Adventure 40 (Model T) RIP?

JHH5_104618-EditI think I’m going to take a break from responding to comments on the Adventure 40 (Model T) subject. Frankly, I’m finding that the ratio of negative to positive comments is starting to bother me.

It’s not that I have a problem with being disagreed with or robust debate. But I would be a lot happier if those who denigrate my idea and Richard’s boat would come up with a better, or even alternative, realistic idea to address the basic problem of a good offshore boat for those new to ocean cruising.

Or maybe I’m just wrong about the whole thing, and there really is no need for a good, safe, reasonably priced, offshore boat that addresses the refit problem I talked about in the first post. And being that wrong is never a lot of fun, particularly in a large public forum. Or maybe I just got up on the wrong side of the bunk this morning.

Either way, I’m no longer having fun with this idea, and since we run this site for fun, and not profit, it’s time to move on to something else, at least for the moment.

Thanks very much to those of you who added to the idea and particularly to Richard who came up with a great boat.

I will close with my comment from yesterday morning, that many of you may not have seen:

I just don’t agree that the boat being discussed here is just another me-too boat. This is a fast, seaworthy, and ready to go around the world, offshore boat, brand new for less than US$200,000 (even after the owner adds electronics, dock lines, fenders, etc).

I have looked high and low in the new boat market and can find nothing like it under US$500,000. And I can also tell you, based on the experience of five major refits, that it would be nigh on impossible to buy an older boat and refit her to this level for the price. And even if you have the experience and skills to do a refit like that properly, it will take years of your time when you could be out sailing on the Adventure 40 (Model-T).

Having said that, if any of you know of practical changes to the specifications that could make it a better boat, we are all ears. Or if you know about another boat that will do what this one will at the price, we would love to hear about it.

No, the boat will not cure the world’s ills, or bring back 1970. And it won’t enable some poor victim of years of over-consumption, and financial mismanagement by politicians and business, to escape the realities of their debt ridden life.

But the Adventure 40 will, I believe, enable many more people to go offshore sailing in safety and comfort.

If we want to get anywhere at all with this, we need to remember what the late Dodge Morgan used to say, “The world is divided into two groups: Yea-sayers and Nae-sayers.” Which do we want to be?

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves, but please keep it civil and sensible.

Update 16th Feb

OK, I’m over my little hissy-fit. The Adventure 40 (Model-T) will live on with more posts coming.

A huge thank you to all of you for the great ideas and positive comments added to this post.

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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.

56 comments… add one
  • rand Feb 14, 2012, 1:00 pm

    bummer – but i don’t blame you … your blog is one 3 i pay close attention to in boating….panbo, setsail , you –

    i need you to have fun so I can keep reading!!!!

  • Colin Farrar Feb 14, 2012, 2:05 pm

    Thanks for being a “Yaysayer,” John. I like your concept. Perhaps if we think on it for a while we can find a list of cost saving ideas that reinvigorate the discussion.

  • Viv Feb 14, 2012, 2:23 pm

    John et al:

    It has been an interesting discussion and Richard’s design was starting to become a real possibility. Having sailed in the 31′ to 101′ and up to much greater on commercial vessels, I do settle on 40-ish as the right size for serious offshore going-places-sailing with a crew of two. Because the sea is an unforgiving place at times no matter the size of vessel I think that lost in this discussion towards the end, was the purpose, or so it seems to me.

    40′ makes all kinds of sense but primarily for that magic combination of safety, comfort and speed at sea. Being at sea is great but getting somewhere ahead of weather systems and in good time is better.

    If the 40′ is not to be, then it was an interesting exercise and I learned a few things.

    So, Richard about that Swan 43′! without the teak deck, is it up for sale?


  • Jerry Levy Feb 14, 2012, 4:55 pm

    I think the problem is in the idea that there can be a _single_ Model T which most sailors would agree with. Maybe 2 (or 3) Model Ts? For instance, 1 design which has a spade rudder and 1 which has a rudder protected by a skeg?

    • John Feb 16, 2012, 10:34 am

      Hi Jerry,

      I suggest that you re-read both posts for an explanation of why there will be no options.

      • Jerry Levy Feb 16, 2012, 3:05 pm

        I read the posts and understood the motivation behind no options. My point is that this, almost inevitably, means that those who disagree with a major (and unchangeable) aspect of the design will not be interested. btw, what makes you think more sailors would want a boat with a spade rudder than one with a skeg? There is even division in your own site where 1 of you has a spade rudder and the other has a rudder protected by a skeg – and even says that a protected rudder and prop is essential for the kind of cruising he wants to do.

        • John Feb 16, 2012, 6:06 pm

          Hi Jerry,

          A very good point. In fact I personally prefer a skeg rudder, over a balanced spade, although the later has some advantages too, most notably it is easier to use a vane gear with.

          But the Adventure 40 is not my, or anybody else’s, perfect or ideal boat. Instead she is a boat that will deliver unparalleled value for money.

