Can You Sail Alone & In What Sailboats? (Size & Type)

Before you set sail alone, you need to understand the risks and challenges involved, such as falling overboard and not being able to get back on or being overwhelmed by any boat problems that may arise. To help you avoid such situations, you should know a few things when considering solo sailing and what types and sizes of sailboats you should opt for.

You can sail alone, but the recommended sailboat size is under 46 feet, as anything larger can be difficult to handle. The maximum size for single-handed sailing is under 35 feet. Smaller boats with lengths of no more than 27 or 28 feet are highly recommended, as they are easier to handle alone.

Specific sailboats are designed for single-handed sailing, such as the Tartan 3700, Hunter Channel 31, and J boats 109. These sailboats are created with features that make them easier to maneuver, such as self-tacking jibs and autopilot systems. Let's get to know other specific sailboat models and what type of sailboats they fall under.

  • If you're a beginner or have limited experience, smaller boats in the 10–20-foot range are ideal for solo sailing.
  • Sailboats with a canting keel or ballast system are ideal for solo sailing.
  • Sailboats with automation systems, electric winches, and electric windlasses make it easier to handle the boat alone.
  • A well-designed boat with efficient rigging will make it easier to handle even when you're alone.
  • Keelboats are perfect for solo sailing in rough seas, as their fixed keel provides them stability and helps prevent the boat from capsizing.

largest sailboat you can solo

Sailboats For Solo Sailing

Below is a table showing a few of the top sailboat choices suitable for solo sailing:

Ideal sailboat size for solo sailing

The size of the sailboat will impact your safety, comfort, and the activities you can do aboard the boat. Here are the different sizes of sailboats that are suitable for solo sailing:

Small sailboats for solo sailing

Small sailboats are ideal for beginners who want to sail solo. These sailboats are easy to handle and require minimal maintenance.

They are also affordable and can be towed behind a car. Small sailboats range from 8 to 16 feet in length and can be sailed in calm waters.

Some popular small sailboats for solo sailing include:

Medium-sized sailboats for solo sailing

Medium-sized sailboats are larger and more complex than small sailboats. They require more maintenance and are more expensive. Medium-sized sailboats range from 20 to 30 feet in length and can be sailed in both calm and rough waters.

largest sailboat you can solo

Some popular medium-sized sailboats for solo sailing include:

  • Catalina 250
  • Island Packet 27

Large sailboats for solo sailing

Large sailboats are suitable for experienced sailors who want to sail solo on long-distance voyages. These sailboats are the largest and most complex of all sailboats.

They require a lot of maintenance and are the most expensive. Large sailboats range from 30 to 40 feet in length and can be sailed in all types of waters.

Some popular large sailboats for solo sailing include:

  • Beneteau Oceanis 38.1
  • Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 389
  • Bavaria Cruiser 37
To get more insight on this, you can also read our article on What’s the Largest Boat One Person Can Operate?

Types of sailboats suitable for solo sailing

There are several types of sailboats that are suitable for solo sailing. Some of the most popular types are the following:

Dinghies are perfect for short solo trips

These small, lightweight boats are easy to handle and are perfect for solo sailing. They are also great for beginners who are just learning to sail. Dinghies are perfect for short solo trips and racing due to a number of reasons:

  • They are small and lightweight, which makes them easy to handle and maneuver. This means that a solo sailor can easily control the boat without the need for additional crew members.
  • They are fast and responsive, which makes them ideal for racing and short trips. They are designed to be sailed in relatively calm waters, such as lakes and sheltered bays, which are perfect for short solo trips.
  • They are relatively inexpensive compared to other types of sailboats. They are also easy to transport, which means that a sailor can easily take their dinghy to different locations for solo sailing adventures.
  • They offer a great way to develop sailing skills, as they require a high level of skill and concentration to sail effectively. Solo sailing a dinghy can help a sailor develop the skills and confidence needed to sail larger boats in the future.

largest sailboat you can solo

Examples of dinghies suitable for solo sailing include the following:

Keelboats are a good option for solo sailing in rough waters

Keelboats are larger than dinghies and have a fixed keel, which provides stability. They are also easy to handle and are suitable for solo sailing.

Keelboats are a good option for solo sailors who want to sail in rougher waters. They are more stable than dinghies and can handle stronger winds.

Since keelboats have a fixed keel, it provides them stability and helps to prevent the boat from capsizing in rough waters. This means that a solo sailor can sail with greater confidence and safety in rough conditions. Examples of keelboats suitable for solo sailing include the following:

Cruising boats are ideal for extended solo trips

Cruising boats are a popular choice for solo sailors who want to embark on extended trips. These boats are designed to be comfortable and safe for long periods of time at sea.

They typically have larger cabins, more storage space, and more amenities than smaller boats. However, they also require more experience and skill to handle.

Examples of cruising boats suitable for solo sailing include:

  • Island Packet 38
  • Catalina 320

These boats are designed for comfort and safety, with spacious cabins and plenty of storage space for supplies and equipment. Island Packet 38 is considered one of the best bluewater sailboats that are worthy to consider for solo sailing.

largest sailboat you can solo

Need more examples of sailboats that can be sailed single-handedly ? Here's an article for you.

The Basics Of Solo Sailing

Sailing alone is possible, and there are many sailboats designed for single-handed sailing. However, before you set sail alone, you first need to understand the risks and challenges involved, as well as the essential skills you need to learn.

Risks and challenges of solo sailing

Here are a few risks and challenges that you may encounter when solo sailing:

  • Isolation: Solo sailors spend extended periods of time alone on their boats, which can be mentally and emotionally challenging. The isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness, boredom, and even depression.
  • Physical strain: Sailing a boat solo requires a lot of physical exertion, including hoisting sails, navigating, and performing maintenance tasks. This can be especially challenging during rough weather conditions.
  • Equipment failure: When sailing solo, there is no one else to help if equipment fails or if there is an emergency. This means that solo sailors must be skilled in troubleshooting and repairing their boats, and must be prepared to handle any situation that arises.
  • Weather conditions: Solo sailors must be able to navigate and handle their boats in a variety of weather conditions, including storms and high winds. They must also be able to make quick decisions in order to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Sleep deprivation: Solo sailors must be able to function on very little sleep, as they are often required to stay awake for long periods of time in order to navigate and monitor their boats.

Essential skills for solo sailing

largest sailboat you can solo

To sail alone safely, you need to have a range of skills and knowledge, including the following:

Sailing skills: You should have a good understanding of how to sail your boat, including how to handle the sails, steer the boat, and navigate. Here are 5 pro tips on how you can raise the mainsail single-handedly .

Safety skills: You should know how to handle emergency situations, such as man overboard, capsize, or collision. You should also have a good understanding of basic first aid.

Navigation skills: You should be able to navigate using charts, GPS, and other tools. You should also have a good understanding of weather patterns and how they can affect your sailing.

You can refer to this article for a list of the most important single-handed sailing equipment you will need in your journey.
  • Maintenance skills: You should be able to perform basic maintenance on your boat, including checking and repairing equipment.
  • Communication skills: You should be able to communicate effectively with other sailors, marinas, and emergency services if needed.

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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 sailboat you can solo

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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largest sailboat you can solo

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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.

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Single Handed Sailboats: The Ultimate Guide for Solo Sailing

by Emma Sullivan | Aug 22, 2023 | Sailboat Gear and Equipment


Short answer single handed sailboats:

Single handed sailboats, also known as dinghies or small keelboats, are sailing vessels designed for easy handling by a single person. They typically feature smaller sizes, efficient rigging systems, and self-tacking jibs to facilitate solo sailing. Popular examples include the Laser, Solo, and Sunfish.

Exploring the World of Single Handed Sailboats: A Comprehensive Guide

Exploring the World of Single-Handed Sailboats: A Comprehensive Guide


Ah, the allure of sailing – the freedom, the wind in your hair, and the sense of adventure as you glide through pristine waters . While sailing with a crew can be a fantastic experience, there is something uniquely special about single-handing a sailboat. It’s just you and the elements, testing your skills and resourcefulness. If you’re ready to embark on this incredible journey, then keep reading as we dive deep into the world of single-handed sailboats .

Getting Started:

Before setting sail on your own, it’s crucial to become familiar with the basics. Single-handed sailing requires heightened awareness and expertise compared to traditional sailing. Begin by understanding how to handle different types of sails and rigging systems. Mastering reefing techniques – reducing sail area during strong winds – is an essential skill that ensures safety.

Moreover, make sure you’re well-informed about navigational tools such as charts, compasses, and electronic navigation systems like GPS. Familiarize yourself with weather patterns specific to your chosen sailing grounds so that you can plan journeys accordingly.

Selecting Your Vessel:

Choosing the right boat for single-handed sailing is paramount. Sailors often opt for smaller vessels due to their maneuverability and ease of handling without crew assistance. Cats, dinghies, pocket cruisers or some cleverly designed keelboats are popular choices among solo sailors.

Determine whether you prefer a monohull or catamaran; both have distinct advantages depending on your desired cruising style. Monohulls offer stability in rough seas while catamarans provide greater living space for extended voyages.

Downsizing to Minimize Hassles:

Sailing alone means taking on multiple roles simultaneously – helmsman, navigator, cook – leaving little time for relaxation if everything feels cluttered onboard. Downsizing becomes crucial in ensuring efficiency and smooth sailing. Opt for compact navigation and communication equipment, such as multifunction displays that combine multiple tools into one device.

Similarly, embrace minimalism in your provisioning strategy; smart food choices that require minimum preparation will save you valuable time onboard. Utilize clever storage solutions to maximize the use of limited space without compromising on essential items.

Safety Measures:

When it comes to solo sailing, safety should always be a top priority. Ensure your vessel is equipped with all necessary safety features including life jackets, fire extinguishers, rescue flares, VHF radios, and an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). Regularly check and maintain these devices to ensure their reliability during emergencies.

Don’t forget about personal safety equipment as well. Consider investing in a personal locator beacon (PLB), which broadcasts your location in case of man-overboard situations. Stay vigilant by practicing regular drills for emergency scenarios like heavy weather conditions or medical emergencies.

Navigating Challenges:

Single-handed sailing isn’t without its challenges – rough seas, unpredictable weather patterns, mechanical failures – they can all add extra pressure when you’re alone on the water. Mitigate risks by keeping a close eye on changing conditions and take preventive measures such as paying attention to weather forecasts before heading out.

Maintain a well-stocked toolkit onboard with essential spare parts and tools for minor repairs or adjustments. Additionally, familiarize yourself with a pre-determined inspection routine to identify potential issues before they become serious problems at sea.

Embrace Technology:

Technology has revolutionized single-handed sailing over the years. Embrace the digital era by incorporating innovative gadgets like autopilots or windvanes that aid in self-steering while you concentrate on other tasks aboard. High-quality electronic chart plotters can help track your progress accurately while reducing navigational stress.

Online communities are also a valuable resource for connecting with experienced sailors who share invaluable tips and advice on single-handed sailing techniques . Engaging with these communities can provide you with a support network and endless inspiration.


Single-handed sailboats open up a world of adventure, freedom, and self-reliance that is uniquely rewarding. By understanding the fundamentals, making strategic vessel choices, prioritizing safety measures, and embracing technology, aspiring solo sailors can confidently embark on an unforgettable journey.

So hoist those sails, chart your course, and set out to explore the mesmerizing vastness of the ocean – all on your own terms. Single-handed sailing awaits; prepare yourself for an experience like no other!

Sources: 1. “The Modern Cruising Sailboat” by Charles Doane 2. “Practical Freedom – The Minimalist’s Guide to Sailing & Adventuring” by Heidi Nielsen 3. “Complete Ocean Navigator: Using Celestial Navigation & Electronics Together” by Bob Sweet

How to Master the Art of Sailing Alone: Single Handed Sailboats 101

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling journey filled with adventure, solitude, and the thrill of sailing alone? If so, then mastering the art of single-handed sailing is an essential skill you must acquire. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of single-handed sailboats, providing you with invaluable tips and insights to ensure a smooth and successful voyage. So hoist your sails, grab your compass, and let’s dive into “How to Master the Art of Sailing Alone: Single Handed Sailboats 101.”

1. Understanding Single-Handed Sailboats: Single-handed sailboats are specially designed vessels that allow one person to navigate through open waters effortlessly. With their streamlined hulls and efficient rigging systems, these boats offer enhanced maneuverability while ensuring minimal physical effort.

2. Preparing for Solo Sailing: Before embarking on any solo sailing adventure, it is crucial to be thoroughly prepared. Start by meticulously inspecting your boat and its equipment; check for any signs of damage or wear. Ensure that your safety gear is up-to-date and in good condition – life jackets, flares, first aid kit – never leave anything to chance.

3. Knowledge is Key: To conquer the art of solo sailing, equip yourself with extensive knowledge about navigation techniques like chart reading, buoyage systems, pilotage planning, tide calculations – the more adept you become at handling these skills on your own, the smoother your journeys will be.

4. Harnessing the Power of Technology: With advancements in technology, sailors now have access to an array of gadgets that can simplify their voyages significantly. GPS navigational systems allow for precise positioning while autopilot functions provide temporary relief from steering duties during longer trips.

5. Seamanship Essentials: Developing competent seamanship skills is crucial for navigating alone effectively. Improve your understanding of wind patterns and currents; practice reefing maneuvers (reducing sail area) for varying wind strengths. Knowledge of anchoring techniques and man overboard procedures is essential to ensure your safety in adverse conditions.

6. Optimizing Your Boat’s Setup: Single-handed sailboats are designed with ergonomics in mind, but optimizing the setup according to your preferences is highly recommended. Familiarize yourself with winch mechanisms, ropes, and lines to ensure smooth operation singlehandedly – make adjustments that facilitate ease of use.

7. Safety First: Solo sailing entails a certain level of risk; therefore, prioritizing safety precautions is non-negotiable. Always inform someone ashore about your plans and anticipated return time. Maintain regular check-ins via radio or satellite communication devices to provide updates on your progress. Carry backup essentials like extra food, water, and emergency supplies.

8. Developing Self-Reliance: Becoming self-reliant at sea involves honing skills in all aspects of boat handling. Practicing docking maneuvers solo will boost confidence when facing potential challenges in crowded marinas or unpredictable weather conditions.

9. Enjoy the Solitude: Sailing alone offers a unique opportunity for introspection and personal growth beyond the nautical realm. Embrace the solitude as you connect with nature, appreciating breathtaking sunsets, stargazing under clear skies, and experiencing the freedom that accompanies this lifestyle.

10: Learn from Seasoned Solo Sailors: Lastly, never forget that learning from those who have mastered single-handed sailing before you can be immensely valuable. Seek out books written by experienced solo sailors, join online forums or attend seminars conducted by yachting associations – their wisdom will guide you towards success on your solitary adventures.

Mastering the art of sailing alone aboard a single-handed sailboat requires dedication, knowledge, and experience – but it is an exhilarating pursuit worth undertaking for those seeking solitude amidst nature’s most beautiful expanse: the open ocean. So start preparing today – your solo voyage awaits!

Step-by-Step: Navigating the Waters with Single Handed Sailboats

Sailing, with its romantic allure and sense of freedom, has been captivating adventurers for centuries. However, sailing solo brings a whole new level of excitement and challenge to the table. Enter single handed sailboats – vessels specially designed to be operated by just one person.

In this blog post, we will take you on a journey through the intricacies of handling single handed sailboats step-by-step. From preparation to mastering sailing techniques, we’ll cover it all with a professional touch and sprinkle of wit.

1. Choosing the Right Single Handed Sailboat: Just like finding your soulmate, selecting the perfect boat that matches your skills and preferences is essential. Factors such as size, stability, maneuverability, and equipment options should be thoroughly considered. We will guide you through this critical decision-making process so that you can find your ideal vessel.

2. Planning and Preparation: Before venturing into the majestic waters alone, thorough planning is crucial for safety and success . We will discuss everything from selecting suitable sailing routes to checking weather conditions and tides. Our expert advice will help you prepare both mentally and physically for your solitary voyage.

3. Safety First: Being alone at sea requires extra precautions to ensure your well-being throughout your sailing adventure . We’ll provide comprehensive tips on safety equipment selection, emergency procedures, signaling devices, first aid kits – all geared towards minimizing risks so that you can fully enjoy a worry-free experience.

4. Navigation Tips: As a single-handed sailor, navigating efficiently becomes even more critical without a co-pilot’s assistance. We’ll delve into advanced navigation techniques using charts and GPS systems while imparting wisdom gained from seasoned sailors on how to navigate tricky situations such as strong currents or sudden changes in wind direction.

5. Mastering Sail Trim: Properly adjusting sails is an art that leads to smooth-sailing experiences even on the most challenging waters. With our step-by-step explanations and clever insights, we’ll help you understand the intricacies of sail trim , from setting up your rigging to fine-tuning sail positioning. You’ll be able to catch every whisper of wind with finesse and grace.

