume and weight comes a linear increase in the size and cost of each bit of deck gear and rigging needed to bear the extra loads.

Sailing a push-button power-assisted yacht might be a one-person affair, but managing and maintaining it is a different prospect altogether. Large yachts increase the crew’s dependence on powered systems and machinery, from gensets, watermakers, air con and thrusters to the hydraulics needed to operate winches, sail systems, garage doors etc. Keeping such a yacht shipshape is likely to involve a great deal of time afloat servicing machinery, or regular shore periods and pit stops. The less mechanically minded owners will probably need to employ a skipper or paid hand for this purpose.

Solaris 58

Solaris: Once a custom yacht builder, Solaris has become a serial manufacturer of premium performance cruisers. Its range now spans from 37-72ft, with an Acebal-designed 55 and 68 in the pipeline.

Need for crew?

Up until 2011, when Hallberg-Rassy brought out its HR64, a yacht that was designed specifically for two people to sail and manage, I would have said that 57ft was the transition point from owner-operated yacht to crewed yacht. But yachts have continued to grow since then.

Skip Novak, who runs two expedition yachts – one 54ft and the other 74ft – says: “We can do things with [the 54ft] Pelagic that we wouldn’t dare do with Pelagic Australis . Pelagic is ‘man-handleable’, while the big boat at 74ft and 55 tonnes displacement is not. The systems on the smaller boat are by nature simpler, and the cruises usually are more trouble-free technically.”

Most new yachts over the 55ft mark have the option for a crew cabin of some sort. The big question is, are you happy sharing your yacht with paid hands? For temporary quarters, during a short charter for example, the forepeak-style box that is self-contained away from the rest of the accommodation may be all that is required in terms of accommodation. But for any owners seeking a longer-term crew – and wishing to retain reliable crew for any period of time – a more comfortable arrangement within the interior, like the use of a Pullman cabin, is necessary.

The current Oyster range spans the crossover between owner-operated yachts and crewed yachts, which helps to illustrate where the actual dividing line between the two might lie. For example, none of the 20 Oyster 625 owners uses a skipper full-time, although three of the 20 use skippers for when the boat is in charter mode. The new 675, which has been developed as a larger version of the 625, is also designed to be a yacht that can be owner-run. The new 745 on the other hand, which also launched this September, is designed to be run with two professional crew.

I sailed with Tim and Sybilla Beebe six years ago on a passage test of an Oyster 575 from Palma to Spain. They have since run an Oyster 68, a 72 and Tim is currently skippering Eddie Jordan’s Oyster 885, Lush. We discussed at what size level an owner should be thinking about employing a full-time crew.

“Firstly it’s dependent on experience,” says Beebe. “Can the owner sail the boat safely and do they want the responsibility? I agree that after 60ft, the time spent on upkeep starts to outweigh the enjoyment of it… unless you are living on it full-time.

“There are companies that will look after a 60ft boat and have it ready for owners when they arrive,” Beebe continued. “The amount of time needs to flexible. You can allot time for cleaning – inside and out – but maintenance must be flexible. There are always surprises.”

So where might a potential new owner be caught out? “The basic maintenance to keep the boat running is not too bad on a 60-footer but it’s the little bits that might get overlooked, which can quickly add up. You have to stay on top of everything. Winch maintenance, for example, might surprise the average new owner: to properly service all the winches takes a good deal of time – and is a once-a-season job.”

What advice would Beebe give owners of 60-70-footers looking to employ and keep a good crew? “Maintaining good relations is key. You all have to get on in a small space. From my experience, forward planning is nice to have, plus adequate time with guests off the boat for maintenance. Of course the occasional day off doesn’t go amiss either.”

Case study: Oyster 745 for bluewater cruising with family and friends

Henrik Nyman has sailed all his life on a variety of different sized boats, including owning and chartering various yachts and is now upgrading from an Oyster 625 to a 745 for bluewater cruising with friends and family. Why move to a yacht that needs crew? “Size alone is not a factor. For me, quality, engineering and function were my drivers… I thought 60ft was the maximum I could handle without crew, but in fact I feel that the 745 should be no trouble mainly due to very well thought-out functions and engineering. Handling is one part, but also you want crew for comfort, to go to the supermarket, some meals, formalities etc… I can sail basically alone but I want a good deckhand, mainly for safety purposes and for maintenance as well. “My biggest concern is that the equipment installed does not meet the same quality as the yacht itself. My experience from the 625 is that the majority if not all warranty issues are caused by third party installations.”

Oyster 745

Case study: Discovery 67 – trading up for extra space

Simon Phillips is a highly experienced cruising and racing sailor, who has gradually scaled up in size from a Sonata, a Sadler 29, a Hanse 47e and a Discovery 55. He bought his 67ft Sapphire 2 of London this June and his main reason for trading up was to gain space. “ Sapphire is 40 per cent larger inside which makes a big difference if you’re planning to spend 18 to 24 months on board. My wife and I are actively planning for the World ARC.” Phillips hasn’t used a professional crew before, but has employed delivery companies to do short deliveries due to time pressures. He normally sails with friends and contacts. “Sapphire is much more technical than the Discovery 55. Her size requires more planning and thought on where you can go etc. While it is possible to sail the yacht single-handed you really need one crew on the helm and three on lines to come alongside in any sort of windy and tidal conditions.”

Discovery 67

Showcase boats: Recent and upcoming launches in the 60ft plus category

Vismara 62

Vismara 62: Vismara is a custom carbon yacht builder that has now introduced some semi-custom series. The V62 is based on the success of the Mark Mills designed racer-cruiser SuperNikka . A mould was taken from her hull and adapted to make it more cruiser friendly.

Hallberg-Rassy 64

Hallberg-Rassy 64: “Push button controls are the only way you could handle a boat of this size without a big crew and our owners absolutely don’t want that,” said Magnus Rassy at the time of our HR64 test. “A huge amount of care has gone into making a boat that will be easy to sail long-distance, to maintain and to continue to use when things stop working.”

Dufour 63 Exclusive

Dufour 63 Exclusive: Due to launch at the Düsseldorf Boat Show in 2017, Dufour’s new flagship is a response to those from Beneteau, Jeanneau and Hanse and is the first of its new Exclusive range. The 63 is a yacht that maximises exterior comfort with a 5m long cockpit and exterior galley option alongside a tender garage.

CNB 66

CNB 66: The Bordeaux 60 and CNB 76 have both been true success stories. This 66 is very much the smaller sister to the 76 and looks set to replace the 60. “With the 66 the idea was to be able to sail without crew,” says CNB’s Thomas Gailly. “So we wanted it to be very simple, with no lift keel option or retracting anchor arm – easy to maintain and use.”

Baltic 67

Baltic 67: Over the past few years, Baltic Yachts has launched some of the finest new carbon superyachts, but its recent announcement of a new serially produced model marks a return to the more moderate-sized fast cruisers it was known for in the past.

Advanced Yachts 62

Advanced Yachts 62: Advanced Yachts uses some of the leading design firms to represent Italian luxury performance at its best, with models from 44-100ft. And this new A62 looks simply sensational.

Amel 64

Amel 64: This is one of the first 60+ footers truly designed for a couple only for bluewater cruising.

Find out more here – or in the videos below.

Below is the video of our two day liveaboard test aboard the smaller sister Amel 55, a model which launched at a similar time to the 64 and shares her updated design features.

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Largest Boat You Can Operate Yourself: Discovering the Size Limitations for Solo Boat Operators

Largest Boat You Can Operate Yourself: Discovering the Size Limitations for Solo Boat Operators

Do you dream of cruising the open waters in a vessel that’s big enough to accommodate your family and friends but small enough to operate on your own? If so, you’re in luck! In this article, we’ll explore the largest boat you can operate yourself and give you some tips on how to make the most of your boating adventure.

Generally, a boat up to 40-50 feet long can be operated solo. However, this depends on the operator’s skill, experience, and the boat’s setup, including automation and technology. Some experienced sailors may handle larger vessels, but safety and manageability become increasing concerns.

Whether you’re a seasoned boater or a novice, we’ll help you find the perfect vessel to suit your needs and make your next boating trip one to remember. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

The Basics: Understanding Boat Sizes and Types

The Basics: Understanding Boat Sizes and Types

Before venturing into solo boat operations, it’s crucial to understand the various types of boats and their sizes. Not all boats are created equal, and the size and type of the boat play significant roles in determining its operational complexity. Whether it’s a motorboat, sailboat, or yacht, each vessel class brings its unique challenges and perks.

  • Motorboats: Typically smaller in size and ranging between 10 to 40 feet, motorboats are usually easier to handle. However, larger motor yachts can extend up to 100 feet or more and may require more experience and skill.
  • Sailboats: Sailboats demand a certain skill level, as you’ll need to understand wind directions, rigging, and sailing techniques. They vary widely in size, from small dinghies to large cruising yachts.
  • Yachts: The term “yacht” often refers to a more luxurious boat, typically longer than 40 feet. Operating a yacht often involves managing advanced onboard systems and requires more comprehensive knowledge and experience.
  • Trawlers: Trawlers are typically used for long-distance, leisurely cruising. They range in size, but handling larger trawlers often demands more than one person unless they are set up specifically for solo operations.
  • Multihull Boats (Catamarans and Trimarans): These boats offer stability and space. They can range from small and manageable sizes to large, complex vessels requiring experience and knowledge.

Operating Factors: Boat Handling and Complexity

Navigating the vast expanse of water bodies is not merely about turning the steering wheel. It entails a detailed understanding of the boat’s systems, the ability to read weather patterns, and the skill to react swiftly to unexpected situations. 

The size and type of the boat will influence the complexity of these tasks. Larger boats, for instance, often have intricate onboard systems and are more challenging to maneuver. They also require higher maintenance, which can become a demanding task for solo operators. 

Hence, when contemplating operating a boat alone, assessing your ability to handle the boat’s complexity and not just its size is essential. The boat’s handling characteristics are also a crucial factor. Smaller boats can respond quickly to steering inputs, while larger ones require foresight and planning as they don’t change their course or speed as rapidly. 

Maneuvering a large boat in a crowded marina or tight waterways requires a certain skill and experience, as does dealing with the higher inertia and the impact of wind and currents. Some boats, especially modern ones, might have systems to assist with docking and maneuvering. However, relying solely on these systems without understanding boat handling principles can lead to problems. 

Your level of comfort with the boat’s handling and complexity should be a primary determinant of the largest boat you can operate alone.

Mastering the Elements: Weather and Sea Conditions

Mastering the Elements: Weather and Sea Conditions

Boating on open water is a theater of nature’s might, where weather and surface conditions play pivotal roles in your solo boating experience. Mastering these elements involves understanding and predicting weather patterns, deciphering the sea’s behavior, and maneuvering your boat under various conditions. A larger boat might offer more stability in rough seas but could also pose greater challenges in terms of handling and maneuverability.

  • Understanding Weather Patterns: A sound knowledge of meteorology helps predict weather conditions, understand wind directions, and identify warning signs of a storm. Weather can drastically affect your boat’s handling, and it is vital for solo operators to know how to adapt.
  • Sea Conditions: These can vary greatly from calm, flat water to rough, turbulent waves. Larger boats may handle heavy seas better than smaller ones, but they also require more skill and strength to control.
  • Seasonal Changes: Seasons can dramatically affect sea and weather conditions. Understanding how different times of the year can change the boating environment is crucial, especially for long-term solo voyages.
  • Tides and Currents: Understanding tides and currents is essential for navigating safely and efficiently. These can impact the speed and course of your boat, especially in coastal areas.
  • Night Time Operations: Operating a boat solo at night or in foggy conditions demands extra caution. Visibility is reduced, and navigation can become challenging, especially in unfamiliar waters.

Leveraging Technology: Automation and Modern Boat Features

As we sail into the future, technological advancements redefine the limitations and possibilities for solo boat operators. With developments in automation and an array of modern boat features, handling a larger vessel alone is becoming more feasible. 

