cruising sailboats

  • 2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Dragonfly 25 and Oyster 475

    Jens Quorning

    Pardon me a moment while I step into the Not So Wayback Machine and dial into the middle of last month, post boat show in Annapolis, when I was doing my routine round sampling new boats under sail. Subject number one this year was the new Dragonfly 25 trimaran, which I sailed with Jens Quorning (see photo up top) of Quorning Boats in a typically light 6-10 knot breeze on Chesapeake Bay.

    You think of course a trimaran should be fast, but speed is a relative concept. It seems bottom line on this little hot rod is that in light-to-very-moderate conditions like we had you’ll usually be sailing at wind speed, which is pretty damn good for a boat just 25 feet long. Problem is it doesn’t seem so fast when you know the boat is capable of so much more. In this case, Jens informs me the top speed they’ve seen on this little 25 is a skosh over 20 knots in very strong conditions. Fifteen knots is common in moderate-to-strong wind.

  • BENETEAU FIRST 38: An Early Modern Euro Cruiser

    First 38 under sail

    The French firm Beneteau was formed in 1884 as a builder of wooden fishing boats and switched to building fiberglass recreational vessels in 1964. They first started building sailboats in 1972 and today claim to be the largest boatbuilder in the world. Beneteau’s First series of performance cruising sailboats was introduced in 1979 and quickly blossomed to include this boat, which was branded as the First 38 because it measures 38 feet on deck, though in fact it is 40 feet long overall.

  • BOREAL 44/47: A Bulletproof Aluminum Centerboard Cruiser for High and Low Latitudes

    Boreal sailing

    It says something of the nature of these boats that my initial correspondence with Jean-François Eeman (see photo up top), managing director of Boréal Yachts, regarding a visit to their yard, was interrupted for a month while he and his family took off on a cruise to Antarctica. On a Boréal, of course. Indeed, Eeman’s boat was the first Boréal 44 ever built, the ultimate product of a chance encounter on a dock in Ushuaia, Argentina, between Eeman and another Jean-François, surname Delvoye, a designer and builder with many bluewater miles under his belt who had long been nursing an idea for an ideal cruising vessel.

    The basic concept here is not at all unusual. Aluminum bluewater centerboard boats, though not often found in North America, have long been a staple of the French cruising scene. Major French builders Garcia and Alubat have focused primarily on boats like this for decades, and several smaller builders have followed in their wake. Boréal, barely ten years old, is the rising star on the scene, thanks to a focus on build quality that rivals that of the early Garcias and also to some unique design features that take the concept to a new level.

  • CATANA 58: A Luxury Cruising Cat With Speed Potential

    Catana 58

    This is a high-end performance cruising catamaran from France that tries to split the difference between high-speed sailing and posh liveaboard comfort. The design by Christophe Barreau includes all the important features that keep cats sailing their best--narrow hulls, high bridgedeck clearance, very little solid structure forward of the mast, plus high-aspect daggerboards instead of low-aspect keels.

    The boat’s construction is also pretty high-tech, with an emphasis on lightweight strength. The hull and deck are fiberglass laminate set in vinylester resin vacuum-bagged over a Divinycell PVC foam core. The hull has an inner skin of Twaron aramid fabric laminated over the core to increase stiffness and impact resistance. The deck joint is bonded then glassed over to form a monocoque structure. The only solid laminate is in areas where hardware is mounted. All furniture components and floor sections are also cored with Divinycell foam; the internal bulkheads--21 in all--are laid up with Nida-Core honeycomb coring.

  • CRUISER-RACER CONFUSION: Scow Bow Revolution 29 and Gunboat G4 Capsize

    Revolution 29

    This is something I ask myself quite often: can a modern truly cutting-edge high-performance racing sailboat also be a cruising boat? In certain ways, of course, the old ideal of the true cruiser-racer, per the glory days of the Cruising Club of America rating rule and boats such as Carleton Mitchell's famous yawl Finisterre, evaporated many decades ago. Yet still it is an ideal that both boatbuilders and boat owners incessantly aspire to somehow realize in a modern context, and it is fascinating to watch how these aspirations manifest themselves. Take, for example, the Revolution 29 (see image up top), a new cruising design developed in France that is directly based on David Raison's radical scow-bowed Mini 6.5 in which he won the Mini Transat in 2011.

  • CRUISING BOAT EVOLUTION: The Golden Age of the Cruiser-Racer

    Bolero under sail

    Last we reveled in this topic we examined how early cruising boats sailed by more middle-class yachtsmen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were often working boats that had been repurposed. This marked the beginning of a trend in which the nexus of mainstream yachting shifted inexorably away from the upper crust of society, which mostly viewed yachting as a social activity, toward less affluent, more Corinthian sailors, who practiced it as a sport. Interestingly, one thing that helped precipitate and accelerate this was a growing interest on the part of small-boat cruising sailors in the sport of ocean racing.

