Adventure 40, It’s About Displacement and Righting Moment

Q1: What do the Adventure 40 and a Westsail 32 have in common?
Q2: What’s the biggest difference between the Adventure 40 and a Valiant 40?
Q3: What parameter governs the size and expense of the mast and rigging of a sailboat?
Q4: Of the common metrics used to describe a boat (LOA, LWL, Beam, Displacement, Draft), which one tells you the least about the boat and how much she will cost to build and maintain?

A1: They are both about the same size.
A2: The Valiant 40 is a bigger boat, almost 30% bigger.
A3: Maximum righting moment.
A4: LOA (Length overall).

The point of this little quiz is to show that boat design can be really counter-intuitive. And while we voyaging sailors certainly don’t need to become naval architects to select the right boat for our needs, the way that boats are generally described and talked about these days does set us up to fail if we don’t take the trouble to understand the fundamentals of how our boats work.

Size is About Displacement

For some reason the first metric that we always use when describing a boat and comparing it to others is length overall. But that is simply wrong. The right number to use is displacement, being the weight of the water that a boat displaces. Or to simplify further, the size of the hole in the water that the boat makes.

If we think for a moment, this truth becomes obvious. If two boats weigh about the same, like the Adventure 40 and Westsail 32, the volume of the hole in the water they make will be about the same too, and therefore they will be capable of holding about the same amount of gear and people. Further, it will take about the same amount of material to line that hole in the water (the hull) and about the same amount of furniture and gear to fill it. And theretofore these two boats are about the same size, and will, assuming the same construction techniques, cost about the same to build.

Using the same logic, we can see that the Valiant 40 is a bigger boat than the Adventure 40, and will be much more expensive to build, even though they are about the same length, because the former weighs much more than the latter.

Rig Size is About Stability

Now let’s turn to the size and cost of rigging a sailboat, what determines that? The answer is a single number that has nothing to do with overall length: the maximum righting moment.

Imagine you attach a line to the top of the mast of a sailboat and use it to winch the boat over on her side. The strain on the rope will start off quite small, but as the boat is heeled and the keel is pulled away from the vertical, the pull needed to keep heeling the boat will increase until a maximum load is reached. That is the maximum righting moment. And, as we perform this experiment, the loads on the rigging will go up in exactly the same way.

The same thing happens when the heeling is a result of wind pressure on the sails. The loads on the sails and winches will again max out when the boat’s keel weight exerts the maximum force against them in trying to right the boat. And if we make the boat more beamy, or increase the weight of the keel, she will be more stable and the rig will cost more too because everything will need to be stronger and bigger.

By the way, don’t confuse maximum righting moment with safety from capsize or knockdown. It is perfectly possible, in fact likely, that a long thin boat (like the Adventure 40) of a given displacement will have a lower maximum righting moment and therefore a less expensive rig package than a short beamy boat, and still be safer in the ocean from capsize risk. Don’t believe me? Think about a catamaran, which has a huge maximum righting moment due to her extreme beam—this is called form stability—but a quite low ultimate stability angle and almost no ability to return to upright from a capsize.

(I’m not beating up on cats here. I do know that they have advantages too. I’m simply using them to illustrate a basic point.)

Also, don’t make the mistake of assuming that a longer narrower boat with a lower maximum righting moment must heel more (be more tender) than a shorter fatter boat of the same weight. In fact, because the former hull form tends to be easily driven through the water, if designed properly, she can be sailed fast with less sail area and little or no more heel angle than her beamy competitors.

Why 40 Feet?

So we can now see that you could build the Adventure 40 at a lot of different lengths and still spend the same amount.

So why 40 feet? Well, first off, she may get a bit longer, or a bit shorter, as the designer optimizes the hull form. Displacement may go up a bit too, as we make sure that she is sea kindly. But a few initial sketches have confirmed that she will be between 39 and 41 feet overall, 18,000 to 20,000 lbs displacement, and comparatively narrow, but not excessively so. This combination will yield the best combination of speed and sea-kindliness.

Adventure 40 Price

The point of all this is that the Adventure 40’s target price of less than US$200,000 is a lot more credible when you understand that she is a smaller boat than many 40 footers and also, because she is narrower with a lower maximum righting moment, she will have a cheaper rig, sail, and winch package than many of her heavier and/or beamier competitors of the same length.

To see what this means in the real world of hard cold cash let’s compare the Adventure 40 to the Beneteau Oceanis 45, a 23,000 lb boat that sells for about US$225,000. The Adventure 40 will be:

  • Substantially smaller.
  • Have a much smaller rig and lower maximum righting moment.
  • Have no dealer network.
  • Be tiller steered instead of having twin wheels. The savings here alone should pay for the massive strength that we plan to build into the Adventure 40.

It’s all starting to make sense, wouldn’t you say?

By the way, Matt Marsh, frequent commenter, engineer, yacht designer, and all round smart guy, has done a preliminary materials and labour analysis that also indicates that the target price is doable.

Adventure 40 Advantages

But you know what the really cool thing is? Not only will the Adventure 40 be less expensive and better built than most so-called cruising boats out there. She will also be a just plain better boat to go to sea in.

The Adventure 40 will be:

    • Much faster than her short fat sisters of the same displacement.
    • As fast as boats of the same water line length (the most important parameter governing speed) that are bigger and much more expensive.
    • Much more efficient under power than a short fat boat.
    • Much easier to sail with lower loads on the sheets and halyards than a wide boat.
    • Much more comfortable when sailing offshore than a short fat boat.

Not only that, but the Adventure 40 will have a better and more usable interior layout than shorter boats of the same displacement. Counter to common wisdom, given the same displacement, it is easier to design a good interior for a long relatively thin boat than a short fat one.

Again, if you think about it, the reason for this becomes obvious: You simply run out of boat before you get everything into a short fat boat. For example, if you want, on one side starting from aft, an eight foot cockpit, eight foot galley, seven foot salon berth and seven foot forward cabin berth, that totals 30-feet and some inches for structure. Doable in a 40-foot boat, but not in a 35 foot one, particularly if you want any storage at all.

You really can have your cake (reasonable price) and eat it too (a great sea boat). Of course if you want a wide condo-like interior to impress your friends in the marina with (and to get thrown across any time you do go offshore) then the Adventure 40 is not for you. Likewise if you would rather the builder of your boat spent money on twin wheels to impress…well I guess they’d impress someone…rather than fitting a simple strong rudder with a tiller and putting the money saved into massively strong construction.


OK, I know I simplified in this post, maybe even oversimplified. For example I left much about form stability and everything about wetted surface, prismatic coefficient and water plane area out of the discussion. Please don’t waste a lot of your time and mine nitpicking at those items, or any others that you can think of, that are not material to the overall point of this post. Keep in mind that I’m trying to explain, in the simplest and shortest way possible, the factors that effect boat size and cost to build.

On the other hand, if you have a question, or if I have missed something that is material to the core point of the post, I’m all ears. Please leave a comment.

Further Reading

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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.

87 comments… add one
  • C. Dan Nov 30, 2012, 2:38 pm

    Rather than try to form coherent sentences of my own, I will just steal one of yours:

    For some reason the first metric that we always use when describing a boat and comparing it to others is [price paid]. But that is simply wrong. The right number to use is [total 10 year cost of ownership].

    I think if we could re-frame the discussion around this point, the cost/benefit of the A-40 would be even more manifest.