          But to make that work without compromising the very high build quality that we are aiming for, something must go. And that something is flexibility and options.

          A spade rudder is cheaper and easier to build than a skeg hung rudder and we can get around any reliability worries by making it really strong.

  • Stan Carlyle Feb 14, 2012, 9:34 pm

    I have been absolutely fascinated by the discussions in the previous thread. I appreciate the expert and professional opinions of some of the contributors. I could not afford to buy their opinions yet they freely gave them having put considerable time and thought into their contributions. Thank you very much.
    It sounded like John was looking for consensus on the design of the Adventure 40. Unfortunately we sailors or sailor wannabes can’t agree on the type of anchor that is the best, never mind the type of rig or how long the Adventure should be. Some people unfortunately can only see their way as the right way and compromise is not in their vocabulary. Every boat is a compromise in so many ways.
    The Adventure 40 sounded like a great boat. Would it appeal to me, I am not sure. I have just hit 60 and when I was recently looking for a boat I didn’t want one where I felt like I was camping, I wanted some more of the comforts and I do appreciate the fit and finish and some of the bells and whistles of my boat. If it would have been available when I bought I certainly would have had to consider it.
    The big question is if the Adventure 40 can be sold for $175,000.00? Is there a big enough market for it for someone to make the investment to put it into production and make a profit at that price?
    I have had fun following the thread; it has also provoked some thought. BRAVO!

  • Simon Feb 15, 2012, 9:13 am

    I’m rather new to sailing and with nearly no experience, I learn a great deal with every article and comment on this page. Thanks a lot, John and Phylli!
    One of the things I had to learn is that there is no compromise that fits everyone.
    The discussion about the Model T gave me many new ideas and showed me what i should look for in a boat, and what decisions I have to make prior to start looking for a boat.
    So if anyone ever starts building the Adventure 40, I’d appreciate a word.

  • Jean-François Eeman Feb 15, 2012, 1:06 pm

    Dear John,

    Such a shame you have to feel this way !
    A shame because the subject is so interesting and there a lot of people who really try to feed the subject with real added value and who have invest a lot of time and energy in the subject.

    At the same time, I understand your feeling (that’s why you have not seen me going giving some input since a while). I would have lost patience quite a while ago !

    The basic rule of a blog and discussion like this, is to feed the subject in a constructive way (where critics are welcome). Changing the subject of trying to get things to your end or opinion is not way to build a discussion…
    To be more clear : we all should have been looking to define and build a Model T as specified… Not trying to say : “yes but you can do the same thing with an Optimist !”

    Anyhow I believe there are quite a bunch of people who have enjoyed the subject and felt enriched by it. I do !

    We say : “Don’t settle for mediocre dreams they are the hardest to realize !” You are of those kind of people. Keep it that way.

    • John Feb 16, 2012, 10:32 am

      Hi Jean-François,

      Thanks very much for your kind comment!

      I think that the negativity in the comments was, at least partly, my responsibility. I will be handling things differently in the future, based in no small part on your thoughts above.

      As an aside, this has given me a new appreciation of how you boat builders must feel when your design decisions, based on years of sailing and thousands of hours of design work, are denigrated by those who think they know better based on less than five minutes thought. I don’t know how you put up with it, but I’m very glad that you do.

  • Matt Marsh Feb 15, 2012, 4:33 pm

    Time to move on? It’s your site, John, so it’s your call. (I’d say you just got out on the wrong side of the bunk, but I’ve never seen an offshore boat where you CAN get out on both sides of the bunk….)

    That said, I do think our hypothetical 8-tonne, 12 metre cruiser could be quite a good boat. I ran some numbers and a preliminary GA on the weekend, and she comes out looking like a well-balanced, comfortable and reasonably conservative boat with a good turn of speed on passages. I do want to flesh it out a bit more before offering numbers…. it might take a while, but I do think the concept is sound.

    • John Feb 16, 2012, 10:40 am

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks again for all your good input. I too am really looking forward to seeing your numbers.

      And, I think you are right: wrong side of the bunk. Might be time for a post on how I managed that!

      • Matt Marsh Feb 20, 2012, 1:53 pm

        OK, ok, here’s a first rough take on something that would approximately fit our specs.

        Main dimensions:
        LOA 12 m.
        LWL 11 m (relatively short overhangs, but not excessively so).
        BOA 3.5 m.
        BWL 2.75 m (so a fair bit of flare, and L/B = 4.0 for a relatively slender waterplane).
        Draught 2.0 m at full load.

        Dry weight approx. 7.8 t.
        Typical operating displacement 8.2 t.
        Fully loaded displacement 8.7 t.
        This gives LDR = 5.5 (DLR = 160) at 8.2 t, which is a bit on the light/fast side for a cruiser but certainly not in raceboat territory.

        30 mm solid fibreglass laminate from boottop down. Balsa cored laminate for hull sides, deck and bulkheads.
        (Tentative) four pairs of full-length stringers, with transverse grid in the bilge area.
        Five watertight bulkheads: forepeak, midship (would need WT door), engine and rudder spaces, lazarette.

