Adventure 40 FAQ—The Boat

There seem to be some recurring themes that have come up in the hundreds of comments to this Online Book. So I thought it would be a good idea to address these in one post.

Q: Is the Adventure 40 to be a go anywhere high latitude boat like the ones you often write about on this site?

A: The Adventure 40 will be a boat for crossing oceans, or circumnavigating the planet, as well as wonderful for a weekend on the Solent or a two week cruise to Maine.

However, the boat will not be optimized for the high latitudes. That simply can’t be done at the price point. Having said that, I see no reason that the Adventure 40 should not cruise to Svalbard, Labrador, or even the west coast of Greenland.

Q: Will the Adventure 40 be built in aluminum?

A: No. Here is why:

  • High quality and consistent aluminum construction requires a very skilled work force (just welding it is tricky). Whereas good quality glass fibre construction can be done with a less skilled workforce as long as there is good engineering, tooling and supervision.
  • Painting an aluminum boat properly, so that the paint will stay on, is fantastically expensive when the boat is new, and can be even more expensive when the time comes to repaint. And leaving the hull bare from waterline to toe rail—what most people mean when they say “unpainted”—does not solve this problem, since at least 75% of the cost of painting an aluminum boat is in the deck, coach roof, and underwater surfaces. My own experience and advice from Boreal tells us that the cost of painting an aluminum Adventure 40 would add about US$20,000 to the price.
  • Aluminum does need some special care and is therefore probably a material better suited to the experienced boat owner.

Q: Will the boat have a lifting keel or centerboard?

A: While I am a great believer in lifting appendage boats, the Adventure 40 will not have a lifting keel or centerboard, and this is why:

  • The French already do this kind of boat well. We are not trying to build a boat to compete with them. If you want a lifting appendage aluminum boat, I suggest you approach Boreal.
  • Lifting appendages add complication, expense, and maintenance issues.
  • I believe that sailing a centerboard boat well offshore takes more experience and skill than doing the same with a keel boat. For example, leaving the board down in certain conditions can be down right dangerous because of the boat’s tendency to trip over the board and not slide sideways (skid) when hit. (I raced a lot of miles in a centerboard boat.)

Q: Why are you bothering with the Adventure 40 when there are about a bazillion good used boats out there for much less money?

A: Yes, there are a lot of second hand boats out there. But good used boats that can be easily and cost effectively readied for offshore voyaging, not so much. Please read this.

Q: I have a bunch of great ideas for options that could be offered on the Adventure 40.

A: The Adventure 40 will have no options, please read this post for why. And how we plan too make the boat easy for the owner to customize.

Q: You talk a lot about making the Adventure 40 strong and reliable. But every boat builder says that, and most new boats are anything but. How can the Adventure 40 be high quality and relatively inexpensive?

A: It can be done, please read this for an explanation of how.

Q: Why not make the boat smaller, say 32-feet, so that it can be even cheaper?

A: Several reasons:

  • Sailing across oceans in a very small boat sounds romantic, but the reality is that small boats are slow and uncomfortable.
  • Larger boats are intrinsically more stable and less susceptible to roll over, which is the way most horror stories at sea start. And this effect scales by the cube of displacement. In the tragic Fastnet Race of ‘79, if memory serves, not one boat of 40-feet or over experienced a fatality or was lost.
  • Assuming the same level of complexity and gear, building a 32-foot boat would not be that much cheaper. In fact, there are significant labour savings to be had in building bigger boats because access is better.
  • Please read this post to understand how boats are sized and priced.

Q: I have been involved in building a boat of between 40 and 45-feet and I can tell you that there is no way you can build this boat at this price.

A: I don’t agree, please read this to understand why.

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Meet the Author

John

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.

32 comments… add one
  • Eric Klem Jan 7, 2013, 9:02 pm

    You continue to lay an an extremely compelling boat in my opinion. If it really can be made at this price point and quality level, I think that many of us would be crazy not to buy one.

    One question that I have and may have missed the answer to in another post, will there be some form of comment period for your blog subscribers once a preliminary design has been drawn? As a design engineer, I find that many of our most productive discussions occur after there is a rough design as it allows us to talk about specific features and how they impact the overall design. Obviously, this can be a bit dangerous and you can get lost in people’s personal preferences but if people can stay on track, you might end up making a few very worthwhile changes. I trust that you and the other voyagers who you choose as your advisors will do an excellent job but I always like throwing in my 2 cents if I notice something like a V berth that is too short and narrow at one end that forces people to sleep with their head hanging off the end of the bunk.

    Keep up the good work.