    • John Nov 30, 2012, 6:02 pm

      Hi C. Dan,

      You could not be more right. We talk about how we will deliver a high quality simple boat, which translates into low cost of ownership in this post.

  • Dick Stevenson Nov 30, 2012, 5:47 pm

    Dear John,
    At some point, it might be wise to take your ideas, with the combined resources of this group, and generate some more broadly based publicity with the goal to educating the general sailing audience about what a good sea worthy sailboat looks like and is built like. This has been sorely missing in recent decades to my mind and I see a generation of sailors who do not have much notion of what attributes a good ocean going sailing vessel should have nor do they have many examples ready at hand. I suspect that there could be interest and an audience. I am reminded of the book “Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of Offshore Yachts” (collaboratively authored and put together by the Cruising Club of America) that was one of my bibles (among others) in the early days. Your writings and the responses of the site’s participants could easily generate a few articles or be put together into a book format. This recent blog alone could be an article in itself. This in turn could generate some momentum at the right time for the public and/or a manufacturer to get excited and on board. It is an exciting endeavor very likely to appeal to some minority of sailors, but also to many armchair types who could root for the project all leading to momentum, interest and a wider base for generating sales.
    My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

    • John Nov 30, 2012, 6:14 pm

      Hi Dick,

      Thanks for the kind endorsement of the concepts expressed in this post. Comparing our stuff to “Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of Offshore Yachts” is high praise indeed. Thank you again.

      Phyllis, Colin and I have talked at length about expanding our audience. The traditional way to do that, would be publishing articles in the magazines or writing a book. But if we were to go off on those tangents, this site would suffer. And since our audience here is approaching that of most of the established magazines and is growing fast, we have decided that our best bet is to concentrate our efforts here at AAC.

      One thing that is on the cards is to put all of our boat selection articles together into some form of eBook that would be sold here. Of course, like everything else in life, time is the controlling resource.

  • Andreas Nov 30, 2012, 8:57 pm

    Very interesting! And some really good and simple explanations. I think I refer to this text later on when I sell my own boat. Some of it makes sense for my old 38´as well. Eager to read more later on.

    /Nemo in Puerto Williams, Chile

  • richard s. Nov 30, 2012, 9:49 pm

    dear phyllis and john, what am i doing wrong with the donation site as it won’t register my fl address…wants only canadian data even though i indicate u.s. as the country ? this is your christmas gift so please advise and thanks

    richard in tampa bay
    s/v lakota

    • John Dec 1, 2012, 8:39 am

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks very much for trying to donate. I’m not sure what is happening here. I have just tested the donate button and it works fine for me. Where you by any chance using a slow wifi connection? Sometimes that can cause this kind of thing. Also see RainDog’s suggestion.

      Also it could have been a problem at PayPal, while they are used by millions of Internet business, like us, they are far from perfect!

      Please advise if you have any further problems.

  • RainDog Nov 30, 2012, 11:08 pm


    Change the country in the drop down to a non-us country, the change it to the US again. Make sure you click on the country with your mouse and not just use the arrow keys and return. This will populate the states after you select the US again.

    I had the same issue and got around it this way.

    • John Dec 1, 2012, 8:40 am

      Hi RainDog,

      Thanks for the tip. Much appreciated.

  • bruno Dec 1, 2012, 10:35 am

    Hi John,

    Great post and good easy understable synthesis of the main points of what should become a great design,
    i would add the title of a recent post of the french forums :
    “Esthétique d’un voilier et rapport confort/performances”,
    easily translated by : esthetics of a sailboat vs comfort and performances,
    S&S used to say that a nice boat would sail fine, a fast shortcut to say what we all think,
    sleek and nice lines make it all tru in the end,
    (even if mine is a short and bulky old hull, but sleek one in my heart …)

  • Matt Marsh Dec 1, 2012, 10:40 am

    Great post, John.

    To elaborate on one common point of confusion: There are at least four different ways of stating a yacht’s displacement.

    When we talk about the Adventure 40’s performance, we are usually talking about “m_LDC”, the displacement at design load- including crew, fuel and gear so that she’s sitting at her designed waterline. This is approximately what she’ll weigh in actual service.

    Some marketing materials for other boats state “m_LCC” (the dry weight, fresh from the factory) or “m_MOC” (the displacement in minimum operating condition, including minimal crew, minimal gear and 1/2 tankage). This makes the boat appear lighter, and her performance ratios more favourable, than would be the case in normal service.

    There are no set-in-stone numbers yet, but the very rough ballpark for the Adventure 40 is m_LCC ~8300kg and m_LDC ~10250kg, making her about 20% smaller than the Beneteau mentioned in the post.

    (PS- John, there’s an extra http/ in that Beneteau link.)

    • John Dec 1, 2012, 12:03 pm

      Hi Matt,

      A really good point. For example, most specifications for the Valiant 40 say the boat weighs about 24,000 lb. But I’m going to guess that the average Valiant 40 or 42 (same hull) in full cruising trim is pushing 30,000 lb and some may even be over that. In fact one of the things that has made the design so popular is the boat’s load carrying capacity.

      Would you agree, Dick and Scott?

  • Matt Marsh Dec 1, 2012, 10:47 am

    One other thought.

    Rigging costs are indeed dictated by rig size, and therefore righting moment. But the relationship is not linear. The winches, blocks, tracks and such to handle an 800 sq.ft sail cost far more than double what you’d pay for gear to handle a 400 sq.ft sail. There are also sudden jumps in price as you go larger- at some point, you hit a threshold where you need electric help (or beefcake crew on coffee grinders) to turn the winches, and the hardware cost skyrockets.

    Keeping the Adventure 40 slim, efficient and not too portly will keep her rig size (and therefore cost) in a regime where a crew of two average adults can handle her without having to rely on electric assistance.

    • John Dec 1, 2012, 12:08 pm

      Hi Matt,

      Another good point. For one, winch price seems to go up by the square of the power ratio!

      Not only will this help us hit the price point, it will also allow us to provide more and more powerful winches, relative to the loads, than most production boats.

      One of the silliest trends in cruising boats, which are often sailed by the creaky and middle aged, is that they very often have less powerful and fewer winches than race boats sailed by gorillas—what sense does that make?

  • Will Taylor Dec 1, 2012, 10:53 am

    Very educational post. Many thanks.

    Jus wondering if there might be pilot berths in the A40?

    Will Taylor

    • John Dec 1, 2012, 12:29 pm

      Hi Will,

      It’s a bit early to say, although I think there might be one. Unlikely that there would be two, because I don’t think we would have enough beam for that. However, rest assured that there will be really good sea-berths for at least two people, and preferentially three. Here at AAC we are holy terrors for good sea berths. See here and here.

      • Dave Benjamin Dec 6, 2012, 3:58 pm


        The older Amel’s like our have a nice arrangement for the sea berth. The back rest swings around and becomes a padded leeboard. I could easily document the design with some photos. We find it’s brilliantly simple and the settee makes for a great berth in any conditions. We don’t have the berth in the pass-thru like some of the larger and newer models.

        • John Dec 6, 2012, 6:46 pm

          Hi Dave,

          Sounds interesting. When we get to that level of detail, it would be great to get photos. (During the design phase, I will be going through every one of the comments to make sure that we take advantage of every suggestion like this.)

