The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

The Garcia Exploration 45 Compared to the Boréal 47—Part 2, Deck and Cockpit

In Part 1 I compared the rigs of the two boats. If you have not yet read that, please do so now with particular attention to the disclosure that the piece starts with.

Like Part 1, this article will not only help those considering buying one of the two boats, but also anyone looking for any boat to go offshore.

Now let’s move on to the deck layout and cockpit.

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Robert Withers

I’ve found the dodgiest bit about working on the deck of the Boreal is at the front. 2 particular jobs require care: attaching/removing the shackle of the snubber to the anchor chain (if its under tension, it’s got to be done forward of the bow roller), and attaching/removing the tack for downwind sails to the end of the sprit. Both require ones centre of gravity at or beyond the edge of the hull.

The rear lazerette is indeed huge on the Boreal. After took delivery of ours, we transfered every bit of our cruising equipment from our previous boat and put it into the rear locker….and then 7 people got in! More practically, on long passages we stored dinghy, 2 outboards (2hp and 10hp), series drogue, SUP, dive compresser and 2 anchors (kedge plus 1), 2 x dive equipment (inc bottles)…it’s huge.

Richard Elder

Hi Robert
re huge lazerettes
My approach to packing heavy items like anchors and outboard motors when going to sea is to ask myself what happens if you are upside down. So when I began to pack a Oyster 56 for a fall trip to the Windies the fact that the designer provided only two attachment points for lashings in a lazerette large enough to live in is a bit questionable.

I have the unusual ability to sleep well when airborne during every other wave. But a loose 15hp outboard has a mind of it’s own! Boats designed by an artist on a computer without being verified by miles at sea are usually lacking in the details that actually make them function properly.

Charles Doane

John, you are exactly right re the cockpit sightlines on the two boats. The Boreal is excellent. Even if you’re short, you can stand on the deck behind the wheel and have a clear view forward over the doghouse. I pick up moorings singlehanded on my Boreal all the time, quite easily, as I can keep the mooring in sight for a long long ways standing on the deck behind the wheel. On the Garcia a singlehanded mooring pick-up would be much tougher, as the sightlines are poor.

Also, as you say, on the Boreal you do feel exposed doing anything aft of the wheel when conditions are strong. Ordering the removable backrest would help alleviate this a good deal, and I wish now I had done that. Unfortunately, they can’t be easily retrofitted. I did get three handrails from Boreal after the fact that I had welded on to the stern arch and this helps. (They should be standard!) Ideally, I would say you want both the handrails and the backrest.

On the Boreal I have often wished that the grab-bar at the top of the steering pedestal came up above the top of the wheel. I am tall enough that when I stand behind the wheel I can reach over the wheel to grab the bar, but my wife cannot. Also, even for me it would be much easier to move around the wheel in strong conditions if that grab-bar were taller, so that I could hold on to the bar while pivoting all the way around the wheel. Ordering a boat now, I would insist on this. It is a simple change.

Compare this to the Garcia, which has much larger, easier-to-grab granny bars in front of the wheels.

The Garcia’s fixed cockpit table also provides something to brace against as you work around the wide cockpit when things are sporty. On my Boreal I asked for a removable foot brace to help me move around the wide cockpit more securely, and this has worked very well. I would say its actually better than a fixed table for bracing purposes, because you can easily move from one side of the cockpit to the other over it. With the table you have to go around. Or take a big hop over.

I never sailed Jimmy’s Garcia in very strong conditions, but I would guess overall I would feel a bit more secure in the Garcia’s cockpit than in my cockpit as it stands, with no backrest and the short grab-bar on the pedestal.

Steering ergonomics: I generally prefer to stand when steering. I feel the boat better that way. I had Boreal put on extra outboard foot-braces for that, and they work well. I liked the ergonomics on the Garcia as well.

Windlass: The inboard windlass/chain stowage on both boats is commendable. The Boreal’s set-up is superior, as you can use the windlass as a power winch to heave on halyards at the mast if you like. I do this with my main halyard from time to time. This is not possible on the Garcia.

Robert is correct about clipping on a chain snubber. You have to get a little ways outboard on the sprit to do it. But I carry a block and line on the end of my sprit when sailing and use these to haul the tack of any sail I want to fly off the sprit outboard. I do not need to get out on the sprit while underway.

One deck problem I’ve had on the Boreal that will never be a problem on the Garcia: twice while offshore I’ve had flying fish at night swoop into the air vent that spans the back of the doghouse roof. The vent feeds air into what are effectively giant Dorade boxes in the sides of the doghouse that in turn send the air below to help ventilate the aft cabins.