    • John Jan 8, 2013, 8:38 am

      Hi Eric,

      A very good point, thank you. Never fear, I will continue to write about and share each stage of the design, engineering, and prototyping. And, as always, readers will be able to comment and those comments will be listened to.

      You are quite right that it is amazing how a really annoying mistake can slip through in the design phase and the more eyes that are watching, the more likely it is that someone will notice the problem.

      One thing though, don’t worry about the V berth being too short. I’m 6′ 2″ and a berth that makes me end up with my head or feet hanging off is a pet peeve of mine!

      • Eric Klem Jan 8, 2013, 7:28 pm

        John,

        That is good to hear. I can’t wait to see preliminary drawings and/or screenshots. I have refrained from the discussion this far as there are relatively few specs that I don’t agree with or think could be improved and I think we will get a much better feeling for the boat once a designer is on board and modeling things.

        Thank you for all your hard work.

        Eric

  • David Haywrd Jan 8, 2013, 8:55 am

    Hi

    You wrote “For example, leaving the board down in certain conditions can be down right dangerous because of the boat’s tendency to trip over the board and not slide sideways (skid) when hit”

    Would you provide some background to this comment. I’ve purchased a Trisbal 36 aluminum cutter, dual centerboards (the second is in front of the rudder) and never sailed a centerboarder of this size.

    Cheers
    David

    • John Jan 8, 2013, 9:08 am

      Hi David,

      What I was referring to is that boats like the Ovni and Boreal have a great track record in storm conditions partly because when hit by a wave they skid sideways rather than get knocked down. However, if the board is left down, this does not happen so well.

      Any high performance dinghy sailor—I sailed 505s for many years—will tell you that the quickest way to end up swimming is to have the board too far down in a blow when reaching.

      I also sailed and raced for severall years on a keel/centerboard F&C 44. On that boat we quickly learned that she was faster and healed less when close reaching in the ocean with the board up. Counter intuitive, but true.

  • John Jan 8, 2013, 10:41 am

    Hi All,

    I really don’t want to go over the whole aluminum hull debate again on this post.

    We have really done that subject to death in the comments to previous posts. If you have something to add that has not been said before on this subject, please add it to those threads.

  • Douglas Pohl Jan 8, 2013, 10:05 am

    My experience says I’d go for no paint on aluminum and save the cost and enjoy the reduced maintenance etc.

    comments?

    • John Jan 8, 2013, 10:38 am

      Hi Douglas,

      On a personal basis, I would agree with you.

      But keep in mind that to be successful the builder of the Adventure 40 must sell a lot of boats and I simply don’t believe that a totally unpainted aluminium hard chine (likely) is going to fill that requirement. A boat like that, is, I believe a niche boat that will appeal to a small market.

  • Martin Jan 11, 2013, 5:12 am

    John, in respect of the high latitudes capability, is it possible for you to :

    a) Highlight the handful of main features that would distinguish a high latitudes boat from the A40 (being a non-high latitudes voyaging boat).

    b) Give your thoughts on whether all/most of such shortcomings are of a nature that allows the owner to upgrade the A40 to such a capability without structural or major modifications.

    I realize that one can write an essay about these two innocent looking questions, but I have in mind just a brief handful points you can put forward without too much elaboration.

    • John Jan 11, 2013, 10:56 am

      Hi Martin,

      High latitude boat to me equals:

      Built of metal; heavily insulated; very good heating system; very large fuel tanks; just to name a few.

      So no, an A40 owner will not be able to change her into a high latitude boat.

      Having said that, as I have said before, there is no reason that the A-40 should not cruise to Spitsbergen (west coast), Labrador, or Newfoundland.

      • Martin Jan 11, 2013, 8:53 pm

        Thanks, just the concise reply I was after.

  • Michael Jan 26, 2013, 2:33 am

    Hi John,

    I know the A40 might be on the small side to ask this question but the FAQ section for the new vessel seemed like a good venue to ask.

    What are your thoughts on a 24V system with new builds? (i.e. the A40). It appears that more 24v equipment has made it’s way into the market place these days and the products are more effecient that in the past. Are there any cost savings these days with increasing voltage on production boats, even in the 40 foot range? Any concerns on the industry slowing phasing out 12 v as demand goes up for 24?

    How about Morgans Cloud. Would you consider a 24 volt system given the appropriate means and the perfect senerio in which to install it all . Our sailboat is 48 feet and has been gutted of almost all of her electrical, so your opionion will be of interest to us.

    Thanks a lot!

