Model T Voyaging Boat Specified

JHH5_104618-EditA couple of weeks ago I wrote a post suggesting that what we really needed in the offshore voyaging world was a simple, fast, comfortable and safe new boat at an affordable price—a Model T voyaging boat.

That post was one of the most popular we have ever published and also elicited some really interesting and thoughtful comments, including a suggested specification from Richard Elder, who often comments under the initials RDE.

Richard’s Model T


“The following is a proposed specification for the boat that John has put on the table. It represents ideas drawn from my career building a wide variety of boats and managing projects large & small, along with the occasional yacht delivery.

There are many features in this specification that derive from cost minimization, rather than selection of the best possible equipment. For example, if I were looking for the best possible engine installation, I’d choose an AquaDrive behind a conventional marine gear, driving a straight shaft to a 3 blade MaxProp. But by installing a Saildrive instead, the builder could save thousands in labor and installation costs, and by building a watertight engine compartment make it as safe as a conventional driveline.”


  • “LOA: 40-feet, LWL: 36-feet, Beam: 11-feet, Draft: 6-feet, Displacement: 18,000-Lbs. [Subject to optimization by the designer.]
  • Balanced hull form, relatively deep V sections.
  • Balanced spade rudder with oversized bearings and shaft.
  • Sloop with detachable soft inner forestay rather than true cutter.
  • Conventional double spreader rig, straight spreaders.
  • DUX soft rigging, no turnbuckles or wire except on forestay.
  • Roller furling on forestay only, tacked 24-30″ aft of stem head.
  • Detachable Code Zero tacked to stem.
  • Four sail inventory: Main, Jib, Storm Staysail, Code Zero.
  • Full batten main on low tech slides.
  • All halyards and reefing handled at the mast with secure mast pulpits.
  • No vertical bows and complication of bobstay and sprit etc.– 30″
    bow overhang to avoid fouling the anchor chain.
  • Tiller steering.
  •  Cape Horn windvane with drive permanently mounted below deck.
  • Small tiller pilot [for motoring or light air] driving the vane gear servo rudder.
  • 25kg Rocna anchor, 250′ 1/4″ high test chain, extra 250’ rope rode.
  • Manual windlass (like the good old SL 555).
  • Chain pipe leading to chain locker 8′ aft of stem.
  • 100 gallons of water tankage under the cabin sole.
  • 30 HP engine with saildrive motor mounted in watertight engine box to make it safe in case of collision with floating objects.
  • Low companionway protected by watertight, gasketed entry door.
  • Hard dodger low enough to look over the top.
  • Trunk cabin tall enough to facilitate easily reached grab rails and allow visibility from inside the boat.
  • No cockpit lockers for ease of construction and watertight integrity.
  • No exterior wood.
  • Hull and deck cored with balsa for economy, but built using vinylester resin infusion so that the entire core matrix is impermeable to moisture travel.
  • Structural components like chainplates, ring frames, and floors infused with the outer shell for structural integrity.
  • Liner components broken down into smaller units that do not form primary structure.
  • Stanchion bases, hatches, sail track, and all components to be thru-bolted to raised bases so the attachment interface is not in standing water.
  • Oversized cleats and fairleads for dock and mooring lines.
  • Entire area aft of companionway devoted to storage of sails, roll up dinghy, snorkel & scuba equipment, and food pantry with stainless steel restaurant style wire baskets.
  • Salon with two 7′ settees sized as generous sea berths with lee cloths and reading lights.
  • Forward cabin to have double berth for harbor use, with storage underneath.
  • Forward facing navigation/computer station with Ricardo automotive bucket seat or equivalent.
  • Four large Dorade vents.
  • Insulated deck and cabin overheads for comfort in the tropics.
  • Well insulated ice-box, no refrigeration.”

My Thoughts on Richard’s Boat

Well I could quibble with Richard on a couple of points. (You know me, I always have an opinion!) But they would be just that, quibbles. Bottom line, Richard has come up with a really great Model T boat.

My Additions

Since we envision this as a sail away ocean ready boat with absolutely no options, I would add the following:

