There is no doubt that the AC75 is a remarkable boat; a monohull designed to fly, engineered to reach speeds…
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And the winners of the European Yachts of the Year 2020 are… (18 Jan 2020, 9:00 pm)
Having tested 15 yachts shortlisted for the European Yacht of the Year 2020 awards, Toby Hodges reveals the winners and why they won
Since its inception in 2004, Yachting World has been a jury member for the European Yacht of the Year awards. This involves shortlisting the best annual prospects into categories before testing them all to elect the winners.
The awards have grown to include 12 judges from across Europe, each leading voices on boat testing in their respective countries. Each judge sails every boat before we discuss the competition at length. The result is the largest, most influential and widely respected boatbuilding prize worldwide.
In October we were able to gather the 15 shortlisted yachts together in one location for the first time – Port Ginesta, Barcelona – for six days of testing.
The five European Yacht of the Year 2020 winners were announced on the opening evening of the Dusseldorf Boatshow, on 18 January. Look out for our March 2020 issue, which features the winners and nominees in more detail.
Nominees: Beneteau First 53, Italia Yachts 11.98, RM 1180, X 4.0
X Yachts took already excellent boats in the X 4.3 and X 4.6 and refined and refined them to produce this, arguably the benchmark for today’s 40ft performance cruiser.
The X 4.0 is a sailor’s yacht with plenty of modern styling and proved a lot of fun to helm in comfort. Although the focus is on cruising, the ergonomic cockpit set up can still suit racing.
The proportion of space is also superb throughout, from the cockpit to the accommodation. It’s a design that’s hard to fault. Price ex VAT: €257,500
Nominees: Amel 60, Grand Soleil 42LC, Oyster 565
Winner: Amel 60
Another beautifully built and finished boat by Amel, this is a similar, refined and extended version of the award-winning Amel 50
It features tried and tested traditional Amel concepts including the central enclosed cockpit (which might not suit an active helmsman), huge watertight engine room and solid guardrails but in a modern looking package.
The 60 boasts enormous volume and stowage, has a truly luxurious feel to the interior, and comes with an impressively high standard spec including a carbon mast for €1,650,000.
See our VIP tour of the boat here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp9GI1miuxw&t=31s
Nominees: ClubSwan 36, Dehler 30 OD, J/99, Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300, JPK 1080
Winner Race: Dehler 30 OD
This is a very well executed concept, one with up to date looks in an appealing, versatile design. It can be sailed short-handed or crewed, and has a proper little interior – a mini offshore racer that you can sleep on.
Dehler has packed in the features, which include a carbon mast and carbon-reinforced hull structure, water ballast, a retractable propeller, and serious sail area including a square top main, which is balanced by a deep keel and twin rudders.
It’s as fun to sail as it looks. A stiff, responsive, current and fun sportsboat at a respectable price. Price ex VAT €108,900 ex VAT
Winner – Innovation prize: ClubSwan 36
To my mind, this is the coolest looking production yacht afloat and the most fun to sail – in both directions! Why would an owner-driver even consider a TP52 or Fast 40 when you could have a sportscar like this for so much less?
Even without the C-foil (which, counteracts leeway upwind but still needs some fine tuning to get the best out of it), this is the most exciting boat – bravo Swan for doing something radically different, once again.
We featured a full test on this missile in the February 2020 issue. Price ex VAT: €385,000
Nominees: Beneteau Oceanis 30.1, Elan Impression 45.1, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410
Winner: Beneteau Oceanis 30.1
Credit to Beneteau for addressing the entry-level market with a modern, easy-to-handle, spacious and affordable 30ft cruiser. Polish build helps keep the price low, a clever hull shape buys volume, the cockpit and rig design help make it easy to sail, while an options list that includes four different keels provides versatility and will attract sea and lake sailors alike.
Tall headroom, saloon berths long enough to sleep on and an L-shape galley is all somehow fitted in below decks. This is an appealing, small family yacht on which to enjoy simple sailing and overnighting.
Price ex VAT: €69,400
Nominees: Excess 15, Lagoon 46, Neel 47
No winner announced
Despite the recent explosion of cruising multihulls, this was a disappointing category this year. The Lagoon wasn’t able to make the trials and we had concerns over steering problems with the Excess and the finish quality of the Neel 47.
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Rival to the Fastnet Race is launched by Plymouth yacht club to ‘bring race home’ (17 Jan 2020, 10:40 am)
The Lonely Rock, a race mirroring the classic Fastnet Race route starting from the Isle of Wight and finishing in Plymouth, has been launched by the Royal Western Yacht Club
A new race to the Fastnet Rock and back has been launched by the Royal Western Yacht Club of England in Plymouth to bring a classic format offshore race back to its home city.
The event was created in reaction to the controversial announcement by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) last year that the two next Rolex Fastnet Races in 2021 and 2023 will finish in Cherbourg, a course it says was chosen to allow the event to accommodate larger numbers of competitors.
The Lonely Rock Race will start from Ryde on the Isle of Wight and go out to the Fastnet lighthouse off the south-west corner of Ireland before returning to a finish in Plymouth. It mirrors the traditional 600-mile course of the 95-year-old Fastnet Race and will also run every two years, but take place in the years between the RORC’s biennial Rolex Fastnet Race.
The first Lonely Rock Race will start this year on 16 August.
The RORC’s decision to move the finish port to France was highly controversial. Many previous competitors feel that it changes the DNA of this classic British offshore race, and the decision was met with dismay in Plymouth, where the race has traditionally finished on every edition since its founding in 1925.
The Royal Western YC’s event seeks to redress this by creating an alternative format that brings it back to the club’s home city.
Plymouth has long been associated with major offshore and short-handed races. Beginning in 1960, the Royal Western ran the OSTAR solo transatlantic race and, from 1966, the once star-studded Two-Handed Round Britain & Ireland Races. It still runs the OSTAR for yachts up to 60ft, but sold the rights to the event for larger yachts such as IMOCA 60s and big multihulls. What became known as The Transat has since also been moved from Plymouth to France, and will begin from Brest in May.
Plymouth also lost out to a French bidder for the 2018 Golden Globe Race, after organisers said they did not have sufficient support from local council and businesses.
The club will have been eyeing the numbers attracted to the Rolex Fastnet Race which, in the last few editions, has sold out online in minutes. Organisers say they believe the Lonely Rock Race will be a sell-out too.
It is open to monohulls and multihulls between 30ft and 60ft. A Notice of Race is to be published shortly and more information is available from the RWYC, email@example.com.
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Road to the America’s Cup podcast episode 5: Designing the AC75’s hull (9 Jan 2020, 9:22 am)
In the latest episode of our America’s Cup podcast, Ben Ainslie explains the key differences between the four AC75 hull designs launched to date
Four AC75s have now been launched, and each of these brand new America’s Cup class boats reveals the thinking of its team’s designers and sailors. There are more differences than similarities in the four boats, particularly in the hull design. So we’re going to take a look at what’s driving the design choices.
There is one point of consensus and that’s the divided cockpit. Each one has a deck layout with a trench down each side of the boat, separated by what’s effectively an extension of the foredeck that runs all the way to the stern.
“The thinking is to create a pod from the bow of the boat through to the stern of the boat, and to endplate the mainsail to that pod,” explained Ben Ainslie. “There’s some really, really strong aerodynamic gains to doing this.
“That effectively means you end up with two trench-style cockpits on either side of the yacht. And once you’ve got that pod in the middle and the trenches down the side, your crew is ideally hidden from the wind as much as possible to reduce the [aerodynamic] drag.”
The end-plate effect is well understood; the lift generated by an aero- or hydrofoil comes from the pressure difference created between the high and low pressures sides. If the air can flow from the high to low pressure sides over the ends or tips of the foils then it reduces the pressure difference and the efficiency. So an endplate is just something that stops this flow over the end. In this case, the deck of the AC75 is an endplate for the bottom of the soft wingsail.
So much for the similarities, what about the differences in the deck layouts? “There are definitely different approaches here as to whether all of your crew move from side to side – as is more traditional in yacht racing – or split, so are fixed on one side of the yacht, come what may, and whatever tack you’re on or manoeuvres you’re doing.”
In the first approach, where everyone moves as they normally would, then the big advantage is righting moment, because all the crew weight is always on the windward side. The disadvantage is the time lost getting them from one side to the other when they are no longer winding handles or sailing the boat. It remains to be seen where the fleet settle on this issue.
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The systems that control the aero- and hydrofoils of the new AC75 are covered by some of the most complex…
When it comes to the design of the hulls themselves, the most striking thing is that the boats can be split into two pairs. The INEOS Team UK and American Magic boats both have a flat bottom, while Luna Rossa and the Kiwis have a ‘bustle’. On the first pair it’s a V-shape, and in the second a more rounded longitudinal protuberance; both run fore and aft down the centreline of the hull.
“It’s a really fascinating dilemma with this style of boat, and we’ve seen the Italians and Kiwis come up with a bustle or blister which has two effects, really: a hydrodynamic effect in terms of the boat going through its acceleration phase; and lifting up out of the water.
“And then it also has quite a strong aerodynamic impact. We talked about endplating of the main to the hull of the boat. Can you effectively do the same thing with the hull of the boat to the surface of the water? Again, if you can achieve that, it has really big aerodynamic performance gains,” said Ainslie.