These innovations enhance safety and efficiency and provide a platform that extends the operator’s capabilities, enabling them to navigate larger boats and face challenging sea conditions with greater confidence.

Automation systems have revolutionized the boating experience. From autopilots that maintain a set course to advanced systems capable of making minor adjustments based on wind and sea conditions, automation reduces the manual effort required, making longer journeys more manageable for solo operators. 

Coupled with digital navigation aids such as GPS and radar, which provide valuable information regarding location, obstacles, and weather conditions, boating has become safer and more precise. However, while technology greatly aids in managing a large vessel, it’s crucial to remember that it complements, not replaces, the essential skills of seamanship. 

Balancing technological reliance and traditional navigational skills ensures an optimal solo boating experience.

Experience and Training: How Skill Influences Boat Size

Experience and Training: How Skill Influences Boat Size

When determining the largest boat you can operate solo, your skill level and experience are among the most significant considerations. Mastering the art of boating is not an overnight process; it’s a progressive journey that involves learning the fundamentals, developing operational skills, and gaining real-world experience. 

Each additional foot of boat length generally means increased handling, navigation, and maintenance complexity. From docking maneuvers in crowded marinas to making critical decisions under challenging sea conditions, the level of experience required escalates with the size of the boat. 

Training programs and certifications offer structured learning paths, but nothing replaces the wisdom gained from hours spent on the water, facing diverse situations. As such, your capacity to handle a large boat solo is as much a testament to your skills and experience as it indicates the boat’s physical dimensions.

Safety Considerations: Ensuring a Secure Voyage

The allure of operating a large boat solo should never overshadow the paramount importance of safety. A secure voyage is well-prepared and respects the fundamental safety guidelines. Larger boats are generally more stable and safer in rough water but also present unique challenges that demand heightened awareness and precautions.

Preparation is the cornerstone of safety. This includes ensuring your boat is well-maintained and equipped with safety gear like life jackets, flares, fire extinguishers, and a first-aid kit. For larger boats, you may also need to consider additional equipment like life rafts and EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons).

Communication is vital, especially when you’re the only person aboard. Modern communication devices, including VHF radios and satellite phones, can help maintain contact with the outside world and call for help if needed.

Understanding and respecting weather and sea conditions is critical. Larger boats can handle heavier seas, but adverse weather poses significant risks. Regularly checking weather forecasts and understanding how to interpret them is crucial.

Even with all the preparations, unexpected situations can arise. The ability to stay calm, think clearly, and act decisively is often the key to navigating these challenges. Proper training and real-world experience greatly enhance your ability to handle emergencies and make safe decisions.

Lastly, a fundamental aspect of solo boating safety is self-care. Operating a large boat alone can be physically and mentally demanding, and neglecting your well-being can lead to fatigue, impairing your ability to operate the boat safely.

largest motor yacht one person can operate

Bryan is a Las Vegas resident who loves spending his free time out on the water. Boating on Lake Mohave or Lake Havasu is his favorite way to unwind and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. More about Bryan.

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How big a boat can I handle by myself?

Chris Riley

A question that I get almost monthly deals with how large a boat can one handle on their own. I thought that the answer might be of interest to those of you who are continually looking for some way to spoil an otherwise nice day. One version of the question and the answer follows. Capt Matt

Question: I need to know how large a boat can one person operate without anyone else aboard? I am looking at buying a 65′ trawler (beam=19′) that has twin 800 hp engines and weight is about 55 ton.

Answer: Single-handling a boat depends on the design and layout of the vessel and the handler’s physical fitness, strength, experience, nautical cunning and determination. There are very definite limiting factors that can help you decide how big a boat you might be able to handle with safety and confidence.

The first thing is the anchor. Assuming you have an anchor(s) that is/are large enough to hold the vessel in a storm , can you raise the heaviest anchor onboard without the help of a winch and get it on deck?

Another factor is simply the configuration of the vessel. Is it set up in such a manner that you alone could maneuver it to a dock with a strong wind blowing you away? Could you get a line from the vessel to the dock without loosing control?

If you are considering single-handling a sail boat, you must answer the following question; Can you reef or lower, smother and get sail ties around the largest sail on board, in all kinds of weather, with no assistance?

Although living aboard a large boat can be very satisfying, I’m afraid that one is going to be very limited in what he/she can do alone by way of actually traveling by himself/herself away from the slip. Due to circumstances beyond my control I have, on occasion, singularly operated vessels between 80-100 feet. It is not fun and it takes its toll both physically and mentally. Luckily, in all these instances I was not presented with contrary weather or other emergencies.

I also gave private lessons in the Bahamas to a gentleman who bought a 53′ Defever and wanted to operate it alone. Although I told him up front that I didn’t think it was a good idea, he insisted he wanted to try. In the first two hours he had changed his mind when he discovered that it simply couldn’t be docked without help. He couldn’t be on the bridge controlling the boat and on deck to handle lines at the same time. Contrary winds and currents would not allow it.

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About Chris

Outdoors, I’m in my element, especially in the water. I know the importance of being geared up for anything. I do the deep digital dive, researching gear, boats and knowhow and love keeping my readership at the helm of their passions.

Categories : nauticalknowhow

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P Scott Ricke on May 12, 2021

Captain Smith tried to handle a ship. Look what happened to the Titanic.

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Jerry on July 1, 2022

He had an entire crew. Look what happened.

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Thomas W Dahlquist on June 27, 2022

While bigger would be nice, I’d put the ceiling at 36 feet.

Maybe 40 if you’re comfortable calling in to your marina for assistance.

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How Big Of A Sailboat Can One Person Handle?

sailboat size for one person

During all the years I have been sailing, especially as a small-boat sailor, one question invariably comes up. And depending on where the discussion takes place, possible answers are all over the board from well-meaning people accustomed to traditional answers to this classic question.

With social media and the general free-for-all of everything now published, printed, texted, emailed, and discussed on the dock and at boat shows, it seems to be as popular as ever.

Just how large a sailboat can one person sail single handed?

A 40-foot sailboat is the maximum size for one person to be able to single-handedly control safely . It can be successfully argued up or down a couple of feet, based on the experience and abilities of the sailor. This has been proven by a great many accomplished people.

Many sailors have done amazing voyages in boats well under this length, and others have made serious cruises on boats that are considerably larger. But a word of caution is in order. To focus only on length overshadows other important criteria. Other factors figure heavily in determining the suitability of a big sailboat for single-handed operation.

I am not talking about racing around the world by professional sailors, or across oceans to some destination hundreds (or thousands) of miles away. Rather, I am talking about an average sailor, man or woman, of average stature and physical condition, who has experience and chooses to sail alone. It may be a temporary lifestyle situation, or some other factor that sets the solo requirement for a boat that is to be safely sailed on a regular basis.

( Below: Youtuber Captain Christa sailing her 31-foot boat by herself. )

Another often overlooked kind of solo sailor is one whose spouse or partner cannot meaningfully contribute to operation of the boat. They may be disabled in some way that keeps them from taking part in the activity. Or they may be completely uninterested or inexperienced in sailing, or both, and they come along for the travel and adventure experience. I suspect this may be a larger part of the sailing community than many of us will admit. But if the boat can be out sailing under the control of the short-handed sailor, everyone is happy, and they get to explore new places and see the world together.

There has never been a size unanimously accepted for sailing voyages in the past. Even a brief look back at sailboat cruising shows that size is not universally important. John Guzzwell sailed around the world in his 19-foot Trekka, Tanya Aebi circled the globe in her Taylor 26 (the Canadian version of the Contessa 26), and Frank Casper cruised extensively on his 30-foot Elsie. On the other end of the spectrum is Bill Pinkey on his Valiant 47 circumnavigation, and, of course, who could forget Alain Colas crossing the Atlantic on his 236-foot, four-masted Club Mediterranee?

Mark Schrader sailed around all five capes on his Valiant 40, as did Jeanne Socrates more recently on her 38-foot Najad. Robin Lee Graham went around most of the world on his 24-foot Dove, and 16-year-old Laura Dekker made the record books on her 40-foot Guppy.

So, it should be clear that overall size is just a number, and not the only factor. Keep in mind that many of these voyages, particularly ones going after a record of some kind, did not involve regularly getting in and out of slips and marinas. And for others, it is just common sense that many small boats were chosen for financial reasons (and perhaps it was the boat they already had).

( Below: Solo-Sailor Jeanne Socrates on S/V Nereida arrives in Victoria Harbor. )

Jeanne Socrates on her sailboat

When we look at many of these examples, I acknowledge that having a boat with only sitting headroom in the saloon is certainly doable, if not all that comfortable for full-time living. Small boats are inherently slower (forget the notion of 200-mile days), and simply don’t provide the quality of living experience many of us expect in the 21st Century.

Even as I write this, though, I know there are people quietly living aboard a 20-foot Pacific Seacraft Flicka or some other munchkin cruiser. I know, I was once one of them.

I have always enjoyed the simplicity and tuck-into-anywhere versatility of a small cruising boat. While I never harbored the dream of sailing to Hawaii like John Letcher in his 20-foot Island Girl, I did fantasize about living the good life in a sailboat under 26 feet. Those were the days. Every inch needed to serve double duty, interior furniture regularly transformed for other purposes: a galley, chart table, and liquor cabinet all in one. In my mind somehow it all worked.

But I was young and immortal.

Again, we are talking about an average man or woman, without Olympic-level physical ability, who is simply looking for a boat to enjoy cruising or perhaps live aboard. People like you and me, who may be young or old, and possess some sailing experience. A Catalina 30 or Southern Cross 28 is quite a comfy home for the right person, fully capable of extended coastal cruising. A well-appointed 36-footer may be the height of luxury for others.

There are many examples of boats out there with only a single person aboard. But as these sailboats get larger, so does their volume and weight, and the required equipment and deck gear gets more expensive and complex to handle the increased loads. At some point the relatively complicated systems to ease the chores of sail handling and close quarter maneuvering include electric or hydraulic winches, furling gear, windlasses, autopilots, and electronics. These systems are generally very reliable, if not foolproof, and require regular maintenance and occasional service.

Big boats also need lots of electric power for these systems and general house service, so it is not uncommon to run a generator much of the time under way when sailing. In recent years, new forms of power generation are out there, including more efficient diesel generators. And there are more choices for water, wind, and solar power generation as well.

The original 64-foot Kiwi Spirit II, sailed solo by 80-year-old Stanley Paris , proved too much boat for the aging sailor, as its systems were too complex and required continuous work to keep operational. His next KSII was only 53 feet overall but, while it was easier to handle, still too proved too much. The reality is that big boats are rarely, if ever, simple boats. And simple is good when it comes to solo sailing.

( Below: Stanley Paris on board Kiwi Spirit II. )

stanley paris on his sailboat

That being said, Jimmy Cornell, author of World Cruising Routes and founder of those popular ocean crossing rallies, gave a slideshow of today’s current cruising scene, based on data collected as host of his many events. The size of cruising sailboats has steadily increased over the years, mainly because current designs and systems fit the needs of many cruising couples and others. In his most recent survey, presented at the start of the Covid pandemic, he showed that the average size of cruising yachts cruising around the world (but not necessarily going around the world), is just over 43 feet. Most of these boats are sailed by couples. Yachts checking into Tahiti now average 45.2 feet. So, it seems that for extended world cruising with two or more crew, larger sailboats are mainstream, whether monohull or catamaran.

I am a member of the Ocean Cruising Club , and the biannual publication shares the adventures of members who are out cruising. The trend for most of these people, again mostly couples and those cruising with friends, is to be on larger boats than one would have expected some years ago. To read stories from people cruising on 54-foot yachts is common. The few solo cruisers who publish are in much smaller boats, often well under 30 feet.

