The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Boréal 47—An Owner’s Experience

Eleven years ago, as we got back into sailing on a 35′ Cape George Cutter, we hatched a plan to cast off the lines and head for the high latitudes.

Our preparations included sailing to meet John and Phyllis to talk “ideal boat”, reading this website, taking a few courses, and stretching ourselves a bit further on our sailing vacations each summer. We also started thinking about a new and bigger boat.

On John’s recommendation, we ended up visiting the Boréal yard in France and going for a sail. Soon after, we hired Colin (saving us a lot of time, money, and hassle) to help us draft our specifications and navigate the process of having a boat built on another continent.


Jump ahead a few years, we have cast off from our prior life, and now have 23,000 nautical miles, over the last 21 months, under the keel of Sila, our Boréal 47.

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Hello Chis & Molly.
First of all I’m a first time commenter so…… We, my partner & I are off to France next month to look in the final stage of making a choice between two yacht makers. Simply your artical is purely inspirational towards our goal for me! I have been following this website for over 12 months now and am finding it invaluable! Good on you for living the dream. Good on you for sharing your story with us. Maybe in in the future we might see you moored in a small cove. Both yacht breeds we are looking at are swing centre boards. One a 48 the other a 52. Wood you be apprehensive about a 52 ( to big ).? It is just that so far anything less than 50 seems a bit cramed. Also took on board about your low freeboard as a big plus!
Best regards Ausi Al


Alan – Thanks for your comments and we look forward to crossing paths in a lonley anchorage. Reguarding size – a rather circular debate with benefits and disadvantages on both sides of the equation. For us, we wanted simple boat systems – slab reefing at the mast, no generator, no bow thruster, no powereed winches (except the windlass) and so the high forties in length became the practical maximum for us. Bigger is certianly possible (see Morgans Cloud) but it is not easy to get it right and the cost increase is not linear. – Christopher

John Harries

Hi Alan,

On the size question, there is a lot to that. For example Christopher & Molly’s boat is really a 44 foot boat with a sugar scoop stern added. The key point being that when comparing boat size it’s important to zero in on displacement, not overall length. More in this chapter.

Our own boat at 48,000 pounds is actually double the size of the Boreal 47. The interesting point is that even coming from a much larger boat, Phyllis and I determined that we would be perfectly happy living on a Boreal 44. And in fact, had the boat existed before we did the extensive refit on our boat, we probably would have bought a Boreal 47 instead.

Another interesting point is that to me what one gains with a larger boat has almost nothing to do with additional accommodation. To us the benefits of our boat’s size are speed, fuel range, and better access to equipment (walk in engine room). That must be balanced against cost.

The other interesting thing is that it my experience up to about 25 tons there is very little difference in handling ease with a bigger boat, even though like C&M we have no rig automation. Sure the loads are larger, but that’s at least partially offset by having a larger and more stable platform to work on. Of course that all presupposes good sail handling systems.

Jean-François EEMAN

Hi Alan,
I would curious to know which boats you are considering. If I may ask : Is the Boréal on your short list ?
Will we get the chance to show you step after step how we build a Boréal and what them so different from all other production boats ?

About size :
Good points from Christopher and John.
A few additonal elements :
– On handling : I do agree with John there is no much difference in handling a bigger boat. The first navigations (read harbour manoeuvres) you are a bit impressed by each boat which is the bigger than the one you are used to. But very soon, you adapt.
– Even when comparing two boats of the same size there might be lots of differences in volum inside… For eg. on a Boréal we loose on each side and one the ceiling 8 cm which is the tickness of the insulation… So on a polyester boat of the same width you will win 16 cm, which is a lot…


John Harries

Hi Jean-François,

Good point on the volume losses on aluminium boats. We have the same on out boat from insulation. Also the structural members take up a lot of room in the lockers on our boat, particularly the ring frames that take the rig loads. But to me I think this is a good thing since it stops us from filling the boat up with too much heavy junk!

