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“Eala Bhan” Sails Home—The Maiden Voyage of The Boréal 55

The White Swan Flies Home

The maiden voyage of any yacht is a momentous, if nerve-wracking, affair, the understandable pride of ownership being offset by major adjustment to a new machine.

When the boat in question is considerably bigger than your previous craft, and full of new and unfamiliar technologies, then there’s a colossal amount to take in and master.

And when, like this boat, she is the culmination of nearly four years of dreaming and planning, then the whole enterprise takes on a life of its own, attaining an almost mythical status for all concerned with her.

Eala Bhan (White Swan in Gaelic) is the first Boréal 55 to be launched, and belongs to proud owners Patrick and Linda Flockhart, replacing their previous (and much loved) Ovni 435 TinTin.

Named after a boat that Patrick knew well, whose owner, Willy Coll, kept a careful eye on Patrick as a boy as he explored the rugged shores of Iona and Mull in Scotland, the ‘new’ Eala Bhan was conceived as a boat capable of expanding a high latitude cruising range that has seen Patrick and Linda explore Norway and the Faeroes in recent years.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to work with them to achieve a boat as close to their dreams and needs as could be devised, and then help sail her home. So as we gathered in Tréguier (where she was built) to sail her home to Ardfern on the west coast of Scotland, there were not two, but three nervous parents gathered alongside her on the pontoon.

Eala Bhan had just returned from the La Rochelle Boat Show, where she had attracted a huge amount of admiration, helped no doubt, by the coronation of the Boréal 52/55 as the European Yacht of the Year 2015 in the Blue Water category.

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More Articles From Boréal 52/55:

  1. Maiden Voyage of The Boreal 55—What Worked and What Didn’t
  2. “Eala Bhan” Sails Home, Part III
  3. “Eala Bhan” Sails Home, Part II
  4. “Eala Bhan” Sails Home—The Maiden Voyage of The Boréal 55
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Hello Colin!
Nice article!

A few questions:
1. What is the roller on port aft (seen on photo of sugar scoop) used for?
2. Hoes the boat has only Reflex heater or also hydronic / airtronic heater?
3. Why was the polystyrene insulation chosen? Any benefits from others?
Thank you!

Colin Speedie

Hi Taras

the roller is for setting a stern anchor, such as when drying out on a beach. The roller gives a fair lead to the primary winch and and helps to avoid chafe on the transom when the kedge warp is handled.
This boat only has the Refleks heater, and no Espar/Webasto system. It does have two small blower heaters in the aft heads and saloon that work off waste heat from the engine.
The insulation is very dense and efficient, is easy to cut to shape and to make a gap free whole with the use of bonding sealant. in the event of damage to the hull it is still relatively easy to remove to effect repairs. It also has an amazing sound-deadening effect, something that is often overlooked on aluminium boats.
Best wishes


Hi Colin,
Great article for a great boat.
Things i consider important
Is the insulation fireproof or at least fire resistant? You know aluminium can burn and so any isulation used should at least be fire resistant.
Another important issue is how does the insulation fair with moisture absorption?


Colin Speedie

Hi Nikolas
The insulation is closed cell polyurethane foam sheet of the type used in building. It is self extinguishing and so fire retardant. It resists water ingress very well, and maintains its insulation properties well when wet.
Glad you liked the article.
Best wishes

Richard s (s/v lakota)

a souped up version of the adventure 40 i would say…maybe at triple the cost ? so the dink is stored on deck and bottom up for passaging i presume ? is lifted with bridle and halyard ? secured with multiple lines i presume ? cheers, richard in tampa bay

Colin Speedie

Hi Richard
It’s a very different boat from the Adventure 40, although there are many similar thoughts in terms of the end user.
The dinghy can be stowed on deck, but for long passages the one on this boat (a folding RIB) can stow in the lazaretto, which is where we placed it for the duration of the passage north.
It makes for a good, simple practical range of options for all cruising possibilities.
Best wishes

Dick Stevenson

Hi Colin,
A really nice report. There are very few boats who cause me to wish I was starting my cruising career, but the Boreal line checks a lot of my boxes.
It is also very nice to see a boat builder paying attention to those crucial, but often overlooked (or explained away) design details that make for a seaworthy boat: I am referring to a number of design decisions, but the single robust rudder with skeg vs twins, pops out for me.
I am curious, however, about the thinking that leads to double headsail rig rather than a cutter (mast closer to amidships). The question also comes up for me with regard to the Adventure 40.
Thanks for your thoughts, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Colin Speedie

