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. You can read about what will be included, subject to change by the final specification, starting with this article.

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:

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Kevin Dreese

Yay! Totally excited to learn more!

One comment I would have on the “no-options”: side of things. In my opinion, something that could be really interesting would be to provide a workshop space close to the factory as a side business and paid service.

For example, a new owner buys the boat with no options as delivered and then signs up for a training or hands-on workshop with trained pros to help install certain options like watermaker, autopilot, solar, etc. These could be paid sessions to enable people to finish out the boat with assistance from trained staff. Sign up for the solar class and procure the solar panels, install them, etc. as part of a workshop. A separate business from the A40 boat company (maybe even affiliated) could sell kits.

This approach helps to bridge the DIY knowledge gap so people can get going. Personally, I would sign up for classes with my wife to learn the boat, do the installation ourselves but with help.

In my opinion, something like this really fits the Adventure 40 mission of getting people out there adventure cruising.

In the camper van world, the Adventure Wagon company had workshops like this to install their Sprinter van interior kit (fan, electrical, lights, walls, etc.). The sessions were $1,500-$2,000 and were sold out for a long time. Some attendees took the class and created companies to install the Adventure Wagon kits for customers that didn’t want to do the DIY work themselves.

Andrew Gregory

Excellent idea I would very much be up for this.

Alan Bradley

I agree, great idea. I have been lucky enough to have a very accomplished electrician guide me through a couple of projects on our boat. He helps/approves my plan, uses his buying power to help with material costs, and approves the final project (before I flip the switch). I mount the equipment, pull the wires, and make the connections, thus saving on the hourly labor costs that he would normally delegate to an associate. It’s been a great partnership, and I have a complete understanding of the new systems.

Charlie Armor

Implicit in a lot of the discussion to date has been the assumption that A40 owners will take on a lot of the maintenance of their boats themselves, more so than is the norm. Modern cars are ‘robust and reliable’ but most people can’t service their car themselves. I’d like the design objectives to be explicit about the importance of user serviceability.

Stein Varjord

Hi Charlie,
I agree. DIY maintenance is essential. I think it’s already an integrated thought, and even if not, the present specs have that effect. Still, having it as a clear specification by itself will probably make the boat even more maintenance friendly.

Charlie Armor

Hi John

Anyone who subscribes to the site and has read your articles will know the emphasis you put on this, I’m sure it will flow through all the design decisions. I was really just making a case for it being more explicit in the spec.

All getting very exciting, best of luck.


Maxime Gérardin

Hi Charlie,
you’re right that we forgot to explicitly specify user serviceability. We also should have written that the boat will come with a detailed owner’s manual. We will add this to the next version of the specifications.
Many thanks!

Pedro Fernando

that norm you are referring to is the norm of people who dont even have 200/250k to spend on a boat. if ppl can afford other ppl to to their maintenance,they can afford much more than a A40, which is already expensive (but i guess im alone on the price thing)

Kevin Dreese

Reading the collection of articles here about refitting a boat and the concept of the A40, at least for me the 5-10 year total cost of ownership is the business case for the price. Sure you could buy a cheaper used boat but you should add in the expense (and time), and skill required to get the boat ready for your planned use.

IMO that is where the A40 becomes a really good option for people that want to get out and sail sooner with something they trust. I think there are buyers that would pay the money upfront to be able to go now vs the risk and effort of a refit.

The A40 is not the boat for all people (a good thing), but I think there should be a group of people interested in doing this type of approach.

Matt Galloway

I wouldn’t make too many assumptions about either the affluence or the willingness to pay for customization of customers.

I can easily imagine someone who is able to buy a much more expensive, more luxurious gadget-ridden vessel _choosing_ the Adventure 40 because of its simplicity, clarity of purpose and extensibility.

I think about Jeep Wranglers in the US which range from low $30k to $80k new. It’s common for people to buy the base model and then proceed to spend $10k’s to customize it instead of buying the more expensive model. Done of these folks do it DIY, some pay (way more) to have it done. But the appeal of the Wrangler is a solid base that, out of the box, is more capable off-road than anything else on the market but is also designed for (relatively) easy customization and extensibility.

The Adventure 40 will appeal to someone who has ONLY $250k to spend, but also to someone who has $400-600k and would otherwise be looking for a 20 year old Outbound 46.