To get the fish out of the boxes I had to drag them bit by bit with a bent coat-hangar out the tiny drain holes at deck level. A disgusting and tedious job. The first fish was badly decomposed by the time we figured out what had happened and it took over an hour to pull all its rotting flesh out the hole. With a fresh fish it goes much faster. It comes out in bigger chunks.

One solution to this would be to install inspection ports in the doghouse sides, so that debris inside can be easily removed. Another would to put a screen of some sort on the roof air vent. I think I favor the first option. If I catch more fish this way I may well try it.

I know this has happened on at least one other Boreal.

Mark Wilson

Dear Charles

Reading your enlightening and informative comments have inspired me to re-visit your website. Thank you for being so open about the niggles you have encountered with your boat.

As someone who can only fantasise about commissioning a new boat this is an eye opener. Its not as if you are pioneering the Boreal. This is an already established long distance cruising design. And still stuff goes wrong. And not exotic stuff. Quite normal stuff that one might have expected to have been understood and rectified on subsequent builds.

When I read about rebuilds and refits of older boats and read the words: ” we updated this and replaced that” I sometimes wonder: “was the old this and that still working ? After many years of fiddling to make it work reliably ?” So maybe it was less energy efficient than the shiny new kit. But what about the energy you will use fettling it to work properly ? And the dollars you will spend.

Please don’t get me wrong. As far as voyaging boats go I think there is Boreal and then there are the rest. If I won the lottery the first thing I would do is ring Boreal. If a new Arthur Beiser wrote The Proper Go Anywhere Yacht the Boreal would be on the cover.

Richard Elder

Unless it is a Tesla Truck. LOL

Richard Elder

Hi Charlie
Good to see someone mention one of my pet peeves— lack of a grab bar in front of the wheel that is at least as high as the wheel so you can actually reach it!

You need a ship’s cat and a few paw sized access cut-outs to solve your fish problem!

Party cockpits can actually be more secure than overly wide single wheel cockpits if the table is strongly attached and has a grab rail full length along the center. Of course they need to have a means of completely closing off the exit chute down the transom and providing secure seating at the helms as you pound across the 12′ square waves of the Gulf Stream in November.

The safest cockpit design has a deep footwell narrow enough so you can brace your feet on the face of the opposite seat front when heeled. A party downer for sure. But if you really want to party, get a catamaran.

The majority of center cockpit designs and many others are unsuitable for going to sea because they do not permit access to the wheel from the seating area without standing precariously on the seats. (usually after unclipping from the safety tether.) A major safety issue that has cost lives.

All Swan-style cockpits with what I call “dumpster diver” companionways are unsuitable for ocean cruising due to the danger from the boom when going forward standing, necessity to crawl over the cabin top in order to reach the companionway in rough going, risk posed by the tall ladder, and impossibility of providing a proper dodger.

There is only one proper height for a soft or hard dodger– the nose height of a 6’0″ man. When combined with platforms for shorter crew and a bit more crouching by ex NBA types it allows the crew to perform a 360 degree scan and still duck spray or a wave when it comes aboard.

Dodgers that are tall enough to require looking through them are unseamanlike. The vision through a salt caked or rain covered piece of UV crazed plastic is hardly better than sitting below watching the radar. Once the dodger/doghouse grows to this size it should be designed as a pilothouse with tempered glass windows and effective window wipers or a North Sea active view port and full instrumentation.

The little gun slits on the Garcia hard dodger are a joke. Without the benefit of actual time on the boat, I’d have to say that visibility issues that John pointed out would be the deal breaker for me.

Phyllis looks decidedly unhappy sitting under the Boreal hard dodger with her head scrunched forward. Kind of reminds me of potential partners I took out on their first date (and last) sail. I doubt if a cushion would make much difference the first time someone bounced their head off the overhead after the boat fell off a wave. The Boreal has a stylistically attractive indentation on the dodger/doghouse side that serves as a footrest when entering the cockpit. Perhaps style should have been sacrificed for another 12″ of width and headroom?

Richard Elder

One other point about dodger design: The dodger must be long enough that the rain and spray that continually drips off the back edge doesn’t land directly on your neck! Almost worse than no dodger at all!

Gerben Van Duyl

That seating position under the dodger of the Boreal, as demonstrated by Phyllis, would be a definite deal-breaker for me. How tall is Phyllis? They would have to fix that, or no Boreal. I am working on the design of a 43′ expedition catamaran, light, fast, good sailing hull and I learn a lot from these reviews. I am checking all my systems against your comments 🙂

Richard Elder

Hi Gerben
Another hard dodger design that is quite different but equally stylistic and distinctive is the one on the Van de Stadt 47. However the sides are much more vertical than the Boreal concept and thus avoid headroom problems when seated.