6. Simplifying Maneuvers: Single handed sailors need to master various maneuvers that may ordinarily be shared among a crew. We will break down essential skills like tacking, jibing, reefing, and mooring into manageable steps. Equipped with our comprehensive guidance, you’ll smoothly perform these maneuvers as if you had a whole team by your side.

7. Boosting Confidence: Sailing solo can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially for beginners or those transitioning from crewed sailing . Our blog will offer practical strategies and confidence-building techniques derived from experts and experienced solo sailors alike. We aim to inspire you to push boundaries while testing your abilities in a responsible and thrilling manner.

So whether you dream of conquering vast oceans alone or simply desire the freedom that single-handed sailing brings, our step-by-step guide will give you the tools needed for an unforgettable adventure. Join us as we navigate the waters together with single handed sailboats – combining professionalism, wit, and clever insights throughout your journey!

Frequently Asked Questions about Single Handed Sailboats Answered

Title: Demystifying Single-Handed Sailboats: Expertly Answering Your Burning Questions

Introduction: Setting sail on a single-handed adventure can be an exhilarating experience, allowing you to chart your own course and reconnect with the raw power of the ocean. However, before embarking on this thrilling journey, it’s essential to address some frequently asked questions that commonly arise when discussing single-handed sailboats. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll navigate through the most burning inquiries, providing you with professional insights intertwined with witty and clever explanations. So fasten your life jacket and get ready for a voyage of knowledge!

1. What is a single-handed sailboat? Isn’t sailing traditionally a team sport ? Ahoy there! While sailing has historically been associated with collaborative efforts aboard larger vessels, the rise of single-handed sailboats has revolutionized the sport . A single-handed sailboat refers to any vessel designed and rigged specifically for solo sailing, encompassing various sizes and types tailored to meet individual preferences. Solo sailors prove their mettle by skillfully maneuvering these boats all on their own.

2. Is it safe to sail alone? Safety is paramount in any seafaring adventure! Single-handed sailing can indeed be safe if proper precautions are taken. Skippers must ensure they have extensive knowledge of navigation techniques, weather patterns, emergency procedures, and possess adequate skills in boat handling. Additionally, equipping yourself with safety gear such as life jackets, flares, EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons), and having reliable means of communication is crucial.

3. How challenging is it for beginners to learn how to solo-sail? Learning anything new always comes with a learning curve! For beginners venturing into the world of solo-sailing, it’s recommended to start small with simpler boats like dinghies or small keelboats . These vessels provide a manageable learning platform where inexperienced sailors can grasp the fundamentals – like boat handling, maneuvering, and understanding the effects of wind and currents. With time and practice, aspiring solo sailors can organically progress to larger vessels.

4. What are some popular single-handed sailboat designs ? In the vast sea of single-handed sailboats, a few designs have captured the hearts of sailing enthusiasts worldwide. The Mini Transat 6.50, renowned for its compact size and exceptional seaworthiness, is a favorite among adventurers seeking thrilling offshore endeavors. For those craving high-performance precision, the Laser Standard or Radial Olympic-class dinghies offer incredible speed and agility. The Contessa 32, with its classic charm combined with sustainability and simplicity, continues to attract sailors seeking elegance in their lone journeys.

5. How do solo sailors handle sleep during long trips? Sleep – every sailor’s treasure! During extended passages on single-handed sailboats, skippers face the challenge of managing rest alongside navigation duties. Cleverly designed autopilot systems can help maintain course direction while allowing brief periods for napping. Employing alarms, timers, or even physical cues (such as bucket-and-string techniques) enables skippers to wake up periodically to verify their boat’s safety and make adjustments if needed.

6. Can single-handed sails be set up by one person alone? Certainly! Single-handed sailboats are explicitly designed for self-reliance in all aspects – including setting up sails . Innovations such as lazy jacks (ropes that guide sails down into neat piles), furling systems (which allow sails to be rolled away easily), or even simplified rigging techniques grant solo sailors confidence in quickly adjusting their sail plan without relying on additional crew members.

Conclusion: As you navigate your way through these frequently asked questions about single-handed sailboats, it becomes clear that venturing out on solitary voyages holds a unique allure for adventurous souls around the world. Armed with knowledge on boat selection, safety precautions, and learning the art of solo sailing, you can confidently embark on a remarkable journey across tranquil waters or daring offshore expeditions. Single-handed sailboats embody freedom, self-reliance, and the boundless adventure that awaits those who dare to embrace the rhythm of wind and sea alone.

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Discover the charm of the Adriatic Sea aboard top-tier yachts provided by SkipperCity. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a beginner eager to learn the ropes, their expertly maintained fleet and knowledgeable crew ensure a safe and enjoyable voyage. Explore hidden coves, historic ports, and sun-soaked islands in a vessel that combines comfort and performance.

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The Advantages and Challenges of Sailing Solo: Single Handed Sailboats Unveiled

Sailing solo is a remarkable feat that demands both courage and skill. It requires sailors to navigate the open seas without any crew members by their side, relying solely on their own strength, experience, and intuition. For those with a longing for adventure or a desire to test their limits, single-handed sailboats provide both advantages and challenges that can truly unveil one’s capabilities.

One of the primary advantages of sailing solo is the unmatched sense of freedom it offers. There are no compromises or limitations imposed by others; you have complete control over every aspect of your voyage. Decisions such as course alterations, speed adjustments, or route planning are made solely by you, allowing for maximum flexibility and independence. This empowering experience not only strengthens your sailing skills but also fosters personal growth and self-reliance.

In addition to freedom, solo sailing allows for an unparalleled connection with nature. The serenity of being alone on a vast expanse of water surrounded by nothing but wind and waves provides an opportunity for introspection and tranquility that few other activities can match. The sheer beauty and vastness of the ocean become your constant companion, promoting a deep sense of appreciation for the natural world.

Moreover, single-handed sailboats often boast innovative designs specifically tailored to meet the needs of solo adventurers. These vessels are equipped with advanced technologies that simplify tasks usually carried out by multiple crew members. Features such as self-steering mechanisms or automated navigation systems make handling the boat more manageable and less physically demanding.

However, despite its many advantages, sailing solo also presents unique challenges that require careful consideration. One must possess extensive knowledge of seamanship techniques as well as advanced navigational skills to handle unpredictable weather conditions or unexpected emergencies effectively. Unlike in crewed voyages where individuals share responsibilities during watch shifts, solo sailors must remain alert at all times throughout their journey—daytime or nightfall.

Loneliness can also pose severe mental challenges during extended periods at sea. The absence of companionship and the constant exposure to solitude can test even the most resilient individuals. It requires a strong sense of self-motivation and mental fortitude to overcome feelings of isolation, boredom, or homesickness. However, for some, this isolation becomes part of the appeal—an opportunity for deep reflection and personal growth.

Furthermore, physical exhaustion is an ever-present challenge for solo sailors. Without crew members to share the workload, tasks such as navigating complex waters, handling heavy sails, or anchoring become physically demanding and potentially exhausting. Stamina and physical fitness are vital attributes that must be cultivated in order to withstand the rigorous demands of solo sailing.

In conclusion, sailing solo on single-handed sailboats offers adventurers a unique experience filled with advantages and challenges that unveil one’s true mettle. The freedom to chart your own course while basking in the beauty of nature is unparalleled. However, it demands a thorough understanding of seamanship skills, mental resilience to combat loneliness, and physical endurance to conquer tiring tasks at sea. For those seeking an extraordinary voyage that tests limits both internally and externally, solo sailing is an adventure worth exploring.

Dive into the Best Single Handed Sailboat Options Available Today

Dive into the Best Single-Handed Sailboat Options Available Today

Are you a sailing enthusiast, yearning for the ultimate solo adventure on the open sea? If so, you’ll be delighted to know that there is a wide array of single-handed sailboat options available today. These boats are specifically designed to empower sailors with the ability to navigate and operate their vessel independently, providing an unmatched sense of freedom and adventure. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at some of the best single-handed sailboat options currently on the market.

First up is the renowned Laser. This iconic boat has become synonymous with single-handed sailing due to its simplicity and maneuverability. The Laser’s streamlined design allows for swift and effortless sailing, making it an ideal choice for beginners and experienced sailors alike. With its durable construction and versatile rigging options, this sailboat offers incredible performance in various weather conditions . Whether you prefer leisurely cruises or competitive racing, the Laser is undoubtedly one of the top choices for any solo sailor .

For those seeking more speed and agility on the water , consider exploring the RS Aero. This cutting-edge sailboat represents a true revolution in single-handed sailing technology. Built with lightweight materials such as carbon fiber composites, the RS Aero offers exceptional speed while maintaining optimal stability even in strong winds. Its sleek design not only enhances performance but also makes it effortless to transport or store. Designed by expert sailors who understand the thrill of sailing solo, this boat guarantees an exhilarating experience like no other.

If you’re looking for a balance between comfort and performance, look no further than the Melges 14. This stylish sailboat combines modern design elements with practical features tailored specifically for solo sailors. Its spacious cockpit provides ample room to move around while ensuring easy accessibility to all controls and rigging systems – essential for those operating alone at sea. The Melges 14 boasts impressive acceleration capabilities and responsive handling, making it an excellent option for both recreational cruising and exhilarating races .

On the more adventurous side, you may want to explore the magic of trimaran sailing with the Corsair Pulse 600. With its innovative folding features, this sailboat offers unmatched flexibility in terms of transportation and storage. Capable of reaching high speeds and exceptional stability, the Corsair Pulse 600 is perfect for those who crave excitement on their solo sailing adventures. Its lightweight construction allows for effortless single-handed operation while being well-equipped with user-friendly systems that maximize control and safety.

In conclusion, if you’re a solo sailor seeking the thrill of navigating alone on the open sea , there is a wide range of remarkable single-handed sailboat options available today. From the timeless simplicity of the Laser to the cutting-edge technology of the RS Aero and Melges 14 to the adventurous nature of trimarans like the Corsair Pulse 600 – these boats are sure to ignite your sense of adventure. So grab your gear, set sail , and let these fantastic vessels take you on extraordinary journeys filled with unforgettable moments. Happy exploring!

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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…


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)

Delphia 10 boat tour: great value family cruiser

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The Largest Sailboat You Should Get For Your Solo Adventure

largest sailboat you can solo

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

Beneteau Oceanis 48

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:

Critical elements to consider for handling a large sailboat alone

Amel Super Maramu 53

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 .

The Largest Sailboat You Should Get For Your Solo Adventure

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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Better Sailing

Best Sailboats to Singlehand

Best Sailboats to Singlehand

Sailing alone can be an extraordinary experience for many boaters. Many have attempted to sail on long passages and explore the oceans. But, a common concern is, which one is the right boat to sail single-handed? We’ll find out together in this article. Fortunately, there are many suitable seaworthy vessels for one person. In this article, I list you the best boats to single-hand as well as find out what makes them appropriate for single-handing. These boats range from small lake dinghies all the way to comfortable cruisers capable of oceanic crossings. So, keep reading!

A Few Things About Single-Handed Sailing

There are many boats that perform particularly well for shorthanded sailing. However, the fact is that the structures on a boat have a greater effect on its suitability rather than the boat’s construction. Main features regarding single-handed sailing include easy sail controls, including the ability for one person to quickly tuck a reef in. And, let’s not forget the ability to easily change the sheets and the mainsheet traveller. If you’re looking for a boat to short-handed sail, start by looking at the reefing and sail handling systems, as well as the pilot’s specifications. It’s a great advantage to be able to reach both mainsheet and the primary winches from the helm. But, when sailing on long passages then the pilot might be steering for almost 100% of the time.

For shorthanded sailing, many sailors prefer smaller vessels. This point has a lot of sense because their compact size, ease in navigation in a small room, and less complicated structures, make them more simple to sail. But, keep in mind that there are also sailboats of 70ft that are set up to be handled by 1 or 2 persons on deck. In which case, the sailors must be experienced and be able to fix any damaged system. So, if a vessel is properly set up it can be easily handled by one or two experienced sailors, no matter its size.

Boats made from the early 1990s onwards are more stable than their ancestors, as well as deep draught low center of gravity keels. These are a great choice for single-handing. The added stability means a reduced need to reef which facilitates the overall sailing experience and performance.

In any case, the below-mentioned boats, and similar others in each respective range, form great choices for single-handed sailing. They all offer easy short-handling for either beginners or experienced. And also for those that want to experience calm sailing to those seeking a fast and responsive, but ultimately safe, vessel.

Handling and Set-up

First of all, when solo sailing, it’s important to focus on the ease of handling your boat. This is because you will be in charge of all roles; skipper, navigator, bow-person, dial trimmer, engineer, and chef! So, what you want to achieve here is making all these roles simpler in order to facilitate all tasks.

So, it’s advisable to take your boat out on a calm sea and experience all possible motions of sailing. Like you were racing or cruising but also hoisting sails, trimming, steering, and navigating. Like this, you will be able to see if any problems come up. The most common problem sailors experience is reefing the mainsail by themselves. Also, the spinnaker pole might be too much to handle by yourself or find it difficult to reach the sheeting positions. In other words, if you’ve never sailed short-handed before, this first experience might seem challenging. And, some things are really important to handle like reaching the main traveler while steering. But, don’t get discouraged! Consider taking notes while onboard, and start finding new ways of facilitating your voyage.

Some simple changes include shifting a halyard clutch. But, there are more challenging ones like switching to a single-line reefing system. Wherever feasible, a single-line reef system is preferable. But, adding a reef tack line and getting back to the cockpit can be even more convenient and require less line that will probably tangle in the cockpit. Keep in mind that the most important factor for single-handed sailing is to make your boat easier to sail. So, now let’s see the best boats for single-handed sailing!

The Hanse 371 was built from 1999 until the mid-2000s. The boat offered a selection of either deep or shallow low center of gravity fin keels. These were joined with the hull and a long waterline. Below the deck, you can choose between 2 or 3 cabin layouts with a comfortable galley. Hanse 371 benefits from self-tacking jibs so when tacking all you have to do is spin the wheel. And, in case you’re sailing on autopilot you just press a few buttons and you’re good to go.

In addition, you can increase sail area when reaching in light air with a Code 0 or asymmetric spinnaker. This model maximizes the amount of space and with a reasonable budget. So, with its great interior and performance, the Hanse 371 is a seaworthy vessel that may cost you around $60,000. Most importantly keep in mind that everything is standard and easy to use. Like this, you simplify your life while sailing single-handed.

Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200

The Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 was manufactured with offshore short-handed sailing taken into account since the beginning. This boat is not only a classical sailing boat but also a small and light one that is easy to navigate. Even better, it has the durability and strength to withstand long passages. And, for this reason, they built it specifically for the Trans-Atlantic race. This boat is especially impressive when you sail off the wind, and totally practical and reliable even when sailing alone. This could be due to the fact that the design and setup are mostly constructed for racing. So, it could be ideal for you if you’re looking for a coastal cruiser that’s easy to handle.

Even when sailing downwind, you can easily achieve double figures in terms of speed with this boat. In particular, the Sunfast 3200 features cutting-edge technology to provide you with the best strength-to-weight ratios possible. It has all of the requisite features to easily adapt it to perform admirably as a sailing or racing sailboat. The boat features two double cabins, a chart table, a galley, and a head compartment.

Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 Solo Sailing

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats Under 20ft

Beneteau Oceanis 62

Let’s now pass to the bigger fellas! As aforementioned, single-handed sailing doesn’t mean you have to choose small sailboats. This is because nowadays single-handed 60+ ft boats aren’t that rare in terms of production, as they were in the past.

Basically, the Beneteau Oceanis 62 meets the modern demands of today’s market and was specifically designed to provide ease of use. In other words, it can be easily handled and operated by a single person. I know that all this space might be a bit exaggerated, but if you’re the kind of person that enjoys being in oceanic solitude while benefiting from having a moving apartment, then this one is for you! Of course, there are more boats of the same size suited for short-handed sailing, like the Hanses, Bavarias, and Jeanneaus. But, you can find a new Oceanis 62 for around $724,500, which is a great price for boats of that size combining both performance and quality.

Beneteau Oceanis 62 Solo Sailing

>>Also Read: Is It Dangerous to Sail Around the World?

Hunter Channel 31

From the mid-1980s onwards, this British boatbuilder transitioned from racing to powerful but easy-to-handle small cruisers. As a result, a series of boats has been developed that can sail almost effortlessly without losing handling characteristics.

The deck layout features an effective layout, with an optional self-tacking jib and single-line mainsail. As a short-handed sailor, you’ll benefit from the tiller steering, which allows you to steer with your legs while trimming sails. The accommodation below decks is well-designed and provides considerably more room than the previous Horizon 30 model.

This model, which debuted in 2001, was of higher quality than the majority of Hunter’s other cruising models and greatly focuses on performance. It was also one of the company’s last all-new designs, so it benefited from the most up-to-date design at the time. This was especially apparent in the well-balanced hull shape, which also provided excellent form stability. Joined with high ballast ratios and low center of gravity keels resulted in a boat that doesn’t need continuous trimming to maintain high average speeds or avoid repeated broaching in gusts.