A vaild point indeed, Matt.

The kind of person (Wrangler owners, indeed!) who has money to spare, but nevertheless wants an affordable platform from which to start customizing things, will surely find the A40 appealing. And that type of person – of whom I know a few – almost invariably puts a high priority on ease of access to systems and equipment, and on maintenance & upgrades being a *fun* part of ownership. Hence why they buy Wranglers and not Audis 😉

The other kind of person who has money to spare and might want an A40 is the type who does a cost/benefit value analysis for everything and wants the most value they can get per dollar. Such people, even if they contract out their maintenance, also put a high value on ease of access and repair….. because that determines how much the tradespeople will charge for the work. So the same good design decisions will make it appealing to them as well.

P D Squire

You could get a Wharram Tiki 38 professionally built in the Philippines for $50-100k less than an A40. I don’t know how the 10 year TCO would compare.

P D Squire

The A40 displaces more because of the ballast. Both boats have a 2 ton payload, which is the relevant metric. As for volume, the extra displacement does give the A40 more interior space, but the Wharram has more deck space. Both boats will get a couple blue water cruising better and for less than a boat show boat. They just do it in very different ways. The A40 gives a monohull option that didn’t exist before.

I agree that managing a foreign build comes with issues that wouldn’t exist if buying a mass produced boat like the A40 will be.

I still think they’re comparable: Both will take a couple and 2 tons of stores across any ocean that doesn’t have icebergs. Both are built to principals developed over many many sea miles and years by highly experienced sailors with justifiably high confidence in their own opinions.

Pedro was looking for a lower cost option. The Wharram was the only thing I could think of.

Rich Morrow

The 10 year present value model also relies heavily on residual value. The Wharram will almost certainly have “niche” appeal only while the A40 is very likely to find the broader market that translates to a better exit financially.

Egil Bævre

Before the new article on rudder is published I really hope that a smart sollution with a transom hung rudder is kept. I think the part of the drawings regaring rudder from Erik De Jong looks smart:

James Chase

Mine will have a transom hung rudder: a Hydrovane.

Emile Cantin

Hi John,

I hope Cap Horn ( is on your list as well, I think it’s the best-looking option and the mechanical design is very elegant. I have one on my new boat; I haven’t used it yet but I’m looking forwards to it!

Colin Speedie

And the Windpilot Pacific, I’d hope, certainly the best vane gear I have sailed with.

Maxime Gérardin

Hi Egil, James, Emil, hi Colin,
thank you for the input regarding the vane gear. Please understand that we don’t go on with this discussion right now – more coming soon, all in one place in and under the relevant upcoming article!

Egil Bævre

Why does vane gear come standard? Isn’t this in the category expensive equipment that easily can be added later by owner? I totally agree that the boat should be prepared for and testet with vane gear. For people buying the boat for weekend/coastal use it a vane gear might not be the best choice?

Som other questions:
-Will the hard dodger and cockpit be prepared for and tested with a cockpit canopy/tent/enclosure? (not shure what the correct english word is).

-Will the hard dodger and cockpit be prepared for an fabric aft wall for the hard dodger? Like shown at aproximately 1:20 in this video:

Both these maybe can be made to be work very good with maybe small adaptions to the design, that might not have any disadvantages for those who don’t want it. Maybe they also can be designed so that they can be used when sailing (not in very much wind).

Stein Varjord

Hi Egil,
As I see it, this boat just isn’t made for coastal cruising. It’s a specialised tool for ocean cruising. Having the right vane gear is extremely useful for that purpose.

Those wanting this boat might also want to do coastal cruising, but when the wish for more comes, they are ready. If the vane gear is enough to make someone not want the boat, there would be a lot of other properties guiding that customer towards an entirely other type of boat.

I also think it would be smart to have the cockpit and dodger ready for various types of enclosures, including some bimini solution. I think the actual enclosures etc should not be included, though.