        Well balanced, moderate V hull with fin keel.
        Entry half-angle 16 deg (relatively fine).
        Cp ar0und 0.58 for canoe body (0.66 aft, 0.50 fwd) for optimal efficiency at 7 to 8 knots.
        Canoe body draught around 0.73 m at full load (on the deep side for this size- but we don’t want flat bilges that would pound.)

        Sloop or cutter rig, aluminum mast, ~39 m2 mainsail and ~39 m2 foretriangle.
        SDR (=SA/D^2/3) approx. 19.7, a bit on the high side for the class. (High SDR means better speed in moderate winds, and earlier reefing in very heavy winds.)
        SA/WS approx. 2.2, not quite racer territory but high for a cruiser. (High SA/WS means better light-air performance.)
        Conventional double spreader standing rig with standing backstay.
        Required bridge clearance not to exceed 17 m (56 ft).

        ~30 hp diesel with saildrive, mounted under cockpit.
        Watertight bulkheads surrounding engine bay.
        Drive belts, filters, etc. accessible from cabin without opening cockpit sole.

        Spade rudder with tiller, mean chord 0.74 m, span 1.5 m.
        Cape Horn wind vane (or similar) integrated, autopilot tied to vane servo.
        Watertight bulkheads surrounding rudder shaft.

        Keel & stability:
        Ballast ratio ~0.45, typical of the class.
        Cast iron fin keel (2300 kg) with bulbous tip (1400 kg). Keel is trapezoidal, mean chord 2.2 m, span 1.3 m.
        Angle of vanishing stability for the trunk cabin version is around 140 to 150 degrees. Could use a slightly shallower keel if we sacrifice AVS (I wouldn’t recommend it).
        All hatches, ports, companionway to seal watertight when closed.
        STIX likely in the 40-50 range which puts her squarely in Cat A (Offshore).

        Layout (there’s plenty of flexibility here):
        Forepeak 1.5 m from stem to collision bulkhead.
        Queen-size berth forward, storage beneath.
        Saloon with two couches / sea berths running from bow berth to mast bulkhead.
        Head of sea berths roughly 1 m from boat’s centre of gravity (approx. centre of motion)- bodes well for passage comfort.
        Drop-leaf table, sturdy lee boards/cloths. Ample storage below and behind couches.
        Low pilothouse / raised saloon area aft of mast bulkhead in galley/nav area. Cabin sole height set for horizontal views out the trunk cabin windows (~30cm up from sole in forward saloon area).
        U-shaped galley aft of mast bulkhead on port side. Approx. 2.7 m2 of counter space (including stove and sink tops).
        Large nav station to starboard, aft of mast bulkhead. Nearly 360 degree exterior view from navigator’s chair.
        Standing-room head below nav desk. Wet locker beside companionway, behind nav desk.
        Aft cockpit, 2.3 m long including aft bench / steering gear space. (Long enough to lie down in.)
        80 cm long lazarette compartment.

        Two 200 litre fuel tanks under galley/nav area.
        200 litres of water under forward saloon sole.
        Another 200 litres of water under forward berth.

        Overall, we end up with something that isn’t too unusual and isn’t too fancy, numbers-wise. It’s right in the sweet spot of established, well-tested ocean going boats. Nothing experimental, nothing unfamiliar, just clean, balanced design and solid construction.

        (I may post a few sketches, if there’s demand for them….)

        • Jean-François Eeman Feb 20, 2012, 7:14 pm

          Hey Matt,

          Looks very good to me…

          If you do allow my very simple suggestions :
          – make it 11m99 LOA , 10m99 LWL, 3m49 : it makes so often a difference for mooring fees, insurances… (at least in Europe)
          – I understand your point of using a saildrive… so much good reasons. One thing : when things go wrong it is not a simple mecanic at the end of the world who can repair it…
          – Isn’t it possible to center more your different tanks or do I understand/read you wrong?

          Please don’t see it as an easy critics but as an attempt to contribute …

          And I would love to see you sketches, if you do allow me 🙂


        • RDE (Richard Elder) Feb 21, 2012, 12:05 am

          Hi Matt:
          Thanks for attaching some preliminary numbers to the concept and help bring it further along. It helps point up a few decision points.

          Keel design: Iron keels are very common in high volume designs, especially European ones. Obviously a bit of performance efficiency is sacrificed for lower cost, but it is my impression that the initial cost for tooling is substantial. Do you have a cost estimate for the unit crossover cost factor vs lead?

