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Capt Jack
Last seen: 4 days 5 hours ago
Joined: 2/11/17
Posts: 8
Single handed

Hello everyone, 
I am 7 months out from buying my retirement boat which hopes to be a Catalina 36 MKll. My question is can this boat be single handed easily or will I need to make many mods in order to do so. Or is not really designed to be a singled handed boat? Would love to hear your thoughts on this
Thanks James

caprice 1050
Last seen: 12 months 2 days ago
Joined: 7/1/07
Posts: 347

I single hand my C36 most of the time on my day sailing trips and once in a while on my 2 or 3 day trips. I have not made any modification on my 1990 C36, but at times whish I had in the mast fulling. Single handing takes a little practice. I have been single handing since I owned a 19 foot sail boat  50 years ago then up to a C30 and for the last fourteen years on my present C36 at age 81..  You must be aware and plan your sail settings and movements, especialy when docking. You can practice this with someone else on board as a bystander. Often when I go into an unfamiliar harbor or dock I check it out first on  internet photo. The most important thing is to ALWAYS wear a life jacket because if you fall overboard you will be gone, even if you are close to shore and a good swimmer. Like I said plan ahead because when you need to do something it is to late.


__/)__/)__/)__Capt Mike__/)__/)__/)__
Punta Gorda Florida
1990 Std WK M35 Hull #1050

pkeyser's picture
Last seen: 19 hours 58 min ago
Joined: 5/18/13
Posts: 374

I do a lot of solo day sailing. I find the key support features for this are auto pilot, in mast furling main sail, furling jib, and windlass. In my early days of sailing- I had none of this but was fast enough and nimble enough to be all over the boat and not fall off. Those days are behind. I use autopilot mostly as a temporary third hand while I'm occupied with other things. The furling system (main and jib) allow for sail adjustment from the safety of the cockpit- which is a very important feature. The one thing I would find more helpful would be if the jib sheet winches were located further aft. They are forward of the helm, and a big wheel makes quick access difficult ( Autopilot helps).

The electric windlass is also a must have feature for a boat this size as hauling an anchor up by hand- well those days are behind me too.

I do not have a pulley adjustment system for the genoa deck track on our boat, but think that would be a good feature for solo sailing. Without it, you do have to step outside the cockipit for some jib trim conditions.

The MkII has a lot of other great features- very good engine access, space/storage utilization, low boarding height from the transom, fresh water capacity etc. I use the stern rail seats a lot and steer with my my foot. Foam insulation on the stern rail saves your back. The cockpit coaming is comfortable to sit on- it's angled to be flat under heel. The cockpit sole is also angled for standing flat under heel. I move my position  frequently to avoid stiffness from settling in and this boat offers a lot of options for the helmsman. I don't have a helmsman seat that allows me to see over the dodger. That might be a useful option to consider.

My experience includes older Catalina's and Cape Dory's. The C36MKII is a dream boat compared to the previous 5 boats I have owned. 

If you are talking offshore solo efforts- others can give you a better idea.

Good luck with your decision. 


Paul & Wendy Keyser
"First Light"
Newburyport MA/Rye NH
2005 C36 MKII #2257
Wing, M35B

Last seen: 3 months 1 week ago
Joined: 5/29/16
Posts: 5

I single hand the  Catalina 36 mk II wing keel all the time.  I use the 155 genoa and find it is managable i've enven flown my spiniker on a very light air day again single handed.  It takes planning ahead and again emphasise the LIGHT AIR DAY.

Parsons's picture
Last seen: 1 day 2 hours ago
Joined: 6/2/16
Posts: 87

Sorry I missed this earlier in the year.  I single-hand my boat for many day sails, and handle it with my wife for longer cruises.  The boat comes from the factory pretty well equipped for single-handing by a competent sailor - lines lead aft, properly sized winches, reliable inboard diesel, etc.  I think that having an autopilot, preferably below-deck for reliability, is essential to allow breaks and going on-deck.  If you have another sailor to 'spot' you while you learn to single-hand effectively, it will ease the transition.  Go out with someone else and ask to do all the tasks until you get in trouble.  Thinking ahead will become natural.  I know of at least one other C375 owner that cruises his boat extensively single-handed, but he's approaching 70 so perhaps more experienced than we are!