There is an often-repeated “rule” that single sailors should not expect to handle a sail larger than 300 to 400 square feet. I don’t know where this came from, but it seems to be a universal belief. And there is also the conclusion that interior comfort can be sacrificed if the reduced boat size makes it easier to handle. As far as I am concerned, neither is the case these days.

While the complexity of systems on a large sailboat (50 to 60+ feet) may be intimidating for the average sailor, systems sized for a 40-foot or smaller sailboat are not, and often include some form of manual assist or backup. Electric winches on a 40-foot sailboat are really nice to have and are nothing compared to the monsters one finds on large sailboats. I sailed to Bermuda on an 83-foot sailboat with hydraulic winches, and they were impressive. And huge.

I spoke to Jonathan Bartlett , who runs the Annapolis loft for North Sails. North Sails is a big player in today’s sailing world, with over 70 lofts around the world. Jonathan’s years of experience certainly qualify him to speak with authority.

He never mentioned the 300 to 400-square-foot argument. His more immediate concern was the importance of a single person being able to get a big boat in and out of a slip. Even with a bow thruster, one often must be at the bow to fend off a piling or another boat, and if you are alone, who is driving at the helm? There may also be windage issues. And if one’s boat proves too difficult (ie., scary) to move in and out of the slip without drama, how often will he or she be inclined to even go out???

Jonathan said that, in his opinion, the largest boat size to be considered for a single sailor is 40 feet. And he feels that is more than enough boat for most everyone. Today’s boat designs offer as much interior volume and accommodations in 40 feet as the 45-footers of the 1990s. That is more than enough room for a single sailor, even for living aboard. Anything above 40 feet is just too much…living space, overall volume, and effort.

On the flip side, he added that the decks of small boats are often difficult to move around without stepping on tracks, cars, lines, and all sorts of other obstacles.

“A boat’s deck layout is really important for a single sailor,” he said. “Great footing is critical, and there should be fewer tracks to walk on, or having to walk between shrouds when moving around the boat.

( Below: The 348 from Hanse Yachts gives you the ability to control the entire Helmsman system from the cockpit. )

hanse 348 sailing yacht

“How a boat is set up is way more important that the size of the sails.”

Jonathan pointed out that many of today’s sailboats are intentionally made to be easy to sail, with furling mainsails and smaller headsails. “Compared to the mid-1990s, we are getting away from large genoas, replacing them with larger mainsails. These mainsails are captive, easily reefed, and under complete control with full battens.”

He went on to say that smaller headsails are easier to trim, and for the solo sailor, why it is also vital that sail trim duties take place at the helm in the cockpit, so the single sailor can do it all from one place without a lot of moving around. The days of working at the mast are over.

“Look at the French designers and builders,” he went on. “They get it. The Jeanneau and Beneteau lines, for example, are all about very simple-to-sail controls, sails are easy to put up and take down, and the boats are very sailor friendly. That is what gets people to go sailing, because it is easy and fun.”

Big, powerful mainsails have mostly replaced large headsails, and short-footed headsails are easy to manage. Bartlett pointed out that the J/105 is a good example of a boat that is easy to sail. When it is easy to trim the main and jib from the helm, it is simple…and makes people want to go sailing.

( Below: The J/105 from builder J-Boats. )

JBoats sailboats

To further the simplicity argument, he suggested that, instead of the traditional spinnaker or Code Zero for light air, a gennaker in a sock is a better fit for the single sailor and probably the way to go. The gennaker is a free-flying asymmetric spinnaker that does not require a spinnaker pole and is flown from the bow. It is easy to control and can even be used when the boat is steered by an autopilot. It is easy to put up and take down, and one can drive the boat downwind in full control.

“Our sport pushes bigger boats than is usually called for,” he added. “And some builders consider their boats suitable to be single-handed, even when they probably aren’t. Hallberg-Rassy and Hylas come to mind.”

Two boats that he mentioned in our conversation as good examples of nice sail plans and controls are the Harbor 20 daysailer and the Outbound 44. I know the Harbor 20 fleet is a popular one-design at the Annapolis Yacht Club, as it epitomizes a sail plan that is so easy to sail, easily managed by one person. And he thinks the Outbound has a great deck layout and overall consideration for sail handling by a short-handed crew. While it is on the bigger side of the 40-foot mark, especially now as it is replaced by the Outbound 46, he feels the builder continues to work to make it fit the needs of the solo sailor. But at 46 feet, it can be a challenge to dock in close quarters.

Another line he feels hits the mark are the newer, 39 to 40-foot Jeanneau and Beneteau boats. They are also very simple and easy to sail from the helm. This makes people want to go out sailing again and again. The lack of drama is a lot more important than many realize.

The Tartan line of sailboats from Seattle Yachts now come with the Cruise Control Rig (CCR), designed to make sailing easier and put the controls back in the cockpit where they belong. Self-tacking jibs and furling boom mainsails go a long way to make life easier, safer, and more fun.

As far as sails go, Jonathan said the solo sailor should look at sails that are lighter and have lower stretch qualities. Traditional Dacron sails are heavy and “stretchier,” whereas new composite sails offer light weight and are flatter in shape that won’t easily stretch. Heavy Dacron sails are also harder to trim and tack.

If one is outfitting a boat for solo sailing, composite sails are the way to go.

I have long been told that a larger boat is easier to handle at sea, as the motion is more settled. I think that is true, especially when compared to a 28-footer bouncing around in choppy seas. Up to a point (and that 40-foot mark) a boat’s motion can be more comfortable, under way, at anchor, or at the dock. That is especially true if one minimizes weight at both ends of the boat. Small boats tend to hobbyhorse when sailing because it is difficult to keep the ends light.

On a bigger boat from a good designer, the boat’s motion is not only easier to live with but is decidedly faster through the water. Daily runs are possible that can not be achieved in smaller hulls.

Another consideration is space. Small boats compromise space in every respect. For a single person (and the sailor who cruises with a non-sailing spouse), accommodations on a 40-footer are more than enough, and there is still space for increased fuel and water tankage for longer range and self-sufficiency. Being able to motor a long distance is no longer a luxury in many cruising areas and having sufficient water supply lessens the requirements for a watermaker.

Additional space also means one can carry more batteries, and the components of other systems, and proper access to them. It is imperative to have good access for a happy ship.

As I already mentioned, having a way to generate electricity while sailing is vital, to power all the systems, electronics, and autopilot. This gets harder to fit inside a small boat and represents a real challenge. Access is usually also compromised in the process of fitting it all in.

I am not pushing that everyone buy a big boat, but I know from past experience that when sailing a smaller boat, under 36 feet for sure, even more so under 30 feet, there is a greater chance of tripping as one moves about. It is almost unavoidable, as there is just so much under foot. Cars and tracks, running rigging, trim, shrouds, items secured to lifelines, and those hideous wire jacklines that some idiot came up with that roll when stepped on, causing many a sailor to lose their balance. On a larger boat, deck space is often less cluttered, and provides more sure footing, even as we eliminate the need to go work at the mast or foredeck in the first place.

( Below: A young Bill Parlatore in 1977 putting baggywrinkle in the rigging of my wood, gaff-rigged Tahiti ketch. )

bill parlatore on his sailboat

And staying on the boat is a top priority no matter what size boat you sail. For anyone sailing alone, the use of strong, non-stretch webbing jacklines is highly recommended. Being attached to the boat is critical for personal safety. If set up properly, wearing a harness and staying clipped onto the boat as one moves around the deck is neither inconvenient nor difficult. It is also the only way to have two hands free with any degree of security. The alternative of not being attached to the boat is unthinkable, as there are no good ways to get back aboard if one goes over the side.

I once asked Dodge Morgan about his man overboard contingency, if any. He gave a presentation of his around the world trip on the 60-foot American Promise at a Safety at Sea seminar in Annapolis. American Promise was a heavy, yet fast sailboat designed by Ted Hood, specifically to sail nonstop around the world as quickly as possible. It did so in record time, cutting the previous record in half.

When I asked Dodge about what provision he made for falling overboard, he said that any overboard rescue device he might have for that situation was just “a sick joke” in his mind. Once you go overboard when sailing alone offshore, the game is over.

Every effort should be made to make it safe to move about the boat when sailing and to stay aboard. This is important no matter what size boat you sail.

While I have many fond memories of sailing small boats and making coffee in the early morning at anchor on a swinging stove by the companionway, now I am older, wiser, and no longer immortal. So, offsetting any flexibility and balance issues, I have more wisdom and budget to pursue what makes sense now.

If I went looking for sailboat to continue sailing by myself, I suspect I would be looking for a boat that does everything I want, and is close to, if not dead on, that 40-foot mark. I might start looking at 36 feet, but I expect my interest in creature comforts would dictate a larger platform. The idea of a separate shower is appealing to me now, as are the many spaces and lockers that allow me to put things in proper places where I can get to them easily without fumbling through lockers. The main anchor on the boat would be big, but not as overwhelming as one finds on larger boats.

I also think my comfort level in a roomy interior would make a world of difference as I relax at anchor these days. I’m no longer interested in transformer-style accommodations. I relish the idea of easily stepping into a dinghy or water taxi from the stern, which is a much higher priority than it might have been years ago. A proper chart table and saloon are also well worth the price of admission, as well as plenty of opening hatches to let in the breeze.

And for the solo sailor with a “guest” aboard, it is much the same. They should be able to handle the boat by themselves and accept that the second person really only contributes to the enjoyment of the accommodations, and perhaps reading the cruising guide, leaving the physical aspects of sailing to the sailor.

There is no reason why a single person should have to give up much of anything with today’s modern sailboat, and they should get the smallest big boat that works for them, all the way up to 40 feet, plus or minus a foot or two.

The right boat will provide a great platform for adventure, without the drama, anxiety, and emotion of trying to handle too much, or suffering from too small a cruiser that forces us into camping mode at the stage in life where we should be enjoying the fruits of a successful life.

See you on the water.

Enjoy these other sailboat related articles :

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  • What Is The Best Size Sailboat To Live On?
  • How Big Of A Boat Do You Need To Sail Around The World?
  • Moving From A Sailboat To A Trawler
  • Extend Your Sailing Life
  • How Much Does An Average Sailboat Cost?

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What is the largest boat you can drive without a captain’s license?

According to the Coast Guard, there is an upper limit on vessel size that can be sailed without a licensed captain on federal waters, even if the boat isn’t carrying passengers for hire. The only hints I’ve found are indirect. One says the maximum length is 90 feet, while another says it’s 200 tons.

How big of a boat needs a captain?

A competent and experienced skipper is required for any yacht longer than 100 feet, as well as if you don’t feel confident in your ability to helm a boat on your own..

What size boat can you drive without a license?

New South Wales (NSW) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Instead, the speed at which you drive determines whether or not you need a general boating license. You will require a basic boating license if you plan to operate a boat that travels at speeds of more than 10 knots (18 kilometers per hour) or more.

What is the biggest boat you can have without a crew?

For many, the freedom to go wherever you want, when you want, and with who you choose is the charm of boating – and for this reason, boats that under the 24m LWL limit are constantly sought.

Do I need a captains license for my personal boat?

In a nutshell, anyone wanting to be paid to drive a boat needs a captain’s license. A boat captain’s license is required by the U.S. Coast Guard for the driver of a ship carrying passengers-for-hire.

How big of a boat can one person handle?

A single-hander sailing a 35 – 45 foot (10.5 – 14 meters) craft with a draft of about 2 meters, enough sail area, simple reefing, and well-functioning assistive equipment may be appropriate.

How big of a boat can I operate?

With the appropriate boat licenses, you may typically operate a boat without a crew up to 75 feet in length. However, most boats need a crew to dock, launch, care for passengers, and watch for hazards or other vessels. An autopilot function might be essential to assist with keeping you on track if there is no one on board.

How long does the online boating course take?

It usually takes around 3 hours to complete the Internet course, excluding quizzes and/or exams, as well as re-study if desired.