Michael Albert

Glad this is mentioned. I think adding a wind vane as standard should be rethought. I think it’s an easy “leave it off” discount that will keep the price lower without detracting from the spirit of the boat.
I don’t like the “if you’re not ready to do hard core passage making don’t buy this boat”
This is a great boat for a lot of functions. Many people are quite content to do 2-3 day coastal passages and want a sea kindly, well found, well built boat that will be reliable. The A40 is perfect for that also.
Why limit this boat to only folks who will cross oceans? I bet most people crossing oceans these days actually aren’t using windvanes from what I am reading.
Given advances in power management and solar, I’d rather have a rugged electronic autopilot with the power system to back it. First of all, when powering due to lack of wind (a reality in coastal cruising) I hate steering so need an autopilot. Sure I could use a cheap tillerpilot and the wind vane. I would personally rather install a second parallel redundant autopilot with the money saved from the wind vane.
So full disclosure I have a great boat for my needs indefinitely while life/family obligations keep me coastal cruising (Tartan 40) but if my boat were hurricane totaled (eg) the A40 would be high on my list as a boat with similar properties to mine (fast, seakindly, good storage, and well built)
I really don’t need or want a wind vane for my cruising and I bet a good bit of the potential market for this boat will agree.

Egil Bævre

I think I agree with Michael. I see no reason why this boat not also will be a great coastal cruiser, especially in colder climates. “Fast at all points of sail”, well protected cockpit and hard dodger. Robust and forgiving, most grounding happends close to the coast 😉 All of this sounds great, and are not offered by any other boat in production today.
My humble opinion is that the boat should be designed for, but not delivered with, vane gear, tiller pilot and proper “under deck” auto pilot.
To combine an “under deck” autopilot with an transom hung rudder might be difficult? I have some ideas of how it might could be done.
For those who want the cheapest and simplest option a tiller pilot could be bought and installed quickly. Maybe the tiller could be designed “double” so that the main tiller can be folded up out of the way while the tiller pilot is connected to the shorter “tiller pilot tiller”.

Mark Wilson

I have never encountered a production yacht that had a pre-installed vane gear and why would you want to ditch this point of difference ? With this one gesture, costing a paltry sum, you announce yourself to the market in a loud and resounding manner. This is a serious offshore yacht for serious voyagers.This plays well to the inner Tabarlay, Knox Johnston, Naomi James, whatever in the soul of most editors in the yachting press. In much of the same way that they all salivate over the Boreal. As do I.

Am I the only one on these pages to have lost their engine or electrics or batteries while offshore ? Or even quite close inshore ? A windvane gets you home and on a short or single handed boat saves time, money and wear and tear. And its quiet.

I would assume that either Peter Forthmann (Pacific Wind Pilot) or Yves Gelinas (Cape Horn) would be delighted both to supply a production run at an attractive price and to collaborate on an optimal installation.(Other brands are avaiable).

The more pertinent issue, I think, is that should the Adventure 40 not end up being tiller steered then maybe it needs an autopilot as standard ? Hand steering while motoring for any considerable period is neither attractive nor safe. And connecting a tillerpilot to a windvane is not optimal for motoring purposes – too much cavitation and vibration. Raymarine make an inexpensive autopilot package, which seems to my untutored eye to be a direct descendant of the daddy of small boat electric pilots, the Autohelm.

Just because some owners might never go far offshore the idea that the Adventure 40 should be engineered down because she is not intended for Arctic exploration is anathema to me. Granted she won’t bounce off hard objects like a metal boat would but she can be in all other respects just as hardy, if not more so. Given the increasingly unstable weather patterns world wide she should be survival situation capable. After all, most accidents happen close to home.

Maxime Gérardin

Hi Michael,

Hum. That’s interesting to hear. Many thanks for taking time to make your point, and also for making clear where you’re speaking from. We’ll keep listening to the various views on this.

Maxime Gérardin

… and Hi Mark,

thank you on the vane gear: you just summed up our initial thinking!

Michael Albert

It’s a good point. And I still think having it as a “subtraction option” will attract more initial customers who now may (gasp!!) be able to add davits for coastal cruising and local exploring. Or those who plan a complex electrical system and beefy belowdecks autopilot. Especially if it has tiller steering which I think would be great. Just my view…

Pedro Fernando

this doesnt add up in my brain:
people, apparently, willing to lash out 200/250k on a brand new, well designed and engineered boat, and “complaining” that a wind vane will make the boat expensive. for pete sake, buy the boat with the vane and sell it right after. will you lose money? yes. its a boat after all!

James Gleason

Exciting stuff, looking forward to seeing the project unfold. One comment: will self steering (both auto pilot and wind vane) come standard? This was unclear in the write up.