On handling, I agree. When I first bought my 45 foot boat I was scared of docking her and when I bought our 56 boat I was terrified, but now I actually enjoy handling her in close quarters.

Marc Dacey

I went from being a non-sailor to buying a 33 footer, the docking and indeed the handling of which gave me pause. I actually learned to sail on a 27-footer on race nights…my own boat seemed huge. But my father-in-law, a lifelong sailor himself and a boat designer, pointed out that 10 meters of boat reacted more slowly than a smaller, more tender vessel, and if I dinged the hull a bit in the process, I was less likely to do damage, or at least less damage. So it came to pass.

With the 16 tonne steel boat we also have, however, I am very conscious that mistakes are far more likely to damage other boats and infrastructure than ourselves (paint and pounding out the odd dent are the remedies there), so I’ve put in hours in close maneuvering under engine to learn the boat’s tendencies in terms of prop walk, windage and stopping distance. Boat handling is not a static thing: if you don’t seek out all conditions in which you might find yourself in a tight spot, including ones that call for springs and warps (I hardly ever see the use of a warp, even when it’s called for), you are courting trouble.

Neil McCubbin

90% of your review applies also to our Garcia Passoa 47.
We think it is a great boat, and can easily support your enthusiasm for the Boreal.
We have seen a couple of Boreal’s and are very impressed with them.
Boreal’s hard dodger-cum-pilothouse is great. Wish we had one.
Concerning you paint problem, it would have bee much better to leave the gunwales and all the complex parts of the deck unpainted, as you did with the topsides. We painted our decks almost as one sticks on Treadmaster, that is with a margin about 25mm wide round everything on deck that is not flat. You can see some boat photos on our web site at
Our deck paint started to need significant maintenance after 6 years. It is relatively easy to grind off the bad parts since all are flat and easily accessible to disk or orbital sanders.
It is only a matter of time till paint on aluminum blisters.
One VERY important point is avoid paint on chain plates. I have seen some horrible and rapid corrosion on painted chain plates due to action between the SS toggles on the turnbuckles and the alu. Our unpainted ones are un-corroded after 10 years sailing.
Our experience suggests that most of the features of you Boreal are great. Agreed on the advantages of the centreboard, and jealous of your double glazing. Our foam insulation is excellent, and trouble free, as yours should be.
I prefer our traditional staysail over the self tacker, but that is a matter of choice. Having some kind of a staysail so that the jib can be rolled up all the way in heavy weather gives a well balanced, low, sailplan.

Boreal has lead ballast. Garcia talked us out of it because if the hull is holed (tough to do, but we did it once) the chemical action between the aluminum, salt water and the painted cast iron that Garcia uses is quite minor. I know from tests that aluminum suffers rapidly when in contact with lead and sea-water. In a flat bottomed boat like the Boreal or our Garcia the higher density of lead lowers the centre of gravity by only a few inches.

John Harries

Hi Neil,

Lots of great thoughts, thanks.

Re your concern about chainplates. We have painted chainplates and have no problems after 25 years. The secret is to put the pins in with plenty of Tefgel.

Having said that, I completely agree that a paint set up such as yours with no paint on edges or complex assemblies makes the most sense for an aluminium boat.

Jean-François EEMAN

Hi Neil,
Thank you for your enthusiam for a Boréal.

I’m sure you are very happy with your Milvina and we can understand that. If her position on your site is correct (North of Scotland) then you’ll cross tracks with some other Boréal. The closest to you must by “Sir Ernest” who is co-owned by the Whitebread veteran, Hervé Perrin.

As you say a lot on a boat is matter of choice and compromise but concerning ballast some objective elements have to be restored.

