Test Sail On A Boreal 44

Chapter 5 of 8 in the Online Book A Go-Anywhere Voyaging Boat—The Boréal 44 (Free)

The Boreal 44 is crisp to windward

After a good nights sleep aboard I was rested and looking forward to a short sail aboard the Boreal 44. But as Jean-Francois Eeman arrived with breakfast, things didn’t look promising as we looked out through the drizzle onto a flat calm river. Eventually though we agreed to go out and look for some wind out in the bay.And it was as well that we did, as we were rewarded with a light breeze outside that at least enabled us to put her through her paces a little.

The cutter rig is simple and hefty, with fore and aft lowers, parallel spreaders and running backstays, a bulletproof cruising rig. All reefing is handled at the mast on this boat, and there are substantial granny bars for security when at that task. All deck gear – granny bars, stanchions, pulpit and pushpit are in alloy to keep weight down at deck level, and to minimise contact between dissimilar metals. There are plenty of welded grab rails for safety when moving around on deck, and the painted non-slip surface provided good grip, although I like to see it on the coachroof sides as well, despite the dubious aesthetics of doing so. The side decks are clear and moving around on deck is easy.

And she sailed very nicely, considering the light conditions, and was easily driven and well balanced. The helm was light and positive, and she was a pleasure to steer with the big wheel from the side coamings. All of the deck gear was well positioned and of the right size, important for a short handed crew. She pointed well in the light conditions, and I’d be hopeful that this solid performance would also be born out in stronger winds when the daggerboards could be brought into action. With just the two of us aboard we were able to make light work of short tacking back up the river chasing the shifts in the wind. Even from such a brief acquaintance it would seem that all of the effort put into centring the weight and making the underwater sections slippery has paid off.

Slideshow requires a reasonably up to date copy of the Adobe Flash plug-in or iPhone/iPad or Android and that java script be enabled.

So is she similar to other similar aluminium lifting keel boats of the same size from French yards? All of them are good boats with their own attributes and a strong track record. But the Boreal is different, in my view, in so far as she is clearly designed with higher latitudes in mind. I’ve no doubt that she would be just as happy in the Caribbean or the Med, but really, for me, she is more of an expedition boat. Jean-Francois Delvoye told me that she was the product of seventeen notebooks of sketches and ideas he recorded during his six years living aboard his previous boat with his family, including two years in Patagonia, and it shows. There is a lack of compromise in the boat that shows that she was designed after much thought, and has been built with a determination to do things the right way for long distance voyaging.

If you were planning to build a boat for some serious high latitude cruising, then this boat has a multitude of standard features – the doghouse, insulation, underwater sections, to name but a few – that would be very attractive. Couple that with no-compromise aluminium construction, and a yard flexible enough to work with you to achieve your goals, and without too much effort you’d have a boat worth putting at the top of your wish list. She won the French Sailing Boat of the Year award in 2010 against some pretty stiff opposition, and it’s not hard to see why.

If the 44 seems a little small, there is a 47 (a 44 with an extended scoop stern), a 50/53 in the same vein, and there is a 62 in the design stage. Myself, I’d go for a 47, do away with one of the heads and an aft cabin, and, if possible, have a more conventional island galley. The 44 is a ‘big’ boat for her size, and the 50 must be huge. A 53 or 62 would make a great charter boat for high latitudes, or a simple version would be ideal as an expedition or research boat .

A Lot of Boat for the Price

These are semi custom boats, and each one is built very much with an owners needs in mind. There is a considerable list of options, but a standard Boreal 44 currently starts at 299,331 Euros + French VAT for a European buyer. Add another 50,000 Euros for some essential options (heater, additional sails etc) plus electronics, and you’d have an awful lot of boat for your money.

About This Review:

I would like to thank the two partners at Boreal Yachts, Jean-Francois Delvoye and Jean-Francois Eeman for their warm welcome to the yard and for answering my multitude of questions–as did the build team.

They were kind enough to take me out for an informal supper during my visit, but otherwise the visit was entirely self-funded.

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{ 54 comments… add one }

  • Victor Raymond June 12, 2010, 6:07 am

    I can’t thank you enough for the review. I was convinced a while back that my next boat was either an Ovni or Garcia. Now Jean-Francois has convinced my to take a good look at his product. Your review has helped me over the hump of trying a new boat. I will just have to get over the interior design hurdle.
    I hope you get a chance for some real Biscay weather to test the Boreal especially reefing single handed while the crew is sleeping below.
    There is no doubt I would elect the larger sugar scoop model and although I would keep two heads, one would be all business and the one forward would be for calm or in port use with a sit down shower/tub combo.
    I would also sacrifice one of the aft staterooms for a storage/work area for all the things a long cruise necessitates.
    I found it interesting that the Boreal has no traveler. Although I suppose if one wanted one it could be mounted on the dog house roof. I did not notice if a topping lift was supplied or if that was felt unnecessary due to the rigid boom vang?
    Finally although I like the dual function of the heating system, I find a Webasto or other hot air furnace a great aid to keeping the boat dry inside. Perhaps both would be the best bet.
    Sometime I would be interested in hearing about things you would change if you were ordering a new boat.
    Again thank you taking the time.