Alan Sexton

Hawk was retro-fitted with a swinging door, picture in Beth’s book

Marc Dacey

I modelled my custom-fabricated door on that of “Hawk”, and while it does not swing fully open due to the camber of the pilothouse roof, it is easily secured at about 165 degrees open with the “upper flap” down, allowing easy access in front of the traveller on our cutter. On the other hand, our own preference is for a very small companionway hatch compared to most boats today, which made the job easier than a side-byside style of companionway door. We often sail in wet conditions with the top half of the door down and very few drops get in, and a piece of stout fabric would stop even that. See

Henrik Johnsen

The cockpit benches on the Boreal does not seem long enough to lay down in full body lenght for an outdoor sleep shelterd by the dodger?

P D Squire

A smaller canting wheel should free up a lot of cockpit space and allow both longer benches and easy passage past the wheel.


Seems to be a reliable system.

Richard Elder

Thanks PD
That is what happens when your starting point of design is human ergonomics and function!
We’ve been discussing the strengths and flaws in the Boreal and Garcia cockpits, but this boat simply blows almost any competitor away. John has said that the only way to avoid most cockpit compromises it to make the boat bigger (Boreal 52, Morgan Cloud 55) —- but this boat is only 35′!
Sirius 35ds:

Too bad they didn’t find time to actually design the main sheet attachment instead of simply hooking it onto a flimsy looking welded-on bail!

P D Squire

No such thing as a perfect yacht eh, … sigh. Mind you, Sirius has been building this one since 2011. Surely in all those years someone has “tested” the bail with a crash gybe sans preventer or boom brake. And the main isn’t large. Maybe the bail is strong enough. Sirius obviously hasn’t read John’s books though, lots of points in the cockpit to clip a lifeline to, but all hard! The cabin-top centreline jackline is, however, straight out of the book. The big question that none of the reviews seem to tackle is: how does it sail?

Richard Elder

Hi John
My comments were directed solely at the thought that went into the cockpit design of this boat, which is brilliant. Starting with the swing wheel! As to whether it is a Sirius offshore boat— my first impression is that it would be great for living aboard and gunkholing around the Med once you got over how homely it is, but I doubt if there is enough money in the world to convince me to deliver it from Newport to the BVI in November.

As to the cost of complexity—– I believe the 40′ version pushes toward $750k when fully kitted out. That supports your comment that a Boreal is a “cheap” boat in all the best ways!

P D Squire

The canting wheel saves 3′ of cockpit length and the deck-saloon saves another 3′ by including the hard-dodger functions. So the 35’er should have as much space as a 41’er, which it probably does. However, as you observe, it’s a lot of volume on a short hull so should probably be stretched to 41′ anyway.

A quick play with some scaled images shows the 35’er just fits within the height and depth of Philip Rhodes’ 48′ Thunderhead design, which seems nice.

How did our parents / grand-parents ever cruise so happily in their 36’ers?

Mark Wilson

John mentions under one of the photos that Phyllis is 5 ft 11 ins. That’s 1.82 m in new money.

What’s with this lying down in the cockpit ? I’m struggling to remember having purposely slept on deck either at sea or in harbour. Precarious for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps more suited to a beach holiday ?

Jean-François Eeman

Hi Mark,
Hi John,
I would say that I believe that, short handed, most of us do snooze once in a while.
John : on your Boréal you will snooze in your doghouse… as do all (almost all ?) our owners…
It is a new world, a different way of sailing… I know : Hard to imagine until you have practised it
You can also snooze outside on the leeward bench with a pillow in your back against the wall of the doghouse…

Mark Wilson

Hi Jean Francois and John

I realise I came over rather Colonel Blimp-ish on the subject of designing cockpits for sleeping in. We all doze off from time to time – and wake up with a cricked neck.

My biggest fantasy when sailing (and motoring) alone in Chile was the idea of being able to stay warm and dry while on watch. In some of the the tighter channels it was nigh on impossible to leave the cockpit for hours at a time. I spent many hours when moored up in the evenings making bad sketches of possible solutions. Now when I look at a boat one of the first things I examine is the cockpit layout and how efficient is the dodger ? This seems to me to be another weakness of a bridge deck design and resulting coal hole style hatch – its very hard to get the spray hood to stretch far enough aft for the watch keeper to hide under. A water resistant sprayhood/dodger with maybe some vertical curtains hanging from the back end – as I saw recently on a Dutch single hander who had just come in from the Faroes – is high on the wishlist for the next and probably last boat. Obviously a hard solution with a watertight door would be ideal but that is not easy to get right on a 40 footer – the most I can stretch to.