The most difficult tasks for single-handing any boat is departing and docking in a breeze, setting the main, doing deck work like tying up the main or setting a spinnaker, and going to the head. These are all tasks that an autopilot frees you from the helm to do.   Updated your signature a little to let us know where you are. There's probably a C36 owner around that would be willing to be a coach.  There's tons of advice on-line for single-handing and how to accomplish all of those tasks safely.  Safety is the key word with any solo experience - you must be able to get out of any situation yourself.  If you can't do that, you're either taking too great a chance with your life, or you'll be frightened to leave the dock.  As far a safety, I always wear an inflatable PFD with an satellite PLB clipped on. My greatest fear is falling over and watching the stern of my boat as it sails away under autopilot.

If you haven't seen it, check out Andrew Evans definitive work on solo sailing: ​​Singlehanded Sailing: Thoughts, Tips, Techniques & Tactics

John Parsons
"Water Music" 1999 Catalina 36 Mk II - Hull 1771
Tall Rig, Fin Keel
Bay City, MI, USA
Chachere's picture
Last seen: 6 hours 40 min ago
Joined: 10/27/10
Posts: 579

Besides running all the control lines to the cockpit (except for the assymetrical spinnaker) and installing a Dutchman system on the mainsail, one of the nicest aids to single-handing we installed on our boat is a wireless remote for the autopilot.  It frees me up from being stuck behind the helm while tacking and so forth, so that I can handle lines.   We got ours from a small outfit in Australia, www.madmanmarine.com, it works quite well with our Raymarine autopilot.


Matthew Chachère
s/v ¡Que Chévere! #466
1985 C36 MKI tall rig fin keel M25
Homeported in eastern Long Island, NY

ssteakley's picture
Last seen: 3 days 1 hour ago
Joined: 7/17/16
Posts: 43

We recently installed a Mack Pack and removed the Dutchman system (for loose footed main). If any one wants the Dutchman gear just contact me and it is yours for $10.00 + shipping. Does not come with topping lift.

Steve Steakley
​1998 C36 #1711
clennox's picture
Last seen: 9 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 3/31/14
Posts: 212

I have a 97 MK11. Good autopilot and a windless. I also have a stack pak for the main. I fly the A spin a lot if it's nice. Crew just get in the way. 


Chuck Lennox
97 MKii Ventura Ca
Island Girl Hull #1611

LeslieTroyer's picture
Last seen: 21 hours 26 min ago
Joined: 3/13/16
Posts: 436

Currently not as brave as Chuck and only fly asym if some one is with me.  That would change in a heart beat if I had top down furling rather than a sock.  An autopilot is a must.  And having a windlass allowed me to put more than 10x chain as the P.O.  

rig jacklines and use a harness - I even clip on in the cockpit if at all lumpy.  Other things to consider is a dry suit. Mine was expensive cause I wanted it to fit and last it is a kokatat made for kayakers. I can get in and out easily besides being very inflexible. My pdf has good knife, strobes, light and a personal AIS MOB.   It’s on when I leave the dock.  
EPRIB might be helpful depending on cruising ground.  

Transmitting AIS helps the big nots see me and mostly let’s wife know where I am.  Looking seriously at Garmin InReach for when recalling pushing boundaries of civilization.  


Les & Trish Troyer
Everett, WA
1983 C-36 Hull #0094
C-36 MK 1 Technical Editor. 
clennox's picture
Last seen: 9 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 3/31/14
Posts: 212

Les got thinking about flying my A spin. I two things i have is a really good sock, i think it's an ATN. It has a fiberglass ring that works well. I had a cloth only one that would foul a lot. I also use a quick release shackle with a line attached on the foot.. Pick your day. 


Chuck Lennox
97 MKii Ventura Ca
Island Girl Hull #1611

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