Adventure 40—Interior Arrangement Specification


February 2022: This was one of the original articles defining the Adventure 40 concept. We are now in the process of further defining the boat by publishing the detailed specification prepared by the French team, who are going to make the Adventure 40 real. These articles will, over the next few months, supersede this one. In the meantime, we will keep this article available.

Now we are getting to the really hard part of specifying the Adventure 40, the interior. Unlike most production boats where an interior is specified that will sell at a boat show and then a boat is designed around it, resulting in a poor sea boat, we have already specified the hull form and deck of the Adventure 40, and spent some serious coin in the process.

So now we are going to find out if people are really serious about wanting a true offshore voyaging boat for less than $200,000, because this is where we are going to make the hard decisions and compromises to make that possible for the price.

This is a long post, reflecting the complexity of, and the compromises required in, this area. However, even if you are not interested in buying an Adventure 40, you may wish to struggle through to the end since we will cover many of the difficult decisions we must all make when selecting a boat, regardless of size.

And we will do this analysis from the point of view of someone who has really been out there (me), assisted by a lot of people with real offshore experience (those that comment on this site), rather than some salesperson.


Before we get into specifics, we need to define the mission of our Adventure 40 interior arrangement. Here is is:

  1. A comfortable offshore voyaging and live-aboard interior for a couple with occasional guests that don’t stay long—trust me, they won’t.
  2. Good sea-berths for three people, which allows a crew at sea of up to four, assuming a single watch stander.

What about couples with children? I have wrestled with this more than any other issue about the interior and come to the conclusion that we simply can’t fit two private sleeping areas into the Adventure 40 without messing up the boat or making her substantially bigger and therefore more expensive. So, children (or guests) will have to live and sleep in the salon. Is that workable? Only you can decide based on your family dynamics.

If not, maybe one day there will be an Adventure 45.


Since we don’t have a hull actually drawn, it is impossible to come up with an exact layout at this time, but what we can do is look at an existing offshore boat of about the same displacement, with a layout that we know works well, and then discuss the changes and tweaks that we can make to meet the Adventure 40 mission.

This approach will stop us falling into the general silliness so often exhibited in those “My Ideal Boat” discussions on the forums where people add every possible feature to their wish list without any understanding of the volume required and thereby end up with an arrangement plan that might just fit into the hull of the Queen Mary II and be barely affordable by Warren Buffet.

Ian McCurdy, at McCurdy and Rhodes, designers of our own Morgan’s Cloud, has been kind enough, once again, to let us use the design of the McCurdy family boat Selkie—an extremely successful offshore boat that is about the same size as the Adventure 40—as a starting point. You might want to print out the plan that starts the post (click to enlarge) so you can use it for reference as we continue.

I’m going to guess that the Adventure 40 will be a little wider and a little longer on the water and, therefore, if we are going to stick with a sea kindly hull form, a little heavier than Selkie. But we just can’t go over 20,000 pounds displacement if we are going to hit our price point, so we had all better get used to the fact that this is all the volume we have to work with. And, after all, many people have successfully and happily cruised in far smaller boats.


Storage is vital for a live-aboard voyaging boat, so let’s start there with the changes we need to make to Selkie, which was designed for racing and shorter cruises.

Selkie has much better storage than most boats her size with a good-sized forepeak and a roomy port cockpit locker. In addition, her relatively deep hull form allows much of the tankage to be in the bilge, freeing up even more room for storage. This is an advantage of deeper boats that buyers often miss when evaluating a wider boat with almost no bilge.

So all we need to do for the Adventure 40 is replace Selkie’s starboard quarter berth with a storage and equipment space. This change will also give us really good access to the engine, running and steering gear.

In addition, it would be really great if we can fit in a small work bench with a vise. And even better if it could be designed so said bench can be removed and installed somewhere in the cockpit for those jobs that require more elbow room.


Selkie already has a near ideal U-shaped galley layout, although it would be good if we could upgrade the stove to three burners, which I think the probable additional beam of the Adventure 40 will allow.

Chart Table, Or Not

This is a hard one. As frequent readers of this site know, we are big believers in navigating on deck and the Adventure 40 will have a hard dodger with room under it to mount electronics and work on a chart, albeit folded fairly small. But on the other hand, it’s really nice to have a “ship’s office” below where we can use a computer, draw, or write in comfort.

Separate Shower Stall Wins

Having said that, and given the amount of space we have, I think that the best thing to do is scrap the chart table and replace it with a separate shower stall that can also be used as a wet weather gear locker at sea. After all, we can work at the salon table.

For those of you who may be understandably stunned by this decision, Dick Stevenson does a great job in this comment of explaining the many benefits of a separate stall shower.

It would be nice to put the head here too, convenient to the companionway, since this will put the entire “working area” of the boat near the companionway and separate from the salon and sleeping areas—absolutely the best way to do an offshore layout. And moving the salon forward will result in a bit bigger galley too.


I’m a great fan of dinettes for salons but they do take up more room than settees and I’m doubtful that we can fit one in without making the whole thing too cramped to be comfortable. You often see dinettes designed with straight backs and seats that are not deep enough for the human form in an effort to shoehorn them into too small a space, which results in a sitting position that the Inquisition would have approved of.

But there is an even bigger problem with a dinette layout and that is the difficulty of fitting in three good sea berths that are parallel to the center line of the boat. (Sleeping on a berth that is not aligned with the center line is truly horrible because as the boat heels your head is either higher or lower than your feet.)

So, on balance, I think that the best bet is to stick with Selkie’s classic settees and drop-leaf table salon and use the additional beam of the Adventure 40 to add a pilot berth on one side that has the added benefit of being a good place to store bedding during the day, and can, with the addition of a curtain, act as a private space for a child.

We may need to resort to “trotter boxes”—extensions of the settees and pilot berth for your feet that go under the counters or into lockers  in the head and galley—in order to get a full 7-feet of berth length. Done right, “trotter boxes” don’t reduce the comfort of the bunk, but allow the length of the salon to be reduced to 6-feet, which is plenty for two people to sit comfortably side-by-side. Of course “trotter boxes” will impinge on the storage in the head and galley, but you can’t have everything and by going this route, both will be bigger than those on Selkie.

Forward Cabin

Since this is primarily a boat for couples, and we are anything but puritans here at AAC, I will leave the forward V-berths but add a removable filler between them to facilitate cuddling.

Assuming that the head moves aft, we will lose much of the hanging locker and bureau shown, but I would hope that we can retain a smaller hanging locker on one side and a set of shelves on the other.


There is no gentle way to say this. If you are dreaming of a varnished wood interior fitted with lots of beautifully made drawers and clever and complex places to store stuff, the Adventure 40 is not for you. We simply can’t afford the labour costs of that kind of fit out if we are going to hit our price target.

The interior will be mass produced outside of the boat in modules that are pre-finished, probably with some kind of plastic laminate. There will only be two drawers, both in the galley for storing sharps, etc. The rest of the stowage will be fitted with shelves—adjustable up and down would be good—and we may even resort to zippered fabric locker covers rather than doors.

I am hoping that we will be able to trim the edges of at least some of the cabinetry with wood by designing it all in CAD and then cutting it out on a CNC router. This will result in a light and airy feel, but with a touch of classic class, much like the  traditional “Herreshoff interior” of white painted wood with mahogany trim.

By the way, I can tell you, having had boats with both types of interior, that the Adventure 40 will be much more pleasant to live in and easier to maintain and keep clean than some varnished cave.

Light and Ventilation

The boat will have three big Dorade vents: one forward and one each over the galley and head. There will be four ports: two fixed in the salon and two opening, one in the head and one over the galley.

There will be only one hatch, situated in the forward cabin. Yes, I know that many owners will want more hatches for light and air, but keep in mind that a white interior needs a lot less light to feel bright than a varnished one and a wind scoop fitted forward, together with the Dorades and two opening ports, will keep the boat plenty cool.


One thing we might be able to do would be to incorporate a flat area with no core into the deck amidships where a reasonably handy owner could easily install another hatch. A feature that would be in keeping with the easy to customize ethos of the Adventure 40.

Not Set In Stone

I’m certainly not arrogant enough to think that the layout I have come up with is the absolute best posible, so I will certainly listen to suggestions in the comments. Also, I almost guarantee that the professional naval architect who eventually designs the boat will come up with improvements.

Having said that, please don’t forget that the arrangement I have specified is the  result of some 20 years, spaced over 45 years, of living on boats that go offshore—this is not just theory.


If you have any thoughts for improvement, or questions, please leave a comment. One thing I would ask is that if you want to see a feature added, please think carefully about what you are willing to lose to free up the required space and budget to accommodate your idea, because we don’t have any of either to spare.