Do you need a boat Licence for a 6hp motor?

New South Wales – speed not size

A recreational boating licence is required if you’re operating a powered boat at speeds of 10 knots or more. Anyone aged 12 or older can drive any kind of boat at a speed of 10 knots plus (except for PWCs) with this type of licence.

What age can you drive a boat by yourself?

California requires that individuals who operate a boat with more than 15 horsepower on their own be at least 16 years old. Children between the ages of 12 and 15 must travel in the company of someone who is at least 18 years old.

Can I pilot my own yacht?

Can you drive your own boat? If you’re an experienced skipper who regularly guides huge ships, a solo voyage is doable. Vessels greater than 75 feet long, on the other hand, are more difficult to maintain alone, and some jurisdictions demand that captains use a crew for vessels over 50 feet long.

Can one person sail a 30 foot boat?

Most single-handed boats are sailing 30-36′ monohulls, with a 35′ cat being the most common.

Can you drive a yacht by yourself?

You may always drive the boat on your own, even if there is a co-captain or a professional deck hand onboard. They will stay out of the way unless you ask them to, but they will be there in case of crisis and can assist you.

How far offshore can you dump sewage?

Understand that untreated sewage (even if it’s been dosed with a deodorant) can not be discharged in inland or coastal waters under federal legislation. This implies that the waste from a portable toilet or a Type III retention tank can not be released unless you are more than 3 miles offshore.

Do I need a license to sail in international waters?

Ship’s radios, unlike sailing and boating licenses, must be authorized in the vessel’s home country. If you intend to sail your boat outside of your nation, you will need a ship station license. They require a license if you’ll communicate with boats at sea.

How big is a 100 ton vessel?

A supertanker carries between 500,000 and 700,000 barrels of oil. A 100-ton ship can be 65 feet or more in length depending on its construction and commercial usage.

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Best Sailboats for One Person (With 9 Examples)

One of the most common challenges of sailing is finding the right boat to sail alone. Luckily, there are some good sailboats out there suited for one person. Let's take a look at them, and find out why they're especially good for single-handing.

In this article, I talk about single-handed sailing and look at the nine best sailboats for one person, ranging from small lake dinghies all the way to comfy cruisers capable of oceanic crossings.

Here are the best sailboats for solo sailing

Jeanneau Sunfast 3200

Beneteau oceanis 62, pacific seacraft flicka 20, tartan 3700, hunter channel 31, j boats 109.

Now let's look at them in detail so that you can choose the one best for you.

largest motor yacht one person can operate

On this page:

What you need for short-handed sailing, features of a good single-handed boat.

Before talking about anything else, let's take a quick look at the features you want in a sailboat for short-handing (a fancy way of saying sailing alone ).

Scroll down to the list of sailboats here .

largest motor yacht one person can operate

What to look for in a single-handed sailboat:

  • Easy-to-operate sails
  • Self-tacking jib
  • Self-reefing sails
  • Good autopilot

It's nice to have a team of friends, each with their own position within the crew, taking care of their specific thing. One behind the helm, one at the navigation, one trimming the mainsail, one taking care of the foresail, and an extra deckhand just to be sure. But if for whatever reason you want to sail on your own, you'll be the one to fill all those positions.

To make sure that it is physically possible and as easy as can be under the circumstances, start with a good boat choice. The idea is to pick a design that will be easy to operate with just one person available.

Now the good news is that since around 1990, many boat manufacturers have been focusing on ease of operation. That's just what the current market demand dictates. In other words, good single-handed sailboats aren't a rare find.

So what are the specific features to look for when sailing on your own? Let's clear a common misconception first - single-handed doesn't mean the boat has to be small.

Sure, small boats are easier to dock, and things tend to be within reach… but you will find large numbers of 70-footers that are designed as single-handed projects.

You can operate 100-footers on your own. Read all about it in our article What's the largest boat one person can operate?

Easily Operated Sails

A good start are sails that can be operated without much hassle. That doesn't necessarily mean being able to reach all the lines and winches from the helm. If you can, that's great, but if the boat has an autopilot, all you need is to be able to tweak the sails from the front of the cockpit.

Try to avoid setups where you'd have to walk to the mast to play with your sheets - not only it takes time but doing that in heavy winds, tall waves, on a boat that is healing, is a recipe for disaster that nobody is there to save you from.

When solo sailing, the ability to reef and tack quickly is important since those are oftentimes time-sensitive maneuvers. So self-tacking jibs would make your life way easier.

Individually Suitable Boat

The best test, though, is to take the boat out and try it out for yourself. A boat that handles easily in the hands of one person can be unmanageable in the hands of another.

A spinnaker pole might be a handful for the shorter folks, while a 6'2'' 200lbs bloke won't have issues with it.

But don't go around shopping with a 'must-have' checklist. Sometimes the boat is almost there, and all it needs is a little DIY technical push, like adding an extra jammer to the cockpit and running a reef line through it, or getting your hands on a windvane self-steering kit.

As somewhat touched upon before, manufacturers are trying to cater to the ease of use and since technology is going forward, what used to be a hi-tech racing equipment piece years ago, has now made its way into the affordable mainstream.

The canting keel is such an example, something you used to see on racing sailboats only, but now can be put on your average cruiser.

Autopilot Matters

An important part of solo sailing is a good autopilot, for obvious reasons. Luckily, nowadays, these are very reliable compared to what the standard used to be years ago in the cruiser world.

That being said, if you can get your hands on a boat with a proper below-the-deck autopilot with a gyrocompass, you will be much happier than with your average on-deck system, which does the job well, but when things get windier, it might become less reliable.

By the way, racing boats tend to be good solo sailing vessels—they are set up for efficiency. They feature more robust rigging and hulls that can withstand rough conditions and gusts better, and thus are more forgiving, without the necessity to tweak to detail.

I'm not saying that to necessarily have you look for racing boats for your short-handed trips, but rather so that you don't steer away from them on purpose, thinking they would be too much of a handful.

On deck, navigation is a big one too. Again, nothing to cry about if your boat of choice doesn't have one, as it can be easily solved with aftermarket solutions. Or an iPad with the proper app. But having to run below the deck to see where you are isn't the handiest of scenarios, especially in tricky situations.

If possible, consider investing in side thrusters. They can make maneuvering your boat infinitely easier, docking can turn from an unpleasant procedure to a relatively simple joystick play, and especially if you are on a bigger boat, you will appreciate this feature.

We haven't touched on the topic of interiors since it isn't as sensitive as a matter. But having plenty of handles to grab onto regardless of where you are is a good idea, since hitting your head and passing out is unpleasant with a crew, but potentially fatal without it.

To continue with the topic of safety, equipment and boat design aside, remember that you can't really afford mistakes you could make with friends on board. So make sure you have enough spots to clip your harness to, that the boat is sufficiently equipped with communication devices and that all the equipment works as it should.

So let's get specific. What are the nine boats that make great companions for solo sailors?

Let's start with the obvious one—a dinghy. It won't probably be your choice when crossing an ocean, but for practice or a fun day close to the shore, this is one hell of a boat. In comparison to its rivals in the same category, RS Aero is super light weighing 66 lbs. It is among the most technologically advanced sailing dinghies designed specifically for one person.

All of this comes for a price though - 10 000 to over 15 000 USD. You will be getting your money's worth for sure though. An enormous amount of hi-tech work went into this project, and you'd be buying a design that won more awards than could fit on its 13-foot body.

This is a big step up from a dinghy, while still keeping things very simple. It is a lightweight boat, originally designed for a transatlantic race. Thanks to that and its small size, it is easy to handle, the racing pedigree shows in the efficient layout, so everything is within reach. Despite its smaller size, it can reach speeds you would expect of much larger boats.

You can find small family cruisers of the same size, but don't let that fool you. This is very much a Spartan sailboat. Inside, you won't find much more than the bare necessities - two aft cabins, curtains instead of doors, simple seating, not much lining or wood, just a notch above barebones interiors. You get a toilet though, a chart table and a galley as well as much stowage. But you will be reminded of being on a racer, because unless you are shorter than 5'7'', you won't be able to stand up straight.

As mentioned, this boat was designed for a cross-ocean race, so it is a seaworthy bluewater mate that should be able to take you more or less wherever you want to.

Time to go big. As previously mentioned, solo sailing doesn't mean you have to stick to smaller sizes. Why? Because it is a trend now. Even though just some ten years ago, the situation was vastly different, these days, single-handed 60+ footers aren't anything rare.

So why this Beneteau? Well, for one, to meet the new kinds of market demand, it was designed for ease of use, meaning it can be successfully operated by a single person. I don't know what you'd do alone with all that space, but if you want to enjoy oceanic solitude while not giving up the luxuries of having space the size of a family apartment, you can.

And while there are more boats of this size suited for short-handed sailing, like the larger Jeanneaus, Hanses, or even Bavarias, the Oceanis 62 can be yours for around 600 000 EUR new, which is a figure unheard of in that size and quality range up until relatively recently.

This is not the first time I am mentioning this boat in an article, and no wonder, it has so much character! Like others in this list, this one has been designed for single-handed sailing - it had to be. You couldn't fit two people on it comfortably anyway.

So aside from its solo capabilities, why does it deserve to be on the list? Well, it's towable, which you could say about the RS Aero too, but you can actually live on a Flicka, and it is seaworthy. It is about as small as you can go while still being able to cross oceans.

There is no question about everything being within the hand's reach on this one. Ergonomics almost don't matter at this size. Given its towability, the fact that you can park it in your garden, and its short-handed potential makes for the perfect spontaneous getaway mobile.

Another boat you can live on. It is a seaworthy ocean crosser, and thanks to its setup and a self-tacking jib, it is a proper short-handed boat. It also has quite a wide beam, thanks to which you'll get additional stability, further supporting comfort when operating it solo. It is made by a brand that proved its worth over time, as since the 70s, it is still going strong. It's comfortable enough for long distances, with a spacious salon, shower, and space for a small family.

Used, you can get one starting around 150 000 USD, which is one of the reasons why it belongs on this list - if you are serious about solo sailing and want a proper boat without compromises that come with smaller sizes or sportiness, this one is within a reasonable reach. Among the affordable, high-quality, short-handed sailing cruisers, Tartan 3700 has its definite place.

This is the kind of boat I was talking about when I mentioned that formerly racing design aspects started to make it into the cruising world. Hunter started as a racer builder and then shifted to cruisers, while, of course, taking its know-how with them, which makes for boats that are easy to operate, also well-performing ones.

This specific model got on the list because of its low center of gravity, high ballast ratio, and stable hull, which means you won't have to trim the sails all the time to go fast. And less work is always welcome if you are the only person to do all of it.

Another reason it's gotta be here is it is very efficient layout, self-tacking jib, and single-line mainsail reefing system—a smart choice for solo sailors.

If you like what you saw in Hunter Channel 31, but fancy something a bit faster, with a higher quality build, this one's what you want. It has lost much of its sportiness as it is too heavy to be thought of as a proper performance boat today, but in the worst-case scenario, it is a quick cruiser capable of satisfying sprints.

It was designed for single-handed sailing as well as for full crewed racing, so if you want to push as much as you can out of it with a team of your mates, you can, while knowing you will be able to cruise at a good pace when they leave.

So unless you mind the slightly higher price tag, which comes with the high build and components quality, as well as the less generous interior fanciness usually seen in racers, you've found yourself a boat.

The best thing about solo sailing is also the most dangerous thing about it - you will be alone. So you want your boat to be your buddy - forgiving as much as can be, having your back. Amel 60 is such a boat. It has watertight bulkheads, so it is hardly sinkable, its cockpit has a solid roof and windows, so no matter the weather, you'll be protected while behind the helm, it has a stable hull, offering support even in tricky weather, it features electric winches, so you can operate the sails without even touching a line…

...and inside, you get more space and luxury than you could wish for, including a washing machine. All in all, if there is a boat that's got your back even if your skill level isn't the greatest, it is Amel 60. All it wants from you is to be ok with the 1.5 million USD price tag.