The Boréal seems to have come up with the most elegant solution to this problem that I have seen so far. I find most deckhouse yachts clumsy looking. They spoil the lines of an often otherwise elegant design. The Boréal looks positively racy by comparison to the competition.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Mark, I wrote the following a few years back when full cockpit enclosures were under discussion. It describes a solution that allows for protection that could be considered for most any boat with a dodger. Dick
Hi John and everyone,
I feel most cockpit enclosures as seen in use are often quite unwise. I have observed them be so seductive that poor seamanship occurs: not being dressed to go on deck and deal with a deck problem or not wearing a harness/tether/inflatable while on watch. (An acquaintance came into an anchorage and waved to us in shorts and a t-shirt later sharing that the overnight he had just done in rain & 16C/60F temperatures was a doddle as he never left his enclosure, nav’ing by radar below-decks and chartplotter under the dodger). Crew will need to fight against the tendency to cut corners. Other caveats include: designs where running the ship is compromised (such as winches that can’t be used as the handle hits the canvas), where access to the side decks takes time (unzipping and needing gymnastics to get onto the side deck), inability to safely take the helm if necessary (visibility compromised through often spray covered plastic and compromised hearing/feeling the elements). Seeing the sails takes effort, so it is likely the sailing will be done by instrument. Finally, many enclosures make keeping a proper watch less likely: getting your head/ears/eyes out into the elements and not compromised with plastic, ceilings etc. There are numerous other examples. So, generally, I see most enclosures as making the running of the boat more difficult while making life, especially at anchor and in marinas, far more appealing. In most areas of choosing systems: ground tackle, sail handling equipment etc., the boat comes first. With enclosures you bump into the interface of how and how much one compromises seamanship and boat handling ease with being more comfortable (recognizing that being comfortable and rested does contribute to safety and good decision making).
That said, the enclosure we have come up (on our 40 foot sailboat) has extended our cruising season a month to 6 weeks on either end in our sailing in colder climes and solves most of the above concerns, but fails at being a sun room in which to entertain while at anchor. Extending one’s season is a big bonus for us and, in practice, we have left our “enclosure” up most of the season (and not just the beginning and ends) in the colder, wetter sailing we have found in Northern Europe (it is easily and quickly adjusted to allow for enjoying the occasional warm sunny day) and now after 3 seasons in the Canadian Maritimes. We succeeded in this by forgoing some of the attributes that make enclosures so wonderful when at anchor and, even more so, at a marina.
My dodger consists of a hard-top and canvas sides. The hard-top provides great handholds and a feeling of security. The enclosure idea emerged during one very late start going south from New England (USA). We were unhappily cold/wet so I taped some random plastic sheeting on the aft edge of our dodger (think of the doorway entrances to ice houses) and the difference this made was very quickly impressive. Since then, this idea has evolved and improved (with the help of great canvas workers) into an aft see-through curtain done in 3 sections, the side sections are basically fixed while the middle section allows easy entrance/exit.
The difference this simple arrangement makes is huge. Not having cold wind (or rain or sleet) on you as it wraps around the sides of the dodger into the sitting area is an impressive comfort in long watch hours (we are rarely at the helm). Things like cushions, books, Kindle etc. stay dry and safe in most weather. When sunny, it acts like a greenhouse and is very warm and inviting (especially when sunny and still cold/windy). During winter lay-up months (when we are still living aboard) it acts like a mud room. With the companionway open, it can be heated when the boat is kept warm.
In this design, all winches are fully functional and no aspect of running the boat is compromised. One can step in to the cockpit through the center flap and be completely outside the enclosure to see well above the dodger and be allowed to feel the wind and to hear. We do not generally “heat” the area so we are always dressed for action on deck and since we have regular visits to the open cockpit there is no temptation to not be harnessed up and tethered. Finally, it is a design for a couple or crew of 2 and, I suspect, some dodgers might not come far enough aft to make sufficient space. Angling the enclosure curtain aft might help.
This “enclosure” for sure has many compromises, but it has worked for us for over a decade and has extended our season by 20-30% while making all lousy weather sailing far more pleasant. We are not young anymore and not stoics and very much like our comforts. I doubt we would have done the cold/wet weather area sailing that we have so very much enjoyed without this addition.
My best to all, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Ernest E Vogelsinger

Hi Dick, would you mind sharing some images of your dodger? It sounds just perfect …

Dick Stevenson

Hi Ernest, I am happy to share pictures, but not sure whether I can do so on the AAC site. I do not have a public blog of any sort, but we could move off site if nothing else works and I could send pics directly. Dick

Ernest E Vogelsinger

You might try Imgur ( to share images for free?