      • Will Taylor Dec 13, 2012, 12:40 pm

        John —

        Thanks for the reply. Pilot berths are a fetish of mine. Perhaps the worst experience I have ever had on a boat was aboard a J42 in the 1999 Halifax race, nine in crew. The J42 has two settees, OK as sea berths with lee cloths, and one quarter berth, so in the best conditions there will be one or two people sleepingon the cabin sole. We had a 30 to 40 knot Nor’easter with the most uncomfortable sea conditions I have ever experienced, all nine crew seasick and the off watch and two or three others all below trying to find a place to lie down. Chaos. Drives me crazy that no production boat that I am aware of offers pilot berths these days.


  • Horatio Marteleira Dec 1, 2012, 11:20 am

    Very clear and helpful explanation, as usual. But there’s one aspect that doesn’t make sense “to me”.
    You said “the volume of the hole in the water they [boats] make will be about the same too, and therefore they will be capable of holding about the same amount of gear and people”.
    Won’t an overbuilt (heavy) boat have a lower load-bearing capacity than a larger lighter boat of the same weight, insofar as the heavily built boat’s extra weight is, in essence, cargo?
    Not nitpicking, just wondering if I’m missing something here.
    Horatio Marteleira

    • John Dec 1, 2012, 11:57 am

      Hi Horatio,

      Hum, interesting question. You are right that it is not quite as simple as I portray it in the post. Yes, if you build one boat very heavily and the other very lightly, maybe out of high modulus (say carbon) materials, both at the same displacement, there will be differences: The more lightly build boat will, unassuming the same keel weight, have more volume inside the hull and will float higher, but the volume of the hole in the water will be identicle. So, yes, the lightly built boat will seem bigger. Also, the designer of the lighter boat could add the weight saved in the hull to the keel and make the boat more stable, but of the same hull volume. However, no matter what happens, as long as the two boats weigh the same, they will displace the same volume of water.

      It is important to understand that my post compares boats of about the same type: cruising mono-hulls built of conventional materials. However, if one tries to compare radically different boats types, things get a lot more complex. For example an modern Open 60 displaces about the same as an Adventure 40 (scary but true) but to say that the boats are the same size would be a bit of a stretch.

      I think I have all of that right, but my brain hurts! (Matt?)

      • Horatio Marteleira Dec 1, 2012, 12:17 pm

        Thanks John,

        You know, for years I’ve been reading that heavy displacement boats have a better load-bearing capacity…the logic seemed to elude me but I never gave it much thought until now (maybe I didn’t want to hurt my brain either). As the owner of a Corbin 39, it also made me feel better; don’t we all like to feel good about our boat choices?
        Anyway, maybe that’s why your blog is so popular and interesting – you push the right buttons to get us boat owners thinking.

      • Matt Marsh Dec 1, 2012, 12:32 pm

        Sounds about right, John.

        Horatio, it’s worth noting that the bare structure of a cruising monohull accounts for only about 30% of the boat’s dry weight. 40% is keel, and the remaining 30% is interior joinery, hardware, engine and rig.

        The net difference between a “built strong like bear” Adventure 40 and a “built light and fragile like bird” Adventure 40 would be about one-third of the structural weight, or less than one-tenth of the boat’s dry weight. There is no stability penalty for beefing up the structure, and the performance penalty for the extra structural weight is on the order of 2%- a good sacrifice, in my opinion, for a boat that will have a far longer service life and be much less prone to damage.

        • Horatio Marteleira Dec 1, 2012, 1:08 pm

          I agree with you.

          However, I was basically saying the following (another perspective of what I originally stated): A heavy displacement boat of the same length and beam as a lighter displacement boat will not be able to carry as big a load. This is because the heavy displacement boat is inherently already carrying an extra load (its heavier weight).

          • John Dec 2, 2012, 12:46 pm

            Hi Horatio,

            This is an example of where the very simple model I used in the post starts to break down. Load carrying is much more complex than that. First off it is unlikely that heavy displacement and light displacement boats would have same length and beam. Also, to compare in the area, we first have to define how we define heavy and light displacement, which is expressed by the boat’s length to displacement ratio. Another big issue is water plane area, which affects how much a given weight will drive the boat down in the water. Finally, interior volume, in and of itself, does not tell us much about load carrying capability. For example, an Open 60 has huge interior volume, but very low load carrying capability.

            Having said all that. Pulling all the factors together that affect load carrying is really beyond this discussion, and probably my capabilities too!

            If you want to really get a good understanding of this stuff, I would recommend “The Nature of Boats” by David Gerr.

  • Paul Tetreault Dec 1, 2012, 11:38 am

    Hi John,
    I have been enjoying your postings for months; usually I’m in full agreement with your conservative approach and philosophy to off-shore sailing …and I find myself in full agreement again.

    As the owner of a Bill Tripp Jr. 1961 Block Island 40 (Series I) yawl, you are in many ways describing Tripp’s design approach …albeit without the CCA rule-beating overhangs, the 800 lb. bronze swing keel or the rule-beating mizzen stay sail. (Items that I love …for their simple beauty and for island-hopping through skinny water). Other than those (okay …big) differences, you might be describing the same boat!

    The BI40 was the first “big glass boat”, the forerunner to the Bermuda 40 and is literally a floating rock, solid glass throughout. That’s one reason (for good or bad) we decided to restore her. I am sure she weighs a lot more than today’s typical 40s. At 22,000 lb, she’s a big, relatively narrow hole in the water.

    My question is; when comparing the A40 to the heavier displaced Valient, how might construction and hull lay-up differences effect the calculations? …or might the differences be only minor?

    Thanks again for managing this incredibly worthwhile site! Best, Paul

    • John Dec 1, 2012, 12:11 pm

      Hi Paul,

      Yes the B40 is a great boat and lovely to look at too.

      As to your question, see my answer to Horatio. Bottom line, not much, as long as we are comparing boats of the roughly the same type.

  • Dave Benjamin Dec 1, 2012, 1:21 pm

    In comparing these boats, it can be noted that cost of ownership for the A40 will be far less than for that 30 year old Valiant. Here in the US, a boat mortgage can be had for 4% or less at 15-20 year terms. And if someone were to buy and refit an older Valiant, they would have a substantial percentage of what they would pay for an A40 invested.

    • John Dec 1, 2012, 6:00 pm

      Hi Dave,

      Wow, that’s a really good point and one I had not thought of. I, like many, see the seventies as the good old days in terms of the middle class’ ability to fund a voyaging sailboat. But we do have one advantage over that time now: as you point out, record low interest rates.

      As to buying and refitting an old Valiant 40, my guess is that, unless they were very lucky, they would actually have more in her than a brand new Adventure 40. And that assuming that they did most of the work themselves.

      • Dave Benjamin Dec 2, 2012, 1:32 am

        Refits are exceedingly expensive and very little of that investment can be regained. When we bought our Amel Maramu, the previous owner had invested about $130K and a few years into the refit before health issues forced the sale. Needless to say he lost almost all that investment. I would expect the A40 to do a good job of maintaining value. So if someone buys one, uses it for an extended cruise, they would likely be able to re-sell and recapture a far greater percentage of their purchase price than they could ever hope to refitting an older boat. And while there’s certainly challenges commissioning a new boat, if they keep things simple and quality control is good, it will be a win for sure.

  • capt richie Dec 1, 2012, 4:49 pm

    A minor point perhaps but why not aim for an LOA a few milllimeters shy of the 12-meter cutoff in the COLREGS so as to reduce the future costs of compliance? I expect more and more regulation and fees on private yachts as governments expand their efforts to discourage free, noncommercial navigation, with the 12-meter parameter being the point under which such regs may be a bit more lenient in their requirements.

