All Good Things Must End…Including John’s Cruising Holiday

Sable back at her mooring after a fun week together.

I’m back from my one-week busman’s holiday (vacation) single-handing a borrowed boat on a whistle-stop tour of the Bay of Fundy.

Sable is very different from Morgan’s Cloud, and I had not single-handed in many years, so I learned a huge amount, particularly since, although there was not a lot of wind, the Bay of Fundy is always a challenging place and that doubled down when the fog came in thick and stayed that way for the last two days of my cruise.

Nothing like navigating in zero visibility through the Reversing Falls and Saint John Harbour to sharpen my senses and get me thinking about navigation best practice and gear. More on that in a future post.

The fleet under way in the early morning to make slack water at the Reversing Falls.
Getting the timing wrong could seriously ruin an otherwise perfectly good day.

The good news was that the first few days were in benign weather and, further, since it was a cruise in company of our local station of the CCA, I had good friends and fine mariners keeping a weather eye on me while I figured Sable out.

Inbound through the Reversing Falls during slack water. On my return in thick fog a couple of days later, I only saw the bridge at about 100 metres. I was a tad busy, so no photos.

Talking of my ride, what a sweet boat. Full keel with attached rudder, based on the Owens Cutter first built in 1944. Sable, herself, was built in the middle 60s as the Hinckley 41, and is simply exquisite, with detailing that only a few top end builders of the time have ever lavished on a boat.

Also, Sable is small, seriously small. Don’t let 41 feet fool you. She is only 29 feet on the water and 10 feet wide—think less volume than a Westsail 32. So I learned a lot about smaller boats. More coming on that, too.

But, first and foremost, a huge heartfelt thank you to my friend David for entrusting me with his beloved Sable.

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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.

9 comments… add one
  • Stein Varjord Aug 3, 2019, 9:09 am

    Welcome back John!
    Seems like you have chosen the right activity to get energy for in-depth discussions of individual fibre layout options in a JSD line. 😀

    • John Aug 3, 2019, 10:43 am

      Hi Stein,

      On the contrary, it gave me the perspective to realized just how DONE I am with that subject! 🙂

  • Evan Cobb Aug 3, 2019, 2:13 pm

    She’s beautiful. Not so small when compared to my 30’ cruising sailboat. Have you explored motor sailers or are these out of the question in this forum?

  • James Evans Aug 3, 2019, 3:59 pm

    Seriously small? Come on, John, tell that to all the famous circumnavigators to whom that would have been luxuriously large. I’m beginning to wonder whether you shouldn’t drop the
    “Attainable “ from the title of your blog…

    • John Aug 4, 2019, 9:39 am

      Hi Jim,

      All things are relative, and by the standards that most people apply today “Sable” is seriously small. That’s not in any way a assertion that good cruises can’t be made in even smaller boats.

    • Stein Varjord Aug 4, 2019, 2:46 pm

      In the sixties a 41 foot sailing boat was huge. Today in most western countries, it’s an average boat, or even on the small side.

      41 foot is a long boat, but length is a useless measure of actual boat size. Our 20 year old but relatively modern catamaran is 40 foot and probably has six to ten times the liveable space of Sable. A 41 foot ocean capable monohull cruiser from the last few years can perhaps also have several times the liveable volume. Sable might have a similar interior space as a modern 28 foot boat or so, as a wild guess.

      Conclusions: When we see “small boat” about a 50 year old 41footer, we can’t associate that with our modern image of a 41 foot cruiser. The older boat is actually really much smaller, in all respects but LOA. Also, when looking at buying an old boat to get to the acceptable price level, we can perhaps also look at newer much shorter boats with the same waterline, speed, seaworthiness and liveable area.

  • Ralph Rogers Aug 5, 2019, 12:08 pm

    Sounds like a fun time no matter what size boat. Glad you enjoyed your vacation, and hopefully singlehanding.

  • Stafford Keegin Aug 5, 2019, 2:02 pm

    Sweet, yes. Fun to sail singlehanded, yes. Beautiful wherever she is, definitely.

    Stafford (Owner H-41, Bay Leaf, a yawl)

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