Hunter Channel 31 Sailboat

>>Also Read: How Far Can you Sail in One Day?

This is the prototypical short-handed performance boat in several respects. Long-distance single-handed and double-handed sailors love it as well as inshore racing teams. The boat’s offshore reputation has been well established, with many North Atlantic crossings under its belt. Although J/109 is often considered as a planing boat, this 19-year old model is too heavy to be one of that kind. It is basically a moderate all-rounder that offers great performance with the ability for extended surfing when offshore. The boat is also available in a shoal draught form, but it didn’t sell that much.

A great advantage is that the big asymmetric spinnakers can be easily gybed from the cockpit in light airs. And, a poled-out jib can still provide fast downwind speeds with an enviable degree of control in a true wind of more than 20 knots. Almost everyone sailing J/109s short-handed, at least in Europe, hasn’t used the boat’s original overlapping genoas so as to employ blade jibs that are set on roller furling gear.

The only downside is that the boat is expensive for one of this size on the second-hand market. However, its quality of construction and the high standard equipment aren’t going to let you down. Moreover, the interior layout is sparse and has less interior space, although it provides a well-designed and effective two-cabin compartment.

Catalina 315

This is a stylish pocket cruiser that raises the bar for solo sailors by providing exceptional comfort and efficiency. With a hull length of 31′, the Catalina 315 has more interior space than most classics and is still ideal for solo sailing. Rigging the Catalina 315 is a lot simpler with a masthead sloop because it has both an in-mast roller furling mainsail and a roller furling genoa.

Despite the fact that it is a much larger boat, it has a few key features that make all the difference. The split backstays, for example, are excellent for balance and functionality. This is one of the key reasons it was named the 2013 Boat of the Year Best Inshore Cruiser by Cruising World. The boat might surpass your needs when sailing solo, as it is a high-end sailboat with a price tag of more than $175,000. However, if that seems too pricey, you can look for a used model, which will be slightly less expensive.

Catalina 315 - Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing

Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20

The Flicka is a 20-foot sailboat developed and planned for extended cruising and bluewater sailing. The Newport workboats of the 19th century were distinguished by their sweeping sheer, proud bowsprit, blunt bow, broad beam, and low side decks. Flickas by Nor’Star and Pacific Seacraft have withstood the test of time. This is because most Flickas were made with polyester resin or vinlyester resins later on in the production. 

For some sailors, this is a disadvantage as you don’t realize just how small the Flicka is until you step into the cockpit. However, it’s a seaworthy vessel and offers a remarkably spacious interior. In addition, the robust tiller is mounted on the transom, thus giving good leverage for steering and freeing up cockpit space. As for the interior, there really is enough standing headroom as well as the open-plan without a full forward bulkhead opens things up. The galley offers all basic equipment and the V-berth is large and comfortable. 

On top of that, the Flicka is towable, seaworthy, and you can actually liveaboard. Even though it is a small craft you can still cross the oceans with it. On this one, there’s no denying that everything is within easy reach. At this scale, ergonomics are almost irrelevant. Because of its towability, the fact that it can be parked in your garden, and its short-handed capability, it’s the ideal spontaneous getaway vessel.

Amel 60 definitely got your back while sailing solo in the oceans. The Amel 60 features great advantages and, with its rectangular hull portlights and wraparound windscreen, it takes you on the modern cruising generation.

Fixed bowsprits and plumb bows ensure a modern design and experience. In addition, lines open out into beamy sections aft and benefit from twin rudders. And, since these forms, when paired with the proper buoyancy distribution, can provide a faster hull form, it’s a no-brainer for cruising designs to follow the secondary benefits that come with this fuller form. The watertight bulkheads ensure that the boat won’t sink. Moreover, the cockpit has a sturdy roof and windows, so you’ll be safe no matter the weather. And, the stable hull ensures great handling even in challenging weather conditions.

One of the main benefits is the increased volume, which applies to both the accommodation and the deck lockers. When heeled, twin rudders minimize drag and provide a more balanced feel while underway. However, if they get damaged they provide a redundancy level. The shallower rudders also help in mooring stern-to for those who spend more time in areas like the Mediterranean. In the interior, you get enough space and luxury as well. There’s even a washing machine! So, even if you are an experienced single-handed sailor that wants to benefit from space and performance, then with the $1.5 million price you will get this luxurious boat!

Amel 60

Beneteau 31

As a small cruiser keelboat, this French-designed vessel is predominantly constructed of fiberglass and is ideal for single-handed sailing without minimizing interior space and comfort. Its galley has ample storage and counter space, as well as a sit-down navigation station with a small table. The interior benefits from the straight-lined and elegant thinking of Nauta Design. The comfy seats on either side of a drop-leaf table double the living space. There’s also a spacious athwartship aft-cabin berth and V-berth.

Under power, maneuvering this boat is a breeze, and it’s well worth it for any solo sailor looking for a coastal cruiser. It has a fractional sloop rig, which allows for in-mast furling. This makes it simple to control while also making it strong in light winds. A bow pulpit and an optional asymmetric cruising chute will enhance the performance if you’re sailing the boat off the wind. The new 31 is estimated to cost about $115,000, which is very pricey but well worth it if you want to cruise the globe in this French masterpiece.

Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing – The Bottom Line

Singlehanded sailing is a great achievement in terms of adventure and endurance, especially for lone sailors that cross the oceans. Many experience sleep deprivation, the stress of being alone, and difficult weather conditions that have to be handled by yourself. So, if you decide to set sail for an offshore voyage on your own is a big step to make. And, surely you need a sturdy and seaworthy boat. All the aforementioned boats are considered to be the best cruisers for single-handed sailing. It is up to you to decide which one to choose. This will be determined according to your budget, preferences, needs, and course of your voyage. And, remember that sailing solo learns you to live independently which is a great achievement!


Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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Ultimate Guide to Solo Sailing

largest sailboat you can solo

In mid 1968, nine men set off from Great Britain to attempt to set a new solo sailing record that few people thought possible. Each of the men sailed a vessel of their own choice – which ranged from small modified bilge keelers to sleek racing trimarans of the latest design. The men varied greatly in age and were from vastly different backgrounds, but they were all driven by the same obsession – each of them desperately wanted to become the first person ever to sail nonstop around the world via the five great southern capes. 

To make the expedition even more challenging, they were going to do it alone. 

The voyage was thought to require between eight months and a year nonstop at sea, far longer than any previous sailors had ever spent without stopping to rest. Nobody knew if the boat could survive such a voyage, and nobody knew if the human mind could survive that kind of isolation and stress for such a long period of time. The general public opinion at the time was that it was a voyage for madmen, but each of the sailors were determined to prove otherwise. 

Soon, the media picked up on the story and the sailors became a regular feature on the front page news. The Sunday Times newspaper decided to offer a large sum of money to the first person to complete the voyage nonstop, and a race was born. They called it the Golden Globe, and it became the most infamous yacht race in the history of the world. 

In the end, only one man made it back alive. 

His name was Robin Knox Johnston, and early on in the race he was the last person anyone expected to win. Knox-Johnston was sailing his slow and heavy 32 foot vessel (named Suhaili ) against much larger and faster boats sailed by some of the most accomplished sailors in the world at that time. 

largest sailboat you can solo

One by one, the other boats dropped out of the race, (either due to damage to the vessel, sinking, or in one case, madness and suicide) which ultimately left Knox-Johnston the only sailor to make it back home in one piece. Ten months after setting out to sea, Robin Knox-Johnston returned to Falmouth, England, having sailed all the way around the world without once setting foot on dry land. 

Doctors and psychologists were eager to analyze him to determine what kind of crazy person was capable of such a feat. But what they found surprised everyone. After rigorous testing the psychologists found Knox-Johnston to be “distressingly normal”, even a little boring, according to one of the mental health professionals. 

The same voyage that had driven one of his competitors to madness and suicide on the high seas didn’t faze Knox-Johnston one bit. In the end, it was his normality in extraordinary circumstances, his ability to sail through a force ten storm without suffering a nervous breakdown or calmly dive over the side to fix his boat mid ocean, that saw him through to the finish line. He was at home on the ocean.

Solo sailing isn’t for everyone, especially sailing around the world for months on end without stopping for rest. But for some people, there is no better way to connect with the ocean and become totally in tune with the environment than to sail alone at sea. 

Of course, you don’t have to round the five great capes to enjoy a little bit of solo sailing. A simple passage through the trade winds or even a week-long cruise along a beautiful coastline can be an incredibly rewarding experience for any solo sailor. 

If you have ever dreamed of completing a single handed passage at sea, then this guide is for you. Here, I have compiled tips and tricks from some of the most accomplished solo sailors in the world, combined with my own experience from many years of sailing alone all over the world. 

In this guide, I will cover everything from picking the best boat for solo sailing, to learning how to sleep while alone at sea and much more. This article will give you the basics you need to get started in the world of solo sailing. 

Solo Sailing – One Hand for the Ship, One Hand for Yourself

I completed my first long distance solo sailing voyage at age 18, when I was hired to deliver a Contessa 26 from the Bahamas to the Pacific side of Panama by way of the Panama Canal. The vessel had recently been purchased by a famous solo sailor from Australia, who had set the record for the youngest person to sail solo, nonstop and unassisted around the world about ten years before on his Sparkman and Stephens 34, Lionheart . 

Due to unexpected work commitments, the owner was unable to sail the first leg of his journey back to Australia, so he hired me to move the boat through to the Pacific, where he flew in later to continue the voyage.

His new boat, a Contessa 26 named Carmen Sandiego , was the same design that was used by two previous young solo circumnavigators on their round the world voyages. The boat was small enough inside that she only had standing headroom in one small part of the cabin, but she was strong and well proven, so I was confident that the vessel could easily complete the voyage. 

I had previously done quite a bit of single handed sailing on my family boat in the Pacific Northwest, including some winter cruises above 50 degrees north, and I had already crewed on a number of trans-pacific voyages with other people. This was the first time I would be completing an offshore passage alone, but I was confident in my abilities. The boat had recently been refitted with solo sailing in mind, so I knew that she should be able to complete the voyage with few problems. All that was left was for me to put my sailing skills to the test. I was excited. 

Over the following two months I sailed down through the Bahamas, around the south coast of Cuba, across the Caribbean Sea to Panama, and through the Panama Canal to Colon. I encountered a number of different challenges along the way, including taking on the maze of reefs and shallow waters in the Bahamas against the prevailing winds, running aground on an unmarked sand spit far from land, sailing through a gale south of Jamaica, untangling myself from a bureaucratic nightmare in Cuba, taking on water in the middle of the Panama Canal, and last but not least, a close encounter with armed guerrillas in the jungles of Chiquiri. 

It was an excellent time! For pure adventure, there is nothing like your first offshore solo sail.

In the decade since, I have completed many more single handed sailing journeys in various parts of the world, but I will always treasure the memories from that first long solo voyage. 

All this solo sailing has given me a pretty good idea of what it takes to navigate a small vessel alone at sea, and I have put together all the most important lessons I have learned right here in this guide. I will begin with the most significant challenge for solo sailors, which is to manage the dangers involved with sailing alone. 

How Dangerous Is Solo Sailing? The Greatest Risks

I am often asked if sailing alone really is more dangerous than cruising with a crew, as many people believe. The answer is yes, solo sailing can be very dangerous, but most of the risks can be managed.

We all know that there are certain dangers involved with everyday life that simply can’t be avoided. You or I could be hit by a bus on the way to work or we could die of a heart attack while sitting on the couch and watching TV. Solo sailing means exposing yourself to a different type of risk, and those of us who sail alone would rather take our chances at sea than face a boring life without risk or adventure. 

With careful planning and proper preparation, most of the dangers involved with sailing alone can be avoided or significantly reduced. Some people associate my solo voyages with unnecessary risk, but in reality I consider myself a very conservative sailor. I spend countless hours before each voyage contemplating every conceivable danger and planning how I would deal with it at sea. Once at sea, I sail carefully – reefing the sails early to avoid stress on the rig and sailing the extra mile to steer clear of any reefs or floating objects. Thanks to this approach, I have always made it back to port in one piece without relying on outside assistance.

On the other hand, it is incredibly foolish to head to sea hastily in an ill equipped vessel. Not only do you put your own life at risk, but also those of you potential rescuers if disaster strikes and you need to call for help. I have known sailors who need to be rescued practically every time they head out to sea. This goes strongly against my solo sailing philosophy, which is to never get myself into a situation that I am unable to get myself out of. 

In this section, I will take a look at the most common dangers faced by solo sailors and some of the best ways to manage those threats, beginning with the most obvious, falling overboard. 

Falling Overboard When Solo Sailing

Falling overboard is probably the easiest way to turn a pleasurable cruise into a life or death situation. On a wildly moving vessel, it’s all too easy to fall over the side and never be seen again. Of course, the risk of falling overboard is still an issue on vessels with crew, but the danger becomes much more pronounced while sailing alone. 

The reality is, if you fall overboard while sailing offshore on any vessel, crewed or not, the chances of getting rescued are slim. Nobody knows how many sailors have died simply by falling overboard, but it likely explains a large percentage of disappearances at sea. 

Fortunately, there are some simple precautions that greatly minimize the chances of falling overboard at sea. The most important one is to always wear a safety harness while on deck. Solo sailors have been using some kind of safety harness to stay attached to their boat for many centuries, and the practice has saved thousands of lives over the years. 

largest sailboat you can solo

A boater’s safety harness is much like those used by mountain climbers, but they are typically worn over your chest rather than looping around the legs. The harness uses a tether with a carabiner on both ends to keep the skipper attached to the vessel – one end clips onto the harness and the other end clips to a secure point on the boat. 

There are a variety of commercially available safety harnesses that are both comfortable to wear and strong enough never to break if they are ever put to the test. Some harnesses incorporate an inflatable life jacket into the design, which gives you the safety feature of extra buoyancy once you are in the water. In the event that you are knocked unconscious as you fall overboard, like if you are hit in the head with the boom, the inflatable life jacket is designed to inflate and keep your head out of the water, thus saving you from drowning. 

I recommend running a jack line (Usually a long nylon strap with a very high breaking point) from bow to stern on both sides of the boat. Make sure that the jacklines are securely fastened at either end to a strong cleat or pulpit. The line is only as strong as the thing it’s attached to. 

Always wear a safety harness while at sea, and when you go up on deck, clip your tether in to the jacklines. It’s a good idea to buy a double tether with two clips, so that you are always attached to a secure point even while moving around the boat. 

It’s also important to make sure that the boat has some kind of swim step or boarding ladder that is accessible from the water. It’s often extremely difficult or impossible to climb back aboard a swiftly moving vessel once you have fallen over, even if you are still attached to the boat. Another important safety concern is to make sure the boat has secure lifelines, and to tow a line with a buoy a few boat lengths behind the vessel to grab ahold of if all else fails. It’s always a good idea to have a plan b just in case, especially when your life is at stake. 

Another recent innovation that could save your life is a man overboard (MOB) keyfob that you can attach to your harness or lifejacket. These fobs, which are either water activated or set off when you get a certain distance away from the boat, send a distress signal to the authorities. They are then able to track your location via an internal GPS and organize a rescue if it comes to that. 

Collision With a Ship

The next greatest danger to solo sailors is the possibility of colliding with a ship that is much bigger than your own. Every year, a ship arrives in port with the mast of a sailboat tangled in their anchor, having had no idea they hit something at sea. It’s rare for a small boat to survive such a collision, and usually there is no time to get into a liferaft before the boat sinks. 

The main reason that colliding with a ship is such a great risk for oceangoing sailors is that a small vessel is often impossible to spot from the wheelhouse of a commercial cargo vessel, especially in rough seas. Sometimes a small boat isn’t visible on the radar screen either, even if you keep a radar reflector out at all times.

Of course, colliding with a ship is also a risk for a crewed vessel, but it becomes more of a danger to the single handed sailor because they must eventually sleep, and it’s impossible to keep an eye out for ships while unconscious. 

Thankfully, you can go a long way toward eliminating this risk by equipping your boat with an AIS (Automated Identification System). An AIS uses the ship’s VHF radio and GPS to communicate with other nearby vessels, and it alerts you when they get within a certain range of your boat. 

Say you are sleeping at night while motoring through fog and a freighter (impossible to spot through the fog) is approaching you from the starboard bow. The AIS alarm will go off once the ship is ten miles away (as long as it’s set to this range), which wakes you up from your sleep. You check the AIS and determine that the ship will cross your bow in twenty minutes at a distance of five miles away. You can then watch the ship pass on the screen and resume your slumber once the ship is a safe distance away. I have avoided countless close calls at sea thanks to this very helpful technology and in many ways it has entirely changed the game for solo sailors.

Of course, an AIS system is not guaranteed to work at all times, and it’s always possible that other vessels may have their unit turned off for some unforeseen reason. (Fishing boats, for example, often turn off their AIS units to keep their favorite fishing grounds secret, even when they are required to broadcast their position by law.) That’s why it’s still important to regularly check the horizon for ships even when your AIS is on, just to be safe. 