Have you seen the film "All Is Lost"? An incredible project without dialogue, where a solo sailor on a Cal 39 makes his way through an ocean. Now, what makes Cal 39 such a great boat for solo sailing? As it turns out, nothing in particular. It wasn't designed with this in mind. It isn't even a notably successful model - though that's mostly due to technical circumstances rather than a lack of quality.

And that's why it must be on this list. To represent all the boats that aren't single-handed projects by design, but make it possible, if you get to know the boat, spend some time with it, and, as mentioned at the very beginning of this article, tweak it so that it makes solo sailing easier.

largest motor yacht one person can operate

By this, I want to encourage you to get into solo sailing, even if you lack a sailboat that is specifically made for a one-person crew. Quite a few single-handed passages have been done on boats that wouldn't make it to this list because technically, they don't fit the profile. But they were made to be, either with tweaks or with skills. Be honest to yourself regarding your skill level, the boat design, and if it passes the test, go for it.

Happy sailing!

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What Size Sailboat Can One Person Handle?

What Size Sailboat Can One Person Handle? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Getting the right size of boat for your sailing adventures will significantly impact your sense of security and safety, comfort, and your activities aboard the boat, especially if you're planning to embark on solo sailing. It's, therefore, of great importance to get it right from the start as it will save you time, disposal expenses, and determine whether or not you can sail solo.

Whether you're an introverted loner who loves going it alone or love the unique challenges that solo sailing presents, one of the most important questions that you've probably been asking yourself is; how big a sailboat can one person handle? In most cases, solo sailing will mean that you assume all the roles: bow-person, skipper, engineer, navigator, dial trimmer, and chef. Under such a scenario, the main intention is to make these roles as simple as possible for you and this calls for the right sized sailboat.

So how big a sailboat can one person handle? Well, a sailboat measuring between 35 and 45 feet (10.5 - 14 meters) with a draft of about 2 meters, plenty of sail area, easy reefing, and well-working assistive equipment can be ideal for one person to handle. The boat shouldn't be over 9 tons as things can get a little tricky and out of hand if the boat exceeds this weight. In essence, the boat should have automated systems that work properly including a properly working electric windlass that makes hauling an anchor as simple as possible.

In this article, we'll look at some of the reasons why sailboat measuring between 35 and 45 feet can be perfectly handled by one person.

Table of contents

Why 35 to 45 Feet?

Generally speaking, vessels that measure between 35 and 45 feet normally steer well and have a good sea-keeping ability. They usually have assisting self-steering arrangements, tolerable sailing speed, and good storage capabilities. Better still, such sailboats can be designed in such a way that a single person may perform all the sailing tasks completely unassisted.

Below the decks, these sailboats generally offer comfortable seagoing sleeping berths for one person, as well as additional space for the occasional guest. That's not all; the galleys are usually very workable and safe even for continuous use. The navigation station is independent, comfortable, and large enough so that you can lay the charts out flat and permanently. You also have additional storage that is perfect for additional charts.

One of the most overlooked factors when considering the ideal boat that can be perfectly handled by one person is the storage capability. If you're planning to sail single-handedly to far-flung areas, the boat should have a hoard of equipment. The boat should have fuel storage, a dinghy, oars, secondary chains, life jackets, anchor rods, EPIRBS, storm equipment, engine spares, additional batters, and many more. There should also be enough storage to accommodate food and water provisions for at least two months. With that in mind, 35-45 feet long sailboat should have enough storage space to accommodate everything that you need to sail perfectly, safely, and single-handedly.

Other Factors to Consider

While your physical strength, fitness, experience, determination, and nautical skills can impact the size of a sailboat that you can single-handedly handle with confidence, these are just a few definitive factors. As such, the size of the boat's sails will play a critical role. It doesn't matter how fit or strong you are, it's almost impossible to perfectly handle sails that measure 300-400 square feet on your own, and these are more common on vessels measuring 50-60 feet.

This is exactly why you shouldn't go for a sailboat that exceeds 46 feet if you're planning to sail single-handedly. You should refrain from going for a larger sailboat as it can be far trickier to dock in a crowded marina if you're sailing single-handedly. If anything, a boat measuring 35-45 feet will allow you to see around. It's also maneuverable, especially when anchoring and docking. You should also keep in mind that boats measuring 35-45 feet are generally designed with engine props, keels, and electric bow thrusters that can make a huge difference in the handling and maneuverability of such boats.

Here are a few factors to consider when looking at the size of a sailboat that you can handle on your own.

The anchor - Any sailor will tell you that it's always advisable to go out there on the water with an anchor that's large and strong enough to hold the sailboat safely in case there's a storm. But because you want a sailboat that you can handle on your own, you should ask yourself; can you raise the boat's anchor back to the deck with the help of a winch or another person? This should help you determine the size of a sailboat that you can handle alone.

Configuration of the Sailboat  - This pretty much revolves around the maneuverability of the boat. Simply put, the sailboat should be designed in a way that you can single-handedly maneuver it to a dock even when strong winds are blowing. You should also be able to get a line from the sailboat to the dock without losing control of the boat.

You should also make sure that you can reef, lower, smother, and work with the sails in all kinds of weather without any assistance.

Hardware - Another important factor to consider when looking for the right size of a sailboat that you can handle alone is the hardware. Many equipment manufacturers now offer affordable hardware that can be used by lone sailors at the highest levels. For example, there are canting keels and roller furling headsails that are generally used in short-handed racing and these technologies have filtered into the mainstream.

There are also robust and reliable sailing handling systems such as electric winches, top-down spinnaker furlers, code zeros that can be of great help if you want to sail single-handedly, especially for offshore adventures. You can also go for reliable autopilots that are interfaced with wind instruments to enhance your safety and navigation. You can also use releasable inner forestay designed with hanks to make your headsail reef a lot easier. The boat should have enough reefs and the seat should have a comfortable cushion to make long hours of sailing more enjoyable.

Safety and communication  - Sailing single-handedly always requires that you take your safety into serious consideration. You do not have a crew that will help you when there's a mishap so there's always an increased risk. For this reason, your safety and communication should be paramount if you're looking for a sailboat that you can handle alone. Some of the most important things to have in place include stout webbing straps that run from bow to stern and should be clipped into the tether on your harness. These are some of the safety devices that you should use even when the weather is very calm. You should also have an appropriate life jacket and wear it at all times.

That's not all; you should have a perfect sail and communication plan that you can share with a trusted contact on land. Of course, this should include your sailing route and projected timeline. You should have satellite phones and Wi-Fi onboard the boat, as well as other reliable communication devices. You should also have an extra battery. More importantly, you should attend safety as sea courses as this will enhance your skills of staying safe in case there's a mishap when sailing single-handedly.

Going Smaller than 35-45 Feet

As we noted earlier, a sailboat measuring between 35 and 45 feet is the sailing sweet spot if you want to sail single-handedly. This is because such sailboats do offer almost everything that you need to sail without any assistance. However, you may decide to go smaller but this would mean that the storage capabilities go against you.

In most cases, a sailboat measuring about 25 feet long would mean that you lose about 4 tons of storage space as well as the overall weight. This would mean that the boat is much lighter and this might affect your speed. Remember, the longer the boat, the faster the speed and this is essential for seagoing passages. On the other hand, a shorter boat will be slower and this means that you'll have to carry more food and water if you're going for offshore adventures.

As such, the volume of accommodation required may overwhelm a smaller vessel and this can make the operation of such a boat quite challenging. Other areas such as the navigation and galley table may be cramped and this can compromise the way you operate the boat. Worst still, the possibility of having a friend or a loved one join you aboard the boat is nearly impossible since there may be not enough accommodation for the two of you.

Another notable disadvantage of going smaller is the violent motion that it endures when sailing. This can be stressful and very likely to cause seasickness and this is something that you don't want when sailing single-handedly.

Going Larger than 35-45 Feet

If you're not on a limited budget, then you may choose to go for a sailboat that is larger than 35-45 feet. Larger sailboats are more speed and will always deliver sea-kind motion. You also have ample storage and accommodation for friends and family. But even with these advantages, the fundamental weakness of a larger sailboat is that it's almost impossible for one person to perfectly handle it. In other words, it's impossible to perfectly handle, maintain, and manage all facets of sailing a larger vessel. In fact, it can be even challenging or two people to handle it.

In essence, handling a larger vessel single-handedly can be brutal, to say the least. You may have lots of equipment but you'll still require more manpower to have them working appropriately.

To this end, it's easy to see why sailboats measuring 35-45 feet are the best for solo sailing . Smaller vessels might be ideal for the weekends but they are slower and do not have enough storage and accommodation space for offshore sailing. Almost similarly larger vessels (46 feet and above) are faster, beautiful, and spacious, but handling them on your own is almost impossible. So if you're looking for a sailboat that you can perfectly handle on your own, go for a vessel measuring between 35 and 45 feet long.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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largest boat I can sail alone

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Hi all, I'm new to sailing, so new in fact, I don't have a sailboat and actually have never been on a sailboat. I will not be deterred however and within the next year, I will be living aboard. My plan is to purchase the largest boat that I will be able to sail alone once I've spent a year or so learning to sail. I will want as much space as I can afford and will be seeking a boat in the 35 to 41' range. In research on this site, I came across a thread that mentioned a 41' Hardin Seawolf, researched it a bit, and fell in love. It looks like it would require a crew to sail though. Is that the case? Thanks in advance for your patient ear and advice.  

largest motor yacht one person can operate

In the past the big issue would be handling sails buy your self with modern furling systems that is no longer a problem If your single handing then you really want a boat built around a self tacking JIB becasue again it makes it easy for a solo sail  

You can sail a very large boat by yourself, 50' 60', not out of the question. It's the docking, anchoring and picking up mooring balls that get real tricky alone. Lots & lots of people sail very large boats double handed so no need for a 'crew'. The second person aboard makes a huge difference. If you have no boat handling experience, you will have a VERY difficult time with a 41', especially alone.  

Thanks... Thanks all.  

largest motor yacht one person can operate

I agree with xort, Sailing is not the issue, its all the other stuff.  