Hi Dick
this is a boat with so many practical, safe, seagoing features above and below decks, which is so refreshing.
On these ‘true’ centre boarders (i.e. designed as such, not a version of a fixed keel) the rule of thumb I’m told is that the mast should be above the pivot point of the board to achieve best balance, which is why the mast is further forward than on many single masted boats. Our Ovni is the same. As such the foretriangle is smaller, so a ‘cutter’ as you know it with the mast well aft is out of the question.
Not that it makes much difference in practice, as the Boreals are designed as sloops to be sailed up to say 25kts true, then change down to the staysail. I found that with this configuration the boat was well-balanced and stiff, and I know from talking to Christopher Barnes that he really likes they set-up.
Best wishes

Jim Patek

Beautiful yacht. Good article. I think it is the doghouse that makes it for me (since we don’t have one).

Colin Speedie

Hi Jim
ah, the doghouse. Pure luxury in the cold and wet, that makes you glad to be ‘in the doghouse!’
One of the best features ever for high latitudes, no question.
Best wishes

Patrick Genovese

Hi Colin
Excellent article, looking forward to parts 2 and 3

A couple of questions…

Are the chainplates on the transom for a Jordan Series Drogue?

Is the steering system cable driven? And is it accessible from inside the aft cabin/s or through the lazarette?

What’s the arrangement for an emergency tiller?


Colin Speedie

Hi Patrick
The chainplates are indeed for a series drogue. They are welded into the structure internally, and I’d guess you could lift the boat with them….
The steering is cable driven, and the main access is via the lazarette, after the removal of a protective panel. The autopilot ram is also accessible in this fashion and the emergency tiller, too. For the purposes of emergency steering, many boats these days can pass the relevant regulations if the autopilot ram drives the quadrant directly, but it’s still best to have an emergency tiller for obvious reasons.
Best wishes

Bruce Savage

Hi Colin
Great article as usual and a beautiful boat. If I had the money ….
I’m interested in the choice of engine. The Volvo d2-55 is standard, so why is the step-up engine a Nanni rather than going to the Volvo d2-75?
Interestingly the targa arch and cantilevering dinghy hoist is very similar to what we have on our Allures 44 and it works really well.

Colin Speedie

Hi Bruce
the Nanni is based on the excellent Kubota block, and the model installed has twin balance shafts and so is very smooth for a four cylinder engine.
Nanni have a more flexible warranty, and Volvo spares are very expensive, so it is a very attractive choice.
Best wishes



Id love to hear more about your Allures! They are beautiful boats and on my short list when the day comes.


Bruce Savage

Hi Paul
I don’t want to hijack these comments which are all about the Boreal but would be glad to answer any questions you have on my experience with the Allures. Suffice to say we love the boat. You can check our blog at if you like or feel free to contact me directly by email with any specific questions.

Scott Inglis

Hi Colin,
Thanks for the article, lucky you to have that job!!
What is the coating on the frames in the insulation pic, and what is the function of the coating?
Cheers, Scott

Colin Speedie

Hi Scott
it is a special cork based product that is sprayed on to any exposed aluminium (in the photo, deck supports) to eliminate any thermal bridges that could lead to condensation. It works very well.
Best wishes

Peter Cosmann

What a beautiful cruising boat! Looking forward to the next report.
I was looking at the interesting 3 levels of lifelines, and then I became aware that, unless the photos are deceiving, they look like vinyl coated wire with swaged terminals. If so, I think this is an oversight on what is otherwise be an attempt at very safe and seaworthy vessel. Vinyl coated lifelines can hide serious failure points, as I can personally attest to with sudden unexpected dunkings into the water below.

Rob Gill

Good point Peter on the vinyl coated lifeline wires. I had mine recently replaced, but had the top wire encased in vinyl as it makes a nicer hold. Our rigger said this would be OK if each end (of the vinyl tubing) was cut short of the termination points (by about 1 centimetre) so air can get in and dry out the wire and prevent corrosion. I also squirted WD40 down the tube ends to lubricate and protect the internal wire, and the slight catenary seems to keep the light oil from working out. Any thoughts?