    • John Dec 1, 2012, 5:53 pm

      Hum, there’s an interesting point I had not thought of.

      • bruno Dec 1, 2012, 9:32 pm

        11.99m is indeed a cut-off, my irish reand Terry just sold his 4 years old ovni395 for that reason, and will buy or an older 385 or a new 445 …

        • Matt Marsh Dec 6, 2012, 3:39 pm

          She’s known as the Adventure 1195 in my preliminary notes, for this exact reason….

    • John Dec 6, 2012, 6:42 pm

      Hi Richie, Matt and Bruno,

      Actually, I’m at a bit of a loss on this issue. As an owner of a 17 meter boat, I have never noticed that we were subjected to any particularly onerous regulations just because we were over 12 meters LOA.

      Can any of you enlighten me about material problems in this area?

      I would hate to constrain the designer in this fashion, unless there was a really substantive reason to do so.

      • Dave Benjamin Dec 6, 2012, 6:52 pm

        Here in the US, there’s a variety of small rule changes that cumulatively add up to additional expense. For instance lighting requirements would require deck lights with more visibility range. Most of us just use a masthead tri-color at sea. If the design goal is a 40 footer, making it an inch or two less than 40′ and saving some money on equipment is laudable.

        • Enno Jan 8, 2013, 9:43 am

          Well I’v got 2nm navigation lights (those for boats over 12m) on my 31ft boat because I want to be seen at night. This is imho the wrong part to save money – not to speak of liniting the design of the whole boat.
          The limit for the use of a tricolor masthead light is 20m as far as I know. (at least in Europe)
          Are there other rules that I’m not aware of?

  • brett Dec 1, 2012, 5:01 pm

    Please google “Adams 13” or We built one in the early 80’s and did over 25000 miles in her. Great boats and nearly fit your design parameters perfectly. Brett

    • John Dec 1, 2012, 5:52 pm

      Hi Brett,

      Wow, now that’s a long skinny boat! Certainly the right idea, although a bit more extreme than the Adventure 40 will be.

      I like the look of that ourboard hung rudder. Been thinking about rudders a lot and that adds more to cogitate on.

      Thanks for the link.

  • John Armitage Dec 1, 2012, 5:20 pm

    What a great posting, John!

  • RDE (Richard Elder) Dec 1, 2012, 11:30 pm

    Hi Brett,
    Gorgeous boat— (Adams 13) I spent a couple of weeks in the Bahamas aboard a Tom Wylie 44 with similar dimensions, although it had an 8′ /5′ ballasted lifting keel. We saw 12.8 knots under plain sail, and regularly sailed at tens. Although we did interisland day passages they were by no means an adequate test of an ocean cruising boat. My take away was that as much fun as sailing the Wylie was, it wouldn’t be my choice for crossing oceans.

    The Adams design is a perfect example for discussing the trade offs that any design choice represents:

    Cost: Given the same level of interior and equipment fit out, this 14,460# 43+ boat would cost less than the 18,000# Adventure 40 with a masthead rig, and skeg mounted rudder.

    At first glance the Adams looks to be 50-55′— its sleek lines become more understandable once you realize that at 5’11” with no headliner it doesn’t have standing headroom for most Yanks. A real world production design would have to have 4″ more hull freeboard and would suddenly look more ordinary.

    Beam: Having once built a boat with a 10’5″ beam and struggled to find 1/4 inches here and there to fit what I wanted into the center of the boat, I’d emphatically argue that with a 10′ beam you get two parallel berths and a removable or double drop leaf table, with 11′ you can have a fixed table and semi-U shaped dinette, and at 12′ you can have a pilot berth or bigger bookshelves. “You pays your money and gets what you pay for.” The choice of beam completely determines your interior layout options. Play artsy interior designer with curved settees and the like and you simply make it non-functional.

    Fractional rig: With this type of boat that needs to be reefed early and often, a frac makes economic and sail handling sense, although I’d want a 7/8th with a stiff mast instead of a 3/4. Smaller, cheaper winches. Easier, faster reefing with a full batten mainsail. Cheaper roller furler. Less overall sail cost. Downside is a less balanced downwind sail plan.

    Transom hung rudder:
    With a tiller boat hanging the rudder on the transom makes a lot of sense. Cheaper, easier to repair at sea, can even be made to kick up if you catch a drift log at just the wrong angle. Major downside is that it makes a wind vane installation awkward.

    Weight carrying ability:
    The Adams has a length/beam ratio similar to a Santa Cruz 5o, and is only slightly heavier relative to its overall size. Actually all the difference is in the amount of extra ballast necessary to keep such a narrow boat on its feet as a shallow draft centerboarder. As such it will not like to be loaded down with luxuries like extra toothbrushes. Although the interior volume is larger than the Adventure 40, the available space is in the ends of the boat. I guarantee she will not be happy with a 60# Ronca and 300′ of chain in the bow or a watermaker and genset in the lazerette—.

    Everything is a trade-off. Personally I’d love to have a Adams 13 m or 14m built using my catamaran designer friend Kurt Hughes’ ultra-rapid cylinder molding technique and clear epoxy finished 3mm Sapele plywood as the hull interior. Different strokes for different blokes.

    • John Dec 2, 2012, 1:07 pm

      Hi Richard,

      Great comment, always. As you say, it’s all about trade offs.

    • RDE (Richard Elder) Jan 6, 2013, 1:32 pm

      Anyone else intrigued by the Adams 13 design? Particularly intriguing is the aluminum one with retractable bulb keel for about 60k ask. Looks to have hull insulation and just waiting for somebody to weld on a proper hard dodger. Under different circumstances I’d be on a plane to look at it!
      ps— want it delivered back to the US?

      • John Jan 7, 2013, 7:47 am

        Hi Richard,

        Yes, cool boats for a good price. I had a fun time looking at thee aluminium one. What a gas to sail, although the heal angle up wind would get old after a while. Also the photographs show graphically how little interior volume you end up with in a boat that narrow with a lifting keel. In summary, I would love to day sail on the boat, but on the Pacific delivery, your on your own!

        • RDE (Richard Elder) Jan 7, 2013, 12:17 pm

          Spent two weeks on a boat with these dimensions. About the same interior volume as a conventional 36 footer, and adequate for long distance cruising for a couple who have a non-consumerist life style if it is thoughtfully designed. What is neat about the lifting keel is that you can put enough lead in the bulb and put it deep enough to end up with a relatively stiff boat even though it is narrow. And with aluminum construction the chances that the keel box design is ultra-strong are greater. Keep in mind that this boat is “only” 8″ narrower than the first proposal for the A 40. You don’t really open up more interior options until you expand the beam to about 12′.

          I’d be the last to suggest that a painted aluminum round bilge hydraulic lifting dagger keel Adams 13m design is cost feasible within the A40 proposal budget! And given the budget to build this design in painted aluminum today, I’d allocate my money toward different priorities and design direction.

          • John Jan 7, 2013, 1:14 pm

            Hi Richard,

            True, but if you subtract 11″ and say 12″ for the keel box, you do get a huge hit on volume in comparison to the Adventure 40, which was my point. I understand that you understand that, I just wanted to make sure that all our readers were aware of the trade offs of this kind of boat. The very tight quarters can be seen here.