Egil Bævre

I think none will come standard, but the boat will be prepared (and tested) for easy installation of both.

Pedro Fernando

this boat will cost 350k at least with all the trimmings for offshore cruising. at least. more if you are paying for other people to install it

Pedro Fernando

Hi again Jonh
Agree that it relates to the owner, but lets be realistic, people with the profile you are talking about (and im the first one to say they exist) dont really have 250k laying around to spend on a boat. they are young(er) more likely with less income/savings for this price. your buyer is a older one, less idealistic, for whom confort and piece of mind means money they will gladly spend. not to mention the growing inability of people to make do without the exact right tool for the job, a characteristic, i think, any sailor should call second nature. a lot of cruisers arent sailors, they are people who move around from A to B inside a boat. imo.

Michael Albert

Exactly- I was going to call out loans and insurance as two huge factors that will help sell the A40.
Both are increasingly difficult to get for older boats. And tons of buyers out there are spending more money at boat shows for new boats that are not really blue water capable- because they can secure a good loan and get insurance.

Only other comment- I hope the builders can speed up the timeline for the A40 to try to capture some of this “hot” boat buying market….

Stein Varjord

Hi Pedro and John,

I’m not a potential Adventure40 customer, but that’s because I’m a multihull fanatic who already has a boat, definitely not because the A40 is too simple.

If I were to buy one, I’d religiously keep it as simple as possible. I’m 61 and have significant experience with ocean sailing and more. I despise boats focused on harbour performance. On more capable boats, I dislike anything present that isn’t important. I know many that would fit the same criteria.

Conclusion: Not only young people want simple or even stripped out but well thought out boats. I’d actually argue that the opposite might be more normal. Young people choose simple and old because it’s cheap. They would normally choose luxury, if it was within reach.

When we get older, we might have become spoiled and selfish. That’s certainly abundant, and it’s not pretty! More experienced people often have gotten past that childish notion. They want smart simplicity and durability, because it’s just way better in any thinkable way. That’s the significant A40 market.

Stein Varjord

One more thing:
James Wharram died 14th of December -21, 93 years old, by his own choice, as he had Altzheimer and didn’t want to become a living vegetable. I’ve met him, in Norway, and even discussed design ideas a bit. He was an amazing guy with a great sense of humour. I really liked him as a person.

He had a very good understanding of how an ocean sailing boat should be. He wanted to avoid any vulnerable systems, and use the simplest possible solutions. There are close to no screws or bolts on a Wharram. Lashings are far stronger, more reliable, lighter, easier to inspect, cheaper, and easier to replace, anywhere.

As a boat designer, he was definitively among the most ingenuous. He could have done cool stuff if he tried other styles, but he stayed in the classic boat realm. Partly because his market was primarily selling designs to home builders, so the designs needed to be easy to build. V-shape plywood hulls are the ultimate that way. A Wharram cat must be seen as a (much) modernised version of a traditional Pacific boat. His designs are definitely good, but also have their issues. They are very far from a normal cruising catamaran, no matter which priorities we have.

Someone looking for a long distance cruiser might be super happy with a Wharram, but that person would probably not like an A40 or a normal cruiser cat. A Wharram isn’t an alternative to other boats, like an A40. It’s more like a life style. The Wharram would be far better than most boats, in some ways, but far worse in many other ways. Some of the shortcomings are priority properties for most long distance sailors. Interior space being the most important one. Wharrams are mostly intended for outdoor living in warm climates, which they do really well.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Stein,
Really nice synopsis of the man and the boat.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Pedro Fernando

Hi Stein
Thanks for your words and letting us know about Wharram´s passing.
Good on Him for having the courage for such decision and the freedom to pursue it.