    Michael

    • John Jan 26, 2013, 8:31 am

      Hi Michael,

      If I were wiring a boat of the size and complexity (not very) of Morgan’s Cloud, I would certainly go 24 volt. The savings in wire gauge alone are compelling.

      However, for a simple and smaller boat like the Adventure 40, I am not considering 24 volt. The big issue is that gear and spares are just that much harder to get for 24 volt. To test this go into any yacht gear shop and ask for a 24 volt pump or light bulb—blank looks and an offer to order it for you will be your likely best response. Also, most 24 volt boats have a subsidiary 12 volt system as well, which adds a whole new level of complexity.

      With your 48 foot boat, the decision is difficult since you are right on the edge. I would have to do a lot of detailed analysis to make that call.

      • Michael Jan 26, 2013, 4:21 pm

        John. Thanks for your comments. They are always appreciated. We are going to do more research on the subject with regard to our boat. Inverters have come a long way and can now power our larger systems while underway of we are motersailing. That said, the Victron units use a lot of wattage at peak load and the 24v system would help us out a lot with wiring.

        Again, I appreciate the reply.

        Michael

  • paul Mar 24, 2013, 6:04 pm

    Hey John,

    I’ve been following this thread with great interest. I find the background information for the choices you’ve made on the Adventure to be very educational.

    I understand the cost of an all aluminum boat might be a challenge. I was wondering if you ever considered an aluminum hull and a fiberglass deck? I believe the new Allure 39.9 is built this way. This might address the costs/concerns associated with initial costs and repainting an aluminum deck in later years.

    Thanks for all the great info!

    • John Mar 25, 2013, 8:29 am

      Hi Paul,

      Yes, we have considered that and it has been discussed at quite some length in the comments to other posts in this series. The short answer is that my thinking is that such a boat has the disadvantages of both materials without the full advantages of either. Check out earlier posts for more details.

  • Ashley Oct 10, 2013, 9:49 am

    i’ve been reading the posts with interest on the Adventure 40

    i’m not seeing a huge gap between what’s proposed and say the Malo 37,
    albeit the Malo 37 is more expensive, as they only make a handful every year, i think max ever was perhaps 6 in a boom year

    if you had the same build quality as a small Swedish yard, but the volume to get some economies of scale, and cost base outside Sweden – you could be pretty much there

    in fact, a newish 2nd hand Malo 37 (which in the classic model is just under 40), would have a similar price and similar offshore spec?

    • John Oct 10, 2013, 10:44 am

      Hi Ashley,

      There is a lot to like in the Malos, but, like the HRs built in the same area, they have strayed a long way from being a viable offshore boat. For a start the arrangement below is impractical offshore: nowhere to sleep and no storage since the accommodations are pushed right out to the ends.

      As to value, new they are, I think, over double the price of an A40. And it’s not really fair to compare a second hand Malo to a new A40. Once both were second hand I expect the A40 price advantage would be sustained.

      Could Malo fix the 37 to do the job of the A40 by simplifying, fixing the layout and going mass production? Probably you are right, they could. Will they? I’m guessing not. Legacy companies almost never pursue new and innovative ideas.

      That’s really the issue that spawned the A-40: it’s not that hard to do, but no one is doing it.

    • John Oct 10, 2013, 10:48 am

      I just looked at the Malo used boat site. They have a three year old 37 for sale for US$437,000! Yikes, I wonder what a new one costs?

  • Ashley Oct 10, 2013, 11:02 am

    haha, approx 300k euro new so that 3 year old might take a while to shift!
    [i got a 2 year old for 250k a few years back]

    disagree a bit on storage space, there’s so much interior stowage the kids can play hide and seek at sea, and it can take significant time to find them!

    in the 37c (classic stern) there’s x3 cockpit lockers that I can stand up in, once they are divided (we use a mix of hard plastic supermarket produce crates and big garden waste buckets, you’ve lots of usable space – but, i’d really like a small workshop space with a vice (the bigger HR gives you that, but only because it has a saildrive, which is not good move, imo)

    • John Oct 10, 2013, 12:15 pm

      Hi Ashley,

      Oops, didn’t know you owned one! Always tricky. I agree entirely on the sail drive.

      I still think that more storage is desirable for a full time liveaboard long distance voyaging boat. By the time you get storm sails, light air sails, JSD, fenders, dock lines, spare anchor rode(s), dingy packed away for voyages, etc, its amazing how much space you need. And we are planning for a bench, vise and dedicated equipment bay next to the engine. Of course the A-40 will have fewer berths than your boat and no chart table. Compromises, compromises!