  • Dick Stevenson Dec 2, 2012, 7:18 am

    Dear John,
    You asked and I concur with your comments about the load carrying attributes of the Valiant 40/42. I have been extremely pleased over the years at how much weight Alchemy has absorbed while generally maintaining her fine sailing characteristics. Scott and Kitty did their second circumnavigation on a V40 with their 2 sons so I am sure Tamure was in no way svelte during those years.
    And, like a good host, you understate a tad how much weight Alchemy has gained. More specifically from the 24,500 that is reportedly our base weight we exceed 32,000 on a couple of travellifts of m_LDC weight or full fuel/water, provisions, and stores. And for those that envision a full attic/garage rather than an aft cabin and with bikes, kayaks and jerry cans all over the deck: that is not the case. While quite comfortable and in no way deprived, we do not have a lot of weighty toys: most weight is in spare parts, tools, guide books etc. Many would assume, with those kinds of numbers, that our sailing capabilities would be compromised, but, and I am reminded of Dodge Morgan on his weighty American Promise, I continue to be pleased with a Valiant’s capacity to deliver good days runs in light air as well as heavy.
    I am not sure whether the following distinction between good offshore boats is actually valid, but it may be helpful at some juncture. I hear some discussants making points and I think to myself that he/she is referring to what I think of as expedition boats: boats where time aboard may be measured in months, but where a return to a land base is built into the head set. The plans for these boats have delineated goals and parameters, are more likely to have crews of more than a couple, and emphasis is more on Adventure. Then there are the offshore vessels where the vessel is their full time home, (no land base), and most often crewed by a couple, where there are cruising plans, often quite ambitious, but rarely expeditions. I have called that group, in past posts, as the Sustainable Adventurers.
    Clearly there are broad overlaps, but I think the distinction might prove valuable in the design stage of an A40. I also suspect that some of the differences expressed between participants on the AA site may tracked to the differences viewing the offshore world from these 2 perspectives.
    My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

    • John Dec 2, 2012, 1:19 pm

      Hi Dick,

      Thanks for confirming the Valiant 40’s load carry capacity.

      I think you make a really good point about the difference between boats for expedition cruisers and long term live aboard voyagers. I suspect that the Adventure 40 will be a little small for middle age couple to live on for many years without any shore base. Rather I see her as a boat appropriate for day sailing, weekending, and annual vacation voyage (say to Bermuda) at the lower use level, going up to say a three year circumnavigation at the high use end.

      This is in keeping with her mission as a starter voyaging boat to get more people out there. I suspect that many Adventure 40 owners, will, if they decide to voyage and live aboard indefinitely, move up to a larger boat, using the experience they gained on the Adventure 40 to make the move in a cost effective low stress way.

      But that’s all good, in that the first owner will lose less to depreciation than refitting an older boat, and another, new to voyaging person will be able to buy the now three year old Adventure 40 at an even lower price point—it’s all good.

  • Capt Phillip Carr Dec 2, 2012, 7:37 am

    Off topic but as an interested purchaser of the 40 a plea!
    Every sailboat I have used for ocean cruising as opposed to my J-Boat racing, I have fitted a high quality spray hood on day one and sold the boat with it still in place. This is a plea for an integral fixed dodger or open wheel house. It will just add so much to the enjoyment of open ocean sailing. Thanks

    • John Dec 2, 2012, 1:25 pm

      Hi Phillip,

      The original specification of the Adventure 40 includes a hard dodger, and, while I’m working on a MkII specification, nothing has changed in that area. Actually, not very much has changed, which shows what a great job Richard (RDE) did in the first place.

      • Dave Benjamin Dec 2, 2012, 3:50 pm

        Quite frankly, it’s beyond my comprehension how any builder marketing a “real cruising boat” doesn’t include a hard dodger in the design. About the only argument against a hard dodger would be the inability to reduce windage while riding out a hurricane or cyclone in a marina.

        Hard dodgers are far more economical than canvas dodgers. Here on the west coast it’s not usual for customers to spend $3000-5000 and up on a conventional frame and canvas dodger. The hard dodger on our Amel requires a fraction of the maintenance of a hard dodger. It’s limited to the usual painting like any boat structure. We made an inexpensive cover for the dodger windows so those will last many years with nothing other than periodic cleaning. It’s safe to stand on and the grab rail is a secure to hold on to.

        • Colin Speedie Dec 2, 2012, 4:37 pm

          Hi Phillip, John and Dave

          I’m in total agreement with all that’s been said – after our latest passage, I’m utterly sold on the idea of a hard dodger as standard on any passage making boat, for all the reasons outlined in your comments, but also because I believe that with some form of screen/door between the cockpit and the saloon, both on and off watch crew can benefit. On watch you’re in better shelter and can read and relax more and off watch your sleep is not disturbed by the inevitable comings and goings (and lights going on/off) of the watch keeper.

          When our sprayhood dies, we won’t be replacing it, but will fabricate a hard dodger in light weight alloy, or composite materials.

          Best wishes


          • Dave Benjamin Dec 2, 2012, 4:47 pm


            On our Amel we have a boltrope track for a curtain that divides the area between the galley and salon. So with the curtain in place, lights in the galley don’t disturb the off-watch person in the best sea berth we have. In practice, since it’s usually just the two of us, we can get by using our headlamps in the galley for snack or beverage prep.

  • John DeLong Dec 2, 2012, 7:08 pm

    I’m intrigued – you plan to build a boat that is $25k less expensive than the Beneteau, but is smaller, no dealer support and no wheel – the offset appears to be greater strength. Presumably the B is not strong enough – but for what… We have just crossed the Pacific and seen many Bs doing the same thing. In 7 yrs of full time cruising we have never heard of a B that has sunk or failed in respect of “strength”. And the size and comfort at anchor is a substantial appeal to many (witness how successful they are at selling them).

    Another point that has been brought up is load carrying capacity – full time voyaging requires substantial spares, provisions, and “gear” (books, kayaks, legos etc.) This “base load” is much more difficult to stow safely into a smaller, light displacement boat – most importantly as the loads on the rig and rudder increase substantially above the design parameters of the lighter boat. The rig etc must be designed to the projected final displacement of the boat in cruising set-up, i.e. fully loaded.

    Finally, our experience is that “faster” is not really a benefit in most real world situations. We transited Galapagos to Marquesas in 19 days – our 43′ 16ton displ cruiser was 12 hrs slower than a 55′ catamaran – largely due to our better seahandling capability in large following seas and higher winds. We are not capable of outrunning weather systems (e.g. Dashew) and so the theoretical benefit of an additional 0.5-1kt is substantially immaterial. What is important is durability of equipment (sails and rig and rudder foremost) and comfort/seakindliness. There is an acceleration coefficient that some people use to compare boats that intuitively strikes me as one of the most important criteria. I don’t think a light, narrow hull will provide this comfort/kindliness. On this metric the Westsail is one of the most comfortable boats out there – and when momma’s happy, everyone is happy!

    Thanks for your site – I just started perusing it and have found it interesting. Cheers, John DeLong SB43 ALOUETTE

  • Dave Benjamin Dec 2, 2012, 10:06 pm


    There are certainly many Beneteau’s successfully cruising. I am personally a big fan of the 80’s vintage First Series having sailed a First 38 quite a bit. The similar aged Idylle’s, while never well recognized, are great boats. What would hold me back from doing much cruising in a newer model is that I’d be one moderate to hard grounding away from needing repairs that can only be done in a first rate boatyard. The liners pop loose after groundings. This has happened countless times, particularly in the charter fleets. Since the hull integrity is derived in large part from the liner, you can’t go too far if it’s dislodged. Repairing is a fairly extensive job. One customer of mine spent $40 or 50K USD when it happened to him. His repairs went above and beyond the Beneteau recommendations.