  • richard June 12, 2010, 10:33 am

    Interesting that you seemingly put the emphasis on the aesthetics of the boat by covering these at length in the first two posts leaving the most important aspects (sea worthiness) to a single (and the last) post, and I see this same approach consistently in boat reviews as I do when I observe prospective buyers considering a purchase…They eagerly go over the creature comforts first and at great length leaving the sea worthiness aspects for usually only a few cursory glances, and I am guilty of this myself although I am making efforts to turn this around once I realized what I was doing…Excellent creature comforts are quickly compromised by even the slightest flaw(s) in seaworthiness, while excellent seaworthiness will greatly enhance even the most spartan of creature comforts…So I prefer the latter over the former without exception…Similarly, we have an extension to this with the universally true axiom to the effect that harbors rot ships and crews…meaning minimize your time spent in harbors, which, although totally true, is easier said than done…Once settled into the harbor the task of preparing the then-domesticated vessel for sea becomes more daunting every day regardless of the crew’s bent for passaging…Richard in Tampa Bay, aka Cavu’s skipper, now reluctantly on the look out for evidence of Deep Water Horizon’s crude oil, although so far we are spared the scourge

  • Colin Speedie June 12, 2010, 8:50 am

    Hi Victor

    I’m sure that any of the three builders would provide you with a very capable boat – it might come down more to where you plan to take her.

    I’d agree with most of your thoughts re the interior, which isn’t dissimilar to our OVNI. Personally, I’d prefer the diesel heater system as it’s so simple and reliable, although we have a Webasto blown air system which has (so far) worked very well.

    The Boreal doesn’t have a traveller, but the way the double ended mainsheet is rigged works OK. And the boat I sailed doesn’t have a topping lift, but I’m sure that’s only a matter of asking for one. We have one on our boat (although we don’t strictly need it), and it can always be used as an emergency main halyard.

    And I hope to produce a posting on what we got wrong with our boat some time in the future!

    Glad you’ve found the review useful, and thanks for the kind words.


  • Victor Raymond June 12, 2010, 1:09 pm

    I could not agree more. Looking at the Boreal the sea kindliness was (is) assumed but perhaps we should examine it in light of the sea state that Abby Sunderland was experiencing a few days ago in the southern ocean.

    It is my understanding – and please correct me if I’m wrong – that any of the larger boats from Ovni, Garcia and Boreal would do well in the higher latitudes. The obvious advantage of the Boreal is the dog house. And in reality for most of us a trip to Antarctica requires a passage through the tropics.



  • Jean-François Eeman June 13, 2010, 8:52 am

    Thank you very much for all those comments… There is very much to say and I’ll try to be as complete and factual as possible.

    Victor and Colin,

    There is a topping lift, which is the same size as the halyard so it can be used as a second halyard. With the rigid boom vang it is not really essential so I remove it from the end of the boom to avoid it ragging unnecessarily along the main…

    Heater : You can combine the advantages of both systems using the same circuit of pipes and radiators. I don’t know for other brands but Eberspächer does it…

    Interior : Have a look at my previous comments and you’ll see we propose a version as Victor suggests.

    Traveler: The “window” of angles in which a traveler on the doghouse would be effective is very narrow…Our webbing system with blocks at different places on the beam compensates for the lack of a traveler…Moreover on boats which are not racing boats, the delta in performances and angles which cannot be compensated by the use of your vang are – according to us- really not very significant.

    There are examples of Ovni’s and Garcia’s who went everywhere around the globe! I even spent a lot of time with a Swiss family who went to Antarctica and back in very nasty conditions with an Ovni 345. Just like Ovni, Garcia has had new owners. It is important to see what the approach of the new owners are for the future.

    I do agree with you that when you read about a boat, what we really want to know is her seaworthiness. At the same time, I really do appreciate the fact that Colin only wrote about things he was able to see or experiment… That is an objective approach.
    I will try to be as objective and factual as he is, not “praising” qualities which obviously need a reality check.

    Speaking about reality checks :
    Last Autumn, Belgian journalists traveled to Brittany to test the boat in storm conditions. As they went out, the real wind was peaking at 54 knots… They felt totally safe and were enthusiastic… Article can be seen (but maybe not so easily understand) on our site http://www.voiliers-boreal.com (press review- article in dutch from Varen). The movie is/was on You Tube. I’ll try to see where…
    Anyhow: according to them it was the first time ever a yard accepted to have their boat tested in those conditions. (In the same spirit last spring, we accepted two journalists of Voiliers & Voiliers to be on board for the first sail ever with the Boréal 44… )

    At Boréal the managing partners, the two Jean-François, were sailors before being boatbuilders. We met in Ushuaia where we both lived for two years on board our boats. Jean-François Delvoye designed the very first Boréal 50 to take his family and himself to places he could/dare not to go with his previous boat… So initially, not for commercial purposes.

    I’ll be happy to answer any remarks you might have on the subject.