Storms At Sea

The greatest fear for many sailors is the possibility of encountering a serious storm at sea. After surviving a number of bad storms myself, I can attest to this being a very real danger, but like most hazards that solo sailors have to contend with, the worst of the risk can be managed by taking the proper precautions. 

There are two ways that you can deal with the risks involved with storms, first to avoid getting into bad weather in the first place, and secondly to be prepared to deal with storm conditions in case you do get caught out in a bad blow.. 

Your chances of encountering dangerous weather depend very much on what kind of voyage that you will be embarking on. If you are planning a cruise through the trade wind regions that involves many ports of call and relatively short passages, it’s possible to sail for many years without ever getting stuck in a bad storm. On the other hand, if you plan to sail around the world by way of the five great capes and the southern ocean, you can be pretty much guaranteed to sail through many nasty storms along the way. 

Thanks to modern day weather forecasting and recent satellite communication technology, if you have enough patience you can avoid most bad weather by simply waiting in port and planning departures strategically around favorable weather forecasts. If this sounds like your kind of cruising, you will also want to stick to parts of the world with generally pleasant sailing weather. Antarctica and Cape Horn would be best left out of your world cruise itinerary in this case.

I like to use sailor oriented weather forecasting tools like predictwind,, passageweather, and GRIB files, along with NOAA and government issued weather forecasts to plan my sailing routes. Once at sea, it’s possible to use technology like the Iridium Go satellite messenger to continue to obtain GRIB files and analyze the weather along the way. 

The most important thing that you can do while cruising in tropical regions to avoid dangerous weather is to stay outside of the hurricane belt during storm season. Before leaving on your voyage, make sure you have a plan for where you will go to wait out hurricane season, and leave yourself plenty of extra time to get to a safe region in case you encounter delays along the way. 

Of course, anyone planning an offshore passage must be ready to deal with bad weather in case it does hit. That’s why it’s imperative to choose a vessel that’s capable of surviving a severe storm and have a plan in place for heavy weather sailing tactics (and practice them during safer conditions). 

During sea trials prior to departure, practice heaving to and setting a drogue or sea anchor when the wind picks up. Make sure that the vessel is equipped with storm sails and a safe way to deploy them in strong winds. Ideally, all the sails can be controlled from the cockpit, so that you never need to go forward on the heavily pitching deck in a gale. We will discuss setting up your boat for offshore sailing in further detail later in this article series. 

Collision With a Reef or Floating Object

largest sailboat you can solo

Another serious risk to solo sailors is colliding with a rock, reef or unseen floating object. Here, technology comes to the rescue once again to significantly reduce much of the risk. 

99 percent of modern day cruisers use GPS technology linked to a chartplotter to navigate. This makes it much easier to avoid getting too close to an unlit rock or reef – unlike in days past when sailors had to rely on a sextant and unreliable celestial navigation to determine their coordinates. With navigation today so straightforward and most typical sailing routes well charted, nobody on the water has any excuse to take unnecessary risks and sail too close to dangerous areas. 

In the high latitudes such as the Arctic or the Southern Ocean, the potential to collide with ice can be a real danger. Icebergs, (which have become much more prevalent in some areas due to climate change) have caused many a ship to visit Davy Jones’ Locker, including famous “unsinkable” vessels like the Titanic . 

If your boat is equipped with a radar, you can keep an eye out for the larger pieces of ice, which leaves the small pieces floating at or below the waterline (referred to as growlers) as the greatest threat. 

For sailors headed into high latitudes, I would recommend equipping your boat with a “crash box” built into the bow. A crash box is a watertight compartment built below the waterline that is filled with foam and sealed off from the rest of the boat. If the vessel hits ice or another floating object, it’s most likely to be the bow that gets damaged. With a crash box or collision bulkhead, only the small compartment is filled with water, leaving the rest of the vessel intact. The foam should help cushion the effect of the collision, which can limit the amount of damage that you suffer. You can then make repairs at sea and continue with your voyage. 

I am always amazed that more vessels today aren’t built with positive buoyancy. Positive buoyancy means that the boat is constructed with enough flotation that it will stay afloat even if it’s totally filled with water. The vessel can then be repaired at sea or even sailed to the nearest port still full of water. After all, we all know that the best lifeboat in an emergency is your primary vessel. 

In the 2016 edition of the Vendee Globe race, the winning competitor Francois Gabart had his vessel built with multiple watertight collision bulkheads and filled with enough floatation to give it positive buoyancy. This extra safety feature gave him the confidence to push the boat harder, knowing that even in the worst disaster the boat would stay afloat. Ultimately, this confidence saw him through to the finish line – in first place.

Of course, you should always equip your boat have a backup liferaft and ditch bag along with a well thought out abandon ship plan in case of the worst. But with the proper preparation, the need to abandon ship is extremely unlikely. 

Fatigue and Injury at Sea

One of the most underrated but very real dangers of solo sailing is the risk of having some kind of medical emergency at sea, far from the help of doctors or a hospital. It’s easy to accidently hurt yourself alone at sea, in fact many solo sailors have keen killed by something as simple as being hit in the head by the boom. There is also the possibility of developing appendicitis or having a heart attack mid ocean, along with various other health concerns.

The best way to minimize the possibility of having a medical emergency that could prematurely end your voyage is to stay healthy as possible, keep a well stocked first aid kit onboard the boat, and to get some solid training in wilderness survival and first aid. It’s now possible to connect with doctors on shore through satellite technology, and they can talk you through basic medical procedures. 

Another underrated danger for solo sailors is fatigue. Too often, a single poor decision, made after days without sleep has led to disaster. I have had more close calls than I would like to admit after four or five days without any rest, and I now take every effort to get decent rest when I can on a solo sailing passage.

Fatigue is going to be a very real factor for any long distance single handed sailor. It’s important to know your limits and understand how you react in such conditions before you leave, so that you can know when it’s time to stop pushing the boat and rest. Sometimes the best course of action is simply to heave to and take a nap, or put out the sea anchor for a while. 

On a long passage, dealing with fatigue is unavoidable, but more often than not disasters occur due to pushing unnecessarily when one could simply stop for a while and rest. Sometimes it’s worth it to lose a few miles of progress in order to recharge your personal batteries.

Rogue Waves

In the end, there are some risks that simply cannot be greatly reduced by preventative measures. Much like alpinists getting swept off a mountainside by an avalanche, the prospect of a small boat being hit by a rogue wave is a real risk that cannot be controlled. 

Fortunately, the chance of ever encountering a dangerous rogue wave at sea is very slim. If you end up sailing in areas where rogue waves are more common, like the southern ocean, then your best hope for survival is having a vessel built like a tank. 

In the case of being hit by a rogue wave, it’s often better to have a smaller boat as there is less surface area to be damaged. It’s also beneficial to have very small windows, and for them to be built from as close very strong glass or lexan. Rogue waves have been survived by numerous boats throughout history, including the largest waves ever believed to have been observed by human eye, at Lituya Bay, Alaska in 1958.

Loneliness and Mental Health

Last but not least, you should never underestimate the  dangers of loneliness as a first time solo sailor. The teenage solo sailor Robin Lee Graham, who famously sailed around the world onboard his 24 foot sloop Dove in the late 1960’s, always said that dealing with loneliness was his greatest challenge at sea. 

A tragic example of the dangers posed by loneliness and stress on a solo sailing voyage is Donald Crowhurst, who was driven mad by the isolation while attempting to sail around the world in the Golden Globe yacht race. 

Crowhurst attempted to circumnavigate on a vessel that was unprepared for the Southern Ocean and he had acquired almost no blue water experience before leaving. At the start of his voyage, he was disappointed by his boat’s slow progress and realized that he had little chance of completing a successful expedition on his boat. 

Instead of returning home defeated, Crowhurst sent fake progress reports supposedly from the Southern Ocean, claiming to break daily speed records while actually drifting slowly in circles in the Atlantic Ocean. (Of course, a deception like this wouldn’t be possible today, with GPS tracking used for all record breaking voyages.) 

In the end, Crowhurst gave up his fake circumnavigation attempt and committed suicide, presumably by jumping over the side of his boat. His trimaran was found empty a few months later, and his journal revealed the true story of his ordeal, which had been recovered from the derelict vessel. 

These days, mental health concerns are taken much more seriously than they were in 1968, and we are beginning to better understand how to cope with things like isolation and loneliness. The coronavirus pandemic gave millions of people a taste of isolation, although a very different kind than that faced by a lone sailor at sea.

I believe that psychological fitness for a solo voyage comes down to personality and predetermined genetic factors. A voyage that would be extremely pleasurable for one adventurer as a way to connect with their boat and the sea would be another person’s worst nightmare. 

It takes a certain type of person to sail alone for weeks or months on end with nobody to talk to and suffer no psychological harm. Of course, modern day communication technology makes it much easier to stay in touch with friends and family back ashore, which can make the psychological toll of a long solo voyage much easier to handle for some sailors. On the other hand, the constant connection with land ruins the peace of an offshore voyage for serious solitude seekers, and more than one solo voyager has thrown their communication equipment overboard after one too many unpleasant calls back home. 

But How Do You Sleep At Night? – Catching the Z’s on a Solo Passage

Personally, I find the lack of uninterrupted sleep to be the worst part of solo sailing. Each sailor has their own difficulties that they face at sea, but for me missing out on sleep is much worse to deal with than the isolation or loneliness. 

I am often asked questions like “do you take down the sails and stop the boat when you are sleeping?” or, my personal favorite,“do you always anchor at night in the middle of the ocean?”. In this section, I will answer some of those questions and explain the great mystery of how solo sailors sleep at sea.

Single handed sailors rarely stop sailing when it’s time to rest – that would mean that we would no longer make progress toward our destination and often we would end up drifting backwards, an unthinkable horror for sailors determined to make good passage time. The key to sleeping at sea is the use of self steering gear to keep the boat headed in the right direction, along with a strict schedule for waking up to check on things and keep an eye out for danger. 

Different solo sailors have approached this issue in different ways. Joshua Slocum, an American sailor who was the first person to sail around the world alone, found ways to keep his boat balanced under sail and claimed that she could hold a steady course for days at a time without ever touching the helm. He often slept for hours at a time, and once claimed that a phantom helmsman came aboard to keep the vessel clear of danger while he was violently ill from food poisoning and unable to manage the boat. 

Other sailors have had more difficulty trying to use Slocum’s self steering technique, but most boats will hold a course decently well with the wheel lashed amidships and the wind forward of the beam. The problem is when you are sailing with the wind aft of the beam, most boats tend to round up into the wind. 

This issue was tackled in the 1950’s by British sailor Blondie Hastler who designed the first self steering windvane, an invention which has become essential equipment for any modern day solo sailor. A windvane is a piece of equipment that is mounted on the stern of the boat which uses a small sail (usually a piece of plastic or aluminum) and a tiny auxiliary rudder to keep the boat on course based on the wind direction. With the boat sailing properly, the sail, or vane, is set perpendicular to the wind so that it passes on both sides of the vane. If the boat moves off course, the wind hits the side of the vane, which pushes it over, pulling lines which turn the auxiliary rudder and bring the boat back to her original position relative to the wind. 

There are many different variations to the design, but the fundamental concept is the same. Of course, if the wind direction changes then the boat will move off course, but for most offshore sailing passages there is a prevailing wind direction that holds relatively steady much of the time. A windvane needs regular adjustments to keep the boat sailing on course, but when everything is working properly it will take care of 95% of your steering under sail.  

More recently, solo sailors have added electronic autopilots to the self steering toolkit for offshore sailing, but windvanes remain a favorite because they are generally quite reliable and don’t require any electricity to operate. An autopilot becomes useful while motoring for long distances, or for racing boats that go so fast that the apparent wind direction becomes too different from the true wind direction and a windvane is no longer effective.

With the windvane steering and the sails set, it’s possible for solo sailors to sleep, but only for very short periods of time. It’s still important to constantly check the sails and make adjustments when needed, watch the weather, and to keep an eye out for ships. Most solo sailors end up sleeping in catnaps anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes at a time, punctuated by regular inspections of the vessel. I tend to sleep for about 20 minutes at a time when relatively close to land, and up to an hour when I’m in a really remote part of the world that’s far from hazards like reefs or shipping lanes. 

Of course, this catnap style of sleeping means that solo sailors rarely get the chance to get proper REM sleep while on passage, sometimes none at all for months on end. Because of this, single handed sailors have been the subject of many different studies about sleep, especially those who participate long offshore races where they have the added stress of being in an extremely competitive environment.

I use the alarm on my cell phone along with a separate backup alarm to wake me up to check on the ship. This usually works pretty well, although admittedly I have slept through both alarms on different occasions. 

During spells of nice weather, I sometimes like to sleep in the cockpit. I lay a sleeping bag and pillow on the leeward cockpit seat, make sure that I am securely clipped in with my safety harness, reef the sails down in case the wind picks up, and stretch out to enjoy the stars. Some of my best memories of offshore sailing are from night watch in the tropics, when I spend hours looking up at the constellations or watching the phosphorescence in our wake. 

In the cockpit, I feel more in tune with the boat, and I know I will wake up in an instant if the wind changes or the boat moves off course. Sleeping down below is more secure from the elements, but you don’t get the same feeling of oneness with the ocean. Of course, this isn’t possible when the going gets rough. 

I am someone who values a good long sleep every night, eight or even nine hours if I can get it. But on solo passages I can only manage five hours on average per day. On certain occasions, such as during a serious storm or while stuck without wind in the shipping lanes, I have been forced to stay awake for four or five days straight. This is always awful. By the third consecutive day without sleep, it becomes a kind of hell, and by day four or five I know I’ll soon begin to hallucinate if I can’t rest soon. At that point I find myself nodding off at the helm regardless of how much caffeine I drink. Sleep becomes more important than anything else in the world, even avoiding collision with a ship. 

It’s in situations like this, when extreme fatigue seriously reduces critical thinking that many accidents happen. That’s why it’s so important to get a good rest when you can and to have a functioning AIS onboard. That way you have more opportunity to rest and let the alarm warn you if a ship gets too close, even close to shipping lanes. 

Extreme sleep deprivation aside, few people get excited about the prospect of nothing but catnaps for weeks on end, and for some would be solo sailors it’s a dealbreaker. If you need your beauty sleep, then long distance solo sailing might not be your best choice of hobby.  

Of course, the best rest of any voyage is when you drop the anchor at the end of a long passage and can finally sleep like the dead. After completing a long solo sail, the thing that I often look forward to the most, even more than fresh food or a hot shower, is blissful, uninterrupted sleep.

Is Solo Sailing Legal? 

Sometimes, the question comes up if solo sailing is actually legal. After all, nobody is watching the vessel while you are sleeping, even if it’s only for 20 minutes at a time. 

So does sailing alone across the ocean break any laws with regards to proper watchkeeping? In this section, I’ll discuss the legal aspect of solo sailing. 

The “International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea or COLREGS (often referred to by boaters as ‘rules of the road’), are an agreement between all 168 UN member nations about what constitutes proper watchkeeping at sea. According to rule #5, “Every vessel must at all times keep a proper look-out by sight, hearing and all available means in order to judge if risk of collision exists.” The COLREGS also state that “these rules shall apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith navigable by seagoing vessels.” 

Due to the fact that it’s impossible to keep watch with “sight, hearing and all available means” while sleeping, and all solo sailors obviously eventually have to sleep, it has been debated by solo sailing critics that completing long passages alone should be considered an illegal activity.

Despite this argument, there are no clear examples of anyone ever taking legal action against solo sailors for not meeting the COLREG requirements. So for now, it’s safe to say that you won’t be arrested for solo passagemaking, but it’s a good idea to always have crew aboard any commercial vessel. 

There is also the debate that with AIS, radar, GPS and other technology it’s possible to keep a proper watch purely through technology, but again, this theory has yet to be tested in a court of law. 

The legal debate around solo sailing comes up on the international stage every few years when there is a high profile rescue of a solo sailor.One recent example was when Abby Sunderland (a highly inexperienced teenage sailor) was rescued in the Southern Ocean. Sunderland was attempting to break the round the world age record by sailing an ill equipped race boat through the roughest waters on the planet in the middle of the winter. Other southern ocean veterans suggested Abby wait in port for the seasons to change and the weather to become more favorable, but that would mean losing any chance of obtaining the record. She ignored their warnings and sailed on into the Southern Indian Ocean.

As most experienced sailors expected, her vessel capsized about half way across and was dismasted, leaving Abby to be rescued at the expense of Australian taxpayers. Her boat was left to drift and continued to pose a hazard to navigation for almost a decade after the incident. It was finally found washed up on a beach in 2019.

Thankfully, the vast majority of solo sailors are far more competent than Sunderland – using technology and careful watchkeeping to avoid collision or disaster. By playing it safe every time, it’s possible to reduce the likelihood of disaster to near zero, thus keeping the oceans open for everybody, including solo sailors.  

How Big of a Boat Can You Sail Alone?