          Raised salon/pilothouse:
          This allows tankage to be centralized as we would prefer, and produces a nice ambiance, at least in that area of the boat. If combined with a flush deck forward of the mast it allows carrying a RIB upside down on the fore deck, and most people seem to feel that they have to have a RIB as a shore boat. Is this a seaman like solution on a 40′ boat? And, have you ever seen a 40′ boat with 18,000 # displacement and enough freeboard to have headroom under a flush deck that wasn’t b*** ugly? The closest thing i can think of is the old Corbin 39. That is a 23,000# boat with accompanying greater immersion, and it still is an awkward looking thing with a cram-itus interior. Even Perry’s Lafitte 44 is on the slab sided side of being a good looking boat. In reality it takes at least 47′, and/or very heavy displacement to make the flush deck boat something you can admire when you are coming back home to her.

          Of course the modern deck salon that every big butt boat has to have today is a suicidal skating rink once you wet down the varnished cabin sole and try to traverse it’s 14-16′ width without the benefit of handholds—.

          Now if you add a deck salon to a trunk cabin, and are a very clever designer you may be able to pull it off. BUT add a dodger of any kind for protection of the person on watch, and you have created a three layer cake that again only can start to be esthetically pleasing on a much, much larger boat.

          For examples of good looking boats with hard dodgers, look no further than the VanDeStadt Samoa or any of the boats drawn by Ed Joy. The challenge is to make Hawke’s hard dodger work on a 40′ boat. I’d start by making it low enough to see over when standing in the cockpit. ——–.

          Beam: 11′ vs 12′? (sorry for thinking in such an archaic system of measurement)

          Solid glass vs infused balsa underwater?: Given that the outer hull skin is quite thick and vinylester resin is used there is no structural or maintenance reason not to use balsa below the waterline. HOWEVER there is one very good reason not to do so! Every sailor who has had a C & C or J boat from the 1980’s or had a friend who had heard about somebody who had one KNOWS that balsa in hulls is a recipe for disaster. I’d gladly spend a few hundred dollars more in manufacturing costs to avoid having to try to change a customer’s belief system or have him walk away!

        • Matt Marsh Feb 21, 2012, 12:36 am

          Re. saildrives: They’re not my favourite, but they’re easy (i.e. inexpensive) to install and don’t take up much room. The supposed maintenance advantages of straight-shaft are only valid when there’s enough room to get to the shaft seal without dismantling furniture. On a 40-footer, that means either the engine bay will intrude into the cabin, or the shaft angle will be far too steep.

          Re. iron vs. lead keel: No, I don’t know how many boats you have to build before the tooling pays off. Changing your choice of metals is trivial up to the time where you actually make the tooling.

          Re. flush deck vs. trunk cabin / deck saloon: This is one of the trickiest bits of aesthetics on any mid-size sailboat. There is no right answer.

          Re. underwater laminate: My preference for solid laminate has nothing to do with normal load cases (which are handled just fine by ultra-light cored construction); it’s about what happens when you ram a log or a rock at eight knots.

  • Viv and Mireille Feb 15, 2012, 5:28 pm


    Look forward to seeing the figures!

    There’s also the idea of a “Challenge” type of sponsorship with the sole aim of encouraging boat building and sailing in this economic downturn. There has to be opportunities that could be tapped into for sponsorship and support for a not-for-profit organization that would encourage apprenticeships and and job creation in the area of yacht building.
    We have looked at the project as a boat for new entries into ocean sailing, so take the logic one step further and create an offshore school with a boatbuilding program behind it and get sponsorship to offset some costs with sales of the vessels doing the rest.

    If the Adventure 40 becomes a boat then an ocean race or two would get it known.

    • John Feb 16, 2012, 10:44 am

      Hi Viv,

      I think that is an absolutely brilliant idea and quite possibly the game changer that will take the Adventure 40 from a talking point to a boat. Thank you so much.

  • Eric Schlesinger Feb 15, 2012, 6:34 pm

    Dear John,
    I hope you are still not discouraged. I very much enjoyed the discussion and even learned a thing or three. I would like to add one more critera; beauty. Now there is a can of worms.
    Of course, I have yet to find a boat owner who thinks their wicked step sister is not a cinderalla. Guess we’ll keep varnishing our 32’Gillmer double ended gaff rig ketch! At least until the A40 is available.
    cheers, Eric and Sue

    • Viv and Mireille Feb 16, 2012, 8:56 am


      You are right on the money! Beauty in a boat is important. How many times have you stopped in a Marina to admire a boat that looks good, has a nice shear, good lines and is downright pretty. Good graceful lines are part of a good design!

    • John Feb 16, 2012, 10:50 am

      Hi Eric,

      You are so right! I can talk for hours about all the rational practical reasons that I chose “Morgan’s Cloud”.

      But the real truth is that I was instantly besotted by her beauty on that cold November day 20 years ago when her lines, perfectly drawn by Jim McCurdy, loomed out of the Maine fog.

      We need to make sure that the Adventure 40 inspires the same love.

