Adventure 40—Reliability And Quality

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Reliability

There is a saying that “cruising is the process of working on your boat in exotic places” and it’s distressingly true. Even buying a brand new boat does not fix the problem, let alone fixing up an old one. But I don’t believe it must be that way. Let’s look at how the Adventure 40 will be better than that.

The Goal

Here is my reliability goal for the Adventure 40:

  • You will be able to buy one for around US$250,000.
  • The boat will come to you fully offshore-equipped, with a complete, professionally written and illustrated, assembly and commissioning manual.
  • Any competent sailor with basic tool skills will be able to commission the boat in seven working days or less.
  • You will only need to add a hand held GPS, linens, and dishes.
  • After tuning (documented in the manual) and sailing the boat for a week, you will be able to sail the boat 30,000 miles around the world with only routine maintenance.

Impossible? I don’t think so. We just need to change some things about how the boat gets designed and built:

Designed For Task

Most sailboats built in the last 20 years were not designed to go offshore. Hell, a lot of them were not even designed to go sailing. No, they were designed to look good in a boat show with an interior to wow the dreamers who have never been outside protected waters.

In contrast the Adventure 40 is first, last, and all the time, designed to go offshore, and then those design decisions have been vetted and improved by the hundreds of offshore sailors that comment here at AAC.

Quality

There is a pervasive assumption about boats, reinforced by the current state of the industry, that less expensive boats like the Adventure 40 must be poorly built and equipped with junk gear.

That does not have to be so. By eschewing foo-foo features and going simple—for example, tiller steering instead of the twin wheels supplied on some boats of comparable price—huge amounts of money can be saved that, on the Adventure 40, will be invested in great construction and making sure that the gear that is included is the best.

In specifying the boat we will be guided by the basic principle of the lowest possible total ten year cost of ownership, not a sticker price. I still think that we can get the boat in under US$250,000, but if she ends up at say US$257,000 because she has a really good engine and robust drive train that will go ten years and 10,000 hours with nothing but oil changes, so be it.

Prototyping

It really is no wonder that many new boats are a nightmare of poor design and worse construction. Think about it. Often, a builder, who has hardly ever been to sea, gets together with a designer, who has not been to sea much, and the two of them listen with rapt attention to the marketing/sales guys. This triumvirate designs a boat, often without benefit of an engineer.

They then find some suckers to buy the first boats. Generally the first ten boats are crap. After which, the builder changes everything (if they have not gone bankrupt) based on the anguished screams and warranty claims of the first owners…and the whole cycle starts again.

There is a better way:

  • A prototype Adventure 40 will be built.
  • Experienced sailors test the boat hard.
  • One or two families of four test the boat on coastal cruises including overnight sails.
  • The boat returns to the yard to have problems and omissions fixed.
  • Gear that has failed to perform is replaced with different gear.
  • Repeat as necessary for at least three months.
  • The specification, right down to the last screw, is documented and frozen.
  • The first production boat is built to that specification.
  • The first production boat is tested to make sure nothing went awry.
  • Production commences.

Quality Control

Obviously I can’t enforce this, but I’m suggesting to the builder that every Adventure 40 be built under the watchful eye of a quality control inspector who makes absolutely sure that the boat conforms to the detailed and public specification derived from the prototype.

And here is the most important point: The QC inspector, although paid from the purchase price of the boat, contractually works for and has fiduciary responsibility to the buyer.

Sure, this will add some cost to the boat, but not as much as you might think. Remember, the boat is standard and built to a detailed spec. Also, this is a mass production boat, so there will be economies of scale in the QC process too.

What About the Builder?

I can hear the more business oriented among you now: “What about the builder? Why on earth would he or she subject themselves to, let alone fund, this draconian plan?”

The answer is simple: Because there is a lot of money to be made according to the initial budgets we have done. I can tell you after a career in small business that the single biggest destroyer of profit, after lack of customers (we have that one cracked), is ambiguity. And what have we done with this plan? Removed most (you never get rid of all) of the ambiguity that bankrupts boat builders.

Examples:

  • Warranty claim: Does the boat conform to the published and public specification? Yes: claim denied.
  • Missing piece of gear from delivered boat: Did the QC inspector sign off on the packing list when the boat was shipped? Yes: claim denied, call the insurance company that covered the boat in shipping.
  • No options and changes, the biggest killer of boat builders.

Comments

Do you have any suggestions to make this process even better? Please leave a comment, I’m all ears. 

Like what you just read? Get lots more:

Learn About Membership

Subscribe
Notify of
128 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
dan

you should maybe try and get Apple to build this boat…

dan

I think apple’s success after jobs’s return was to a very large extent caused by one thing: focus. I think I see a lot of that in what you describe about this project. If you are able to carry that through the boat will be insanely great 🙂

Jeff H

I continue to really like where this design is going, and the focus on it’s off shore purpose!

Michael Mc Laughlin

Keep in mind the RCD (Recreational Craft Directive).
All boats in Europe must comply with the RCD.

Jon T

Now I love this site, and the Adventure 40′ all the more… I have been mesmerised and had my life fundamentally changed by getting involved with Apple since 1999. My pension went AAPL in 2006 and those same shares I hope will be funding my Adventure 40′ in a few short years…

As for building, you might ask if one of the emerging East European countries could be an opportunity.

Make this a class act guys! (It’s certainly starting off that way.)

Westbrook

Recommend reading “Six Frigates” by Ian Toll. It describes the design and building of the first ships for the U.S. Navy—including the Constellation. The intent was to build them identically in accordance with the original design. But President Washington insisted that the building of them be spread out to different shipyards in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk (and two other I don’t remember). Each shipyard master incorporated his own ideas, so no two were alike.

Patrick

Hi,

Love your website and email updates and very much like the idea of Adventure 40.

However, I would have thought the concept to be aluminum. Has there been a discussions on pro and cons GRP and aluminum? If I missed it, could you point me to the link?

I would have thought it would be hard to beat the longlivety of aluminum and together with now advanced techniques like numeric cutting, it should be financially feasible for the same costs as GRP.

You can put me down as interested, but would be even more interested if it were to be aluminum.

Thanks and keep up the good work,

Patrick

Martin

This update on the Adventure 40 is quite instructive. It shows the driving forces have good heads on their shoulders and the right marine credentials. Even better, it shows solid business judgement. That bodes very well. I just love things like the “zero options” decision, the arch with messenger lines in the conduit, empty equipment area next to the engine, the sea-chest with spare spigots.
If I could get my hands on a boat today with only two thirds of the planned features in the same price range, I’ll camp on your doorstep until you give up and sell me one.

Phillip Carr

John

I have one thing to say: Get on with it!

Joking aside , I have signed up and I am convinced that this project really could change the sailing industry.

I am 100% on board with your philosophy and having a few thousand miles single-handed sailing under my belt, cant wait to get my hands on this boat.

Phillip

Phillip Carr

John

As a follow-up to my last, I also support the consideration of aluminium. IMHO the best offshore boat material. The insides of my 1973 built boat are still shiny aluminium and a recent ultrasonic showed zero diminution in plate thickness.

Phillip

Matt Marsh

Michael – Regarding the RCD, this is one area where economies of scale really come into play. A lot of the work that goes into RCD compliance is a per-design cost, not a per-hull cost. It is a substantial contribution to the cost of a boat when only five hulls are built; it could be quite small (although not negligible) when spread over two hundred hulls.