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Nice article. In general I agree. Definitely go with the second hatch option as that light will be needed over the table and galley in late season or when moored tight into trees or a fiord. Also definitely move the head aft; the traditional place forward is useless offshore in weather, also face the throne forward and not inboard as is often the case.


Hi John. I like what you have done so far. I am curious about the choice of a traditional V berth forward as opposed to an offset berth. As I get older, I find it harder to justify the crawling required to mount and dismount a V berth with the filler in place. Keep up the good work! Thanks!


If the v berth is set at the same height, or there abouts, as the saloon seats, and the cabin standing area is full width (very possible is the heads is moved aft), then getting in and out of the berth is easy (speaking from experience). Setting the berth this low is difficult if the boat has a heavily raked stem, if there is a need for stowage in the bow, or in a smaller yacht; but in a 40ft yacht with no aft cabins and minimal chart table it should be eminently possible.

Eric Klem

Hi John,

I continue to like where this spec is going. As much as I might like some other additional features if I was just making a wish list, I think that you are making the right trade offs when it comes to balancing cost, function and space. Not to mention that this boat will be designed the right way and not from the inside out.

One question I have is about engine placement. I assume that you have the engine in the traditional place under the companionway steps instead of doing something like the Passport 40. If this is the case, the interior arrangement will have a huge effect on how easy the engine is to work on. I like the general arrangement that you outlined but I am a little concerned that putting the shower and head where the chart table is on Selkie might make it very difficult to get access to the starboard side of the engine. Unfortunately, it seems like the only things that provide decent access while doing double duty are berths and stowage. Since the port side is already compromised by the galley, maybe making the engine room wider than necessary so that someone can crawl along the side of it would be a reasonable compromise. Along these lines, eliminating the nav station would eliminate room for the electrical panel. I like this to be close to the companionway so that I can easily pop down and switch on the nav lights or something like that but I also think that it needs to be far enough from the companionway that it doesn’t get soaked all the time.

Looking at the outline of the housetop on Selkie, much of the working area of the galley and the settees are outside of it. I suspect that a 40′ boat is large enough that there will be plenty of room at the settees for this but it might be tight in the galley. I have been in many galleys where I have to bend down to work over the stove or end up looking straight into a wall and can’t see the stove when I stand up. I hate to admit it but I have come to accept the gently sloped house sides that some of the modern production boats have. Structurally, I suspect that they are easier to design. They provide more room down below and a good surface to walk on while on deck and heeling over. Obviously this can be overdone and side decks can become much too small.

The way that the V berth is done on Selkie would likely not be very good for me. I do think that this type of berth is the only way to get all of the features desired into this size boat. At 6’4″, I have found that the only way to get into these when the end of the bunk is obstructed is to crawl in head first on my hands and knees then spin around and lie down. This isn’t too bad when I am alone but my wife definitely does not appreciate it. Also, I find that I am trapped unless I wake her up and have her move out of the way. The simplest solution for me would be to have the entire aft end of the berth unobstructed so that I could crawl off the end. This space could double as a place to change, put on shoes, etc. If a V berth has enough width at the forward end (not enough in my opinion on Selkie), I have found them to be perfectly acceptable sea berths provided that it isn’t rough so you could sail with more people on coastal passages and then limit it to 4 on offshore ones where the V berth won’t work. To do this, I put a lee board down the middle of the bunk, right over the mattress, bedding, etc and 2 people can sleep there. We also use this arrangement when we stay in a really rolly anchorage. The final thing that I would say about these berths is that the stowage that is found under them is usually unusable if you have the center insert in. In my opinion, the insert should not be an insert but installed full time and all of the stowage should be accessible along the flat end of berth with stowage for large, light, rarely used things under the forward part of the berth accessible by lifting the mattress (some people have tanks here but they are heavy to have that far forward).

The other thing that I think needs to be considered when thinking about ventilation is dinghy stowage on deck. Since a dinghy is not included, this is a little bit hard but there should be an area where a dinghy can be placed without compromising ventilation. Taking Selkie’s layout for example, there are multiple dorades up forward as well as a big opening hatch so you probably would not want a dinghy up forward and you may even be prevented from having one with the dorade boxes. Between the mast and the aft end of the spray cover, there is about 6.5′ so that isn’t long enough for anything other than a nesting dinghy. Since Selkie was designed for a different purpose, they didn’t have to worry about this but it does seems like the deck arrangement and interior arrangement need to allow for something.

It would be interesting to see how a hull form like Selkie would be updated for use today. I wonder whether extra interior space would emerge or whether it would remain similar. Looking at the drawing, several feet of boat in each end are unused both on deck and down below. They are obviously there for good reason but I wonder whether new understanding of hull forms means that we can better use the ends of the boat or whether boats that use the ends now are designed around an interior.

The great thing about CAD is that you will be able to visualize many different versions of an interior layout and make both small and large improvements. I was half tempted to try to CAD up Selkie’s interior myself to play with.



I like the idea of all the electrical led back to the work room, what are your thoughts on using fuses instead of breakers (at least on the DC side)? I have never been a fan of breakers because they become by default switches which they really shouldn’t be. Circuit protection and switching aren’t the same. Carrying spare fuses is cheaper then carrying spare breakers as well.

Dick Stevenson

Dear John,
I like it! Well thought through and a nice balance between essentials and extras. This is not the essential realm, but, as you mention a light vs dark interior, let me mention one item that may be of interest to readers (and may be feasible financially to some degree), but surprised me in its large addition to Alchemy’s quality of life.
Let me comment on real glass portlights. Mine are labelled “Hood” (the go-to company starts with P- memory fails, but I can locate if wished) and are stainless steel and are as perfect as when they were installed 15+ years ago. They all open and have never leaked. I suspect they were quite expensive, but the headaches friends have had with their plastic windows, either fixed or opening, may mitigate initial cost. Same goes for some framed in aluminium. I recommend glass, because it continues to pass all available light and are a joy to look through. They are easy to clean and you do not have to worry about chemicals. My windows look small and might make for a dark interior, but the stainless “cowling” is so highly polished it acts as a prism and magnifies the light impressively. The cowling also allows the portlights to be opened in a moderate rain. And numerous opening portlights make a huge difference in ventilation when not swinging at anchor. Finally, the polished stainless steel, pushes far more light into the boat than other metal portlights.
As said, they may be too pricey, but I write for everyone as these are one of the items I would not have anticipated would be so important until after I had lived with them.
Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Nick Kats

My 6 circular portlights are bronze, traditional but very dark. Painting the inside of the tube-like frame with aluminum paint drastically improved the amount of light coming through.
Not germane to the thread here, but an useful tip.


Just a quick thought… I think we’re all imagining here the ultimate practical 40 footer or so to get you anywhere safely and comfortably anywhere in the world. With that said, what is the cost of a “pretty” below decks? Could an interior be built plain and simple without all the teak trim, that if wanted, could be added by the owner? I guess what I imagine is all the glass bulkheads and cabinetry be formed to accept a fancy interior but leave it as an option?


As happy owners (I’m 6’2″) of a PSC Dana 24, we both approve of your comments so far. We have Trotter Boxes, and store stuff behind the buttoned cushions that conceal them. We love our 6 SS opening glass ports. We also LOVE the seating position on the foredeck where the cabin front provides a seat back for a place to sit when at anchor.
My Girl votes big for the shower. Perhaps the shelving can be mindful of how an aftermarket vented door package might be added later.
We do not have a chart table now, but have used our boat only on large inland lake so far. I like the Boreal 44 layout under the hard dodger, especially when the halyard lines terminate at the mast base.
The Dana is a tank, and we love that feeling of solid quality at every turn, but would like to spread out just a bit. Perhaps all prospective buyers should spend several days on a Dana first to appreciate quality, and moving UP to a 40 footer!

C. Dan

A couple of thoughts:

I believe the A40 will have a smaller engine than Selkie, so that could yield additional usable space.

I like the idea of the boat being built with specific future upgrades in mind – the more, the better. This way we get all the potential benefits of clever design choices without all of the up-front cost.

John, have you ever used a Pullman-style double berth? It seems to me that the benefits of easier entry/exit, and easier access to storage beneath, make it worthy of consideration [I see you have addressed this above, somewhat – perhaps this could be a design choice made instead of a larger galley]

I would also echo the request for a design that contemplates dinghy stowage on deck – however, I am not sure that covering the forward hatch is all that much of an issue. If you are under way, this hatch is closed already, isn’t it?

C. Dan

A couple more thoughts on the pullman berth: 1) it’s easier to rig with lee clothes than a V berth, and also more comfortable while underway, as by design it would be set back a bit from the bows; 2) most of the designs in this size range I’ve seen with pullmans have a head in the bows, which I think we’ve ruled out; however, the resultant large forepeak area could be used as our small workshop/storage area with vice/stool setup… just a thought


Another problem with a Pullman double is whoever is on the inside has to climb over the person on the outside to get up.


