Wave Action Takes Over AAC Consultancy


Colin and Phyllis on the deck of the Ovni 435 “Pelerin”, 2008 London Boat Show.

For some years Attainable Adventure Cruising Ltd has offered consulting services and advertised them, in rather a low key way, on this web site.

But now we are finding that the demands of this web site are really taking more time than we are comfortable with—something must go. And that something is the consulting.

Coincidentally, at the same time we were reaching this decision, Colin Speedie, this site’s European Correspondent, had already taken over our only remaining client because their focus had turned to building a boat in Europe, where Colin has far more expertise than we do. In fact, he is project managing their new build.

And that made us realize that it just made sense for Colin and Louise to take over the AAC consulting business as an add-on to their already successful environmental consulting business at Wave Action.

There is another reason that this makes sense: We think they will be just plain great at it. In fact so good that we think that their boat selection consulting business will substantially increase once word gets around. And that will be great, as far as Phyllis and I are concerned, because Colin will at last be compensated, at least partially, for his incredible contribution to this site over the last four years.

Colin’s knowledge of boats is truly encyclopaedic. This is a guy that knew off the top of his head that a boat he only saw in a small photograph was based on a Colin Archer designed Norwegian sailing lifeboat and built in ferrocement by a guy that rejoiced under the nickname of Mick The Brick! I ask you, is that scary or what?

Seriously, if you need help selecting, building or refitting a boat, you need Colin because he:

  • has sailed on scores, maybe hundreds of different boats;
  • has several decades and tens of thousands of miles under his belt as a commercial skipper on research yachts in challenging conditions;
  • speaks, reads and writes French;
  • communicates clearly and concisely, both in writing and verbally;
  • has had his own semi-custom boat built in France;
  • is out there cruising;
  • is a really decent guy who will not steer you wrong and will keep your interests ahead of his own.

We will promote Wave Action’s services on this site. And if Colin and Louise feel that our expertise will help in a project they are consulting on, they may, at their sole option, hire Phyllis and/or I as sub-contractors to Wave Action.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

14 comments… add one
  • Dave Benjamin Nov 7, 2011, 6:01 pm

    I’m confident Colin will perform spectacularly in the new role. I had the pleasure of some email conversations with Colin not too long ago and we’ll certainly refer him to our customers whose needs for advice go beyond sails and rigging.

  • Abel van Staveren Nov 8, 2011, 4:45 am

    Good Luck Colin,

    We know where to find you should we or anyone else need your help.

  • richard Nov 8, 2011, 9:36 am

    with the grace, understanding, and wisdom displayed in this memorable post john we would do well having you and phyllis as the primary occupants of 1600 pennsylvania ave…richard in tampa bay…m/v cavu’s skipper (formerly s/v sidra’s skipper)

    • John Nov 9, 2011, 7:36 pm

      Yikes, there is a scary thought, both for us and your country!

  • Christopher Nov 8, 2011, 11:51 am

    Having consulted both formally and informally with John & Phyllis as we sorted out a new boat purchase, I can attest that many folks missed out on a great deal – the benefits far out weigh the cost of their counsel. It was a real pleasure working with them and very helpful.

    We are now building a boat abroad, we have found Colin’s council invaluable and once again, well worth the cost. So I am sad to see that the service has to go, but can attest to the strength of the new offering.

    • John Nov 9, 2011, 7:34 pm

      Hi Christopher,
      Thanks for the kind words. We both really enjoyed working with the two of you and wish you all the best as your plans unfold.

  • Jim Patek (S/V Let's Go!) Nov 8, 2011, 1:00 pm


    At the risk of alienation, it is possibly safe to say that the French build not only the best designed but most cost effective production alloy yachts (or hybrids as in the case of Allures). But for an English speaking purchaser to proceed without a French/English speaking advocate is risky to the point of foolhardy. The fact that my OVNI 435 turned out more or less as specified is only the result of pure luck since I just happened to be attending the annual boat show in La Rochelle when Let’s Go! came out of the acid wash and into the assembly line and I was able to determine that 75% of the specifications agreed with Alubat management had been disregarded. By being present, I was able to reverse the situation. Otherwise I would have been terribly disappointed at the time of launch.

    This is to suggest two things. If a person with no ability to speak the French language wants to take advantage of the fantastic yachts built in France, then they should employ Colin as their agent/surveyor/advocate or whatever legal jargon is required to be certain he has access to management. Secondly, once the yacht comes out of what I call the panel beating phase and into the detailed fabrication, they would do well to make certain Colin is on location.

  • Colin Nov 9, 2011, 5:55 am

    Hi All

    Thanks very much for all the expressions of goodwill towards me during the transfer of the consultancy my way, and to John and Phyllis for having faith in my abilities.

    I’d have replied sooner, but am continuing my lifelong apprenticeship with boats on the hard in the Canaries – paint brush in hand!

    Best wishes


  • RDE Nov 10, 2011, 8:15 pm

    Congratulations Colin!
    If 1% of the people who would benefit from your experience and counsel do so you will be so busy you never can go sailing!

    Noticed your extensive marine research background in your bio. I recently came across an invention called the Wave Rider, a robotic self-propelled marine research device which I found intriguing and thought you might enjoy reading about it.