Peter Cosmann

Hi Rob, your idea sounds better than the vinyl coated wire which can hide serious corrosion without the warning of rust staining. I would personally prefer synthetic (Dyneema) lifelines with adequate chafe protection. On my boat the top rail is solid and the mid line is Dyneema.

Colin Speedie

Hi Peter and Rob
there are many different views on this. We have plastic coated wire, but inspect it careful annually, and replace it if anything looks at all suspect. And we replace it as a matter of course at five years.
I suspect the same is true of Dyneema, which I plan to change to next time, now that there are suitable coated versions and there is greater acceptance of this material. I have tried bare stainless wire in the past, and it’s easy to inspect, but if it strands at all you have to watch your fingers.
Best wishes

John Harries

Hi Peter,

I think plastic coated wire is perfectly safe as long as it is replaced regularly. (Over the years we found that a 4 year replacement cycle worked.)

Having said that, about 8 years ago we switched to plain 1×19 rigging wire. One of the advantages is that by doing so we were able to go up a size without modifying the holes in the stanchions. And after eight years all still looks good, although I think we will replace at 10 years.

We prefer this option over dynema since it is impervious to chafe and UV degradation.


I truly lust for the Boreals. In my wishing I have often thought the 55 would be best, but then I think the 47; either way I WANT a Boreal. I hope that there will be a future article comparing the 47 and 55 and why a person would choose one over the other. I have looked at Boreal’s website and find it difficult to determine the difference other than length and price.

Colin Speedie

Hi Prentiss
It’s largely a question of scale – the 55 is a much bigger boat all round. If it’s space and additional comfort you want, or you have a specific need (workshop, office, lab etc.) the 55 can accommodate it in a way that the 47 could not.
At sea the 55 will be faster, but the 47 will go anywhere the 55 can – just with a little less space and comfort.
I have just received some fabulous photos from Jean-Francois Eeman of Boreal who has just got back from a voyage to Antarctica in a 44, accompanied by his family. There is nowhere these boats can’t go – the limitation is not the boat, it’s us, the crew. And that’s how it should be!
Best wishes

Jean-François EEMAN

Hello Mr. Prentiss (or is it just a log-in name ?)
Thank you for your enthusiasm for Boréal.

Hard to answer your question in a few sentences.
First of all : every time you compare a 47fter to 55fter you will see that more important than difference in length is the increase in total volume which is exponential.
Seeing the boilerwork from both hulls standing side to side, you will immediately see the difference.

Needless to say that at sea the behaviour of any 55 is much smoother than that of a 47.
Speed will also be different.

The doghouse of the 52 and 55 is made in a way you can sit with two. It also has a closet behind the seat in which you can hang your foul weather gear (which is than dried with the heat of the engine)…
On a 44 and 47 we have much less space between the front cabin and the saloon; On a 52 or 55 we use that space for either a large office (as on Elea Bhan) either for a real work bench with plenty of storage for the tools. A fourth cabin with one/two bunks is also possible.
On 52/55 we have space for a huge separate shower which you can use at sea sitting…

Except for the price difference, you should choose the boat in which you feel the most at ease :
to sail : you will be able to handle both single/short handed but habour manoeuvres in an obvious way are more complicate the bigger the boat gets.
to maintain : if you do the anti fouling yourself you’ll see what I mean
and to live : space is the real luxury

I hope is information helps

MD Boréal

Prentiss Berry

Jean-Francois, Colin,

Thank you for the quick replies. It should have occurred to me that there would be significant more volume in the 55; I tend to forget that 8 additional feet in length can make for a huge amount of volume.

Another quick question, what is mast height above the water for bridge clearance? I’m from Florida in the US. The newer bridges have a clearance of 65 ft. for the Inter-coastal waterway (ICW).

I am very much looking forward to future Boreal articles.


Prentiss Berry

I did notice that the Boreal 55 has a mast length of 19m and the Boreal 47 has a mast length of 16.3m. I’m not really sure how that equates to bridge clearance.


