Adventure 40 Rig and Deck Design

Click on drawings to enlarge.

Click on drawings to enlarge.

Having finished recommissioning our own Morgan’s Cloud, we are now ready to get back to revealing and discussing Erik’s design for the Adventure 40. Back in June we published the hull lines and now we are moving on to the rig and deck.

Erik has come up with a clean and simple layout that will function well at sea. In keeping with our design philosophy for the boat, he has prioritized sailing offshore over all else but, having said that, the design will also work well for coastal sailing and even club racing.

Before you read on, if you have not done so already, please read the Adventure 40 core principles

This is Not Final

To give you an idea of the attention to detail and quality that will go into this boat, I have been very specific about gear. But we will be looking for, and I’m sure finding, better ways to do things, right up until the prototype phase is finished.

For example, Erik is planning to build a mock up of the cockpit, that can be inclined to simulate heeling, to carefully check the ergonomics. We will also be extensively testing all the fittings in the prototype phase before settling on the gear that the production boats will be fitted with.

Please note that since we are still in the preliminary design phase and Erik has not yet done the final engineering, some items that are listed below are not yet shown on the drawing.

Keep Your Eye on The Forest, Not The Trees

As you read this, please don’t let yourself fixate on one or two details that you don’t happen to like. Rather, look at the boat as a whole. And, if you have not read them before, or even if you have but it was a while ago, please read Chapters One and Two of our How to Buy an Offshore Voyaging Boat Online Book, before you decide whether or not the Adventure 40 is for you.

All boats are compromises and no one gets everything they want on any boat, particularly not for US$200,000. You will get everything you need with an Adventure 40.


G:�44 - Adventure 40�44-001-Rev0 General arrangement Layout (1

Erik has come up with a very clever layout for anchoring gear by placing a horizontal windlass in the side of the cabin top to port while still allowing the coach roof to extend well forward of the mast to give headroom in the forward cabin.

This brings the weight of the chain well aft and allows a tall narrow anchor locker that will self stow the chain without any need for hand flaking. The other advantage of this configuration is the windlass is out of the way where it won’t stub toes or snag sheets and the motor will be in a compartment separate from the chain locker so it is not subjected to dampness—one change, many benefits.

Other anchoring gear includes:

  • Single bow roller with attachment point for the tack of an asymmetric spinnaker or Code-0 sail, protruding far enough to be sure that the anchor will not hit the bow on retrieval. Engineered to take a downward load much in excess of the breaking strength of the chain and the upward load of sails set flying.
  • Bow roller designed so that the anchor can be stowed securely for all weathers simply be tensioning the rode with the windlass and locking it off with the brake.
  • Rocna or SPADE anchor (which one will depend on stowage and interference issues) of about 55-pounds—one size larger than manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • 200-feet of 5/16 G43 high test chain.
  • Chain stopper, strength higher than the breaking load of then chain.
  • The electric windlass with manual backup will meet this criteria.
Docking / Mooring
  • Six oversized cleats—most cleats on production boats are way too small—two forward, two aft, and two amidships.
  • If it can be done without compromising the hull to deck joint, cleats to be mounted in gaps in the toe rail (or possibly incorporated into the toe rail) close to the edge of the deck so that fairleads are not required.
  • Two fully enclosed and very strong fairleads about 1/3 forward from the stern at the exact pivot point of the boat under power, to be used for docking springs. Exact placement to be determined by experimentation on the prototype. Fairleads to have clear leads to primary winches.
Tracks and Blocks
  • All deck fittings by Harken, or equivalent quality.
  • All sheet tracks (jib, staysail, main) to have roller bearing cars with tackle adjustment lines such that they can be adjusted under load. Jib track(s) to be long enough and correctly positioned to accommodate all possible jibs from blade jib to high cut reacher.
  • All blocks to be roller bearing.
  • Mainsheet traveler on top of hard dodger, clear of cockpit.
Life Lines
  • Pulpit, pushpit, and stanchions at least 30” high.
  • Stanchion bases to be reinforced by toe rail and to be stronger than the force required to bend a stanchion.
  • Life lines to be of high quality 1×19 stainless steel wire nicropressed around thimbles and attached at each end with lashings. (We will be looking at spectra options for the lifelines too.)
  • No boarding gates.

After much thought, we went with a transom hung rudder turning in a slot in the swim platform. This has a lot of advantages over a spade rudder including:

  • Easier to inspect and repair.
  • Can be made to kick up if hit by debris.
  • If designed with a cassette type head, the blade can be replaced at sea.
  • No rudder shaft required.
  • Substantial cost saving.

Please note that Erik has not finalized the exact engineering for the rudder yet. In fact, it is likely that this critical system will evolve as a result of sailing the prototype with several options being tested.

  • Tiller steering. Tiller to be hinged so that it can be tilted to the vertical to clear the cockpit when not in use.
  • Vane gear self steering. Model not selected. This will be the subject of a lot of testing in the prototype phase.
  • Mounting strong point, cable gland, and power connection for owner fitted tiller pilot.

There has been a lot of debate in the comments about the difficulty of installing a powerful underdeck autopilot on a boat with a transom hung rudder. Yes, there are ways to do that, including second tillers protruding through slots in the transom into the hull. However, such methods are neither elegant nor watertight. The later drawback negates the big advantage of an under-deck autopilot: out of the weather.

While it will certainly be possible for a handy owner to make the above modifications and install an under-deck pilot, particularly since there will be a watertight locker draining overboard directly in front of the transom, we will not be making allowances for this.