Patrick – Regarding aluminum. Alloy hulls *can* be very sturdy, long-lived, and low maintenance. If there are to be only a handful of boats, it’d probably be cheaper, too. We’re talking dozens or hundreds of hulls here, though, so the cost of good composite tooling will pay off. And a thick, solid fibreglass laminate can easily be made as tough and resilient as an aluminum hull if it is correctly designed. (We could easily specify the Adventure 40’s GRP hull to have puncture/grounding resistance an order of magnitude better than many current 40-footers, without compromising her sailing ability.)

John – I really like the idea of a cabinet of serious voyagers to evaluate the design and the prototype. Every time I go to a boat show, I get frustrated at how many builders are spec’ing out their systems based on who had the flashiest ad in ProBoat. They end up with things like a $20,000 furnace with a thousand-hour service interval. No, the spec review has to be done by people who have spent more than their fair share of time upside-down in an engine bay or hanging on for dear life in a force nine.

Jean-François

Hi Matt,
Hi John,

About the RCd you are absolultely right…
Seem reasoning is off course through for all fix costs.

About Alu versus GRP :
Of course you know we are fans of alu, of the material. So you may say we are partial. Yes we are…

Some other considerations of different nature :
– In the US the alu is not as highly regarded as it has been since long in Europe (see the articles of Colin Speedie)

– From a businness point of view : of course you are right if we speak of large numbers BUT you have to also consider the elements “needed investments” and risk management. The assumption to make to project liveable is a certain number of boats…. with alu that critical number of boats is much lower.

– John points out : it not only about making a affordable boat… and he is right. The day you buy a boat you must think about the day you will want to sell her…
In Europe all well built aluminium boats have a much higher second hand value… read : the spread between buying and selling is much lower.

So – for me – the choice of the material is not so easy to decide on…

Jean-François

Jean-François

Dear John,

Thank you for your nice comments…

As Colin and you know we have always tried to make a clear distinction between contributing as good as we can in a logic of “open source” to what we think is a great and very inspiring site and our boats.

We share a common passion and vision. And we like to see people going out sailing and discovering the world… and try to help them when we can.

thanks again.

JF²

Matt Marsh

One further thought, John. You mentioned having a QC inspector accountable to the buyer.

I used to play that role in a major construction company (one of the first such companies in Canada to have a real QA program). We were a separate branch, reporting directly to the VP and not to the project team, so that we could intervene as needed. (QC reporting to PM is a disaster waiting to happen.) Having this person around will undoubtedly piss off some shop managers, but it’ll also save a lot of headaches and cut way back on unpredictable long-term costs (i.e. warranty claims).

Bill Balme

The build process is interesting to me – especially as it relates to quality…

In order to make each boat the same (and therefore minimize/eliminate secondary fixes), the jigs and fixtures need to be very good and for 200 – 500 boats as has been talked of, they need to be long lasting. When building this many boats, you’d need to be able to build more than one at a time – so those jigs and fixtures need to either be duplicated, or designed in such a manner that they can be applied to part completed hulls etc. I guess the point of this ramble is that you might consider involving someone from a car company – who is skilled at the initial tooling up of a production system. Maybe a car company would be the right place to look for a builder? The car company might also be the right place to look for the prototype (with marine guidance) as they have the CAD/CAM and 3D modeling resources which would allow fast development of jigs and fixtures from the development of the prototype.

How about a Lotus Adventure 40!!!

Bill

RDE

Hi Bill,

You might want to study the history of now-bankrupt Aptera. A car designed by a boat designer with no successful boats to his credit, built by a computer company and marketed using tech industry concepts. It was particularly embarrassing when they showed up for the $10,000,000 X-prize competition with a tricked out transporter worth five times more than their competition and tried to run their car around the pylons at 45mph. It leaned over so far that it threatened to upset, and the driver’s door kept popping open—.

RDE

Hi again Bill,
If you are looking for automated production line boat building, don’t look at GM or Boeing. Beneteau and Bavaria have gone there and done that. And neither builds the kind of boat we are talking about. Got a spare 20 million dollars for tooling and automation and 200 prepaid orders with 50% deposits in hand? Didn’t think so. So you are not going to have a fully automated production of the Adventure 40 , unless of course you have Beneteau build it.

Bill Balme

Wasn’t really advocating a car company build it – other than perhaps a small specialist company such as Lotus. More I was trying to offer the opinion that the tooling for the boat, to ensure each was the same in order to eliminate the costly time taken to fix mis-matches caused by poor tooling, would be an expensive part of the build and that it should therefore be considered in the overall business plan.

As a side note, the idea that the QC guy works for the buyer is nuts – if I were to order an A-40, and I had to hire someone to do the QC function, I sure wouldn’t think about hiring the company’s bloke with his presumed bias towards the company. On the other hand, if the QC guy worked for the company, I’d expect the function to be doing it’s job appropriately and designing quality into the boats – just as they operate in every other manufacturing company I am aware of… If buyers selected the QC guy it would be like home buyers ordering up a home inspection – the consistency and knowledge of whom are non-existent.

Bill Balme

Who pays the QC person’s salary/fee?

RDE

Hi Bill,
I spent a month at Lotus Racing back in the day. They pulled 4o or 50 bodies for their customer race cars out of the molds in a green state and stacked them against the wall. Guess what— they all warped so much you had to torque them into place.

Kind of like the problem Boeing had with their Dreamliner fuselages on a much smaller scale!

The grass on the other side of the fence always seems greener!

Bill Balme

So is the QC Cost outside of the cost of the boat? Doesn’t seem right…

I too was at Hethel an eon ago – don’t know of any warped bodies – but it doesn’t surprise me… I think a hull probably has a little more structural integrity to withstand warping during storage – sure hope so! 🙂

Viv

Dear John:

Good to see the Adventure 40 moving ahead. Although I like aluminium, what Matt states in his reply is correct from a large production point of view. Sometime in the future someone may well build an aluminium Adventure 40 from the drawings but GRP is fine if built right.

I am just in the middle of reading about innovation, in particular disruptive innovation. The A-40 is definitely in the Incremental and Radical innovation bracket because it is an outcome of years of sailing experience but at the same time is radical in the building and end product result.

I have lost touch with yachts because all I was seeing were “tubs with toys”. Apart from some specialized and individual builders (Alubat for example) the rest were as far removed from ocean sailing as motor homes are from rallying.

This concept is innovative and very interesting!

C. Dan

I am happy to see the comments on customization, as one of my fears of the “no options” mantra was that this would not be a friendly boat for aftermarket applications.

In that vein, one request would be to make it friendly for an after-market wind-vane. This shouldn’t be difficult, especially since the A-40 will have tiller steering.

Also, I am curious how you are thinking about green-lighting this project. Will the builder bear the cost of the prototyping/design, or will it be buyer-financed via deposits? This could be one of the largest Kickstarter projects on record!

(I am somewhat serious… there are several projects that have raised more than $2 million before any costs have been incurred, and one project that raised over $10 million: http://www.kickstarter.com/discover/most-funded)

C. Dan

Apologies – I hadn’t reread the original specs in a while, so forgot that a windvane was listed as “standard” (hopefully that’s still the case).

I’m curious what has caused the price to creep up to $200k from the original $175k? If the first round of buyers committed in a kickstarter-like fashion (with a substantial deposit), would that allow those early-adopters to get the price back down towards $175k (i.e. a 10-15% discount)?

RDE

I find the discussion of a design review “cabinet” and an adversarial on-site QC representative interesting for their idealism, and interesting as well because I have personally been squeezed between competing interests by exactly that situation.