Jean-François EEMAN

Hi Prentiss,

As answer to your question it, I believe the most important data is the total height above the above wateline :

Boréal 47 = 18m450 (without VHF antenna) 60,5 ft
We have several Boréal 47 which have travelled the ICW without any problems, with antenna

Boréal 55 = 21m169 (withoput VHF antenna) 69,4 ft
(This is with the standard mast, not with extended mast as we have built one)


Rob Gill

Thanks Colin,
Growing up like you sailing in the tidal waters around the UK has imprinted in my sailing psyche a regard for the “ability to take the ground” and a love of gunk-holing, which can get me in to trouble in our 2.1 metre draft fixed keeler! In many ways the 55 seems a perfect boat, so my questions please:
Is it a vertical lift or swing lift centre-board?
How does the stub keel work when she dries out – does this bury into even hard sand or is she left heeled over (by how much)?
Does sand and debris work up into the keel box from the above, causing jamming or wearing the mechanisms/surfaces?
If part 2 answers these “design” questions – happy to wait.

Colin Speedie

Hi Rob
shoal draft and the ability to dry out is a blessing,as I know from our Ovni.
The board pivots up into the keel box completely, and is not ballasted except with sand. So the board doesn’t take up lots of internal space like a vertical lift keel, and the boat can be sailed with the board up without materially affecting the centre of gravity.
The stub keel is actually very wide on the bottom, and so there is less chance of the boat leaning one way or another. The amount that the boat would ‘bury’ into sand would depend solely on its consistency, I’m sure.
As I’ve written on AAC before, drying out takes more thought than just turning up. Even with our Ovni (flat bottomed) I’d want inspect the place I intended to dry out, and look for any obstructions or areas of shingle that might damage the hull, or cause the board to jam.
But that’s not hard, and I’ve done it by snorkelling when necessary, and never had a problem as a result.
Best wishes

Jean-François EEMAN

As complementary information to Colins’ excellent reply I would say that sailing in remote and uncharted areas with a fix keel and a swinging centerboard are totally different…
When you touch the bottom with a fix keel it is too late…
When you touch with a swinging centerboard it is “just” a warning signal… You can lift the board and go ahead.
Because of this it means that you go in remote places (Bahamas, coral barriers, rivers, uncharted areas, high latitudes) where you won’t never dare you way into with a fix keel

Jean-François EEMAN,
MD Boréal

Rob Gill

Colin, Jean-Francois,
This gives me a much fuller picture of the design concept in this regard thanks. Perhaps not so much designed to “take the ground” but more a go anywhere yacht which could dry out if absolutely needed, especially taking care over hard sand that she didn’t later fall over on her stub keel from upright. Perhaps you would deliberately list her over so she sat on one bilge from the start. With her wide stern she probably wouldn’t lean too far – maybe 20 degrees?

We raced and cruised an 8m fibreglass lifting keeler in the UK with two industrial strength, 1.8m flexible plastic drain pipes (dubbed our torpedo tubes), which when dropped over the bow and stern on lines, and she would happily sit on clear of the bottom, soft or hard. No worries from shingle or stones. The draft was so little with the keel up that we could hop over the side as the water receded and check for bigger hazards before she dried out and move her as needed! Once dried out we would sometimes need to rig extra anchors as she re-floated to avoid rocks or anchors we discovered in our arc of swing. In the murky waters of the Bristol Channel where we sailed, you could snorkel around for a week and never see a hazard. But with 10-12m tides you would dry out sooner or later, so better to do it deliberately.
30 plus years on, here in NZ with comparatively small tides a Keeler works fine, but I do miss that “blessing” Colin. And in the clear waters of the SouthPacific Islands, with uncharted coral bombs your “warning signal” could be a great comfort Jean-Francois, but in a 25 knot trade wind would be one hell-of-a-warning! Cheers.

Jean-François EEMAN

Hi Rob,

If you do allow me this slight nuance : she is designed to the take ground !
And some of our clients and ourselves do practise it VERY regulary.

Before leaving with our Juan sa Bulan 3 for a trip into the world we have done it hundreds of time in Britanny, France, UK, Holland, Ireland, the Scillies, Spain…
You go into a little creek, upriver, close to islands… and max 6 hours later you are in the middle of a total different landscape… you have a summerhouse around which you walk… You offer your children a house on the beach.
Maybe it sounds hard to be believe but it is so much more than just a blessing, it is like a way of life, a different way of discovering areas… And most of the time you are alone…

Because of the led, the ballast, in the keelbox we have down there a very very solid monobloc structure.
The rudder is less deep than the deepest part of the keel, so normally you do not rest on it. But take a perfect beach with just one rock on it and dry out with the rudder leaning on the rock. Even then you will not have any problem (the rudderstock is 10 cm plain aluminium). One of our client tested that out (not in a voluntary way)

Unless you dry out on a very uneven bottom she will always stay upright.
If you dry out in an uneven area she will as the tide goes down, slowly start heeling to about 17° and lay on her first chine.