Sailsoon, if we are talking about a Hardin ketch Thats a lot of boat to single hand. They weigh 30,000 pounds. Thats a good thing for a comfortable motion when at sea, However docking alone is a whole other issue. Tacking that monster ought to be a treat also. The ketch rig just adds more things to tend to (I know Cam will disagree). This would not be my first pick for a boat if I was going it alone. In fact, I would be looking for something 32 to 35 foot range and fractional rigged sloop.  

you all rock! I think I may have found my tribe in the sailing community.  

tis a great place  

largest motor yacht one person can operate

No...actually I don't disagree. For single handing I would be looking in the 35-38' range myself and looking at a simple sloop or cutter rig with everything rigged to the cockpit for furling and reefing. (And a reliable auto-pilot!). Soon2...the choice of a boat will depend on your resources and your future intentions. So far we know you want a lot of room and that you will be singlehanding and like a salty looking vessel. Need to know more.  

largest motor yacht one person can operate

As I read your post it really sounds like you are looking for two boats; one to learn to sail on and one to live on and long term cruise. Boats that are big enough to live on, especially if described as 'the biggest boat that I can single-hand', are usually too big to learn on if you intend to learn to sail well. Ideally, if you really intend to learn to sail well, (and not everybody cares whether they actually learn to be good sailors but that's another topic) then I suggest that you would be well served buying a small (23 to 30 foot max with 26-28 feet being more ideal), tiller steered, used but in good shape, responsive, fin keel-spade rudder, largish production run, ideally fractionally rigged, sloop. You can own a boat like that for a couple years, sail the living daylights out of her and sell her for pretty much what you have in her. You will be years and many dollars ahead of the game in terms of learning boat handling skills and what it takes to own and maintain a boat. The deductible for the repair costs for single accident with a boat big enough to live on could well exceed the entire cost of owning and learning on a smaller boat. When it comes to the biggest single-handers that you can can handle, the traditional rule of thumbs were based on displacement and not length. Before the advent of modern deck hardware, and lower drag hull forms and rigs (easier to handle) the rule of thumb used to be a range 2 1/2 to 5-6 tons (long tons) per person. That would suggest that anything over about 11,000 lbs would start to press the convenient limit (roughly a 38 footer max). With modern gear and efficient rigs that number can be extended so that it is possible to handle a much bigger boat, but as boats get bigger they become dependant on higher levels of skill, lots of luck, and much better equipment than a new sailor is likely to have. Lastly, the Hardin's were a miserable boat to sail. To me they are a characture rather than good sailing boat. So while they may shiver your timbers, I suggest that spend as much time as you can, sailing as many boats as you can, of as many types as you can, and I suspect when you are done doing that you won't have to ask us what kind of boat you should buy and will know why the Hardin is probably not a great choice for whatever you want to do with a boat. I do not mean this as a put down in any way. We all had to start somewhere. I think that I completely understand where you are coming from. When I bought my first 'live aboard' in 1973 it was a totally inappropriate choice that simply captured my imagination. Respectfully, Jeff  

NEVER single hand, no one to bring you drinks  

I like the way you think! Okay, I don't usually open up so quickly, but I'm among friends, right? My other half just a couple of weeks ago decided that 22 years was Lomg enough with her other half and now, though I'll miss her landlubber ways, am ready to move on to the water I've missed so much for these past 2 decades. I'm not trying to escape. I'm just ready to run off win my second bride--the sea. So, all of my new helpful friends, I"m thankful for advice received and of that yet to come. When not working, I plan on being a devoted student to the sail and sea. I want to sleep at night to the heart beat of sea. Then, after learning to sail along the shorelines and hrogh the bays of the Gulf of Mexico, I want to sail without boundary. I need a lot of space because I have avery cool dog, a lot of camera gear and just in case a like-minded beautiful woman wants to join me some day. I think that covers all it requiremts. Thanks again for the help.  

largest motor yacht one person can operate

soon2sail said: I need a lot of space because I have avery cool dog, a lot of camera gear and just in case a like-minded beautiful woman wants to join me some day. I think that covers all it requiremts. Thanks again for the help. Click to expand...

largest motor yacht one person can operate

zanshin on here was sailing a Jeanneau 43 by himself, not has a 49 deck salon model, he has had out a few times over the last 2-3 weeks IIRC. He might have had a bow thruster on the 43, don;t quote me tho. Not sure the whole specs of the 49 off the top of my head. But a quote on the Jeanneau-owners site, he mentioned that the extra 6' was more than he thought it would be manuvering. I'm sure he will do fine figureing out tho. For me, a mid 30' boat is plenty for what I do. For others, something bigger is nicer. I would also stick to a sloop style, or a ketch/yawl that is self tending for the most part. hanse has a few newer models that have self tending jibs, as does Tarten, which may rufle some feathers on mentioning this brand, but the 3400 or the 3700CCR setup have self tending jibs. Either should work for your needs, the 3700 is probably the better of the two, and if you go back to a 98-04 models would be best. The 3400 is new wit int he last 3 yrs or so, again go used. marty  

Bummer...but I guess every cloud has a silver lining. So...if you want to cross oceans and only buy ONE boat...then you should be looking at bluewater boats in the 35-38' range. Check the sticky of bluewater boats here in posts #6 & 8 for some ideas then check yachtworld.com for some pictures and prices to help you begin to narrow things down. http://www.sailnet.com/forums/buyin...fshore-cruising-boat-list-january-2008-a.html The upcoming Miami sailboat show might be a good place to get started if you're looking to kick things into high gear. Lots of new boats and sailing seminars as close proximity to all the brokerage boats in Miami & Ft. Lauderdale. Strictly Sail We're here when you need us.  

Thanks again and sorry for the stupid typos. The rum & cokes are starting to wear off and I'm off that damn iphone. Cheers  

Alain Colas sailed a 70m (210+ feet) 4 masted sailboat alone back years ago. Became "Phocea" later on. The sailor (and money for the necessary systems) is a greater limiting factor than the boat in my opinion. Since you don't know how to sail, may I politely suggest buying a live aboard in a reasonable range (28-32 feet) for cheap-ish AND a go out everyday dinghy type. Sunfish, laser (tricky for beginner). Learn wind/handling on the small boat. In any case, no big fan of single handling sailing offshore passages as there is no way to properly comply with Colregs Rule 5. Eric  

Sage advice! I can't wait to get started.  

largest motor yacht one person can operate

Even though my boat is only 27' I'd never single hand it. I just hop on a Sunfish, Daysailor or Hobie when "I want to be alone!!"  

largest motor yacht one person can operate

i single hand my nimble 30 express but i have in boom furling on the fully battened main & roller furling on the headsail ( genny or self tending jib ) i don't try to use the asymmetrical spinnakers when i am alone . an autopilot is essential to hold the bow into the wind when raising the main.  

largest motor yacht one person can operate

I single hand my Gemini 105Mc catamaran all the time. I'd never single handed either of my previous boats even after years of owning them and even though they were smaller. The summer I bought the Gemini I got bored and one day took it out solo for a 'down wind jib only run', wound up sailing circles around the bay until the Rum ran out. Everything about singlehanding is (in no certain order) planning, practice, and boat setup and equipment. Of course you do need to know your boat and how to sail her. Mine is flat, stable and well balanced. I practiced by taking her out with crew and having them observe only while I did everything as if alone. No need to have someone serve the drinks, the refridge is on the same level as, and only 4 steps from the helm.  

How would the Gemini 105mc be for a live aboard?  

largest motor yacht one person can operate

Probably quite good, for two-to-three people, given the size of the boat, weight carrying capacity, and such.  

You'd have to ask the dozens of folks that do live aboard, or the handful or so that are circumnavigating right now. www.slapdash.com is a good example, or my personal favorite SV Footprint Me and mine, we can't wait to find out.  

largest motor yacht one person can operate

14 months ago I would have said 36 feet is about the limit single handed, but now 47 is manageable if you plan and take you time. What I think is forgotten is while every thing is going well it is easy, but physically a bigger boat can be tough. Could you pull down a torn 135% cruising head sail, fold it and get it inside on your own. I probably should post a link but cut and past is easier, here is a little story of my first single handing of my new to me Ericson 39B: Solo sail on the bay, started All wrong nice ending -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Well today is, Sunday the 17 Feb 2008, BF piked it, said he was feeling a little under the weather. Not me I was going for a sailing, solo. Put everything away down below, a quick trip to the bins to get rid of the empties and rubbish. Double check everything and headed out of the Marina. Head into the wind with the engine just over idle giving 3 knots (no auto pilot), lock the wheel and sprint to the mast grab main halyard and winch away, nothing. ... Realise the main halyard is still connected to the topping lift. Rush back to the wheel, unlock and correct course, try to release halyard shackle, but it is still under tension. Correct course lock wheel. Rush to the mast release halyard run to wheel correct course, lock wheel, remove halyard and take to mast attach to main. Rush back to the wheel correct course lock wheel, stagger to mast and pull up main. Main stops at the second spreaders won’t go up, will come down. Stumble to wheel correct course and study situation, whilst sucking in large quantities of air. Realise main halyard is on the wrong side of the lazy jack line. Lock wheel run to mast drop the main, redo halyard hoist main.... main only gets to the first spreaders (feel heart attack building). Pull on halyard harder. Engine revs, drop main as the third reefing line is around the engine controls. run to wheel correct course, untangle reef line move it out of the way lock wheel stumble to mast start to raise main reef line now hooked on stanchion gate, lower main shake boom while shouting a bad word or two, line come free sail goes up, stagger to cockpit, wait for the heart attack. After calming down and now doing 2.5 knots with just the main up, and a nice main it is, I get passed by a bout with about 10 people on it. Got to go faster ,so now I have my breath back and the throbbing between my ears has stopped it’s time to let out the Genoa, release the furler sheet and pull on the Genoa sheet, perfect, no winch handle, it is still on the mast. Luff up into the wind, pull the sheet in tight then bring her back off the wind and all is good with the world. Who needs a winch handle? I did go up and get it latter. And that was the bad part; the rest of the day was a great solo day with lots of tacking and just playing around. In fact, I think I will do it all again tomorrow as I had the biggest smile on my face once things got sorted.  

While a Gemini 105 might be a reasonable live aboard or even a decent coastal cruiser, it would be near the bottom of the list of boats to learn to sail on. Back to the original post, single-handing requires a very unique skill set and a well set up boat. As has been noted, anecdotally there have been huge, purpose built boats that have been single-handed by skilled sailors. As you have probably noticed, there have been a lot of posts from folks who single-hand boats of a variety sizes and descriptions. The size boat that you personally can single-hand comfortably will be dependentg on your own skill levels, level of prudence and taste in boats. I myself routinely single-hand my 38 footer; sailing her in winds up to the mid-30 knot range, in and out of the slip by myself and routinely flying her sym. spinnakers. Its not all that hard once you have done it a while. But you are just starting out and should try to set reasonable expectations, do a dilligent 'apprenticeship' and then you will be able to answer these questions for yourself. Jeff  

There is a substantial difference between the largest boat you can sail alone, and the largest boat you want to sail alone. How do you envision yourself sailing? For long passages out of sight of land, a single person can handle quite a large boat. Things usually happen slower, you're not worried about hittings things, like land. If you are mostly gunkholing, with daysails thru sometimes narrow or congested areas, something smaller and quicker and easier to tack and handle might be more appropriate. I'm pretty confident that you would have plenty of room for a dog and camera gear on a 35', and the ground tackle and sails on the smaller boat will be lighter and easier to handle. Some of the boats I see being frequently singlehanded in Maine are smaller schooners, with club footed jibs. Just push the tiller or turn the wheel to tack. I see these being sailed on and off anchor in some pretty small places, but by obviously experienced hands. Think about the way you are likely to actually use the boat. Will light air performance be important? Light air upwind? Do you want something that is fun and easy to take for a daysail, or are room, salty looks and load carrying going to take precedence? You sound like a pretty social person, do you have friends you want to take daysailing? Make sure the cockpit can hold them. Boats aimed for offshore, shorthanded cruising sometimes have pretty small cockpits, for a reason. Boats meant for coastal cruising will usually have a bigger cockpit, again, for a reason. Our usual crew is three: Me, the bride, our young son. For us, a smaller 42', fairly narrow with long overhangs, works perfectly. I don't want any larger or smaller. If I were sailing alone, I would definitely have a smaller boat, probably 30-36', for coastal cruising. If I were going to go long range soloing, I would probably keep the 42'. Good Luck!  

I'm not fond of bigger boats I like a smaller one that can be handled without too much stress, although this goes up with experience.  

One other point--A boat that you might be able to sail and handle alone in 15 knots of wind, might not be a boat that you can manage in 20-30 knots of wind. So you don't want to get anything bigger than what you can safely handle when it starts getting nasty, and saying that you never go out when it gets nasty is not a good answer.... since Mother Nature has a really nasty streak at times. Yes, there have been people that have single handed 60-70' boats, but these boats were generally heavily and expensively customized to make them possible to singlehand, and the sailors involved were not your average sailors in most cases. Dee Caffari, Ellen McArthur, etc., are not your typical sailors.  

sailingdog said: Yes, there have been people that have single handed 60-70' boats, but these boats were generally heavily and expensively customized to make them possible to singlehand, and the sailors involved were not your average sailors in most cases. Dee Caffari, Ellen McArthur, etc., are not your typical sailors. Click to expand...
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The World’s Most Expensive Yachts—Including Some That Cost Billions

By Brett Berk

most expensive yachts

Though superyachts are already among the most costly consumer items available, the prices of the most expensive yachts in the world are still astounding. In recent decades, those with money to burn have settled on these floating palaces as an ideal locus for demonstrating their prosperity, and, as such, the global luxury yacht industry is undergoing a golden age. The world’s überwealthy think of their motor yachts as toys, and they’re constantly trying to outdo each other in scale, design, amenities, materials, and sheer profligacy.