  • Horizontal chain plates each capable of withstanding a load equal to 75% of the boat’s displacement at the transom corners to act as attachment points for a Jordan Series Drogue.
  • Lead fin keel with massively reinforced keel to hull joint. By using a Scheel type keel, it may be possible to reduce draft to as little as 5-feet without too much adverse effect on speed and pointing ability—a question for the designer.
  • Three reefs in mainsail and efficient slab reefing system.
  • Antal mainsail track system (not roller bearing). (A bit more expensive but makes a huge difference in sail handling.)
  • Hall Spars mechanical rigid vang.
  • No overlapping headsails, other than the code zero.
  • Generous sail area to displacement ratio—we want a flyer that is fun to sail. I’m thinking about 850 square feet of sail (100% fore triangle). The narrow symmetrical hull will be easily driven, which will, in conjunction with a good reefing system, allow the crew to shorten down well ahead of building weather and reduce the heel angle, but still keep the boat moving well.
  • Good quality winches and gear, preferably Harken. Four winches in the cockpit and three at the mast. No cost saving corners cut here.
  • A simple, but functional U shaped galley with two burner propane stove with oven. (This will also require a vapour-tight locker for the cylinders.)
  • Not sure if the cubic volume would allow it, but if possible, the head to be aft of the navigation/office table so that the watch stander does not troop through the boat when going for a pee.
  • A small work bench with vise in the open aft area.
  • Fore hatch for access to storage and escape. This would be the only hatch aside from the companionway and would supply plenty of ventilation when used with a wind scoop and Richard’s good big Dorade vents.
  • Very strong anodized aluminum arch aft for mounting solar panels, outboard lift tackle, wind generator and antennas. Large conduit to electrical panel with messenger lines to facilitate owner installation of above items, as desired.

A Standard Boat But Easy to Customize

My goal in adding these items was to keep the boat inexpensive to build by eschewing options, but at the same time make her easy for the owner to customize for her or his needs.

For example, a boat that will be used primarily for weekending will have little on the arch but an antenna or two or maybe a radar scanner if cruising Down East. On the other hand, a boat bound for the Caribbean will want solar panels and maybe a wind generator. With the arch already in place, and assuming it is well designed, any reasonably handy owner could install what they need in a few days.

On the other hand, if the boat came without the arch, the owner would be faced with a complex design, fabrication and mounting project that could take weeks and cost thousands to duplicate a task that the builder could do for a fraction of the cost and time on a mass production basis.

What a Boat!

With her easily driven hull, long waterline, relatively light weight, tiller steering and big rig, this boat will be just a gas to sail. Not only will she be a great voyager, but also a fantastic boat to own for day sailing, weekending and the annual holiday (vacation) cruise. Fun and competitive to race too, at least at the club level.

If you want to spend a pleasant quarter hour, as I did, go to the link below in “Further Reading” and crank in the Model T’s specifications. You will see what a fast, safe, and comfortable boat this will be.

At What Price?

So that leaves the big question. Could a builder produce this boat at my target price of US$175,000 and make a fair profit. I think that, given the right circumstances, the answer is yes.

I base this on the $225,000 that Beneteau lists the Oceanis 45 for—a substantially larger and more complex boat sold through dealers. Admittedly the boat we are envisioning here will be built to a higher strength and engineering specification, but if the builder tools up properly that should not add that much to the price.

For example, I would bet that for the cost of the two steering stations on the Beneteau you could  upsize the rudder stock, rudder, rudder bearings, mast step and chain plates to bomb proof levels,  and still come out ahead.

Those with sharp eyes will note that I wrote above “given the right circumstances”. I think that making this work will require a radically different business model. And that will be the subject of my next post on the Model T.

Questions For You

In the mean time, I have two questions for you, our readers:

  1. How do you like the boat’s specification and what would you change, add or remove? When you answer, please keep in mind the price point and the fact that there will be no options. The former means that we simply can’t add a lot of expensive gear, and the latter requires us to include things in the standard specification that would be difficult or expensive to add later, like the series drogue chain plates, hard dodger and arch.
  2. Would you be interested in buying one of these boats at US$175,000, brand spanking new?

If you have a comment about the general viability or desirability of the boat, by all means leave that too, but please make sure you read my first post, and the comments below it, before going to the trouble. A lot of that stuff has already been covered.

Please leave a comment.

Further Reading

Like what you just read? Get lots more:

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.

109 comments… add one
  • RDE Mar 30, 2012, 1:00 am


    Seacraft 38 Valiant 42

    LOA 41.92′ 42′ 0″
    LWL 34′ 34’6″
    SA 821 sq ft. 849 sq ft.
    Beam 12’5″ 12′ 9″
    Disp. 22-24,000# 24,600#
    Just saying— looks like the same size boat to me!

    Everything else being equal there will be only relative pennies difference in build cost. Displacement costs money but light displacement costs more! Foam or even balsa cores and triaxial fiberglass are a lot more expensive per pound than the basic matt and heavy roving that boats were built from when the Valiant was designed.

    • Roger Mar 30, 2012, 11:15 am

      On the P-38 the LOD (hull length) is 38.5 feet. The 41.9 feet includes the bowsprit. She was labelled P-38 for a reason.

      Note as well that the staysail is tacked on the stem, allowing for a larger head angle and therefore a more effective heavy air sail, and that the primary headsail (tacked to the bowsprit) is designed as a lapper (~110 percent), not as a genoa. This is an evolution from the Saga solent-type rig. Sail area at 821 sq.ft. (100% FT) is moderate, and Bob suggested in an article at the time that someone intent on light air performance might raise the stick 5 feet to bring SA/D to 17.5.