What size of boat can you safely sail alone across the ocean? The answer is anything from 5 to 236 feet in length, which is the size of the smallest and largest vessels ever to be sailed solo across an ocean. 

On the small end of the spectrum is the diminutive five foot four inch Father’s Day , the tiny oceangoing microcruiser that Hugo Vilhen sailed alone from Newfoundland to Falmouth in 1993. Vilhen, a Korean war veteran and commercial airline pilot, had previously set the record for the smallest vessel to sail across the Atlantic on his six foot boat April Fool’s in 1968. Some years later, the record was beaten by Tom McNally in a slightly smaller vessel, so Vilhen built a new boat, Father’s Day , and reclaimed the record after 105 days at sea. 

As for larger single handed vessels, Alain Colas raced the massive 236 foot, four masted sailing behemoth Club Mediterranee across the Atlantic in the 1976 OSTAR race. The idea was that as long as he could keep the vessel sailing in the right direction, the hull speed of the massive vessel would guarantee him a first place finish. Despite his best efforts he crossed the finish line in second place to Eric Tabarly, who was sailing a much smaller trimaran. 

These are examples on the extreme ends of solo sailing limits, but the point they proved was that a lone sailor could cross the ocean on just about any vessel as long as it is properly set up to be managed by one person at sea. 

Generally speaking, solo sailors choose boats between 20 and 40 feet for offshore voyaging, and smaller is generally considered better for a variety of reasons. First, a smaller boat is easier to manage, the sails take much less effort to raise and lower, and the surface area for waves to break on the deck and cabin top is much less. Contrary to popular belief, a larger boat is not always safer at sea, and large ships are just as likely to founder as a small vessel in a bad storm.

Large oceangoing vessels have been known to break in half under certain conditions, as has been observed by freighters off the South African coastline. In these instances, the hull spanned two large swells with the middle unsupported, causing the vessel to break in two. A well built small boat is sometimes safer than a larger one because they can bob around at sea through storms much like a corked bottle. 

The same storm that may smash a lightly built 60 foot cruiser to pieces causes no damage to a small buoy. In fact, it’s quite possible that tiny Father’s Day may be capable of surviving a storm that could cause Club Mediterranee to break apart and sink.

That said, a small vessel will certainly be much less comfortable in rough conditions than a larger vessel, and if she is not properly sealed, more likely to swamp with water. A good compromise for solo sailors is to choose a well built and seaworthy 20 to 30-something foot boat for offshore voyaging. This size vessel should have enough room for one person to live comfortably down below, but still be small enough for a solo captain to handle in all conditions. But remember, more important than the size of the boat is a seaworthy design and construction. 

If you are looking for the right boat to take on a single handed cruise, make sure to read the next article in our series “How to Choose a Boat for Solo Sailing – A Guide”. 

Solo Sailing Essentials for the Modern Day Yachtsman

largest sailboat you can solo

Contemporary boaters love to debate the pros and cons of sailing gear until the cows come home. That said, there are a few pieces of kit that are considered necessary for every modern day solo sailor. Below, I have put together a list of items that I never leave home without. 

  • Life raft, EPIRB and Ditch Bag. 
  • Delorme InReach Satellite messenger. 
  • Good set of foul weather gear. 
  • Fishing Gear. 
  • AIS System: 
  • Handheld GPS and Paper Charts.
  • Books, movies, musical instruments and other entertainment

Singlehanded Sailing – Is It Right for Me?

Solo sailing certainly isn’t for everyone, but for the right person there is no experience more rewarding than to captain their own vessel across the seas, relying purely on their own skill and endurance. 

Solo sailing can drive some people to madness, but for others it offers a mid-ocean paradise. What is the difference between those who love solo sailing and those who have it? More than a century after Slocum completed the first solo circumnavigation, experience has shown that the people who can sail alone for long distances and remain sane throughout the voyage are those who can make themselves feel at home on the ocean. 

How do you know if solo sailing is the right challenge for you? I would give the same advice as Robin Lee Graham, the famous teenage solo sailor from California. 

If you have never spent long periods of time in isolation before, start small. Pack up your gear and go out camping for a weekend away from other people. See how you like being in your own head for a few days, and if you enjoy it then go back out for a week. It doesn’t have to necessarily be on the ocean, just somewhere where you are guaranteed not to encounter anyone. 

Being alone in a house or camping near other people but not talking to them doesn’t count. It’s a very different experience of isolation when there is nobody nearby at all than to simply not interact with people. If you can take a full week of being alone and return home in good spirits, then solo sailing might be your thing. 

I didn’t always enjoy every minute of my solo sailing voyages, and more than a handful of times it almost made me question my sanity. But I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. 

I can remember sunsets at sea that looked more vivid than a Picasso painting, days spent sailing through a sparkling sea with nothing but puffy trade wind clouds from horizon to horizon. I remember the feeling of freedom when I was hundreds of miles from the nearest person and my only companions were the birds, the dolphins and the whales. It’s times like this that make solo sailing worth it. 

The voyage may only last for a few months, but the memories will last a lifetime. 

For anyone planning on embarking on a solo sailing voyage, you need a reliable source of high quality, up to date information on all aspects of the boating world. Thankfully, is there. is the best place online to learn about all things boating, from getting your vessel ready for a solo sailing voyage to learning about sailing routes across the Pacific Ocean, and everything in between. The easiest way to keep up to date is to subscribe to our newsletter and get all the best news and content sent right to your inbox!

And don’t forget to read the next article in our solo sailing series, “How to Pick a Boat For Solo Sailing – A Guide”. 

There are few challenges as great or as rewarding as attempting to complete a solo sailing voyage across the oceans. Our article “The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sailing” gives anyone who is preparing to embark on a single handed sailing adventure everything they need to get started. If you have ever dreamed about sailing alone across the bay or across the hemisphere, this is the guide for you!


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Yachting World

  • Digital Edition

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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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Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing

It can be really intimidating to think about sailing alone for the first time. But don't let that stop you. Here are some of the best sailboats for solo sailing.

Michael Moris

October 17, 2023

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

‍ It can be really intimidating to think about sailing alone for the first time. But don't let that stop you. Here are some of the best sailboats for solo sailing.

It can be tough to find someone who's available and willing to go sailing with you on short notice. And even if you do manage to find a partner, there's always the risk that they might cancel at the last minute or that weather conditions will be unfavorable.

The best solo sailing sailboats are easy to maneuver and have all the necessary safety features. The Jeanneau Sunfast 3200, J/109, Hunter Channel 31, West Wight Potter 19, and Cape Dory 28 are all great choices. Each one has its own unique set of features that make it ideal for solo sailing.

If you're looking for the best sailboats for solo sailing, you've come to the right place. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best options on the market and help you decide which one is right for you. We'll cover everything from small boats that are perfect for beginners to larger vessels that can accommodate a crew. So, whether you're a first-time sailor or an experienced captain, read on to find the perfect boat for your next adventure.

When selecting the best sailboats for solo sailing, we considered various factors, including size, ease of use, and safety features. We also looked at the opinions of experienced sailors to get a better idea of which boats are most popular among those who like to sail alone.

largest sailboat you can solo

Table of Contents

‍ 1. Jeanneau Sunfast 3200

The  Sunfast 3200  is a highly popular choice for sailors seeking a solo-sailing vessel. It's fast, comfortable, and relatively easy to handle, making it ideal for those who want to enjoy the experience of sailing without having to worry about the challenges that come with larger boats.

There are a few things that make the Sunfast 3200 stand out from other solo-sailing vessels. First, its deep and wide keel helps to provide excellent stability and tracking. This is particularly important when sailing in windy conditions or when making turns at high speeds. Additionally, the boat's hull is designed to provide good aerodynamic properties, which helps to reduce drag and improve performance.

One of the most impressive features of the Sunfast 3200 is its large cockpit. This provides plenty of room for crew members to move around, giving them the ability to access all the boat's controls easily. Additionally, the cockpit features several storage compartments that can be used to keep sails, equipment, and supplies close at hand.

The Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 features two cabins that can comfortably accommodate a single person. There is also a small galley area that can be used to prepare meals or snacks. Finally, the boat is fitted with several navigation and communication systems, making it easy for sailors to stay safe and in touch while out on the open water.

Since this vessel has a keel-stepped mast, we recommend going with the sloop Marconi rig. This will provide you with the greatest amount of control and stability when sailing. The Sunfast 3200 is also available in a ketch or cutter rig, but these options are best suited for experienced sailors looking for a more challenging sailing experience.

According to designer Daniel Andrieu, the Sunfast 3200 was designed to be "the ultimate solo-sailing machine." Andrieu says that he wanted to create a boat that would be "safe, fast, stable and easy to handle." As a result, the boat sits on the wide side and is as light as possible, allowing them to cram almost 3,000 pounds of their 7,496-pound light displacement into the iron fin and lead keel bulb.

The twin tillers, which drive two high-aspect rudders, provide excellent helm control for either tack at any point of sail. The boat's wide beam helps to provide good stability, and the deep keel ensures that it tracks well in windy conditions.

The Sunfast 3200 features a 15hp Yanmar Diesel engine located in a watertight compartment beneath the cockpit sole. This helps keep the vessel's center of gravity low, improving both performance and handling.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Sunfast 3200 is its speed. Under power, the boat can reach speeds of up to 8 knots. However, it shines when under sail. Thanks to its light displacement and high-aspect sails, the Sunfast 3200 can reach speeds in excess of 20 knots.

The Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 was chosen as the European Boat of the Year by the European sailing media in 2008. This is a testament to the boat's design and construction quality and its performance on the open water.

One downside to the Sunfast 3200 is its price tag. At over $160,000, it's one of the most expensive solo-sailing vessels on the market. However, given its impressive performance and features, we feel that it's worth every penny. The 20-gallon fuel capacity isn't great, but it's not terrible either. The engine is very efficient, so you won't have to refuel too often.

The  Jeanneau Sunfast 3200  is an excellent solo-sailing vessel that will provide its owner with years of enjoyment on the open water. It's fast, stable, and easy to handle, and it comes packed with several features that make it a great choice for both experienced sailors and first-time boat buyers alike. If you're looking for a high-performance solo-sailing boat, the Sunfast 3200 should definitely be at the top of your list.

  • Price: $160,000
  • Length overall: 33.08 ft
  • Displacement: 7496 lbs
  • Fuel capacity: 20 gal
  • Water capacity: 21 gal
  • Rigging type: Fractional Sloop
  • Lightweight and fast
  • Good handling
  • Ideal for novice sailors
  • Durable construction
  • Great stability
  • A tad expensive
  • Low fuel capacity compared to others in its class

If you're looking for a fast, fun, and competitive sailboat, the  J/109  is definitely worth considering. This popular one-design racer-cruiser has been winning regattas and impressing sailors since its launch in 2004.

The J/109 is well-suited for both racing and cruising, with a comfortable interior that includes a spacious main salon, two double staterooms, and a large head with a separate shower stall. On deck, the boat is designed for easy single-handed or short-handed sailing, with all controls led aft to the cockpit.

Performance-wise, the J/109 is known for its excellent upwind speed and pointing ability. It's also relatively light (around 10,900 lbs) and easy to tow, making it a great choice for sailors who want to do a little bit of everything.

The J/109 has a purposeful, racy design with only a little bow over the waterline and an open stern. The boat is also equipped with a powerful asymmetrical spinnaker and a North Sails 3Di mainsail, making it capable of some great downwind speed. The deckhouse is nicely proportioned and well-protected from the elements, with a large dodger and bimini for shade.

BaltekContourkore's end-grain balsa composite construction is used throughout the hull and deck, resulting in a strong yet lightweight structure. The boat is also equipped with a watertight collision bulkhead forward and an integrated swim platform aft. The J/109 also features an emergency tiller and a comprehensive set of safety gear, including two anchors, a life raft, and a ditch bag.

The patented "Scrimp" resin infusion process is used to construct the J/109, resulting in a strong, stiff, and lightweight hull. The boat also features a keel-stepped mast, anodized aluminum toe rails, and a set of Harken winches.

A 27 Hp Yanmar 3 engine runs the J/109, providing plenty of power for cruising or racing. The engine is also located in a sound-proofed compartment, making it relatively quiet underway.

The J/109 has a large forward cabin with a V-berth, a settee, and plenty of storage. There is also a private head with a shower stall, making it a great choice for cruising couples. The aft cabin features a double berth, a settee, and plenty of storage. A skylight and opening port provide natural light and ventilation, while an ensuite head with a shower makes it convenient for overnight guests.

The J/109 galley is located on the boat's port side, just aft of the forward cabin. It features a two-burner stove, a sink, and plenty of counter space for food preparation. The main salon of the J/109 is spacious and comfortable, with a large U-shaped settee and a table that can accommodate up to eight guests. There is also plenty of storage space, including cabinets, shelves, and a closet. A flat-screen TV is mounted on the forward bulkhead.

The head of the J/109 is located on the starboard side of the boat, just aft of the main salon. It features a sink, a vanity, and a large head with a separate shower stall. The companionway of the J/109 is located on the starboard side of the boat, just aft of the main salon. It features a set of teak steps and a large hatch that provides access to the cockpit.

The cockpit of the J/109 is well-protected and spacious, with ample room for crew and gear. All controls are led aft to the helm, making it easy to sail single-handed or short-handed. There is also a large lazarette for storage, a hot and cold-water shower, and a swim ladder that makes it easy to get back on board from the water.

One downside to the J/109 is its price tag, which is high for a boat of its size. However, its quality construction, spacious accommodations, and impressive performance make it great for serious sailors.

The  J/109  is a fast, fun, and competitive sailboat that is well-suited for racing and cruising. With a comfortable interior, easy single-handed sailing, and great upwind speed, the J/109 is a great choice for sailors who want to do a little bit of everything.

  • Price: $100000-$150000
  • Length: 35.25 ft
  • Draft: 7.00 ft
  • Displacement: 10900 lbs
  • Fast and competitive
  • Spacious interior
  • Easy single-handed sailing
  • Loaded with features
  • High price tag
  • Not the most stable in rough waters

3. Hunter Channel 31

The  Hunter Channel 31  is a great option for sailors looking for a fast and comfortable solo-sailing vessel. It's lightweight and easy to handle, and it comes with a number of features that make it an ideal choice for both experienced sailors and first-time boat buyers alike. Solo-sailing is made easier by the hull and keel design. The boat is also stable and tracks well in most wind and wave conditions, making it a great choice for sailors who want to explore new areas.

The Hunter Channel 31 is a fractional sloop that was designed by David Thomas and built by Hunter Boats. It has a fiberglass hull and deck with an aluminum mast and keel. The boat's overall length is 30.75 ft, with a beam of 10.33 ft and a draft of 4.08 ft. Channel 31 is constructed using the SCRIMP process, which involves the infusion of resin into the fiberglass to create a stronger, more durable hull. This construction method results in a lighter boat that is also less susceptible to delamination.

The Hunter Channel 31 sailboat is also great for cruising and day sailing. It has a large cockpit that can comfortably accommodate up to four people, and the cabin can be used for storage or as a place to take a break from the sun. The boat also comes with all of the standard amenities, including running lights, an anchor, and a dock line.

The boat has several features that make it both comfortable and easy to sail, including an ergonomic cockpit layout, self-tailing winches, and a furling mainsail. The boat also comes with a number of safety features, such as a keel-stepped mast and an onboard emergency location beacon.

The Hunter Channel 31 features two cabins and six berths, making it a great option for weekend getaways. The forward cabin has a V-berth that can accommodate two people, while the aft cabin has two berths and a sitting area. There is also plenty of storage space in both cabins for gear and supplies.

The boat's lightweight and high ballast ratio make it stable in heavy weather, and its deep keel provides good tracking ability. The Channel 31 is also equipped with a bowsprit, which allows for the use of larger headsails.

The Hunter Channel 31 is a fast and responsive boat perfect for sailing in coastal waters. It has a cruising speed of 7 knots and a top speed of 9 knots. The boat also handles well in strong winds, making it a great choice for sailors who live in areas with rough seas.

In addition to its high performance, the Channel 31 is also very comfortable to sail. It comes with several features that make it easy to adjust to different wind and wave conditions, including a self-tacking jib, roller furling mainsail, and V-berth with storage below.

The Channel 31 isn't the fastest boat on the water, but its speed is more than enough for most sailors. The boat is also comfortable and easy to handle, making it a great choice for both experienced sailors and first-time boat buyers alike. Furthermore, at $50,000, the Hunter Chanel 31 is an excellent value for a solo-sailing vessel.

The  Hunter Channel 31  is the perfect boat for anyone who wants to enjoy the thrill of sailing without worrying about being cramped up in a small space. It's also a great option for those who want to sail in style, as the boat's sleek design is sure to turn heads out on the water. Whether you're sailing around your local harbor or crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Hunter Channel 31 is a great option for anyone who wants to experience the best of sailing.