    • John June 13, 2010, 9:14 am

      A very big thank you to Colin for a really excellent review. I wonder, if the Boreal 47 had existed before we commenced what turned out to be a three year refit on Morgan’s Cloud, what we would have done…

      Also, a special thank you to Jean-François(s) for their very open attitude, even when their brain child was criticized, and the clear way in which they have answered all of our questions.

    • Patrick Genovese May 9, 2014, 9:24 am

      Hi Jean-François,

      Regarding your comment:

      Traveler: The “window” of angles in which a traveler on the doghouse would be effective is very narrow…Our webbing system with blocks at different places on the beam compensates for the lack of a traveler…Moreover on boats which are not racing boats, the delta in performances and angles which cannot be compensated by the use of your vang are – according to us- really not very significant.

      Would you care to elaborate further….. with alternate techniques for varying conditions. Personally I find the flexibility of adjusting the mainsail’s angle of attack and downward pull of the main sheet independently to be very useful… Although I will also admit to being a bit of an obsessive sail tweaker.

  • Carter June 13, 2010, 11:26 am

    Thanks for your clear and concise explanations. The YouTube video does show a very well behaved boat with a relaxed helmsman and crew in obviously quite strong winds. One more question. Are the daggerboards and rudder post behind the aft waterproof bulkhead?

    Thanks for going to all the trouble to write this review. I also appreciated that your opinion was based on personal observation.

  • Victor Raymond June 13, 2010, 11:40 am

    A big thank you to all three of you for hosting, reviewing and all the good comments. My last question of course is how soon can I get one?

    Thanks again


  • Jean-François Eeman June 14, 2010, 2:46 am

    Yes, the casings for the daggerboards and the rudder post are behind the bulkhead.

    We would be happy to build a boat for you! And the dollar rate is in your favour. Once we have agreed on a precise configuration it would take us 18 month to launch your boat.

    Many thanks to all who in one way or another contributed to the success of this overview.


  • Colin Speedie June 14, 2010, 12:23 pm

    Hi Victor

    There are those who suggest that centreboarders are not suitable for high latitude travel, but as Jean-Francois has pointed out the track record of boats from OVNI and Garcia would suggest otherwise. What I think the Boreal does very well is to identify suitable features you would want for such sailing from the design stage, whereas you might have to upspec one of the others from the start. And I saw nothing about the Boreal that would have made it unsuitable for the tropics, either.

    Best wishes


  • Tom June 16, 2010, 10:44 am

    To Victor,
    From my information, Garcia has been sold by the initial creators of the brand some years ago…The new owners started the range ‘Salt’. There are mixed echos about those boats. Lately things did not go very well and the yard was saved in extremis from bankruptcy. It’s now Allures who owns the brand.

    Regards Tom ( Holland)

  • Victor Raymond June 16, 2010, 5:26 pm

    thanks for the information re: Garcia. I had a feeling things had changed there.

    Colin, I never had any doubt the french aluminum centerboarders are up to the task. I am interested to hear what you would change on your Ovni when you have the chance to put it down. I, for one, have not found a single boat that has all the things I feel are important. There are compromises everywhere. I think the Boreal comes closest to my idea of a production expedition boat.

  • Colin Speedie June 18, 2010, 2:57 pm

    Tom, thanks for that. I had no idea that Garcia had been taken over. Our original idea had been to buy a hull and deck from Garcia (Passoa 43) to finish ourselves, but the price we were quoted was so extraordinary, we soon dropped that idea! The new boats do seem to have moved away from the original ethos, so maybe the change of ownership explains things a little.

    Victor, it took me 20 years to decide on the boat I wanted, picking people’s brains and playing the magpie around boatyards, as well as coming up with a few ideas myself. And at the end of the day, I still got things wrong, and then there were simply things that weren’t options available with our OVNI. So, you’re right, things are always a compromise, and there will always be things you will kick yourself for having neglected to specify.

    So I’m working up my thoughts on what we would have done differently, were we at the same stage once again – watch out for it soon.

    And thanks to everybody who has contributed so many interesting and pertinent comments throughout this series – which has made it all the more worthwhile for all of us.

    Best wishes

  • Patrick Flockhart April 1, 2012, 8:21 am

    Hi Colin,

    Just wondering on how your thoughts are going on what you would have done differently? We have been pleased with our Ovni 435, but we are currently looking at a new boat and it is still really tough to decide which way to go! French, If so which yard in France? Dutch and the same questions etc etc (rhetorical questions).

    Best regards,

    Patrick Flockhart

    • John April 1, 2012, 12:02 pm

      Hi Patrick,

      While I’m sure Colin would be happy to answer some questions.

      You may wish to consider Colin’s consulting services. He is currently acting as owners representative for two Boreals in build and the owners are very happy with the value he has been able to add to the process. Scroll down on the linked post for a couple of comments that talk about Colin’s services in glowing terms.

      Note that this is a completely separate company from Attainable Adventure Cruising and that I have no axe to grind here.

    • Colin April 2, 2012, 10:04 am

      Hi Patrick

      I have to work on my thoughts regarding how we’d do things differently, were we to go down this route again, but certainly a doghouse, a different heating system and better engine access would figure in it.