      There was a good article by Bob in the January 2007 issue of NW Yachting on his thinking behind the design, and the majority of comparisons were to the Tayana 37 not the V40. I can’t find a web link at the moment, but I have a pdf of the article.



      • RDE Mar 30, 2012, 8:02 pm

        Hi Roger,
        Looks like our discussion has become a bit circular. Not surprising when the topic is boats and the emotions they engender! As I mentioned, I once tried to buy “Eclipse”, as much for the fact that there is no other 45-50′ boat in the world that has that particular look as for the excellence of her hull design and the Perry pedigree.

        I’m not suggesting that a Perry Seacraft 38 is better or worse, faster or slower, more modern looking or more traditional than a Valiant 42. Just pointing out that there is no reason to expect the build cost of it to be substantially less given equal level of fit and finish.

        “she was labeled a P-38 for a reason”. I agree, but that reason was purely a marketing choice, no different from when some manufacturers decide to call their boat a “Passagemaker”. When Valiant added a bowsprit to the V-40 they re-named it a Valiant 42, again because that was the marketing image they wished to project. And when your dockmaster puts his measuring tape on your Perry 38 sitting on his designated 40′ dock he will kick you off and demand that you move to a more expensive dock alongside a Valiant 42 because in fact you are within 2″ of the same length! The longer bowsprit on the P-38 is there to balance the plum bow that Perry chose because he wanted a particular look, but the dimension that counts when the boat meets the water, the LWL, is only 6″ different.

        Modern Marketing has taught us to demand the biggest boat for its length, which leads to inaccurate comparisons and some truly bizarre floating contraptions. If you want a good laugh, take a look at the Hunter e33, just voted “Boat of the Year” by Cruising World. How a magazine manages to get judges who have to know better to vote for such a cluster**** is beyond me. In order to create the ‘biggest 33′ sailboat in the world’ they moved the helmsman so far back and so high in the air that he is almost sitting behind the transom. The helm station minds me of the sanitary facilities often seen on remote Micronesian atolls—–!

  • Roger Mar 30, 2012, 11:23 am

    Here’s a link to Bob’s Designer Comments:

    • John Mar 30, 2012, 6:05 pm

      Hi Roger,

      Great link, thanks. Not only is Perry a great designer, he is also one of the best writers on the subject!

  • John Mar 30, 2012, 5:53 pm

    Hi Roger and Richard,

    I too like Perry’s designs a lot. In fact I specifically mention him as a possible designer for the Adventure 40 in the first post on the subject.

    My current thinking is still to go for a new, although not radical, design. whether from Perry, or someone else. The reason being that yacht design has made huge jumps in the last 10 years with the advent of low cost (relatively) velocity prediction, 3D modeling and CAD programs. Having said that, just last week, I had a designer tell me that tank testing is still worth while to verify the computer. The key point in all of this is that on a mass production build like this, design represents a very small part of the overall cost, but has a huge impact on the success or failure or the project.

    Also, do not assume that because the A40 will be half the price of a P-38 or a Valiant 40 that it will give anything away to those boats in terms of strength or quality. Rather it will get its price savings from standardization, simplification, new marketing methods and efficient mechanized building, not cutting strength or reliability. More to come…

  • Roger Mar 30, 2012, 7:36 pm

    I agree with you. I wasn’t suggesting building the P-38 but merely pointing it out as an example on which the A40 might be based. I believe it reflects the evolution you suggest. Simplification and reduction of man hours spent finishing are big contributors to lower cost.

  • Axel May 16, 2012, 7:06 pm

    Hi John

    Thanks for starting up this process, which has resulted in a lot of pleasurable thinking and dreaming on my part. While waiting for the next step, here are some inputs and wishes for the boat specs from a fairly serious possible buyer:

