Adventure 40—Introduction to the Specification


Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the specification for the Adventure 40 that Pascal and Maxime, the French partners who are making the Adventure 40 real, have developed.

The Adventure 40 team, now including Vincent, the designer selected for the project, have also produced three papers on the rig, rudder, and keel, that expand on the specification with detailed explanations for the decisions they have made, that I will also be sharing.

My Role

My function in all of this is that of guardian of the concept and moderator of the resulting discussion in the comments.

As part of this process, I will be expressing my own views on each section as well as explaining how each decision fits into the core Adventure 40 concept.

Or, to put it another way, I’m not here to sell you an Adventure 40, but rather to guide the process so that, as much as is within my power, the final boat meets the goals I set for her nine years ago:

The boat as it comes from the factory and after an ultra-short two-week shakedown cruise, will be capable of taking a couple with occasional guests around the world in safety and comfort.

She will also be a fine weekend cruising boat for those who have to keep working at their day jobs while they plan their escape. 

The target price is about US$250,000—US$200,000 adjusted for inflation since 2012—ready to go¹.

¹ That price assumes a simple seaworthy boat with basic gear to cruise, not a boat tricked out with all the complicated gear that many cruisers these days mistakenly class as essential.

It’s a Specification

Of course, what we would all like to see right now would be a full set of drawings, preferably accompanied by some cool 3D renderings.

I get that, but it’s not the way to go.

Have Your Say

Rather, we want to take the same tried and proven Adventure 40 approach of testing the written specification with you, the prospective buyers of the boat, before drawings are made—the further we go down the design spiral, the harder (and more expensive) it is to refine things.

Some Housekeeping Details:

  • While the core Adventure 40 articles will remain outside the paywall, only members of AAC will be able to read and comment on these detailed specification articles—only fair given that I, and AAC, receive no money from the Adventure 40 project.
    • Or, to put it another way, we can’t expect the AAC members (or Phyllis and me) to fund this specification publication and refinement process.
  • For the avoidance of confusion, we have removed all of the articles about the Adventure 40 design by Erik de Jong that never came to fruition.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at what the guys in France have come up with:

Design Goals


The Adventure 40 is an offshore sailing ship designed for a couple wishing to sail with a high level of safety on all seas, except for ice zones. [Will be fine for a prudently-managed summer cruise to Spitsbergen, Southwest Greenland, or Labrador.]

It is comfortable enough to live aboard for several years while pursuing a professional activity remotely. It can accommodate crew members or guests, but for short periods.


The behaviour allows to live at sea without accumulating fatigue:

  • the hull does not pound, even upwind in a short sea,
  • pitching movements are very well damped,
  • the boat doesn’t roll excessively when sailing downwind,
  • it does not bury the bow when catching the next wave.

At sea, at the helm, or with the windvane or autopilot:

  • the ship is neutral or displays a very slight weather helm,
  • it is always possible to adapt the sail balance to limit the effort on the rudder,
  • it is stable when sailing downwind, and not prone to broaching.


For safety [and fun] reasons, the Adventure 40 is fast at all points of sail:

  • it sails well close-hauled,
  • the hull is optimized for a high and easily-reached critical speed. On the other hand, planing is not sought,
  • in a moderate wind (15 to 21 kn) and up to moderate seas (up to 2.5 m), it is possible to sail 140 to 160 Nm/24h, even close-hauled [this would be in a straight line, not velocity made good (VMG) directly to windward].

Easy to Manoeuvre

The ship is suitable for short-handed manoeuvring by non-sporty persons. Its sails are suitable to wide wind conditions.

  • The helmsman has a good view forward and a direct view on the instruments. In medium winds, she/he has a comfortable seating to observe the headsail. She/he is sheltered by coamings.
  • The ergonomics of the cockpit is optimized so that one person can tack or gybe alone while managing the various sheets.
  • A crew member can hoist, lower, reef or unreef the mainsail from the mast foot.
  • The mooring system [docking and anchoring] is particularly well designed and dimensioned.
  • Under engine, the position of the helmsman allows her/him to easily see the obstacles while manipulating the engine throttle.
  • In addition, it is possible to make sternway in a straight line, prop wash is very effective, and the rudder allows for very wide angles, to favour short gyrations.


The design of the ship takes into account the imperatives of safety at sea, even beyond legal requirements [CE Category A-Ocean requirements will be a starting point, and exceeded in many ways]:

  • Moving around on deck is particularly well thought out and safe, and handrails are always within reach. Jacklines and pad eyes are placed in such a way as to prevent falling overboard.
  • The cockpit is narrow and protective, and includes a solid dodger.
  • The interior arrangement is designed so as to prevent serious falls.
  • In the event to withstand a storm, it is possible to deploy a Jordan Series Drogue.
  • The risk of engine fires is taken account of (possibility of cutting off the air supply, extinguishing means, etc.).
  • The liferaft can be released and launched by a single person from the cockpit.