  • Shudbesailing Dec 3, 2012, 12:02 pm

    Is there merit to the idea of starting multiple design category topics at the same time? A moderator with some expertise could be recruited to assist on that topic. Then we could set a target date to complete this most interesting dialogue and move it to the next step towards reality.

    • John Dec 3, 2012, 1:34 pm

      Hi Shudbesailing,

      Interesting idea. I guess it really depends on what the goals are. If this was a for-profit business endeavour, there might be some merit in that course of action, although I would worry about too many cooks spoiling the broth, or to put it another way, I think you might end up with a camel (horse designed by a committee). Also, I really would not want to see this degenerating into some kind of forum based crowd design—that way lies madness and a awful boat.

      However, this process is not a for-profit business, although it might lead to one (the builder) eventually. What we have here is one guy (me) who had a concept for a better offshore boat that appealed to a bunch of very talented people who have contributed to that.

      But I’m not getting paid for this and probably never will. In other words, I’m primarily doing it for fun and the intellectual challenge. Therefore the process is really driven by the ebb and flow of my creativity and the amount of time I want to put into it. I would guess we will have it all wrapped up and an end game in place in another 4-6 months, but I’m certainly not promising that.

      • bruno Dec 3, 2012, 5:17 pm

        John, thls, great own pragmatic moderation as usual,
        fun and the intellectual challenge, great goals indeed within the ebbs and flows of personal creativity

        • John Dec 3, 2012, 5:49 pm

          Hi Bruno,

          Thanks for the support!

      • John Dec 3, 2012, 5:48 pm

        Hi All,

        It just struck me on reading my comment above that it could be interpreted to mean that I was just playing around with the Adventure 40. Nothing could be further from the truth. I really want to see this boat get built. I just want to make sure that the process of getting from here to there remains fun and does not become a chore. Come to think of it, if the process remains fun and satisfying for all of us, she will, in my opinion, be a better boat than if we set a bunch of deadlines and structures for meeting them.

  • Ray Verlage Dec 3, 2012, 10:38 pm

    Your process is AOK, and your timelines are fine too. I was concerned that this boat would become mired in musing beyond my baby boomer window of opportunity.
    Currently have a PSC Dana 24, and your ideas are one of the few boats that would have me thinking about a switch. All that being said, the Dana is a fine option.
    Keep the posts coming, and look after that leg!

    • John Dec 4, 2012, 10:06 am

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. I have always thought the Dana 24 a very cool boat too. Thanks also for the thoughts on the leg. I am making progress each day. At least I’m able to spend more time now working on the site, which is a great distraction.

  • Jacques Landry Dec 3, 2012, 11:46 pm

    John, and all the followers of this great boat,

    Up front, I am all for it, and think this is a great idea and we are in much need for a design of that kind. But the Beneteau’s fan did strike a flag here. No, I don’t particularly like Benetaus, as I don’t like most production boats. But they are not all flaws and wrong doing. They serve a purpose, or should I say a market. I also think that slim, narrow long boats have been done in the past ( I have one that would fit right in with your philosophy, not a production boar evidently, but will keep it for a later post) and maybe you want to look at them, not to copy, but to dissect and see what was good/wrong with them.

    I also think that in the discussion there is a need for some room for the fixer upper peoples. We don’t all have the money to buy an Adventure 40, or anything else by the way, but are willing to spend tremendous time fixing an older boat. Agreed, not a good return on investment on the long run in most cases, but nevertheless, all we can afford in the short term. Should we stay on land, because we can’t buy the right thing up front? I know I wont! I also know that being new or old …er all we do is spend too much time fixing the beast! But we love it.

    Hope you are doing better John and will recover fully !

    • John Dec 4, 2012, 10:46 am

      One other thought:

      I think that a lot of the reason that so many old boat refits are such a disaster is that the owner falls into the trap buying a larger old boat.

      I know that Poor Stupid Bob would have been way better off and much happier if he had bought a less than ten year old 35 foot boat for the same money that he spent on the tired and beat up 45 foot boat he did buy.

      • Jacques Landry Dec 6, 2012, 12:47 am


        I was evidently talking about the older Beneteaus, Wauquiez or the likes kind of boat, as I fully agree that the newer stuff is for the show in the marina. This might be true for most production boats (with probably some rare exceptions) and that is why, being poor (and not yet Bob, but who knows what the future reserves) I have little choice but to go the older boat route and try to fix it the best I can. However, charter oriented older boat (or any cheap production boat) is not what I would recommend! I sailed some of these in not even rough weather and did not like the feeling. I bought a custom made steel boat (by a reputable french boatyard, Metanav) based on the Sylvestre Langevin Flot 38 (or Triade 38) which does fit pretty well with your description of the Adventure 40. Long and narrow, solidly built, with a simple tiller, traditional layout (maybe Collin his the one who likes that) 2 good and well located sea births, and an interior designed for moving safely in rough seas. The boat was designed and equipped for long term voyages for 2 persons (500 l. water, 400 l. fuel, wind vane, windmill, solar panels, short wave radio, and more. I think it has most of what you suggest, beside being for the 80’s (1989) and not being exactly light (18,000 lbs empty)! It sails fairly well, the equipment is simple but sound, and the essentials (sails, standing and running rigging, most hardware) have been all replaced by new, the engine rebuilt, the winches rebuilt on a CNC machine, some new electronics added, a new ocean life raft, and still at less than 20% of the cost of a similarly sized Beneteau or an Adventure 40. So I had the choice of being “intelligent Bob” and wait to save enough money to live my dream, or be “just Bob” and go for it within my budget.

        I have to add that I have the skills to do most of the work myself, and the knowledge to understand when I should let the pro do the job. So evidently in my cost analysis my time is worth next to nothing! But I love it. I do see a lot of people attempting the same thing but being burnt (or broke) because they have to delegate too much of it.

        Between you and I (and the readers;-), does stupid Bob really think it was all a mistake ? Didn’t he learn a fair bit through it, and maybe live some of his dream many years earlier that he would have been able to afford ?

        Having said that (yes, stole this from you), I don’t think you can have such a great site and acquire such extended knowledge simply by buying a new boat (even an Adventure 40) and just sail around ! But I thank you for trying to make our life easier!

        All the best to you on your recovery. Still waiting for the post about “Ten reasons for not leaving the boat while at anchor”!


        • John Dec 6, 2012, 10:31 am

          Hi Jacques,

          I think you make some really good points. They key two being that you must enjoy the process and you must pick a good boat in the first place. And you are right, there is no way that Poor Stupid Bob would have the knowledge he has without the refit experience. Thanks for another great comment.

        • Dave Benjamin Dec 6, 2012, 3:52 pm


          The older Wauquiez are terrific boats also. I’m pretty fascinated with your boat. I did not recognize the model so I did some web research. Looks like an excellent passage maker. I noted they are built in aluminum as well. We rarely see boats like that on the US west coast. If you have a blog or website with some photos, please post a link.

    • John Dec 4, 2012, 10:13 am

      Hi Jacques,

      I agree that boats like the older Beneteaus do have their place. Having said that, the new ones worry me deeply. For example, selling a boat that does not even have one safe sea birth, and that may suffer tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage in a simple grounding, as round the world capable, is, I think, a very poor show.

      As to fixing up old boats. That is a hard one. I hear you that those who do not have the money for Adventure 40 should have a way to go to sea. However, we try here at AAC to talk about the world as it really is, not as we want to be. And in my experienced based opinion, it is a sad fact that most refits of production boats over about 15 years old are not cost effective and can, particularly for those new to the process, result in heart break.