First of all, if the boatbuilder has financial skin in the game as will undoubtedly be the case, he will rightfully demand to have some input into how the boat is to be built. And that is as it should be. If he is the right boatbuilder for the project he will know more about the pitfalls of running a boatbuilding business and building a quality product for a price, and have construction experience with much larger variety of boats than the sailors who have been out putting miles under the keel. Sailing 50,000 miles certainly teaches one volumes about the sea and its demands, but it can just as easily create narrow beliefs about what type of boat is best. (not surprisingly that is the same type of boat the sailor owns!) John Neal has 250,000 miles on board Halberg Rassey’s—– if he were to choose the features of a new design, guess what it would closely resemble! Not a criticism, just a statement about human nature. So, if there is to be a “cabinet” the builder should be a valuable addition to it.

Regarding the Owner’s Rep/QC guy, the owners certainly need and deserve to have somebody looking after their interests. And if the QC guy is adept enough to avoid getting locked out of all the toilets at the factory he should quit boatbuilding and go into politics!

Guess that calls for a boat yarn—. I was once hired as the project manager for a large build that had a full time owner’s rep on site. I soon realized my primary function was to absorb abuse from the mad Aussie that the boat owner had found on a bar stool in Shooters in Lauderdale so the company owner that I worked for wouldn’t have to put up with him. Finally reached the point where I told the Aussie that if he ever bad-mouthed me to the owner or the designers again I was going to take a fork lift and run the forks through his office trailer with him in it until it ended up in the river. Told my boss that I was taking a week vacation, and if the Aussie was still there I was quitting. Last I heard he was driving a cattle boat in Sydney harbor.

And finally about the Apple model, I can’t think of two products more different to manufacture and sell. The only common thread is that Apple and many boatbuilders think they have to go to a place where they can employ slave labor to build their product. Harsh? If Apple built their I-phones in California instead of at FoxCon it would cost approximately $20 per unit more and reduce their net profit margin to something like 40% instead of 50%. And after assembling a great crew to build a high-tech catamaran in Washington, some of whom who eventually built the giant Oracle trimaran, my investor wanted to move the business to a maquiladora south of Cancun and use $1 per hour labor to throw matt and roving at it. The China Syndrome model for failure in the boat building business—–.

RDE

Couldn’t agree more John. Sometimes I let my attempts at humor get the best of me! The owner’s rep who replaced the mad Aussie was a professional with the same goals as the company and owner, and was a valuable asset to the project and a pleasure to work with. A situation that is inherently adversarial need not be conflictual when both parties behave professionally.

S. Gallion

Glad to see the A40 project moving forward. Like many others, I am partial to aluminum, also. However, I will be OK with GRP if the design can provide: 1) very high puncture and grounding resistance, 2) thorough blister prevention, 3) means to eliminate leakage through the deck and deck to hull joint and 4) a significantly lower cost than aluminum (say at least $30,000 less).

Otherwise, I am completely satisfied with the boat as specified thus far. If this can really be done for around $200,000, the prospective builder should have years of work ahead.

Jean-François

Dear John,

Great post and a good way to see things…

In late 40’s a Belgium family decide to settle down with a whole community in Patagonia. Gabriël, the founder, used to say : ” When my road is long and difficult, when people do not understand where I go to and why, I doesn’t mean I’m wrong…”
Might apply to you…

One personal remarks if you do allow me :

I like the way you propose to operate.
The idea of Cabinet is great.
BUT essential to me it is to find a naval architect who concentrate three essential experiences :
– off shore cruising experience and live aboard experience
– naval architecture and naval engineering
– having build boats/having been involved in the building process of boats…

At least in Europe – from what I see – a lot of naval architect have no clear view of who things have to produced afterwards. Production is quite often “not their problem” and/or do not live and sail on board of boats they have designed.
I know that at Boréal the fact we gather this three know-hows is one of our factors of success…

I believe such an arcitect will not be more expensive than an other…

As always : my personal view and critics/comments welcome

Jean-François

Erik de Jong

This is a great plan!

I was 16 years old when I realized that builders and designers have no time for cruising and therefore generally don`t know much about cruising offshore other than what they hear from their clients. I already had the plan to become a naval architect at that time and I cruised about 40,000 miles with my parents which was the foundation for my thinking.

I was very convinced of myself, didn`t know much about designing or engineering, but I had a boat in my head that needed to be drawn on paper. That happened and the design criteria were fairly similar to what you write in your article. Two years of sketching and dreaming further, I went to University and finished the design of “the maintenance free offshore/arctic boat” while studying.

I started building this 50 foot beauty at the age of 22 (after having a “regular design 46′ Alu cruiser” built with and for my father) and about 4 years ago she was launched. The maiden trip went across the North sea in bad weather, followed by a winter cruise to Norway (I’m from Holland). Now, the boat has been across the Atlantic a couple of times and we sailed her about 25.000 miles in the Arctic.

The boat appears to be fairly maintenance free as it was designed to be, also the work that needs to be done is easily done. But all the “problems” I run into is that the equipment available on the market needs regular maintenance, as you say: oil changes, cleaning, winch servicing, sail repairs etc. It is unavoidable, but on a decent size boat, it takes up about 2 full weeks of work a year to catch up with maintaining everything properly (= as per manufacturers recommendations), even tough we applied the “art of leaving out” as main selection criteria for all equipment, you still end up with quite a lot of work on your hands.

Any way, if you like to have a chat about the boat, feel free to contact me.
The other comments mentioned that it is hard to find a member of the team with the proper qualifications; I have cruised over 100,000 miles, I am working as a naval architect (professionally) for 8 months a year and during the northern summer, you can find me and my boat in the Arctic. and I built 3 offshore yachts with my own hands, varying in size of 35 to 50 foot. I’m definitively interested to become involved in this project!

Ed Joy

From a designer’s perspective, it wouldn’t hurt for her to be a head turner in any harbor. The boat should present an air of safety and competence that is immediately apparent to anyone who steps aboard. Traditional lines with moderate overhangs show a knowledge of and respect for the attributes that have made for safe passages for many decades. With low cost being such a factor, tooling will of necessity be quite simple. Therefore the few shapes that define the boat’s character must be very artfully drawn and proportioned.
Many, if not most members of the Cabinet will have more offshore experience than the designer. The rigors of producing the work and running the business, especially in this age where much detail is required from the design office, only allows so much free time to be out on the water. Most custom design projects are for very knowledgeable clients who cannot find what they are looking for on the current market – used or new. They know the parameters they are looking for and they rely on the designer’s expertise to achieve it.
A skilled designer who is a good listener, knows the extent of his job, and will allow the contributions of all the members of the Cabinet to influence the final outcome will serve you well.

Erik de Jong

I do agree that a good offshore boat is a head turner as you describe it, but there have been so many researches on hull shape vs boat behavior in bad weather that I think that a safe and comfortable boat has a higher priority than classic appearance.

Those design parameters are waterline serface, weight distribution, lateral surface, lead ratio, block coefficient, prismatic coeff. etc. etc. Those optimum parameters define your hull shape.

Second, easy access to every thing aboard demands more or less the volume of the hull, classic boats with lots of overhang do not have such space. I personally hate any kind of maintenance that needs to be done on the classic beauties, due to the lack of space around the equipment and no other place available to place the equipment.

The production price of a yacht is largely defined by length of hull, a classic has a long hull, but minimizes interior space. Therefore, the amount of boat you get for what you pay is not directly in favor of classical hull shape.

To make the boat a real head turner and to lower the cost, I think an offshore boat should look like an offshore boat. I mean that a lot of “ugly” equipment for the commercial vessels should be used on such a yacht, it is of a much higher quality, it is cheaper, it is very well tested and innovated, it requires less work to keep it operable.