So the bustle is designed to both ease the separation of the hull from the water as it tries to lift off, and at the same time make it easier to recover a touch-down. These hydrodynamic effects should make it possible to fly the boat very close to the water and collect the aerodynamic gain from endplating the whole of the boat against the water’s surface.
Copy cat technology
Will it work? Technology now allows the teams to take images of each other’s boats, build a CAD model from those pictures using a process called photogrammetry and then analyse the design with their own tools.
“From that, you’ve got to try and work out why has that team come up with that design concept,” explained Ainslie. “It’s no good just copying because you don’t really understand what the emphasis is or what the priorities are of that particular design; why it is that particular shape? And then once you try and understand that, you can then perhaps incorporate that into your own design philosophies.
“So, what are the trade-offs there in terms of the endplating to the surface of the water, how close can we get the boats to the surface? That’s really interesting with these boats; the dynamics of how these boats are sailed – and that will ultimately define which boat has the best performance out of the water.”
This is something that can best be worked on in a simulator, where the sailors can sail a virtual version of each design and learn about its dynamic characteristics.
“The straight-line speed is obviously really important, but then that comes with your overall design; having the right sail shapes and all the rest of it. But the actual hull dynamic performance – how it sits in the water, lifts out of the water, how it performs in the manoeuvring touchdown phases – that’s really what we’re trying to explore and, yes, we can see marked differences between all of the teams in that respect,” concluded Ainslie.
About the author
Ben Ainslie is the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, and Team Principal of the British America’s Cup challenger. INEOS Team UK will be challenging for the 36th America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2021. Each month he talks to Mark Chisnell about the innovations and technology behind the new AC75 foiling monohulls.
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Spinnaker wraps: Pip Hare’s tips on dealing with a tangled kite (9 Jan 2020, 9:20 am)
From prevention to recovery, pro sailor Pip Hare explains how to handle spinnaker wraps
I can still feel the pain of my first really bad single-handed spinnaker wrap. I was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, took my eye off the sail for just one second to dunk a biscuit in my tea and my fate was sealed.
Four hours later I had managed to get the sail down. It had wrapped around the forestay as well as a spare halyard, and the more I unwrapped the bottom the worse the top got. By the time I had finished I was exhausted and my fingertips were bleeding from pulling on the fabric. No one in their right mind would want to go through that pain, so here are my top tips to avoid spinnaker wraps.
Preventing spinnaker wraps
When hoisting straight from the bag, the aim is to separate the clews then get the head to full hoist as quickly as possible. Always sheet the guy or tack on first; if it’s breezy you can wool this front corner. Hoisting behind a jib will keep wind out of the head for longer and avoid it spinning on the halyard swivel. If you are sailing with crew, your bowman can also run the leech of the sail as it goes up.
Hoisting from a snuffer, the head will already be in the air so you only need to stretch out the foot. Get your tack or guy on before hoisting the sock, then steer a deep course to reduce apparent wind. As the sock goes up, sheet on as hard as you can. Be ready to ease the sheet the minute the sail fills.
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Wraps while hoisting and gybing
With the jib still up, the foredeck crew should grab the spinnaker leech from behind the jib and pull down on it hard, gathering the material in their hands to try and make a straight line down the leech. This will deflate the sail and can often chase the wrap out through the top.
If the wrap is not moving and the halyard is at full hoist, ease the head by a maximum of 3m, this will allow the sail to fly away from the mast giving extra room for the swivel to work. Pull on the leech again, but if the wrap will not come out you may need to drop the spinnaker.
For sails in snuffers, easing the halyard will not help the head spin, your only option is to pull down on the leech. Take extreme care: consider clipping on and be ready to release the sail if it suddenly fills.
Asymmetric spinnaker wraps while gybing can normally be pulled out by sheeting on and heading up after the gybe – it’s all about how quickly you can get leech tension on the new sheet. If that doesn’t work, sometimes the best option is to gybe straight back. If you can see the spinnaker wrapping during the gybe, go back, then try again.
Spinnaker wraps around the forestay
These are the worst kind of wraps, as they can stop the spinnaker from coming down. They normally happen when the sail has been momentarily deflated, often at nighttime, in sloppy seas, when sailing dead downwind or when the helmsman is distracted.
If racing, you should be able to avoid this through good communication: if the trimmer feels the apparent breeze drop or sees the spinnaker start to collapse they can call the helmsman to steer up. On longer passages you can hoist something up the forestay to stop the spinnaker from passing through the gap. A small jib works well on boats with bowsprits or symmetric kites.
If flying a cruising chute from the bow, using a jib may smother the chute, so another method must be found. A spinnaker net is a sail made of mesh that is specifically designed for this purpose and can be made up by a sailmaker.
Alternatively, create a web yourself using a spare halyard and babystay or emergency forestay. Pass the halyard around the forestay, then the inner stay and back to the forestay a few times to create a web that the spinnaker cannot pass through. Bear in mind that this solution would make a quick gybe or jib hoist quite difficult.
If you do get a forestay wrap it can be an enormous job to undo. The important rule is to know when to cut your losses. It is possible to ‘sail out’ these wraps but is also easy to sail more in. Unless you are confident that you can sort the mess out, quit while you are ahead and get the sail down.
- Use luminous tape to make the leeches of your spinnakers visible in the dark. This will help you see the kite collapsing.
- If your spinnaker bags are old and soft, invest in new ones with good Velcro and solid sides to keep the sail well packed in the bag.
- If you’ve not used your snuffer for a while, lay it out on the dock, lift the sock and run the tapes.
- When the spinnaker is flying, always keep spare halyards at the mast, not on the pulpit to prevent the sail from tangling with the lines.
First published in the October 2017 edition of Yachting World.
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How shared ownership can get you more boating with less stress (9 Jan 2020, 9:14 am)
The sharing economy is booming, even on the water. Sam Fortescue looks at the new ways to own a boat
Traditional boat ownership is broken and outdated. At least, that’s the bold message coming from a shrewd and hardy collection of entrepreneurs who say there is no longer any reason to simply buy a boat and keep it waiting in the marina for the occasional foray.
They are trying to drag boating into the modern digital economy with fractional ownership, sailing time-shares and peer-to-peer charter – all of which can reduce the cost of sailing dramatically. It’s a brave new world of apps, bundled services and sharing.
“I think this is part of a societal shift we are seeing in multiple industry sectors away from longer term asset ownership, and towards quicker consumption of experiences, or access to services,” says Matt Ovenden, founder of Borrow a Boat.
It is a generational issue, agrees Todd Hess, managing director of Sail Time. “Millennials aren’t ready to own today, but they will pay to rent an experience. Our vision is that many will age and will become buyers.”
Fractional yacht ownership is not new, of course. As long as there have been watercraft, there have been part shares. But the manner in which you meet and deal with partners is changing.
The three founders of Boat Share Finder reckoned that they could improve people’s chances of getting afloat by setting up a kind of online exchange, where boaters can offer part shares in existing syndicates and register to receive alerts on suitable new listings.
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“With people no longer having the money or time to warrant buying a boat for themselves, BSF gives the best of both worlds, allowing people to keep their costs down while still being able to spend time on the water and hopefully meet some likeminded friends along the way,” says co-founder Alex Waldron.
“We have over 400 boats currently listed on the website and that number is steadily growing with more boats being added each month. Over half are sailing boats.”
Typical costs are around £45,000 for a one-third share of a Najad 391 in the Solent or an Oceanis 50 in the Adriatic, but the site also lists commercial syndicates and time-shares.
Uniquely the service is run on a non-profit basis, with users simply asked to donate at least £50 to selected charities when they find a share. “An ever growing number of boats listed [are] in Europe and further afield,” adds Waldron.
Run as a charity, Boat Share Finder is relatively hands-off, leaving people to get on with sorting out the details and contracts by themselves.
But at the other end of the shared ownership spectrum you can find a much more luxurious service that offers to take on many of the more onerous elements of boat ownership, including maintenance.
Well-known Solent-based yacht broker Ancasta saw a gap in the market here, launching its own fractional ownership programme for new boats at the 2018 Southampton Boat Show. The Beneteau, Lagoon and McConaghy dealer had been mulling over the idea for some time in response to falling boat ownership.
“The shell for our programme was there, but we had to go out and do the research, getting feedback from those who have been part of similar schemes,” says sales manager Scarlett Sykes.
“There are fewer and fewer people getting into boating, all with similar reasoning such as lack of time, being unable to justify the cost of ownership, or charter boats being of a low standard.
“We want to give that group of people the ability to get on the water, owning a brand new boat, without the hassle of maintenance, where their costs are in proportion to their usage – we wanted to tick all the boxes.”
Ancasta says that the programme has appealed to younger sailors, as it had expected. But it has also resonated with older sailors, too. “Retirees who want to avoid managing and maintaining their own boats would be a big chunk of our enquirers,” says Sykes.
Lichtenstein-based Smart Yacht is another example of a high-end service, but it has no brand affiliations and specialises in good quality second-hand boats.
Having headquarters in one of Europe’s most landlocked countries has not stopped the company from signing up more than 3,000 prospective yacht co-owners, for whom it acts as a kind of marine dating service.