The reason is that doing an under-deck autopilot that is actually capable of steering a boat for days at a time, including the necessary upgrades to the electrical system, would cost at least $10,000 and probably closer to $15,000. There would also be a big space hit from such a system, space that we can use for other more important things.

Before I leave this contentious subject, please keep in mind that we strongly believe in easy to use reliable self steering systems that will work in all conditions, including motoring. During the prototype phase we will do whatever it takes, and change whatever it takes, to deliver that.

  • Hard dodger low enough to look over and engineered to withstand the loads from a knock down and the mainsheet. Curved lip moulded on aft edge of dodger to ameliorate sharp edge, to be used as hand hold and to drain water away from cockpit. Top surface to be non-skid.
  • The hard dodger will also be engineered so that it can be used to lift the engine out of the boat for service.
  • Fold down boom crutch on dodger top.
  • Red/white lighting under dodger.
  • Space under dodger to mount owner supplied plotter/radar/AIS/VHF, with cable raceway to switch panel.
  • Cockpit narrow enough that person sitting on one seat can brace his/her feet on the edge of the opposite seat.
  • Drain so that water does not collect on lee seat when heeled.
  • Large cockpit drains.
  • Good ergonomics to be tested first in mock-up and then prototype. For example, you will note that in the current drawing the winches impinge on the area to sit on the side decks when steering. We will be putting a lot of work in this area to get it right.
  • The cockpit seats are 9 feet long (2.7 metres) by 20 inches (50 centimetres) wide and so great for lounging in the cockpit.
  • No bridge deck, but a six inch high lip to stop water in the cockpit flowing into the cabin.
  • The companionway hatch is a tricky one. A swinging water-tight door simply won’t work on a boat this size since there is no place for it to go when open. We are looking at several options including an innovative suggestion from Richard (RDE). We may, in the end, have to go with the traditional washboards and sliding hatch. If so, rest assured that the engineering will be strong and there will be elegant stowage provided for the wash boards when not in use.
  • Companionway hatch to be capable of being securely latched close, and opened, from on deck or in the cabin.
  • Hatch to support owner supplied bug screens.

Substantial anodised aluminum (not painted) arch with following capabilities:

  • Mount for dinghy outboard with lifting rig.
  • Antenna mounting, including radar.
  • Wind generator mounting.
  • Solar panel mounting.
  • Generous cable way to equipment bay below.
  • Easily removed and installed for those that are, for example, day sailing and don’t require the arch.

All equipment on arch to be owner supplied and installed; however, we will be testing options for all of this equipment on the prototype and the results will be shared to help owners make the best selections.

Storm Survival
  • Horizontal chain plates on each transom corner, each capable of withstanding a load equal to 75% of the boat’s displacement.
  • Self draining locker with lid capable of stowing appropriately sized Jordan Series Drogue (JSD) with bridle attached to chain plates. Erik and I are discussing this. He wants to make room to stow the outboard below and I am adamant about the JSD stowage. I’m hoping we will get both.
  • JSD itself will not be supplied standard because some owners will not be going off shore, at least at first, and some will want to save the considerable amount of money to be realized by making their own JSD.

To understand the above requirement, please read this series.

  • Secure life raft storage at aft end of cockpit.
  • Ten jack line pad eyes: in cockpit inside faces of seats, fore and aft; each side of mast; on deck at forward end of cockpit and at bow. Pad eyes to be sited such that a crew member can be clipped onto a jack line at all points on deck and able to clip on before leaving the companionway.
  • All cable ways to have messenger lines.
  • All fastenings to be high quality stainless steel and treated with Tefgel or Duralac as appropriate.
  • Vapour proof locker draining overboard sized for two propane tanks (Europe or USA). I hope we can make the tanks 20 pound, but we may have a space problem and need to go smaller.
Hardware Mounting

Deck gear fastened into threaded backer plates that are integral to the deck so there are no nuts. This means that any fitting can be removed for re-bedding, working from the deck side only, and such a system will be more efficient in the build. Also reduces the chances of deck leaks.

Chain Plates

Originally we thought we would have to go with a composite chain plate to solve the problem of leaking around the deck ingress point that always happens when metals penetrate composites.

However, Erik has moved the chain plates out to the side of the boat, so we now have many options (including metals) since the chain plate can be securely bolted to the hull with no deck penetration. That said, we will still look at composite options during the final engineering phase.


G:�44 - Adventure 40�44-001-Rev0 General arrangement Layout (1

After a lot of thought we decided that a masthead sloop with removable staysail stay was the way to go. For simplicity and multi-function capability the masthead sloop is hard to beat and those owners who wish to can still rig the boat as a cutter.

Erik has provided a tall rig so that overlapping genoas are not required for good performance. In very light air most owners will motor anyway, which is, incidentally, cheaper than beating up your sails trying to keep sailing when it gets light and sloppy. The real keeners can add overlapping genoas, Code0-0 type sails and spinnakers, as they wish.

You will also note that Erik has lengthened the boat to nearly 42′ on deck, but kept the forestay aft from the bow. This gives a good separation for flying code sails and the like.

  • Anodized, not painted, aluminum mast and boom.
  • Two spreaders, slight angle aft for mast stability but not enough to prevent the mainsail from being properly eased out when running off the wind.
  • J length spinnaker/whisker pole stowed on front face of mast with alternative chocks on deck for heavy weather stowage.
  • Hall Quick Vang. No topping lift required.
  • Low friction mast track system.
  • Separate storm trysail track down to deck so trysail can be stowed on the track in a bag when not in use.
Standing Rigging
  • High quality stainless steel 1×19 wire.
  • Swages at the top, Sta-Lok fittings at the bottom.
  • Open barrel bronze turnbuckles.
  • Forestay with Harken roller furling gear.
  • Staysail stay, removable, no roller furling (owner may add).
  • High modulus rope running backstays for use with staysail or storm staysail and to stabilize rig in big seas.
  • Mechanical back stay adjuster.