About the A40 all im trying to say from the beginning of my comments is: i can get a 38ft Hans Christian MkII for less than 100k, apply the same ideology the A40 stands for and still have 70k plus to go cruising.
Same money involved, huge difference in result. which is more “affordable”? spending 250k, having a boat and money to cruise for 5 years or 250k to spend on a boat and THEN more money to go cruise?

i see people pointing out the fact that one would have to get dirty and involved in refitting a boat as a negative, or in a another way, a positive point to spend money on a new boat. i guess im guy who understands that “you gotta give to get” regardless if you are 25 or 50 years old.
choose the old boat carefully, invest 6 months in it and reap the rewards

I am not against this project in any way shape or form! if i recall correctly my very fisrt comment some time ago was something in the lines of : there isnt enough money involved for the builder in this project. i was actually positioning myself as the group of people that will invest time to build something and then getting paid for it. and from my limited perspective when you balance them out its not worthy, but this is me.

now, all this sounds strange doesnt it? on the one hand im saying the boat should be more expensive so that more money would be involved for the designers and builders, on the other hand im saying it is not affordable. what is my gripe with all this then?! its precisely the use of the word affordable. nothing else.

some time ago i also said that this project would be a success if it was in a kit format ( or at least a owner finish thingy) exactly to maximise the investors margin and keep the price as low as possible to reach a bigger number of people,. its all a different take on what “sucess” is all about: want to go thru all this and sell 10 boats or 100?!

Pedro Fernando

Hi Jonh

Thanks for taking the time to answer me.
I gotta admit it was the way, more than the content of your answers (which is great btw) what lead me to renew my subscription of AAC just some weeks ago.

We had a couple of arguments some months ago, and personally i enjoy people who fiercely defend their points of view. maybe because im the same

I just wanna see where the project its going and im curious about its final result

Reed Erskine

No mention of head, galley, and storage details, three of the most important features on a live aboard cruising vessel. Hope there will be some female design in-put. My wife grumbles often about the ubiquity of male-centric yacht designer/builders, some of whom seem convinced that lots of impractically dimensioned, space wasting drawers are just what their customers need.

Reed Erskine s/v Cayenne

Iain Dell

I was thinking on exactly the same lines. While I’m very glad (and certain!) that Phyllis with her plethora of experience will provide valuable input, it seems like every comment in these threads is from a man’s, or least a skipper’s, perspective. While these are overwhelmingly useful, if the design process is to seek and include input from AAC members then it might be beneficial if members actively sought the opinions of their ‘other halves’ when commenting as the design progresses.

Like I suspect many others, my fairly ‘new to me’ wife came into cruising on the back of my enthusiasm but has embraced it fully. However, this is on the strict understanding that her input and concerns are taken proper account of. I’m dangling the hook of this project in front of her and she’s just starting to take interest….

Blimey – have I become a feminist in my old age?!?

Maxime Gérardin

Hi Reed, Iain,

many thanks for the point. It happens that in my personal case, there’s a woman watching closely, too.
Any input welcome, and not only on head and galley! 😉

Stein Varjord

Hi John,
As you know, I’m a multihull fanatic, 🙂 so not a potential customer of the Adventure 40, but I still think the discussions about it is as interesting as anything could get, no matter what boat is the dream. Understanding the thinking behind a boat development is essential for evaluating any boat. When that thinking is focussed on distilling it down to the actually important topics, and why, as here, it all gets a turbo. This discussion, in previous and coming articles, should really be seen as curriculum for any boat buyer.

Stein Varjord

Hi John,
Just some thoughts about the “NO options” topic. I think it’s a healthy rule, but it might have some negative sides for the builder too. The issue is that optional extras usually have a waaay higher earning potential than the actual boat. Removing that potential might make it harder to build a healthy business.

The key is that the customer will compare the yard offering with retail item price plus a retail professional install. The boat builder can sell at that same total price, but will buy the item far cheaper than the customer can and can do the install far faster, cheaper and better than any hired pro. Thus gaining a very healthy income for comparatively much less work than building the boat, while still giving the customer better value than going retail.

The boats are ready to sail, but barebones ready. Close to all buyers will want to bring on more equipment. My guess is that many will want to do that DIY. I certainly would have. Still, the builder can easily do some cherry picking and have various items they think are the best option for the boat. Really good quality and well suited for the intended use of the boat. The buyers could look at a (short) list of yes/no options. They can’t ask for another version of the same, or another brand. Just yes or no.

They could have a diesel generator install. No choosing brand or size. It’s just this generator: Yes or no. (In my case definitely no. Never needed one.) The builder would then already have experience with that generator, perhaps have it in store, know how to install it super quick and it will be done the best way possible. That’s a good value solution for an owner who has already decided to have one, and it gives really fast and easy income to the builder.