Dick Stevenson

Hi Ernest,
Tried Imgur and could not get it to work (not surprising as I am not good at computers). Contact me at alchemy128(at) and I will send them directly. Dick

Ernest E Vogelsinger

With Dicks consent I am sharing the images to his cockpit enclosure:

Thank you Dick – most appreciated!

Karl Westman

While I can only dream of owning either one of these boats, I find your comparison helpful as a baseline guide for anyone on the hunt for any new boat. My heart goes pitter patter when I these boats dockside. They ooze of uncompromising purpose and scream “Let’s Go!” For those sailors fortunate enough to own one, I’m envious but realistic. An expedition boat would be overkill for the sailing I do. One observation- the absence of a sizable lazarette on the Garcia seems out of character for a top notch cruising machine and smacks of a production boat trend to sacrifice practical storage for another aft cabin that by the way, becomes a depository for kinds of crap! I look forward to part 3.

James Peto

From the photographs of the Garcia windlass position showing the access hatch forward of the windlass one wonders how easy it is to reach it to unlock and relock the gypsy let alone get at the windlass to clean or repair it.
Whilst I appreciate the advantage of moving the chain locker amidships for balance I still prefer an easily accessible Horizontal Bow mounted windlass with an integral sealed motor ( to protect it from the elements ) , and a separate rope drum which is useful for winding one up the mast .
As you so often remind us – boat design is a compromise.

Steve Wrye

Hi James, If I remember right it is much harder on the Garcia to release the Gypsy. And if I remember right that if your chain fell over on its self in the chain locker on the Garcia you would have to go below and remove the door to chain locker to fix that situation. On our Boreal we never had that problem with 10 mm chain. On the Boreal I’m on now it has 12 mm chain and takes up a little more of the chain locker and once in a great while has fallen over on its self and not allowing chain to free flow out the bow. With Boreal it is very easy to untangle the chain by just reaching down and pulling on the chain. No going below spending 20 minutes of more undoing the double door set up to straiten out your tangled chain.
By the way I’d never go back to a chain locker in the front of the boat for many many reasons. Number one is on the Boreal you have the most amazing sail locker one could have on a 44/47 foot boat.
Steve and Tracy.

Mark Wilson

I should have added to to my previous comment re: lying down in the cockpit the epochryphal words of a British judge: “who are the Rolling Stones ?”

Peter Vandenberg

As a first timer in the comments section I better open with “l am sailing a Boréal 47 right now, have 2000 miles so far on this one and quite a few more planned”. Professional sailing is my livelihood and has been for many years. I really like this Boréal and agree with much of what you’re saying John. A couple of things spring to mind though. Given you’re love of anchoring it’s important to know that there is no way in the world you can attach a manual windlass lever to the wind las because Boréal have put it in a nice box under the deck. Because it’s at the mast and the chain runs under the deck there is no way to pull the anchor up from the bow (unless you happen to be Thor). In terms of helm position, At 5’3” my sailing companion has no difficulty seeing where she’s going. The area behind the helm is roomy enough to move across the boat and small enough to be secure, so it works for small people as well as tall. The mainsail rig is good but does not run easily up the mast. The double purchase halyard isn’t really necessary on a boat this size and would be better if run through a roller instead of a low friction shackle. I agree that reefing at the mast is seamanlike, but the cars need to run easily in the track so it’s easy to get the main down when reefing. That’s not the case on this boat and requires pulling the sail down which means climbing on the coach roof. That shouldn’t be a necessity when reefing in windy weather. The odd little cockpit hatch covers are rubbish, the winch positions and furling line locations mean you have to leave the cockpit to reef headsails and the seating inside is not comfortable on passage. That said the beds in the aft cabins are fantastic when sailing….. I’ve never sailed a Garcia so this is not a comparison but the Boréal, as fine as it is, is not perfect. That’s a few things they could work on and the people who design Boréal boats listen to the likes of you and I so I expect a great boat will get even better.