The current drawing shows single lower shrouds. When Erik does the final rig engineering we may add forward lowers as well. Rest assured that the rig will be bomb proof either way, with no risk of inversion (failure due to the centre of the mast pumping aft and going out of column in a seaway).

Several people have suggested high modulus rope for the standing rigging. While this does look like a very interesting alternative we will probably not go that way because it does not fit with the Adventure 40 core principles: we will not fit any gear that has not been proven in general use for at least ten years, and twenty would be better. Or to put it another way. We are going to build a simple super reliable boat, not a test bed for the latest and greatest technology.

Running Rigging
  • All halyards and reefing lines to be low stretch and reasonably high modulus rope, although we see no reason to go with the really exotic and expensive options.
  • Sheets to be Dacron.
  • Halyards, one each: jib, staysail, spinnaker (or Code-0), mainsail.
  • Pole topping lift, down haul and after guy (Dacron).
  • Two reefing lines for leach cringles. Simple horn at goose neck for luff cringles.
  • All reefing lines and halyards terminate at the mast (see winches below).
  • All shackles to be from Wichard, Harken, and Tylaska.
  • Pre-rigged boom preventer system, like ours on Morgan’s Cloud.
  • Simple lazy jack system, like ours on Morgan’s Cloud.

I have always been a big believer in three deep reefs so that the boat can be heaved-to with the third reef. Erik likes the simplicity of only two deep reefs but this does mean that any boat going offshore should be equipped with a storm trysail and have it rigged, since the double reefed main will be too big for really heavy weather.

You will note that Erik has designed the rig in such a way that the head of the double reefed mainsail is just below the staysail and backstay attachment points. This will result in a great heavy weather setup with the staysail set, with no need to tend the runners when tacking or bearing off.

  • LED tri/anchor light. (Purpose-built LED array, not bulb replacement type.)
  • Incandescent steaming light.
  • Incandescent lower navigation lights. The engine is almost always running when the lower lights are in use so there is no need to go to the additional expense of LED navigation lights. The lower lights will also provide a proven technology backup in the event that the LED tri-light suffers from problems.
  • No deck lighting. Head lamps do a good job for this purpose. Conduit, mast exits, and messenger for owner supplied and installed spreader lights, if desired.
  • All winches to be sized to make trimming reasonably easy for a middle aged couple with bad backs, not race boat gorillas.
  • Five sheet winches in cockpit: two jib, two staysail / runners / roller furling lines (runners and roller furling line(s) to have clutches), mainsheet.
  • Two halyard winches mounted on mast, one each side. All halyards to have clutches.
  • One reefing winch mounted on deck just aft of mast with turning blocks for reefing lines at base of mast and clutches for number one and two reefs.
  • Two winch handles with holders, one at mast, one in cockpit.

We will probably experiment on the prototype with various mainsheet systems using a double-ended system with coarse and fine tune sets of blocks, to see if we can get rid of the mainsheet winch.


This has been a difficult one. Originally I thought that the boat would come with a suit of sails consisting of high cut 100%  jib-topsail (yankee), staysail, and mainsail. But, while that would be great for an offshore circumnavigation, it would not be optimal for inshore sailing or weekending, which a lot of the people who have signed up for the boat are interested in.

And then there is the whole issue of light air sails, if any, and storm sails, again, if any. And what about the owner who adds roller furling on the staysail stay? He or she will have different requirements again.

So, after much thought, and in keeping with Adventure 40 core principles, we have decided that the boat will be sold without sails.

However, rest assured that during the prototype phase we will work with a sailmaker(s) to develop and test a full package of sails that will be available directly from them, and that we still have the goal of bringing the boat in under US$200,000 with a basic suit of sails.


Even though it has been superseded by this post, I have left the original deck and rig post up so that we can all refer to the excellent comments attached and won’t need to spend a lot of time duplicating discussions we have already had—and yes, that is a gentle hint!

Like what you just read? Get lots more:

Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

168 comments… add one
  • Claire Sep 30, 2014, 3:16 pm

    Point taken on side-by-side bow rollers. Good luck in designing something better.

    As to the bridge deck, I hadn’t considered the headroom restriction of the hard dodger. Mea culpa.

    Instead of a bridge deck, why not consider a split door? (sometimes known as a dutch door or cottage door). The version fitted to Hawk ( appears to work quite well … and it could be arranged even better if designed-in at the outset.

    The main thing, though, is that a boat designed for serious offshore work should have something much better than a sliding-hatch-plus-washboards. Even the best sliding hatches are far from watertight, while washboards are never watertight and always vulnerable to loss. It’s notable that commercial vessels never use such a flawed design, and even lightweight offshore racing boats such as the Open 60s now use strong swing doors like fishing boats.

    If a robust entrance is made a design priority, there will be ways of doing it. For example, the design has already adopted the innovation of an asymmetric coachroof to facilitate a better anchoring setup. That’s brilliant … so why not apply similar fresh thinking to the companionway?

    For example, consider the architecture of Hawk, where the actual hatchway is set into the coachroof down a short passageway. If the port side of that passageway was designed to provide a space for the door and its handles to fold into, then then the result would be a secure, permanently-attached hatch system which didn’t intrude on the cockpit bulkhead.