We know that a lot of people who have the possibility to dry out, don’t do it but that is because of the people, most of the time, not because of the boat. And indeed as Colin insists on, you have some rules to respect… One of our client even has his Boréal at the buoy on a river, he dries out twice a day since years…

All the Best !


Rob Gill

Thanks for this latest reply – now you are talking JF !
I agree totally with your assessment of the difference in outlook when you dry-out. There is also an important safety aspect in remote areas without 360 degree shelter holes. We weathered a number of gales at the head of a creek or bay, sitting on sand or mud with less than a metre of water at high tide when every other yacht has had to clear out. Even quite large waves have lost their force by the time they have washed across a wide expanse of shallow sand or mud flats. Also many times we would find shelter from the wind close in, whilst watching keelers just further out in a deep water anchorage, rolling and pitching on their anchors and wildly veering around in the gusts…now there’s something to dream about!


Hi Colin,

Maybe a question for Boreal….I am a cruiser in hotter climes and I love the many features of the 55. This said, areas like the doghouse would be like an oven. Are there any adaptations that can be made for the tropics, such as air-conditioning etc. I would appreciate your view on sailing with doghouses in the tropics as well.
Many thanks

John Harries

Hi Tim,

Christopher touches on this in this chapter:


Many thanks John.

I am really struggling. I want a centre cockpit, lifting keel aluminium boat around 50 ft with scoop stern suitable for the tropics and it does not seem to exist. I have had some designs worked up by a well know French Naval Architect and was about to sign a contract with a Dutch yard to build it but one of the contractors (doing the interior) has just pulled out to do another job !!

So here I am all dressed up with my plans and nowhere to go. Reading your great site, it seems Boreal ticks many of the boxes that I had designed into my plans.

I have a thought. Monsieur Jean-François EEMAN, are you all to do a tropics version of the Boreal 55 ?


Colin Speedie

Hi Tim
it is possible to make changes that improve ventilation in the doghouse, including opening hatches in the doghouse roof and opening lights in the windows into the cockpit. Coupled with strategically sited fans it’s possible to keep the air flowing better that way. And I can’t see any reason why air conditioning shouldn’t be installed.

At anchor, when this really matters most, there are many opening hatches on deck.
Hope this helps


Many thanks Colin

I will take a serious look at this.


Mark Worrell

Hi, Colin

Do you happen to know if A/C from the shipyard is an option?

John Harries

Hi Mark,

It’s unlikely that Colin will see this, see comment guidelines #5

Jean-François EEMAN

Hi Tim,

As complementary element to Colins’ anewser, I would say that the first precaution against the sun is to use sunscreens (blinds) which are clipsed on the outside of the doghouse.
That is reducing dramatically the heat which comes in…

Use of the doghouse in the sun :

I would say two things :
1) The doghouse is also the place where your chart table is. Having your chart table in direct contact with the cockpit/helmsman is an advantage as soon as navigation gets tricky.
Helmsman and navigator see the same thing.

2) Very often it is not the absolute temperature which counts for the human body but the differences in temparature. When it is hot during the day, it appears to be chilly in the night even when iti 20 or 25 °C… So even in the tropics I know the doghouse is used for night watches.
This is not mentioning the showers…


Merci Jean-Francois,

I have sent a message asking for additional details using you web site.

I look forward to hearing from your team


Matt Chauvel

Hi all,
I’ll just echo Colin and Jean-Francois’ replies briefly, ‘drying out’ and exploring shallows with a swinging centreboard aren’t just a safety feature but almost a lifestyle, from the tropics to the ice! 🙂 If anyone happens to be closer in practical terms to Cape Town than Bretagne and feels like checking out Obelix (merely a 47 not quite a 55, I know I know I should’ve worked harder) over bevvies, good sides (overwhelmingly so in my very biased experience or I wouldn’t suggest it), warts and all, please feel free to get in touch via Boreal…til then fair winds, –Matt

Colin Speedie

Hi Matt
good to hear from you and your experiences – please make it more of a habit!
Best wishes