Great work John.

Regarding the v berth/offset discussion, we have a 30′ Bristol Channel Cutter, a replica of Lin and Larry Pardey’s Taliesin. Rather than a v berth, the Pardeys specified a parallelogram offset to the side in the bow. It is so much more comfortable than a v berth, where you and your partner keep waking each other up because there isn’t enough room for your feet and legs. The offset bunk has room to move for your legs, even if the actual area of the bunk isn’t any larger. The v berth’s extra space at one end doesn’t help when it’s needed at the other. The offset bunk half solves the problem of needing to crawl over your partner to get out, as one person is next to the open side and the foot of the bunk is usually up against a bulkhead, so one person has easy access and the other has to climb over. It also allows you to crawl into bed from the side rather than the foot, easier than crawling in and spinning around. Being set to the side, it leaves room for some cabinets on the other side. It’s the most comfortable boat bunk I’ve experienced in any boat under 50′, and very practical as well. The BCC is a wider design generally, but it’s also 10′ shorter than the A40, so hopefully the offset bunk would fit.

Choosing the shower is a good idea. Having a real shower onboard is one of the things that makes the difference between feeling like you’re camping and living comfortably long term. There are other surfaces/places that can serve double duty as a chart table, but no other place that can serve as a shower and wet-room, other than the cockpit, which is a poor substitute.

C. Dan

I think the offset double-bunk is actually more what I had in mind, although I guess with this you don’t end up with a huge forepeak area? Also, John, this doesn’t solve the problem of climbing over your partner.

I have also always thought that the layout in the Gozzard 36 was very interesting, with lots of unique features – the double settees come together to form a double berth that is accessible from both sides when at anchor (my own boat, a Laser 28, has a similar feature, on a much smaller scale, that allows cushions with integral plywood structure to be oriented in a variety of combinations that yield different seating/berthing options)

The Gozzard also has a large double quarter berth that can be made into a 2nd private “stateroom” with collapsible/removable bulkheads (and it also costs a fortune!)


Forgot to mention earlier that our current boat has a gasketed removable cockpit floor held in place by large spin on finger nuts. Really improves engine access and light to engine bay when working at companion way location. Is this an option, or another price point issue?

RDE (Richard Elder)

Hi John,
I’m having a bit of a problem understanding the thought process that is going on here. The 38’6″‘ boat chosen as the baseline for a discussion about interior design has a waterline only 30′ long, and stern profile and deadrise similar to early IOR designs. I can’t feature any contemporary designer creating a new 40′ boat with these hull lines nor can I imagine that there is a market for it in 2013. Because you enjoy some of these characteristics in Morgan’s Cloud does not mean they scale down effectively to -40’.

Back when we started this discussion a year and a half ago, ( I suggested that a modern 40′ “Model T” would have a DWL of about 36′, and this shorter WL was based in part upon my preference for avoiding any bowsprits or bobstays that often come with the modern fashion of plumb bows. This is a very different interior packaging challenge than the 6′ shorter waterline and pinched stern of the boat you are trying to fit an interior into. There is no need to forgo a computer office/chart table in favor of a wet locker/shower stall, have a 1960’s style double leaf table and no salon settee with fixed table, or have traditional V berths unusable at sea. The compromises being discussed and the conclusions drawn all derive from space limitations that do not exist if the original vision of a fast, relatively narrow well-balanced hull form were adhered to.

But the proof is in the execution. I’m doing a pre-purchase survey next week on a boat designed and built in the mid-80’s by the best metal boat builder I know. It is 37′ LOD, with 33’LWL, 11’6″ beam, 6′ draft, and 6’2″ headroom. The stern has not even a hint of the IOR disease, but it is by no means fat like today’s monocondos. In this space are a roomy quarter berth, aft head with the throne properly located fore and aft, nice chart table with dedicated seat, adequate but slightly small L shaped galley, shallow U dinette, 2 sea berths in the main sal0n, and a nice side entry double Pullman forward.

If I were laying out the interior of this boat but had an additional 3′ to work with I’d have no problem designing a galley with more storage and counter space, enlarging the Pullman double to near queen width, and incorporating a vertical chain locker back near the mast base.

Words or artistic drawings on two dimensional paper are nice, but a really optimized interior comes from living with it and improving it. The next best thing is a full scale mock up and a practiced eye, and barring that a virtual reality tour on the CAD machine.

RDE (Richard Elder)

Hi John,
I respectfully have to disagree. Take Selkie and re-design the stern quarters along the lines typical of one of Bob Perry’s transom stern designs of the 80’s, give it a moderate bow overhang, and you’ve got a A-34-35, not an A- 40. The key metric is not just total volume, but where it is distributed and how it accommodates fixed sized internal features like berths and heads. The 37′ example I gave is a perfect illustration. And LWL is always more indicative of the usable interior space (and performance) of a boat than LOA.

Everything in design involves compromise. There is no way that you can have the large volume of tankage under the cabin sole that you have in 55′ on Morgan’s Cloud or that I’ve appreciated in smaller slack bilged traditional full keel designs and also have a long waterline, weatherly keel shape, and moderate displacement in a 40′ boat. (unless you decide to raise the salon up and put the tanks under it) Give her a 30′ waterline and long overhangs and you’ve got a boat that will sail slowly and hobbyhorse like mad regardless of how much tankage she has in the bilges.

At the end of the day you still have to produce a boat that somebody will want to buy. The attempt to revive the Nordic 40— a similar but far less dated design compared to Selkie—– created not even a whisper of interest as far as I know.

RDE (Richard Elder)

Hi John,

You are right, we are probably talking past each other, and unnecessarily so! It will be interesting to see the 37′ x 33′ x 11’6″ boat and interior arrangement that started this thought for me next week and see what compromises its design contains.

Dick Stevenson

Nick, Not germane to the A40 directly, but likely of interest to a number of readers. Yes, it is surprising what a lot more light is brought into the cabin. Dick

Ludo Mathijssen

Hi John, and everyone at attainable adventure cruising,
I like the arrangement as described quite a lot; however since we’re still arranging and re-arranging, thinking and dreaming…. here comes my bit:
Seperate shower is a good (great) idea, by loosing the downstairs navigation wich in case of hard (enclosed) dodger (also that would do much for ventilation) is no problem, well we still need some dedicated switchboard but we can integrate that into the companionway or up under the enclosed (at least optional, pretty please) dodger… well if we get away with the downstairs navigation we might just find the space we need for a head (nearto midship, in axle, probably backfaced) and a (semi)seperated shower as well as a transome to quarter without having the need for movig the saloon forward.
(I hope it is possible to integrate (7ft) pilotberths to both sides of saloon.)
In stead of that it might be possible to move the forward cabin a bit back as well as find some space for something like an optional heater (like a Reflex) just direktly in front of mast.
Galley: please put in sink as much midship as possible (for obvious reasons) some ships do “islandsinks” like for instance Sentijn 37 IQ (but there are probably more costefficient solutions out there in the world).

I really love the way you think ahead; that could mean you are able to anticipate for individual needs, and include those (optional) needs into constructual-planning (like extra hatch, heater, selfsteering (windvane), windgenerator …) wich preparations might not be very (if any) costintensive when thought of before, as well as being able to be of much higher quality than after sales DIY solutions.

Looking forward for your next post 🙂
Stay safe, have fun!!


Have to say that I agree with Ludo on the desirability of two pilot berth either side of the saloon. Why?
1. V-berths are useless as sea berths for those without cast-iron stomachs. As there is no chart table on the A40 the only place to sit below is one of the settees, and it is always more comfortable to sit on the high side. With only one pilot berth and no quarter-berths, either the couple will have to hot bunk in the pilot berth or one of them will be using a saloon settee. If the boat is tacked their berth may become the highside settee, forcing the other partner to sit on the lowside in the saloon. This is not ideal for a cruising couple. Really one needs two good seaberths whose use does not impinge on the activities in the rest of the boat, and as the A40 is laid out the only option is two pilot berths.
2. It is not unusual for a cruising couple to have a guest or two with them when they cruise. This will exacerbate the above point. However, with 2 pilot berths the crew can hot-bunk without affecting activities of others and everyone in a crew of up to 4 can sleep comfortably while underway.
3. Book cases can be placed anywhere on a boat. Indeed, arguably the best placement is athwarts on the main bulkhead between the main cabin and forecabin. Aligned so there is less risk of flying objects and the full height of the accommodation can be used for stowage. This is also the best place for a diesel heater. One might object that this removes 30cm of length from the interior, but with 210cm long berths in the saloon the loss will not be large if the berths extend into trotter boxes in the stowage area. This will also free up the design of the galley and heads (allowing the toilet to face aft with shower aft) and will mean that everyone can sleep feet forward, which is the most comfortable position while underway.