    Another possibility is to incorporate an idea from the 1970s Jeanneau Gin Fizz, and omit the forward end of the cockpit seat. (See If done on one side to allow door opening, that would allow headroom over the quarter berth on the other side.

    • Laurent Sep 30, 2014, 5:14 pm

      Harlé’s Passoas have articulated sliding hatches that get lowered when you pull them and can close on the boat entry like a topside articulated door. Also, in the 1900′ many boats had a couple of small articulated doors + a sliding hatch instead of washers + a sliding hatch. Abel Le Marchand Marie-Fernand’s (1894…) doors & hatch work that way and seem quite effective (can not be lost or broken by sea…). If you don’t want to use Boreal’s solution because of the space it takes, those 2 solutions seem better and more time-tested than a split door or one single classic small door + a sliding hatch.
      Point is that it looks much easier, and cheaper, to build those kind of things in an aluminium boat than in a composite one….

    • Claire Sep 30, 2014, 5:54 pm

      Some more views of the Gin Fizz cockpit:

      Bulkhead space beside companionway is wide enough to take washboards — it could also be wide enough to take a swing door.

    • John Sep 30, 2014, 7:00 pm

      Hi Claire,

      All good ideas, thank you. Rest assured that we are committed to a good watertight companionway solution and have several ideas under consideration. However, we are not far enough into the design at this point to commit to any hatch design. Getting this right is really tricky, and will first require 3D modelling and then a full scale mock up. Even after all that, I would not be surprised if we end up tweaking the prototype to get this perfect.

      As to a double bow roller that actually works, no worry there: we have one on our boat and it has worked great for 15 years. We don’t often have two anchors on it, as we really don’t believe in that, but where it really comes into its own is being able to go on a mooring without removing the anchor. The only issue is the cost benefit trade off on the A40.

  • Richard Dykiel Oct 1, 2014, 10:48 am

    Hi I don’t know if this was already asked but I don’t see any dorades sketched and was wondering what impact the ventilation requirements would have on the deck plan.

    Same question about where one could route a flue for an in-cabin heating system.

    • John Oct 2, 2014, 8:47 am

      Hi Richard,

      This is a preliminary sketch, so we have not got down to that kind of detail. We will be talking about ventilation in the interior post.

  • Steve Gallion Oct 2, 2014, 12:07 am

    I like the way this is going, Can’t wait to see more!

    As to the companionway hatch, have you considered the inverted pear shaped hatch used on the S/V Seal (An Antarctic expedition sailboat). It’s a one piece hatch that stows safely out of the way on its slanted hinge.

    • John Oct 2, 2014, 8:45 am

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the enthusiasm.

      As I said in the post, there is simply no way to do any sort of vertically hinged door on a boat the size of the A40. The problem is that it will hit the cockpit seats when open. Also, when it is open for ventilation, as it will be much of the time, it will completely dominate and obstruct a cockpit of this size since there is no room to swing it through 180 degrees to store flat against the aft face of the cabin, as these doors do on larger boats. So such a door would make it impossible to sit comfortably under the dodger when it was open.

      The bottom line is that you need an absolute minimum of 15′ of beam to make any sort of door of this type work, and even then, on many boats, this type of door forces other compromises such as separating the cockpit seats so far apart that you can’t brace your feet on the opposite seat.

      This kind of issue is why yacht designers will tell you that the bigger a boat gets, the easier it is to design!

      Not to worry, we will get this right, but it’s going to take some work and probably full sized mock ups to do it.

  • Paul Oct 4, 2014, 1:38 am

    Having just read your excellent “Heavy Weather Tactics” I’m surprised you haven’t specified a halyard for the storm trisail, especially as the main has 2 not 3 reefs. Did I miss something?

    • John Oct 4, 2014, 9:17 am

      Hi Paul,

      Keep in mind that this is an evolutionary process with a long way to go to a final design. If we do indeed end up with just two reefs, I would like to see a separate storm trysail halyard.

      The key thing to keep in mind is that we will be testing all of this on the prototype at sea. If anything does not work well and elegantly, we will change it.

  • Bill Attwood Oct 4, 2014, 1:10 pm

    The picture of Bagheera shows a good bridge deck plus a hatch which is at 45° when closed and is lifted up and slides into hatch garage when opened. Looks to be a perfect solution and should fit on the A40?

    • RDE Oct 4, 2014, 4:40 pm

      Hi Bill,
      This style of hatch is simple and extremely waterproof. It’s fatal flaw is that it precludes having a properly designed hard dodger because it requires entry from the top. (unless it were quite long and extended almost to the cockpit sole)

      As I’ve pointed out previously, there is only one proper height for a dodger, and that is exactly at the nose for a 6′ man. At this height you can pop your head above the dodger to do a full visual scan necessary for proper watch keeping but still duck down to avoid catching that wave in the face that has your number on it. Taller people can still live with this height, and shorter ones can be accommodated by adding removable riser blocks on the cockpit floor.

      Once you have determined the position of the hard dodger top, the next design challenge is to provide access to the companionway while remaining upright or nearly so. High bridge decks, Swan-style top entry, or Bagheera/Garcia hatches simply don’t allow safe and protected passage from the cockpit to the interior with a fixed dodger. And since we want to have a watertight closure it is time to start thinking outside the wood drop board box .

      • John Oct 4, 2014, 5:21 pm

        Hi Richard,

        I agree, we have our hard dodger top at 5′ 4″ (just about nose level, just as you say) above the cockpit sole, which seems to work well for shorter people that we have had as crew (the really short ones look around the sides of the dodger) and still be good for me (6′ 2″) and Phyllis (5′ 11″).