      Having said that, if a person enjoys the refit process and finds it keeps the voyaging dream alive, then go for it. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that it is the quickest and most cost effective way to get out there.

  • bruno Dec 4, 2012, 12:21 am

    jacques, good post, good remarks !
    i think there is a place for all at aac or in those discussions, … for the reasons you mentionned, i’m most probably in the category of the ones who will buy a second hand A40 in 10 years … so much interested in her today design choices !

    i’m now also in the renovation process of good old 1979 “Moscatel”, you describe it so well, unreasonable and maybe uneconomical, but passionate,
    and preparing a party with our architect’s (Harlé) wife in 8-2013 in south Bretagne for the 40 iest birthday of the Romanée’s serie,
    PS : i loved the “B” First serie of the eighties …

  • RDE (Richard Elder) Dec 4, 2012, 10:44 am

    re the discussion regarding transom mounted kick-up rudders for an Adventure 40 type boat, here are some great shots of the ones from Banco Popular, current Globe leader:

    And talk about different boats for different blokes! How about this family of 4 (soon to be 5) screaming around the world on an Open 40!

  • Coen Dec 8, 2012, 4:22 pm

    Thanks, John, for a very informative site, and to all the contributors, especially on this thread, for really interesting comments.

    Let me say first of all that my sailing experience is extremely limited, but I have dreams … At the moment I am thinking of a small sailing voyager, but my wife, a firm believer in the future of the internal combustion engine, inclines me to designs like Karstenmarine for long distance motor cruisers.

    I have a question about the discussed need for speed. Contributors seem to feel fin keels and skeg rudders are justified if they add a little speed. Is that realistic? On our Overland Africa trip last year our old Cruiser was slower than the other vehicles, but our average speed over the whole 25 000 km was 45 km per hour. The faster vehicles did the same … They had bigger sleeping space, and we did get tired of pitching a tent every night and packing it up again the next morning, but then our vehicle was lighetr, and had less things to go wrong. (Oh the electrical problems one guy had!)

    Would the seasons and best sailing winds not constrain your voyaging so that an extra knot or so would not make much difference?

    What about the Wharrram saying, that sailing is like mountaineering: the luxury is in being there, in the scenery, not in the boat or the technology you have with you?

    Thanks for your comments!

    • Dave Benjamin Dec 8, 2012, 5:12 pm

      There is no justification in my mind for traditional full keels. Boats were built that way for a long time due to limitations of the materials used. They have a lot more wetted surface area and require a larger rig to power. The width of the keel prevents the boat from pointing well. In my experience from spending months at various anchorages, the full keel boats tend to be a lot more rolly at anchor. In a marina environment, they are challenging to maneuver unless a bow thruster is fitted. While there are certainly a lot of successful full keel cruising boats out there, I wouldn’t design one from scratch with anything other than a low aspect fin keel.

      • RDE (Richard Elder) Dec 8, 2012, 10:23 pm

        Hi Dave (and John)

        While I certainly agree with the general thrust of your comments, particularly if the boat used as comparison to the Adventure 40 is a “Tubby 32”, you should be aware that all full keel boats are not created equal. I speak from experience of having built one and lived aboard and sailed her for seven years.

        The boat I’m referring to is a modified Atkins design that had its origin in the 1940’s. In its Cape George 36 form it has a wood house and deck and solid fiberglass hull. I’ve demonstrated on a number of occasions that in moderate 15 knot conditions it was slightly faster than a MK I Valiant 40 and the similar fin/skeg Bill Garden Fast Passage 39 that represented the next generation of cruising boats. And, much to their chagrin, I once won a 4 hr. windward tacking duel against a race prepped Express 34 ULDB. And two sistership circumnavigators of my acquaintance swear to have achieved the magic 200 mile days. So not all full keel boats are “slow.”

        When you look at the design characteristics it is not hard to see why it has a decent turn of speed.
        1- Easily driven hull form. The Cape George is all waterline, and the beam is only 10’5″. No bumps, humps, bustles, or canoe sterns. Nice entry angle, looks to be finer than a V 40.
        I’d wager that if you did a tank towing test at 5 knots you’d find lower overall resistance than the V 40 of the same displacement because of additional beam and turbulence around the trailing edges of the appendages of the Valiant.
        2- Much higher ballast ratio with full tanks. This antique full keel design when rendered in fiberglass carries 70 gallons of fuel and 140 gallons of water sitting directly on top of the lead ballast. And that lead already was 50% of the total displacement.
        3- Resulting in larger sail area and the ability to carry it, especially in moderate conditions.

        Bottom line is: there is as much difference in full keel designs as the difference between a Moorings charter boat and a new J-boat.

        ps.—Perhaps ignorance is bliss, but I did manage to dock single handed without assistance literally hundreds of times, and thought nothing of taking her through the Lake Union locks by myself without a bow thruster.

        ps2. I agree there is no justification for a full keel boat in the modern world. “Nobody” is going to buy a boat only 10’5″ wide with no aft stateroom and 3/4 the interior room of an (also outmoded) Valiant 40 for $450,000 when they can buy a 47′ Beneteau with multiple bathrooms and genuine finger touch sidewise drive for less money.

        ps3. Dave, there is one real advantage of a full keel design like the Cape George. Put the helm down and you are hove to behind a slick that looks like you could launch a bath toy in it. Your mid-passage lunch breaks will be much more comfortable than on any modern boat if the seas are up!

        ps4. And yes, when she comes to fruition the Adventure 40 should be a better set of compromises than a Cape George or any other full keel boat for that matter!

        • Dave Benjamin Dec 9, 2012, 1:51 am

          Anecdotes aside, waterline length is your friend upwind in moderate conditions as described. I’ve raced on boats that routinely achieved speeds in the teens that were inevitably slower upwind than boats with more waterline. We just completed a set of sails for a Mini 6.5. That boat will hit incredible speeds off the wind but upwind, it’s just another 21 foot boat.

          An Express 34 is 28.33′ LWL. The Cape George is 31.5. In 15 knots, both boats should be hitting hull speed. You have to travel a bit further due to the fact you can’t point as high. However if there are some seas up, the Express has to foot off a bit like any light boat, to avoid getting slowed down punching through waves.

          Lighter boats and boats with less wetted surface area may be sailing when you’re motoring. You mention “more sail area and the ability to carry it.” As a sailmaker, that’s music to my ears, but having to carry a larger and heavier rig has drawbacks. So for me personally, the low aspect fin and skeg rudder wins out. I love the looks of that Cape George though.

    • John Dec 8, 2012, 8:30 pm

      Hi Coen,

      A great question. You remind me that I need to do a whole post on the advantages of speed. It’s a big subject. Also, keep in mind that full keel boats can be fast too, although, as Dave points out, they are fundamentally handicapped by their excessive wetted surface. I have talked a bit here about hull forms, sea-kindliness and speed, which may help.

      The other thing to keep in mind is that the speed advantage of a boat like the Adventure 40 over say full keeled tubby 32 footer of the same displacement is not just a knot. When the wind goes forward and the sea builds the difference could easily be much more than that with the Tubby-32 making little or no headway to her destination, say 25-50 miles a day, and the Adventure 40 making, conservatively, 75-125 miles a day. Now apply this to a fall trip to Bermuda and there are many common weather scenarios where the Adventure 40 crew will be in St Georges downing a beer at the Whitehorse in five days having sailed fast through one cold front three days out well east of the Gulf Stream. On the other hand, the Tubby-32 gets caught in the Stream by the same front, heaves-to for 36 hours due to wave size, gets caught by a secondary depression that forms on the front resulting in 48 more hours heaved to. All this results in a rugged passage of 8 to 12 days.