We “tested” this theory on our current boat and it works, every one who passes our boat needs to take a closer look, practically no exceptions. An offshore boat should look tough, sturdy and no-nonsense, a boat that can take what ever nature decides to throw at her.

Personally, I think that a boat with good sea-keeping capabilities in combination with a rough look is easier to sell than the classics that have been around for decades. It should be something that does not exist yet, something that attracts they eye because it is different. At least: that’s my opinion, but as mentioned before, 10 sailors, 10 opinions.

Erik de Jong

I think “Seal” that you designed is a good example of what I mean with my comment above.

Ed Joy

Hello Erik,

A hull with beautiful lines can have modest overhangs – just enough to keep the bow dry and the transom out of the water. She will be moderate in all her proportions, well-behaved, controllable and unlikely to pound in heavy conditions, while easily driven to make sure the engine stays off when the breeze lightens.

Nor does a beautiful boat need to be dainty in any way. The boat should both be rugged and obviously appear so to any observer.

Jean-François

Ed,

It is great to “meet” you here…
Although the boats we design are very different from yours, we highly regard them as a REFERENCE.

I have personally spent a lot of time “inspecting” Seal in Ushuaia and discussing with Hamish (we were lying with our previous boat along side his for some time. They have two daughters. I have two sons about the same age and I always say to my boys, look at the girls with big boats).
We (both JF ) have a different view on the keel and the rudder and I hope one day we’ll the opportunity to discuss that live with you.

To all:
About Seal in this context : Seal is a (or THE) great professional expedition boat.
The context of a A40 is very different… : the concept, the sailing area, the way of building (Seal is a kind of “One off” and Hamish did a lot himself), the budget (budget/foot) is different

Ed, we do share your point of view of your last post about the design/hull shape/overhang… It is very well summarized.

Personnally we think that the idea “the production price of a boat is largely linked to length” is an idea which has to be expressed to readers who are not necessarily involved/close to boat building with more nuances, more carefully…

Jean-François

Erik de Jong

Jean-Francois (sorry, I don’t have the “French C” on my keyboard),

What I meant with “the production price of a boat is largely linked to the hull length” is that materials, equipment en building logistics are mainly selected on hull length, there are of course exceptions.
But think for example about the following:
– Hull length defines largely the amount of material used and is a large contributor to determine the scantling sizes.
– the amount of material required is a large indicator for hull weight, therefore ballast weight, rig size, deck equipment size, engine power, propeller and shaft sizes etc.
– building shed size depends on hull length, same for the lifting capacity and logistics on the yard as well as on the road to get the boat delivered.
Most of those costs can be roamed off a bit if the waterline is short(er), but my best estimate is that 80% of the price is determined by the hull length, given that we keep on thinking within the sketched concept of the Adventure 40.

RDE

Hi Ed,
Good to see you joining into the discussion. As I’ve said more than once, you are the Master of hard dodger design and styling!

Sverre

What a great idea! I have been following this discussion and have now finally signed up.

Just one suggestion: John writes that the owner will receive the boat on a truck. But would it not be better if the owner took over the boat at the builders yard? Then he/she/they could do the commissioning there or in the vicinity. Any issues could be sorted out with the builder there and then – quicker, easier and cheaper for both parts. The buier could be given say, seven days to do this and make any claims. Any dispute could be resolved by a referee, for example a member of the cabinet.

Apart from it being nice for builders and buyers to meet, it is incredibly instructive for the buyer to have the builder explain things and potential misunderstandings can be resolved before conflict arises.

It would be cheaper for the owner to go to the yard than transport the boat to him, less risk for both builder and owner and since the whole point of the exercise is to go sailing why not just get on with it right from the builders yard?

Besides, buyers will be spread all across the world and at least some of them will go to take over the boat at the yard anyway. I will do so myself if this materializes. Will have a nice launch with naming ceremony and champis all round.

Finally, this way it will be easier to give a clear final price. Ownership passes from builder to buyer at the yard, at this price, no extras, no transport, this is what you pay and that’s it. If the buyer wants to put the boat on a truck or whatever after that, that is of course entirely up to him and no longer any of the builders concern.

Anthony

I am along time “lurker” who is actually in the process of looking for a vessel that conforms to what is being suggested (used ovnis’s, etc).

I like the innovative organization approaches described ( I study organizational processes) and I wonder also about equally innovative financial structures ( e.g. Crowd sourced initial capital, etc.)

In any case, love the discussion and would love to have the type of vessel descibed to live on with my wife and young daughter!

Krist

As long time lurker let me add my 0.02$…

Have a look at the Varianta 44. A ready to sail 44 footer that is being sold for about 100000 euro, VAT included…
Not an example of what is attempted here, but it could offer some inspiration…

Dave Benjamin

John,

We’d be happy to donate time to develop sailplan ideas. We’ve been working with a lot of cruisers with a focus on simplification and ease of use. I’d be looking at something along the line of this for base inventory.

Dacron main with top batten full, 3 longer than standard partials, 2 deeper than standard reefs. Lazy Bag (aka xxx-Pack) with integrated retractactable lazy jacks.

Non-overlapping furling headsail on Facnor LX furler.

Basic specs for Dacron sails would be our Offshore Plus Spec:
Cloth – Challenge High Modulus with optional upgrade to Marblehead/Fiber 104 HA.
3 rows triple step for broadseams with black thread recommended to make spotting future problems easier
Oversize radial patches
Overhead synthetic leech and foot lines. No plastic/nylon hardware due to UV considerations. Cleats to have cloth covers with velcro to protect them and line from impact damage/UV.
Doubled Tapes
Reef connectors
Double layer spreader patches
Adequate anti-chafe
(yada yada, yes quite bulletproof and designed for 40,000 miles service)

Cruising Code Zero – we call this our CLASS or cruisers light air sail solution as we refer to it. This can be flown on any point of sail from close reach to downwind. It’s most efficient at a beam reach and above. While you cannot point as high as you can with a jib, the sail has sufficient power that you get better VMG in very light air than you ever could accomplish even with a 155% Dacron genoa. This sail would be flown from a Facnor FX-2500 or equivalent.

Downwind Sail – We take the classic concept of twin downwind sails and modernize it. This consists of two light inexpensive nylon sails joined together to form a common luff. This sail is flown from the same furler that we use for the code zero. Alternatively a smaller Facnor furler could be used with it if a customer preferred a dedicated furler for each sail. We can probably use the FX-1500 since the loads are a lot less than the Code Zero. Poles recommended but they can be left in place while sail is furled. Very easy to manage, stress free, downwind sailing and fast.

Storm Sails – Some options here:
Tradewinds Option – No trysail. Use the reefed main (consider a 3 reef main at this stage). ATN Gale Sail for storm jib.

High Latitude Option – Trysail in International Orange. Removable spectra or dyneema stay and running backs also of dyneema or spectra. Storm jib in International Orange flown from removable stay.

Basic Repair Kit – Each owner to receive kit with basic repair materials, tools, and instructions. Discounts made available on appropriate onboard sewing machine

Training – Potential to create DVD/web video explaining use of sailplan

$$$’s – Less than you might imagine, especially if 5 or more sets made at once. Would just need I,J,P, and E to quote.