1) The density of lead is 11.340 kilo/cubic m. That is almost the double of cast iron which is +/-6.800 kilo/cunbic m.
That means that you only need (a bit more than) half of the space to “place” your lead ballast.
That means that you can easily place much more of your ballast close to the gravity point of your boat.
It means your ballast is far less spread “all around.”
That makes a difference in gravity but also in movements in heavy seas.
The impact can not be underestimated…

2) Previous point compares two monolithic ballasts.
Very often shipbuilders who do use cast iron ballast moreover do it piling up “blocks” (pig iron).
That process with intersection between the blocks implies an additional loss of density. (pretty often up to 20 %)

No need to say that lead is much more expensive than cast iron…
No need to say that monolithic ballasts are much more complicate and expensive to make than cast iron pigs…

That is generally speaking.

3) In our case : The Boréal is not flat bottomed.
She has a keel box in which the ballasts are lodged. You can see it on some of Christophers’ pictures.
This does again contribue to centering the weights and lowering the gravity center : less volum concentrated in a lower position.
The ballasts are monolithic, completely incapsulated in a layer of insulating resin which makes sure there is no contact between aluminium and ballast.
(additional adavantage : when you dry out you do not rest on the bottom plate but on a much smaller and much more solid keelbox).

Small (?) differences which can only sum up !

Jean-François EEMAN,
Managing Director Boréal


Neil – Thanks for your great comments re paint detailis. As John noted, we too have had great luck with Tef-Gel. Our experience of the boats stability would affirm Jean-François comments, we are amazed how stiff Sila is for a boat with no big mass at the bottom of keel – we have had plenty of hearty gusts and never felt on the verge of being knocked down, etc… – Christopher

John Harries

Hi Neil,

Further to the steel or lead discussion. I’m surprised that Garcia would say that the chances of galvanic action with the aluminum hull are less with steel than lead.

I just looked up the galvanic table and lead is closer to aluminium than either steel or iron. That would seem to indicate that galvanic action would be worse with cast iron not better?

Dirk Jacobsz

Hello Chris and Molly, also Jean- Francois and John.
I am a first time commenter here as well. Firstly Chris Molly Porter and Jack Rabbit, I have followed your journey and loved your site, well done on your travels and what you have accomplished. Thank you Chris for taking time to write this report on Silva. I have so many questions for you but will get to them one day. Jean-Francois and Boreal, man what a boat. I cannot wait to order mine from you. Look out for my email to you. I have followed every Boreal I can, Steve on RC Louise and Vast and finally to John and Phyllis thank you for your site and introducing me to Boreal.

Jean-François EEMAN

Dear Dirk,
Thank you for nice message.
We’ll look out for your mail and we will be happy to welcome you here at the yard .
Meanwhile don’t hesitate to ask all questions you might have.
Two questions : where are you from ? Wha tis your project ?


Jean-François EEMAN

Some other Boréal onwers have a Facebook page on which you can follow them…
We try to relay their information on our facebook page.
An interesting one is Matt Chauvel’s… He is sailing singlehanded with his dog. His last crossing was from Puerto Williams (Chile) to Cape Town with a stopover in Gough Island (!) .

There is also the site of “SIR ERNST”.
In French, but if you go to their media page you will find some You Tube movies…
“SIR ERNST” belongs to three co-owners. One of them is Hervé Perrin who raced in the Whitbread and won dual handed the first Québec Saint-Malo race…
Very experienced and nice people !




Dirk – Glad you like the report. I am happy to answer more questions (Jean-François can give you my email or post a comment with your email on our blog) although I might be slow to respond in the coming months. The Boreal Boats really are quite good if not amzing – all depending on what you want to do. – Christopher

Patrick Genovese

Hi Christopher,

Thank you for a very informative article, my admiration and desire for these boats continues to grow.

You made a comment regarding the heat in the doghouse in the tropics, I have a suggestion that may alleviate/solve the issue: Try some UV/Sun protection film. There are various types and grades available but you can expect to cut out up to 75 to 80% of the heat ingress and up to 99% of UV radiation entering via the windows. Many retail outlets use these films to reduce heat (saving on air conditioning cost) and protect merchandise/furniture from fading.