By and large I think your (John’s) notions of the perfect interior (and boat generally) for a 40ft’er are akin to my own. The under cockpit area is best used as a service area, the chart table is superfluous with a hard dodger, sea-berths should be parallel to the center line, and the forepeak should be purely for harbour use (ideally it should be separated from the rest of the boat by a watertight bulkhead). However, I cannot agree that only 1 dedicated seaberth is sufficient. Pilot berths are the best sea-berths, but there needs to be two.


On the highside lowside sitting we will just have to agree to differ. It does take more effort to stay highside, but for those with delicate stomachs (my wife included) they are less prone to sea sickness when high side in both cockpit and saloon (doesn’t bother me much aside from aforementioned wife issue), at least this is my experience (coastal, with the odd bit of offshore, around the UK and Sweden over 30 years in boats ranging from 26 to 56 ft, most of them AWB’s).

Ideally, for any trip of serious duration there should be a good seaberth for everyone on board. In seriously inclement weather out in the blue, when running before, hove too, or riding to a sea anchor/parachute everyone aboard should be able to lie down comfortably and securely inside. One of the crew will need to be on call, but everyone should be able to rest where it is dry and warm. As the A40 is at the moment 3 people can do this. Is that enough? Probably it is for me.

I have never used pilot berths but I have used the upper of a pair of bunks with leecloths. These are a little tricky to get into and out-of, but they are superior in that once in you are out of the traffic in the boat and snug and secure. When on a settee bench, people fall into you, brush past you, and even (once memorably) sit on your face. That is also true, but maybe not with quite such a frequency, when sailing only as a pair. A settee berth is great when you are the on watch crew and are just resting up for a bit. But when off watch, a secure out of the way berth is what you want. I would definitely use the pilot berth every time when off watch. That said, hot-bunking with the wife is not really an issue so maybe one pilot berth is sufficient.

Admittedly, with the heads aft there is little reason for on watch crew to go into the saloon underway except to sit down for a rest so the likelihood of being disturbed in the settee berths is lower. So maybe on the A40 having the settee berths as off watch sea berths is ok. But as a general rule, I still regard them as suboptimal for off watch crew.

As to the issue of pilot berths and the narrowing toward the feet. I agree but depending on where the saloon is and the hull form the narrowing need not be significant.


A few thoughts for what they are worth. To me the height of luxury, particularly for cold weather sailing is my own bunk, with sitting headroom over at least the part that I would want to sit. and read, or more importantly sit and get some warm clothes on (or off) before getting completely out of my warm sleeping bag or blankets (whats the best? another topic…). This rules out many pilot berths which just do not have the headroom.

One slightly unusual approach to this is to make a double berth in the salon that can be split by a seatback divider into a comfy single pilot berth with good headroom and a settee (that at a pinch can be used as another bunk). Or in good conditions or in port as a double by removing the divider. It would also be far cheaper to make than more fancy layouts and the divider can be shifted back to make a real nice lounge.

I am all for trotters in the salon, they make a great place to store your bedding and any pillows when you are not using the bunk.

On V berths, I have been using one for a while and must say the turning operation is quite amusing, and very inelegant to say the least. If the opening is wide, the bunk low and the bed wide it can be achieved with some decency. But I am keen to try an offset bunk (like this one except then I can’t make the compartments underneath the bunk as watertight for some protection from an unexpected impact on the side that’s cutout.

I like quarter berths, as long as it’s protected from any spray coming down the hatch (a good dodger and a clear rollup spray shield help) and I have room to sit up I usually nab one of them. I often end up sleeping with my head down the bottom of the bunk, where it’s much quieter and dark. But a little window (with blinds) into the cockpit and some ventilation is nice. On a 40 footer it should be possible to make the quarter berth with enough space to have a foot well beside the engine, (like this one, I love his designs) This gives good for access to the engine and the berth. and a nice place to store your seaboots and wetweather pants in fireman fashion, ready for a quick dash on deck. It also gives you a place to sit with your legs down and can be infilled to make a small double.

I think this is a very good layout ( whatever you think of the boat. Given an offset double forward it ticks most of my boxes. And I love the J120 layout and shape. if you took a design like the J120 and beefed it up for strength and added enough displacement and a softer bow shape to give it a less bouncy motion you would have a fast easily driven boat that should balance well.

On the hatch thing forward, a couple of thoughts. You need to consider emergency escapes. Maybe being able to reach out and cut the dingy lashings if it’s stored above the hatch. On the dingy thing it would be great to be able to fit a real 10 footer on deck, they are so much better than an 8 footer. You can always open the hatch with the dinghy lashed over it, this gives protection from rain and spray. I like to be able to also store the dinghy right way up as well as upsidedown for short trips. So I prefer to have the hatch on the deck in front of the cabin. This way it is also more over the foot of the V berth giving far better ventilation to this bunk, plus it can be opened and closed from the bunk more easily.

Part of me wonders for this boat if you are better to use the fo’c’sle for storage and a workshop and find another solution to the double bunk, like down aft almost as a quarter berth?

On the chart table downstairs I really see them being most useful nowadays as a computer desk/office space. So they can be much smaller but should have space for a printer/scanner (in a locker), keyboard, logbook. HF Radio, and/or iridium docking station. Having to pull out all this stuff and assemble all the wires just to download a weatherfax or a grib file really is annoying. So I would want a dedicated computer space on a 40 footer.

C. Dan

I believe the “slightly unusual approach” you describe in the 2nd paragraph is similar to the design of the Gozzard 36… I would love to see examples if this type of setup in other boats, and would be great to hear from some folks that have used this design


Look at the Valiant 40 interior. If you have kids they go in the bow. Couples sleep in the roomy double q.berth. Plenty of sea berths. Excellent galley. Big saloon settees. Agree small chart table would be nice.

Forgo a workbench/storage area other than the built in ones. I have a work bench and never use it to work on it. I take the tools to the job usually. A stiff board with vise that drops into companionway drop board slots works very well.

RDE (Richard Elder)

Hi John,
Aren’t you exaggerating just a little bit, or perhaps comparing apples to limes? Three times as much cost to build a Valiant 40 vs an A-40? Granted toward the end of its production the Valiant grew a bowsprit, became better constructed, and usually was loaded down with gen sets, water makers, and all the other “necessities” that a buyer of a half million dollar Yacht needs to be happy. But the reality of that price tag had much to do with milking the blue sky reputation of the brand that had been built up over the years until the builder finally exhausted the market of people willing to pay $500-600 thousand dollars for a 1970’s boat design.

Let’s do a thought exercise (not an advocacy for actually reviving the Valiant design) that levels the playing field. We’ll build two boats with the same type of construction and finish that you are planning for the A-40, one based upon the Valiant and one upon the original Model T specification from 2012. For the Valiant we’ll buy the old V-42 molds and build the standard side cabin interior arrangement, but with no interior wood, just white gel coat and modular interior fiberglass everywhere, with canvass doors on the cabinets. We’ll hire Bob or one of his apprentices to move the mast so we don’t need a bowsprit, and (horrors) modify the stern quarters to replace the canoe stern with a simple vertical transom, sugar scoop and tiller steered, external bearing, transom hung rudder. As nice as the bulwarks are, we’ll cut them off and use a standard aluminum toe rail to save several thousand dollars. When we build it we’ll use triaxial fabric and vinyl ester resin infused over a CoreCell core in the hull and Divinicell foam in the decks. With the weight savings from modern construction and plain Jane interior we can now dig up the old original V-40 keel mold and thus remove another thousand pounds from the ballast weight . We now have a 18,000-19,000# boat instead of a 23,000# boat, and one that will sail far better. Still a Valiant, but a 2013 version that isn’t pointed on both ends.

Compared to the Model T, the 2013V is 12″ beamier, 2′ shorter on the waterline, and perhaps 1,000# heavier. Or compared to a 40′ stretched SELKE, 7″ beamier and 4′ longer on the waterline. Still think it would cost three times as much to build?

RDE (Richard Elder)

Hi John,
I basically agree with your comments, and am in no way advocating resurrecting any 1970’s design, even a good one like the V-40. If I had money to invest I certainly wouldn’t try. A few minor points:

1- In my example of simplifying the V-40 stern, I had in mind retaining about the same fullness in the buttocks that Bob gave the original, thus no more volume, just a cheaper transom and rudder.

2- The 2013 V would be more expensive to build than the Model T, but my guess is that the cost difference would be closer to 10% rather than 300%.

3- If you really want an aft head, separate shower, and a U shaped offshore galley in the aft quarters of a 40′ boat it will need a 12′ beam just like the Valiant or the Bill Garden Fast Passage 39 that had that arrangement. At 11′ beam I’d put the head just fwd of the mast in the standard configuration.