Pedr Turner

John
re A40. I have been following in PRO Boat the building of the 8 USCG Academy’s Leadership 44 s. The infused hulls to a MILSPEC being done at Morris are a very interesting example of top quality built for max durability and service life on a replicable basis fitted with simple, durable systems. It might be worth keeping track of these boats as they go in to service. They are using a QC type oversight service reponsible to the Academy and the funders.
I believe they are being funded with donations from Academy Alumni

Dave Benjamin

I read the article in Pro Boatbuilder as well. Very impressive construction but cost per hull rather staggering.

Tom Keffer

I am wondering if you have followed the crowd designed “Cruising Anarchy 36”? See Bob Perry’s blog post on the subject: http://perryboat.sail2live.com/yacht_design_according_to_perry/2012/03/the-ca-36-to-blog-or-not-to-blog.html.

Perry designed the Flying Tiger 10 using a similar concept. By using the web to gather the best ideas they were able to keep costs down, while doing an interesting and innovative design.

David

The CA36 looks like Shannon or an old Morris 36. I like it although I’m surprised a hard dodger didn’t make it into the plans. I’m always confused about the lack of a hard dodger in sailing boats. I’m also surprised to see swept spreaders considering most “cruising couples” are sailing downwind. I think something just a bit better would be something slightly longer with a forepeak and dedicated shower (and hard dodger, not a raised salon where you can’t get a sense of the weather while on watch). I do like that the halyards are at the mast, where they should be.

David

I’d also want solar panels on the hard dodger like New Morning because I wouldn’t want the added maintenance/noise of a generator:

http://www.newmorning.info/page12/page36/page49/files/102408BTSN-7738.html

I also love that boat’s cockpit layout (except for the sugar scoop stern. Not a fan of that). I’d also want it to be center cockpit (for the better motion… or at least has the front of the dodger be at the center of motion) but those designs don’t work/look well, imho, on boats below 45′.

David

The panels on the boat I showed were flexible panels that can be stood on. Arches are great too.

Dave Benjamin

Unless the technology has changed dramatically, I doubt you’d be able to get sufficient output from flexible panels mounted on the dodger. Price of those is still pretty high. Standard 140w panels are down to around $300. Two of those on a stern pole and perhaps a good wind gen would probably suffice for basic needs.

We have our passarelle stored amidships where it can be swung down. Due to freeboard there would be no way to reach someone in the water though without getting on the ladder yourself. I still like the benefits of some sort of swim platform which go far beyond MOB recovery. I’ve seen people go overboard on other boats in situations where the swim platform would have been ideal for getting them back on board.

David

From reading that boat’s blog. They generate all of their power from those panels & the wind generator and occasional motoring and they seem to run a lot of electronics and gear. It’s a 56 footer without a generator and they claim they once didn’t need power for a week at anchor. Granted it was the tropics. They probably are expensive though.

Dave Benjamin

40′ is pretty small for a center cockpit design unless you’re willing to not have a pass-thru between the main and aft cabin. On our boat the engine compartment is under the cockpit and there’s a narrow and rather short pass-thru to the aft cabin. We’re about 46′ though. We have solid stainless rail around the boat and our solar panel are rail mounted. I like to be able to step on the dodger so I don’t have them there. The best place for the panels in my opinion would be on a stern pole where they could be kept in the sun. Another problem with dodger mounted panels is they are often shaded.
Some type of swim step or platform makes dinghy boarding easier as well as MOB recovery. Some boats have a simple flip down platform which I like.

David

I definitely agree. I think CCs look funny below 50′.

I don’t like a platform on the stern for MOB. It works well in calm conditions but when do MOBs happen in calm conditions? Too much heaving back and forth. Too much concern in getting smacked on the head by the stern and platform. I prefer a boarding ladder at the beam (where you can mount a platform on the ladder for dinghy boarding).

David

I was thinking what would be on my list for “my” perfect boat:

*Preferably a center cockpit (depends on LOA)
*Longer & Narrower > Wider & shorter
*Moderate overhangs & Narrow ends.
*Easily singlehanded
*Hard Dodger with solar panels on top
*Partial Skeg Rudder with oversized shaft & ability to have the unprotected portion to be cleanly sheared off and keep the top part. So the lower section is weaker than the holding power of the shaft & rudder bearings. It should still be able (in cripled form) to provide enough steerage for downwind and motoring.
*Wind vane
*Fin or modified fin keel (maybe bulbed but definitely not a wing)
*Straight Spreaders
*4 reefs in the main (4th is same area as a trysail)
*Dutchman reefing system
*Cutter Rig
*Running backstays
*Manual furling forward jib (can be lead to a winch)
*Manual furling cutter stay (can be lead to a winch)
*2 line reefing
*Removable storm jib stay that doesn’t furl.
*Aluminum construction painted white. I don’t like bare aluminum.
*Teak caprails varnished with Signature Finish Honey Teak (lasts two years in the tropics). I just have to have SOME teak.
*Watertight bulkeads at forepeak, engine room, rudder shaft area. All thru-hulls in watertight bulkhead areas)
*Integrated water/fuel tanks under main cabin (effectively giving one a double hull in the largest area)
*Large galvanized Rocna/Spade Anchor using the Dashew method: Whatever is recommended, double it and add 20%. I like to sleep without worry.
*300′ of G7 chain
*2nd anchor always ready for deployment with 100′ of chain in the recommended size. Probably an aluminum Spade for weight.
*2 Oversized windlasses
*Large Luke & Fortress Anchors (w/ mud palms) stored within the boat.
*Feathering prop
*No bow thruster
*No generator
*Maybe a watermaker
*Foot pump for tank water & seawater in kitchen along with pressure water.
*Water filter under kitchen sink.
*Keel cooled refrigerator
*1 bathroom
*1 separate shower next to the companionway so that it’s also a wet locker
*Nav Station situated so that the helmsman and navigator can hear each other
*Mute button on music radio somewhere in the cockpit (probably under the dodger)
*LED lighting
*Kitchen sink at center of boat (drains on both tacks)
*1000 miles of diesel tankage (assuming diesel required for heater is included)
*Non-turbocharged diesel with 2hp/1000#
*200 gallons of water
*3″ of insulation (it’s good in the tropics too)
*No microwave.
*Furuno FA150 AIS, GP32 GPS, NX300 Navtex, & Radar for reliability and low power operation without a chartplotter.
*Weather fax at helm station (connected to laptop)
*VHF & SSB at nav station, VHF remote mic under dodger)
*Depth/Speed/Wind/Multifunction instruments above companionway
*Laptop chart plotter at nav table
*No chartplotter at the helm. You should be steering not playing with a toy. Only autopilot repeater & multifunction repeater at the helm.
*Small faraday cage somewhere with handheld radio, second epirb, handheld gps, and extra batteries
*Diesel water heater/cabin heater
*No A/C. It’s only usuable at the dock and who wants to be at a dock?
*Aft berth with 2 bunks
*Sette table and opposite bench can turn into two sea berths
*Island double in foward berth for at anchor sleeping (makes the Admiral really happy)
*Large forepeak for storing gear (spares, extra line, halyards, dock lines, fenders, fortress anchor, trysail, storm jib, asym, deflated dinghy, outboards, inflatable kayak for rowing ashore)
*Large medical kit under nav table
*Large Hypalon dinghy with wood floor
*2 hp outboard for most trips.
*15 hp outboard for longer trips.
*Ability to charge with 110/220/50hz/60hz shorepower
*Halon fire system in engine room
*Super large emergency pumps in each hull section
*Lifesling in rigid container on the stern rail.
*Gas inflated MOB device with inflatable 6′ rod, horse shoe, and blinking led light on the stern rail.
* Inflatable PFD with integrated harness, emergency light, & personal AIS device for each person.