  • Bill Attwood Oct 5, 2014, 3:03 am

    Hi Richard,
    Thanks for reply, but I have a supplementary! Judging from the Bagheera photo, when the hatch is lifted from its dogged down position to the horizontal, it can then be shoved forward to house in the hatch garage. This would then seem to give an excellent entrance over the bridge deck to a step inside the companionway. We have a bridge deck and a sprayhood extended aft enough to give shelter when sitting in the forrard cockpit corners, which would seem to be not very much different from the planned setup for the A40. I am 6’2″ and 70, but can still manage to make the transit from cockpit to cabin. 😉
    The bigger problem would seem to be how to solve the problem of having two hatches: washboards or equivalent vertical door and the sliding companionway hatch for the horizontal component. Something which is solved by the Bagheera solution. I don’t like my setup, but see no practicable solution. However, I would never want to go offshore on a boat with no bridge deck; I’ve had a full cockpit often enough to value the security it gives. I’d value any further comments you may have.
    Yours aye

  • C. Dan Oct 5, 2014, 8:21 am


    Have you guys checked out the G4 project over at Gunboat? They are designing to a very different spec, but I think the project shares some of the same “needs only” and “think different” aspects of the A-40, and they are doing some interesting things with composites with some clever design features.

    Of course, the G4 can only be considered “minimalist” from the perspective of someone used to looking at multi-million-dollar yachts. 😉

    (A bit unrelated, but posting here since it’s the latest chapter in the A-40 project.)

    • C. Dan Oct 5, 2014, 8:30 am

      Specifically, the pop-up molded hatch, with integrated screen door, was something I was impressed with, although maybe there is some flaw with that type of design that I’m not considering.

  • Paul Oct 31, 2014, 10:26 am

    I am a great fan of getting the weight of the chain and windlass out of the bow. Will it be possible for one person operate the chain washer and windlass?

    • John Oct 31, 2014, 1:34 pm

      Ho Paul,

      Hum, probably need a remote windlass control on a wandering lead to make that work. Reasonable easy to rig.

  • Egil Jan 11, 2015, 6:20 pm

    Will, or could, the hard dodger and the cockpit be prepared for (or even delivered with) a canavas to act as a aft wall of the hard dodger? This could be used to protect the electronics below the dodger form the weather when the boat is left alone for a period. And if the dodger is designed long enough even create a (very) small closed pilothouse to use when motoring in cold or rainy weather. As this will be a very small and simple piecee of canavas (1,5m2?) and the preparations on the dodger/cockpit minor the cost would be minimal?

    • John Jan 12, 2015, 1:24 pm

      Hi Egil,

      I think that would be a very good idea, and, as you say, easy to do. One issue may be that adding such a cover would make it hard to move around the cockpit, but I think that’s a solvable problem.

  • Steve Broom Mar 12, 2015, 9:05 am

    John, I was reading fairly carefully, trying to glean whether or not the Adv 40 is moving towards mainsail reefing at the mast or in the cockpit, but I could not quite read the tea leaves.
    What is your and Eric’s initial thinking?

    • John Mar 12, 2015, 9:18 am

      Hi Steve,

      Reefing will be at the mast. Good catch that that is not properly explained. It was in the first A40 deck post but got lost in the second. I will fix it.

      • Dave Benjamin Mar 12, 2015, 1:47 pm

        Glad to hear that clarification. The fad of leading everything aft “to make it easy” just adds friction and complicates reefing and hoisting IMHO. When I was running charter boats, which were typical modern production boats, I found it took far more time for any aspect of mainsail handling than it did on my own boat.

  • Jim G. Apr 4, 2015, 12:11 pm

    Hi John,
    Would you please run through the rationale for 200 feet of chain versus some higher number? 200 feet seems short to me although I’ve never sailed with all chain anchor rode before. Thanks.

    • Dave Benjamin Apr 4, 2015, 6:37 pm

      Jim G.,

      200′ of HT chain with 150′ or so of Plait would be ideal for the vast majority of anchoring situations. We rarely had more than 200′ of chain out when cruising on our 46′ Amel ketch. Some cruising destinations will require a greater length of chain. Easter Island and some open roadsteads come to mind. It’s a fair question whether Erik’s chain locker will accommodate additional chain.

    • John Apr 5, 2015, 8:34 am

      Hi Jim,

      Good question. To me the ideal length of chain for most any cruising boat is >300′. We carried 340′ for years and now with our change to G70 carry 400′. Having said that, there are trade offs, most notably weight, space and expense, and these were the reasons that I originally went with 200′.

      Now that Erik has managed to move the chain locker well aft the weight problem has gone away. That leaves space and expense. I hope that Erik will be able to find enough space for 300′ to self stow in the locker, but that may not be possible since the A40 is really quite a small boat and quite fine forward.

      Bottom line, we will need to look carefully at this and come up with the most rode length we can. Having said all that, I think Dave is right that 200′ is adequate in most circumstances.

      • Jim G Apr 5, 2015, 11:31 pm

        Hi John,

        Thanks for the explanation and outlining the trade offs, makes sense.


  • Jim G Apr 4, 2015, 10:57 pm

    Hi Dave,
    Love the self stowing functionality of the all chain rode. Also, I’m concerned about rust from the chain rotting the nylon over time. I have 30′ of chain and almost 600′ of nylon in my set up (for deep water off Channel Islands in Southern California, not unusual to anchor in 80′) but have to hand flake and keep the chain separate… not fun.


    • John Apr 5, 2015, 8:39 am

      Hi Jim and Dave,

      I’m with Jim on the benefits of an all chain rode and I’m not a fan at all of hybrid rodes (more here).