  • Price: $50000
  • Length Overall: 30.75 ft
  • Displacement: 9500 lbs
  • Draft: 4.08 ft
  • Rigging type: Fractional sloop
  • Great value for money
  • Sleek design
  • Comfortable cockpit
  • Well-made and durable
  • Not the fastest boat on the water
  • It may be too large for some sailors

4. West Wight Potter 19

The  West Wight Potter 19  sailboat is a great option for those who are looking for an affordable and easy-to-use sailing boat. This boat is perfect for both beginners and experienced sailors and can be sailed in various settings. The Potter 19 is made from durable materials that can withstand even the harshest conditions. It also comes with all the necessary rigging and accessories allowing you to get out on the water as soon as possible.

The West Wight Potter 19 sailboat is designed for both performance and comfort. It has a spacious cockpit that can accommodate up to four people, and the high-quality materials make it durable and weatherproof. The boat also comes with various standard features, including anodized aluminum spars, ballasted fin keel, and molded incluses.

Due to its compact size, the Potter 19 can be easily trailer-launched and stored in a standard garage. It's also easy to sail, even for beginners, and can be rigged in minutes. The galvanized keel retracts vertically into the hull for easy beaching or trailering, and the included trailer has brakes for extra safety.

The mast can be raised manually with the mast-raising mechanism, which is a simple process that requires only one individual. The boat can also be sailed single-handedly, and the jib can be reefed without leaving the cockpit.

The Potter 19 also features a self-tacking jib, which is ideal for beginners or those who don't want to fuss with the sails. The jib can be easily raised or lowered from the cockpit, and there's no need to go forward to the bow to adjust it.

The hull is made of fiberglass, and the deck is made of marine-grade plywood. The boat has a length of 18.75 ft, a beam of 7.5 ft, and a draft of 0.5 feet. It has a displacement of 1225 lbs and a sail area of 145 sq ft.

The hard chines of the hull mean that the boat is slower to heal in a breeze, but this also makes it more stable and forgiving. And while the Potter 19 may not be the fastest sailboat on the water, it's still able to reach speeds of up to 6 knots. The one disadvantage of sailing on this boat is that it thumps its nearly flat hull when entering waves or the wakes of other boats.

With a genoa, the boat may heel excessively with the wind over 12 knots under full sail, but it can still be sailed in winds up to 15 knots. The jib is very effective in light air, and the boat can be sailed comfortably with winds as low as 5 knots.

The Potter 19 sailboat is an excellent choice for those who want a fast, responsive boat that can handle various conditions. It has a sleek hull design that easily cuts through the water, and the ballasted fin keel ensures good stability even in rough seas. The boat also comes with a comprehensive set of sailing instructions, so you can get up and running quickly.

The Potter 19 sailboat is fast and agile, making it perfect for sailing in tight quarters or along the coastline. It has a well-balanced hull that provides good stability, and the ballasted fin keel ensures that it tracks well in open water. Thanks to its flared bow and hard chine, the boat also handles choppy seas and windy conditions well.

The West Wight Potter 19 is an excellent value for the price. It's a high-quality sailboat that's built to last, and it comes with a variety of standard features that are typically found on more expensive boats. It's also easy to sail and trailer-launch, making it a great option for novice sailors or those who don't have much sailing experience.

Overall, the  West Wight Potter 19  sailboat is an excellent option for those who are looking for an affordable and easy-to-use sailing boat. It's perfect for both beginners and experienced sailors and can be sailed in various settings. The Potter 19 is made from durable materials that can withstand even the harshest conditions. It also comes with all the necessary rigging and accessories to get you out on the water as soon as possible.

  • Price: $5000-$25000 (Depending on features)
  • Length: 18.75 ft
  • Draft: 3.58 ft
  • Displacement: 1225 lbs
  • Very responsive
  • Can handle various conditions
  • Comes with many standard features
  • Easily trailerable
  • Hull may thump in waves or wakes
  • May heel excessively with the wind over 12 knots under full sail.

5. Cape Dory 28

The  Cape Dory 28  is a popular choice for sailors looking for a reliable and affordable boat. This model is known for its simple design and easy-to-use features, making it ideal for beginners and experienced sailors alike. The Cape Dory 28 is also praised for its durability, as it is built to last through many years of use.

The Cape Dory 28 was designed by world-renowned designer Carl Alberg. The Cape Dory 28 shares many of the same features as the Triton, including a comfortable interior layout and a simple rig. The boat was first introduced in 1984 and has been a popular choice among sailors ever since.

The Cape Dory 28 is available in sloop and cutter configurations, allowing sailors to choose the rig that best suits their needs. The sloop configuration is ideal for cruising and racing, while the cutter configuration is perfect for coastal sailing and weekend getaways. No matter which configuration you choose, the Cape Dory 28 will provide you with hours of enjoyment on the water.

The Cape Dory 28 is typically equipped with a mainsail, jib, and spinnaker. The boat can also be fitted with a furling genoa for easier sailing. It features a "full keel," which makes it very stable in the water and handles choppy conditions well.

While the Cape Dory 28 does not have all the bells and whistles of some of the more expensive models on the market, it still offers everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable sailing experience. The cabin is spacious and well-appointed, with plenty of storage space for your belongings. The cockpit is also large enough to accommodate several people, making it perfect for a day out on the water with your friends or family.

Fiberglass laminates are used throughout the hull construction of the Cape Dory 28, ensuring that your boat will withstand even the harshest weather conditions. And if you ever need to make repairs, the simple design of this sailboat makes it easy to do so. The foredeck is large enough to store your sails and other gear, and the mast is easy to raise and lower. The Cape Dory 28 also comes with a self-tailing winch, making it easier to operate.

The core of the deck is made from plywood or balsa, which is then covered with fiberglass. This provides a strong and durable surface that is also easy to maintain. The hull is designed to provide good stability and handling, perfect for beginners and experienced sailors.

The aft section of the cabin has a v-berth forward followed by a port head. There is also a settee that can be converted to a double berth. The galley is well-equipped with a sink, stove, and refrigerator, and there is plenty of room for food and drinks. The Cape Dory 28 is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a durable, easy-to-use sailboat that won't break the bank.

The galley is aft to the port side and features a two-burner stove, icebox, and stainless-steel sink. The V-berth is located in the bow of the boat and can comfortably sleep two people. The Cape Dory 28 also has a self-tailing winch, making it easy to operate.

The Cape Dory 28 is a great choice for sailors who are looking for a small but sturdy and reliable sailboat. The main issue with the Cape Dory 28 is the deterioration of fuel tanks, so it is important to have them inspected regularly and replaced if necessary. Additionally, the stern tubes and rudder bearings should be inspected and replaced as needed.

The majority of Cape Dory 28s come with welded aluminum tanks mounted on a plywood base and supported by wooden cleats around the bottom of the tank. When wood comes in direct contact with aluminum, it causes pitting and corrosion. As a result, it is important to have your fuel tanks inspected regularly and replaced if necessary.

The  Cape Dory 28  is a great choice for anyone looking for an affordable and durable sailboat. This model is known for its simple design and easy-to-use features, making it ideal for beginners and experienced sailors alike. Additionally, the Cape Dory 28 is praised for its durability, as it is built to last through many years of use. If you are in the market for a new sailboat, the Cape Dory 28 should definitely be at the top of your list.

  • Price: $25000
  • Length: 28 ft
  • Draft: 4 ft
  • Displacement: 9000 lbs
  • Water Capacity: 60 gal
  • Fuel Capacity: 32 gal
  • Excellent value for money
  • Timeless design
  • Easy to use
  • Great for beginners and experienced sailors alike
  • Decent fuel capacity
  • Fuel tanks may deteriorate over time
  • Stern tubes and rudder bearings may need to be replaced periodically

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Uncensored Sailing

11 Best Single Handed Bluewater Sailboats

largest sailboat you can solo

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We know that you’re serious about sailing when you finally think of venturing to the ocean. Who can resist dreaming of solo sailing through the Atlantic? This is an adventure to prove your advanced skills, strength, and experience. 

But before going off on your ocean adventure, you need to plan and prepare . We cannot stress enough the importance of good equipment. There is a lot of sailboat types and models in the market and we want to help you choose the best one for your needs.

Do you know what hull, rigging, and keel types you will need? What’s the best material and model for you to buy? 

We will guide you through important sailboat features needed for the cruise. Follow this review until the end and we will share the 11 best single-handed blue water sailboats for your solo ocean sailing!

What Size Sailboat Is Best for Single-Handed Sailing

What type of hull handles rough water the best, sailboat keel types for blue water sailing, keel or decked stepped mast, sloop or ketch, how many spreaders, cutter rig, self steering gear, furling sails, westsail 32, albin vega 27, pacific seacraft 34, canadian sailcraft 36 traditional, hallberg rassy 352, contessa 32, fast passage 39.

If you are planning to manage your boat single-handedly, then size is an important factor to consider. It can affect the size of your accommodation, and maybe the boat’s design for speed and power.

Being alone, you need to have a clear overview of what is happening on your boat. This is especially important when maneuvering or for docking operations. 

Experienced sailors can handle a 60-foot sailboat but novices would find it difficult with its steep learning curve . Check out the Vendee Globe if you don’t believe me. In general, a good sailboat size for single-handed sailing would range from 25 to 40 feet.

We recommend sailboats with sizes under 40 feet. These have good displacement and are great when against bad weather. They are solo-friendly and simply the most manageable.

But in the end, choosing a suitable size depends on your experience and preference. You need to consider your overall health, age, and physique. Make sure to have a complete understanding of your sailboat before going on your journey to prevent accidents.

The hull or the main body of your boat comes in varying shapes and sizes. Each different type of hull is designed for specific purposes. 

When venturing the blue waters, you need to have a hull design that could handle rough waters easily. The hull shape determines the performance of your sailboat and therefore, should align with your strengths and skills. 

Today, the most popular design would be the heavy displacement hull . This design is intended for ocean cruising and longer sailing travels. 

It has great stability and performs better the deeper the draft is. With this design, you would expect a slow and steady motion during your sea travels with minimal effort. 

V-type hulls, on the other hand, are designed to plane or ride on top of the water. You can usually see these types of hulls on powerboats. The V-type hull usually has a bigger engine and best when dealing with choppy waters while moving at high speed.

Narrow beams are also a great option for those who are looking for another ocean friendly feature . These are usually seen in traditional sailboats.

Canoe stern or the double are considered to be the best sterns for offshore sailing. They help cut through a following sea and really helps prevent the waves from pushing the stern over too much. It also has great buoyancy and balance that is perfect for bluewater cruising.

The best materials for hulls would be fiberglass, metal, and aluminum. These are durable and could last for decades if properly maintained.

Aluminum is lightweight and has resistance to corrosion and impervious to magnetism. Boats built with aluminum are fast, stable, and seaworthy.

Fiberglass hulls need less attention. Currently, boats are usually made of fiberglass as the material is easier for companies and also great for seakeeping and stability.

Metal like steel has high abrasion resistance. It helps retain the boat’s appearance but can be prone to rust and corrosion.

Untitled design 4

A keel is a fin-like blade found at the bottom of a sailboat. It supports the ballast and helps to control and steer the boat. 

It is generally designed to stop the boat from getting blown sideways because of wind pressure. The full keel, modified full keel, fin skeg, and fin spade rudder are all suited for bluewater sailing.

A full keel runs along the full length of the boat – from the bow to the stern – which makes it the most stable in the water. It carries the vessel well and is the safest to use when grounding as it reduces the chances of damage. 

This is most ideal when cruising and the most comfortable out of the four keel types with its minimal heel. Although the slowest on the list, it has great directional stability and steering capability. 

An improved version is the modified full keel . It is a hybrid with improved windward performance and better heel reduction than the full keel. However, it made small concessions on its stability and comfort.

Meanwhile, the fin keel with skeg rudder has more strength and protection against damage and impact. It also has better mobility and steering capability. 

This type has a faster speed and windward performance compared to the modified and full keel types. It is also more balanced, which is ideal for cruiser-racer types of sailboats.

Lastly, we have the fin with a spade rudder. This is the fastest type on the list but also the most vulnerable as the spade rudder greatly relies on the rudder stock. But if you want speed and great windward performance, then this type is the right one for you.

Sailboat Rigging Types

Rigging is the whole system of ropes, chains, and cables. It supports the sailboat mast and controls the sails’ orientation and degree of reefing.

There are two main groups of sailboat rigs, Deck Stepped and Keel Stepped. The main difference lies in the location of its mast step. Both are fine choices and the better rig would depend on your preference.

Just as its names suggests, you can find the mast stand on top of the deck with Deck Stepped and on the hull’s bottom with Keel stepped. This means that to reach the keel, the mast would need to pierce through the cabin.

Deck Stepped rigs have masts that are more flexible because of their contact points, and are easily adjustable for optimal performance. Keel Stepped rig is rigid and strong and offers slow and steady cruising.

Now let’s move on and talk about Slope rigged and Ketch rigged. Which is better?

A sloop rig is simple. It is composed of a mast with a jib and a mainsail. Ketch, on the other hand, is more complex with its two masts with any foresail, main and mizzen mast combinations.

If you are choosing between Sloop and Ketch rigged sailboats for solo sailing, then we recommend Sloop. Although, Ketch is manageable and can be easily used with less strength and effort. This is perfect for cruising as it can work around multiple sailing conditions.

Screenshot 2020 11 26 at 11.53.30

In terms of spreaders, you can freely choose between a single or dual spreader. This deflects shrouds and supports the mast. We do recommend dual spreaders but single spreaders are also good. 

It’s just that double spreaders give the rig more strength and better sail control.

The cutter rig is sometime referred to as an inner forestay or baby stay. Simplest way of describing it is that you have two head sails instead of just one. Gives you more options on sail configurations.

Single Person Sailboat Equipment and Gear

Your sailboat would not be complete without gear and equipment. You might want to invest in autopilot or wind vane, furling headsails, electric windlass, life jackets, and AIS to make your voyage much easier.

Wind Vane is an autopilot steering that you can use without electricity. It is usually placed on the back to catch the wind and respond to various wind conditions.

It automatically adjusts the rudders in response to the wind to alter the boat’s course. This is helpful because it’s like having another crew member on board you don’t have to listen to and feed.

Headsail furling or roller reefing is necessary for easier management of your headsails. It is important to have a functioning and updated roller furling system in order to reef, dowse, or stow the headsail efficiently.

Another item we would recommend is an electric windlass . You can choose one that works vertically or horizontally, depending on your needs. This will help you move the anchor effortlessly with a single button. Using the two windlasses that god gave you makes anchoring more difficult then it needs to be.

Life jackets are a must in every sailboat. Just be sure it fits you and that you know how to use it. Also, be sure to buy a coast guard approved product with a harness that could support your weight. 

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) will help you avoid collisions . It is recommended to get a receiving and transmitting one when going solo sailing. 

This way, you and the other boats with AIS within the radar area are alerted to each other’s speed, course, and direction.

Really, you won’t know what you might encounter in the ocean so you must always be prepared. We hope that these items will help you achieve a safer and more secure sailing experience.

11 Best Sailboats for Solo Sailing

Now, here are 11 sailboats that are best for solo sailing. Any of these vessels are guaranteed to take you safely and comfortably anywhere around the world.

Westsail 32 solo sailing sailboat

This is a long full keel fiberglass sailboat that was built from 1971 to 1981. Its design was based on a previous model, Kendall 32, and has an amazing interior size geared for comfortable cruising.

W32 is widely noted for its seaworthiness. It is built with a strong and durable design and materials to resist extreme sea conditions.

It was used on various voyages and circumnavigations. Its hull is a heavy displacement and double-ender type designed for long periods of sailing.

It is also a cutter-rigged sailboat equipped with a single mast, forestaysail, mainsail, and jib. Its overall length including the bowsprit and boomkin is roughly 40 feet, which is perfect for sailing single-handedly.

Most people would note that the speed and acceleration of W32 are quite slow. This is due to its larger wetted area and sometimes newbies’ mistake of carrying too much on board.

With the right keel, sails, and rig configurations you can improve on W32’s speed and weaknesses. As seen from David King’s documented modifications, W32 proved to be safe, steady, and fast when sailing on blue waters.

Albin Vega 27 single handed solo sailboat

Vega 27 is a modified full keel sailboat with a masthead sloop rig. It was designed around 1966 and became the most popular production sailboat in Scandinavia.

It has a unique look because of its reverse sheer commonly seen in smaller boats to increase the area of its interior. It is made with fiberglass, but has a narrower hull compared to similar sized boats in its class. 

Its shallow hull has a large cutaway as seen with modified full keel designs. This can make her quite stiff, heeling to about 15 degrees when its shoulders are buried.

Still, it is great for single-handed sailing because of its manageability and balance under different conditions. You cannot help but admire its light helm and great tracking capability.

Vega’s light air performance is okay but it shines when the wind blows at 15 knots or more. It could even maintain its dryness even with rough waves and weather conditions.

The most comforting feature would be its control and stability at all times unlike other more modern vessels with spade rudders. Overall, it is safe and ideal for longer cruises offshore.

alberg 30

This 30-foot traditional sailboat could take you anywhere. Alberg is notable for its narrow beams, long overhangs, and full cutaway keel with its directly attached rudder.