Peter Vandenberg

Hi John
I’d need a fair bit of convincing that a nipper line to the cockpit is a realistic workable option given the chain is in a tunnel under the foredeck. I spoke to jf about it and he says that the windlass doesn’t break down so it’s not an issue. There’s another thing I’m not sure about.
Anyway as it’s about a comparison to Garcia, I’m betting they have the same setup and hence the same issue. Looking forward to part three whilst waiting for alternator repairs in the canaries

Jean-François Eeman

Hi Peter,
Good to read you here. If you do allow me:
Generally speaking : I don’t think I ever say something will never break on a boat. (If I did, I shouldn’t) When I speak about any hardware on a sailing boat I always refer to one of my mentors, Bernard Moitessier, saying : “the only thing which will not break on a sailing boat are the things which you will have left on the pontoon”.

On the windlass : what can go wrong ?
– the remote control : Back-up are foot switches at the mast.
– the foot switches : You have direct access in the saloon to the connections of the foot switches to the relay. If you switch the wires the up becomes the down and the other way around. So unless both go wrong at the same time you have a solution.
– The relay : again direct access to the relay. Yes you will have sparks but in case of emergency you can bypass the relay…
– The motor of the anchorwinch : yes you than need to repair/replace the motor and yes that would take you some time.
Up to now, and from what I know, no Boréal owner had the motor of the anchor winch breaking. But yes this is an eventuality.
And yes one would have to bring the chain up on deck, either with a nipper line to to cockpit, either – with a much shorter working range – on the winch on the mast foot… And yes, it would be a long and hard job…
In case of emergency, having to leave an anchorage at once, I believe I would consider abandoning – temporarily – my chain with a buoy. (No, the end of the chain is not linked directly to the boat, so yes you can cut the chain off)

Reefing the headsails :
Yes you need to reach your arm out of the cockpit to reach the clucth for the lines of the two furlers.
But no, if you use one of the two winches, you don’t need to go out of the cockpit to furl/unfurl.
The mainsail sheet is a continuous system with a clutch and winch on each side. So you can always free the mainsail winch and use it for something else.
Behind the clutch of the furling line there is a block on a spring with a fair lead to the winch…

I certainly do not want to be “a smart ass” and I don’t have any problem admitting when I’m wrong but – I’m sure every one will understand – I want to put the record straight any time needed…

Peter Vandenberg

Hi jf
Thanks for coming back to me. You are correct, all these things are good ways of dealing with the issues and so far they are in my imagination, not reality. This Boréal, for me at least, remains a fantastic boat. I don’t mean to come across as a “know it all” either and am happy to hear your thoughts and try the ideas out in practice.
Thanks again for staying in touch

Richard Elder

John & JF
You guys that have never burned out a windlass should switch to a Lewmar V1 Ocean Series windlass (AKA “battery”). Then you will have more stories about innovative repairs and alternative ways of retrieving the anchor.
ps: Yes, sometimes I’m a “smart ass.”!

Reed Erskine

I was struck by one of John’s pithy insights on current trends in popular marine architecture: “We must never forget that boats are vehicles…not houses, and the cockpit is the command center…not a patio.” He reminds us that boats, like all consumer products are marketed to the aspirations of potential buyers, many of whom use their vessel as a social platform rather than vehicle to distant places.

Alan Sexton

This is the conundrum for both designers and purchasers.
There is the rule of thumb that 90% of a cruising boat’s time is spent at anchor.
Looking back at my cruise around the Sth Pacific following the very typical route for NZ based boats, ie NZ – Tonga – Fiji – Vanuatu – New Caledonia – NZ, there are the following stats; distance logged 4,700 NM, total duration of cruise 146 days, time on passage between countries (and between the islands in Vanuatu which are all “ocean” passages), 25 days, ie ~ 17% of time voyaging.
At anchor with my small centre cockpit, which I cannot stretch out in, I would at times feel a little envious of catamarans with their large cockpits sitting quite flat in rolly anchorages, similarly the cockpit space in the European coastal cruising monhulls. But at sea when it was blowing 30kt’s there was no where else I would rather be than my monohull’s deep sheltered centre cockpit.
There is no prefect solution and at the end of the day it comes down to where you place your priorities.
I really like the Boreal concept and spent alot of time looking over Lunacy and talking to Jean Francois at Annapolis 2018. I did find the 44 a little “tight” and acknowledge John’s comment that the 52/55 addresses this, albeit at significantly greater cost. Unfortunately given the state of the NZD this is just dreaming for now….

Ben Logsdon

Can you explain the comment about center board boats supposedly not needing a drogue device?

Ben Logsdon

Thanks for the direction. Read it. Makes sense.

Terence Thatcher

Peter Vandenberg: You lucky guy, to have a Boreal. For mainsail hoisting and dousing/reefing, install a Tides Marine Sail track. Your main will go up easily and and come down in a rush. Replace it every 10 years to deal with UV degradation–and they will charge you less for the 2nd one than your sailmaker did for the first.