Dave Benjamin

Your perfect boat will likely need to be larger than 40′. Keep in mind John is trying to produce a sailaway 40′ that is $200K. I don’t know if you’re throwing out ideas for John’s $200K cruiser or just what your dream boat would have.

Painting aluminum sets up a maintenance cycle. There’s a reason you see a lot of smart people with unpainted aluminum boats. I’d vote for an unpainted hull and someone who wants paint and maintenance can have the hull painted themselves.

A lot of your ideas are valid but add weight. More weight means you need a larger rig, more sail area, bigger winches, etc. The Dashew approach to ground tackle works wonderfully on their boats but few of their recent designs are under 70′ or so. I’m a fan of Dashew ketches but Steve would likely acknowledge that his philosophy would not transfer well to a 40 footer that is going to sell for less than a comparably sized Catalina and be set up for real world cruising. Most of the used Deerfoot/Sundeer/Dashew boats will sell for much closer to a million than $200K.

Interesting that you specify no chartplotter in view of the helm. This flies in the face of logic. When you need it most, you don’t want to be downstairs at the chart table.

4 reefs in the main is impractical and unnecessary. Every reef point adds extra weight along the leech. You would be setting yourself up for a lot of issues with leech flutter. If I were designing your main, I’d end up reducing the roach to help but it still wouldn’t be pretty. We design and supply mainsails all the time with a deep third reef that roughly corresponds to the area you’d have with a trysail.

Dutchman is quite expensive and the sail has to be built around their system requirements. It’s actually less expensive to go with a lazy bag (stack-pack, mack pack, etc) and you get a sail cover to boot. Plus you don’t have to carry spares for the system.

Teak is lovely to look at. A lot of us prefer it on other people’s boats. A teak caprail will need to be removed and rebedded periodically. Adding a bunch of holes you don’t need seems impractical. After all this is supposed to be a low cost go anywhere cruising boat, not a dock condo or something to park at the yacht club.

If I read your comment correctly, you want three forestays. Seems like a lot and you will have a lot of sail repairs from tacking and jibing. At most, I’d want to see a removable synthetic inner stay. Using a modern approach, it’s possible to have the ability to fly a staysail without even rigging a stay. Check out the various foil-less furlers from companies like Facnor and Karver.

Just out of curiosity, what boat do you have now and where has most of your cruising been?

Tom Keffer

I agree. Think VW Van — something simple and inexpensive — not a Mercedes Sprinter. The latter is definitely a nicer car, but it’s a lot more complicated and a lot more expensive.

Having said that, a good investment is to do some good, early systems design. A lot of the expense and complexity of a boat comes from having to go out in the market, looking for best of breed equipment, then scratching your head figuring out how to put it all together.

For example, installing a radar. The normal process is that you select a unit, then look for a mount that will fit it. Then you look for a pole to fit the mount. Then you have to find a place on the boat to put the pole. The perfect spot would be in starboard quarter, but dang! that’s where the autopilot is. Why didn’t I think of that earlier? So, you settle for the port quarter and give up a little storage space in the locker it will go through. You install the radome, then discover that the cable isn’t long enough to make it to the nav station. So, you buy a longer cable. And so on — I’m sure this story is familiar to anyone who has kitted out a boat.

While the A40 certainly should not come with a radar, its installation should be anticipated and a place reserved for it. For example, the arch could be predrilled, with a conduit nearby, ready to receive a certain brand of radome. It is known that the cable on this brand is long enough to make it from the arch to the nav station, where a place has also been reserved for it. There is an extra blank in the electrical panel where its breaker will go.

While this approach limits choices for the owner, in the long run it can result in tremendous total cost of ownership savings for the buyer.

-tk

David

Definitely would vote for the A40 to be unpainted, despite my preference for a painted hull. It’s just so pretty. Boats are all about compromise. I love the way you put it about teak: we all like it on other people’s boats. Very well put. Teak and painted hulls definitely have no place on the A40.

I currently sail a Catalina 36 with a dutchman out of Annapolis. It’s definitely no offshore boat. I have a small chartplotter under my soft dodger but it can be removed and taken down to the settee where I can better plan with paper charts laid out on the table. I’ve seen too many idiots at the helm fiddling with their chartplotter instead of actually steering, oblivious to other traffic. Plus, on long passages especially at night, I want the plotter to be under the dodger where its warmer.

Yes, the 3rd forestay in my mythical boat would be removable and synthetic so that you don’t need to remove the staysail to put on the storm jib.

I also like the other ideas I’ve seen here with a non-overlapping genoa on a furling stay, a stayless code-0, and a synthetic removable stay that uses a hanked on staysail and storm jib.

David

My boat has two reefs and I have a separate try sail which I don’t like having to setup when the wind howls. A 3rd deep reef sounds like a great idea. Thanks for the info on the reefs and leech problems.

Dave Benjamin

David,
Agree with your analysis and especially the comment about lack of a hard dodger. That should be standard on any cruising boat. We have an old Amel that has been an immensely practical and reliable platform. I appreciate the Dashew boats which were also designed by someone who actually logged many sea miles. Most designs I see are more a reflection of the marketing department’s demands than something actually designed and built for offshore service. I have tremendous respect and admiration for the work of Mr. Perry but I’ve experienced some hazardous components of his designs, for instance tall and steep companionway ladders. I don’t fault him, as he’s been commissioned by a client to produce what they view as marketable. There’s a marked difference between boats built to sell as many units as possible and those reflecting a naval architect’s vision of a true cruising boat based on his own real world cruising experiences.

I sense the Adventure 40 will be based on what actually works in the real world of cruising.

Sean

I think the point is the power of crowd sourcing, not the details of the CA36 design.

Even if you don’t like what Mr. Perry has done, we can learn something from him about using the web to field innovative design elements.

Dave Benjamin

Agreed Sean. I think the FT10m was an excellent example of a collaborative development environment. And to be clear, there is a lot I like about Mr. Perry’s work, particularly some of his custom designs. A friend of mine captains a 72′ custom Perry and we are really impressed with that boat. It bears no resemblance to the production boat designs that I’ve been critical of.

Dave Benjamin

In boatbuilding, much of the cost is building the interior. The hull is usually about 15 or 20 percent of the budget if I’m not mistaken. If I were building a boat for myself I’d probably opt for more of a workboat finish than a yacht finish. It’s more economical and in many respects more practical for daily use. I’m wondering about the expectations for level of finish in a $200K 40′ cruising boat. If you’re a prospective owner, would you be content with a practical workboat finish?

Matt Marsh

Hi Dave,
Personally, I’m a fan of a clean, white painted interior with minimal wood trim, in the old Herreshoff tradition. It’s easier and faster to build (and, IMHO, looks cheerier) than “yacht standard” varnished-hardwood-everything interior design. You can spend as much or as little as you like on an interior. I suspect we will be targeting a similar standard of finish as that found in the kitchens of $175,000 homes on land- elegant and functional, but not reeking of excess cash.

You are, I believe, correct that the hull of a “normal” yacht is 15% to 20% of her total price. Without going into too much detail, I will say that I think the Adventure 40’s basic hull and structure will be about the same price as that of any similarly sized, well-built boat. It will appear proportionally higher, because (a) the A40’s price tag will be a fair bit lower than luxury yachts of comparable size, and (b) the cost breakdown of an A40 will be weighted towards the basic structure, the rig and the essential mechanical and electrical systems, as these are the features that will be important when the new boat is being steered into an unfamiliar, rock-strewn harbour after a long passage, and that will support her resale value 20 years later.

RDE (Richard Elder)

“Perfect” is in the eye of the beholder, and “cruising” means different things to anyone who utters the word.