It is strong and durable. Its materials were mostly aluminum, hand-laid fiberglass, and polyester resin. More ballasts were produced in later productions as the early ballast was built with iron as opposed to the original lead design.

Alberg is greatly influenced by folk boats in Scandinavia. It is built with fiberglass and has an interior with comfortable full standing headroom and a well-vented galley.

This classic design from 1962 is ideal to cross oceans and is used for various circumnavigations. Alberg is a stable and seaworthy boat that could even be used in casual racing. Its best point of sail seems to be a beam reach and close reach.

It is praiseworthy when crossing oceans. Unlike modern designs that tend to be thrown around on rough seas, Alberg’s narrow beam design slices through big and rough waves and moves quickly. Under extreme weather conditions, it could perform heaving-to and lying-a-hull with no problems.

pacific seacraft 34 solo sailing

Pacific Seacraft 34 is a smaller heavy displacement semi-long keel sailboat based on the highly successful Crealock 37. It has the same graceful lines and appearance as the Crealock and is known as the Voyagemaker.

It is built with comfort and safety in mind with its large overhanging bow and beautiful sheer line ending with a traditional canoe stern. Constructed with the highest standard, it is a seaworthy sailboat that is ideal for bluewater voyages.

It is a cutter-rigged sailboat with skeg-hung rudders and control lines being fed back to its cockpit. The smaller cockpit may feel cramped but its design lowers the risk of flooding.

Still, it has a great interior suited for living aboard. It has a large headroom, comfortable galley, and up to five berths for comfortable cruising.

Although you may feel some hobby-horsing windward because of the overhangs, Seacraft 34 is overall a very balanced boat with great upwind performance. It has outstanding control capabilities and is able to sustain surfing speed with ease.

Tayana 37 solo sailboat sailing

This is a double-ended full keel cruiser designed by Bob Perry and built-in Taiwan in response to the rising popularity of Westsail 32. It was offered to the market as a semi-custom boat and built with high-quality materials.

You can modify the internal layout and can choose a ketch, cutter, or pilothouse version. There is an option to use wood or aluminum spars. The mast could also be keel-stepped or deck-stepped.

Before, only 20 were ketch sailboats due to the popularity of the cutter design at that time. Now, ketch has proven to be faster and more balanced between the two.

Tayana is relatively faster than any sailboat in its class. Its best point of sail is in its broad reach. It also tracks well windward, and is an ideal choice for the trades. It is also great how the cockpit is secured from any flooding even when traveling. 

Today, a lot of people are still actively sailing this. Tayana 37 has become well known for offshore and blue water sailing.

canadian sailcraft 36 single handed sailing solo

Canadian Seacraft is well known for its fiberglass racer and cruiser. CS 36 is a small traditional fin keel sailboat with a masthead sloop intended for recreational use. It is seaworthy and has good performance in different weather conditions.

It was designed by Raymond Wall and had a production run between 1978 to 1987. It remains to be popular in both north and south borders.

It is a beautiful sailboat with a graceful sheer line and balanced overhangs at both bow and stern. Its details and quality in design and production are clearly of a higher tier.

It is mostly built with fiberglass and balsa wood. It is equipped with an internally mounted spade transom hung rudder. All of its lines lead to the cockpit, which is ideal for single-handed sailing.

CS 36 Traditional also has a deep-depth draft and wide beams with great access to the cockpit and foredecks. It is wide and spacious, which is perfect for comfortable cruising.

The sailboat has great proportion and traditional aesthetics. It is simple and straightforward, which makes it ideal for bluewater sailing.

Hallberg rassy 352 single handing sailboat

This is a sturdy and high-quality sailboat built between 1978 to 1991. It features a progressive design, combining a walk through with the aft-cabin from the main saloon. It is made with a tall and standard rig each supported on double and single spreaders, respectively.

Hallberg Rassy 352 has a nicely balanced hull sporting a fin keel with rudder on skeg, a generous beam, and a 45 percent high ballast ratio. Its water and fuel tanks are placed low in the keel to improve sail carrying ability.

Its production spanning 14 years allowed for continuous improvements in its specifications. Newer sailboats have raised hulls for bigger headroom in the under the deck, aft cabins, and the walkthrough. Engines were also replaced by a Volvo and later a Penta Turbo or the bigger MD 22.

It is impressive how they balanced good interior and sailing performance. It has great seakeeping ability and smooth motion in heavy seas, easily an ideal sailboat for singlehanded sailing.

corbin 39 solo sailboat review

Corbin 39 was designed based on a Dufour design named Harmonie, increasing freeboard, and flushing the deck. Its style is influenced by the classic Scandinavian cruiser, Westsail 32.

It has a long fin keel, blunt bow, and a high freeboard. It was sold as kits, and various deck molds were produced. They have pilot, aft, and center cockpit variations.

It was made of sturdy and high-quality materials. The earlier version’s decks were of marine grade mahogany but it was later changed with Airex foam. Its lead ballast was encapsulated with fiberglass for added protection.

Earlier boats had a single spreader main or a turbocharged double spreader. Later, Corbin used 49 feet double spreader rigs instead, and all were deck-stepped.

Corbin 39 is truly a strong and seaworthy vessel. With its fin keel and skeg rudder, cutter rig, and reefed main combinations, it could take anyone safely and comfortably anywhere in the world.

Valiant 40 solo sailing

Valiant 40 took its looks from Scandinavian double-ender sailboats. It had a successful production run that spanned for 47 years. It proved to be one of the pioneers for modern blue water designs.

Its hull is made from thick hand-laid fiberglass, bolted and covered with teak. Its ballast is cast with lead bolted to the keel stub. Lastly, the skeg is constructed separately from hull molding and encased with fiberglass before being fastened to the hull.

It has a beautiful bow and sheer lines and a longer LWL for maximum speed. At the back are a non-spacious cockpit and a canoe stern ideal for bluewater sailing operations.

Under the waterline is a fin keel with its skeg hung rudder. It perfectly matches with the cruising hall above, minimizing wetted surface area 

Overall, Valiant 40 is a seaworthy vessel with great blue water performance. Extremely balanced and well-mannered, it can withstand extreme weather conditions with ease and minimal effort on your part.

It soon gained a reputation as a fast water passage-maker with high integrity. Now, it is regularly used for circumnavigations by solo sailors and voyagers.

contessa 32 solo sailing sailboat

If you like a sailboat with a proven track record, then Contessa 32 is for you. It is a seaworthy racer-cruiser with good all-around sailing capabilities released in 1971.

Like its younger sister, Contessa 26, it has great speed, integrity, and affordability . Contessa 32 is a definite combination of old and new with its traditional narrow beam, a full hull with a fin keel, and fiberglass rudder protected by a skeg found in more modern yachts.

It has marked overhangs and a narrow tuck-up stern. It has less headroom below in return for its lesser wind resistance.

This configuration delivers fast racing speed and great stability. It could definitely withstand extreme weather and rough waves. Contessa 32 is claimed to be able to right itself when rolled or capsized.

Contessa 32 is known for its forgiving nature. It has a responsive helm and excellent windward performance. With its astounding stability, it can carry full sail for up to 25 knots.

fast passage 39 single handing sailboat

Fast Passage 39 was designed by William Garden and is said to be a legendary cruiser with speed, ruggedness, and fame. It is a stout double-ender comparable to the Valiant 40.

It has the same LOA and LWL as Valiant and also has nearly identical ballast and displacement. The difference is its narrower frame and more evolved underwater shapes resulting in flatter forward and aft keel sections and less wetted area. It also has great directional stability as its rudder allows great control under wind vane and down steep waves.

It is a high performing sailboat but also difficult to find as only 41 were produced. A part of the group was offered as hull and deck kits intended to be finished by the sailboat owners.

Fast Passage 39 also has a proven track record and has won single-handed blue water races. It performs great under a wide range of conditions, especially in light winds.

By now you should have some idea what makes a vessel Bluewater friendly. There are hundreds of vessels that can make long distance voyage safe and enjoyable. These examples above are just a few examples of the Best Single Handed BlueWater Sailboats.

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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 sailboat you can solo

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 sailboat you can solo

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 sailboat you can solo

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 sailboat you can solo

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 sailboat you can solo

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 sailboat you can solo

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 for some pictures and prices to help you begin to narrow things down. 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 sailboat you can solo

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 sailboat you can solo

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 sailboat you can solo

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 sailboat you can solo

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. is a good example, or my personal favorite SV Footprint Me and mine, we can't wait to find out.  

largest sailboat you can solo

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 Biggest Catamaran One Person Can Sail Safely? (A Study Of Sailors Experience)

largest sailboat you can solo

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Sailing is an exhilarating experience, and one thing that gets me the most passionate is teamwork and seeing everyone doing the correct things at the correct time. Although I love teamwork, I find sailors that take their boat out on their own, amazing and very inspiring.

This has led me to ask the question: What is the largest catamaran one person can sail on their own (solo sailing)?  I started a poll and collected data from over 100 sailors, and here you have it! This is how big of a catamaran people can safely sail single-handed.

Keep reading to understand which factors make a boat more or less suited for short-handed sailing.

Table of Contents

Conclusion of The Study

Most people (46%) who took the poll answered that they would not be comfortable sailing  a catamaran larger than 40 ft safely. This is also the same size that I recommended in my video on best on the best-sized catamaran for ocean sailing, which you can watch below or  read this article .

Many commented that larger boats, and the sails would be difficult to reef efficiently and safely and also that their view would be hindered, making docking and port navigation much harder.

33% of the responders said that they would be comfortable with a boat a big as 50ft  before the size started becoming a problem; most of this group also mentioned that they are sailors with a lot of experience and many years in the industry. Some argued that navigating offshore is very easy, but the difficulty mainly lies in stormy weather, where most would appreciate a helping hand.

19% responded that they would handle any boat as long as it was set up correctly and they were taught the right skills.  This, of course, makes sense in an imaginative world where it is possible to outfit any boat with the most recent automatic equipment and train anyone to the highest level. Respecting this answer, I have put a section further below discussing the technical aspects of solo sailing.

Above 50ft in length, very few (1 respondent) felt comfortable sailing safely independently.

Why Size Does Not Matter

Considering the 20% that answer size doesnt matter, let’s look at what they thought did matter. Skills and Gear

There is no better enabler than actually knowing what you are doing; if you lack the skills, you will probably end up in a bad way no matter what gear you have.

The skills that were mentioned surrounded mainly the ability to handle rough weather and to dock and navigate a marina safely. Long calm passages under autopilot seemed to be very easy.

Bow thruster and High Tech gear

Solo sailing a large catamaran means you will have to leave some work to computers and machinery, which includes hoisting and reefing sails by electric winches. On some exclusive cats, it will also do the trimming of the sails for you.

Most people will never sail a boat with automatic trimming due to it being very expensive; electric winches, on the other hand, are common on 38ft+ cats.

One of the most nervous aspects of sailing is docking, this is where many accidents happen, and this is where it becomes very tricky if you are on your own. Bow thrusters (impellers that can move the boat sideways) activated by the move of a joystick make docking much easier, sadly it is a costly system that very few cats employ.

The assumption is that if you are properly trained and have enough money to buy allt the gear in the industry, you can safely sail any size vessel. This is not the reality for most people, so let’s look at most respondents’ experiences.

largest sailboat you can solo

Limiting Factors

The limiting factors are the things that make it hard to solo sail your boat; anything that makes it less safe and manageable will be on this list. Let’s check it out!

Heavy sails

Once the cat gets longer, the larger the sails’ surface area will be, and therefore also their weight; this means that unless you are on an electric winch system, getting your sails up might be very hard or impossible. This problem usually starts around 45ft. Getting physically prepared is necessary for safe sailing.

Limited view

Once you pass 40ft, many people mentioned the problems of seeing what’s in front of you ; on some cats, this is not a problem at all, especially with flybridge, but on most small movement in a marina can get really tricky.

It’s common to the sensation you get when you are used to driving your mom’s fiat, and then you get back into your truck. It’s hard to know where the car or boat actually is.

Time to move from cockpit to cleats

Another aspect is simply the time it takes, from changing the engine settings to attaching your boat to a cleat. The longer the boat is, the longer time it takes you to move from one to the other when you need to make corrections.

And if you are unlucky, it will take just a little bit too long, and you scratch your neighbor’s boat. Something that is not too uncommon.

Setting Up Yourself and Your Boat For Solo Sailing

largest sailboat you can solo

Here are some essential tips for setting up your boat for solo adventures; if you want the complete guide, I would recommend you  read this.

  • Ensure all controls go to the cockpit; this is vital for safe cruising since it eliminates the need to move around the boat to access various controls.
  • Use a center cleat for docking; this really is a pro tip that will make life so much easier. The center cleat makes attaching the lines much more accessible and will make it possible to “spring of the dock,” a maneuver that solo sailors love since it allows them to use a single line to untie from the dock. Something that the captain can do from the cockpit.
  • Use an autopilot. This is probably one of the most useful tools since it allows you to multitask while at sea. Instead of always being on watch and steering the boat, you are now able to pop your head up from time to time and use the rest of the time for cooking, repair, or get some rest!

Practice sailing solo

The respondents’ most important factor was skills; the list below tries to summarize the data and help you take the next step towards your solo sailing adventure.

  • Bring a crew  but let them be passive; if something happens, they will be there for you to solve the situation, but until then, you are on your own. This will create a safe learning situation where you are able to see where your skill level is at and to become better and better in a safe way. This is especially useful when docking!
  • Dry practice before you go out;  walk through different situations in your head and then do it in the safety of the dock. This is a potent skill that will increase your learning curve, and once you get out on the water, you already know most of the moves you need to do, where the different lines as, etc.

Check out this article on Short-Handed sailing of catamarans

Thanks for reading, and I hope you like this type of data collection and analysis useful! Safe Sails!

Owner of A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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largest sailboat you can solo


Biggest Trailerable Sailboats

Biggest Trailerable Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Many sailboats up to about 27 feet in length can be trailered safely on American roads. These vessels are limited by weight, beam, and overall height.

In this article, we'll go over ten of the best large trailerable sailboats on the market. These vessels feature comfortable cabins, excellent sailing characteristics, and they all meet the requirements for towing on U.S. highways.

The best and largest trailerable sailboats are the Cal 20, the Catalina 22, the O'Day 240, The Islander 24, the Moore 24, the Cal 25, the Helms 25, the MacGregor 26, and the Nor'Sea 27. Most of these vessels can be towed behind a well-equipped truck or SUV.

We sourced information and vessel specifications for this article from sailboat manufacturers and record books. We also considered the opinions of sailors who own these vessels and sail them regularly.

Table of contents

What Makes a Sailboat Trailerable?

Trailerable sailboats must meet certain requirements in order to operate on American roads. The primary limitations are width (beam), as the vessel and its trailer must fit in regular traffic lanes and through tunnels. Another consideration is weight, as the vessel should be light enough to be towed by a 3/4 ton or 1-ton pickup truck.

Generally speaking, there's not a specific limit to boat weight in order to be towed. That said, most single and tandem-axle trailers can't exceed about 3,300 pounds per axle. With that in mind, the upper limit for a trailerable sailboat is around 7,000 to 8,000 pounds.

Keel type is an important factor to consider, as it determines how high off the ground the boat has to ride on the trailer. The majority of trailerable sailboats have a centerboard or swing keel that retracts for towing and beaching. Some vessels have shorter displacement keels or fin keels.

The maximum allowable for a trailerable sailboat is 8 ft 6 in. This is because these dimensions are the maximum limit for standard trailers on American roads. A larger boat can be transported on the road, but only as an oversize load.

In practice, very few trailerable sailboats have a beam of exactly 8 ft 6 in. The majority of large trailerable sailboats have a beam of between 7 1/2 ft and 8 ft 3 in. This makes it easier to negotiate tunnels and tighter traffic lanes.

Overall Length

The maximum trailer length for standard trailers is 65 ft, but it's nearly impossible for a trailerable sailboat of this length to meet the width requirements. In practice, the longest trailerable sailboats are around 30 ft in length or shorter. The average is about 20 to 25 ft.

In most states, the maximum height for a trailer load is 14 ft. This necessitates that the mast folds down and that the keel and vessel height combined doesn't exceed 14 ft. You must also take into account the height of the trailer, as a tall boat may not be able to clear highway overpasses.

10 Largest Trailerable Sailboats

Trailerable sailboats come in all shapes and sizes, including some large and roomy configurations. The vessels we chose range in length from 19 ft to 27 ft, and they offer the best accommodations on the market. Here are ten of the best large trailerable sailboats.

1. West Wight Potter 19

It's impossible to write an article about trailerable sailboats without mentioning the West Wight Potter 19. This vessel is perhaps the best and most capable in its class, and it offers surprisingly comfortable accommodations for a lightweight trailerable sailboat.

The West Wight Potter 19 is easy to sail fast and features a roomy cabin with a sink and space for a head. It's considered a pocket Cruiser, and it is very popular in coastal areas. Due to its lightweight construction, this fiberglass sailboat is trailerable behind an SUV or half-ton pickup.