      As far as the choice of boat is concerned, size, cost and destination would be the main pointers for any further decision. The Dutch yards build some interesting boats, but the prices are high, and the choice of French builders would be dictated to some degree by my above parameters.

      Best wishes


  • Patrick Flockhart April 2, 2012, 12:36 pm

    Hi Colin,

    Funnily enough the heating and doghouse are right up on our agenda too. Re the engine access that has been ok, but we did have a really hassle changing throttle and gear cables after the gear cable snapped. Thank heavens it did so whilst we were close to civilization.

    Best regards,


  • Patrick Flockhart April 2, 2012, 12:37 pm

    NB I should have said we are the guys who own Tintin also an Ovni 435.

  • Victor Raymond April 2, 2012, 12:55 pm


    Are you not using diesel hot air for your heat? I am curious the difficulties as we were planning something similar for the “new” boat which only has a Taylor diesel heater at this time.

    Hope all else is going well. I am very envious of your position supervising the build of two Boreal’s. They are certainly a fine boat and I enjoyed every moment of my visit there with the two Jean-François.


    • Colin April 2, 2012, 1:40 pm

      Hi Patrick

      I knew the name but couldn’t remember the name of your boat! Thanks for reminding me.

      Best wishes


    • Colin April 2, 2012, 1:43 pm

      Hi Vistor

      Yes, we are, and so far it has worked OK, but I’d rather not have to deal with something with an ECU – there’s too much to go wrong.

      The Refleks heater is simple and reliable, and you can run radiators off it – not cheap, and it takes up a lot of space – but -it makes the heart of a boat….

      Best wishes


    • Colin April 5, 2012, 1:10 pm

      Hi Patrick

      I thought I’d add these two posts from 2010 in which I put down my thoughts on what we like (and don’t like) about our 435, both in terms of under way and in harbour. If you hadn’t seen them, them may be these would answer your question in more depth. It would be interesting to hear how our views chime (or not) with your own. Jim Patek (one circumnavigation to NZ – now half way through number 2 in Panama) who wrote several very interesting comments in reply is one of the most experienced 435 owners I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, so his comments are well worth considering.

      By all means come back to me with any comments – I’m always interested to hear others thoughts.

      We’ll be back up in Scotland this summer for a couple of weeks doing some shark research work, so maybe we’ll meet up this time – send me a PM and I can tell you when we’ll be around.

      Kindest regards


  • Chris White March 14, 2014, 10:42 pm

    Hi everyone,
    Firstly thanks for the informative article on the Boreal yachts.
    I really like the concept and design of the Boreal 44, it seems like a really well thought out and constructed boat.
    Does anyone have a current price and list of standard inclusions / options for the 44?
    Are there any Boreal owners that can provide some real world comment on the yachts as it is nearly 4 years since the original article.

    • John March 15, 2014, 10:04 am

      Hi Chris,

      Funny you should ask. Over the next few months we will have quite a bit of follow up content on the Boreal boats. Colin, AAC European Correspondent and author of the original series on the Boreal, has now supervised the build of two Boreals that are out sailing with several more in the pipe line.

      And Phyllis and I are planning to stop by and see the Guys at Boreal in the late spring, as part of our trip to Europe to teach the High Latitude course. So stay tuned.

    • Jean-François March 16, 2014, 7:39 pm

      Hi Chris,
      Thank you for your enthusiam for Boréal. If you send me a little email I’ll reply with a detailled technical description and price of the Boréal 44. You’ll find my email adress on our site.

      When Colin visited us, I took him out for a sail. Unfortunately there was not much wind. Some weeks ago, he had the chance to sail on RC Louise in 25 knots of wind. I’m sure Colin will give his feedback on his expériences…

      As for the others : we are in close and regular contacts with (almost) all our clients… Most rather sail than talk about sail… But they give us feedback which we use to continuously improve the boats we build.

      Of course one might say I’m not impartial but :
      We still own the very first Boréal 44, we sail her intensively… And we sail our clients’ boats.
      In December, Jean-François Delvoye took “Juan sa Bulan 3″ with his family to South Georgia out from the Falklands. It is – we believe – a pretty good (extreme) test… This year only one (other) non-charter boat went to there…
      It was Simon, Jean-François’ son and who has been part of our design team as hydrodynamic engine who sailed JSB3 all the way South.
      I sailed this year with my family several Boréals in Cabo Verde, from Stockholm to Oslo and several boatshows…
      So we know how sailing and living aboard a Boréal is…

      Feel free to ask any additional question or remark you might have.


  • Per April 3, 2014, 9:49 pm

    Hi, I come from Greenland, Nuuk and I’ve only recently come interested in sailboats(thinking out of the box) and was just about to drop the idea about having sailboat in Greenland. Until I found this sailboat. PERFECT sailboat for Greenland :) even though my very limited knowledge about sailboats, it seems to me all the right choices where made. Doghouse. Insulation. The heating. Strong hull. What’s not to like?! For me the 44 is love at first sight. Now, to learn more about sailboats, weather, navigation ect. Regards Per

    • John April 5, 2014, 8:13 am

      Hi Per,

      Welcome here. Greenland is one of our favourite places in the world, so it’s great to someone from there visiting us at AAC.