    1. Cockpit length. John, you scared me by mentioning that you had been doodling with a short cockpit, six to eight feet long. For me, seven feet long cocpit benches that you can lie down and stretch out on are an absolute requirement! In practice, this should of course be easily achievable in 40 feet, tiller-steered boat.
    2. Hatches and portlights. Ventilation through four dorades and fore- and main hatch (as has been stated should be all) might be sufficient. But it is also important to consider light. In my view, one of the main attractions of many of the new cruisers (that we are not copying!) is the amount of light let in through hatches and portlights in the cabin top and sides, as well as in the hull itself. I don’t know what non-opening windows would add costwise, but for me, light (or avoiding the gloomy, basement type interiors of many older yachts) could affect the decision of whether to buy or not.
    3. I fully understand the point about no options, and the need to keep costs down. I am also happy with a no-frills specification. But would it be possible to design and maybe build with some possible owner modifications already prepared for? John’s thoughts on large diameter cable conduits installed at the outset is one example of this. Another might be in terms of planning for the retro-fitting of additional portlights in places made room for in the original design (I don’t know the technical issues here, but expect that in principle this should be feasible?). Or having plans and possibly attachment points for a quarterberth for those who require extra sleeping space/an extra sea berth. I am sure there are other wishes that cannot be accommodated in the boat as delivered, but where a number of owners would want to make a modification after buying. In my opinion, making such additions/changes simple to do yourself would increase the boat’s appeal.
    4. I like the the simplicity and solidity (and cost reduction) of not having access to the area aft of the companionway through cockpit hatches. But if sails and inflatable dinghys are to be stored there, it must be easy to get things in and out. Is this feasible, combined with a galley to one side and a head to the other?
    5. Hard dodger? I am uncertain about the advantages of this compared to a strongly constructed sprayhood. I’ve seen very few good-looking hard dodgers/doghouses – and very many ugly ones. A sprayhood, on the other hand, can be lowered whenever conditions warrant it. The trade-off with a sprayhood, on the other hand, is that since it is less strong, it may have to be lowered in the survival storm when protection would be most valuable… Costwise I assume a sprayhood would be cheaper, even if made to very high specifications?
    6. Finally, a word of strong support for your insistence on the boat’s sailing characteristics, particularly its light air capacity and ability to point well. Even though I am looking for a strong boat for long-term, short-handed cruising, I would not consider a boat without these characteristics. (Light wind capability requires sail area, and to help carry this without a deep, high aspect and vulnerable keel construction, it seems to me that it would probably be better to go for a 12 foot beam, rather than 11 feet. But this I guess I should leave for the designer)

    Best, Axel

    • John May 17, 2012, 10:54 am

      Hi Axel,

      All great suggestions and most of them match my evolving thinking too.

      The only place we really diverge is on the hard dodger. I have almost never seen a serious offshore boat with the dodger folded down. In most cases it is just too much messing around and too many compromises need to be made to make it possible.

      Keep in mind that what we are thinking of is a hard dodger that would be just about the same size as a soft one, not some monstrosity, so the aesthetics would be the same, if done right.

      As to cost. I really want to focus on ten year cost of ownership here. Over ten years a soft dodger would require replacement at least twice. This would make the soft option much more expensive than the hard, when mass produced.

      • Axel May 18, 2012, 5:55 am

        Hi John

        Thanks for the reply. I also see advantages of the hard dodger, and know that it is the preferred option of experienced cruisers, so your position is probably correct for the majority (and I am sure you are right about the economics of this as well). As you say, you rarely see serious offshore boats with the sprayhood folded down… (Of course, few would consider my current boat a serious offshore boat, but I have sailed her from Norway to West Africa and back, very happy whenever I could take down the sprayhood, and enjoy 360 degrees vision when seated in the cockpit or the view of the clean lines of the boat when rowing away 🙂 )

        Anyway, thinking about a hard dodger made me think of another issue I would like to have in the boat, namely an easily adjusted mainsheet traveler that covers a reasonably broad angle. I would prefer having it on a bridge deck in the cockpit, but a dodger might interfere – or there might not be that much of a bridge deck on the Adventure 40?. And most cruisers seem to prefer biminis to cockpit travelers. Having the traveler on the hard dodger could have been ideal, but would probably require to strong and expensive a construction? Anyway, something for the designer to ponder, and at least prepare an idea for how those owners that want one could fit a traveler.

        Best, Axel

        • RDE (Richard Elder) May 18, 2012, 7:15 pm

          Hi Axel,

          One of the reasons I specified a hard dodger in my original design concept cockpit was precisely to get the traveler out of the way of the companionway, and that’s because I’m firmly in favor of a low companionway to maximize safe passage between the cockpit and interior in rough going. And from that follows the necessity and desirability of a watertight door. And that in turn increases security from intruders. Synergistic design is always best!

    • RDE (Richard Elder) May 18, 2012, 12:52 pm

      Hi Axel,

      A good looking hard dodger is indeed a rare bird. However there are a few that are works of art. Look at any of those designed by Ed Joy out of Chuck Paine’s office, or the one on the VandeStadt Samoa.

      Fair Winds,

      • John May 18, 2012, 2:18 pm

        Hi Richard,

        I agree, Ed is very talented at getting the proportions just right. By the way, Chuck has retired now and Ed is out on his own, but has access to all of the Paine sailboat lines.

        Ed wrote to me the other day expressing interest in designing the A 40.

        • RDE (Richard Elder) May 18, 2012, 7:06 pm

          Hi John,
          Ed Joy would certainly be on my short list of designers to talk with, and the hull forms out of Chuck Paine’s office in the last few years before he retired are close to my ideal for the A40. A sign of behind the scenes progress I hope!