Here is a boat that meets the definition of perfect for some people, a number of whom followed the discussion of the Bob 36—. ( http://tabu44.webs.com)

Beautiful, yes. A perfect cruising boat? Perhaps if you only cruise between Newport Beach CA and Hultaco Mexico, and spend most of your time in marinas being admired or sailing circles around the beer can crowd.

I’ve built and lived on furniture boats, but for my definition of cruising this grey girl is far closer to the perfect boat: (http://www.bethandevans.com/hawk.htm) And yes—– if it were mine there would be wood in the interior!

And if “cruising” means that patch of water from the Bahamas to Cartegena to the San Blas and up to Belize, then my Sunchaser 58 catamaran design is my idea of the perfect cruising boat—–

And in my current landlocked state, the definition of perfect expands to include a whole lot more alternatives!

Dave Benjamin

Richard,

You are making some incorrect assumptions about Tabu, the Farr 44. She has ventured much further than you think. We have been aboard Tabu and know the owners. That boat is pretty amazing. It’s not what most people would cruise in but you have to take into account the experience levels of the owners who up until recently were running Alaska Eagle for Orange Coast College. Tabu is the second Farr 44 they have built and cruised. It meets the requirements for someone looking for a very fast cruiser. It’s not for your typical recreational sailors but in the right hands, it’s a fantastic shorthanded cruising and racing boat.

David

Hawk is a fantastic boat and I agree… I love wood interiors. I might add a watermaker to it though.

RDE (Richard Elder)

Hi Dave,
Sorry if I gave the impression that a boat like Tabu was incapable of sailing outside the conditions that prevail on the west coast of Mexico. What I was trying to say is that Mexico’s west coast represents the type of conditions the design is optimized for. In point of fact if you look at private sailboats that have rounded Cape Horn you’d find many far less suited to that extreme test than Tabu.

That said, is a cold molded Farr 44 the “perfect” cruising boat for the kind of sailing that John and Phyllis have done for the past 20 years? Hardly.

I’ve built two cold molded boats in that same size range, both with far heavier scantlings than Taru. Beautiful, quiet, dry inside, relatively stiff for their weight. However, a close encounter with a whale is not unheard of off Baja, and if that were to happen I’d far rather have an aluminum or a Kevlar/epoxy CoreCell hull under me than the more brittle cold molded wood one.

Fast? Certainly compared to the ordinary cruising boat she might encounter along the way. Compared to the 352 mile day recorded by the similar length Schionning 46 cruising catamaran “Barroca” , sailed under autopilot with the young couple’s pre-teen children standing watches as crew? Hardly!

Horses for courses.

Dave Benjamin

Richard,

Some cruising friends of ours own “Sea Level”, a Schionning Wilderness 48. I admit to lusting a bit after that boat. Great boat and quite fast. I’m not much of a multi-hull guy but a Schionning that I could afford would be tempting. The regular cruising cats don’t hold much appeal for me but I enjoy getting out on them. We put sails on a Catana and that was a fun boat to play on in the tropics. A 352 mile day is pretty impressive but I could see pulling that off in the right conditions.

RDE (Richard Elder)

I believe Barroca is a second generation Schionning design, a step up in performance from the “Wilderness” series. His latest is called the G-Force, and has the currently fashionable reverse bows and sexier appearance.

A catamaran built properly, with retractable daggerboards, carbon fiber wing mast and fiber rigging is a far cry from the plodding condomarans we are used to seeing. On the other hand a condomaran stocked with nubile young women crew does have a certain appeal for a place like the BVI! (am i allowed to suggest such a thing on a serious site like this?)

RDE (Richard Elder)

Anybody who doesn’t want a hard dodger on their cruising boat should watch this video of the VOR boats sailing through an intense low in the bay of Biscay. (To be honest, I doubt if you’ll be sailing at 25 knots with 40 knots of wind and 15-20 ft. seas!)

Even if you have a hard dodger, check out some of the best ocean racing footage I’ve ever seen!

http://www.sailinganarchy.com/index_page1.php

Speaking of hard dodgers for people who hate hard dodgers, here is a great one I spent a couple of weeks sailing with. Heavy duty zip-in panels enclose the hardtop, work almost as well as glass, and can be removed for ventilation in the tropics.

Patrick

Hi, Have been following this, signed up already.

What are the thoughts on hybrid electric propulsion? From what I have read it sounds good, but I don’t have the knowledge or experience to judge/value what has been written. Thanks, Patrick

Dave Benjamin

Promising technology but not appropriate for a boat with a $200K price tag. You could end up with twice or more of the expense of a standard diesel. Plus if you’re in some third world country, you have a much better chance of effecting repairs on a Yanmar than you do on an unknown electric drive.

C. Dan

Are you sure about that Dave?

My understanding is that most electric drives are just off-the-shelf electric motors that can be found (and repaired) anywhere in the world. The simplicity of an electric drive is one of the key selling points.

I think that range is the best argument against electric drives in cruising sailboats (for me they are a no-brainer for daysailors already), as it becomes difficult to satisfy range criteria without breaking the bank on batteries (although that may change as the price of lithium batteries comes down over the next several years).

With a hybrid you don’t have that problem, of course. The fixed costs will be higher than a ‘diesel engine plus alternator’ option, although you will gain some back in fuel efficiency, as the generator converts to electricity much more efficiently vs. a engine.

If you’re already planning on having a diesel generator (in addition to diesel engine), then an electric-drive hybrid system will likely be cheaper on the front end as well.

Dave Benjamin

The drive motor I’m sure is simple enough but there’s more to the installation than just a genset and a motor. There has to be some sort of control unit. If it’s electronic, it can break. Batteries could be an issue as well. We had a customer with an AGM battery that went bad in Malaysia some years ago. As I recall, it was no simple matter to get an AGM there. Maybe it’s easier now. As for lithium and other high tech batteries, I imagine you could be waiting a while outside the US or Europe.

Batteries are considered “hazardous material” and are not accepted for transport on all air carriers. There is a special exemption for wheelchair batteries so people with electric wheelchairs are able to fly. I spent part of my life as an airline pilot in case you’re wondering where I pulled that fact from. Many passenger airlines are not certified to carry hazardous material other than in very specified instances.

I’m not at all opposed to hybrid power but I don’t think it’s feasible for a 40′ boat designed to be a simple cruiser at a $200K price point. I can’t imagine putting a generator on the boat as they are practically as expensive as a diesel auxiliary, add weight, require maintenance, spares to be carried, etc.

My vision for the Adventure 40 is simplicity in most regards. At this point in time, that’s something like a Yanmar diesel turning a straight shaft (no V-drive or saildrive). Standard batteries should be lead acid IMHO, which can be replaced anywhere in the world.

Erik de Jong

For the sake of the argument, you need to make the distinction between hybrid and diesel-electric. These are two completely different systems, with both their pros and cons.
Diesel electric: there is a diesel generator installed that generates electricity and stores it in batteries till you need it for your electrical propulsion.
Hybrid has a diesel engine that is directly driving the propeller shaft, but that has only 60-70% of the power you would normally install in your boat. In the drive train is an electrical motor installed that will give the last bit of power in case you need it, or if you only need 30-40% of installed power (enough to reach hull speed in normal conditions) you will sail on electrical motor alone.

The disadvantage of diesel electric is the fact that 100% of the mechanical energy is transformed to electrical energy (with a minimum of 12% loss!), than stored in a battery, and than transformed back to mechanical energy again at a 12% loss.