      Having said that, the A40 is a quite light boat so that the drawbacks of a hybrid rode at the windlass would not be as bad. On the other hand I think Jim is bang on about the stowage problems.

      Bottom line: 300′ of chain would be he best answer.

  • Dick Stevenson Apr 5, 2015, 3:44 pm

    Hi Jim & Dave,
    I have 210 feet of 5/16″ G4 chain on my 40 foot boat and (un-attached) I do have a 75 foot hank of nylon ¾” 3 strand that can be shackled onto the chain end quickly: the idea being that if I used this additional piece it would likely not get to the bottom anyway as I would be in deep water. Stored separately, the nylon does not get bothered by the chain living on top.
    In 12+ years full time live aboard and many thousands of times where I have anchored, there has been only a couple of times I have used the nylon hank and a dozen or 2 times I have passed by an anchorage because it was too deep and I did not want to bother with the additional length .
    It is my take that the deeper you anchor, the less scope you need and the better stick you get to the bottom, so I would likely anchor in 60-70 feet with just the chain. This probably means I would not be adhering to one of John’s suggestions: to anchor prepared for a gale, a suggestion that has been part of my SOP (standard operating procedure) for years.
    Dick Stevenson, Alchemy

    • Jim G Apr 5, 2015, 11:44 pm

      Hi Dick,
      Thanks for the information, sounds like 200′ should work fine the vast majority of the time.

      Question: In the rare occasions that you want more scope, how do you free the chain at the bitter end in the anchor locker in order to bend on the additional rode? Assume a quick release pin of some sort?



  • Dick Stevenson Apr 6, 2015, 2:22 pm

    Hi Jim,
    The bitter end of my chain comes out attached to a rope tether. The additional hank is ready to go with the shackle open on the deck. When close to the bitter end, I tie off the chain and hand pull out the bitter end. I attach the shackle which is always ready to go on the extra rode and there is a electrical wire tie taped to it also which I use to secure the shackle when in place. The only anxious part is the short period when I have untied the tether (attached to the chain with just a simple bowline) but before the shackle and rope rode are attached. Usually this is done under controlled conditions and not in a fire drill at night.
    Come back with any questions.
    Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

  • Jim G Apr 7, 2015, 1:41 pm

    Hi Dick,
    Thanks for the note. Your system seems solid, although I can see why you pass on deeper anchorages because of the PITA factor. 🙂

    Take care,

  • mike h May 23, 2015, 11:59 am

    I’ll apologize in advance if this has been covered; however, my search did not turn up much of relevance. BTW, thank you for the great site.

    Is there a reason that the removable stay could not be rigged as a solent; thereby, alleviating the need for running backstays? The deck attachment point would stay the same so no change in centre of effort. When the stay would be attached and ready, tacking the genoa should not be a consideration. Am I missing something?

    Thanks in advance.
    mike h

    • John May 23, 2015, 1:55 pm

      Hi Mike,

      A solent jib set up is really a completely different rig with a different set of trade offs. Having said that, in my opinion, even if you have a solent jib an ocean going boat still needs an internal forestay to set up a storm staysail on. Said sail is better than a solent in very heavy weather because it is smaller and closer to the centre of effort.

      Further, I don’t believe that a solent obviates the need for running backstays since there is nothing that stabilizes and protects a rig in big waves like runners.

      Combine a double reefed main and storm staysail, and set up the runners on the A40 and you have a true “go to hell rig” as we used to call such set ups back in the day when I ocean raced.

      Also note that when double reefed, both runners can be left on even when tacking. And when inshore the boat will mostly sailed with a jib and no staysail, so the runners will not be required.

      Finally, this rig lets those who wish to to rig for offshore with a staysail and high cut yankee, in my opinion the best offshore rig there is.

      • Marc Dacey May 23, 2015, 3:09 pm

        Hear, hear for the good old cutter rig. Other forms are faster, but I can’t think of ones that are safer. Of course, if you’re doing 7 knots under staysail alone, you probably are thinking more about rig preservation than boat speed.

        • John May 23, 2015, 3:35 pm

          Hi Marc,

          Thanks for the vote for the cutter. By the way, cutters are not slow either. In fact a properly set up cutter can be killer-fast on the wind, particularly in big waves offshore.

          We have won our class twice in the Newport Bermuda race using a cutter rig and the first time we had the fastest corrected time in fleet. (We did not get the Lighthouse Trophy because we were double handed and not eligible.)

  • Dick Stevenson May 24, 2015, 7:35 am

    Dear Marc, John and all,
    With respect to the discussion referring to cutters, it should be noted that the term cutter is widely defined nowadays. After years of letters to editors etc., I have given up trying to get the media to forego their habit to loosely use “cutter” to describe any old vessel with 2 headsails. Most of those are actually double headsail sloops while a cutter in the traditional sense has her mast close to amidships. I have come to accept that I have lost this battle and now refer to cutters (mast amidships) and cutter rigged (double head sail).
    This point is not just semantics, I believe. You need a big enough J to fly 2 headsails, an attribute of a cutter, but perhaps not so easily attained on a sloop with the mast farther forward. The slot has to be big enough for both staysail and jib to breath and not interfere with each other. A big sloop might get away with this, but a smaller sloop, in the 40 foot category, will not so easily do so. I am not sure where the cut-off is. It certainly will help to have one sail be a yankee (or jib topsail) rather than a deck sweeper, but, in my observation, most double headsail sloops (in the under 45 feet or so area) are much better off (ie faster) sailing with one head sail at a time.
    I would also like to underline John’s contention that a cutter (mast almost amidships) with a jib topsail and a lower cut staysail, is a fast combination for open waters, even in light airs. They definitely have good “punch” into seas, something my bluffer bowed boat appreciates. Also, twice we have gone long distances (6 and 8 days straight respectively) skirting high pressure areas close hauled in 8-10 knots of breeze. On our 40 foot cutter we averaged 120-140 mile days with 8-10 degrees of heel under lovely weather. Positively idyllic sailing. Light air sailing was the one area of worry I had in buying a Valiant, but we were very pleasantly surprised.
    Cutters definitely demand more winch work but their versatility off shore is, to me, unmatched. I am hard pressed, right off, to actually think of a cutter design in production right now which is a shame. The almost ubiquitous trend is to large mainsails and blade type jibs. The fact that there are so few cutters (mast amidships) sailed presently obscures the distinctions between the designs.
    My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