  • John May 18, 2012, 10:23 am

    Hi Axel,

    Yes, I like to have a main sheet traveler too. My current thinking is that it would go on top of the hard dodger. This reduces clutter in the cockpit and is also a lot safer than a traveler on a bridge deck. The other advantage is that by moving the traveler up, you can reduce its length and still get the same amount of adjustment.

    Incidentally, for a boat with a proper vang, as the A40 will have, the traveler is only used to pull the car up to weather when going to windward in light air to center the boom but still have some twist. I’m guessing that a traveler about 1 meter long will do fine.

    • Andrew Troup Apr 3, 2013, 6:59 pm

      The same result as moving the traveller to windward, in light winds, can be achieved by siderail vang/preventers taken back to a lazy winch (2:1 is fine for a 40 footer I reckon) – which might save a bit of cost, but I suppose there might be buyer resistance, unless the case was made convincingly.
      I would certainly like to see the boom designed with an internal sleeve, with a view to the routine use of such preventers, but I realise there will always be those who will not consider anything other than boom-end prevention.

  • Bill Balme May 22, 2012, 12:36 pm

    Couple of thoughts about the design: Like Axel, I’m unclear as to what ports will be in the cabin for air and light ingress. Getting a crosswind going through the boat on a hot day is a must methinks.

    I have an Outbound 44 and a couple of design features really stick out as being highly desirable which I wonder if they might be considered for inclusion (at I think little expense): firstly, a forward watertight locker – as protection against collision with submerged objects – and acting as a great place to store the Code Zero, fenders, etc.
    Secondly, the Outbound’s cockpit locker that provides a stand-up ‘garage’ to work in is an absolutely fantastic work-space and doubles up as tremendous access for large items into the boat (bicycles) etc.

    There seems to be universal endorsement of the ‘No divergence from the plan’ which has me a little confused. It strikes me that the potential builder of the boat would actually want to allow customers to modify the design to some degree as it would allow additional margin opportunity – with possible consequential reduction in the base boat price. If kept straightforward, (limited options – again like the various layouts of the Outbound perhaps) I think a competent builder would be able to manage the process nicely and contribute to the margin opportunity. Why is this important? Because in most successful marriages, it’s the lady that picks out the boat and I just think that the specification to date is just a little too manly for some ladies tastes… (Mrs Balme was heard to say: “What, get rid of my nice Cherry finish??!”)

    • John May 23, 2012, 8:56 am

      Hi Bill and C. Dan

      Some great suggestions, thank you. I’m slowly working on a MkII spec that will build on Richard’s excellent A-40 spec but incorporate many of the great suggestions we have had since, as well as evolution in my own thinking. Not sure when that will see the light of day—when it’s ready, I guess.

      On options: I’m still convinced that we don’t want to go down that road. Keep in mind that we are trying to build a boat with one overriding goal for the lowest possible price. That goal is crossing oceans well. We are not trying to create a boat to compete with your Outbound 44. If we do that we will just end up with either:

      • A junk boat, because we will have to cut corners to hit the price point,
      • or a half million dollar boat.

      Also, if we are going to have a quality boat. the builder must be free to focus on doing that, without the constant distraction of managing options.

      This also means that Mrs Balme will not get her “nice cherry finish”. But an extra $250,000 in her pocket to go cruising on and the knowledge that the money that would be spent on cherry wood and labour to install it was put into making the boat super strong might make her feel better.

      • Bill Balme May 23, 2012, 9:25 am

        You don’t know my wife! 🙂

        Joking aside, I totally agree with the basic design and price-point principle you are working to here and I really think it’s not only do-able at (close to) that price point, but that in so doing you will attract more people into the cruising community – which has to be a good thing.

        However, perhaps not everyone is looking for the lowest cost option and if one eliminates that sector of the market, you might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, they too could go off and buy an Outbound or whatever at far greater price, but if there’s a truly great blue water platform developed, why not allow it to be developed further – to the GLX model!

        Our Outbound 44 was waaay over our budget – but when one recognizes that we are planning to live aboard full time and not have any house to come back to, the price becomes more manageable – it’s a house as well as a boat. From this perspective, Mrs Balme would argue (and has!) that the extra $25,000 per year (over our planned 10 year circumnavigation) is money well spent to ensure her enjoyment as well as mine. Since there’s no way I’d get to do the circumnavigation without her support and company, we were both able to justify the additional expense (over the other boats we were considering at the time). Now if we can just sell the house!

        While I agree that keeping the boat one flavor is simple, I don’t believe that it represents lowest cost – IF one accepts that the new owner is going to undertake some customization. Retrofitting is much more expensive than building from scratch. It seems to me that a capable builder/project manager would be able to schedule in customizations during the build project – and if limited to just a few simple choices, so much the better. For example: I think I saw that the base boat has Formica surfaces – to change that to a wood veneer would be relatively straightforward during build, but a major hassle post build. It’s good karma to live in an environment that feels comfortable to the occupant – and people have differing preferences.