      Yes, I think you are right, a Boreal would be perfect for Greenland. As well as the features you list, the lifting keel and keel box will make the boat very easy to haul on the marine railways that are common in Greenland.

    • Jean-François Eeman April 18, 2014, 3:01 pm

      Hey Per,
      Thank you for your enthusiasm for Boréal…
      “Boréalp” owned by guys from the French Alpes, went two times to Greenland.
      In fact since she left Tréguier she was alwas up in North wintering in Iceland, Norway (Tromsö and Lofoten).
      Patience ! I’m sure you’ll some appearing in your waters “shortly”.
      Best regards,


  • Ana Bianca Marin May 7, 2014, 9:31 am

    This is a great ‘series’ about what seems to be a truly well thought-out boat.

    I was just wondering if you by any chance visited with the folks from Grand Large Yachting and checked out the Allures 45 or maybe even the “new” Garcia Exploration 45 (Jimmy Cornell’s new ‘ride’)… I wonder how you think those would compare with the Boreal….


    Ana Bianca

    s/v Kajaya

    • John May 8, 2014, 5:56 am

      Hi Ana Bianca,

      First off you should know that we have a close relationship with the principles at Boreal: They are corporate members of this site and provide substantial financial support. In addition, Colin has, and continues to, manage the build of several Boreals.

      Having said that, I firmly believe that the Boreal is the best boat of it’s type available today.

      I would rather leave it at that, rather than getting into specific comparisons.

      Look for more articles on the Boreal in the next few weeks.

      • Jean-François Eeman May 8, 2014, 8:02 am

        Dear John,
        Thank you for this update…
        Things always have to be put in the right context.

        Can I allow myself to insist on the fact the first series of articles written by Colin were published before we even knew each other ?

        We are (proudly) partners of this site because the content of it is, on a daily base, a source of inspiration and of questioning ourselves.

        Jean-François Eeman
        Managing Director Boréal

        • John May 8, 2014, 12:27 pm

          Hi Jean-François,

          Good point and absolutely true. In fact, just so others know, Colin paid all the expenses to visit Boreal out of his own pocket because he was so interested in the boat.

  • Ana Bianca Marin May 8, 2014, 12:49 pm

    Thank you for your response. I suppose there is no way of getting an unbiased opinion here. Appreciate the well-written articles nevertheless.

    Best of luck,

    Ana Bianca

    • Laurent May 8, 2014, 3:32 pm

      I never tested an Allure at sea, but Allure’s shipyard story is very different from Boréal’s. I understand they started their operation about 10 years ago building Berret-Racoupeaux designs something in between Alliage shipyard boats from same architects and Garcia shipyard’s Harlé design, taking Alubat as a business example or as a target, and subcontracting metalwork to Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie (a reputed military shipyard…).
      10 years later, Alliage, Garcia and Alubat have gone bankrupt and I understand that Allure has succeeded in not making big mistake during that period and, probably, giving better value per euros than Alliage. I understand that the Allure range sailboat are somewhat less oriented toward blue-water cruising than Alubat’s OVNIs (or less advertised as oriented toward blue-water cruising ?….) and that their Exploration range sailboat share many (or all ?…) aluminum components with the corresponding Allure range boats.
      It looks like a serious shipyard using a classic business approach in a field where this kind of approach was not generally successful lately (Garcia, Alubat, Alliage…). I understand that Boréal shipyard history looks very different (somewhat like Garcia shipyard in the time of the Garcia brothers…).

      • John May 10, 2014, 2:47 am

        Hi Laurent,

        Thanks for coming up on that with some good information.


    • John May 9, 2014, 4:23 pm

      Hi Ana Bianca,

      After thinking about it today, my thoughts are that a truly “unbiased opinion” about boats is probably impossible, here, or anywhere else. The fact is that we all have our biases based on our own experiences. For example, I do not like twin rudders, and neither does Colin. So that is one of the many reasons we prefer the Boreal over the other two boats you mention.

      I would suggest that to make the best decision for yourself, you need to read our reasoning behind our biases and make up your own mind about whether or not you agree with our reasoning and that will, in turn, help you decide whether you believe our opinions (or maybe biases) and how you will act on them.

      In other words, you will serve your own interests better by looking deeper than just to ask us, or anyone else “which boat is best”.

  • Ana Bianca Marin May 9, 2014, 5:21 pm


    I would NEVER ask anyone ‘which boat is the best’. If you re-read my first question you will see that it is FAR from that. Please don’t put words into mine or anyone’s mouth!

    I only asked if you – or the author of the articles – had visited the concurrence of Boréal while in France, and if yes, if they had anything to say about similar boats. Once you told me that Boréal is a “corporate member[s] of this site [who] provide[s] substantial financial support” I was left with the strong impression that for as much as I cherish your publication for all sorts of articles on the most diverse matters, it might not be the place to ask about Allures or Garcia’s.

    You gave me your personal opinion – without any further elaboration – and I do somewhat appreciate it. But at this point it means as much as telling me: “The best chocolates in the world are made by Lindt! Oh and by the way… we get free boxes of Lindt chocolate sent to us once a week!” ;)

    Also note, it was you who said who makes the ‘best’ boat… A question that was never asked as such.