  • RDE (Richard Elder) Feb 15, 2012, 6:43 pm

    Viv & Mireille:

    That’s a fabulous idea! How about a sponsored “Challenge” modeled on the British Steel? around the world the wrong way challenge. Primary sponsor contracts to build 10 boats for a “raid” across the Atlantic, starting from Europe or the US depending upon where they are built. Each boat captained by a professional skipper, maybe supplied by an organization like Hank Schimdt’s OPO or a European sailing school. Three additional paying crew per boat— perhaps with the requirement that they have never done a trans-ocean passage. Buy-in 15-20k— enough to pay the skipper/coach plus wear and tear & insurance. Or have the contestants selected by some sort of challenge, with no entry cost for winners. Three crew of first boat home draw straws, and the lucky winner gets the boat free! Remaining crew get their entry fee back if they want to buy one of the “raid” boats or future production ones. Sponsor sells the remaining boats at $175-200k break even: should be a slam dunk given the PR that would be generated. On board video, daily news reports, story line for TV special, any good PR organization should be able to leverage it 10 ways to Sunday. A lot more interesting than a bunch of people engaging in mud slinging contests on fake tropical islands! At least to me!

    If I were Red Bull, for instance I’d jump on this idea compared to the other promotions they are involved with. The whole thing would cost less than running their F1 car for 10 laps of practice!

  • RDE (Richard Elder) Feb 15, 2012, 6:55 pm

    For non-North Americans I was referring to the “Survivor” TV “reality” series that rode a totally contrived and boring concept for years with hundreds of millions of viewers—.

  • RDE (Richard Elder) Feb 15, 2012, 7:08 pm

    The idea of the Challenge is not to repeat again until no more crew members step forward, money in hand like the British Steel Challenge, ( but rather to launch the Adventure 40 as a viable product, put 100+ boats out the door and open new horizons for their owners.

  • John Feb 15, 2012, 7:50 pm

    John mumbling to himself “will not comment…will not comment…will not comment…aaaaaaaaaah, I can’t stand it.”

    Thanks for all the kind comments and some really great ideas. I’m heading out to dinner in five minutes, but will be back up in the morning.

    • RDE (Richard Elder) Feb 15, 2012, 10:57 pm

      If this is an adventure “raid” the route doesn’t necessarily have to be Azores-Bermuda-US or Caribbean: It might even go North. John, you’ve been there so often you probably already have the exact coordinates of the turning marks you’d choose on a week to week basis—–.

  • Viv and Mireille Feb 16, 2012, 6:54 am

    Welcome back to the discussion John, your expertise and drive are needed. Possible new ideas are surfacing. Many a great enterprise was build from a sketch on napkin, or in this case, a well posed question from John that kicked off this discussion.

    RDE; glad you like the idea of a “Challenge” and your expansion on it is already taking shape.
    I have always wanted to run a race from Newfoundland to europe and vice versa, tough trip both ways but very historic as it has been done since the Elizabethan era. But the route is not important at the moment, the concept is. So the idea is to build a “Class” boat that offers new sailors the opportunity to complete a serious ocean passage and to have the cost of that passage credited against the purchase of an Adventure 40′. the remaining revenue from new sailors who want to sail for adventure and build sea miles and from sponsorship. I would also like to pursue the disadvantaged inner city youth angle to get them in touch with something meaningful and help them with skill building. All might seem pie in the sky but there are plenty of successful models out there.

    RDE: you also commented on “Red Bull” probably one of the most successful ad campaigns in recent years. They combined high adrenaline sports with a high energy drink! good thinking on their part. I would also go after GOPRO who are also in the same vein and maybe a car manufacturer that needs to develop a tough product image as Volvo did, maybe Hyundai? don’t laugh but they are still working hard to be recognized as a viable brand.

    Look forward to seeing this develop.


  • Nick Kats Feb 16, 2012, 8:09 am

    Hi John
    I’m sorry my comment soured you on this thread. I dont want to see that happen, ever.
    You & a lot of others are having fun with it – keep it up!

    • John Feb 16, 2012, 11:06 am

      Hi Nick, please don’t worry about it. More my sensitivity about “my baby” than any fault on your part. I really enjoy having you as a participant on the site and would be sad if you felt compelled to filter your thoughts. You and I come at offshore voyaging in two very different ways, but that is exactly what makes your thoughts so valuable, in that they demonstrate that there is more than one way to cross the ocean in a seamanlike way.

      (For those that don’t know, Nick sails a gaff rigged wooden boat with very few “modern conveniences” while living off salt pork and rum. All kidding aside, he has also pulled off some very challenging voyages with little fuss and lots of competence.)

  • John Feb 16, 2012, 10:55 am

    Hi Viv and Richard,

    As I said above, I think that this idea is the game changer—down right brilliant. As a guy that has not even owned a TV for over 20 years, I am supremely ignorant of what will work in this arena and will be leaning heavily on you and others, who have a better understanding of what grabs the public’s attention these days.

  • Kettlewell Feb 16, 2012, 11:44 am

    John: Boat design is too much of an art to work by committee. Sure, bounce ideas off of the madding crowd, but in the end you have to go with your own vision or you will end up with a mish-mash of disconnected ideas. Think of all the great boats you like—has even one of them been designed by more than a handful of professional designers? I suspect most are almost entirely the work of a single person. I say go with your vision when you think you’ve got it right.