On the Garcia, a boat wide enough in the stern for two wheels is not designed for offshore work in my view–and I thought John was of the same opinion.

Marc Dacey

I installed the Tides Marine track when we got a new main a couple of years ago. We have found it a very good “middle ground” between traditional slugs and a battcar setup like the racing boats have. It has given trouble-free service to date, so much so that if we notice resistance in a hoist, I automatically check to see if the halyard has hung up somewhere, because it’s never been the sail.

Daniel Kerns

+1 for Tides Marine tracks. I have them on each mast of my schooner.


great topic! would love to own either of these boats!

Robert McDowell

Rustler has an interesting boat in the 57! Looks like a good cruising boat but a “bit” pricey at 1.5M$.
So even on this boat I see a lot of problems, the running rigging on the side decks is abysmal. And the salon looks great for learning how to fly! But I still want.

Robert McDowell


I agree that Rustler has done a great job(as I said, I want one!) and adding poles and more handholds in the salon would be easy. I have done that on our current boat. As to the side decks. The standing rigging is fine, the lowers are a little in the way as this is inherent with fore and aft lowers. No, what I was referring to is the sheet tracks and leads, they look like moving them slightly inboard would give you better trip free walking space.


Robert McDowell


I think you are correct about “chocking the slot” and I am sure that Rustler tested the location of the track. Unfortunately this is probably the best placement although it does inhibit walking along the side deck. Darn those compromises!


Ruslan Osmonov

Hi John, you mentioned that centerboard boats do not need Jordan Series Drougs, can you elaborate please or let me know where I can read more about this subject. I would like to understand why they might now need one. Thanks.

Alexey Kozakevich

Thank God you are doing this comparison, John! Ive been trying to find any reviews on Garcia Exploraion for a couple years. And thankfully I found this great site whith a great content for cruisers! This boat is very popular amongst armchair experts thanks to its very unusual look and great marketing Garcia co is doing. An it is. It is very attractive and very adorable for many unexperiensed cruisers who’s does not yet know what they actually need. Unfortunattely there are no objective boat test drives and reviews unlike the car industry.

Odd Arne Lande

Interesting discussion about two great expedition boats. They are both well insulated aluminum hull boats and John goes into depth with his thoughts. Boreal is fully welded both the top and the hull which may make it more torsional rigid, Garcia has GPR composite part on the cabin top roof that some find attractive. Visiting such a Garcia (HaiYou) in Patagonia last year we felt comfortable and warm as guests and we was a little jealous on the separate shower that the Boreal do not have. We are a little hard-core sailor to sacrifice this we said as we return to our boat.
Must say that the Garcia people also bragged the Boreal when visiting us, and yes you can take a shower in a little simpler way in both the front and rear head.

The seating position Phyllis experienced is the same as I felt the first time I was on a Boreal. We have not experienced this as a problem later, a pillow fixes it if there are several people sitting. We normally sit perpendicular to this with the legs on the bench and it is very comfortable. It’s also satisfactory to take a nap on the bench without touching the wheel.

The big lazarette was one of the reasons for my choice of boat, and I chose the 44 which have even larger lazarette than the 47. This extra space is so important that I had chosen the 44 even though the prices were similar. In addition when we chose the 6-man soft high-tech life raft bag from Winslow and placed it under the bench in the doghouse we did´t need the extra welded room (that take space) to accommodate a life raft in the lazarette with the opening lid to the stern. The 44/47 are identical all the way to the aft deck that is bigger on the 44 because of the bigger lid and the spacier rom under. With the bathing platform folded down the 44 is longer than the 47 (the difference on the two boats is 53 cm based on my drawing, so it´s a 45+).
As Charles tells the backrest is a must, it´s good to lean on and a safety piece when moving around since you can grab it securely.
Hoisting the main sail was a so easy when we switched to the Antal snatch looper D46 block, now I can lift it almost completely to the top by hand with the 2: 1 system that works well. After that I never use the opportunity that is in the anchor winch. But it´s good to have that as security if you need it, and in the same way the drill is equipped with a Winch Bit so we can go electrical if needed for a short time. If you are not 100% fit after illness or after an accident it´s good to have that aid.
I was close to installing some electric winches for this safety thinking and the fact that one can get older, -if we are lucky. Along the way, the new Pontos winches appeared which have 4 gears so we went for them and I have no regrets on that. It´s great winches from the racing world, anyway Boral’s standard winches are small so you need to upgrade to be happy and then have a boat you can get old with.
It´s fully possible and feels safe to sail singlehanded with the Boreal especially when having a bow thruster.

