Setting The Adventure 40 Free


My last update was back in June and it didn’t contain a lot of great news, in that Erik had missed his self-imposed deadline of March to complete the plans and specifications to the point that the prospective builder could quote on the project.

Fast forward to October when I received an email from Erik with the following news:

I have not visited the yard, not enough progress was made on my side of the project to justify another meeting with them.

This despite the fact that at the time he was visiting the same country the yard was located in.

The Reality

No, I was not best pleased. Having said that, before we get too hot under the collar, we all need to keep in mind that to date Erik is not being paid.

On the other hand, we also need to recognize the reality: we have not published anything meaningful about the Adventure 40 since the Interior Design post of November 2014—the last time I received anything from Erik that was in complete-enough form to write about.

And at the same time I got the above news from Erik, I also learned that he is planning an Open 60 Vendee Globe campaign for 2020, a development that made me doubt that he will have time for the Adventure 40 going forward—most Vendee Globe skippers’ lives are dominated for years before arriving on the starting line by the search for sponsors, training, and boat preparation.

More Issues

Further, you will remember that back in May I stated that I did not want to end up managing this project. But nonetheless, that’s what started to happen.

For example, Erik and I were getting into some significant differences of opinion about what was and was not appropriate gear and construction techniques for the boat, to the point that these discussions were cutting into the time I should have spent attending to my real job: creating and editing the best content I can for the members of this site who pay my salary.

No Way Forward?

All of this kicked me into a lot of thinking about this project that is now nearly five years old and that I have invested hundreds of hours of time and a boatload of creativity on.

Frankly, my first inclination was to simply say screw it, take all the Adventure 40 chapters down, and get on with my life and running this site…and I may still do that.

But maybe there’s a better way.

A New Model

What I’m thinking is to make all of the Adventure 40 posts available to anyone who wants to base a boat on them, with:

  • No licensing fee for using our specification.
  • No equity in a company that builds the boat.
  • No licensing fee for calling the boat the Adventure 40.

Zero, zip, nada.

Sweet Deal

And yes, this is a pretty sweet deal. For absolutely free, a building company gets:

  • A specification for a boat based on my experience, that has been improved and battle-hardened by hundreds of comments.
  • A known viable market for said boat. (Yes, there are people waiting in the wings who say they are ready to make a deposit.)
  • A framework for a company that will be able to build this boat at a profit.

Sweet Resource

Even if a person or company is not interested in building an Adventure 40, there’s value here as a specification to:

  • Measure prospective secondhand boats against.
  • Provide ideas while designing larger and more complex boats or even smaller and even simpler ones.
  • Provide a framework for those building their own boat.
  • Provide ideas and a gear list for those refitting an older boat.

Still Copyrighted

That said, I do need to make clear that all of my writing remains copyrighted with all rights reserved. You can use it to build a boat, but you can’t copy it and publish it in any way without my express written permission.


Of course, like open source software, all of this will be provided on an as-is basis: you get to use it all, but that’s all you get.

So if a company or an individual building the boat wants me to, for example:

  • Clarify or explain a point.
  • Expand on a chapter in more detail.
  • Advise on a design decision.
  • Visit the prototype and advise on changes.
  • Advise on marketing or sales.

I will charge for my time and expenses. Not only is this fair to me, it’s also fair to you, the members of Attainable Adventure Cruising, since you will no longer be subsidizing my work on the Adventure 40.

Of course, AAC members will still be able to comment and ask questions on this Online Book.

And, if you think about it, this is totally in keeping with the Adventure 40 unbundling core principle.

I’m a Reporter Only

That said, I will continue to write about developments with the Adventure 40 without charging anyone, but as an unbiased reporter, not as a promotor of the boat, and only if I think that the article will be of interest to the membership.

And better still, now that I have no financial interest—not even a nebulous future one, as I did before (possible royalty)—in the Adventure 40, I can truly be unbiased, both in fact and in appearance.

The Door is Open

Set up this way, if anyone out there is fed up with waiting for Erik to produce a boat—he still swears he’s going to—they are perfectly free to hire another designer and start putting a boat together based on our specification.

Possible Designers

By the way, if it were me I would go talk to Ed Joy or Dave Pedrick.

Ed, because I just love the work he did when working for Chuck Paine, and Dave, because he did a really cool job of taking the older McCurdy and Rhodes designed Navy 44 and bringing it up to date without screwing it up, at least as far as I can see.

I digress.


One more thing while I’m writing about my new direction. I hereby warn everyone involved in the Adventure 40 not to give me any information that they don’t want to see published—I will not be bound by any requests for confidentiality or non-disclosure.

I have always thought that the whole project should be totally open, warts and all, but now I’m making that official.

Two Issues

Of course there are at least two 800 pound gorillas in the room:

Straying From The Straight and Narrow

The first is, what happens if someone builds a boat that does not meet the Adventure 40 specification as we created it on this site? For example with:

  • Cheaper, lower quality gear than we specified here;
  • A windlass that does not meet this specification (doesn’t have to be this particular windlass, just must meet the spec.);
  • Without an extensive and open prototyping process, including sailing by experienced independent voyagers.

Or anything else that contravenes this Online Book or the Adventure 40 Core Principles.

I will call them out in a post. And nope, there will be no compromising. Great boats are not created by compromise, they are created by vision and sticking with that vision.

Sure a builder can call a junk boat the Adventure 40, but how many will they sell after I, and all the people here in the AAC readership who have given so much in the comments, call them out on it?

Erik’s Drawings

The other issue is what to do about Erik’s drawings that grace many of the chapters. I initially told Erik I would remove them. But on reflection, I hope he will let us leave them up as they illustrate many of the boat’s features. This should be a win for him since people will tend to associate the Adventure 40 with the boat he is designing.

Of course, each of his drawings will continue to carry his copyright and I will edit chapters that contain his drawings to make clear that I’m writing about the “Erik de Jong Adventure 40”.

But if he does decide to demand that I take said drawings down, no big thing. Pretty much all of the specification is AAC intellectual property. Erik then drew a boat from that.

His design is what would be called in the software industry a derivative work: undeniably his, but conferring no claim on the basic work.

The List

And that brings me to one final point: About 375 of you have signed up as interested in buying an Adventure 40 and several more people add their names every week. While I would certainly never give that list to anyone else, no matter their claims about building a boat, what I will do is send out a mailing to inform you of any new contenders or significant developments. After that, it’s up to you.


I know this new direction might come as a shock and even a disappointment to many of you but, after much thought, I do think it’s the best way forward and one that will result in a better boat in the long run. And, anyway, the old model was clearly broken.

Further Reading


If you have questions or suggestions or, best of all, want to help make the Adventure 40 happen, please leave a comment.

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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.

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