    • John Feb 16, 2012, 1:28 pm

      Hi John,

      A lot of wisdom in your comment, thank you. We will be following your advice.

    • RDE (Richard Elder) Feb 16, 2012, 7:09 pm

      You are absolutely right! That is one of the interesting and unique features of yacht design— it is that rare complex three dimensional industrial object that still can represent one person’s vision left in the modern world.

      re the Adventure 40, people should not think that a wish list of attributes on a napkin constitutes a “design.!” I wouldn’t even call it a preliminary design until there is a set of hull and deck lines modeled that have base line acceptable hydrodynamics, and a 3-D model in which you can start to insert equipment and interior components to see if they fit.

  • arjan Feb 16, 2012, 11:51 am

    The overall specs read like the Nordic 40 so I sent the posts to the builders. Curious what his thoughts are (if any)…..

    • John Feb 16, 2012, 1:29 pm

      Hi Arjan,

      I agree that the Nordic 40 is very close. But I was under the impression that the boat was no longer built. Do you have a link?

  • Viv Feb 16, 2012, 1:58 pm

    The Nordic 40′ is a fine looking boat although it apparently had problems with the main bulkhead deforming or separating due to flexing of the mast step. I’m not sure what the outcome of the fault was but not insurmountable I’m sure as they still are on the market between $100K and $170K

    It has nice lines but we can do better with modern construction and cleaner lines for the coachroof. I think that the Adventure 40′ should be functional (with great lines of course), built for ocean passage, making as it’s primary purpose. Therefore a permanent dodger etc…

    Look forward to some napkin drawings!


  • RDE (Richard Elder) Feb 16, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Since the Nordic/Norstar 40 is from my area I guess I should comment, even though I’m about getting commented out!

    If I hadn’t spent some time selling boats, I’d be shocked why anyone would think there was any similarity between the Norstar 40 and whatever form an eventual Adventure 40 might take. Well, they are both 40′ sailboats—. Look at the waterline length, the beam, the full skeg rudder, the dated keel shape, the 1980’s joinerwork interior, the overall appearance indistinguishable from any other mid-80’s racer cruiser.

    I spent a half hour aboard this boat in the Seattle boat show when it was first re-introduced, chatting with Steve Nordtvedt. During that time a couple of people came on board but never got beyond the base of the companionway before turning around to join the lines waiting to board the Jeanneau next door. The boat itself is a quality piece of work, with Alaska Cedar hull ceilings and nice joinerwork of oiled teak. Far more pleasing to my eye than the 14′ wide fake wood grain condo next door. (ps: the reason boats from the 70’s and 80’s had oiled teak interiors is that it is a cheap way to finish out a boat unless you have all the tooling to make it out of gell coated fiberglass modules.)

    The Nordic 44 that preceded the 40 was a moderate commercial success, and still has a following. Its the kind of boat that hit the middle of every target, yet never incited boat lust, and the 40 is the “poor man’s version of same. The molds for both had been sitting out in the back pasture for decades when somebody who liked the design came along and wanted a new one built. Not sure if they have sold any subsequent boats. Even though it might be a better boat than any other 40′ cruiser racer out there, it still was perceived (correctly) as an expensive (350K) 1980 boat.

    Marketing a new boat is more about Pazazz and Perception than Performance and Practicality. Even though one might be trying to deliver the last two you can’t do it without utilizing the first two! And you certainly can’t do it with a good 1980’s boat.

    • John Feb 16, 2012, 8:24 pm

      Hi Richard,

      I agree that the Nordic is not the boat we need, but just to clarify, when I said it was close, I was referring, as I think were others, to its good basic-boat-gestalt. Also, a glance at the interior plan comforts me that we should be able to easily fit the interior we specified and still have boat left over.

      Your observation about the relative boat show crowd attraction capability of the Nordic against the Jeanneau is telling and could be our biggest problem, even though the Adventure 40 could look a lot more contemporary. However, I’m thinking that Viv’s idea could go a long way to offset that problem, or maybe even turn it into a market advantage.

      Anyway, my thinking is that the Adventure 40 would never see a boat show stand, since I think there are better and less expensive ways to market it…but that’s for my next post on the subject.

  • Viv and Mireille Feb 17, 2012, 7:10 am

    The Norstar 40 was put forward by Arjan as an example of a functional boat, but like Richard I do not see it by any means a comparison for the Adventure 40 (A-40) which, apart from LOA will be a completely different boat in purpose and design.

    There are some areas that need clarifying on the A-40 such as type of rudder, keel saildrive vs conventional engine/shaft, rigging hard/soft turnbuckles and of course a consensus on hull construction. On this last note I have done some research and yes infusion balsa core or similar (with or without a solid layup below the waterline is still up in the air) is a good choice possibly.