The film is usually self adhesive and totally removable leaving clean glass on removal, so the process is totally reversible. The only gotcha is if the glass has a compound curve as that would make the film very tricky to stick on. which to my eye does not seem to be the case. Some film types produce a mirror effect on the inside when the interior ambient light is much brighter than the outside you want to avoid these types for obvious reasons.

The downside is that the doghouse will be a little darker but not by much.

Best Regards & Fair Winds


Rob Withers

Hi Christopher

As somebody with a Boreal 47 currently being built – the hull is nearly complete as of today – I read your comments with more than a little interest! I have already asked jean-Francois to add a hatch in the roof of the doghouse to alleviate some of the heat build-up.

Can I ask about your power-generation set-up and how it works for you? There are so many combinations of alternator, generator, solar, wind, towed that I’ve found myself going round in circles trying to decide the best option. Some feedback form real life would be helpful.

I have never had a boat with a decent heater before – certainly not radiators in the cabins. How often have you used the heater and radiators? Have they made life more comfortable and what about condensation?


Hi Rob,

On our Boreal 44 we have 200 watts of solar, wind power and most importantly a prop shaft generator. When sailing at 5 knots we generate from the prop shaft generator alone about 5 to 6 amps but at 8 knots which you will easily reach much of the time we generate much closer to 18 to 20 amps. So while on passage with good wind, sun and speed we often generate close to 40 amps of power. We crossed the Atlantic at 100 percent of power the entire 19 day trip. We will add 200 watts more of solar this season before heading for the S. Pacific. We found at anchor for long periods of time in Panama that as the rainy season comes along and the skies become more cloudy plus the wind drops we needed more solar. I’m pretty sure as we reach the deep western Pacific and similiar conditions as Panama with 400 watts of solar we will not have to run the engine, something we hate to do. We would rather pull anchor and go for a nice 2 or 3 hour sail and have the prop shaft generator store power than run the engine.
Steve and Tracy.


Rob – We have no refrigeration system and no water maker so our power demand is overall very low which changes the math. Demand side is NKE auto-pilot (but we have and use a Windpilot self steering unit offshore), basic electronics, and lighting – we run at 4-6 amps daytime and 6-9 amps nighttime. Power side is 200w solar and a superwind wind generator, storage is 520 Ahr in gel cell batteries. I did install a 165A Balmar alternator and smart regulator which I use to downrated the alternator to 75% (extends life), so the alternator puts out a solid 60 amps. We rarely go below 85%, typically don’t plug in at the marina, and have never run the engine only to charge. If we had refrigeration we would need to be pretty careful or add the prop shaft alternator. Hope this helps. Cheers – Christopher

Neil McCubbin

Good move buying a Boreal. As I mentioned elsewhere we have a similar design, (Garcia Passoa 47) and are pleased with it. Boreal was not around when we bought, or it would have been high on our list.
One suggestion. Consider asking Boreal to avoid painting gunwale, and all deck fittings, handrails, and other complexities around the deck. They look great when new, but once the paint blisters (typically 5-10 years, but an OVNI beside us is showing blisters after about 3) cleaning up to repaint is VERY difficult and/or expensive.
If you look around our site, you can see what we painted. Specifically, the shot of the seal on the ice floe at shows our deck quite well.
On heating, we like our Eberspaecher (=Webasto) air heater well. We think it is better than a hot water one because it pushes hot dry air into the boat, so the air pushed our carries lots of moisture out with it. Hot water radiators just heat. We also have a “bus heater” just like a car heater that gives us free heat from the engine cooling water. It is much simpler to fix than the more complex diesel ones. Ideally the bus heater would draw outside air and heat it, but I could not see an easy way to do that.

John Harries

Hi Neil,

Good point on the benafit of drawing outside air into the boat. We have a post on that here and a comparison of heaters here.