      Also, one other thing, Wharram’s boat are very, very fast, at least if you don’t overload them. Fast does not need to equate to complicated or unreliable.

  • RDE (Richard Elder) Dec 23, 2012, 12:47 pm

    I’ve suggested previously that the idea of a transom mounted kick up rudder should be considered in the design of the Adventure 40.

    Two obvious benefits:
    —–Reduced damage potential for the steering system.
    —–Potentially less expensive, especially with tiller steering.

    Here is a quote from Alex Thompson on the result of hitting something at 20 knots in the southern ocean—.

    ” As I enter night down here it is now dark and it’s still a pretty rough southern ocean sea. Saying that conditions have definitely improved from what they have been and I have been able to maintain good speed. Last night I had a bit of a shock, I was sat in the cockpit reasonably relaxed and then Bang! My first instant reaction was the mast I looked up and everything was fine. I then looked back and could see the windward rudder was up. I checked the rudder system and could see the fuse had broken. Something must of hit the windward rudder. Luckily on our rudders we have a fuse system in place which is a weak link, breaking to allow the rudder to kick up so it doesn’t break. I replaced the fuse and put the rudder back down. There doesn’t seem to be any damage to the rudder blade so most likely it was a soft impact maybe with a fish. I am glad that we have got the fuse and it did its job well in preserving the rudder.”

    And a photo showing a rudder in the lifted position on a competitors boat. Note the end plate seal and the compatibility with a swim step transom.

    • C Dan Dec 23, 2012, 1:25 pm

      That sounds sensible. Some questions:

      1. how much incremental expense is associated with such a system (I am guessing not much)

      2. is this really a safer system than a robust skeg-mounted system (obviously better than a regular spade, but don’t think that’s under discussion for the A-40)?

      3. would such a system interfere with a typical wind vane self-steering set-up?

    • John Dec 23, 2012, 1:47 pm

      Hi Richard,

      I too really like the idea of a transom mounted kick up rudder, if we can just solve the vane gear mounting problem, which I’m guessing we can.

      The other big advantage of these rudders is that they can be fabricated very strong and comparatively inexpensively entirely from fiber-composite materials.

      This has the huge advantage of getting rid of the stainless steel rudder shaft and the water ingress problems that always occur between that shaft and the blade on spade or skeg rudders on fiberglass boats.

  • RDE (Richard Elder) Dec 23, 2012, 8:41 pm

    Hi John,
    Both the Cape Horn and Hydrovane wind vanes claim offset mounting capabilities of up to 30″. With a kick up rudder there remains a perhaps 25% probability that a rudder kick up would damage the servo rudder or break its fuse link, but there would still be a high probability that it could be repaired underweigh. Still far better than loosing the rudder, all steering capability, and perhaps putting a hole in the boat when you hit something solid.

    One of the most common failure modes on rudder systems comes from crevice corrosion of the rudder shaft that develops when the seal between the fiberglass rudder overlay and the stainless shaft breaks down.

    Actually if I were building a transom hung rudder without kick up capability I would avoid building it “very strong.” I’d rather have a sacrificial lower half and even a spare tucked under a berth.

    With most partial skeg designs there is some question as to whether the skeg is supporting the rudder or the rudder is supporting the skeg. That has been my observation, but far more experienced people than I— Steve Dashew for example— have raised the same point. And yes, a transom hung rudder, even with a simple cassette kick up system, will be less expensive to build and to maintain than a hull mounted rudder.

  • Paul Squire Sep 30, 2014, 8:51 pm

    Does the performance of modern beamy yachts change anything. I’m thinking of cruisers like the Pogo 12,50, that routinely exceed their “hull speed.” A traditional displacement yacht runs before the trade winds at hull speed rolling 30 degrees either side of upright tossing everything unsecured below (including people) from side to side relentlessly. The light, beamy alternative broad reaches fast enough to sit on the wave fronts and/or pass them, more or less upright & steady.

    • John Oct 1, 2014, 7:49 am

      Hi Paul,

      The problem with boats like the Pogo 12,50 is that they are one-trick-ponies. Yes, way cool off the wind on a beam reach, but heaven help the crew when the wind goes forward of the beam. In addition, those hull forms have very poor load carrying capacity, a real problem for a live aboard long distance voyaging boat.

      The Adventure 40, on the other hand, has a good all around hull form. She will run and reach well, above “hull speed” but still go to windward well and carry a load. You can learn more in this post

      By the way, I have sailed a “A traditional displacement yacht”, albeit a fin keel one of moderate displacement, for well over 100,000 miles, including a lot of down wind work in big seas and she has never rolled 30 degrees side to side throwing people around. In most cases her roll is about 10-15 degrees and quite gentle.

      • Paul Oct 1, 2014, 8:18 am

        I’m sure you’re right. Great fun round the cans and round the coast but perhaps not offshore. I wondered myself what would happen when sailing to windward in big seas and a wave got itself under that massively wide flat hull. I suppose the boat would just slide sideways but it could get messy.

        • Erik de Jong Oct 1, 2014, 9:13 am

          Hi Paul,

          I think there is a misunderstanding here. The Adventure 40 is not considered beamy at all, that is the problem with modern boats, and one of the reasons that this project was started in the first place.

        • Claire Oct 1, 2014, 7:50 pm

          I wonder whether boats like the Pogo might make sense for cruisers if they were viewed as very large small boats.

          In other words, travel very light, with minimal gadgetry and stores, and accept hard limitations on capability.

          People have crossed oceans on tiny craft, so a voyage can be done without loading the entire contents of a supermarket, if the crew are prepared to be very frugal.

          A small boat has to abandon hope of making ground upwind at much lower wind speeds than a craft like the A40 … but people like Webb Chiles, Frank &Margaret Dyer, Nick & Julie Grainger, have managed ocean crossings in boats with much less upwind ability.

          Pogos are unusually well-engineered, so in the hands of someone who understands and accepts their limitations, I don’t see why they couldn’t be used. It would be a very different style of sailing to an A40 … but nobody should put to sea without a understanding and accepting the limitations of their vessel, and an A40 will have its own limits. They happen to be more balanced, and will work better for most people, but an A40 crew who fail to “know your boat” will be in trouble too.

  • Dave Benjamin Oct 1, 2014, 1:48 pm

    Maybe Paul Squire was referring to a leaky-teaky with a full keel when he made mention of rolling 30 degrees to each side. I’ve sailed in company with some boats like that and practically got seasick watching them. I always found it interesting to watch boats in a rolly anchorage. We had a leaky teaky anchored near us for some weeks in a rolly anchorage on the Pacific side of Mexico. In spite of some stabilizing device hung from a spin pole, that boat rolled 3 or 4 times as much as our old Amel ketch.

    As for boats like the Pogo 12.5, I don’t think of it so much as a one trick pony, but simply not a practical boat for the way most people cruise. It requires a more advanced skill set than most of the US market has. And it certainly lacks load carrying capacity that most people seem to require these days for the abundance of crap that gets carried.

  • Paul Mar 8, 2015, 6:12 am

    Displacement has 2 components, weight of the boat and the payload. What payload are you aiming for?

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