    • John May 10, 2014, 2:32 am

      Hi Ana,

      Sorry I misunderstood you. I took “I wonder how you think those would compare with the Boreal….” as a question about which boat is best for offshore voyaging. An understandable error, I would suggest.

      As to the Lindt chocolate metaphor. I think that it’s important to be up front about any conflict of interest, and I was.

  • RDE (Richard Elder) May 10, 2014, 11:06 am

    One of the common misconceptions about “news reporting” is that it should be unbiased. Of course that is entirely impossible, because the very process of cognition depends upon a starting point, or if you will a set of biases. Thus the very definition of what is news is socially and politically determined— and biased.

    John’s editorial policy is honest to the extreme. He always makes the effort to describe any commercial links and to provide background as to where his opinions originate. Is he biased? Of course! As is any thinking human being!

  • Ana Bianca Marin May 10, 2014, 11:36 am

    Dear Members of AAC,

    Let me be clear that I have nothing against this publication and/or its author/s. Neither do I have the desire nor the time to discuss journalistic bias or anything else that isn’t directly related to boats, sailing, etc. I don’t think there is a need for members to come ‘galloping in shiny armor in defense of John’. Let us not tun this into a ‘debate about human inability of neutrality’ and go back to what matters; boats and sailing.

    Thank you.

    • Colin Speedie May 10, 2014, 1:37 pm

      Hi Ana

      I’ve come late to all of this as I’ve been out on the water.

      So to answer your original question from my perspective, I’m a complete fan of aluminium lifting keel boats, and like many of them. I’m a huge fan of the early Phillippe Harle Garcias, particularly the 47 with the single rudder and daggerboard set-up. We very nearly bought one, and in fact got very close to buying a hull and deck from the factory, but in the end the price and time demand was simply too high. I’ve even advised a couple of would-be buyers to look out for a good one recently, and I’ve just been given details of a beauty to pass on to them.

      So my wife and I had an Ovni 435 built for us, which, despite teething problems relating back to the build is a terrific boat that we love very much. Ours was built with both high latitudes and the tropics in mind, and is capable of going anywhere, we believe. There are things we’d have liked to have changed (would have loved a doghouse with watertight door, for example), but she’s a terrific, evergreen design, and very comfortable to live aboard and I can’t see us changing her. After seven years and many thousands of miles we’re still very happy with our choice.

      The Boreal designs do it for me because they have taken the best of the above boats and improved upon them – through evolution not revolution. If we were to build another boat, it would be a Boreal 47.

      The new Garcia may well prove to be a great boat, but the first one has only just gone into the water, so it’s early days to say yet. I have a couple of reservations, namely the swept spreaders and twin rudders that I personally don’t like on any boat, but I’ve said the same in articles on this site before.

      In short, I love the concept of these French ‘deriveurs’, and wouldn’t go back to a traditional keel boat. But like all boats, they are a compromise, and it’s about looking for a compromise that is closest to your needs and wishes.

      Kindest regards


  • Victor Raymond May 10, 2014, 2:56 pm

    Anna, Colin, John et al,
    I have been to the Boreal factory in Tréguier and met both Jean-François’ and crew there. They are fabulous and so is the factory and boat. I would have purchased one then and there if recession had not intervened in a nasty way. I also pursued several older Garcia 47’s. Also a great boat but there are no two interior layouts the same. I ended up finding another French “deriveur” in South America at a price I could afford at the moment.
    I don’t regret my decision but I still lust for the Boreal as I believe it is the most carefully thought out production high latitude aluminum swing keel boat on the market today. It is interesting to note that the three most vociferous proponents of the Boreal own something else at the moment (and are not about to jump ship, pardon the pun). Does that say something?
    Although I have never been on an Allure, I don’t like the concept of fiberglass and aluminum together to create a watertight hull. And as Colin and John have said twin rudders without two propellers in front of them is a nightmare docking. Sure, bow thrusters are available but what a headache on top of everything else.
    Finally I agree with Colin that once you have a “deriveur” or swing keel boat it is hard to imagine sailing on anything else.
    All the best,

  • Ana Bianca Marin May 11, 2014, 10:11 am

    Dear Colin, dear Victor,

    Thank you so much for your comments.

    I agree that twin rudders are almost always more then a pain in the arse then anything else. Plus they incur in extra unnecessary expenses. So, here the full skeg protecting the rudder on the Boreal definitely makes great sense.

    I cannot fathom putting a bow truster on a 45′ sailboat. If you cannot steer her without one, that tells me enough. But that is something to test. Besides I do not expect to be spending much time (if at all) in marinas or in Med.

    About the solid doghouse I have some reticence …. There are definitely some pro’s which we are all pretty much aware of, I think… But my fear is, (I will mostly be sailing in the tropics – at least for the first part of the journey – granted the journey is long), if a solid doghouse wouldn’t feel too claustrophobic in the blistering heat. How would it affect the air flow? It’s GREAT for cold and heavy weather sailing, but let’s assume that for the majority of the time that wouldn’t my case. Has anyone had experience with taking the Boreal to the tropics (e.g. South Pacific and/or Caribbean) over extended periods of time? How did the enclosed doghouse feel?