    • John May 24, 2015, 12:35 pm

      Hi Dick,

      I agree with you concern about semantics, but I too have given up on that one!

      One thing I would say is that a cutter does not necessarily need the mast near-amidships to work well or be a cutter. Our boat has a J measurement of 22.5′ on LOA of 55.5′ but is still most assuredly a cutter. In fact I think that some designers have gone too far in moving the mast aft on some cutters. The point being that mast position should relate to underwater profile and balance, not the number of headsails carried.

      Further, I would say that if a boat is not setting a high cut low overlap jib (yankee) then it’s not really cutter rigged, no matter where the mast is. In my experience the cutter rig can be made to work very well even in a quite small foretriangle as long as the headsails are cut right and attention is paid to the sheet leads for both headsails.

      Much, maybe most, of the performance problems that people have with twin headsails going to windward is trying to use a staysail with a low clew overlapping genoa, which will never work well, no matter how big the foretriangle.

      More in a future article.

    • Marc Dacey May 24, 2015, 5:07 pm

      Dick, I appreciate your attention to detail and care with language. My motorsailer, which I optimistically think of as a sailermotor, is a true cutter, with a yankee-cut jib on the bowsprit and a staysail stay inboard down to the stem. There is plenty of clearance and no problem forming the necessary slot. The J-measurement is 20 feet on a 40 foot LOD…you can’t get more “middle of the boat”!

      By contrast, my sloop-rigged IOR boat has a J of 15 feet on 33′ 7″ LOD. The number 1 is full and deck-sweeping. I do have, however, a genoa staysail which can be rigged with its own internal wire hoist to a sheave about 3/4 up the mast. This is far more tricky to use…it’s basically a close-reaching sail, but in the right conditions, it really works well. But it in no sense makes the boat in question a cutter; it’s just an artifact of a brief period in racing design when all sorts of odd sails prevailed.

  • Rob Hellier Dec 1, 2015, 2:54 am

    Hi John,
    An item that I haven’t seen addressed directly in these postings is the tender. You have mentioned that there is copious room in the stern storage locker for stowing a deflated dingy. Is that what most/all ocean cruisers do? The wind vane steering will prevent anyone from using the arch as a dingy davit. The A40 design won’t easily fit a dingy on the foredeck, will it? What do you and Erik see as the owner’s realistic options?


    • John Dec 1, 2015, 10:04 am

      Hi Rob,

      On a boat this size, the best and most seamanlike thing to do is deflate the tender and stow it away for any offshore passage. See this post:

      For inshore sailing the tender could be towed, or, I think, stowed upside-down on the foredeck, perhaps partially deflated, as long as it’s not to big.

      We will need to make sure we have a recommended dinghy picked out, together with recommended storage options for various scenarios.

      But the bottom line is that the A40 is simply not a big enough boat to have a large tender stowed on deck easily and well.

    • John Dec 1, 2015, 10:47 am

      Hi again, Rob,

      I just checked on the plans and we have 11-feet between the front face of the mast and the staysail stay, so plenty of room for the tender upturned there, when inshore. That’s what we do on MC, and it works fine.

  • Chris Dawson Mar 15, 2016, 4:04 am

    Just a quick question regarding the anchor rhode. I love the idea of having the chain stored at the base of the mast and the windlass protected from the sea but i am curious as to what path the chain will travel from the bow to the windlass? Will it travel through a below decks hawse pipe or across the top of the deck? If below decks i can imagine there would be issues with mud and weed being transferred into the chain locker and the resultant smell. If above decks provision would be required to prevent damage to the deck and to remove the chain easily in order to maintain a clear deck at all times. Sorry if this has been addressed elsewhere, I have tried to read the whole of this magnificent site and am still going. Chris.

    • John Mar 15, 2016, 8:53 am

      Hi Chris,

      Good question.

      I’m not sure exactly what Erik is planning here, but I do know that he is working on exactly those details as I write.

      Also, the Boreal boats, which also use an at-mast windlass have the chain running in a channel under the deck from a point about a meter from the bow roller. This allows you to clean the chain as it comes up through the open area, seems to work well.

  • Martin Johnson Apr 11, 2016, 7:59 am

    I’ve been enjoying the evolution of the Adventure 40 and would love to buy one when I’m done with my Pretorien. If possible, please arrange the deck fill for water tanks to be at the low point along the rail so rain water can easily be collected into the tanks.

    • John Apr 12, 2016, 7:10 am

      Hi Martin,

      That’s a great idea and totally in keeping with the simplicity theme of the A40, thanks.

  • Steve Broom May 15, 2016, 1:33 pm

    Hi John,
    RE: Storm Survival, you wrote “Horizontal chain plates on each transom corner, each capable of withstanding a load equal to 75% of the boat’s displacement.” This of course makes great sense of if the JSD is led out from the stern, but what about the Pardey opinion of heaving to with the JSD leading out from side?