I read John’s well-argued post and all comments with interest, but must admit that some of the discussion and counter-arguments will be easier to follow if there was some rudimentary A-40 cabin floor layout (graphic) to refer to, even if it was hand-drawn and qualified to serve only as a discussion instrument.

Richard William Lord

Although I have nowhere near the ocean going experience of the above posters, if I had to put my life in the hands of one “current’ captain that’s sailing the high seas and northern latitudes today—– it would be with you Captain John and your “Attainable Adventure Team”..

Who am I to question a man of your experience (20+ years sailing the 7 seas)..?? If your designing a true, blue water sailboat that can safely and efficiently take me to the “far side of the world” and back, whatever you say goes..

Your “out there”, extreme sailing consistantly and living to tell me your recommendations—what I / We “need and don’t need”.. I’m going with whatever you say.. Period..

As far as I’m concerned—just tell me what I need—cause you know..

Dave Benjamin


From a marketing standpoint, I think it could be a tough sell giving up a quarterberth or other semi-separate space for a child. At $200K, I think the target market will be the younger couples and not the retirees. Perhaps there’s a way to make the lazarette “convertible”.

Dick Stevenson

Richard (RDE), Having lived aboard a Valiant 42 for 10+ years now, I believe your position has merit. I love how my boat sails, but (in the never ending urge to tweak) I have spent many a night watch deciding what items (many of which you enumerated) I would change to make it less costly, less weighty and sail even better. I am not sure I agree that whatever you do you end up with a 23,000 # boat, but I am far from having the experience and knowledge to go farther than my intuition in the matter. I do take umbrage, however, on anyone who suggests changing the stern, as those lines define one of the best tushies I have ever seen on a boat.
Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

RDE (Richard Elder)

Right you are Dick! Bob really got it right on the esthetics of the V40 double end stern. Not the easiest job in the world, witness how ugly the butts of the Corbin 39 or Bob Perry’s own LaFitte 44 are. See there— I’ve made a dozen more enemies in one sentence!


Dick Stevenson

John, I came back to the site after getting through my email your recent comments intending to correct the email’s spelling of Dave Gerr’s last name, only to find on the site the spelling is correct and the text is fuller. My head is spinning! In any case Dave’s book is superb and one every curious person who messes about in and around boats will relish. Dick

Collin Harty

In the “there’s nothing new under the sun” category, this Adventure 40 conversation reminds me of a series of articles I remember reading in the British magazine Yachting Monthly back in the mid-90s. In response to lessons learned from the Fastnet disaster of 1979, they posed a design challenge very similar to John’s: developing a fast, safe offshore cruising yacht specifically for a small crew, that was capable of going almost anywhere. Some of the parameters were different (e.g. they weren’t focused on a production boat and thus their material of choice was steel) and, of course, there have been measurable advances in hull forms and materials in the subsequent years, but much of the dialog still seems fresh and prescient. In particular, the interior layout they settled on echoes much of John’s thinking.

Paul J. Nolan

There is no “salon” aboard a sailboat. This is not nitpicking; it is respect for tradition and propriety. Fenders are not bumpers and floors and ceilings are not located where lubbers might expect. Besides, I’ve always thought we can’t have too many saloons. Paul


About the forward cabin : I love the set up of our Jurançon, a large double bed on the port side, and plenty of storage on the starboard, with an access to the anchor chain, and misc storage in the bow.


Hello John,
In my opinion it is a bit shortsighted to suggest a Boreal 47 for families. When people are/or were interested in an Adventure 40 budget will be a big factor. Your website and articles are quite sensible normally. With this remark you disqualify basically all cruisers with children. And that’s a pity, and quite a large group of people. I understand you want to compromise as little as possible. On the other hand the chance of the Adventure 40 actually being build and sold in numbers required for the 200.000 budget, may require lots of family cruisers.
When considering berths, consider bunk beds as these are very space efficient and comfortable in a moving yacht.

Good luck with your project


Maybe you could design a navigation table as it is with new Elan 400 where it can convert to a seat.

Mark Trainor

I just learned about your project from Cap’n Vinnie’s Sailboat2Adventure blog. I embrace sailing for it’s connection to nature and a boat as a vehicle to explore our watery world. I applaud your concept of a simple, safe, offshore craft. Please stay focused. I believe your thoughts on size (Displ., LOA, LWL, Aux HP, etc) are right on. Now with Eric on board the details are sure to gel into the drawings soon.
I may not have the wealth of experience as many of the posters, having logged only 180 days of coastal cruising and 20 days of open ocean sailing on three trips to Bermuda from East coast and Caribbean. But, I am a potential future owner if things go right.
It seems this chapter 10 on Interior arrangement has brought up some interesting comments; separate shower stalls, v-berth arrangements, engine access, nav station. This area is certainly the most difficult for the designer. I encourage you to review the layout of the J-40 (1985-1990). It has the engine placed near the center of the boat, forward of the companionway for good access and weight distribution. It also has a head to port near the companionway, making for a good wet locker. You could ditch its 2nd head forward or make the aft head just a wet locker.
It seems a sailboats v-berth, when offshore, is typically used only for storage. So, why not design it with that in mind?
All for now. Thanks, Mark

Mark Trainor

John, Yes, I understand certainly no 2nd head. I guess what I find hard to understand is:
“So all we need to do for the Adventure 40 is replace Selkie’s starboard quarter berth with a storage and equipment space. This change will also give us really good access to the engine, running and steering gear”
It seems to me making the V-berth area the storage area is better because, 1) using the quarter berth for storage would lessen engine access and 2) v-berth makes for a lousy sea berth.
The J-40’s (18,000# dspl.) engine location solves engine access problem.
As an adventurer I will be traveling with a couple back packs of camping/mountaineering gear, folding mountain bikes, also a couple sail bags of A-spins. The a quarter berth and the two settees will be enough berth space for my plans.
It is a complicated puzzle isn’t it?


While I’m sure you all know more about this than I do, but I’d just like to say that it seems all very 1952 to me. I’m 58 and have been sailing for a little less than 50 of those years. With all the advances in CAD and hydrodynamics one would think that a more advanced systems/design would be part of a 21st century adventure sailing boat. I love tradition but tradition hasn’t necessarily been the safest offshore design, nor the most liveable, long term. Really, who wants to sleep in a forward V berth pounding in to a head sea? You brought somebody on your adventure you don’t really like? Another thing is you have a little keel that would be more at home on a coastal cruiser than on a boat sailing in 22 ft swells 60 miles offshore of India, South Africa, anywhere in the southern ocean, American Pacific or Atlantic oceans. Maybe get you to Bermuda on a good day or cruising the windward islands in early summer? That narrow entry and small profile keel looks to me like a boat that’s going to surf and spill me at first opportunity. Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe you guys think if you load it up with trinkets it’ll be heavy enough to act like a displacement hull? I don’t know. Personally, I think you should put four berths midships old school, tiered port and starbrd of a center lined table. Get rid of the u shaped galley and narrow the hull form. Bring that forward head back to aft of the nav stn. offsetting a rear berth, and bring the V berth aft to take up that space creating a interior locker space forward of the new [ not so v] berth space . I guess what I’m saying is push as much living space as possible, design wise, midships and draw the keel long and as deep as possible with out building a slug. And no I don’t know what those numbers are. But, I do know that I have never been able to out run a storm front I didn’t anticipate, and then I wanted stability and control surface. Not more speed. That’s it from me. Cheers and the best of luck.


Thanks for the quick reply John.
I appreciate your defense of your boat. I wasn’t only using the above interior shot to make my comment but, rather the design given as Adventure 40. Mostly I was talking about using advances in hydrodynamics and other newer technologies in the design philosophy, and getting away from what I would call for the lack of words, typical, if not exactly traditional layouts. For me the idea of the forward “v” berth isn’t the only answer to using that space. Neither at sea nor while at anchor or dock. Why that got you upset I have no idea.
I agree that reading as much as one can on the subject of boat designs opens the mind to other opinions. I wouldn’t stop at Dave Gerr’s excellent book. Steve Dashew and George Buehler have a lot to offer on the subject of design and design philosophy. Just to name two people with distinctly different approaches. And both in their work had to make tough compromises between two very different things. Adventuring and living aboard.
Cheers and the best of luck.

Stuki moi

Have you considered, in addition to bringing the head to rear starboard with a utility room behind it as you mention; to also move the galley enough forward to fit a quarter berth behind it? behind a zipper shut, water resistant tent wall?

And then ditch the forward v berth altogether, replacing it with a desk and some shelving. Or just open storage, perhaps with prearranged mount points/tracks for owners to do their own outfitting.