It can be a slow process to get right, admits head of marketing Verena Brünings. “Due to high personal efforts in consulting our clients we cannot sell more than 15-20 shares (about five new yachts) per year.”
Matching up similar expectations in terms of yacht size, maintenance cost and so on takes time. Current offers on the sailing side include a Bavaria 44 Vision and an Oceanis 45 based in Italy, plus a First 45 in Croatia.
Co-owners book time online and can have as much or as little to do with each other as they want – they may not know each other at all, in fact. “Your anonymity can be provided upon request,” says Brünings.
The company also offers a €450 per year membership option which allows you to book days on owners’ yachts for a fraction of the market rate.
The membership route to getting out on the water has proved hugely successful in its own right. Market leader Freedom Boat Club runs more than 2,000 boats across the US, while Sail Time has been at it for 18 years, and is now expanding into Europe.
The company sets out its stall on ownership immediately: “There are very few reasons for owning a boat in a traditional manner any more,” says Todd Hess.
The premise is a simple one, akin to short-term charter. Club members choose how much sailing they want to do, and pay a monthly fee accordingly. So-called Lite packages start at around $485 for a one-year-old Beneteau Oceanis 35.1.
This includes three uses per month, with a single ‘use’ running from 10am to 6pm or overnight – enough for a weekend per month. Other options run to seven and 15 ‘uses’ per month.
You book in advance using the Sail Time app on your phone, and higher-paying members can take a slot for free if it is still available within 36 hours of its start time. With bases across Spain, Italy, Australia and the US, its reach is fairly limited now, but new European locations are on the cards.
“There’s a lot of space for growth in Europe, and a lot of room for competition,” says Hess, although he sounds cautious about returning to the UK. “At this moment Brexit is a real factor in opening up locations in the UK.”
The model becomes really interesting for owner-members, whose boats are used by other members. They receive a good discount to list price on their new boat, and have all their berthing, insurance and maintenance costs covered. Average net earnings are around $15,000 per year for a 38-footer, plus they get guaranteed monthly usage.
A former Sail Time licensee in the UK now runs Flexisail along very similar lines, with 18 boats between Poole, the Solent and Woolverstone, near Ipswich.
Monthly membership plans start at £478 for 18 days per year on a weekday-only basis and work up to around £950 for 42 days afloat. It also organises a range of social events on and off the water, with training available.
With nine sailing boats from 32ft to 46ft LOA, Pure Latitude is another growing UK scheme, based on the Hamble. MD Ian Bartlett is planning to grow the fleet further after a surge in membership last year.
Having a little over 100 people means that “it’s very rare that there isn’t a sailing boat and a motorboat available on the pontoon,” according to Bartlett.
Monthly plans start at £200/month if you are putting yourself up to crew other boats, or £350/month if you want a boat exclusively. You earn points depending on your subscription rate, and those points can then be spent to secure time on board different boats.
At the basic £350/m rate, you could expect between eight and 12 days aboard per year. For £750/m, you could have up to 36 days aboard over the year.
“Sailboats in the mid-30 feet are the sweet spot,” says Bartlett. “We are about the quality of the boats and the locations that they’re in. We all know you can run an old Westerly on the river and row about in your tender for £3,000 per year.”
Pure Latitude has found that one of the key draws for members are its social events, which allow people to meet and sail together. It also offers a popular £650/month training membership, which includes bespoke one-on-one training days aboard, including the RYA Day Skipper practical.
Bartlett is keen to stress that membership is not just a question of paper qualifications – something for which he criticises the peer-to-peer model.
“When members join, we run a full-day interaction and assess their competence off that,” he says. “They could have been sailing for 40 years and not have a single piece of paper, or have just passed the Day Skipper the day before.”
Boatbuilding behemoth Beneteau is also getting in on the act with the launch of its own Beneteau Boat Club. The company sees it as a way to get more people out on the water and build brand loyalty before they get to the stage of buying a boat themselves.
A growing network of dealer-serviced bases in France, Spain and Norway give members access to small sailing and motor boats.
Once you’ve chosen between a weekday or anytime subscription (€1,000/€1,500 per annum), there are no usage limits. Monthly charges run from €249 for a First 18, to €690 for a First 21 and an Oceanis 31.
“So far, the Beneteau Boat Club has attracted members who are younger than our average owners, mostly male,” says Beneteau’s director of communications Jean-Francois Pape.
“[They] want to enjoy boating without any hassle, and are more focused on experience than on ownership at the time when they join. One day, they want to go sailing, and the next they want to go fishing or wakeboarding on an outboard boat.”
Pulling all these strands together is the British start-up Borrow a Boat. Founder Matt Ovenden launched the company three years ago as a peer-to-peer charter company, but it has grown to include a boating club and an ownership arm.
Most of its business now comes from finding commercial charters for users, who can search and book via an app, or online.
Ovenden is convinced that his model reaches new sailors. “It is part of a societal shift we are seeing in multiple industry sectors away from longer term asset ownership, and towards quicker consumption of experiences, or access to services. This is reflected in the long-term trend away from boat ownership.”
He sees huge potential because the online model is reaching new customers. “British Marine’s Futures Project revealed that as many as one in three people want to go boating in the UK, but the industry is not currently getting close to that many people out on the water.”
Peer-to-peer rentals offer a cheaper way to get afloat anywhere
Borrow a Boat’s club provides another way in to its online charter brokerage, which now lists more than 20,000 boats across 80 countries. Members pay a minimum monthly fee of £50, which they can then use to buy charter time at a discount of up to 15%.
It’s a sum that goes further than you’d think with, summer charter prices as low as £70 per day (for a First 21 in Croatia). “It’s for regular boaters who know they are going to go boating, and want to get the savings,” says Ovenden.
With charter alone worth £50 billion annually, there is plenty of scope for sales growth in this market. Boatsetter is probably the world’s largest and best known, but there are plenty of others including France’s Click&Boat.
Taken together, all these services add up to a much cheaper way of getting out on the water, and perhaps the results are starting to tell.
The latest research by British Marine shows that the number of 16- to 34-year-olds getting out on the water is at last starting to rise again. As commercial director Dean Smith says: “Boat sharing looks to make boating as accessible as possible to a new generation of boating fans.”
Figures published by British Marine show that although some 3.93m people took part in boating activities in 2018 – a figure only slightly lower than in 2017 – nearly half of those reported that canoeing was their main activity.
When it comes to yacht racing, a 40% nosedive in year-on-year participation has reduced the numbers taking part to just 92,000. Yacht cruising numbers have held up better at 370,000 last year, but that still represents a 17% decline on 2017.
Ownership has also declined slightly. Some 0.22% of the population owned a sailing yacht between 2016 and 2018, compared to a high of 0.26% ten years earlier. More than ever – around one in eight – are kept overseas.
“Over the past ten years there’s been an increase in small sailboat activities, while we’ve seen a small decline in sailing yacht activities,” says Dean Smith, commercial director at British Marine. “This reflects the growing desire for more accessible, flexible and affordable consumer options.”
Mark Hammond was the first to sign up for Ancasta’s shared ownership scheme and is now one of three partners in a Beneteau Oceanis 41.1.
“I’ve been chartering for the last six years – mainly in the UK, but also in the Med. I wanted another programme with more ready access to a boat. The Ancasta scheme seemed to be the first of its particular type, and it ticked all the boxes for what I wanted to do: more regular sailing, but a stepping stone to full boat ownership in about three years’ time; knowing that all the costs were included in the management fee.”
On a three-partner basis, that fee amounts to £854 per month and covers maintenance, berthing and insurance. Just £34 of that is Ancasta’s fee. The £80,000 deposit and £1,966 monthly finance costs are also split three ways for a total monthly payment of just over £1,500. “It isn’t the cheapest option for having a boat. But if you weigh up the usage of that asset versus the cost of that asset, it works well.”
The spec of the boat was handled by Ancasta, as was the fit out – “down to the last teaspoon!” Hammond was also able to make a few personal choices in terms of equipment and sails.
He communicates with his partners via a Whatsapp group, although Ancasta’s online booking and damage reporting software means that contact can be more formalised. At present they take a ‘one week in three’ approach to divvying up time, but Hammond is hoping they can carve out some longer spells aboard and one-way trips to cruise more widely.
Typical costs for four partners in a Beneteau Oceanis 41.1
Typical specification: £269,337.60
Deposit per partner: £20,200.32
Monthly contribution: £1,966.00
Monthly finance contribution per partner: £491.50
Winterisation ashore: £706.27
Annual engine service: £500.00
Annual boat checks & service: £1,416.00
Anodes (mid-season & winter): £1,320.43
In-season monthly valet: £1,491.60
Out-of-season fortnightly washdown: £1,528.89
Hull polish: £733.99
Weekly checks: £3,432.00
Stowage solution: £1,500.00
Management fee: £1,200.00
Total annual costs for boat: £30,735.23
Annual costs per partner: £7,683.81
Monthly costs per partner: £640.32
First published in the January 2020 edition of Yachting World.