  • CRUISING SAILBOAT EVOLUTION: Early Fiberglass Cruisers and the Westsail Cult

    Cruising ketch

    In our last thrilling episode in this series we discussed the classic cruiser-racers that dominated sailboat design through the early to middle part of the 20th century, including when the first production fiberglass boats appeared in the 1950s and '60s. These boats were mostly built to the old CCA rule, which remained the primary rating rule in American sailboat racing until 1970, when it was supplanted by the International Offshore Rule. The IOR was promulgated to encourage international competition by resolving differences between the CCA rule (so called because it was created by the Cruising Club of America) and the Royal Ocean Racing Club's rating rule, which governed racing in Great Britain and Europe. Whereas the CCA rule had explicitly sought to encourage development of boats that could both cruise and race, the new IOR was more focused on performance, and as a result racing and cruising designs eventually started to diverge.

  • CRUISING SAILBOAT EVOLUTION: Multihulls and Other Alternatives

    Jim Wharram

    Our most recent ruminations on this topic focused on some of the popular dedicated cruising-sailboat designs that dominated mass-production boatbuilding as the industry started growing and maturing through the 1970s. It is important to remember, however, that even as fiberglass production techniques were thrusting sailboats into the heart of the 20th-century consumer economy, some cruising enthusiasts, as always, were determined to stay outside the mainstream. Many of these modern alternative cruisers favored unusual offbeat boats. One of these was James Wharram (see photo up top), who in 1954 designed and built for himself an extremely crude 24-foot plywood catamaran he called Tangaroa.

  • CRUISING SAILBOAT RIGS: Converting a Sloop to a Slutter

    Sophie as cutter

    I mentioned the concept of a "slutter," a sloop that is converted to a cutter by adding a removable inner forestay, in my last post on this subject and thought I should expound a bit on the process of the conversion. It is a popular upgrade, particularly on bluewater boats, and of course being able to hoist a staysail can also be handy on a coastal boat. My old Golden Hind 31 Sophie was a sloop when I bought her, and I converted her to a cutter rig with a removable inner forestay, although she became a true cutter, as I also increased the height of the mast and added a bowsprit to enlarge the foretriangle. In the photo up top you see Sophie post conversion, during her very first test sail, flying both a large genoa and her staysail, which in fact was something I rarely did, as it was difficult to tack the genoa around the staysail.

  • CRUISING SAILBOAT RIGS: Sloops, Cutters, and Solent Rigs

    Big sloop

    In our previous episode in this series we discussed what I like to call split rigs--ketches, yawls, and schooners--where a sailplan is divided among two or more masts. Cruising sailors once upon a time preferred such rigs, at least on larger cruising boats, because each separate sail requiring handling was smaller and thus more manageable. These days, however, by far the most popular rig for both racing and cruising sailboats is the simple sloop rig. This has a single mast supporting a single Marconi mainsail with a single headsail supported by a single headstay flying forward of it.

    Its advantages are manifest: there are only two sails for the crew to handle, each of which can be hoisted with a single halyard and trimmed with a single sheet. While sailing, there are normally only two lines--the jib sheet and mainsheet--that need to be controlled at any given moment. And because there is but one headsail flying forward of the main, tacking a sloop is easy, since the headsail, even if it is a large overlapping genoa, can pass easily through the open foretriangle.

  • FRIVOLOUS BOAT GEAR: What I Didn't Get for Christmas

    Amphibious drone

    I did drop some broad hints this year about maybe getting an aerial drone from Santa Claus, thinking I might like to shoot some aerial video of Lunacy under sail, but these seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Instead I got unguents. Which is fine by me, as by the time I do finally get around to (maybe) getting a drone, the ongoing drone wars no doubt will have led to the marketing of even cheaper, better drones with more advanced capabilities. Consider, for example, Exhibit 1: the brand new soon-to-be-released amphibious HexH2o drone, which can not only land on water, but can also shoot video of what's going on under the water after it has landed.

  • GARCIA PASSOA 47: French Metal Surfboard

    Passoa 47 under sail

    Aluminum centerboard cruisers like this are not often seen in North America, but they are common in Europe, particularly in France. Garcia Aluminum, a highly respected French builder, now reorganized as Garcia Yachting, often works on a custom basis but also builds to several standard designs. This Passoa 47, drawn by Phillipe Harle, is very representative of its species. Unlike the keel/centerboard boats most Americans are familiar with, these French boats have integral centerboards descending directly from their bilges. They draw very little water when their boards are up and make great coastal gunkholing boats. They stay upright when aground and can be driven straight on to a beach if desired. They also carry a great deal of fixed internal ballast in their bilges and are self-righting, thus are also suitable for ocean sailing.

  • GREEN 37: New Centerboard Yawl Design by Jay Paris

    Profile and sailplane

    Just heard recently from Jay Paris, N.A., who has been SAIL magazine's technical advisor since before time began. He sent drawings and details of an intriguing upscaled version of the 32-foot centerboard yawl he designed and built for himself. (For details on that boat be sure to check this post here.) He calls this new design the Green 37, as he claims it "reduc[es] the environmental impact of construction and operation in terms of accommodation, payload and performance." I'm scratching my head over that a bit, but in all other respects I find this a fascinating concept and would love to see one of these built someday. Knowing Jay, there are all sorts of clever details in here that won't be readily apparent until they are fully realized in three dimensions.