        To me – and I suspect a number of others – cruising is not just about sailing, it’s about the destination and getting there safely. Carrying one’s home along with you is what it’s all about – that home needs to be comfortable and pleasing to the occupant as well as a lean, mean sailing machine!

        • John May 23, 2012, 10:52 am

          Hi Bill,

          Sounds like you got just the right boat for you two at a budget you could afford. That’s great, but it’s not what the A40 is about. I conceived the A-40 as a way to get more, and hopefully younger people, out there who have less time and money than you do. She will be very comfortable to live in, but much more spartan than your boat.

          But if we get her right, she will also be half the price to buy, and half as much to maintain, in both money and time, with maybe less than 10% of the teething problems that most new boat buyers seem to have.

          If I’m wrong about people wanting an A-40 with a standard specification, then she simply won’t get built, end of story. She will not be modified from her basic concept to get more buyers, or at least not with my participation. Someone else is welcome to take parts of the concept and build a different boat with a different concept.

  • C. Dan May 22, 2012, 2:37 pm

    This is actually a very important point, I think. I believe the original intent of “no options” was that it was assumed that is a way to keep costs low. If that is not necessarily the case, perhaps we should cinsider adding a few options?

    I like the idea of using the “margin” from the options as a way to subsidize the cost of the base boat.

  • Jeff Hook Sep 22, 2012, 1:04 am

    I suppose it’s out of the question to go engineless? I lived aboard a Cal 40 for ten years when I was in my 20s. Half that time the engine didn’t work and I got by just fine – and saved a fortune. I finally had it removed, and used that space for another water tank.

    I’m surprised that a composting toilet is not in the offering. I have one now and it’s a huge cost saver.

    A simple Origo alcohol range has been a wonderful cost saver over my old propane stove and its accompanying systems and components.

    Also, when I switched to a battenless mainsail I found that the sail lasted 50 percent longer – another huge cost saver.

    Instead of an overpriced Rocna, those on a budget should choose a Delta. The Delta is PLENTY good enough.

    If I were having a boat built, I would definitely choose aluminum and enjoy the massive cost-saving from not having to replace portlights and hatches after just one or two crossings. Folks on a frugal budget can’t afford to deal with leaks.

    Your idea of a v-shaped long-keel hull with a beefed-up spade rudder is perfect, tho no such design exists. And having a custom design made-up, as opposed to using a stock design, would defeat the whole purpose of the exercise, wouldn’t it? How could an average American afford to work with a naval architect at $300 an hour?

    The only stock design that I am aware of that even comes close to your design criteria would be a Koopmans model 240. To come within budget it would have to be built without an engine, unpainted, and finished-off on the inside by the owner. Sounds good to me.

    • John Kettlewell Sep 22, 2012, 9:44 am

      Jeff, I agree with your general sentiments about keeping it even simpler, but engineless would eliminate 95% of the potential buyers. Most people wouldn’t put up with it, and many popular cruising areas are almost off limits without an engine (much of the Atlantic Coast ICW, canals, etc.). Theoretically, it is against the rules to sail under an opening bridge, of which we have many here on the East Coast. I do like my composting head, and it is a great idea. I too like aluminum, but again it would eliminate a huge number of potential customers. I think the Origo might be cheaper on initial install, but is it possible to find alcohol at reasonable prices in places voyagers go? Propane is available everywhere and is usually cheap. How is the Origo for baking, which I consider essential on a voyaging boat? Battenless mains are no doubt much cheaper, but why do they last longer? I would think the opposite, due mainly to increased flogging. Often the cheapest solution in the long run is to stick with what is the most mass market choice, even if it is not an ideal choice. For example, I would argue against anything but a classic cruising dacron sail wardrobe that can be repaired almost anywhere in the world, or replaced, even by the crew onboard with no special equipment. Ease of repair or replacement of everything saves huge amounts in the long run. Same for standard wet-cell golf cart batteries. One reason against aluminum is the special paints and applications needed—not always available.

      • John Sep 22, 2012, 10:41 am

        Hi John K,

        Some really good point, thank you. I totally agree with you that the Adventure 40 must be equipped with main-stream, readily available gear.

    • John Sep 22, 2012, 10:38 am

      Hi Jeff,

      I always admire sailors like you who keep things really simple and hone their seamanship by having no engine.

      Having said that, I would have to agree with John K that a boat equipped like yours is simply not going to sell many hulls and the whole point of the Adventure 40 is that it is going to be a mass production boat designed to get more people out offshore voyaging.