The broad sterns that are the rage these days, should allow for enough width in a quarter berth for a couple, considering most couples are supposed to be friendly and all. I’m also assuming part of the raison d’etre of the A40, is to get YOUNG couples cruising, so the somewhat more gymnastic entry/exit requirements to the bed, is less of a concern than on more expensive, nest-egg funded boats. The Boreal 44 is obviously bigger than the A40, but their stern cabins look almost palatial.

If 3 sea berths are non negotiable, it seems wasteful to me to, in addition, include 2 “non sea” berths on a smaller boat. And ditto to dedicate an area with as much available vertical space as the fo’c’sle to an activity (or even activities) largely done laying down.

I’m also not a big fan of listening to rode noises all night; nor of having to “move” back and forth between sea berths and the v berth “all the time.”

I also quite like moving the galley a bit away from the companionway, so traffic in and out doesn’t interfere with the cook. And galley counters and floor has less chance of getting wet all the time. Being more of a microwave kind of guy, I realize I may underestimate the need for ventilation if more ambitions cooking is attempted. But again, the much lauded Boreal 44 has it’s galley even further forward. And that on a boat presumably designed for French cooks, of all things…

Just some suggestions from someone old fashioned enough to feel 40 feet, and 20,000lbs, is still a bit on the large side for any couple without both partners being rather dedicated and experienced sailors; but is still very interested in what you come up with to see if it can at all be paired down to 10 meters/32 feet and 10-12,000lbs. And perhaps $100,000-$125,000.

Or alternatively, scaled up to more of a motor sailor, where the larger size is less of an issue, since sail handling need only be done when the weather is favorable.

Bill Attwood

General remarks about “modern design” and “hydrodynamics” don’t add anything useful to the discussion but some specific suggestions from Phillip might help? I look forward to the first draft from Eric, and wish that I hadn’t excluded myself from future ownership of an A40 = total refit/rebuild of a Rustler36.
Yours aye


Hi, Bill
I think there are two main types of adventurer’s. Those who’s idea of adventure is the sea voyage itself, and those who’s idea of adventure is the destination. These are not equal nor the same philosophies.
I also think that most boat builders design for the later and darn few for the first. Boats have become, like much of our society, broader in the beam, and like our automobiles, difficult to tell apart. I think much of that cookie cutter mentality has to do with the commercial aspect of selling the boat to as many customers as possible by answering to as many different “needs” as possible.
I was thinking more about the use of advances in hydrodynamics and other newer technologies in the design philosophy not to add more into the ‘voyaging” form but, rather to exemplify less is more. In that each “customer” will by the very nature of people define their living space according to their “needs” but, that it is near impossible once built to redefine the structural elements when they have been compromised to fulfill a multitude of needs related to “living” aboard -needs extraneous to those required to successfully voyage and survive offshore long term.
I don’t think I’m saying too much that would be considered new. It’s been the conversation among voyagers for eons. It’s the essence of boat talk. We just don’t seem in my opinion to be making any headway and probably wont as long as what is being demanded at shore is determining what sails the open seas -and not vice versa. As for different place to begin, if you are one of those wedded to the “v” berth, let me suggest looking at the galley space designed into todays offshore “voyaging” sailboats [the systems, and the space and the weight, etc.,] necessary to fulfill those “needs”. And how much of that is actually ‘needed”. Then… I think we have to return to my opening sentence and start the conversation all over again, system by system, space by space. I really couldn’t manage that in a single comment thus the broad and described “provocative” original comment. 🙂

Richard William Lord

Damn—–talk about a feeding frenzy.. Mr. John, I’d imagine you gotta be feeling a bit like “Daniel in the Lions Den” about now..!!

To a “simpleton” such as I, perhaps my ignorance “works” to my advantage.. And possibly can clarify one small detail, what really is “truly necessary”—as far as I see it, anyway..

Navigation station / Chart table vs. Shower stall for the women folk and kids.. You guys gotta be kidding me, right..?? Megellan and his crew didn’t have hot water.. Neither did James Cook and his men.. Henry Shackleton never “shampoo’d and conditioned”, nor did his men that I ever recall reading about.. And how about Sir Ranulph Fiennes..?? Check out his “point blank” video:

Offer the wives and kids a 2 1/2 gallon, black solar bag shower and the chance to see the world on the Adventure 40.. They can’t deal with that—cast off without’em..

I figure, a vessel that can sail around the world is alot like hiking the Pacific Coast and Appalacian Trails.. Only a certain “bred” of people “get it”.. And they ain’t the ones that use body wash and hair conditioner and gotta have a hot shower every day..

Build the boat as “simple and solid” as possible.. Give the Captain and Navigator what they need to see the “far side of the earth”.. Then ask the wife and kids if they wanna go.. They can’t deal without the Dove soap and Apricot facial scrub—–well, “We’re gonna miss ya..Keep an eye out for the post card from Tahiti..”

Richard William Lord

Richard Elder

Perhaps we could agree to call it a reading station rather than a nav station? That’s why my boat will have a Recardo seat with good lumbar support, a “nav table” large enough to spread out a large format book (that might even have charts on it), a keyboard, a 19″ computer screen mounted on the bulkhead in front of the reading station and and Kindle on the hard drive.

Richard William Lord

Hi Mr. John and Mr. Richard,

Thank you for your replies.. Perhaps I read too much old world history.. Of the days when one would “give their life to save their Captain but, save the navigator at all costs”.. (no doubt Captain’s navigated, but 2nd in command as well)

Being above board (under a hard dodger) in 10, 20, 30+ seas, “Rounding the Horn” and trying to precisely plot and verify ones location with divider/compass, plotter, protractor, parallel rules, compass rose, converting between True and Magnetic, etc.. I don’t know..

Seems to me, being below “dug in” in a Recardo seat, plotting on a desk near the water line of the vessel would be a much more stable “platform” to accurately pinpoint ones location..

I can also appreciate being shorthanded and needing the navigator topside.. In calm seas and fair weather sailing, sure do it under the hard dodger but, when it’s getting “huge” out, I’d imagine getting “lower” is better.. Much more stable and accurate..

Agreed, a shower is a great place to stash wet gear but, takes up more room than a true “Oilie / Foul Weather Gear closet” doesn’t it..?? And alot more strain on the electrical system, solar system and fuel consumption as well..?? Not to mention the space a shower stall, hot water tank and pump takes up, the plumbing and electrical, etc.. I have to imagine, much more complicated and costly to build, install and maintain than a simplistic “Oilie Locker” to hang wet things..

I admire (and perhaps envy) you and your love of voyaging and the love you so obviously have for your wife.. Your to be commended.. For me (perhaps tragically, who’s to say..??), I always found that “distance made the heart grow fonder”.. If I was in love with a woman when the time came to set sail for the South Pacific, perhaps I’d offer her a berth aboard.. If the “deal breaker” was a hot shower, well—– “I’ll think of you and write you when I get to Tahiti..”

Something tells me Mr. John , that if you told your wife that you were setting sail to “the far side of the world” but, there wasn’t a hot shower aboard, she’d say “Eeeehhh, no big deal.. Count me in.. I’d follow you to the ends of the earth..!!”

Now that’s love..

Mr. Richard, you left out one thing on your “Reading Station”.. A DVD player so you can watch “Swiss Family Robinson” and “Mutiny on the Bounty” with Mel Gibson..!!

Richard William Lord..

Dick Stevenson

Dear Richard WL,
There are a number of areas worthy of reaction in your recent email, but I will just pick one area, a shower.
You suggest a have a proper wet locker rather than a shower stall for space as well as power reasons as you extend the shower’s ancillary equipment to include hot water tanks, pumps etc implying that you would do without them.
On a practical level alone, I have never seen a proper wet locker on a 40 foot boat. At best there is a locker that oilies can be stowed in, but only when they are already dry as they would have no chance of drying in such a small poorly ventilated area. My shower stall is adequate sized for live-aboard use, small for everyday, just right to give safety in offshore use as a shower. When coming off watch in wet conditions my gear goes right on hangers prepared previously on line strung in the shower stall. Spread out to give the bibs & coat a reasonable chance of drying, they take up a good bit of this modest shower stall. Another person’s set of gear would crowd the area and quite diminish chances of drying. I really like at least drip dry gear to get into when I start my next watch. A wet locker would have to be close to the space of my shower to be effective on passage at accomplishing most any level of drying. For stowing dry gear it would be absurdly large.
One of my goals, so far achieved over 12 years of live-aboard life, is to achieve a sustainable adventure for my wife and me. For us that means a home and not a campsite and our home includes a shower. I would refer you to the “Homage” to the onboard shower that I wrote a while ago for this site which speaks to some of the safety and morale aspects of a shower in addition to the cleanliness aspects. I would give you an URL, but I am marginal at computers, my wife is asleep, and I can’t find it. But it is there if you look at the original stream of interior suggestions.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

RDE (Richard Elder)

Hi Dick,
The 1982 “Adventure 41″ that I’m going to look at next week has a typical wet locker that is about 12” wide. It backs up to a chart table with a straight backed seat that you can barely squeeze into. If I should buy it it will feel the wrath of my Sawzall within the first week. The choice between a worthless wet locker and a comfortable all-condition reading seat is an easy one to make.