    Colin. The ‘earlier’ Garcias are indeed beauties and there are some really nice Passoa’s floating on the market. But I need to be able to make some very specific interior adjustments, and given the fact that aluminum boats tend to hold their prices fairly well (even after 10+ years) buying new might turn out to be the more economically sound option. Making modifications and updates (especially the ones I might have to do), on a “traditional” layout might turn out too costly and lengthy of a project.

    And lastly, I want to continue playing the ‘devil’s advocate’ here, because nobody has come-up with a really good answer yet. :)

    From what I understand (and I am the first to admit that I understand very little about these things!) the thermal coefficient of aluminum and grp are quite different. That would suggest that under stress (thermal or mechanical) both materials would react differently and there might be a problem at the bond, correct? Now, have’t mega/super-yachts (over 140ft let’s say) been build like this for a while? Steel or aluminum hull with an aluminum or grp deck/superstructure? Hasn’t this technology already been around? Why would it not work on sailboats? Just because of the stresses involved?

    I’d really appreciate if someone could elaborate.

    Thanks again for your time and patience!


    Ana Bianca

    • Victor Raymond May 12, 2014, 1:54 am


      I believe RDE / Richard Elder is your man for an answer to this question. He has had experience with large boat projects and might have some thoughts on this subject.

      I would also say that I am fairly certain that Allure has sold the common problems of the aluminum GRP interface. However having said that I am personally uncomfortable with it. I like the idea of a solid aluminum hull, topsides and deck all welded together to form a truly waterproof vessel.

      Then there is the issue of formed fair aluminum hull versus hard chine. Depending on where you are headed you might prefer the extra strength afforded by the later choice.

      My own Meta Dalu 47 has even another option, heavy 12mm alloy plate with no internal structure or stringers and longitudinals. This makes for a larger internal space and is much easier to insulate.

      In any case lots of options, choices and homework to do. Enjoy.


    • steve June 1, 2014, 6:22 pm

      Hi Anna,
      Sorry just read this thread. My wife and I own a Boreal 44, (RC Louise) and we only sail in warm waters. We purchased the Boreal because she is every bit as good in the tropics as in the high lats. Our plans for our Boreal are the Caroline Islands and the jungle rivers of Borneo, very hot and humid. The boat has about 3 inches on well done insulation, even the dog house is insulated she stays much cooler than the outside air at all times. We were concerned that the dog house would be hot in the tropics also but now know that the doghouse does not get very hot while on passage. We have a fan in the dog house to move air but use it rarely. We also have a strong port light built into glass on the the doghouse door that we can keep open in hot weather but close in big seas along with the door. At anchor in the tropics when the sun is strong we put up screens that you can buy at any auto parts store. You can see out through these screens and they do help keep any heat down but are very good if you are using your laptop in the doghouse so you can see your screen. But honestly heat has never been a problem anywhere in the boat. We also put dorades in our main cabin and they have worked perfectly keeping air moving while we sail in bad weather. Never understood why the French don’t like Dorades, I think every ocean going boat needs them. Just looked at one of Dashew’s designs at the marina in Panama and that boat had 12 dorades on deck.
      Hope this helps your question on heat in doghouse.
      Steve and Tracy

    • RDE July 6, 2014, 10:51 am

      Hi Anna,

      Re- doghouse for the tropics. This is a link to a photo of a boat I delivered up from Panama. Perfect for feeling the tropic breeze! With some modification the design could be adapted to the Boreal, but I’d have to say Steve’s actual experience with his Boreal should carry more weight. http://www.westerly-marine.com/FRC.htm

      Hi Victor,
      Thanks for the prop, but I think in view of the extensive sea miles of the people who visit this site there are undoubtedly others with more relevant experiences!

  • Colin Speedie May 11, 2014, 4:02 pm

    Hi Ana

    I agree about twin rudders. I can’t see their advantage at all, and neither would I have a bow thruster for any boat under 50ft – even an Ovni 435, and they handle like pigs in a crosswind!

    The doghouse really comes into to its own in colder climes, but then that’s largely what the Boreals are designed for. We have an opening section in the front of our spray hood and it’s a godsend. We have put opening port lights in the rear windows of the doghouse on both Boreals I have worked on so far, and that helps, but there’s no doubt that ventilation will be restricted by comparison with our set-up. Having said that, both are currently in warm waters, so Boreal will undoubtedly learn from their experience.

    The older Garcias are lovely, especially the interiors by the great guys at Rameau. But, as Victor noted, they’re nearly all different! Finding one that matches your requirements can be far from easy. And as you rightly say, building from new can eventually prove to be more cost effective, in so far as you get the boat you want, not someone else’s compromise that needs altering at great expense. That was our conclusion in the end, and why we built from new.