  • Ashley Oct 10, 2013, 12:59 pm

    yep, agreed on storage, you can’t have enough
    with kids you’re also adding whole extra pile of beach gear, bikes, kayak, fishing gear, etc
    we are finally managing all that storage correctly, was a lot of stowing and restowing, big open spaces on the Malo were not usable out-of-the-box
    there’s no good place for really heavy gear (spare anchor and portable genny) well none that it ties down to properly undercover

    what Malo do well is the cockpit arch, that makes the area either side of the companionway a super chart table, and for our Irish weather makes the tented space very usable

  • Steve Broom Sep 27, 2014, 9:01 pm

    I understand that my future Adventure 40 has a tiller, not a wheel. What is the thinking behind this?
    Steve

    • John Sep 28, 2014, 8:52 am

      Hi Steve,

      This has been discussed at length in other posts and in the comments to them.
      The short answer is that a tiller, on a boat of this size and type, is simply a better alternative than a wheel: simpler, more elegant, more reliable, easier to rig self steering to, less cockpit clutter, more fun and easier to steer with. Also, using a tiller will save us several thousand dollars that we will spend on making the boat stronger.

      • Claire Sep 28, 2014, 2:05 pm

        It’s interesting to invert Steve’s question, and ask “why a wheel”?

        The answer used to be that beyond a certain size of boat, rudder loads became so high that a tiller had to be ridiculously long. This took up excessive space, and also became uncomfortable to use because small adjustments in angle required the helm to make very large movements. The advent of foil-profiled, balanced rudders has solved the loading problem, and balanced hull designs help too … to a tiller remains viable at much much larger sizes of boat than was possible in the era of unbalanced barn door rudders with flat-plate sections.

        A comment I read in another place pointed out in rather harsh terms that the strongest reason for a wheel may be social rather than technical. Some astute observer noted that the wheel creates a prominent and authoritative-looking position for the fat man who pays the bills. (The original used a derogatory term instead of the word “man”). I think here is a lot of truth in that.

        • Laurent Sep 28, 2014, 3:07 pm

          Glen Louis Watson’s 1886, 108′ Thistle had a tiller not a wheel. I understand it was not seen as a way to save money, because it looks like it’s owners’ syndicate was not very much concerned by money savings.
          I guess that this boat was a bit difficult to steer in gales, but XIX’th century french pilot cutters also had tillers and not wheels, they were about 50′ and had to sail in gales

        • Laurent Sep 28, 2014, 3:11 pm

          I meant George Lennox Watson’s…..

        • John Sep 28, 2014, 4:18 pm

          Hi Claire,

          Good analysis of why wheels got going in the first place.

          As to your second supposition, I hate to say it, but I rather fear that you are right!

          • Erik de Jong Sep 29, 2014, 11:35 am

            I love tillers as well.
            Our own Bagheera, 22 ton loaded up and 52 ft over all, was originally designed with a tiller. I was 16 at the time I designed the boat, and it was my first serious design. I did not have a lot of design experience to draw from, and ended up doubting myself to much to actually go through with the tiller concept.

            Now, some 40.000 miles further with this boat, I do regret getting a wheel and I’m seriously considering changing the layout as I had a lot of trouble with my steering gear this summer. A tiller is so much simpler to maintain, such a cost reduction and, as John pointed out correctly, a blast to sail with.

            I have an emergency tiller that is only 2 feet long, and extends to 4 feet by telescopic extension piece. Even with the 2 feet tiller, I have no trouble steering the boat.

            If you ask me, a wheel on anything smaller than 45-50 feet is a solution for a non existing problem.

  • Steve Sep 28, 2014, 10:49 pm

    From Steve,

    Yes, but with a wheel you can be facing forward without any straining AND both hands can be used AND a seat could be included to reduce fatigue.

    Just playin’ the Ol’ Devil’s Advocate.

    Steve

    • Claire Sep 29, 2014, 2:44 am

      Steve, when I teach a novice how to helm, the first thing I tell them is to treat the tiller as if it was a violin bow rather than a baseball bat. If you need both hands on a tiller, either you’re doing it wrong or the boat is badly wrong (whether by design or by a failure of sail trim).

      The fact that a wheel turns a one-handed task into a two-handed task seems to me to be a step backwards.

    • RDE Sep 29, 2014, 8:46 pm

      Just in case anybody still thinks your have to have a steering wheel to handle a big boat. Francois Gabart hoisted the spinnaker on his open 60 during the start of a long distance ocean race with not a wheel to be seen. And the mainsail on this boat is as large as the entire sail inventory for a small fleet of A-40’s!

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