Placing the head with a shower/wet locker in the aft quarter of a relatively narrow 40 footer is a difficult trade off. On the one hand it has a lot of utility, but on every boat so configured that I’ve been aboard it produces a boat that feels like it has been attacked by cramitus. The closest example is the Fast Passage 39 vs the Valiant 40. If you’ve spent time on both there is little question which has the most appealing interior “feel”. And both these boats are beamier than the A 40 as proposed.

RDE (Richard Elder)

Hi John,
I was just making a general observation based upon real examples.

Even if you and Eric are designing in 3-D and plan to go public in that format, the mock up is the real world— not the virtual visual one. And as you say, a real boat moving on the ocean is more real than a mock up sitting in the shop!

Good luck!

Patrick Genovese

On the subject of a chart table/nav station. I believe in the value of having a dedicated space to doing the ship’s business, be it navigation, communication etc. This is especially relevant when the watch needs assistance such as someone focusing on the chart, radar & ais while the watch on deck keep a sharp lookout. I experienced this in a busy shipping lane in poor visibility and was thankful to be able to share the workload. We had a plotter at the helm but the assistance from down below was invaluable.

Erik de Jong

Hello all,

In addition to what John wrote here in these post and comments, I’d like to announce that there will actually be a place below deck on the Adventure 40 where one could navigate if one desires to do so. This is in addition to a ships office that will be there as well. To speak with John’s words: stay tuned, updates on the design will follow!

Patrick Genovese

Sounds interesting.. Looking forward to the designs.

Patrick Genovese

There is a smart feature on the Rustler 42 and Bowman 40 namely that the engine is sited under the central leg of the galley section. On the Rustler 42 the engine can be completely exposed by removing the side panels.

I think this is quite a smart setup as it:

a) moves the engine forward concentrating weight in the middle of the boat
b) frees up space under the companionway with the maybe the option of winning back a quarter berth.

Naturally I appreciate that such an arrangement may be completely out of the question on the A40 due to a zillion other considerations. Just thought I would mention the idea in the remote chance that it could be useful.

George M

Hi Partick,

My guess is the A40 wont have the beam to pull this off. A small engine is maybe 60cm in width. Allow a couple of centimeters distance to the sound insulation, 5cm of sound insulation and a cm of casing material each side. Call it 70cm total for the engine box. That is 35cm from the centerline. Now allow 55cm as a minimum passageway between the engine box and the outboard furniture/heads. We are now at 90cm from the centerline. To fit a heads outboard or even just the shower cubicle of the heads you need at least 1m if not more. So now we are pushing 2m from the centerline, i.e., 4m in overall beam. On a 12m LOA that is a beam to LOA ratio of 1:3, which is fat country. If you only had a forward facing chart table outboard you would need at least 90cm so you might bring the beam down to 3.8m but that is probably still too high for a light-moderate displacement 12m long distance cruiser if you want her to go to windward in a blow. Somewhere around 3.6-3.5m is where you want to be beam wise but then you only have maybe 80cm to play with outboard of the passage past the engine. You might fit a small stand up chart table in that or a wet locker, but not much else. Even so, the passage passed the engine box would be cramped.

In some of the old McRurdy and Rhodes like Carina they overcame the problem of citing the engine close to the lateral CG and easily accessible in a narrow hull, by raising the floor in the saloon and using the depth of their v-hulls to best advantage by citing the engine under the floor. It would be great if that could be done on the A40 but unfortunately the smallest yacht that McRurdy and Rhodes got it to work on was Belatrix at 44 ft, and these are heavy displacement boats. I fear the A40 just wouldn’t have the displacement or hull shape to pull that off while keeping a reasonably low profile. Its a shame because to my mind this engine placement (and indeed the boats themselves) are very close to perfection.

Richard Elder

Hi Patrick & Eric,
That arrangement was used quite successfully on the 80 Frazer 41’s built in Vancouver over the years.

George M

Hi all, Erik and John

I have some training as an architect (4 years) and I have Larsson’s “principles of yacht design” at home so I thought I would do an accurate sketch of how I think the A 40 could be given all I have read here in terms of layout just to see how much space there is to work with.

The hull outline I have drawn is 3.5m BOA, 12LOA, 11mLWL. The deepest part of the hull is 0.7m under where I think the waterline would be. As she will have a transom hung rudder I’ve drawn her with the transom vertical and only 10cm above the waterline. This means that only a very little of the difference between LOA and LWL is due to stern overhang. The bow overhang is therefore about 80cm giving a nicely raked bow. I’ve assumed a fairly tight bilge though the keel is mounted on a short stub. Her lines are balanced. Beam at deck level furthest aft is 2m and beam at deck level reaches 2m at deck level 2.5m aft of the bow. Thus she has a fuller bow than most modern boats and a narrower stern. Lowest freeboard is 1.1m and highest is 1.4m at the bow.

So I have drawn a hull that might even be smaller than what Erik and John are considering. So how does she look inside?

From bow to stern.

Forelocker …. Extends from the bow to 2m aft of the bow.

Is separated from the forecabin by a watertight crash bulkhead. This lets the chain and windlass be located toward the boats CG and so reduces pitching. The bulkhead is also ideally located to take the forces of the staysail.

Forecabin … extends from forward bulkhead at 2m from bow to main bulkhead at 5.5m from bow.

One of the advantages of balanced hull forms is that they have fuller bows. This, together with the fact this cabin is 3.4m in length and is not intended for use at sea, allows for a truly wonderful master cabin. The berth is an island berth 2m in length and 1.5m in width designed to be slept on with ones head forward (width at headboard is 1.3m). Aft of this bed is a large standing area with stowage to starboard against the main bulkhead beside the door through to the main cabin, and an office to port with a desk able to take an admiralty chart folded once (80x65cm). The mast comes down through the boat just forward of the main bulkhead which means that if the spreaders are swept aft about 5 degrees the loads from the main chain plates can be taken by the main bulkhead.

The main cabin…. Extends from main bulkhead (5.5,m from bow) to aft bulkhead (9.15m from bow).

I think I agree with one of the commentators here that fitting tanks under the saloon from while preserving sailing performance to windward is not an option. Max bilge depth as I have drawn it, excluding the keel stub, is 0.25m. Of course I have drawn a boat with lowish freeboard and have not allowed for raised areas of flooring in the saloon, but I think the best idea is instead to design the saloon seating properly so that the tanks can be placed under them, low down and close to the center line. I’ve drawn the saloon settees at 2.1m long symmetrically placed about the center line 1.2m apart with a drop leak table in between mounted on a steel bar. I’ve designed them with a sitting height including 10cm of cushions of 55cm with a sitting depth of 45cm with the backrest angled outboard. Being so close to the centerline and of a reasonable height, and with the bilges having a fairly tight turn for form stability in this slender yacht there should be plenty of volume for tankage under them that would contribute to the stability of the yacht. Also these dimensions will make the saloon comfortable for eating and lounging, but too narrow as sea berths. The solution is HR’s trick of having the backrests hinge up to reveal perfectly proportioned sea berths at sitting height. Now a neat trick from the old days (Selkie uses this very trick I think) is to ensure the seat bank hinge is strong and that it is set at between 45-50cm above the seat and that there is a 15cm stripe of foam outboard next to this hinge. Then when the seat back is hinged up you have two berths, a lower and an upper berth. Both parallel to the centerline on both sides. Outboard of strip of foam can be shelves (Boat is 1.75 wide from centerline here take off 10cm for structure depth and hull narrowing, 60cm for distance from seat front to centerline, and then 75 cm for the settee setup I describe and that leaves you with 30 cm outboard for shelves both side.) This gives four good seaberths. I had worried that off watch crew sleeping either side of the saloon would be disturbed but I have now accepted John’s argument that with the heads aft and nav done from the cockpit there is little risk of this. Aft of the saloon to port is the U shaped galley 1.7m in length but with 2.7m in counter top length. The heads with separate shower is opposite with shower aft and head forward facing aft. I’ve left the passage between the heads and galley quite wide (75cm) to aid comfort in this heavily trafficked area. One advantage of this placement of the head is it makes the galley very secure, the farthest the cook can fall in any direction is 1 m. For European waters there needs to be a self draining black water tank and this I have drawn in outboard of the the toilet.