  • Alain Rémi Sep 30, 2012, 9:08 am

    Your 6′ draft will limit somewhat your “adventures” ! French sailors have “re-discovered” since the early ’70, centerboards & lifting keels, thanks to a Belgium sailor who got it from a do-it-yourself American sailor from the West Coast ! Also, smaller boats** travel a lot more with far less money, got a rich wife ? How many people on a 40′ ? I’ve just purchased a 1987 Ericson 34′ & I consider it a excellent size for 2 snoring people, since I have 2 enclosed bedrooms, head at the foot of the companionway… Had I been able to buy a new sailboat, I would have chosen a lifting keel or a centerboard boat with 4′ draft max. Keep on dreaming ! **On the other hand, Philippe Poupon, one of the best offshore racer/sailor, got himself a 20 meter marvel for his lovely wife, children, probably nanny, cameraman etc:

    • Andrew Troup Apr 3, 2013, 6:04 pm


      I’m interested in the origins of the interest in lifting keels in the French sailing milieu …
      Who were the Belgian sailor and the do-it-yourself American sailor you refer to?

  • chris Jan 8, 2013, 1:51 pm

    Having looked over the specifications again I’d like to see a cockpit locker / access hatch added. I understand there is a cost associated with this but carrying things like bikes outboards and anchors through the companionway all the time gets old fast. Unless the companionway will be designed in such a way as to allow easy access to big bulky hard items and will be easily repaired from the dings and scratches these items will create.

    Also access to the anchor locker from the deck or a separate bow locker to store dock lines fenders spinnaker etc.

    Looking forward to seeing some drawings.

    • John Jan 8, 2013, 1:59 pm

      Hi Chris,

      Funny you should mention that. I’m just working on the detailed specifications and had come to the same conclusion about a cockpit hatch.

      Detailed specifications are coming soon. Drawings are a bigger problem since we need…yes, you guessed it, money for that. But I have some ideas…

  • Roger Jan 9, 2013, 12:29 am

    On the question of deck openings, there should be a forward hatch (as you describe), plus a small mid-deck hatch (say 12-14″ square), as well as a number of opening ports. Yes, these are costly items, but greatly improve ventilation options and are usually much stronger than typical expanses of acrylic, with attendant bonding problems. I know that some suggest that a cabin top hatch is a weak point, but not if kept a reasonable size and specified adequately.

  • Andrew Troup Apr 3, 2013, 6:40 pm

    Things I really like include:

    NO options (the genius of the original Model T business model): in trying to accomodate everyone, you please no-one, particularly the cost-conscious.
    Balsa core above WL (prodigiously strong core material for its weight, and I think unfairly maligned, due mainly to bad practices)
    Integral (moulded) rigging attachment points (not strictly chainplates)
    Halyards at the mast – Yay!
    No cockpit lockers (if there are lockers, they should be within the cockpit shell, to my mind, for ANY sailing boat: on NO account should they communicate with the interior. Owners who disagree have only to wield a sabre saw)
    Manual windlass, no freezer: these are no-nonsense provisions, and very easy to “upgrade” later to reflect individual preferences (not the verb I would necessarily choose… unless fitting say a hydraulic windlass!)Tiller: absolutely (I would also go for a rugged transom hung rudder, but failing that a strong spade)
    Raised bases for hardware: amortised over multiple decks, the cost is minimal, and I think you need a few such highly visible “attention to details”areas to provide a ‘unique selling proposition’ and make the business model work. Perhaps tapped mounting plates could be recessed into corresponding cavities underneath, leaving the underdeck neatly flush, and minimising the need for a second person inside with a spanner during fitout.
    Small motor
    In this last instance, perhaps the enclosure could be designed to facilitate really effective soundproofing at a later date by the owner. This would saving on the cost of providing this to people who may not care, but providing “good bones” for those who do – possibly this philosophy could also be applied in other areas? For instance, the deck moulding could include locations where the laminate reverted to solid around the periphery of extra hatches, which could subsequently be fitted by the owner if required, grounds could be provided for a future work bench, “Ricardo” nav seat could possibly be a Scandinavian-style bentwood minimalist armature, which the owner could (if they wished) flesh out with padding, etc…)

    Things I don’t like: remarkably few
    I’m an “unpainted alu hull and deck” person by preference, but I’m not in the target market, so that’s neither here nor there: the proposed material choice is eminently suitable for the intended purpose, I reckon, and I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at it.
    Similarly I’d rather walk through a rose bush at night than sail anywhere with 1/4″ HT anchor chain, but no way would that stop me buying a boat; I’d find some other use for it, or swap it for proper chain, for sure…

    Things I would suggest:
    Maybe a simpler, more rugged, swivel-free furler, eg Alado?

    • Marc Dacey Apr 3, 2013, 9:12 pm

      I agree close to completely with the above sentiments, particularly the near-heretical “no cockpit lockers” and “tiller only with maybe a transom rudder”. It’s a hard sell today, but a kick-up rudder on the stern is a safety feature, and means if you break it, you aren’t also dealing with water gushing in a damaged rudder post/gland. It also allows a long tiller, which is easily driven by small crew or windvane. But everyone over 25 feet seems to want to stand dead aft with a big-boy wheel these days, even though a well-balanced 40 is quite capable of being steered by a tiller with a modern, sleek rudder.