    I’ve never been a fan of mixing materials. There always seems to be a problem sooner or later, due to the mix of materials, thermal coefficients etc. It has been done with steel quite a bit, but I haven’t got any concrete personal experiences to call upon. My concern is always the joint between hull and deck, where some form of bonding material must be employed – if my own experience with GRP boats is anything to go by, it’s one good bump and you’re forever out with the Sikaflex gun.

    And one thing I like about the new Garcia 45 is that it is all aluminium – deck, too, which makes sense given the intended use.

    Best wishes


  • Laurent May 11, 2014, 6:39 pm

    I understand that Exploration 45 coachroof is composite. cf.:http://www.cornellsailing.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/GE-45-General-Description-EN-V3-4.pdf
    I think composite roof on aluminum hull + flat parts of the deck, is technically OK, but not as beautiful as careful aluminum metalwork.

  • Ana Bianca Marin May 13, 2014, 2:39 pm

    Thanks everyone for your input. I’m back on the water (Thank God!) and will have less access to internet.

    I appreciate everyones time and comments! Keep on sailing! :)


    Ana Bianca

  • Andrej July 6, 2014, 5:16 am

    Ahoy everyone here,
    Boreal 44/47 are yachts to “fell in love on first site”, but most yachts seems to have oversized engines.

    Basic calculation I have taken in my calculation:
    OVNI 365 LWL 10,67m / 35ft
    v_hull 7,92 knots max displacement speed
    22mhp @ 5,9 knots engine power at cruising speed

    Boreal 44 LWL 11,63m / 38,156ft
    v_hull 8,3 knots max displacement speed
    20mhp @ 6,0 knots engine power at cruising speed

    Boreal 44 has about 2 metric tons less displacement, when fully loaded.

    I found in Europe one well known engine producer with innovative marine propulsion concept:

    ->> Steyr MO32 36 mHP 80 kg <<- smartsize !!
    IFG 18 kg + CCU 9 kg, total weight about 127 kg
    Parallel Hybrid mode – max continuous power 30 kW / 40hp

    Now, after I have decided to buy a new Boreal 44/47, I would like to get your suggestions, pros & cons about new propulsion design. I would kindly ask experienced Boreal owners if you have ever used your 55/75 hp engines over 2400/2600 rpm for far more than only few minutes? Let say 1hour or more. The areas to consider are Patagonia, entering Atolls or similar areas where strong currents might need more propeller power?
    Does anybody uses Autoprop or Maxprop folding propeller?

    Thank you guys in advance

    Just, please do not disturb my propulsion dreams with '"there will be no spare parts down there…"

    • John July 6, 2014, 6:52 pm

      Hi Andrej,

      I agree that many, perhaps most, yachts are over-engined and usually in such a way that they can’t even get the power they have into the water. See this chapter. However, it is, I believe, a mistake to assume that this problem is always best solved with a diesel electric alternative. Very often the best and most economical solution is simply a smaller high torque engine and careful selection of transmission and propeller. You can read more about our efforts in this regard in this online book.

      Finally, you can learn more about the advantages and drawbacks of diesel electric here and here.

      If you have further comments on the subject, please make them to those posts, rather than to this one, in the interests of reducing duplication.

      • Andrej July 7, 2014, 3:20 am

        Hi John,
        many thanks for the very helpful links. Hybrid propulsion design offers a new way of “green marine behavior” in bays, atolls and marinas.

        My comments and calculations are specific to Boreal 44/47. Allow me to post it here:

        Considering your links to general design aproach for A40 and experiences from Boreal owners I have collected, my advanced propulsion design for Boreal 44/47 would be:
        – bullet proof Nanni N4.38 37.5hp diesel, naturally aspirated
        – controllable pitch propeller CPP for high efficiency propeller curve at any rpms, with sailing mode of course, West Mekan make
        – gear ratio between 1:4 and 1:5, must check max allowed propeller diameter with the shipyard
        – IFG between 7 – 15 kW with pure electric and booster propulsion mode, Nanni make
        I hope the Nanni specification can be fitted into Boreal 44 keel.

        Steyr Motors MO32 propulsion design offers just a little less propeller power in thermal engine mode and less torque but offers huge space savings. New interior design could be done….

        • Laurent July 7, 2014, 8:14 am

          -I have seen Steyr hybrid systems at Paris Salon Nautique and I have read some of their documentation. I didn’t spent much time on that, but I got the impression that they were very expensive with mature electrical parts (read: limited efficiency…) and some doubts about ease of maintenance (parts availability?…).
          In my opinion those system seem quite good for limited-range advanced sailboat, because they can provide the comfort of leaving or entering ports without diesel noise & fumes using shore power instead. Didn’t get the impression that they were very appropriate for blue-water long-range cruising sail-yachts, but I might be wrong.

          -Never studied the Nanni electrical propulsion offering

          -I heard that CPP appropriate for sail-yachts, including West Mekan’s, were a bit expensive for systems which can not be considered as new or innovating. I understand that, on a purely technical perspective, this kind of solution should be much more used. Don’ t know if this problem is due mainly to excessive price tags or to excessive adherence of prospects to fixed pitch propellers (or perhaps excessive adherence of prospects to FPP that prevents CPP manufacturers from reaching volumes where they could decrease price-tags….)


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