    What perplexes me is when VERY experienced sailors for whom I have the greatest of respect determine that heaving to reaches a point where it is no longer a viable option. No one so far has explained in ANY manner what that circumstance might be.

    Anyway, no response needed. You understand my question I am sure. Thanks for such an awesome experience as I join all others on the A40 journey!


    • John May 15, 2016, 1:55 pm

      Hi Steve,

      You will find most of the answers to your questions, and a great deal more in our Heavy Weather Tactics Online Book. Have a read through and then I will be happy to answer any questions you may have left.

      I would also highly recommend the Pardey’s Storm Tactics Handbook for a clear understanding of their heaving-to technique, and much more besides.

      Note that they do not advocate using a JSD over the bow or out from the side.

      • Marc Dacey May 15, 2016, 2:05 pm

        As I recall without digging through my shelves, off the bow with a second line led aft to amidships was the Pardey’s sea anchor tactic, which follows heaving to…which, of course, you and your boat have to be able to do in the first place:

        • John May 15, 2016, 2:53 pm

          Hi Marc,

          I really don’t like broad brush product oriented articles, like the one you linked to. To properly understand heavy weather survival one must read at an in depth level, there are no short cuts. I stick by my reading recommendations.

  • michael f May 22, 2016, 11:06 pm

    After reading your compelling argument for carbon fibre masts, I wondered whether the choice of an aluminum mast for the A40 was simply cost related. If the cost differential were small enough to come within budget, would you prefer a carbon fibre mast for the A40? If yes, if the cost differential narrows by the time of production, would a change be made? I understand that there will be no option, and that a change in mast material would necessitate other changes to the rig, so my question is simply for education. I will accept whatever choice you make in this regard.

    • John May 23, 2016, 8:29 am

      Hi Michael,

      Well first off, unless you have unlimited funds to play with, every choice we make in design, is to some extent cost related. Each of those decisions comes down to a cost to benefit trade off. In the case of the A40 the benefits of Carbon are not that large, particularly in comparison to other places we need to spend money, like making the keel super strong.

      This is a very different case than Morgan’s Cloud, where we were faced with building a custom mast anyway, so the increment for carbon was not that big on a percentage basis.

      I guess if a Carbon mast was very close to the cost of aluminium, we would consider the former, but as far as I know that’s not the case at present, particularly in production quantity.

  • Enno Jun 2, 2016, 8:21 pm

    Hi John
    A long time ago I promised to give feedback on my experience with the combination of a tillerpiolot and a Vindvane. Sorry for the delay but I did not have any substantial experience before last year.
    My windvane is a Windpilot Pacific and my autopilot was a Raymarine SPX5 tiller pilot. I made a mounting point for the pushpit and had a machineshop to make a fitting spigot for the windvane.
    Here is a picture

    The results were as follows:

    It basicly works when motoring or sailing in flat water.

    When motoring the prop wash hits the pendulum rudder and causes considerable vibration. This might damage the windvane.

    When sailing the same restrictions apply as when using the windvane alone, meaning sailtrimm must be balanced and not overcanvased.

    Problems arise when sailing or motoring in any seas of significance. The windvane between the autopilot and rudder introduces an extra delay until autopilot movements are translated to ruddermovments. This results in the autopilot to oversteer and the boat not to keep a steady course.

    The Autopilot is in a very vulnerable position where it is easy to loose (I eventually lost the spigot and almost the autopilot)

    I personally have to reasons two have both a wind vane and electronic selfsteering. First I want the autopilot in situations when in it is impossible or inconvenient to use the windvane. This includes motoring, shorthanded sail maneuvers, or conditions with rapidly shifting winds. Second when oceansailing shorthanded I want a redundant independent system for selfstearing.
    In view of those to requirements I view this experiment a failure since the setup does not fulfill any of those requirements. The autopilot attached to the windvane is only usable in situations where the wind vane alone will be doing a better job. So on our boat the autopilot is attached directly to the tiller and serves only as a backup and when motoring.
    The main problem with tiller pilots in my view is that these are low end products aimed at small sailboats used inshore and for daysailing. I agree on your opinion concerning the quality of marine electronics aimed at the pleasure market. Even within this market segment tillerpilots seem to be at the low quality end.
    Our SPX5 system, that was steering our boat not exactly well but expectable, did not survive our first crossing. I then bought the new Raymarine Evo system which is steering considerably worse than the SPX5. The Evo is using the same drive unit but does only deliver half of the current to the drive. It also lacks a NMEA interface and will not interface with anything but Raymarine equipment. As with the SPX5 the driveunit breaks fast when used offshore. I consider the Evo system as unacceptable.
    Although there is theoretically nothing wrong with tiller pilots in general, there seems not to be a manufacturer that makes any reliable ones. Even if there were such manufacturers future supply would seem unsure.
    Personally I would not consider a boat again that relies entirely on tiller pilots for electronic selfsteering.
    That it does not work for me does not necessarily mean that it cannot be made to work for the A40. Sea trials will certainly show. One should bear in mind that the service life of a boat is many times that of electronics. Very specialized solutions that require specialized gear might lead to problems when this gear breaks and replacements are no longer available.

    Hi Colin

    • John Jun 3, 2016, 7:05 am

      Hi Enno,

      Great information that we are certainly going to have to deal with, thanks very much. As you say, nothing wrong with the fundamentals concept of a tiller pilot, but if we can’t source one that works a rethink is definitely required. I will put it on our open issues list.

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