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Pip Hare’s 10 top tips on how to look after your yacht on passage (9 Jan 2020, 9:10 am)
People often ask me if I get bored sailing across oceans, but the truth is there is always something to do. Routine is king when it comes to regular maintenance. Here are my top ten daily checks for getting across an ocean in good shape
Stay clean and dry
Keeping immaculate bilges and lockers will not only make your living environment more pleasant but will help identify leaks early. Start with a dry, salt-free bilge (this includes under the engine) and aim to keep it that way. It’s worth wiping out even the tiniest pool of water to see if comes back again. In warmer climates I’ve used trails of crystallised salt to identify a small leak – only possible because the rest of the surface was completely salt-free.
Walk the deck
Take a turn around the deck every day, looking at what is around your feet and pausing by each fitting to give a thorough inspection. Often we are so focussed on the sails and looking towards the horizon that fittings at deck level can get ignored.
Check all the blocks at the base of the mast, looking for signs of damage to sheaves, loose shackle pins or any indication they are being pulled apart through a bad lead. Excessive ‘side to side’ movement in traveller or jib cars could be a sign that the bearings are wearing. Look for any pins, split rings or small items that might have fallen down from the rig and washed into the toe rail.
Make daily engine checks
My daily checks include oil and coolant levels, belt tensions and feeling the bolts on engine mounts and alternator brackets to ensure they have not come loose. I will also watch the engine while it is running. As with bilges, keeping the engine bay immaculately clean and dry should alert you to the first signs of leakage. Record engine hours against fuel levels, especially on longer voyages.
Check battery levels
Monitoring battery levels should be part of any watch rotation, with all crew knowing what voltage the batteries should not drop below. Battery monitors with alarms can help.
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Rotate your food
It’s painful to throw away fresh produce, but with large top-loading fridges it is easy to lose track. Check food stocks on a daily basis, bringing the items which need eating to the top of the pile. If sailing with a larger crew then have a daily notice in the galley listing the food that needs to be eaten. Every couple of days have a deeper look in the cupboards or lockers at how well they are packed and rearrange items to stop cans rolling around or more fragile foodstuffs being crushed.
Manage water carefully
I monitor fresh water levels daily to get an idea of how much is being used and constantly re-evaluate how much will be needed as conditions develop. Start rationing early if you feel it is going to be necessary. Seawater can be used for cooking, taking showers and doing the washing up so fresh water is only for drinking. The earlier you start this strategy the less it will impact the crew. If using a watermaker, run it regularly to keep the tanks always full.
Monitor crew health closely
Crew welfare is as important on an ocean voyage as keeping the boat together. Small problems which go unaddressed can escalate, so a good skipper needs to offer an open ear or delegate this role. Ensure everyone is drinking enough water, make sure skin abrasions are kept clean and dry where possible, and ensure every crew member eats at every meal. Check everyone is following a good hygiene regime, using antibacterial hand gel after going to the toilet and before preparing food.
Though embarrassing to talk about it is also important that everyone feels able to discuss with at least one crew member if they have any problems with their toilet routine. Be alert to signs of low mood or withdrawal, try to stay on top of any confrontational behaviour and ensure everyone feels they have someone to talk to.
Check for signs of chafe
Be on the lookout for chafe at all times to identify what could be changed or repaired. When you walk the deck run your fingers along the guard rails, feeling for any sharp wires or edges. Check sheets and halyards where they go through blocks and ease or raise halyards to check for wear in the clutches.
Look up the rig
On a daily basis I walk to the base of the mast and look up the rig. I look up the side of the mast to check that the backstays are still pulling the head of the mast backwards, and the mid-section of the mast is not excessively panting. I look up the front of the mast to check lateral alignment and look up the back for any issues with batten cars, or damage to the luff of the mainsail.
Check spinnaker halyards are not twisted and are ready for the next hoist – do this just before dark so you know exactly where they are. Use a pair of binoculars to look at the wind instruments and the VHF antenna to identify any movement on their brackets, which might lead to them coming loose.
Don’t forget to floss
When racing I floss the bottom of the boat every other day but check the rudders for weed all of the time. To floss, throw a line under the bow with one person on each end then walk slowly back to the keel pulling the rope to and fro. For cruising this is less important but it is well worth it every now and again.
If your rudder is not visible from the deck then you could use a robust waterproof camera attached to a length of batten or boat hook to have a quick scan under the boat (slow the boat down to get a better picture and minimise the risk of losing the camera).
First published in the December 2019 edition of Yachting World.
The post Pip Hare’s 10 top tips on how to look after your yacht on passage appeared first on Yachting World.
The great escape: Why there’s no bad time to drop everything and sail away (9 Jan 2020, 9:06 am)
When is the right time to cut loose and sail away? Any time, as Helen Fretter finds out from cruisers of all life stages
How do we untie the lines that bind us? Family, jobs, homes, schools, pets, friends… our lives are built on the myriad of small connections and huge decisions that we have made over a lifetime.
Appealing though it is to dream of handing in your notice, locking up the house and sailing off into the sunset, the reality is that it can take a daunting amount of planning and organisation to disentangle our land-based routines.
There is no ‘right’ time to go – there are cruisers who have enjoyed bluewater adventuring with a newborn baby, others who’ve waited until their 70s and plenty of others who found their life circumstances changed dramatically but their sailing plans could be adapted to carry on.
We spoke to those who have made the move to liveaboard or long-haul cruising to find out why they chose to go when they did, and what lessons they’d pass on to anyone thinking of making the leap.
When Kathleen Casey-Kirschling was born at 0001hr on 1st January 1946 in Pennsylvania, she became the USA’s very first baby boomer, the first of the generation that would redefine ‘retirement’.
It’s no surprise that when she and her husband chose to retire they did so aboard a yacht (albeit a motoryacht, their Grand Banks 42). It was named First Boomer.
The post-war generation who were born between 1946-64, are now in their mid-50s to early-70s, and statistically healthier, wealthier and more active than any previous generation, so in the best position to enjoy long-haul cruising.
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For many third age cruisers their yacht is the reward for four decades of working at a successful career or business. Final salary pension schemes – and, in the UK, tax changes which allowed lump sums to be drawn from pension funds without penalty since 2015 – have enabled many to bolster their income to contend with the costs of a bluewater trip.
It is not entirely straightforward for those in their 50s and 60s: elderly parents, ‘boomerang’ children who’ve returned to the family home, and new grandchildren are often emotive pulls back to shore. The increased expense of travel and health insurance for over-65s can be an added complication.
But there are many who have made it work, and for whom retirement afloat signals the best years of their lives. “They say that the time to reef is when you first think of it, but unless you have unlimited resources, casting off the lines is seldom that simple.
“For Terry and me, it started as an impossible dream, crashed on the rocks of various recessions and slowly morphed into a plan and then reality,” recalls Alan Ryall, who has been sailing with his wife, Terry, since 2013. Both are in their mid-60s.
Having owned boats for 25 years, the Ryalls bought their Island Packet 465, Seminole Wind, in 2011 with the specific aim of bluewater voyaging. After completing Yachtmaster, first aid and survival training, and a full year of shakedown cruising, they sailed across the Atlantic in 2013.
The couple initially tried downsizing from working full-time to part-time, “so we could try and get the best of both worlds,” recalls Alan. “It failed miserably.”
“We hauled out in Antigua where I jumped straight on to a flight to Singapore in time to run a major conference. We were constantly finding a place to leave the boat and it was just frustrating.
“We came back once to find a major lightning strike had caused over $70,000 damage because work pressure meant she had been left in Florida in the storm season, fortunately with the permission of our insurers.”
A health scare made them reassess. “We took a knife to the lines and left work behind for good,” Alan explains. “Our house in London was sold and we bought a smaller apartment to rent, so we had no emotional attachment to it.”
Possessions were dealt with ruthlessly. “They fell into two categories: a small pile of must-keeps and a large pile of dispose of (give to family, charity shop or sell). I can’t even remember what we disposed of so we didn’t need it – it was a cathartic experience.”
Other attachments were harder to break. “For a while we both had elderly and infirm mothers and so we flew home on a regular basis to share the load. We lost both of them within a year and it taught us that we always need a reserve fund to get us home in an emergency,” says Alan.
The trickiest thing for the Ryalls was finding the right moment to shift from working life to liveaboard life. “We had a clear financial plan that was originally over 10 years, but got stretched due to recessions and life getting in the way.
“We decided to wait until we were financially sound rather than going early and having to face going back to the workplace.”
Was it the right time for them? “For us the financial security and the achievement of many of our life’s goals means that this is a new phase rather than a temporary phase.
“We are very lucky. We have the health, vitality and financial resources to embrace our new life. It could so easily be different and so I’d say, when the time feels right, do it. Don’t wait for absolute certainty.”
The home schoolers
Taking your children on a family bluewater adventure is a dream for many – turning off social media and exam pressure, and exposing them to different cultures and hands-on experiences instead has huge appeal.
But picking the right moment in between critical school years can be a challenge. While some families do cruise successfully with toddlers and teenagers, for most there is a ‘sweet spot’ that makes primary school age the ideal time to go.
The Steventon family set off from the Isle of Wight last July. Tom and Philippa are sailing with their sons Stan and Ted, aged eight and six, aboard their Bowman 40, Bella.