I would also agree on your painting recommendations.

Christopher Barnes


Thanks for your comments. The bus heater is a nice way to get some free heat as you motor into the harbor each night I bet. The Boreal’s use the profoundly wonderful and simple Refleks heaters – they are super simple to clean and maintain. They have a combination of radiators, which are quiet, and a few blowers (in the heads) – this means we can dry out five sets of wet slickers in an evening and then if needed have the radiant heat with no noise. The reality for us is that we like a cold boat to sleep, so we often dump the warm (and mosit air) jsut as we go to bed for a cool boat at night and no condensation on the hatches (windows are double pane so they are pretty much alwasy condensation free). We can and have used the heater under-way, in gusty winds it can be hard to light (there are some good tricks), but once lit it is easy to keep going. – Christopher

Christopher Barnes


We decided against films becasue we were not in the tropics all that long, like maximum visibility at night, and found the internal reflective car shields to work well. I’ve heard that Boreal now has an external shade (I assume like you see on so many boats in the carribean) which should also be a good solution. All that said, the film isn’t so hard to deal with and if I was going to be crusingin in a tropical area for a while I might well try it. We fit our internal shades by buying large car window shades and then making a cardboard template on the outside to help us figure out the curves – worked fine. Boreal now also has the option of a small hatch in the doghouse roof, which looks pretty good.

Christopher Barnes

Rob – Re Heat – see my comments below. I am a real fan of the Refleks heaters. We could not have sailed in Chile and South Georgia without heat… or at least we would have been miserable. – Christopher

Dave Benjamin

Hi Christopher and Molly,

In your description of the sail inventory there is no mention of a light air sail. I’m not sure if that’s an omission or if you just go with working sails. Do you carry any light air inventory?


Dave – We have an assymetrical which we have used little and might have been better off with a reacher/blaster/code zero style sail, or nothing at all. I think it really depends on where you are going to sail and if you will really get the colored cloth out and use it. The boat sails great wind and wing and we have done a lot of miles with a poled out Genoa. – Christopher

Dave Benjamin


I fully concur that the asym spinnaker isn’t the best choice for many cruisers, even those engaged in tradewinds cruising. The wind angle range is a bit limited and it can be unwieldy. The “code style” sails are far more functional. On deeper angles they don’t have the performance of a spinnaker but on a cruising boat the measure of success with a light air sail is that it can be up the majority of the time when conditions are light. One of my clients kept fastidious logs and calculated that he used a sail we build 85% of the time between Long Beach and the Marquesas. His passage time was 4 or 5 days shorter than others crossing around the same time.

Here’s what we developed if anyone is curious –

Patrick Genovese

A few of questions….

Re the electrical system, is the DC system wired up as a double pole system ? (ie breakers disconnect both +ve and -ve wires supplying a circuit).

What’s the NKE autopilot like vis a vis its a) its performance and b) power consumption. Do you have a Hydraulic ram on board sila ?

Perhaps one for JF… It would be interesting to see performance numbers (a polar diagram) I realize that actual numbers will vary based on many factors such as payload, sea state etc….but its a start.


Christopher Barnes


Regaurding the NKE. This is my first autopilot, so I speak not from a wealth of past experience with other units and systems… Our experience is that the NKE has alwasy been strong enough, even in some tough conditions such as off the wind in quartering seas sailing wing and wing. As for power consumption, I say it is low draw because when we are using it while sailing the boat is typically drawing at about 3-4 amps daytime and 5-7 amps at night (this is a broad average WITH our solar panels and wind generator contributing). – Christopher

Jean-François EEMAN

Hey Patrick,

Thank you for your continuing interst in Boréal.