Robustness and Reliability

The ship is extremely robust and is as forgiving as possible of mistakes such as a grounding.

The ship is reliable and ready to sail:

  • The ship uses well-proven technical solutions. It does not incorporate cutting-edge technologies.
  • All equipments are reliable and robust, and have been duly tested on a prototype.
  • Maintenance operations are well documented.

Ocean-ready From Day One

Each ship is delivered ex works, ready to sail.

In addition to the standard equipment, the Adventure 40 is designed to allow for the installation of other equipment such as a watermaker, autopilot, radar, power generation, heater, etc. Space provisions, cable trays and reinforced areas are provided to make their installation easier.

Cost of Ownership

The cost of ownership, defined as the purchase price minus the resale price plus maintenance and consumables, is optimized for ten years of use at sea.

The ambition is to create and develop a brand with a reputation of robustness, reliability and first-class equipment, to limit depreciation over time.

My first thought was to not even publish the above, given that it’s largely a restatement of the Adventure 40 core values that we thrashed out years ago.

But then I realized that it was important for all of you who are interested in the boat to have solid evidence that this new team that joined the project a year ago get it. Clearly they do.

Also, publishing this preamble is a great way to remind all of us (including me) of what makes the Adventure 40 great, and also provoke discussion of the core concepts.

No Options

One thing I did notice is that the specification makes no specific mention of what I consider to be one of the most important Adventure 40 core concepts:

There will be no options. Every boat will be identical when delivered. Buyers will not even be able to specify that a piece of standard gear should be left off. However, you can have the boat in any colour you like…as long as it’s white.


That restriction might sounds nuts to those of you who were not part of putting together the initial specification, but I believe strongly that there is simply no way to build a quality boat at the target price with the variability of each boat being different because of a bunch of factory-installed options.

The other problem is that offering options will pervert the basic concept to the point that many owners (perhaps most) will clamour for further options and modifications—options beget requests for more options and that in turn leads to custom modifications, it’s a destructive spiral.

To paraphrase a friend of mine from Maine:

  • You got your options,
  • you got your quality,
  • you got your great price;

pick any two.

And don’t forget that, as the specification states, the boat will be set up from the factory to make it easy for the owner to add the gear that meets their needs.

For example, there will be a well-engineered strong arch—easy for the yard, but hard for an owner to build—connected to the equipment cabin by a large wire conduit, a combination that will make, for example, installing solar panels easy and quick.

Anyway, I’m guessing that no options was just not specifically stated in the specification, not a change of direction, but if not, we need to thrash this out now.

Discussion Here

And that brings up another point. I could have clarified this, and if necessary, thrashed it out with Maxime and Pascal over email.

But that’s not the Adventure 40 way. Rather, this will be a totally transparent process with every discussion happening in front of, and with input from, all of you.

Or, to put it another way, the team in France and I will not get everything all tidy and agreed, and then present you with a fait accompli. We want you, the prospective owners, to be part of the process every step of the way.

Final Decision

That said, while input and debate in the comments here at AAC is much of what has made the Adventure 40 great, the final decision on any point we can’t agree on will be made by Maxime and Pascal (not me), and not by majority vote, as it is only sensible that the two guys making this happen have final control.

Not Designed By Committee

And, further on the same note, if we let every desire of every prospective buyer creep into this specification, we will end up with just another overpriced, overly complex, too wide, too short, too heavy, slow, unsafe at sea, terrible boat—the bad boats you see at boatshows get that way for a reason.

So if you make a suggestion and it does not get adopted, that does not mean that it was a bad idea or that you were wrong, just that it did not fit within the core concept of the boat.

Bottom line, the Adventure 40 will be a great boat for her mission, not a boat to please everybody. The two are mutually exclusive.

Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte, non quand il
n’y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n’y a plus rien à retrancher.

…perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away…

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

We are going to see this quote a lot in the next few months!

Coming Next

With that preliminary stuff out of the way, in the next Adventure 40 article we will take a look at the hull specifications and one of their three technical papers, this one a fascinating and well-reasoned study of keel grounding integrity.


If you have any thoughts or suggestions on the above, we are all ears. Please leave a comment.

If you want to debate the no-options requirement, and I can understand why you might, please read this article and this one first and then have at it…

Also, if you have views on my and AAC’s involvement in this project, Phyllis and I will be interested to hear them.

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