I don’t know what should be on the list, but I assume it would be a gradually developing list. Perhaps items like:
– Generator, as mentioned?
– Autopilot?
– Basic sails package?
– NMEA 2000 backbone and basic instruments?
– Raft?
– Solar panels and regulators?
– ….?

To avoid noticeable amounts of service and warranties, making good agreements with the product suppliers and giving the owners good documentation should do the job. Upfront: Warranties are handled straight with the suppliers, because that’s better for the owner, who gets straight to the right people. If the suppliers don’t do a good job there, the owner can ask for a bit of pushing help. The builder is in a good position to convince the suppliers to do better, in a hurry.

The more items that are related to the builder, the more potential noise, of course, but I think it’s really worth it, if this list is made short, the items picked wisely and the customer info is crystal clear.

Stein Varjord

Hi John,
I don’t think we really disagree on this. 🙂 I strongly believe in the idea of focus on the main tasks and removing noise. The builder needs to have as few distractions and complications as possible. However, the builder also needs to tap into easy gains, when any such is available. In this case, those easy gains can also be beneficial to the customers, when compared to another commercial install, which will by default be lower quality and no cheaper.

What I meant is that one could still stay with the Henry Ford attitude of no choices. “Any colour, as long as it’s black.” Just yes or no.
Do you want a boat? Yes or no.
Do you want a generator? Yes or no.
Do you want an autopilot? Yes or no.
No discussions about alternatives. There are zero alternatives, ever. Situation: The customer wants another autopilot, or the the standard one but the control screen another place or another colour = the customer wants no autopilot installed. Discussion finished. Just zero alternatives.

Warranty issues can indeed quickly become a nightmare, but not if handled as mentioned above, by making the equipment suppliers do all that handling. They are the ones who have to deal with it anyway, in the end. If they deal with the actual customer directly, the communication is far better than via the builder.

I worked for the distributor of Trek Bicycles (and many other brands) in Norway some years. We often handled warranties directly with the customers. Worked really well, because we could give the correct info straight away. Saved a lot of time for us and removed customer misunderstandings as compared to when the dealers were in between. Happier customers, very much happier dealers and less wasted time for us. The Adventure 40 builder would be the dealer, in this case. Not related to warranties and service at all. Equipment providers who can’t handle warranties etc in a good way would not be chosen.

The reason I’m sure we’re not much disagreeing John, is that the above aren’t my convictions. It’s just meant to trigger thoughts. Perhaps a way to get some advantages without any of the disadvantages. I think it’s really healthy to have a strong bias against the normal way of doing marketing, where “the customer is always right”. “We have to adapt to the wishes of the customer.” These ideas come from the “sell as much as possible” notion of modern consumerism. The fact is that the customer is usually not right. The customer is normally (always!) guided more by emotions than knowledge and facts.

The serious pro builder knows far better what is right. The customer who found a good builder is lucky that their interests will be taken better care of than they can themselves. When it comes to a serious ocean sailing boat, only real competence must rule, not emotions. I consider myself very competent, but if I was to buy an Adventure 40, I would totally depend on the builder having made the right choices. Design, layout, equipment, and so on. I would not realise this value properly until I was sailing the boat. Any input from me at an earlier point would probably be detrimental. No options is a good principle!

Stein Varjord

Hi John,
As I’m a besserwisser who cannot ever tolerate being wrong, and I said earlier that we mostly agree on this topic, I have to stick with that statement. We agree… since I have moved on over to your side. 🙂

Maxime Gérardin

Hi all,
many thanks for the enthusiasm and encouragement!
As gently requested by John, here are a few words on the no-options rule:

We strongly agree on not having multiple variants, especially when it could interfere with safety or with long-term durability. And of course we strongly agree on keeping things simple for us, including Vincent and the builder(s). That’s why, as opposed to what is standard with most production boats, there will be only one keel, one interior layout, one engine, one windlass, one rig, one windvane, etc. Checking that all these are top-quality and well-integrated to the boat is enough work!
Regarding the very sentence “Buyers will not even be able to specify that a piece of standard gear should be left off”, in fact we cannot swear this right now. A slight exception has already been identified with the sails, and the upcoming discussion of the rig (and potentially that of the rudder) may introduce another instance of slight variation between owners. Also, imagine some owner wants to forgo, say, the mattresses and cushions, because he/she will go for another option – here it seems fair to substract their cost.
However, if someone wants to forgo the windvane because he/she will install an autopilot, this is a no, as it wouldn’t serve this owner, nor the best-value-for-money goal, nor the future owners of the same boat, nor the resale value of the boat. Another example: the sessions envisionned above by Kevin, while a great thing that we truly hope will end up being, look like the supreme option, and, as such, are, as John clarified, out of the scope we will address ourselves.