“We had actually attempted to leave once before when Stan was 11 weeks old,” recalls Philippa. “We did a ‘gentle’ shakedown cruise to the Outer Hebrides and back, and then thought better of the whole idea. For us, it was just too hard work with a newborn.
“After Ted arrived we moved ashore for a few years. We did quite a bit of research into when would be the best time for us to take the boys out of school without disturbing their education too much – although we do believe the whole experience will enhance their education rather than disrupt it.
“The salient points for us were that the boys were able to read, write and swim before we left. We also wanted them to be old enough to remember this experience when they are older and be part of it as much as possible.”
The family have planned to cruise for two years initially, spending the first year in Europe before crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean. “From there we will make a decision as a family as to what we do after that,” Philippa explains. They have timed their trip so they can return before their eldest enrols in secondary school, or continue to home educate.
After a summer off, Tom and Philippa started ‘boat school’ in September so the boys began lessons at the same time as their friends back home. “We try and do four 45-minute lessons a day and split them between us,” explains Philippa.
“We are trying to make school as related to what we are doing as possible. We are also trying to follow the boys’ interests, and map the UK national curriculum to them.
“Before we left, boat school was the bit that I was most daunted about. But, dare I say it, it’s actually been quite fun. Not least because, by splitting the teaching between Tom and me, we are both guaranteed a bit of child-free time each day. That’s important for everyone’s sanity!”
Keeping the family home is an additional complication for those wanting to retain a base. “Fortunately, we managed to rent our house out to good friends which meant that we could leave quite a bit of furniture in the house. The rest of our possessions we either gave away, sold or put in storage.”
Without the cash injection of a house sale, family cruising can depend on rental income and what Philippa describes as “some serious belt tightening.”
One of the most positive surprises the Steventons have found is that, although they have sailed as a family since the boys were babies, liveaboard life is a different rhythm to enjoy.
“We’ve actually learned to cruise. In recent years summer holidays have been hammering it to either France, the Channel Islands or Devon, where we collapse in a heap for a week or two before hammering back home again.
“This summer we did the odd longer passage but we finally seem to have learned how to do smaller coastal hops of a few hours every day or two, drop the hook, have a swim and a look around and move on again.”
The solo skipper
Donald Begg had always dreamed of sailing around the world on his Bowman 48 Lydia: “My problem is that my wife doesn’t like long-distance sailing,” he explains.
Nevertheless, Begg completed his circumnavigation by breaking the world tour down into sections and using a variety of approaches over three years. He joined the 2016-17 World ARC and sailed Lydia with friends from St Lucia to Tahiti, where he laid the boat up and went back home.
Later that year he returned to sail single-handedly from Tahiti to New Zealand. He and his wife spent some time in New Zealand, before he single-handed on to Australia, where the couple spent a month exploring.
Then in 2018 he rejoined the World ARC in Queensland, and completed his circumnavigation with the rally, using a mix of crew he had recruited from crew sites, and ‘floating’ crew who had been with the World ARC for previous stages on other boats.
“I started off sailing with friends, but I ran out of friends – not in a pejorative sense but there’s only a limited number of people who could get away for long periods of time. That floating pool of manpower on the World ARC has been quite handy for someone like me who hasn’t got a natural crew.”
Although Begg is confident in single-handing long passages, he admits: “It is a great challenge, and it’s a terrific thing to have done, but you’re also very glad to arrive. “You get bored in your own company, you get lonely. In my case you get very fed up with your own cooking! And it’s nice to share it with people.”
Practically speaking, solo skippers are not allowed on the World ARC, and while Begg was insured to sail solo prior to 2017, he has found it more difficult and expensive since.
Spending long periods away from home is not for everyone. “It’s been tough, but we’ve found a compromise,” he comments. “I’d always said when I had the time I wanted to sail around the world, but when reality comes it’s not that simple.”
The grown-up gap year
For older families who don’t want to disrupt the key school and exam years, one option is to go as a ‘gap year’. The Chatfield family from Gloucestershire chose to time their World ARC two-year voyage around their son Josh’s education, setting off after he left school on their Grand Soleil 56 Mad Monkey.
The trip was a long time in the planning. “About six years before we left mum and dad spoke to my head teacher at school and said, we’d like to do this trip with Josh, when’s the best time to do it?” recalls Josh.
The family decided that after A-levels but before university would be ideal, but an early hurdle was that many universities Josh approached would not defer a place for two years. Thankfully, Lancaster University, one of his preferred choices, was willing to guarantee a place on his return.
For father Mark the trip was a chance to reconnect with his son before he left home: “I had spent a lot of time away from home with my job, so I had missed a lot of time with Josh.”
However, maintaining an 18-year-old’s social life while sailing around the world with his parents was a challenge. Fortuitously, and unusually, there were a handful of other ‘youngsters’ on the 2017-19 World ARC, who formed a tight-knit group.
“For me, it was very important to have other young people there,” recalls Josh. “You’re away for two years and I think the average age of a World ARC cruiser must be about 55 going on 60.”
Not all had such a successful trip – another father and son started the World ARC, only for family relations to break down and their trip to end in the Indian Ocean. It highlighted that cruising with family can intensify any tensions in the relationship.
“The first four months were very challenging,” Mark admits, “We were sailing in the Med with our friends, who were all around our age in their 50s, and Josh found that very difficult. He had left school, where he was with his peers every day, and then suddenly he was with adult company every day.”
To redress the balance, the family invited some of Josh’s friends to join them on the boat, but the timings didn’t work – something Mark says he would have planned differently with hindsight. “However, as soon as we got to Las Palmas to meet the ARC, the young adults group formed and he was just away!”
“I’d be lying if I said it was all plain sailing,” agrees Josh. “There were arguments, of course there were. My Dad is very regimental. Everything has a plan and so for me, as a 20-year-old living on the boat, it did cause some tensions. But we overcame them.
“In fact my dad and I got on best when the conditions were bad. I remember when we were crossing the North Atlantic, going from Bermuda to the Azores; that was possibly the best time I had with him.
“We went through 48 hours of about 50 knots. Dad and I just alternated one hour on, one hour off, which is obviously mentally and physically tough. But those are the times that I think will stay with us because we had to rely on each other.”
From the outset, Mark had also designated Josh as first mate, giving him the same level of responsibility as any other adult.
There were unexpected benefits: Josh found that other World ARC participants had had successful careers in the field he wants to work in, and was able to glean life and career advice from them.
For Mark, the trip achieved his goal of real father-son bonding time: “The one to one time that we had was absolutely perfect. You really do get to know somebody inside out.”
The novice adventurers
For most bluewater sailors the big trip has been years, if not decades, in the making, a dream of far horizons formed during days and cold night watches spent sailing familiar waters.
Not so the Eccles family. Formerly a motoryacht owner, Leo Eccles says he and his wife, Kate, had dreamt of cruising around the world, but always envisaged going after they retired and their daughters, currently ten and eight, had left home.
However, a few serendipitous events planted a different seed in his mind. When their motoryacht was out of service for six months after a lightning strike, a friend let them use their sailing yacht (with skipper) instead. The family instantly fell in love with sailing and decided to sell the motorboat.
Then hearing a talk about the Oyster World Rally one evening opened their eyes to the possibility of completing a circumnavigation.
“We realised that there were ways of doing it as amateurs that would give us a security blanket. Getting parts sent out, having visas taken care of – things that would take a lot of the stress away. So we decided, why don’t we just do it now?” said Leo.
“Our eldest daughter was turning nine,” recalled Kate, “And I realised they’re half way to adulthood already. In a few years time they’re not going to want to be with us – so why are we waiting?”
The family bought the Oyster 655 Man of War at the start of the summer in 2019 ahead of the 2022-23 Oyster World Rally.
“We wanted to have a couple of summers to check we were happy on board for an extended period of time,” says Leo. They spent their first eight weeks living aboard this summer, “And we loved it.”
Aware of their own inexperience, the Eccles family are going to be completing their rally with two full-time paid crew, and may take a third for the longer passages. However, Leo and Kate plan to get as hands-on as they can.
They have been learning from their skipper aboard Man of War and will take RYA qualifications, as well as attending courses for the world rally participants on topics like navigation and first aid.
“As a family it has been lovely learning something that’s new to all of us together,” says Leo, “and the girls have been putting us to shame on some of it already.”
The Eccles have wholly committed to their 18-month life changing adventure. They are selling their Monaco home and spending the weekends selling belongings at a French brocante. Kate will home school her daughters, planning to use the Laurel Springs online tuition programme.
A commodities trader, Leo will continue working throughout the trip. “I have got to slightly modify how I trade, so it will be more longer-term positions.” But otherwise, he says, “We made a conscious decision to really sever as many ties as we can for these 15 months and just really enjoy the time on the boat.”
First published in the December 2019 edition of Yachting World.
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2020 Olympics: Extreme heat and humidity will pose a huge sailing challenge (9 Jan 2020, 8:40 am)
The 2020 Olympics could see sailors having to deal with extreme heat and humidity. Mike Broughton explains how this can affect sailing performance
This year’s pre-Olympics in Enoshima, Japan, starkly illustrated for me the reality of being on the water in extreme hot and humid conditions. One day we saw a temperature of 42°C on the coach boat, along with very high humidity. Daytime temperatures in August in Enoshima are regularly in the high 30s. But it’s not so much the temperature as the humidity that makes you uncomfortable.