    At this stage in the forum it would be good to see some concrete agreement on these fundamental areas – I agree with Richard, comments are great but action is better. I am not a designer but know a little about how a boat sails (yes I wanted a sled but that’s to get somewhere fast! and I would be sailing alone) so I would like to know if we want to go further with this or just create a “wish-list” of a boat we might want in the future?

  • Eric Schlesinger Feb 17, 2012, 12:27 pm

    Dear John,
    In re; RDE, I am wondering what exactly is wrong with a 1980’s sailboat? I am not being snide! Really.
    Seems like there were some pretty good designers back then and even earlier.
    Sorry if I am missing the point. Woould like to learn something.
    Seems like some the new designs are not all that great either; ie Hanse, Beene’s etc.
    cheers, Eric

    • John Feb 17, 2012, 12:48 pm

      Hi Eric,

      To answer your question, it’s not that we are saying that the Nordic or others like it from the 80s are bad boats. On the contrary, there were some great boats built then. Our own “Morgan’s Cloud” was designed in the late seventies, and she is one of the best offshore voyaging boats ever drawn. Although, having said that, there were also some truly awful boats too, mainly because of the influence of the IOR rating rule.

      Having said that, both design and construction technology has come a long way since the 80s. I believe that today a really good designer, working with a world class engineer, can come up with a faster, safer, more comfortable and stronger boat, for less money. To cite just one example, CAD/CAM and accurate velocity prediction were not available, except on billion dollar projects, back then. Today a boat can be fully designed in the three dimensional CAD and then sailed though an electronic sea on a computer. Once the design is finalized CAM (computer aided manufacturing) can be used to automatically cut out every single part to microscopic tolerances.

      I could go on, but you get the idea.

      • Jean-François Eeman Feb 20, 2012, 7:35 pm

        Dear John,

        My humble opinion about your comment : SPOT ON !!!
        In hull shapes too there has been such an evolution.


  • John Feb 17, 2012, 1:00 pm

    Hi All,

    Just a little nudge here from the helmsman:

    In our deliberations, let’s not forget that we are not trying to spec the perfect boat for the experienced offshore sailor here.

    I never conceived the Adventure 40 (Model T) as the perfect boat for me, or Viv, or Richard, or Charlie—all experienced with thousands of offshore miles.

    No, my concept was, and still is, a boat that will bring new people into offshore voyaging.

    I just re-read my first post to get myself firmly back on course, and would suggest that others may wish to do the same.

  • Paul Mills Feb 20, 2012, 6:03 am

    Hi all,

    I have been quietly folowing this thread with great interest, greatly enjoying the discussion and reflecting on points made; especially Andy and janice’s website on their FAB Samoa project.

    Some comments above about conflicting ideas and priorities made me think about how all boats are compromises. This led me to the oft used maxim of ‘a camel is a horse designed by committee’ (which may be a UK only saying…) – any of you who have spent time riding on and around camels will recognise why I prefer horses! – or much better still my trusty Land Cruiser 🙂

    A couple of years ago I was looking seriously at the great boats produced by Borreal., as an alternative to my Ovni. However I soon realised that the more specialist the boat, the smaller the market – both for build and resale. This, leaves me wondering, with their experiences over the last few years, what Boreal would think of the ‘saleability/viability’ of the Adventure 40?.

    One thing that I really like is the concept of a sound ‘no options;’ design – that then leaves individuals free to do some individual stuff later. I do, however, feel this would be assisted by some ‘factory’ extra options, namely those that are a lot cheaper than starting from scratch; for example tha arch that was mentioned earlier. A real strength of Alubat (Ovni builders) is that they do exactly this, and can offer many great but smallish variations often for suprsingly little…. . I was reminded strongly of this as I was looking through Jame’s site – templates, mock ups… custom builds …. all great items (real Kudos to both of you) – but costly, brain hungry and sadly, potentialy never to be repeated….. though if money were no object, wife were willing…….

    On a seperate note, I do a lot of chartering on Sakari for young people- in my case from the care system. My view would be that for a challenge event in this area, bigger boats would be needed and that the viability of the exercise would be V challenging – we have all been aware over the last few years of projects failing and going into liquidation – also the market, certainly on this side of the pond is somewhat saturated. I manage to make it work by nurturing key customers and using the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid….).

    I really like the idea of a quality entry level boat for those coming into longer distance cruising, and the potential for some of the real experience that is being shared on this site to create a well thought out boat. I also notice, that the commercial part of getting from paper to finished boat has not been discussed; are there people out there who would invest/risk some of heir money in making the Adventure 40 a reality?

    • John Feb 20, 2012, 10:31 am

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for the thoughts, all helpful.

      Just to clarify, there is no intent here to “design by committee”. I have long believed that the best committee is make up of three people…two of whom have just died.

      Having said that, my intent is to get a feeling of what the market wants in a boat with Richard’s excellent specification as a starting point. I will then pull all that into a specification or guide that could be used as a starting point by a qualified designer. There is no intent to practice amateur yacht design here.

      I also have a post coming on the business aspects.