Jean-François Eeman

Hi Martin,
I would like to respectfully disagree with you.
I hope my feedabck will not offend you as it is not the purpose…
Yes, I’m biased but I have sailed with both boats.

NO the watchkeeping can NOT be done in the same on both boats.
On a Boréal you have a an (almost) a 360° view and you can see your mainsail and the genoa. You do not sit at the mast foot, where you only see in front of you and 180° (maybe a bit more) where you do NOT see right behind you and you do NOT see your mainsail.
Isn’t that a security issue ?

Moreover on a Boréal you have a direct contact between cockpit and doghouse which means you don’t have to cross your complete saloon with dripping foul weather to go to your chart table or to go outside…
Why would go and sit in the dark, wet ,storm… outside in a dodger when you can sit (and even snooze) in a well protected and warm doghouse… You should try. You would see it is totally different way of keeping watches (at least when the going gets though)…

Most of our owners do sail their boat shorthanded and some singlhanded.
The most popular one amongst Boréal owners is Matt (But he will say he is not sailing singlehanded because he sails with his dog). He has gone all the way to Hongkong via Cape Horn and back. I do myself on regular base.
Yes you need to be organized, yes it very personal to decide whether you can handle a such a boat singlehanded but some experience it is pretty easy.

Martin Hald

Dear Jean-Francois
I am not offended the least and I have only seen constructive comments about the ship you know to the detail from bow to stern. And thank you for relevant qualities of the Boreal. It should never be your job to bring out the qualities of the competition.

The Garcia and Boreal are probably aiming at many of the same qualities of sailing. But I think the products are so different and attract very different types of sailors tempermentwise, that you fill different segments of the “expedition market”. Frankly some of the sailing and liveablity differences are so obvious that I think the sailor will make their mind very quickly.

Keep up the great work at Boreal.

Neil McCubbin

I am envious of the Boreal’s dodger and would have enjoyed it when we were in Scotland, Spitsbergen etc
It is a brilliant design, particularly since it also ventilates the aft cabin(s)
However, writing this at 9 deg North, I would hate to have it because we would cook in the cockpit
If I bought a Boreal, or installed a hard dodger on our Passoa, it would have a large opening hatch in front, despite the loss of the sleek roof. Probably a forward opening hatch in the top too

Neil McCubbin

Agreed that lifelines are too low on most boats
We had Garcia build our hull and pulpits for 90cm (about 3ft) and have never regretted it. ( We neither have not want a deck sweeping Jenny)
It took a bit of arguing with Jean-Louis to persuade him to build this way, but he was always a believer in “the customer is always right”
If building another boat, I would install three lines, since the space below our lower one is relatively large, and people have been lost below standard 24” lifelines

Neil McCubbin

All anchor windlass systems should be able to handle both rope and chain
There are mathematics to prove that all chain rode is bad in a real blow, and we have experience to support that
When anchored on 60 metres chain in 3 metres water, our chain was bar tight from about 40 knots wind speed up. There is no spring effect so in big waves something serious will break
We sat through a Cat 4 hurricane (David 1979) on same boat with 30 metres chain and 30 metres rope on the end in 5 metres water. Never moved. Our old CQR dug half way down to China. Most of the 20 or so anchored boats with us dragged
In our current boat, we have 60 metres chain with 150 metres of rope on the end. Most rope we have used is about 50 metres in Norway
To sum up, both the Expedition 45 and the Boreal seem a bit weak on anchor rode to me

Richard Tomlinson

On a boat like the Boreal or Garcia with a centralised chain locker, I don’t see why you would want to use a hybrid chain/rode. You can carry masses of chain without excessive weight penalty in the bow, and simply lash on a long snubber line for shock damping. Even if the rode breaks, you just fall back on the chain.

I have hybrid rode/chain on my current boat but only by necessity because all chain would be too heavy in the bow chain locker. I have to say some nights in a blow I wonder how strong my rope to chain splice is – would much rather the Boreal arrangement.

Richard Tomlinson

I’ve never owned an aluminium boat, but one aspect that niggles me a little is that I suspect it must be difficult and costly to make any alterations to the layout of the deck hardware. I’ve constantly tinkered with my previous boats moving pad-eyes, fairleads etc and this is no problem on a GRP top – but much more difficult on an all welded deck. I guess the solution is to spend a lot of time at the factory in the build stage and get it right first time.

But the all welded leak free end product far outweighs that minor drawback. I look at that photo of the GRP top of the Garcia with stainless steel granny bars and fairleads just bolted through the GRP and already dread the inevitable leaks in a few years.