Between races, competitors swiftly made for their coach boats and never have I seen sailors so fervently grasping for cold drinks, cold towels and putting bags of ice on their heads. Some briefly ripped off their buoyancy aids to add an ice vest for ten minutes.
Enoshima is a small island 50 miles to the south-west of Tokyo, connected to the mainland by a bridge. Built specifically for the Olympic sailing competition in 1964, it is a good venue. The tricky bit is the timing. The 2020 Olympic regatta (27 July to 6 August) takes place at the height of the tropical summer and the relative humidity is mostly above 70%.
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Most races in the test regatta were completed on schedule, with a few delayed due to the late arrival of a sea breeze. However, one thing we did see in August was a typhoon. It made landfall in the south-west of Japan 36 hours before the first race.
Forecasting typhoons is well developed in Japan – not surprising given the magnitude of their effect on everyday life. They occur mostly from July to October, mainly in August and September. About 25 typhoons occur a year and 11 approach Japan directly. This year Typhoon Hagibis struck in October, late in the typhoon season, and was the worst in decades with 140mph winds and flooding causing fatalities.
August is the month that sees the most action from typhoons as they originate to the south-east of Japan, track north-west then re-curve to the north-east. Generally the strong winds only last about three days, but the waves will last another 48 hours.
Enoshima is open to waves from the south: the next land to the south-east is Papua New Guinea over 2,000 miles away. The August typhoon resulted in racing being held in 1.5-2m waves on two days in the pre-Olympic event, including one very tricky day, which saw these waves with only 6-8 knots of wind.
Humidity and windspeed
Humidity is the relative amount of water vapour in the air and is the main cause of everyone’s discomfort during a hot spell, thanks to its ability to make temperatures feel much higher. When we perspire, the water in our sweat evaporates, cooling the body as heat is carried away. When humidity is high, the rate of evaporation and cooling is much reduced, resulting in it feeling hotter than it actually is.
When the relative humidity reaches around 90%, your sweat does not evaporate. In these situations, your body temperature may rise and lead to heat rash, cramps, heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke.
The ‘heat index’ (see below) is a way of measuring how we experience temperatures. This ‘feels like’ factor is now being incorporated into weather forecasts. Just as the wind chill with cold temperatures and strong winds makes it feel colder, so in hot and humid conditions, temperatures ‘feel’ much higher. The heat index also measures temperatures in the shade, so sailors in direct sunshine could easily experience an additional 7-10°.
Humidity also affects windspeed. Many people are aware that as temperature rises the density decreases in the atmosphere (molecules get further apart). However, it’s less well known that as humidity rises, density decreases a little further (H2O water molecules are less dense than the molecules they replace).
The result is that, in hotter climes, for a given wind speed, we sail a little slower due to the air being less dense. In meteorology, temperature forecasting is generally well advanced, but humidity forecasting certainly isn’t and adds an extra dimension to forecasting wind in the tropics.
When we see a slack pressure gradient (e.g. light winds in the morning) sea breezes develop the world over, from the equator to the edge of the ice at the poles. In tropical areas such as the east coast of Brazil, sea breezes can be strong and extend out to sea nearly 100 miles. In hot and humid areas like Japan, in very volatile air, sea breezes do still develop in the same way but usually only build to 10-12 knots.
The Japanese are working hard to alleviate the effects of the heat for athletes at the 2020 Olympics, but it is hard to do in sailing. Some national authorities requested that sailors be allowed to wear heart monitors during racing.
During training, the Spanish team have even been getting their athletes to swallow a pill that measures core body temperature. This information is then transmitted via Bluetooth to a device to measure how their athletes are coping with the extreme heat and humidity.
About the author
Mike Broughton is a pro race navigator who has won many titles including World and European championships. He is a qualified MCA Master to captain superyachts and previously had a successful career in the Fleet Air Arm flying Sea King and Lynx helicopters.
First published in the December 2019 edition of Yachting World.
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Sailing Maine: Exploring a magical corner of America’s northeast coast (8 Jan 2020, 8:40 am)
Pete Goss heads up the east coast of the US to Maine, to enjoy chance meetings and all the quirks of life
Bursting through the Cape Cod Canal is like a voyage through Narnia’s wardrobe. Huge lunar forces whisk us along as the rugged granite world of Buzzards Bay fades in our wake. Ahead is a softer world with gentle curves of pristine white sand that glow in the sun.
The bewitching beauty of Cape Cod Bay is formed in the protective embrace of an arm with a perfect anchorage in its palm. Protected by the final clasp of a finger we find that nature has gifted Provincetown a magic of its own. Fish jump, seals feed and birds wheel in the crisp Atlantic air, which gently tugs at the anchor. The predominantly gay community makes nightlife a joyous riot of exuberant colour.
Provincetown proves to be the perfect staging post for our final 160-mile push north to Penobscot Bay. The Mayflower made its first landfall here but, finding it tough, they crossed the bay to put their roots down in Plymouth. The alluring beauty of summer belies a harsh winter, the first of which was to rob life from half their number.
The America that we know has been hard won by those whose yearning for home is reflected in the familiarity of place names: Plymouth, Biddeford, Bristol and Falmouth are mixed in with Isle au Haut and Castile.
Maine has been on Tracey’s bucket list for years. Jetlag, a prelaunch job list and long days to get here from Chesapeake has left us with a weariness that’s started to take the shine off life. So we stop for a restorative day, which offers an opportunity to reflect on an all-consuming trip home for our daughter’s beautiful Cornish wedding.
Names with tales to tell
There are more islands to explore off the coast of Maine than in the Caribbean. About a third of these are 10 acres in size and only 15 of them are inhabited year-round. Studying the charts, Tracey and I marvel at the stories that might lie behind the likes of the Infidelity and Hypocrite islands, our imagination running wild as my dividers trace Two Bush Channel.
Camden is chosen as our starting point and we bid Provincetown a fond farewell as we cross the Stellwagen Bank, a haven for whales. A distant fluke and traces of whale breath is all we are gifted by these elusive giants.
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Camden is lovely but we suffer one of our worst nights since leaving the UK. The wind backs further than forecast and opens our anchorage to a short chop on the beam. It’s the worst frequency for Pearl (our Garcia Exploration 45) and we are jerked back and forth. We nail every rattle but the motion remains too sharp for sleep. I wish I’d listened to that niggling voice yesterday afternoon, for the abundance of lobster traps precludes a night departure.
We have no choice but to tough out a night of the long knives. A ghostly windjammer is given substance as the sun, carving its early morning arc for the heavens, struggles through the fog. The blanket is heavy, all is momentarily still, birdsong is amplified across the anchorage. We are going nowhere. Time for boiled eggs, soldiers and extra strong coffee.
The forecast has strengthened and will back further, we have to move. We prepare the mainsail, strap everything down and I zip the rubbish ashore with a handheld GPS in my pocket. This is our first brush with Maine fog and I chat with a crusty old lobsterman who explains that while it might be thick as porridge here it could be bright sunshine a mile away. Think of it as thick banks that are on the move. “Get on with it, brother,” he advises.
Struggling to find Pearl, I give thanks to my GPS and, as newbies, we decide to see if the bank will move. Traffic is diminished but I’m surprised at both the volume and speed of what movement there is. Another coffee and Curtis Island, which sits at the entrance of Camden, takes substance.
We walked it the day before and explored the lighthouse, which is run by a charity. The air had been crystal clear and we could easily see Pulpit harbour, our chosen destination, not more than eight miles away.
I have reintroduced myself to the radar. It’s time to haul the anchor and make our move. We raise the main with two reefs as the wind is freshening with a vengeance. It’s a relief to be breaking out of the exposed anchorage.
Fog and lobster traps keep Tracey fully occupied as lookout. I helm through the short, steep seas and watch the radar. Its high tide so many of the traps dip below the waves, sometimes staying down for a couple of passes. It feels like a high stakes game of ‘Whack a Mole’, for to hitch a trap now would be disaster.
Halfway across the bay, we wriggle our way through some islands, which have the inconvenience of narrow channels and random rocks. The wind rises to 30 knots, torrential rain machineguns out of a new fog bank and light is further robbed as heavy clouds scud above. It’s full on and we are loving it. Every sinew and sense is on full alert as gusts of 35 knots blow away the accumulated cobwebs of many hours under motor to get here.
Small voids in the fog provide reassuring glimpses of orientation beyond the 12in screen of wizardry that demands absolute faith – something, as someone who grew up using dead reckoning, a well-swung compass and Walker log, I can’t quite give.
In our ongoing quest for a safe anchorage we thrash through the last turn of the island maze as a final blast heralds clear bright sunshine. A switch has been flicked, Pearl lurches upright, the seas flatten under the approaching lee of North Haven Island. I start the engine, Pearl steams in the sun as we strip off thermals. We have burst through a portal to a warm and welcoming world.
The perfection of Pulpit Harbour makes the transition all the more extraordinary as our anchor plunges through the reflection of a safe haven. Pearl is once again dry and we enjoy lunch in the cockpit as we watch an Osprey pluck fish from the sea with predatory efficiency. Did the last two hours of action and excitement really happen?