When we communicate data and performances we like them to be real.
Very often when we see theoretical polar diagrams in sailing magazines we know they are “optimized”.
We know how to do that but that is not the game we want to play…

Making a real polar diagram is not easy.
But Tuesday we launched “Chaman”, the Boréal 55 we built for Dominque Wavre.
He has raced 10 times around the world (4 of which single handed, 2 of which with his wife Michèle) and will use his Boréal to sail the 11th time around the world.
He has prepared the tools to make a real polar diagram in a professional way. So we will know in a few months…

PS. Yes, Christopher has a hydraulic ram from Lecomble Schmitt. I let him speak about the performances of his pilot.


Dave Benjamin


As a sailmaker, I am perplexed by the fascination for polars on a cruising boat. I don’t think most cruisers understand how polars are used for racing purposes. In real life racing application, if the yacht isn’t meeting the expectations of the polar plot, it’s a signal we have a problem. It could be bad trim or perhaps a piece of seaweed being trailed from the keel. To be successful on the race course, we have to have the boat in optimal trim and proper sail selection 100% of the time. Electronic monitoring will literally ring an alarm if we’re off the pace at all. Even if we wanted to sail like that on a cruising boat, it would be impractical and exhausting unless we carried a large crew.

For evaluating a cruising boat, a more useful measure of performance is average speed over the course of a passage. For a custom boat, or a boat where there are only a few built, polars can provide some reasonably useful data. But in the case of the Boreal, there are enough hulls out sailing that speaking with owners is more useful than a polar chart in my opinion. With few exceptions, cruisers will never be optimized to match polars. And we certainly don’t have the sail inventory on a cruising boat to really get the most out of it. A furling genoa is a massively compromised sail. It’s no match for a “decksweeper” upwind and it’s certainly pathetic in lighter airs off the wind with so much weight. In a moderate breeze on a reach, they are usually least compromised. Cruisers rarely carry more than one light air sail and in some cases none at all.

Reading the experiences of Christopher and Molly is far more instructive than any predictive performance chart. And while I am in no means critical of them, I know if I owned a Boreal 47 that I could reasonably expect perhaps another 20 miles or more per day knowing that the way they sail is a bit different than the way I sail and their sail inventory is different than what I would build for myself.

But beyond just what we can expect for passage times, there is a far more important criteria to consider and that is the comfort level of the boat. I would much rather arrive a bit later with everyone safe and rested than be first to the anchorage with an exhausted crew that never felt fully safe. From what I have seen of the Boreal, it appears to provide an extraordinary of comfort for a voyaging crew. The pilothouse is brilliant and from what I have read from owners the seakeeping capabilities are excellent and the boat doesn’t throw many surprises.

John Harries

Hi Dave,

I guess I would have to disagree on the desirability of having good polars available on a cruising boat. We have polars for Morgan’s Cloud—(left over from our racing days and derived from the boat’s IMS rating (surprisingly accurate)—and I find having them really quite useful.

It’s true that I don’t look at them much these days since I know the boat so well, but for an owner of a new to them boat, having polars can be very useful as one learns how to get the best passage speed out of the boat.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that cruisers refer and measure against the polars every moment, as we did when racing, but a quick glance will give one a good idea of how best to get downwind or whether or not to crack off a bit on the wind.

Further, if I were to buy a Boreal, a boat that is very different from anything I have ever sailed, I would be hugely grateful for a full set of battle tested polars like those that JFE referred to.

Also, for those using routing software—not something I advocate for cruisers, but many do—good polars are vital, otherwise the output of the routing software is garbage.

Having said all that, I would certainly agree that a set of polars in the hands of the uninformed will do more harm than good in that they will set unrealistic speed expectations for the short handed crew.

Christopher Barnes


Thanks for your comments. I am certain that a Boreal 47′ could sail more miles per day offshore than we average, we are sailing most of the time with two adults and two kids under 13 years for crew (and I should have said as much in the review above). Couple of other owners have sailed 200+nm days and I don’t doubt it.