    • Jean-François Eeman Feb 20, 2012, 8:09 pm

      Hi Paul,

      I always try to answer as honnestly as possible. And to answer your question about viabilty/saleability… I don’t know…
      I know two things :
      – The line between success and failure is very narrow. To launch (as small yard ) a sailing boat succsfully is a difficult exercice ; having a good product is of course a basic condition, but you need so much other ingredients. One of this is… luck.
      – You don’t sell the boats we are talking about, sailors buy them…

      I do realize this answer is not very helpfull… But if there is a recepy for a long term success, I don’t have the feeling we master it.


  • Kettlewell Feb 20, 2012, 10:45 am

    One quick note on the business aspects. I would suggest approaching a builder that already does something reasonably similar and see if they would be interested. Builders are all struggling at the moment with excess capacity, and they would have much of the expertise, manpower, tools, etc. right at their fingertips. Another thought that popped into my head as I was reading through this is that the basic hull, deck, sailplan, etc. is not all that different from some production boats. I wonder if a better business plan would be to find the builder who might be willing to work with you to create an Adventure 40 using the basic tooling for their Whatsit 40?

    • John Feb 20, 2012, 11:04 am

      Hi John K,
      Very good thoughts. Although I have to say that most of the modern designs being built out there seem to have succumbed to the just-another-big-assed-boat syndrome.

      I guess this is because, for some inexplicable reason, cruising boat designers and builders seem to let themselves be influenced by whatever the trends in racing boats are at the time, without taking into account that many of those trends are due to the peculiarities of the rule that the said boats race under. The worst example was the difficult to sail and even dangerous boats spawned by the IOR rule.

      Given that, do you have any suggestions for an existing “Whatsit 40” that could be re-purposed as an Adventure 40?

  • Kettlewell Feb 20, 2012, 11:13 am

    It’s not current, but I bet the molds are sitting out in a field in RI for the J40, and I know of several folks who went long distances on them. There are a few circumnavigators you can Google up too. I’ll have to think of some others out there.

    • Viv Feb 29, 2012, 2:36 pm


      The J40 was a boat that had been on my short-list as it seems to have a lot of what I was looking for however it is still a boat needed design changes, some of which were incorporated in the later J42. I also think that using an older design somewhat defeats the purpose of the Adventure 40 in that we are trying to come up with a functional (and good looking) 40ft that is modern but highly individual in that it does not follow the trends but is built for serious offshore sailing. The J40 is all of the above but is not “fresh” and does not make me want to part with my cash. I like Land Rovers not Range Rovers if I were to drive off-road (yes the Nissan Patrol is better!) so I want a boat that does not cater to compromise but is functional for both offshore and living aboard. Using an older design hull is to me a compromise as otherwise the J40/42 would have been a greater success?

      If the Adventure 40 is not built then the J40, Ovni, some Swans, Gallant 53s, Bowmans, F&C 44 and just about any other boat (that is not IOR vintage and design) would be on the list. But I hope that this “New” concept is able to become a reality.

  • Kettlewell Feb 20, 2012, 11:18 am

    Here’s a link to the sailplan of the J40, also giving the basic dimensions:

    There’s other good information on that site:

  • John Feb 21, 2012, 12:46 pm

    Hi All,

    Thanks to all for the great comments in the last couple of days.

    Rather than replying to individual comments, as we usually do, I’m cogitating on the whole issue and working on a post to define a way forward for the Adventure 40. It may be a few days, or even weeks, before that post sees the light of day—cogitation, at least in my case, is an unpredictable process.

  • Colin Farrar Feb 29, 2012, 1:55 pm

    Along the lines of John K.’s idea, how about building the hull around an existing, up-to-date keel mold at one of the keel makers? This way you could have a lead keel without paying for original tooling.

    • John Feb 29, 2012, 6:44 pm

      Hi Colin F,

      I’m with you in wanting a lead keel.

      However, keel design is one of the things that has improved the most in the last 20 years so it would seem to me to be a pity to not get the benefit of that if we are doing a new design. Also, since the key to success here is going to be mass production, the initial tool up savings of using an old keel will not be that significant on a per boat basis.

  • Dave Benjamin Apr 10, 2012, 8:24 pm

    I think a $200K 40′ real cruising boat is a bit of a daunting task but the concept of re-using existing molds and tooling would improve the odds. I have heard that the old Bob Perry designed Westsail 39 (Fair Weather Mariner) molds are kicking around somewhere in Asia. That was an impressive boat. I know of a nice one that is going on the market in Southern Cal in the next few months actually.

    A shortcoming of modern production boats is the extensive use of liners. Traditional construction where proper floors and bulkheads are glassed in is expensive and time consuming. Fixed costs of rig, proper cruising sails, engine, and basic electronics add up. Interiors are where the bulk of the man hours go. Would buyers of an Adventure 40′ be satisfied with a “workboat finish” or would there be an expectation of something more yacht like? Fortunately there are some excellent yards in Asia producing top shelf boats so dollars/euros go a bit further.

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