We will add something on this in the next version of the specs, in light of where this discussion, including those under the next articles, will lead. Also, let’s keep in mind that the general organisation of building will be known only after the preliminary design then an in-depth process with the prospective builders. Some practical matters will have to wait for this before they can be set in stone.

Matt Galloway

Thanks for clarifying. This is exactly what I was imagining when reconciling practicality against John’s penchant for absolutism, for (which we love him).

This reminds me of another automotive industry analogy. Years ago I bought a Scion XB. At the time, Scion was a hot new Toyota sub-brand targeted at young, hip people who didn’t have a lot of money but enjoyed customizing their cars. Scion’s website made the customer “feel” like there were tons of options, but in reality, coming out of the factory there were only two differences in cars – the paint color, and the transmission (standard or automatic). All other “options” were added or swapped out after the car left the assembly line. Options offered by Scion included different wheels, tail lights, interior LED lighting, stereo options, graphics and pinstriping decals, window tint, etc. But none of the “options” effected the base vehicle build – they were essentially cosmetic. Among other things, this meant that things like the interior colors, and seat coverings were the same for ever single vehicle, and they didn’t offer options that would require the vehicles to be structurally or mechanically different off the line – so no sunroof options, and no engine options for example. To supplement this, Scion encouraged dealers to work with local custom shops which were “authorized” by Scion to do things like add aftermarket sunroofs, and leather interior. Toyota would roll these modifications into the car loan and ensure that customizations done by these authorized vendors did not invalidate the factory warrantee. The result was an experience that “felt” like the most customized car buying experience I could imagine, and because the base price of the car was so low (due partially to the manufacturing efficiency of “no options” in the production assembly line) the total price of the car was still very reasonable.

You have enough to worry about without thinking about how to provide options for your optionless boat, but I’m a strong believer in the approach you are taking, and I’m definitely a potential customer. I would much rather have a solid boat with great access and chases to install (and repair and replace) my own equipment that have a boat with gizmos installed that aren’t accessible. You’re designing for the first 10 years, but these features will be super valuable in the second and third decade of these boats’ lives.

I’m so excited to see the Adventure 40 take form.

Maxime Gérardin

Hi Matt,

thank you for the feedback, and glad to hear of “definitely a(nother) potential customer”!

Gino Del Guercio

Solar! Given the current climate crisis, the boat should be as green as possible. Solar should be standard. Solar panels are cheap, especially when bought in bulk.


Solar and wind turbine power is an area where each buyer’s needs and preferences will be very different. I’d spec something totally different here on the Great Lakes than I would in the Caribbean, or on a North Atlantic boat. Likewise for most other electronics. Some people like a tillerpilot hooked to the windvane, others will want a wheelpilot, others will want a beefy under-deck machine, and some are happy to do without. I absolutely agree that the best solution is for the builder to provide the arch, conduits, and ample space to install things, with good solid points to bolt equipment to, and plenty of space on the DC busbars and breaker panel. Then let the owner take it from there.

Emile Cantin

Given that the boat is meant for more “off the beaten path” cruising, I agree that solar is very important. However, the exact amount installed will heavily depend on the electrical loads aboard the boat, so I think it’s best to leave it at the discretion of the buyer. Especially since the boat will come standard with an arch to mount them, eliminating most of the aggravation from the installation.

Whitall Stokes

Where’s the part about tiller only? 🙂

P D Squire

Now the boat is going to be built in France are we aiming for 200,000? At today’s rate that’s about US$227,500, which seems to give a reasonable allowance for inflation since the original discussions.