  • HAUTE BOAT CUISINE: How to Eat Well on a Cruising Boat Without Really Trying

    canned food

    Yes, I have done this, and that is me in that photo up there, eating cold ravioli straight out of a can. That's my old buddy and shipmate Dave Lankshear (he got shipwrecked in Spain with me many moons ago) spoon-feeding me; this during a small gale we sailed through on a 15-day passage from Bermuda to the Azores on my old Alberg 35 yawl Crazy Horse. But no, I have not done this very often, because usually, even on a boat as primitive as Crazy Horse, it is possible, and not too hard, to eat pretty well while cruising.

  • MAINE CAT 41: A Fast But Sensible Open-Bridgedeck Cruising Cat

    MC 41

    This mid-size cruising catamaran inhabits the middle ground between truly high-performance open-bridgedeck cats with very limited accommodations and little or no on-deck shelter and bulkier, more unwieldy cats with enclosed bridgedeck saloons and palatial accommodations. Its most distinctive feature is a permanently mounted hardtop roof supported by aluminum posts that shelters all of the otherwise open bridgedeck area abaft the mast. If desired the bridgedeck can be fully enclosed by deploying flexible transparent acrylic side-curtains.

    This concept was first introduced by designer/builder Dick Vermeulen when he launched his first boat, the smaller Maine Cat 30, back in 1996. The 30-footer has proven quite successful, but is a bit too small and cramped for extended cruising. The 41, first introduced in 2004, redresses this deficiency and has also been successful.

  • MODERN CRUISING SAILS: Sail Construction and Materials

    Under sail

    To function as a proper airfoil a modern Marconi sail must present a curved surface to the wind. To the casual eye a sail may look like a flat two-dimensional piece of cloth, but in fact it has a very specific curved shape built into it. This shape is carefully engineered, depending on what sort of sail it is and how it will be used.

    To turn a piece of flat fabric into a curved foil, the fabric must be cut into panels and stitched back together again. By cutting a convex curve along one edge of a panel and stitching it to a straight edge on an adjacent panel, a process is called broadseaming, a unitary curved surface is created once all the panels are joined together. Where the edge of a sail will be attached to a straight spar, as with a mainsail bent onto a mast and boom, shape can also be created by cutting a convex curve along that edge. This is called edge-shaping and is not commonly used these days.

  • MODERN TWIN-HEADSAIL RIGS: Simbo Sailing and the Dutchmar Zoom Boom

    Simbo Rig

    The concept of the twin-headsail rig, where two jibs are set flying side by side, was first propagated back in the 1950s by bluewater sailors who wanted an easy-to-manage rig for sailing deep downwind angles on tradewind passages. The idea has been revived of late, first by an acquaintance of mine, Iain Simpson, who updated the concept for modern roller-furling systems and employs it on his Najad 570 Song of the Ocean. He is quite keen on it and has been proselytizing on the subject for a few years now on his website.

  • TRUE CONFESSIONS: The New Lunacy

    New Lunacy bones

    I have been shy about mentioning this to people, for various reasons, but now it’s time to come clean. You’ll have noticed I am trying to sell Lunacy, my faithful Tanton 39 cutter of the last 10 years, and some have asked what comes next. The answer, of course, is another aluminum boat. Two of the many things owning Lunacy has taught me is once you’ve had an aluminum boat, or a boat with a transom skirt, there’s no turning back. So, yes, the new Lunacy has both those things, though that photo up there won’t tell you much about the skirt.

  • TWEAKING NEW LUNACY: Mainsheet Modification

    Lunacy under sail

    Now that I’ve got the new boat on the Left Side of the Pond I’m starting to think seriously about how I’d like to change it. Of course, I’ve been thinking about making changes all along, even before I accepted delivery, but I do believe you should first spend some time sailing a boat the way its builder and designer intended before you start mucking with things. Presumably they had their reasons for doing what they did, and you should strive to understand those before making alterations.

    My first modification pertains to the mainsheet, the run of which can be easily followed in this fantastic photo taken by Clint Davis, from a boat called Corsair, when we crossed paths between Bermuda and Newport last month. Many thanks to Clint for sharing this (and a few other pix)! It is always great thing when you can score off-the-boat images of your own boat under sail.

  • VINEYARD VIXEN 29: A Special Friend For Sale on Narragansett Bay

    Ave Marina

    I’ve recently received word from Tim Murphy--my ex-shipmate, ex-roommate, and ex-co-worker (from my brief tenure at Cruising World magazine), that he is selling his 1974 Vineyard Vixen 29. I am quite familiar with this boat, named Ave Marina, as I helped Tim sail her from Rumery’s Boat Yard in Biddeford, Maine, after he refit her there round about 1998, down to Newport, where we were both living at the time. It was one of the most memorable short deliveries I’ve ever made, a proper odyssey in miniature.

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