I launch my paddleboard and have a vigorous hour exploring the many arms of Pulpit Harbour. My paddleboard goes by the name of Mindy after our much-loved and missed dog. Post school run she became our lightning rod for meeting people. It’s now through paddling about that I meet the most interesting and diverse of characters. It’s not uncommon to find myself drawn into a long yarn.
I meet a descendant of the Cabot family who came here before the Mayflower. The extended family still owns a headland in trust with over 20 houses to cater for future generations.
One of the joys of Maine is that there are lots of old windjammers that have been rescued by tourism. Many are based in Camden and pull into Pulpit Harbour on Friday night for the convenience of a short sail home.
Some of these ships don’t have engines and so we are mesmerised as two of them sail through the narrow entrance, tack and give about the congested harbour before finally dropping their anchor under sail. I don’t think I have ever seen such a demonstration of seamanship and it really opens my eyes as to how manoeuvrable large sailing ships of old can be.
There is a floating dock beside us that turns out to be a collection point for lobster boats as they roar in with the throaty growl of open exhausts. The catch is sorted into floating baskets and I row over to buy a couple of fresh lobster, for this amazing day deserves to end with a date night. Good old YouTube shows me how best to barbecue these local delights.
Tracey rustles up a salad and we pull a chilled white from the fridge. The table is set, candles are lit and music complements the sizzle of lobster with garlic batter. A light aircraft descends into the trees as a latecomer leaves the chaos of modernity and drops in for the weekend. The sun silhouettes an old boy who drifts past in his punt, completely lost to fly fishing.
One of the aspects of our waterborne life is the looseness of having aspirations as opposed to plans. This means we are able to absorb and embrace the quirks that lie in every corner of life. We’re in North East Harbour and I can’t help noticing a small pilot cutter make a couple of furtive and admiring passes of Pearl. On hailing the crew, it turns out that Dana and Melissa are keen on taking up the cruising life.
Offering them a tour, we agree to meet in Soames Harbour. The following afternoon a bottle of rosé precedes their clamber aboard. This is followed by a cold box and an old, rather large enamel cooking pot which turns out to have been grandma’s.
A fun and detailed tour of the boat concludes with a lesson on how to cook lobster ‘Maine style’. Melissa has a license for five lobster traps and out of the cold box comes four large lobster and a bag of clams. An inch of harbour water, rich in plant life, is brought to the boil. In goes the lobster, clams on top.
The result is amazing and it’s a delight to be taught the tricks of how to tackle a lobster without tools – it’s easy when you know. Once again, we make great friends as we chatter into the early hours and learn about a family that goes back through Maine’s rich history. Melissa has fond memories of staying with her grandparents who were among the last lighthouse keepers.
Dana insists we must visit Merchant Row and so it goes as each highlight hands us on to the next on this wonderful chain of discovery. We anchor between Bold and Devil Island and my paddleboard reveals an abundance of wildlife. I creep round a rocky outcrop and am in the majestic presence of royalty.
Not more than ten metres away is a bald eagle tearing a large fish apart that’s dwarfed by its talons. Standing just short of 1.5m it exudes the confidence of being at the top of its food chain. It’s me that’s intimidated as I’m held in its haughty gaze. Thrilled by the experience I ease back and paddle like a madman to return with Tracey in the dinghy so she can see it too.
We visit Seguin Island and explore its lighthouse; a small museum illuminates a unique and hardy way life that is ruled by a duty to passing seafarers. The whole family played their part, supplementing basic stores with shooting, fishing and tending the vegetable garden.
The lighthouse absorbs a lot of time and effort for its steam foghorn burns through 100 tons of coal a year. All of which has to be hauled up a long tramway to feed the boiler. Like all lighthouses of old there are tales of great heroism.
Belfast is one of our favourite towns as it is a blend of bustling commerce and tourism, each complimenting the other to create an authenticity that some postcard towns lack. My eye, during a morning paddle, is drawn to what turns out to be a Cornish Gig.
As ever, Mindy makes the introductions and I am soon rowing my heart out for 45 minutes on Selkie. Belfast is sending a team to the Isles of Scilly to compete in the world championships. Later that day we find ourselves in a huge marquee for the Thursday evening live entertainment. Picnics and dancing pulls the whole community together on a weekly basis.
We never cease to be amazed by the huge shoals of pogies that roil about these waters. At anchor we hear them boil up like a giant silver bubble of thrashing fins as they are hunted from below. They are about the size of mackerel and oily enough to be smelled when to windward. I often paddle over giant shoals and am mesmerised by the patterns created as they starburst away.
Maine is a remote place and the people are grounded in its rugged beauty with an easy confidence and friendly demeanour. I spend 40 minutes chatting to lobstermen as they shovel barrels of pogies out of their Seine net for lobster bait.
Three generations work side by side in quiet harmony. A staggering three million traps make the seas of Maine look like a giant has spilt a bag of M&Ms, so dense in places that it’s hard to find passage. Tons and tons of bait means that lobster are now being farmed.
There is nothing like a hurricane to focus our minds as Dorian tears her way up the league table. We watch with horror as her dark and destructive heart settles on the Abacos to feed with wanton destruction. We were anchored in Marsh Harbour six months ago and to see images of nothing left but foundations is truly shocking.
The Abacos consumed, appetite unfulfilled, Dorian moves on for more. She sniffs the air and starts to carve a belligerent path towards us. Her predicted cone of uncertainty makes for sobering viewing.
Plan for the worst and hope for the best is a motto that has served me well and so we scour the charts for a safe haven. Maine, with lots of hurricane holes, doesn’t disappoint but its ‘The Basin’ that catches our eye. A quirk of nature has a gifted a narrow entrance with a final protective bend before opening up to offer a harbour with the confidence of good holding.
With Hurricanes tending to pinball off Cape May for Nova Scotia, ‘The Basin’ conveniently lies up in the northwest armpit of Maine. We set our anchor two days ahead of her arrival, back up on full throttle and watch the forecast crystallise. A guilty relief settles on Pearl as Dorian passes us to consume Nova Scotia. We thank our daughter’s wedding for taking Nova Scotia off the table. The twists and turns of life.
Rising before dawn our six-week chapter in Maine comes to a close as we make for a returning tide through the canal. Boston’s skyscrapers, standing tall above the morning mist, light up as they catch the first of the rising sun. Like sentinels they give our passing a nod as we toast them with our morning coffee. Thanks Maine.
About the author
Round the world racer Pete Goss left the UK in 2017 with his wife, Tracey, to go cruising in their García Exploration 45, Pearl. Their aim is eventually to head through to the Pacific and towards New Zealand.
First published in the December 2019 edition of Yachting World.
The post Sailing Maine: Exploring a magical corner of America’s northeast coast appeared first on Yachting World.
How to stay afloat: Top tips for rescuing a sinking yacht (7 Jan 2020, 8:38 am)
Will Burton explains how preparing your yacht for the worst-case scenario can help you stay afloat for longer
Twenty miles south of Salcombe, in deteriorating weather, Timothy Meo realised that the new 36-footer he was helping to deliver to the Solent was sinking. “The engine compartment was flooded with a lot of water. Initially neither of us could tell where it was coming from.
“We found the rate of ingress reduced when we were making way, so we changed course towards Salcombe, made a Pan Pan call to Falmouth Coastguard and switched on the yacht’s two electric bilge pumps – neither of which appeared to be working.
“We took turns on the manual pump, which did work, but it was exhausting. The Coastguard were keen to send out a lifeboat, but after some time pumping, we eventually felt we were keeping up with the water coming in; so we declined their offer and pressed on.”
The yacht reached Salcombe safely and the source of water ingress was found to be an incorrectly installed wet exhaust system. Meo is philosophical about his near sinking experience. “We had a thorough handover from the yacht builder, a reputable company, and left with no reservations about making the passage.
“The assumption that a brand new boat is safe, though, is a dangerous one. We later found that the electric bilge pumps didn’t work because they were clogged up with shavings and dirt from the build process. A high pumping capacity, that’s been thoroughly tested, is absolutely essential. The boat being a unique design certainly contributed to the ‘unknowns’ about it. All of us learned from the experience, including the manufacturer. It could have been much worse.”
While it is rare, but not impossible, for a yacht’s hull to fail, mechanical failure is a more likely cause of sinking on a modern yacht. David Greening, a small craft surveyor, explains: “In a modern GRP yacht, the first three things I would always look at are mechanical.
“One: the condition of the propeller shaft seal. Two: the rudder stock, and three: the keel. Looking at both the fastenings and supporting structures. Failures in these three areas are the most likely points of failure, which can be caused by poor design or maintenance.”
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As yachts have become more comfortably equipped, the number of seacocks has increased. With each comes an inherent point of weakness. “They should be inspected annually for signs of corrosion, rust and dezincification. The hoses should be double jubilee-clipped and have tapered soft-wood plugs in case they fail,” adds Greening.
So what should you do if you find your yacht is taking on water? First, you should try to determine where it is coming from. Second, reduce the rate of ingress. And third, get the water that has come in back out: in the most efficient way possible.