The West Wight Potter 19 has positive buoyancy material throughout the whole, making it effectively unsinkable. Additionally, the mast and rigging collapse and set up in minutes. These vessels were produced up until recently, so they're common on the used market.

  • Lightweight
  • Rigs up fast
  • Roomy cabin
  • Relatively slow

The Cal 20 has been around for decades, and this capable racing boat is ideal the coastal cruising and sailing in semi-protected waters. That said, it's also quite seaworthy, as several have participated in TransPac races between San Francisco and Hawaii.

The Cal 20 is known for its low-profile cabin and easy trailering. At 20 ft in length overall, the Cal 20 is well within limits for trailering on American roads. While not the lightest trailerable sailboat on the list, a well-equipped pickup truck should tow it without issues.

The Cal 20 isn't the boat to choose if you're looking for the most spacious accommodations. That said, the cabin is functional, and the boat excels in handling. It's fast, safe, and agile, thanks to its long and thin profile. It's also a joy to sail in all kinds of weather conditions.

  • Easy to sail
  • Stable in high winds
  • Spartan cabin
  • Deep draft from the fixed keel

3. Catalina 22

The Catalina 22 is one of the most famous large trailerable sailboats ever built. It's one of Catalina's most popular models, and it was a big hit in the 1970s and 1980s. The Catalina 22 has a spacious and thoughtfully designed cabin with a wide companionway and a comfortable V-berth.

The Catalina 22 is a centerboard boat. This means that the keel retracts into the hull for trailering and lowers down easily using a system block-and-tackle or a crank. The vessel is 7.67 feet wide, making it easy to tow on typical American highways.

The vessel is still produced today, and over 15,000 have been built since 1969. This makes it one of the most popular sailboats ever, and hundreds are available on the used market for reasonable prices. Thanks to its superior handling and excellent design, the Catalina 22 is one of the best large trailerable sailboats available.

  • Well-designed cabin
  • Affordable iconic sailboat
  • Minimal headroom
  • Finicky companionway hatch

4. O'Day 240

The O'Day 240 is one of the more seagoing trailerable sailboats on our list. It's beamy and stable, and it handles well in rougher weather conditions. It has a surprisingly comfortable cabin for its size and measures just 24 feet in length overall.

The vessel's wide beam contributes to its stability. However, with a width of 8 ft 3 in, the O'Day 240 approaches the upper limit of trailerable dimensions. The vessel weighs more than comparably sized boats, so you'll need a more powerful vehicle to tow it.

The cabin of the O'Day 240 stands out. It features a V-berth, berthing aft, a galley, and space for a head. There's ample headroom throughout the cabin, which makes the O'Day 240 ideal for extended coastal cruising.

  • Stable Spacious cabin
  • May be too wide for comfortable trailering
  • Unusual cabin design

5. Islander 24

Islander is known for its larger sailboats (28 feet and larger), though it has produced a few excellent trailerable models. We chose the trailerable Islander 24, as it's known in the sailing community for its speed, comfort, and easy handling.

The phrase "they don't build them like they used to" applies to the Islander 24. When this vessel was designed in the early 1960s, boat manufacturers used more fiberglass and produced thicker hulls. This practice is costlier and made the boat weigh more. But it produced stronger vessels that last much longer than their flimsier contemporaries.

This fiberglass sailboat is thoughtfully designed and is well-suited for coastal cruising in the 21st century. It features stronger construction than similar models, and its keel design encourages stable and comfortable sailing.

  • Strong hull and deck
  • Stiff sailing
  • Great windward performance
  • Small cabin
  • Heavy trailer weight

6. Moore 24

The Moore 24 was the first in a new class of vessels called the ultralight displacement sailboat. It has the handling characteristics have a large keelboat but the dimensions of a coastal cruising trailer-sailer.

From the outside, the flush deck of the Moore 24 looks like it couldn't possibly accommodate a cabin. Closer inspection reveals that the vessel has a roomy cabin that resembles that of much larger boats. It features a galley, a head, a V-berth upfront, and attractive paneling throughout.

The Moore 24 is a pocket cruiser by all definitions. It's

an excellent choice for those looking for a trailerable and seaworthy sailboat. Though a bit taller than some other models, the vessel is still well within limits for on-road transportation.

  • Excellent handling
  • Large cabin
  • Heavier than many other 24-foot sailboats

The Cal 25 is essentially a stretched version of the Cal 20. It features the same basic hull design with the iconic flush deck and streamlined cabin. However, it's faster, offers superior accommodations, and it's more seaworthy.

The Cal 25 is known for its stiff handling characteristics in high winds. This is primarily due to its 1,700-pound lead keel, which keeps it upright and tracking straight. However, this does increase the overall weight of the vessel, which is an even 4,000 pounds dry. Thankfully, this is within the towing capacity of most standard pickup trucks.

The interior of the Cal 25 resembles the cabins of larger boats. In other words, it doesn't feel cramped. There's a large sitting area across from the galley and partitions separating the V-berth from the rest of the cabin. Overall, the Cal 25 is an excellent compact sailboat for racing or cruising.

  • Good accommodations
  • Marginal headroom in some areas

8. Helms 25

The Helms 25 is a compact vessel with a true swing keel. Unlike a centerboard, which descends through the hull straight down, a swing keel swings down on the hinge and occupies less space inside of the vessel. With the removal of the centerboard trunk, the Helms 25 retains its trailerable properties while freeing up living space in the cabin.

The Helms 25 is long and fast but not particularly tall. It fits well on a trailer, and its rounded hull doesn't pound in choppy water. The cabin is comfortable and features a small but usable galley, a table with two seating areas, a V-berth, and additional berthing aft.

Some versions of the Helms 25 also feature a separate head area between the V-berth and the central living spaces. The Helms 25 strikes the perfect balance between comfort, seaworthiness, and trailerability. It's safe and fun to sail and sells on the used market for affordable prices.

  • Spacious cabin
  • Long, narrow, and shallow
  • Not ideal for offshore sailing
  • Too long for some trailers

9. MacGregor 26

The MacGregor 26 is larger and more modern than most of the sailboats on our list. As a result, it takes advantage of recent design developments that make it an excellent large trailer-sailer. At 26 ft overall, the MacGregor 26 is also one of the fastest vessels on our list.

At first glance, the dimensions of the MacGregor 26 seem unusual. The hull shape resembles a bathtub, and the vessel's high profile is notable. These characteristics make it stable and easy to handle, and they also give it exceptional headroom in the cabin.

The McGregor 26 came in numerous configurations, which are designated with letters such as '26D' and '26M.' These include various cabin window orientations, colors, accessories, and interior layouts. Some versions of the MacGregor 26 came with a dual rudder setup, which is uncommon in its size range.

  • Modern design
  • Excellent headroom
  • Unusual shape

10. Nor'Sea 27

The final trailerable sailboat on our list is also the most capable. The Nor'Sea 27 is a true offshore sailboat with accommodations that rival any mid-size cruising sailboat. the Nor'Sea 27 is a full-keel displacement sailboat that's designed for stability and motion comfort. It's one of the beefiest sailboats that still fits on a trailer.

The Nor'Sea 27 features standing headroom throughout the cabin. It has a head, galley, and berthing area forward that converts into a table. The cabin is lined with attractive wood paneling, and the entire vessel has a very high level of fit and finish.

The Nor'Sea 27 is built for cruising, and it's ideal for longer voyages and offshore passages. If you're looking for a true cruising sailboat that stores well on a trailer, you can't go wrong with the NorSea 27. Due to its size and capabilities, you'll need a larger vehicle to trailer this vessel safely.

  • Biggest cabin
  • Full-size accommodations
  • Offshore capable
  • Too large for SUV towing
  • Slow to rig and disassemble


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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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The largest yachts owned by tech billionaires, from Mark Zuckerberg to Jeff Bezos

  • Megayachts have become a status symbol for the richest of the rich.
  • In recent years, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have splurged on enormous boats.
  • These are the biggest yachts owned by tech billionaires.

Insider Today

The average Joe celebrating a personal renaissance after, say, the end of a long-term relationship or when approaching a fresh decade might commemorate it with an ankle tattoo or a sports car. But if you're a billionaire, you may instead spend hundreds of millions on a yacht .

A few years after he and his wife divorced, Jeff Bezos shelled out on a megayacht. Last year, Bezos debuted the 127-meter vessel "Koru," a Māori symbol that signifies a fresh start — perhaps referring to that with his fiancée Lauren Sanchez.

Earlier this year, just before his 40th birthday, Mark Zuckerberg became the rumored owner of a yacht originally built for a Russian oligarch.

Superyachts have increasingly become ultrawealthy status symbols , providing highly secluded leisure and networking sites. They are — even more so than real estate — the single most expensive asset you can own.

"It's a bit of a celebration of your success in life, of wealth," Giovanna Vitelli, the chair of the Azimut Benetti Group, the world's biggest producer of superyachts, told Business Insider.

While many tech billionaires have bought yachts, the richest of the rich, like Bezos, Zuckerberg, and Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison, have gone bigger. Their boats are virtual palaces at sea, decked with amenities like gyms, spas, pools, nightclubs, and movie theaters.

A look at these megayachts — broadly defined as over 70 meters long, mostly custom-built, and often costing nine figures — offers a glimpse into how the .00001% lives. It's something few others will ever get to experience. Even chartering a yacht of this size for a week typically costs upwards of $1 million.

One major thing that hundreds of millions of dollars can buy is privacy. There are likely yachts that have not been publicly recorded or registered — for example, Evan Spiegel is rumored to own the 94-meter megayacht Bliss. In an industry ruled by discretion , deciphering who owns what is typically an exercise in stringing together many clues.

Here are the largest yachts owned by tech billionaires, listed in order of length.

Jeff Bezos: Koru and Abeona

largest sailboat you can solo

Amazon founder Bezos' $500 million megayacht, the 127-meter Koru, made a splash last year as she crisscrossed the Mediterranean in her first summer at sea, with her 75-meter support vessel Abeona in tow.

The sailing yacht, which is hard to miss thanks to her massive size and unique design, was host to Bezos and his fiancée Lauren Sanchez's famous friends . The couple held an engagement party on board, which reportedly drew guests including Bill Gates, Ari Emanuel, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Just a week later, they were seen on the streets of Dubrovnik, Croatia, with Orlando Bloom, Katy Perry, and Usher.

Even before her completion, Koru made headlines. She drew the ire of some Dutch people, who vowed to hurl eggs after she was announced a historic bridge in Rotterdam might be taken apart to allow the Oceanco boat through. Luckily, the shipyard made alternative plans, and an egg crisis was averted.

Among yacht world insiders , Koru is widely praised for her craftsmanship.

"I heard back in 2018 or something that somebody had ordered a classic sailing yacht," one superyacht expert told BI. "You order 125 meters, that's not really going to be classic. But it is. I think it's pretty cool."

Mark Zuckerberg: Launchpad

largest sailboat you can solo

Earlier this year, the yacht world was rife with rumors that Zuckerberg purchased Launchpad, a 118-meter superyacht originally designed for a sanctioned Russian businessman.

The ship made her maiden voyage in March, going from Gibraltar to St. Maarten and mooring in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Little is known about her interior, but photos show a large swimming pool and helipad. Her price, too, has been kept under wraps but is said to be nine figures.

Eric Schmidt: Whisper

largest sailboat you can solo

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt made waves last year when he agreed to buy the Alfa Nero , the yacht of a sanctioned Russian oligarch, for $67 million in an auction conducted by Antigua and Barbuda. But he backed out of the deal following legal issues over her true owner. He quietly purchased Kismet instead. The 95-meter-long Lürssen-built boat was formerly owned by the Jacksonville Jaguar's billionaire owner Shahid Khan . Schmidt renamed her Whisper.

The ship can fit 12 guests and a crew of 28, according to Moran Yacht & Ship, which oversaw her construction. She features a master deck with a private jacuzzi, full-service spa, lap pool, movie theater, and outdoor fireplace.

While her final sale price was not public, she was listed for 149 million euros (about $161 million at current exchange rates), and at a charity auction in January, one week aboard the ship went for $2.4 million, according to industry outlet Yacht Charter Fleet.

Barry Diller: Eos

largest sailboat you can solo

Barry Diller , the chairman of digital media company IAC, co-owns the megayacht Eos with his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg , who is immortalized by a figurehead sculpture by Anh Duong.

One of the largest private sailing yachts in the world, the three-masted Lürssen schooner measures 93 meters long. She took three years to be built before being delivered to Diller in 2009, and since then, little has come to light about her interior and features.

The power couple has hosted many celebrities on the Eos, which spends her summers crisscrossing the Mediterranean and New Year ' s Eve in St. Barts . Over the years, guests have included Oprah Winfrey, Emma Thompson, Anderson Cooper, and Bezos, leading some to believe she provided inspiration for his Koru.

Jim Clark: Athena

largest sailboat you can solo

Netscape founder Jim Clark purchased the 90-meter sailing yacht Athena in 2004.

"I could easily have built a 50- or 60-meter motor yacht that would have had the same space as Athena, but I was never really interested in building a motor yacht," he told Boat International in 2016. "To my eye, she's one of the most gorgeous large sailing yachts, maybe the most gorgeous large sailing yacht in the world."

Athena has room for 10 guests and 21 crewmembers, and the only change Clark says he'd make in her design is adding more space for his kids.

"If I was forced to change something, I would convert the office on the lower deck into a children's room," he said.

The former Stanford professor tried to sell her at various points — listing her for $95 million in 2012 , $69 million in 2016, and $59 million in 2017 — but she has yet to change hands.

Larry Ellison: Musashi

largest sailboat you can solo

Oracle founder Larry Ellison has owned several superyachts over the years, including the Katana, the Ronin, and the Rising Sun — which he sold to fellow billionaire David Geffen .

He purchased his current boat, Musashi, in 2011 for a reported $160 million from custom-yacht giant Feadship.

Named after a famous samurai warrior, the 88-meter-long yacht has both Japanese and Art Deco-inspired design elements. She also boasts amenities including an elevator, swimming pool, beauty salon, gym, and basketball court.

Ellison is known for his extravagant spending — private islands, jets, a tennis tournament — and yachting is among his favorite and most expensive hobbies. He took up racing them in the 1990s and financed the America's Cup-winning BMW Oracle Racing team .

Laurene Powell Jobs: Venus

largest sailboat you can solo

Steve Jobs' wife, investor and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, inherited a nearly finished 78-meter yacht named Venus when the Apple cofounder died in 2011.

After spending years vacationing on Ellison's yachts, Jobs wanted one for himself. He designed Venus with French starchitect and decorator Philippe Starck , and she was worth $130 million at completion.

"Venus comes from the philosophy of minimum," Starck said of her design. "The elegance of the minimum, approaching dematerialization."

Jobs and Starck began working together in 2007, the designer told Vanity Fair , and held monthly meetings over four years. Venus was delivered in 2012 to Jobs' specification: six identical cabins, a design to ensure spaces of absolute silence, and the most up-to-date technology.

"There will never again be a boat of that quality again. Because never again will two madmen come together to accomplish such a task," Starck told the magazine. "It was not a yacht that Steve and I were constructing, we were embarked on a philosophical action, implemented according to a quasi-religious process. We formed a single brain with four lobes."

Charles Simonyi: Norn

largest sailboat you can solo

Early Microsoft employee Charles Simonyi has purchased two megayachts from the German shipyard Lürssen: the 90-meter Norn and 71-meter Skat.

Delivered in 2023, Norn is full of luxe features, including an outdoor cinema and a pool floor that lifts to become a light-up dancefloor. She shares a militaristic style with Skat , which Simonyi sold in 2021.

Skats's name is derived from the Danish word for treasure, and she had a listing price of 56.5 million euros and was launched in 2002.

"The yacht is to be home away from my home in Seattle, and its style should match the style of the house, adapted for the practicalities of the sea," Simonyi once said .

Sergey Brin: Dragonfly

largest sailboat you can solo

Google cofounder Sergey Brin has built a flotilla of yachts, boats, and toys known as the "Fly Fleet."

Named after a once-secret Google product , the largest of Brin's armada is the sleek Dragonfly , which boasts a movie theater and a helipad. The 73-meter-long vessel was built by the Australian shipyard Silver Yachts and can fit up to 18 guests and 16 crew members, according to SuperYacht Times.

Also in his fleet is the superyacht Butterfly, a mere 38 meters long. Often moored in the Bay Area, her crewmembers spend their downtime kitesurfing and giving swimming lessons to local kids.

The rest of his marine lineup includes a smaller boat called Firefly, as well as Jet Skis, foilboards, dinghies, and kiteboards. She takes a team of 50 full-time employees to manage, steer, and maintain the entire operation.

Sindhu Sundar contributed to an earlier version of this story.

Correction: May 6, 2024 — An earlier version of this story misstated Giovanna Vitelli's title. She is the chair of the Azimut Benetti Group, not a vice president.

largest sailboat you can solo

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