Knowing this, what features does it take to own one of the most expensive yachts in existence? And how much do these opulent vessels actually cost? To that end, AD has compiled a list of the five priciest superyachts currently out on the water. As with many things connected to the very wealthy, details are shrouded in secrecy—often intentionally—to shield the assets from taxation or seizure, or to protect privacy.

Below, dive into the five reportedly most expensive yachts in the world.

5. Dubai ($400 million)

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This 531-foot yacht is reportedly owned by United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai. Though it was originally planned for another Middle Eastern potentate, Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei, he suddenly voided the contract in 2001. With exteriors designed by Andrew Winch and interiors by Platinum Yachts, this German-built Blohm + Voss vessel features several Jacuzzis, a pool inlaid with handmade mosaic tiles that is reportedly large enough to hold 115 people, a circular staircase, a discotheque with an appropriately sized dance floor, squash courts, a movie theater, a dining room for 90 guests (the other 25 presumably have to eat in the pool?), a helipad, and a submarine.

4. Topaz ($527 million)

most expensive yacht

Resembling a stealth bomber, this 483-foot ship is reportedly owned by Russian fertilizer and coal oligarch Andrey Melnichenko. With exteriors by Tim Heywood Design Ltd. and interior designs by Terence Disdale Design, this German-built Lürssen Yacht features a 2,500-square-foot primary bedroom, six guest suites (with moveable walls so they can be transformed into four grand staterooms), glassware and tableware fashioned from French crystal, a helicopter hangar, a 30-foot speedboat tender, and three swimming pools, including one with a glass-bottom dangling menacingly above a disco.

3. Azzam ($600 million)

most expensive yachts

This 590-foot ship is currently thought to be the largest private yacht in the world and one of the fastest, with a top speed of 35 miles per hour. To achieve this immense scale and speed, it required a pair of gas turbines and two stratospherically potent diesel engines, rendering it very difficult to build. It is reportedly owned by a member of the royal family of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. With exteriors by Nauta Yacht and interiors by French decorator Cristophe Leoni, this yacht was also built by Lürssen in Germany. The vessel is set apart by its early 19th-century Empire-style veneered furniture, as well as its state-of-the-art security systems, including a fully bulletproof primary suite and a high-tech missile deterrence capabilities.

2. Eclipse ($1.5 billion)

most expensive yachts

In addition to being the second-costliest, this 533-footer is thought to be the world’s second-largest private yacht. Owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich , the ship was claimed to be located in Turkey and may be impounded as part of the United Kingdom’s sanctions against Russia. Designed by Terry Disdale and built by Blohm + Voss, it features two-dozen guest cabins, two swimming pools, two helipads, and multiple hot tubs. For privacy and security reasons, it hosts a missile detection system, bulletproof windows in the primary bedroom and on the bridge, an anti-paparazzi shield, and, when all of that fails, a mini-submarine that can take a few VIPs 164 feet under the ocean’s surface.

1. History Supreme ($4.8 billion)

History Supreme has never actually been seen in a major port, and rumors suggest that the yacht may not be real and instead just a publicity stunt. Reportedly owned by Malaysia’s richest man, Robert Kuok, and designed by Stuart Hughes in the UK, the yacht is only a paltry 100 feet long. Its worth is said to be derived from its lavish finishes, including a statue constructed from genuine Tyrannosaurus rex bones, a liquor bottle embedded with an 18.5-carat diamond, and a primary bedroom with one wall made from meteorite and another from a 24-karat gold Aquavista Panoramic Wall Aquarium. If you see it somewhere, let us know.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is Jeff Bezos’s yacht?

Most Expensive Yachts

This is why people like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos work to keep their yachts out of the public eye. Though we are not including Jeff Bezos’s yacht, Koru (Maori for “coil”), in this list because it is a sailing yacht and thus excluded from the realm of these motor yachts, it created controversy in the Netherlands when its presence became known. Jeff Bezos’s abided the $500 million price tag of Oceanco, the Dutch custom yacht builder, to create the 417-foot megayacht. But when the company, at Bezos’s behest, requested that a local bridge be dismantled to make way for its gigantic mast on its journey from the shipyard, public sentiment turned against the cento-billionaire, and Oceano shelved its request. Maybe a port like Monaco would be more accommodating?

Also not on this list is the world’s largest private yacht, reportedly owned by Alisher Usmanov. Though size and cost typically scale in the world of superyachts, this is not always the case (see #1 in this list.) Also, Somnio, the 728-feet dream-monikered yacht liner that tops our list of the world’s largest private yachts , isn’t quite done being constructed. And it is not, like most of the largest superyachts, privately owned by one individual or family—it’s a kind of floating condo, with 39 eight-figure homes available to potential owners solely by invitation.

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The Largest Sailboat You Should Get For Your Solo Adventure

I still remember the day like it was yesterday when I asked myself: “How big of a sailboat can one person handle?” I had absolutely no idea and didn’t even know how to sail back then. Many years later, I’ve got the experience and knowledge to answer this question for you in detail.

A beginner should stay below 40 feet until they get some experience. With moderate experience, one person can comfortably handle a 45-foot sailboat. To exceed 45 feet, you want to have a high level of experience and a boat with systems to assist you in handling your sails and equipment.

As with everything else related to sailing, the ability to handle a sailboat depends significantly on your sailing experience, physical fitness, and how the boat you want to sail is set up.

Determining the size of sailboat you can handle depending on experience and sailing systems

There is a massive variety of sailboats; many are well suited for single or short-handed sailing, while others require a crew to be sailed safely. One thing to also keep in mind is that even when sailing as a couple, you’ll be in situations where only one of you will be available to handle the sailboat.

Especially if you plan on doing extended sailing with frequent overnight passages. There may be situations where your better (or worse) half is sick or unable to help in a tense situation, and you’re on your own to handle the boat. So please do yourself a favor and be realistic with yourself and your capabilities before choosing the size of your boat.

Can you reef a massive sail by yourself in a sudden 50-knot storm in the middle of the night? Only you know the answer to that after you’ve tried it. Since we’re all different in our level of fitness and capability, I’ll keep the average person as a reference throughout this article, and you’ll have to consider where you stand in relation to this before making a choice.

Right, with the pep-talk done, let’s move on!

After chatting with several oldtimers with half a lifetime of bluewater sailing, we all came to the same conclusion. The table below shows approximately how big of a sailboat one person with good physical fitness can handle depending on configuration and experience level:

Experience LevelNo System AssistanceMedium System AssistanceModerate System AssistanceFull System Assistance
<35 ft40 ft45 ft<50 ft
<40 ft45 ft50 ft55 ft +
<45 ft50 ft55 ft60 ft +

None
:
Windlass, Self-Steering

Windlass, Autopilot, Bow Thruster, Electrical Winches

Windlass, Autopilot, Bow & Stern Thruster, Electrical Winches, Electrical Furling, Steering Assistance

Critical elements to consider for handling a large sailboat alone

This article refers to sizes above 45 feet when discussing large sailboats. Once we get past 45 feet, we reach a point where the sail area is close to or bigger than 500 ft 2 or 45 m 2 on a modern sloop. It takes serious physical strength to handle sails of this size manually. Ketch-rigged sailboats spread the total sail area over an additional mizzen sail to allow easier sail handling of the individual sails.

Handling big sails is just one task that gets increasingly difficult on bigger boats. Your lines and equipment are more substantial in size and heavier as well. Leading all the lines back to the cockpit makes for an easier short-handed setup and keeps you in the safety of the cockpit in most situations.

Another thing worth mentioning is the price tag for buying and maintaining a large boat. The cost increases exponentially with size, so I recommend purchasing the smallest boat you are comfortable being on and the biggest you feel comfortable sailing and operating within a price range you can afford.

Most people looking to sail solo will end up with a sailboat in the 35-45-foot size range, especially if they plan to spend extended time onboard. You may be looking at smaller vessels too, but remember that you’ll sacrifice more space and speed the smaller the boat you choose.

There are many good reasons why you want to go bigger as well, and you should know that you definitely can. Just consider what can be challenging on a larger boat versus a smaller one and understand what you get yourself into.

Finding the right size range is all about the balance between what your capabilities can handle, the size of your cruising budget, and your preference for comfort and amenities onboard.

Let us have a look at some of the tasks we need to be able to handle on a sailboat alone, which might be more demanding on a larger boat.

By the way, I wrote an article about the ideal size for a liveaboard sailboat that is more relevant for those who won’t be sailing solo,

Operational tasks at sea

  • Hoist, lower, furl, and reef sails in various conditions
  • Trimming the sails
  • Steering the boat
  • Navigating in various conditions

Managing the sails can be solved in a couple of ways. If you choose a ketch, you’ll have less sail area to handle at a time at the expense of an additional mizzen sail. Many modern sloop-rigged sailboats above 45 feet have electrical winches, making hoisting, furling, and trimming sails easier. Electrical winches are usually reliable and can still be operated manually in case of failure.

Even below this size range, most modern boats have an autopilot, making it dramatically easier to handle the boat alone. A good autopilot is said to be the most valued crew member onboard, and I agree. My autopilot even has a name; Raymond is a trusted companion who hasn’t disappointed me. ( Yet, knock on wood )

The problem when relying on electric systems is that we might be in big trouble if they fail, which is an essential factor to consider and make a backup plan for. When you have years of sailing experience, you know how to handle situations well and what you can do to make things simpler for yourself.

Think about this: Can you manually reef your massive sails if the wind suddenly increases to 50 knots?

And yes, that does happen offshore.

Operational tasks going to port or mooring

  • Dropping and lifting the anchor
  • Maneuver the boat in and out of a marina or port
  • Tie the boat to the dock or pontoon

On a 45-55 foot sailboat, you will typically have an anchor that weighs 30-45 kg or 65-100 lbs. That anchor is attached to a 10-12mm chain. If you anchored at a 10m water depth, you probably have at least 50 meters of chain out.

The weight of 12mm chain is about 3.4 kg or 7.5 lbs per meter. This means you have 170kg or 375 lbs of chain in the water plus the weight of your anchor. Pulling that weight up from the seabed is a challenging workout that makes you want to rely on your windlass. But windlasses can fail, and I speak from experience.

I have pulled my 25 kg Rocna together with 75kg of chain off the seabed a few times, and I sweat at the thought of handling anything larger. On a smaller boat, the ground tackle weighs a lot less and is more manageable for one person.

Docking a large sailboat

Maneuvering any size sailboat into port is nerve-wracking for most people their first few times. I remember being scared to death my first few times docking by myself, and I didn’t have a bow thruster to assist. You won’t be able to push or single-handedly move a sailboat above 45 foot by yourself if there is a little bit of wind.

Modern vessels of this size usually have a bow thruster, making it significantly easier to maneuver the vessel into tight areas and marinas. My friend, who has been sailing his entire life, lives aboard and sails his close to 55 foot sailboat. His boat has a bow and stern thruster, making it easier to maneuver than my 40 foot boat!

Now, most boats don’t have that luxury, and a lot of practice will be necessary for getting confident in and out of a marina. NauticEd has a course on maneuvering by engine and docking that you may want to look at here .

Conclusion: Is it realistic to sail a large sailboat by yourself?

With a decent level of experience and a well-equipped sailboat adequately set up for single-handed operation, it is absolutely possible to handle a large sailboat alone. I know several sailors who sail large vessels by themselves.