These fundamentals of damage control are something taught to every sailor at the Royal Navy’s Phoenix Damage Control Instructional Unit in Portsmouth. A multimillion-pound sinking ship simulator where all Royal Navy personal are trained, very realistically, in the fundamentals of how to stay afloat. Whilst there are some differences between a steel warship and a sailing yacht, they are battle-tested principles that can be used on any boat.
Lieutenant Rob Manson, who runs the training facility, explains that they teach sailors to think and act fast. “With every minute that passes, the situation becomes more complicated. The more water that’s in the hull, the more unstable the vessel can be and the more likely it is to capsize. What we teach is a relatively simple skill set that can be put into practice almost anywhere on board. The training is conducted in seawater, so it focusses the mind!”
What equipment to have on board a yacht to stop it sinking is something that’s best decided after considering what a sinking might actually entail. Sailing rally safety checklists usually include soft wooden plugs for all seacocks, as well as manual and electric bilge pumps – all sensible things to have on board.
However, in recent years the number of yachts that have run into submerged objects, including whales and shipping containers, has increased significantly, posing the question: is being ‘holed’ likely to mean a round hole or more of an irregular gash.
One particularly impressive product is Stay Afloat – a flexible waterproof putty that can be jammed into the most inaccessible points and has proven itself to be highly effective.
It can be jammed into a failed stern gland, or seacock, seal along the line of a gash in the hull, or in conjunction with other materials found at hand.
The stern gland remains an Achilles Heel of modern yachts, explains Vyv Cox, a professional yacht engineer. “One of the largest holes in the boat, through which water might penetrate, is the stern tube through which the propeller shaft passes.
This has traditionally been sealed by a packed gland consisting of three or four turns of a woven flexible material such as graphite-impregnated cotton or PTFE. This design is reliable and rarely causes major leaks on failure, but it does have some disadvantages, resulting in the emergence of several patent seal designs.
In the vast majority of cases these are highly reliable and overcome the drips and need for greasing of the traditional type, but their failure can result in considerably greater influx of water.
“Originally, traditional gland types were solidly attached to the tube but the advent of flexible engine mountings dictated that the gland also needed to accommodate shaft movement by being mounted on a length of rubber hose. Fracture or loosening of this hose is potentially the greatest source of leakage.
“Packed glands can be over-tightened quite easily, leading to [the hose’s] disintegration. In some cases there are ‘dogs’ on both the stern tube and gland housing to prevent this. Most patent seal designs, exert far lower frictional drag, making this failure type less likely.”
If circumstances allow, stopping water coming in from the outside of the hull is likely to be more efficient as the water pressure is working with you, not against you. For this, a sail or piece of PVC matting stretched over the hole can prove effective, but only if it can be firmly held in place.
Even better is a combination of wood, Stay Afloat, and screws, which can be put together to fashion a serious patch. The essential tool to carry to make this work is an old fashioned hand drill, usable underwater, albeit slowly.
This solution carried the catamaran Ensemble over 800 miles when it was holed on a remote Pacific atoll while at anchor. Nearby cruisers came to Ensemble’s assistance, including retired engineer Ed Butt, who helped fix a piece of wood to the outside of the hull by diving underwater and driving fixings through the hull.
Interior access to the hull is another consideration, particularly when buying a new yacht. Some modern moulded interiors actually make it quite difficult to get to parts of the hull that might be holed, so the means to break through the interior quickly is an additional consideration. A weighty axe is carried by many offshore cruisers for this purpose.
Modern yachts are usually equipped with both electric and manual bilge pumps, but surveyors often remark that electric pumps are poorly installed, meaning they are inefficient, while manual pumps would be of little use in an emergency. The sums make difficult reading for anyone with only a standard sized pump on board.
A hole 2.5cm in diameter, 30cm under the waterline, will let in 2,700 litres of water per hour. A 5cm hole in the same position will let in 11,000 litres. Most underwater collision damage occurs even deeper, meaning an even faster ingress of water.
Being able to pump out a large volume of water won’t save your yacht on its own, but it might just buy you enough time to affect a temporary repair, or abandon the yacht in a controlled way. So how do you go about increasing your yacht’s pump-out capacity significantly?
Something that’s common on even small commercial fishing boats is a main engine-driven bilge pump. Not reliant on electrical power to run (your yacht’s batteries could quickly find themselves underwater) and with a very high pumping capacity when compared to an electric pump, they operate directly from the engine.
Another option is fitting an oversized electric pump that’s rated for continuous use, or better, having one you can deploy quickly in any part of the boat on a long lead. Another tool Ed Butt used, two 4,000 gallon per hour (gph) pumps strapped together, made an enormous difference, buying enough time to make repairs with help from others in the same anchorage.
The obvious and unexplained
Despite our best efforts, incidents in the past, such as the unexplained sinking of ARC yacht Magritte in December 2015, demonstrate that well prepared and equipped yachts can and do sink without explanation.
In parallel, the risk of hitting a semi-submerged object, such as debris, sealife or a shipping container, would appear to have increased. So while preparing your yacht to avoid sinking, consider making preparations at the same time to abandon in a matter of seconds rather than minutes.
Pan Pan or Mayday?
In the event of finding out that you are taking on water, letting the Coastguard and other yachts know about your situation is wise. A Mayday should only be used if life is in ‘imminent danger.’ If you are sinking rapidly and anticipate abandoning the vessel very soon, send a Mayday.
A Pan Pan says ‘it’s serious, we need help, but there isn’t a grave or imminent danger to the boat or those on board’. Should things deteriorate rapidly, they will already have information about your position and situation.
Finding the source of a leak
- If you are sinking, locating where the water is coming from can be challenging, particularly if the source is below the waterline.
- First check that it is definitely seawater. A failed hot water tank valve on a larger yacht will result in a lot of water in the bilge! While it’s not generally advisable to taste bilge water, in an emergency, this is a quick way of determining whether it’s salty or fresh.
- Work logically through all of your boat’s through-hull fittings from bow to stern. A laminated diagram should be kept with the yacht’s documents. Be sure to include the stern gland.
- Pump as much water out as possible, this may well reveal where the water is coming from.
About the author
William Bruton, 27, grew up in Lancashire and learned to sail in 2012. He now works as a freelance skipper all over the world, specialising in Oyster yachts.
First published in the August 2017 edition of Yachting World.
The post How to stay afloat: Top tips for rescuing a sinking yacht appeared first on Yachting World.
How to pick your ideal bluewater yacht: ARC director explains all (6 Jan 2020, 9:08 am)
Jeremy Wyatt, director of World Cruising and experienced ocean sailor, on what he’s learned helping thousands of crews cross the Atlantic
I often chat with prospective bluewater cruisers at boat shows and seminars and am frequently asked: “What is the ideal bluewater yacht?”
This is an impossible question to answer, since so much depends on the attitudes and ambitions (and budget!) of the person asking. So, how do I reply to this tricky question?
Firstly, in my view there are no bad boats these days; builders would go bust if they made bad boats. However, people considering bluewater cruising really do need to understand that not all boats are the same, and that different types are optimised for specific types of sailing.
Catamarans for example, have seen a huge growth over recent years. They offer acres of living space, easy access to swim platforms and dinghies, and are ideal for tradewind sailing on bluewater routes.
But – and this is an important but – they cost significantly more; they have two hulls, two engines (and frequently a genset as well).
Docking in a marina will come as a shock to the wallet when dock fees are charged by the square metre. Not to mention the difficulties of finding suitable lift-out locations for your ideal bluewater yacht.
So if you plan to spend your retirement gunkholing around little harbours in Brittany, Ireland and Scotland, then a catamaran is probably not the best boat for the job. Picking the ideal bluewater yacht is about choosing the right horse for your preferred course.
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But how do you negotiate the labyrinth of boat choice?
- Set your budget and stick to it. Remember that when buying older boats (ten-plus years), you will need to set aside more of your budget for refit costs: Between 30% and 40% of the purchase price is reasonable.
- One hull or two (or three)? This comes down to personal preference. Just remember that where you plan to voyage will dictate your choice of boat.
- Buy as much boat as your budget will allow. This bluewater yachtt is going to be your home, possibly for years. You need it to be comfortable and easy to live on. The difference in internal volume between a 40ft and a 45ft boat is significant. You will need all that space.
- Think about comfort. I would also suggest that, for cruisers, optimising comfort over outright sailing performance is a better choice.
I am sometimes asked what is my ideal bluewater yacht? Again, this depends on where I’d plan to sail.
If I was planning for the classic Atlantic Circuit from Europe/Med to the Caribbean and back, then returning to cruise in Europe, then I would certainly include modern production cruisers.
They sail well, have thoughtful, easy-to-live-with interiors and are affordable. There is a good reason why Beneteau is the world’s largest boatbuilder – and we see lots of their hulls in the ARC each year.
However, if I were planning a three- or four-year circumnavigation, then I would probably switch allegiance and go for a heavier displacement, semi-custom classic cruiser. The extra security of a solid boat can be very reassuring when caught out in a big blow, or bumping a coral head in an atoll.
Most popular ARC yachts in 2018
- 10x Lagoon 42s
- 7x Lagoon 450s
- 5x Beneteau First 47.7s
- 3x Lagoon 400s
- 3x Fountaine Pajot Belize 43s
Article first published in the August 2019 edition of Yachting World.
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