On a cruising boat, there are conditions that you need your engine to run for 48 hours or even worse, in that case you would need a generator on board with a capacity of at least 130% of a regular propulsion diesel.
On a cruising yacht, where you have a relatively low hotel load, this is not an efficient system, it is more expensive, it is significantly heavier and generally consumes more diesel than a standard diesel driven shaft.

As for the hybrid:
This system is perfect for on a cruising yacht. Our engines are only used to go anchor up or leave/enter a dock in 90% of the cases. This never takes longer than 15 minutes resulting in sailing on a cold diesel for about 80% of the time. As you probably know, a cold one wears off up to 12 times faster than a diesel engine that has reached service temperature. This results in a life expectancy of +/- 3000 hours instead of the regular 20.000+ that you usually can get out of a (proper used) diesel.

This is where hybrid is an advantage. in cases you only need a maximum of 30-40% of your power, you use the electrical motor only. Cruising along on hull speed for days at an end is also possible at only 30-40% of the installed power; thus electrical (till you run out of battery power, than the diesel kicks in).
If you install a fixed blade propeller on your shaft, the electrical motor works as a generator pumping up the batteries while sailing. I know from practical experience that 8-9 hours of sailing is roughly enough to generate enough electricity to run on 100% electrical power for an hour. This way it is possible to extent the life of your diesel with about factor 3 on running hours and safe on fuel. In the end, this results in financial savings

The diesel in a hybrid system is smaller than a regular diesel engine which compensates for a big part of the costs for the electrical part and also compensates for the weight. The fuel consumption reduction results in a smaller diesel tank for the same action-radius which compensates for the weight of electricity storage (batteries).

I’m a big fan of hybrid propulsion on long distance cruising yachts, unfortunately I only “discovered” the system when our boat was already motorized, but fairly soon, I will replace what we have with a new hybrid set-up.

As for maintenance: this is much easier to do than you think. The electrical motor and regulators are not much different than the alternators you already have on your engine or the generator part that is connected to a ships generator diesel. It is already there anyway and the 3rd world knows how to deal with it. The weakest link is and will probably always be the diesel engine. There is not much that can go wrong with an electrical motor and carrying a spare one with you is not a big deal either, they are small and don’t weigh much. Aligning is not really required and it is literately plug and play making it easy to replace, even whilst at sea.

It would definitely be something that I would want on my boat, but I realize that initial costs are higher than a standard propulsion which might make it a no-go.

Dave Benjamin

I appreciate all the info and explanation. As for the contention that most cruising yachts don’t run the engine much longer than 15 minutes at a time, I suspect you’ve spent most of your time in the tradewind belts. If you bring a boat from Mexico to San Francisco, you are motoring for over a week, much longer if you are going all the way up to Puget Sound. To sail from Mexico to San Francisco, it’s almost easiest to go via Hawaii. Not everyone has time for that route. The plus side is that it’s not much more time to sail to venture to Alaska. There are many other areas where cruisers need to motor a lot. I know of boats based in the Med that have put 1000’s of hours on their diesels.

I respectfully disagree with your contention that a typically used diesel lasts 3000 hours. I know many of my fellow Amel owners have racked up over 7000 or 8000 hours on their old Perkins and Volvo diesels. A modern diesel should exceed those numbers if maintenance is properly executed. I fully expect far more than 3000 hours of service out of our Yanmar turbodiesel but we are very conscientious about maintenance and operating practices. We hardly ever run the engine without it getting up to operating temp for a decent period of time. In fact even if we can sail to within a few hundred feet of our dock or anchoring spot, we’ll proceed under power earlier than needed to avoid the kind of harmful short term operation you describe.

If I were building a yacht for myself, I think I’d lean towards a hybrid solution. I feel it’s outside the scope of the Adventure 40 project. My budget for a custom build would be well over $200K though.

Erik de Jong

Hello Dave,

We sail our boat mainly in the Arctic and I must admit that I barely ever sailed in the trade winds. I crossed the Atlantic several times against the dominant winds and currents. But I never used the motor for stretches like that, I prefer to sail, even if it is three weeks against the wind with a low passing over every second day. Let’s say: it’s part of the job and I find it to be one of the rewarding challenges of the cruising life.

In this context, it is also not strange that you get more hours on your engine without problems, that is because you use it properly. 20,000+ should not a problem in that case.

When I built our boat, we bought a 6 cilinder Ford from 1979 that was used in a fishing boat. 38,000 hours and we only needed a minor overhaul to keep it going. Now we are three years of practically full time cruising further and still no problems. It is all about how you use it.

Fact is however that most cruisers sail with the winds and never have to use their engines. 90% of the cruisers sail around the world along the coconut route and there are only few that leave these waters to explore the rest of the world. I think this ratio would be reflected on the Adventure 40 as well.

I myself am convinced that hybrid is a good and redundant propulsion system that will save money on the long run, but I agree with you that a $200k might not be the best combination if one looks at initial cost only.

Dave Benjamin

The premise of keeping the Adventure 40 affordable to a number of people is key in this endeavor. Otherwise it will be a 300-400K boat and there’s already plenty of those available. With a hybrid there is the additional cost of the electrics, batteries, labor to install, and any cost savings could take over a decade to recoup.

Michael Mc Laughlin

Yanmar have what I think a clever idea of putting a generator between the engine and gearbox.
here is their own bumph.
Generator Set KMG65E

Onboard Electricity

Developed to work with Yanmar’s 3JH5E and 4JH5E series diesel engines, the KMG65E is a compact and economical solution to the supply of onboard electricity. The generator is a mere 105mm deep and weights just 21 kg, fitting between the engine and transmission, whether standard gearbox or SD50 Saildrive. Sufficient electricity is generated, irrespective of engine speed or load – for example, to run kitchen equipment, a computer, television and music system. The KMG65E can also be used to charge the boat’s batteries.

Choice of one or two remote power boxes
Providing 3kW or two times 3kW at 230 volts. 50Hz
Generator fits between engine and transmission
Simple to install and maintain

schema GENSET-KMG65E

KMG65E Brochure

Engines Accessories Program 2011 Brochure
(Europe only)

Dave Benjamin

John,

Totally agree. And those that want to have some additional electrical oomph can purchase a Honda 2kw gas portable generator quite cheaply. Those are very popular here on the west coast.

On our boat the previous owner fitted a large Balmar alternator on a cumbersome large mount in front of the engine. I’m not keen on the Balmar as the power output curve is marginal, they run hot, and eat bearings.

Tom Keffer

Gosh, it’s nice to have a Prime Minister!

And a cabinet, of course. 🙂

-tk

Greg Rudzinski

Suggestions for the Adventure 40:

1. A bullet proof yet light rudder with built in emergency back-up rudder transom fittings. If wheel steering then cabling (no hydraulic) needs full access and adjustability.
2. Ground tackle oversized (no bow sprit).
3. Diesel engine oversized and simple.
4. Keep sails a manageable size.

Do not put ports of any kind through the hull freeboard ! All modern mass produced sailboats compromise their hulls with ports through the freeboard 🙁

Tough choices:
1 .Hard dodger vs. canvas dodger.
2. Reefing systems.
3. 12 volt systems vs. mechanical systems.
4. Keel types.

My current boat is a Bruce Roberts Offshore 38 Ketch plan B center cockpit. The boat is set up as a liveaboard and single handed cruiser. The rudder is a skeg type and seems too heavy. The keel has a 6 foot draft that could be reduced some. The ketch rig is balanced and easy to handle but doesn’t go to weather well.

Best of luck on your new design.

Greg Rudzinski