I also agree that it is all to easily to focus on potential speed (max one day runs) over long passage mileage averages. The Boreal has more potnetial than we utilize and has excelled in helping us cover a lot of miles over 2 years (27,000nm with about 20,000nm under sail).

We don’t use our asymmetrical much when coastal crusing and offshore we set up the boat for one person to handle everything so we can get enough sleep hence we use it less than we could/should and I do not have enough experince to have a strong opinion. We have had some memorable sails with the asymmetrical flying and I don’t regret having it. Also our route over the last year has been such that we have been in windy places where we have not needed it.


Hi Christopher Molly and Jean Francois,

I would like to ask two questions please.

For Christopher, Molly and Jean Francois:
Have you tested if Sila (or other Boreal 47) heaves to well? If yes would you please describe conditions?

For Jean Francois:
It is my understanding that the bathing platform is not incorporated into the waterline. One would assume there would have been certain advantages in doing so such as increased waterline length, loading ability etc without much increasing cost. Can you please elaborate a bit on the pros and cons of these two different configurations?

Thank you

Jean-François EEMAN

Hi Nicolas,

Neither Jean-François Delvoye, neither myself have ever had to heave with a Boréal ” for real”.
I believe that Matt from Obelix when sailing single handed from Puerto Williams (Chili) to South Africa might have done it . I’ll ask him his experience…

We have tested it with 5-6 bft, just to practise…
As the staysail is self tacking you have to attach it windward with an extra block or around the cleat…

That is for your first question.

Concerning the second question: You have to make a difference between the Boréal 44 and 47. See our site
The Boréal 44 has a pretty vertical stern with a bathing platform which swivels done and up.
The original concept was to keep the LOA under 14m.
The platform is up when sailing.
The Boréal 47 has a different stern with a scoop with 4 big steps/lockers and the liferaft in between. It is a more classic configuration you can see elsewhere.
Both have the same LWL but the dynamic Length, when the boat is heeling is +/- 1 m longer on a Boréal 47…

Because the stern curves in on the 47, the lazaret has a slightly smaller access.
Because of the scoop on the 47 is much easier to install a support for a Windpilot (but w ehave also done it on a 44)

Does this answers your question ?



Hi Jean-François,

Thank you for your reply.

I think the ability to heave to even in benign conditions is important.

Regarding the sugar scoop on the 47: If I understand correctly the Boreal 47 has a longer overhang on which the bathing platform (and extra storage space/steps) is incorporated. This does not form part of the waterline when level but when heeled it does add to the (effective) waterline. And it is also my understanding that the rudder position is unchanged. Would there have been additional advantages if the scoop added to the effective waterline when level (and more aft position of rudder) or these would have been offset by other factors (e.g cost and/or complexity and/or extensive redesign)?

Thank you



Nicholas –

Thanks for your questions. We have heaved-to exactly once to wait for a low to pass north of us. Conditions were benign and we were just waiting (maybe F5-6), so our experience isn’t particulairy informative – drift rate was a 1-2 knots on a triple reefed main and backed staysail with the wheel partially over and lashed (boat aspect was was stable). We sailed for a night in F7-8 with a bunch of 50 knot gusts on a reach with four reefs and the staysail and the boat was very stable and balanced. Another time we had about 8 hours of 5-6m breaking seas the day after a storm and again we reached with good control even in the 50 knot gusts. We are pretty quick to reef, especailly off the wind, and haven’t been realy caught out and knocled over. Coming from a stoutly built fiberglass traditional hull form boat (35′ Caper George Cutter) we find the Boreal to be really calm below decks in rough weather – the insulation and stiffness just make it feel solid and quiet even when it is drammtic on deck.

– Christopher



Thank very much for your kind reply. Real world feedback is invaluable.