As long as you have some sailing experience and good physical fitness, are aware of your limitations, and have a decent plan in case of equipment failure, you will, in most everyday situations, be able to handle a 50 foot sailboat and possibly larger alone. If you plan on buying a large sailboat, remember to consider the factors we have looked at in this article and be realistic about your budget.

There are just as many people upgrading to a bigger boat as downgrading to a smaller one. What size sailboat is right for you comes down to your needs, experience level, and budget. Take your time to make the right decision if you want to buy a boat, and be realistic about your capabilities and experience before you take on the task of sailing a large sailboat by yourself.

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Skipper, Electrician and ROV Pilot

Robin is the founder and owner of Sailing Ellidah and has been living on his sailboat since 2019. He is currently on a journey to sail around the world and is passionate about writing his story and helpful content to inspire others who share his interest in sailing.

I am writing a novel in which knowledge of sailing and sailboats would be helpful. Would you be available to answer an occasional technical question via email? The setting is primarily the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Pontchartrain, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but will include time in the Bahamas and Caymans. The time is 1964-65.

Hoping to hear from you, and thanks.

Send me an email and I’ll do my best to assist you!

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largest motor yacht one person can operate

serecovery New Member

I've been very interested in the purchase of a larger boat, anywhere from 68ft to maybe even 86ft, but I love boating I just don't want to have a captain for my boat. What would be the largest boat anyone would reccomend that 2 people could take out on extended cruising. I live in North Miami and have always had the idea of crusing the Caribbean going island hopping, but have no desire to do so on with a captained boat. I've been reasearching the Marquis 65 and the Azimut 68s Open with a possible dream of perhaps an Azimut 86s, but feel that may be too big for 2 people to use with no captain. David

lucid484

lucid484 New Member

my grandfather and his buddy never had a problem with his 60 footer...You can prolly handle an 80' with 2 people just a person to drive the boat and a person on the sides to throw lines to people at the dock.....do you really need more people than that?

AMG

AMG YF Moderator

I have handled an 85´yacht with just one deckhand. However this is the easy part. To maintain and keep a boat of this size is a halftime job or more, so the time to enjoy the yachting becomes limited if you are on your own. I shouldn´t recommend bigger than 50-60´ if you are not happy to spend half the day washing down, repairing and maintaining all the stuff that comes with a larger yacht...

Ken Bracewell

Ken Bracewell Senior Member

I agree with Lars. My wife and I can easily handle a 100' but we are professional crew whose job it is to maintain the boat. I wouldn't dream of having anything larger than 60' for personal use because of the workload it would demand in order to keep it well.

Castlerock

Castlerock Senior Member

I agree with Lars and Ken, we had a 54 foot trawler and before that we had a C&C 40. The difference in work load for the extra 14 feet is more than double. We had 2 of everything to fix and clean not to mention all of the plumbing, electric, washer and dryer, disposal, dishwasher etc... And when your done working on those things it takes the better part of a day to just clean the boat. I hired a local kid to work on the boat to help clean and give me a hand with things.

yachtbrokerguy

yachtbrokerguy Guest

When you travel in the Bahamas and the Carribean, often a local guy will come down to the dock and ask if you want your boat washed. Usually they know what to do, and if they are good you can have them do maintenance jobs. That takes some of the pressure off, as the boat handling for two people is easy, but the care of it is not. Those boats you mention in the 65' - 68' range will be big enough to spend extended time on board, carry enough fuel for longer distances, be comfortable in 2-4' sea conditions and will not need crew. Your insurance company might not like the no crew part if you have not had much experience. Then you might have to have some crew on board for awhile. Tucker Fallon

CaptTom

CaptTom Senior Member

Serecovery, If yuou plan to run a large yacht with just two crew (with you at the wheel and the other setting lines and fenders and the such) then equip the vessel with a bow and stern thruster. This way you can control the positioning of the bot while the crew does their work properly. I had both on a 61 footer and they were a real treat to use and keep the boat in place. 68-70 feet may be okay, 86 may be pushing it. Good luck. Capt Tom PS Some of us captains are fun to travel with. LoL

Heather_Rae

Heather_Rae New Member

My husband and I have a 45 foot yacht, and think that is the perfect size for two people to handle. I suppose we could go up to 60 feet, but we really wouldn't want to go much bigger than that because we don't want to have a crew. A 45 footer, even, is lots of maintenance for two people when my husband works long hours.

crossingoceans

crossingoceans New Member

Depending on the type of yacht and the equipment on board it is possible to go up to 70 feet comfortably. Most livaboard ocean crossing vessels are comfortable for a couple to handle as they come with all the appropriate items and design characteristics needed
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YachtForums: We Know Big Boats!

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COMMENTS

  1. Princess Y78 yacht tour: The biggest boat you can run without crew

    Draft: 5ft 8in (1.72m) Displacement: 54,085kg (119,237lbs) Fuel capacity: 6,000l (1,320 gal) Water capacity: 1,350l (297 gal) Engines: Twin 1800hp MAN V12. Top speed: 36 knots. Price: £2.95m (ex. VAT) The Princess Y78 is right on the cusp between owner-operated boats and superyachts. Nick takes us on a full yacht tour.

  2. No Crew Required

    In the yachting world, it was not long ago that owning a 70-footer meant having a dedicated captain and at least one crew member. Today, however, there are a growing number of yachts in the 60- to 80-foot range being handled by husband-and-wife teams. And this isn't just weekend marina-hopping, either, but voyages that stretch the lengths of ...

  3. Largest Motor Yacht you can handle without a crew?

    You would need at least one crewmember (preferably two) for fendering and line-handling in port. It's something mates can help with - you wouldn't necessarily need professional crewmembers.

  4. What is the largest yacht one can operate solo?

    The largest yacht one can operate solo is largely determined by the individual's experience, yacht design, and onboard systems. While it is possible to operate yachts up to 80 feet solo, it is advisable to take additional crew members onboard for yachts that are larger than this. Always consult with the manufacturer's guidelines and ...

  5. What is the largest boat one can single hand?

    This is a question that has been exercising my mind as well since I decided to change my boat. My last 2 boats have been around 8M single engine sports cruisers. The most recent was a Jeanneau Leader. I recently bought a motorised catamaran 10.3 x 4.45 metres which I will take proper delivery of in early April.

  6. What's the Largest Boat One Person Can Operate?

    One sailor can typically manage about 300 - 400 sq ft. of sail. Anything up to and it becomes unmanageable quickly, especially if the weather turns. Following this rule, you can increase your hull length a bit if you choose a boat with more and smaller sails. So you can sail a somewhat larger yawl or ketch.

  7. Can You Single Hand A 50 Ft Motor Yacht?

    Taking a look at what it takes to safely handle a large motor yacht single handed.

  8. What is behind the surge in new 60ft plus yacht designs and can you

    This year Hanse launched the 675, its largest volume production yacht to date. Hanse consistently wows with its loft-style interiors - more like a luxury apartment in fact on this, its largest ...

  9. How large can I go without a crew?

    One of my bosses tried to run a 70 something footer by himself and wound up hiring a captain. Bigger boats need a lot of attention. Most work can be subcontracted out, but you still need to manage the boat. If you want to show up and go, hire a captain. If you do not mind putting in the time, you can run a large boat by yourself.

  10. Largest Boat You Can Operate Yourself: Discovering the Size Limitations

    Motorboats: Typically smaller in size and ranging between 10 to 40 feet, motorboats are usually easier to handle. However, larger motor yachts can extend up to 100 feet or more and may require more experience and skill. Sailboats: Sailboats demand a certain skill level, as you'll need to understand wind directions, rigging, and sailing techniques.. They vary widely in size, from small ...

  11. One person operation of 50-100 ft yacht?

    You can also forget locking through single-handed on anything bigger than Great Bridge (3' drop). If you can afford a 100 footer, buy a 50 footer and put the rest of the money toward crew salary since, as Pascal pointed out, your insurance company will require you to hire a captain anyway. And look up those other threads on single-handing.

  12. How big a boat can I handle by myself?

    I am looking at buying a 65′ trawler (beam=19′) that has twin 800 hp engines and weight is about 55 ton. Answer: Single-handling a boat depends on the design and layout of the vessel and the handler's physical fitness, strength, experience, nautical cunning and determination. There are very definite limiting factors that can help you ...

  13. How Big Of A Sailboat Can One Person Handle?

    Jonathan said that, in his opinion, the largest boat size to be considered for a single sailor is 40 feet. And he feels that is more than enough boat for most everyone. Today's boat designs offer as much interior volume and accommodations in 40 feet as the 45-footers of the 1990s.

  14. Biggest Boat without crew?

    1,628. Location: Vero Beach. ranger42c said: It depends. Largely on your experience and skill. Some 35' boats are more difficult than some 60' boats. A serious answer needs more info about you, about where and how you might use a boat, whether you'' usually have "non-hired" crew (and their experience), etc. -Chris.

  15. What is the largest boat you can drive without a captain's license

    With the appropriate boat licenses, you may typically operate a boat without a crew up to 75 feet in length. However, most boats need a crew to dock, launch, care for passengers, and watch for hazards or other vessels. An autopilot function might be essential to assist with keeping you on track if there is no one on board.

  16. Best Sailboats for One Person (With 9 Examples)

    In this article, I talk about single-handed sailing and look at the nine best sailboats for one person, ranging from small lake dinghies all the way to comfy cruisers capable of oceanic crossings. Here are the best sailboats for solo sailing. RS Aero. Jeanneau Sunfast 3200. Beneteau Oceanis 62.

  17. What Size Sailboat Can One Person Handle?

    Well, a sailboat measuring between 35 and 45 feet (10.5 - 14 meters) with a draft of about 2 meters, plenty of sail area, easy reefing, and well-working assistive equipment can be ideal for one person to handle. The boat shouldn't be over 9 tons as things can get a little tricky and out of hand if the boat exceeds this weight.

  18. largest boat I can sail alone

    5600 posts · Joined 2006. #3 · Jan 14, 2009. You can sail a very large boat by yourself, 50' 60', not out of the question. It's the docking, anchoring and picking up mooring balls that get real tricky alone. Lots & lots of people sail very large boats double handed so no need for a 'crew'.

  19. Largest yacht for experienced owner/operator?

    No vessel that is considered a yacht can be safely handled by 1 person. There are too many possibilities of risk: loss of propulsion, loss of steering, fire, electrical, acts of God. If you're getting into a 64' or 78' Lazzara, you need both an experienced Captain to run the vessel, and an experienced person to get the lines.

  20. What is the largest sailboat one person can handle? : r/sailing

    First, the size of your sails. Doesn't matter how big, strong, and fit you are, sooner or later you just can't handle the amount of cloth of your sail. That tends to be around the 300-400 sqft mark. Which brings you into the 50-60 foot size sailboat. Yawls & Ketches have the advantage here, with more but smaller sails.

  21. The World's Most Expensive Yachts—Including Some That Cost Billions

    This 590-foot ship is currently thought to be the largest private yacht in the world and one of the fastest, with a top speed of 35 miles per hour. To achieve this immense scale and speed, it ...

  22. How Big Of A Sailboat Can One Person Handle?

    A beginner should stay below 40 feet until they get some experience. With moderate experience, one person can comfortably handle a 45-foot sailboat. To exceed 45 feet, you want to have a high level of experience and a boat with systems to assist you in handling your sails and equipment. As with everything else related to sailing, the ability to ...

  23. What's the largest boat 2 people should handle?

    This way you can control the positioning of the bot while the crew does their work properly. I had both on a 61 footer and they were a real treat to use and keep the boat in place. 68-70 feet may be okay, 86 may be pushing it. Good luck. Capt Tom PS Some of us captains are fun to travel with. LoL

  24. What's the biggest sailboat one person can operate : r/Sailboats

    I saw a video about single handed sailing and they mentioned 45 to 50 feet would be largest reasonable size. It can be done on larger boats but it can become very difficult and very demanding. Like mentioned before it have to be rigged properly, and there is some cost associated to that.