      I also agree (owning an old C&C I’ve had to extensively recore) that balsa has a bad rap because it’s been done in a slip-shod fashion; isolated solid epoxy pads should be put at EVERY through-bolted piece of deck gear. I also like the raised platforms for winches, cleats and so on. Easier on the toes!

      I guess I don’t like so much tapped and glassed-in backing plates…but then I am happy to have partial or limited liners in the cabin because I like to check for water ingress or corrosion. Furring strips and snap tabs on light fabric frames can cover the wire runs, I suppose!

      • Andrew Troup Apr 3, 2013, 10:04 pm

        In turn, I concur absolutely with Marc, even on the tapped plates: I would never dream of glassing them in (dangerous with stainless to encapsulate and eliminate oxygen replenishment)
        But they can be mastic-ed in to suitably proportioned recesses, so they hold themselves in place while the fasteners are run into the holes.
        Good point on liners: plus I would try to simplify the wiring loom to the max, and have designated and generous ducts, well accessible, for wiring and plumbing. I suggest a daytank for water (and perhaps provision for an owner to add one for diesel later?) and NO pressure water, which I consider an abomination for serious cruising.

        Everything which reasonably can be manual should be, mainly to keep the wiring simple and the gear reliable.
        Edson gallon-a-stroke bilge pump would be nice, but that’s definitely something the owner could add… I think there could be something to be said for having plinths for electric bilge pumps but not populate more than one of them … I’d be chucking them off if I bought it. (But I’m a fan for direct engine-driven trash pump)

        And it would be nice to avoid a diesel which required electrical power to run (ie a computer managed injection system) – OK if it’s electric start, particularly if it’s an engine for which a spring starter motor is readily available.

        I think it would be good to document all the ‘designed for’ contingency additions like this in the manual, but strictly on the understanding that they were the responsibility of the owner to specify, supply and fit … and to take it on the chin if they were to misbehave.

    • John Apr 4, 2013, 8:14 am

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for all the good suggestions, many of which we have incorporated in later posts that build on this one. For example, the whole chain and windlass issue has been dealt with in the deck and rig post, as was the mounting plate issues.

      The cockpit locker issue is a hard one. Having no lockers at all means that everything must be dragged up and down the companionway, not great. I’m cogitating on this at the moment, as I work on the interior layout post.

      Good idea on having the deck reinforced to take additional hatches for those that want them. I think I will add that.

      • Andrew Troup Apr 4, 2013, 8:31 am

        Thanks John

        I didn’t catch the final word on tapped plates: were they to be installed in moulded recesses?

        I’m not against cockpit lockers, as long as they are built within the cockpit – (so the seats are effectively lids and fronts, added into a bathtub cockpit)

        I personally think that making them communicate with the interior is so potentially perilous as to be bordering on irresponsible (especially when stormsails and drag devices are often stowed in such lockers, so the lid has to be opened when the cockpit is likely to be suddenly filled
        ….. but if people want that feature badly enough, they can provide the communication easily , whereas the reverse is generally very difficult to do.

  • Robin Apr 9, 2013, 8:37 am

    Have a look at this, KIRIBATI 36 from Roberto Barros Yacht Design, seems like a similar thought process. A bit brutal to look at but I would go voyaging in it. As it is I am rebuilding a 30ft wooden sloop from 1962 to go off on my travels. It might be mad, but by ditching the engine I have so much more space down below. Solar and wind gen will provide power for LED nav lights and small GPS (no plotter) All other systems are human powered. Opps cooking by gas.
    It has been so much fun cleaning the bilges knowing that they will have no oil in them ever again.

    • John Apr 10, 2013, 8:43 am

      Hi Robin,

      Yes, the Kiribati 36 is a very interesting design, although very different from the Adventure 40.

      And if you have the considerable skills required and the right temperament, engineless cruising can certainly be a good option, look at Lin and Larry Pardey.

  • tom redston Nov 6, 2016, 11:26 pm

    Hi John (and forum)
    Can please we have some details about bilge pumps?
    -anti siphons
    Some more general observations about cockpit drainage and how water will be managed below decks would also be valuable.
    Forgive me if I missed a post already on this( I have looked)

    • John Nov 7, 2016, 8:28 am

      Hi Tom,

      We really won’t be able to get into all of that detail until the full as-built spec is done, which will probably come during the prototype phase. The reason being that the builder would need to be included in decisions at that level of detail.

      That said, Erik and I have talked quite a bit about managing any water that gets below in this quite shallow bilge boat and I will be writing about that as soon as Erik gives me some more design details.

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