Matt Chauvel

Hi Nicolas,
I’m only seeing this article and thread now…since everyone else here posted comments I’ve received and replied to an email from JFE asking about my heaving-to experiences on Obelix so far…this last Southern Ocean passage was a bit unusual in that for the first time I felt I had to heave to ‘for real’ indeed, and that took a bit of experimentation…formerly though, as a single-hander I’ve done it under benign to tough-but-not-yet-frightening conditions very often, just to take a break…please ask JFE for the long and more extreme conditions version (too verbose for this forum)…long story short though, I have found the Boreal 47 to be very accomodating in allowing heaving to (properly so, that is not just going through the required textbook boat handling mechanics but actually achieving a safe motion, with very little to zero forward sailing speed and creating one’s own ‘safe zone’ breaking waves downdrifting before they hit the boat) under a variety of sail combinations. Once in more demanding conditions, it took trying a few mainsail/foresails/centreboard combinations before finding what I thought worked best, but I got there! If I thought there was a one-fits-all recipe I would gladly share it but that’s not the case…45 knots wind with 6-7m close-together steep breaking waves doesn’t call for the same combo as 60 knots with 9m slower, bigger but rarely breaking waves etc…brings us back to the Beaufort Scale article from earlier, it can paint a picture in very broad strokes but it’s specifics (mainly wave shape and frequency) that matter. My sincere opinion is that the Boreal hull shape, lifting/adjustable centerboard, and forward sails duet make for a quickly achievable solution under a huge range of conditions…

John Harries

Hi Matt,

Thanks very much for sharing this very valuable information. I’m a big believer in the benefits of being able to heave-to safely, so this is very good news.


Hi Chris,
I too started ocean sailing on a Cape Gorge— a 36 that I built. —Still looking good after 40 years— too bad that we can’t buy $3.20 bf teak and CVG Port Orford Cedar anymore!

I’d have to say that it was the only fiberglass boat that I’ve been on that is as stiff as a Boreal! One of its virtues was that when hove to the slick from the big, long keel was really impressive and the boat was able to hold that position easily. A Boreal is such a different boat, much larger, higher windage, radically different keel and rudder. But if you have a direct comparison of the two boats behavior under similar conditions it would be informative.



The Boreal 47 and 35′ Cape George Cutter are pretty different externally but share many atributes conceptually (tough, stable, simple). Our experince is the obvious – more space and storage and faster. In rough weather we find the Boreal to be more stable and calm below – I assume becasue of size and the insulation makes it quieter below. Handleing under power is about the same, bigger but a bit easier to turn. – Christopher

Giorgio and Jan Aru

I met Chris and Molly on January 2014 while in Anegada, BVI. Chris showed me Sila and ….I was in love with her and the Boreal concept. I am so happy that they were able to complete the South America circumnavigation! I am myself considering a Boreal (either 47 or 52). We need room for a compressor since we love diving.
I read that “SIR ERNST” belongs to three co-owners. I often considered to co-own a boat since I will be on shore for part of the year and docking is the biggest expense plus the locations are often less than reliable. Is the option of c0-owning a boat a reasonable one? I would welcome all readers opinion. I c0-owned and race a J22 without any problem in the past several years. In the ’70, while living in Sardinia I owned a 37′ Amel Kirk and the poor boat used to be stuck at the dock for many months of the year.

John Harries

Hi Giorio and Jan,

I co-owned a small inshore cruising boat years ago and it worked out well. I also have two friends that co-own offshore cruising boats and say that it has worked for them.

A key component to success is, I think, a detailed written agreement. Just the process of putting that together will make sure that the partner’s expectations are properly aligned.


Beautiful boats! Looking at that big cockpit, I’m left wondering what one does for sun protection in the summer or in the tropics?


Skye – We have a few different shade tarps aboard and rig to suit the conditions in the tropics (both at anchor and occasionally while underway.) Ultimately we didn’t spend all that much time in the tropics and value clean and clear decks over permanently installed shade structures. Certainly a few Boreal’s have bimini’s installed and the Boreal design looks functional to my eye. – Christopher