  • Colin Nov 11, 2011, 4:07 pm

    Hi RDE

    Thanks so much for the kind comments. And as long as I can still go sailing I’ll accept all the offers I get!

    I love the Wave Rider – pure genius. More and more marine science is going this way, and it has many advantages. Just look at the fascinating insights into animal distribution and habitat usage allowed by satellite tags, which have enabled scientists to study them in ways that would simply not be possible via conventional means. But as a lowly field researcher they are putting us out of business!

    Kindest regards


  • Steve Mar 20, 2012, 1:20 pm

    I would like to say thank you to Colin for all the work he has done for us in the last couple of months. We hired Colin after talking with Christopher by phone. Christopher had nothing but good words on the work Colin has done making sure his new boat is as he wants. For us Colin has done magic from the very start. We skype on just about a weekly basis and go over the extensive email spread sheets that he firsts goes over with Boreal. We work through all the custom details That we could not have conveyed to Boreal. Though Boreal is the most amazing company with two dedicated owners/designers and a skilled crew of workers we would have had a a bit of tougher time without Colin. We would have got the work done but Colin’s knowledge in cruising boats, aluminum and his French has made the process go quickly and smooth. My wife Tracy and I are very excited about the new boat. We know that with Colin’s work that first month of sea trials and getting to know the boat will go better than we ever imagined.
    Thanks Colin.

  • Bob V. Mar 20, 2012, 6:53 pm

    Hello Colin and Steve,

    Is it possible to see some pics this particular Boreal?
    What is the size and which mods did you make?
    There is a lot of talk on this site on this yacht and I think
    a lot of people would be interested in the details.

    Thanks Bob.

  • Steve Mar 20, 2012, 10:23 pm

    I don’t mind talking about the boat as you might imagine this is really exciting for Tracy and myself. First if you look at the top of the page of Attainable Adventure Cruising you will see aluminum boat, click on that and you will see some of Colin’s discussion on Boreal. Boreal website is http://www.voiliers-boreal.com click on the gallery to see a lot of pictures. One more place to view Boreal pictures is at http://www.varen.be/nl/a/2 that site works most of the time.

    We ordered the Boreal 44 with the swim platform that goes up and down on the stern. There is also a 47 that has a sugar scoop on the stern. Boreal makes a 50 foot and now a 63 foot boat.

    Some of the items we are working on with Colin and the company are getting a wind vane on the stern. A lot of folks believe that because of the dagger boards on the Boreal she sails very strait and balanced so that the auto pilot hardly works at all. That gives a long life to an autopilot and uses less amps. She really does sail without wobble on all points of sail. But I am old fashioned and want a wind vane. Between Colin, Boreal, Peter Forthman of Windpilot and myself we came up with a way to put a Windpilot vane on the stern and still be able to use the swim platform while at anchor.

    We now are working on seeing if we can change out the aft head for a nav station in its place. We already have the nav station in the dog house but we would like a place to do more work like having room to set up laptop and copier hooked up to our sat phone for down loading weather faxes and just the every day paper work that needs to be done like when you enter a new country. We love the dog house on the Boreal but we want to use it more for passage making watch than an office, keep the clutter down.

    There are lots of small items that we are having changed and most of it I think has to do with the different customs we have as N. Americans from the French. What is great is that both Colin and Boreal understand this and we work as a team make everyone happy. And if Colin or Boreal think one of our ideas will not be workable or just not right they say so. That keeps us all working for the same goal.

    Maybe Collin if he is not to busy sailing in warm water right now can tell us what goes into his work and how he is able to work with a company and a new owner and make it all happen with out major problems.

  • Colin Speedie Mar 21, 2012, 2:10 pm

    Hi Steve

    First of all, thanks for the kind words re my involvement with you both and your new boat – I’m obviously very pleased that you feel that it has been so worthwhile. It’s also a pleasure for me to work as part of a team with experienced owners and a yard that listens, as you rightly point out.

    As far as my work is concerned, my role is primarily to ensure that the lines of communication between the owner and they yard are clear, and that both sides understand exactly what is being discussed. Obviously, there can be an issue when foreign languages are involved, and also when there is such a significant distance between the yard and the owner – so I need to be able to discuss the clients requirements and the yards response, and then explain one to the other in as clear a manner as can be achieved.

    What is not involved is making decisions on anyone’s behalf. It’s more a case of identifying through discussion what the owner wants to end up with, and then going through the various options to allow them to make an informed decision on what option is best for them. Then it’s a case of liaising with the yard and working towards that goal.

    Yard visits allow for the entire check list of modifications and requirements to be gone through with the yard to ensure that everything is on track. Anything that comes up that needs further discussion can then be identified and scheduled into my report to the owner, so that they have a clear picture of what is happening, and whatever decisions that need to be made can be done in good order.

    Beyond that, I try to keep the owners informed of any new developments that might be of interest to them, whether it be equipment or materials – even in these tough economic times, there are always new products or concepts that are worth considering.

    So, no magic formula, but a willingness to listen, and attention to detail in keeping the dialogue on track and snag free.

    Kindest regards


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