Service area …. Extends full beam under the cockpit (2.1m long with parrallel benches placed 60cm apart)

I have drawn the aft bulkhead as a watertight bulkhead with the engine mounted just behind it. Apart from an access panel (watertight) behind the companionway steps the service area is otherwise accessible from the cockpit. On both sides forward in the cockpit I envisage standard locker lids in the benches that lift and are held up by the dodger. You then climb down into the side of the service area that is relevant to your present needs. The engine is open on either side and to its rear from these areas. As the cockpit sole is kept at a reasonable height and is narrow there is also good access to the top of the engine without an access panel in the cockpit sole. I make the distance from the top of the engine to the underside of the cockpit sole 30cm. That isn’t ideal engine access but I’ve worked with much worse. The lids will be sized so that if removed the engine can be removed from the boat through one of them using pulleys attached to the underside of the hard dodger.

Ships lazarette. Takes up the full width of the boat behind the cockpit. Its dimensions are roughly 2.2 m wide, 1.2m deep and 0.7m length. This together with the forward stowage locker will be more than enough. Together its about 4 cubic meters. If you run out of space you can always resort to using part of the service area for stowage.

So I have to agree with one of the commentators herein that John is perhaps overly pessimistic about what can be achieved in a “small” 40fter without sacrificing utility or sailing performance. Here is a boat with 4 proper seaberths, a master cabin that would put most boats of similar length to shame, a service area you wont find on anything shorter than 60ft and copious deck stowage. All it takes to get such a boat is to only have one sleeping cabin and one head, and to be flexible about where the office is.

By the way, have you considered doing the interior as two one piece moulds; one for the main cabin/heads and one for the forecabin? I know this makes access to the inside of the hull tricky but perhaps that issue can be solved. It would certainly make construction simple.

George M

On reflection having the shower forward and the heads aft makes better use of the space, as the hull form begins to encroach on the floor area as one moves toward the cockpit. That it does so under the toilet doesn’t matter but that is does so in the shower does. Also this allows one to place the holding tank in the service area and so makes the heads simpler and more spacious.


I think that all those issues plus the question of what GRP materials (polyester, vinylester, epoxy, E-glass, S-glass…) should be decided only after some serious technical, and costs, analysis have been done.
Experience show that early assumptions about relative costs of possible improvements are often not precise enough when dealt-with at an early stage.
I think that all those decisions are tradeoffs between costs and values, and that the correct approach should be to evaluate a “common wisdom” type solution for the boat (let us say: E-glass, vinylester plus accommodations à la Mac Curdy Navy 44 or Selkie…), including a serious cost-analysis, and then evaluate possible improvements to that design (more expensive options with supposed added values…), and possible saving from that design (cheaper options with supposed decreased values…), including serious cost/value analysis for each option.
I think that the main design decisions should be made only after this work has been done, and that a significant part of those decisions should be based upon mathematical value analysis, selecting the set of improvement and savings that gives the best “value” grand-total within the limited budget.
With that kind of approach, it looks somewhat too early to try to decide now the GRP materials we will use, or the berth arrangement in the saloon. We should only list a comprehensive list ot improvements to, and savings from, the “common wisdom” solution, that seem to make sense and try to obtain trustworthy informations about corresponding costs and values.
I think that epoxy instead of polyester looks like a possible improvement that might/should make sense, and “pullman-type” berths in the saloon look like a possible saving that might/should also make sense. Personally, I think that a small enclosed pilot-house similar to Boréal 44’s, should also be part of that list of possible improvements.

George M

Hi Laurent

If it came over like I was designing the A40 for John and Erik that wasn’t my intention. My above post was purely the result of an attempt to see whether one of the earlier commentators to this chapter was right when they argued that the kind of accommodation that can be designed into a boat like the A 40 without sacrificing performance could be significantly greater than what Selkie provides or whether John was right when he argued that this (perhaps) wasn’t the case because both displace around the same and so have similar internal volume. So I drew up a svelt 40fter with a transom hung rudder and I put into it what John and Erik were talking about and I discovered that the commentator was correct. A modern yacht’s volumetric distribution significantly increases the interior possibilities. I was genuinely surprised at the space available forward of the main bulkhead, for example.

My post in the section on reliability and quality about the hull layup was motivated by a genuine desire to understand the A 40 concept. A cheap boat with that kind of robustness and longevity built into the hull is such a break with everything I know of the industry I have difficulty getting my head around it. My guestimates at costings were purely my attempt to convince myself that what Erik and John are talking about is even feasible, and I am now satisfied that it is.

I also wanted to make the point that the differences between various types of FRP hulls is significantly wider than those between different types of aluminum and steel hulls. Ignoring painting, insulating and fairing, the latter mainly vary only in how they are framed, whether they are chined and the thickness of the plating. As I understand it most yachts use one of two grades of aluminum and steel. Thus one aluminum or steel hull of a given displacement costs about the same in materials, give or take some small margin, as any other of the same displacement. FRP hulls are far more varied and you can easily blow your budget on them if you tick all the best of the best options for such a hull. So at what point is an FRP hull of sufficient quality for a serious cruiser? That will be the baseline specification you speak of and it is what I was asking about. I would say E-glass, epoxy, closed cell foam core, bronze keel bolts, lead keel. That’s a much more expensive hull in materials than a polyester, balsa cored, mild steel bolts, iron keel hull, but a much cheaper hull in materials than an S-glass, epoxy, linear foam cored, bronze bolts, lead keel hull with kevlar reinforcement at the bow (my idea of the perfect hull layup). If my suggestion for the basic hull spec one would tolerate is accepted, then it has to figure in the initial costing at the proof of concept stage and be designed for in the scantlings. That’s all I was trying to say.

In general I agree that the design process should be iterative. I dabble with drawing my dream boat and I have a well thumbed copy of “Principles” at home. That said, I do not kid myself that I can design a boat; I would defer to any naval architect’s considered opinion. However, having designed some buildings I can say that some design decisions are pivotal. They shape the design to such an extent that were you to change your mind about them you would have to start pretty much from scratch.

With regards to the A 40 the decision to prioritize hull form over pretty much all else is one such decision, another is the transom hung rudder. For example, take the rudder, a transom hung rudder forces you to have a pretty vertical transom that more or less just kisses the water and soft stern sections to keep the rudder in the water as you heel. The rudder itself has to be a bit larger due to loss of the endplate effect. Moreover, the cockpit has to be placed farther aft and designed for a tiller. This then leaves you with the question of what to do with the main sheet and engine placement, and so on. If you change your mind about such a rudder then all the above come in for reconsideration.

So while I accept your point about getting a basic design worked up and then evolving it to the desired form, I would argue that some decisions have to be baked in right at the beginning and designed around. These are your fixed points in the design process. I’m not saying that my suggestions fall into this category, but i have no doubt that there are such fixed points guiding Erik at this very moment.


My understanding about usual approach in shipbuilding or equivalent engineering for this kind of projects is to create first a “reference design”, then study and document alternatives and options, and last conduct some kind of formal value-analysis work to select which of those alternatives and/or options will be part of the rel design.
Reference design should correspond to the current established/mature way of fulfilling the specs without any bell or whistle, and also without much imagination. In the case of the A40 project, I sincerely think that the established 2014 way of building dull, cost-conscious, strong-and-long-lived sailboats is using: vinyl-ester, E-glass, monolithic hull with cored deck, iron bolted keel, stainless keel bolts etc…
All these choices agree with industry’s current practices, are supposed to fulfill the specs, and, at least by common established wisdom, seem to be the normal established cost-conscious way of fulfilling them.
Then, designers must evaluate alternatives and options like: using epoxy instead of vinyl-ester, cored hull instead of monolithic, lead instead of iron keel etc…
Considering the hull shape, I think that hull shape has a real or significant impact on costs, because a classic 1960′ 40′ hull, the McCurdy way is most probably distinctly cheaper to build than a wider 2010′ 40′ hull with large transom and much more internal volumes. So I think the right approach here should be to stick to 1960′ type internal volumes for the reference design, even if hull lines may be somewhat different from 1960′ good practice, and study one, or perhaps several, alternative hull shapes with larger beams and/or larger transoms.
As a general practice, reference designs should be technically correct and cheap but also, so completely in accordance with “established common wisdom” that designers will acquire serious doubts about their capability to sell (way too dull…). Then the need to select some alternatives should be considered obvious, and the question will be mainly: “which alternatives to reference design are giving the best value/cost ratios”, and not “whether we should depart from common accepted wisdom or not”.
With this kind of approach, there is no need to take any design decision before very decent technical and cost analysis of quite a few different solutions have been completed. This doesn’t prevent the designers from having a few specific ideas at an early stage, and from drawing complete documentations about those ideas as alternatives from the reference design. The main point is that those intuitions are supposed to be confirmed by some kind of formal value-analysis before being accepted as part of the real design.