Eric Klem

Hi John and team,

One thing that I often find helpful in requirements documents is a proper definition of the user and use environment. Since this is a generalized application, it won’t be possible to define a specific user or specific certification so you could do something like state your nominal user you will optimize for and then your worst case user you will check for. This could include fitness level (winch sizing, etc), size (berth lengths, headroom, etc), frugality (marina time vs anchor time, etc), technical ability (allowable systems complexity) and many other factors. This doesn’t mean that the boat won’t work for others but it provides some focus in the design. Just like John is anti-options (I agree wholeheartedly on this), figuring out what your target market is and setting the design scope for that is really important and if things do not fit the target, they probably shouldn’t be in scope. Nothing drags out the design process and makes a bloated non-optimized product like an overly broad or constantly changing scope. My guess is that I take a more formal approach to this than is done in boat design thanks to working with much larger design teams but I still think there is some merit to it.

The reason that I mention a use environment is that it helps to answer some important things in later specifications like:

  • Ventilation or even HVAC required. Do you really require all oceans at all times of year or can we say no tropics in the summer?
  • Draft. Is this an ICW or Bahamas optimized boat or one that favors sailing qualities?
  • Length of autonomy which leads to things like tankage, food storage volume, etc. If doing a trans-Pacific without stopping is part of the use-case, that looks very different than an Atlantic crossing.
  • Deal with tropical storms/cyclones. I think this is a good area to specifically say that it is assumed that the boat will not travel in these areas in season and if it does, the owner will take proper precautions as otherwise you will end up designing a heavy steel barrel. I don’t know boat design well enough but it may be useful to define a worst case weather and that could be done as max wave size, max wind strength for windward progress, wave pressure, etc.
  • Anchorage types. There are parts of the world known for super deep or roadstead or just really windy anchorages all with their own best set of specs for comfort and safety.
  • Regulatory environment. This can be things like whether it is CE Cat A rated or if it complies with ABYC or even things like whether there are black and grey water holding tanks.

Since you are not going to list out every passage the boat will ever do, you could again focus on a few specific things to be the nominal case like an Atlantic loop as an example. I don’t know exactly what the best way to define the user and use environment in boat design but I would think it would be helpful.


Maxime Gérardin

Hi Eric and John,

just to confirm John’s answer, and add that we’ve written we will make her ABYC compliant – although we’ve not gone into the details yet.

Eric Klem

Hi John,

Sorry, I think my original comment was not clear. My suggestion is a process one and not a content one. In good requirements writing, there are typically multiple levels of requirements documents. For something like a boat, I would think that a minimum of 2 levels would make sense but I have no personal experience here, some of the work that I do goes to as many as 4 levels and it gets quite cumbersome. The first level would be termed a user/customer/stakeholder requirements document and it would be non-technical. This document is an upstream marketing document and attempts to lay out what the stakeholders want including not only the buyer but later buyers of the boat, the people building it, the sales organization, people doing service, etc. The second level of document would be the design requirements which basically take the user requirements and translate them into useful requirements that can be designed to. All user requirements must trace to at least 1 design requirement and most design requirements should trace back to the user requirement. As an example of this, the user requirements might say something like “endurance to complete a 4000NM passage at an average speed of 5 knots” and separately there would be a user requirement guaranteeing that the boat could always manage that speed. This would go to multiple design requirements which could be things like “minimum fresh water tankage of 170 gallons”, “storage for 20 cubic feet of trash”, “storage for 100 cubic feet of food”, “propane locker that fits 2X20lb tanks”, etc. The justification for each of these would be a relatively basic calculation such as how many days the passage is and an assumed water consumption per person per day and sometimes the requirements would actually be written this way such as “3 gallons of fresh water per person per day”. Quite often, the process of writing a design requirement or trying to implement it forces you to revisit the original user requirement and revise it to end up with a reasonable compromise for a design.

My suggestion was that one helpful thing to include as part of your user requirements is a definition of the user and the use environment. These are often written before the actual requirements are written and they can be very helpful in terms of getting a cohesive set of requirements and narrowing the scope early rather than once you realize that your design requirements are unreasonably broad. For example, if we were going to be designing a fighter jet (I know nothing about them but it seems like a potentially good example so all the numbers are fictitious), we could define the pilot user as between 5’6″ and 6’2″ height, between 150 and 190lbs, between 20 and 30 years old, has passed the air force physical, has 500 hours of class time, has 100 hours of simulator time, etc. The design may work for other people but they won’t guarantee it and in the case of a fighter I expect they won’t allow it. The previous articles read more like design requirements to me as they suggest solutions to needs as opposed to the needs although they are not as quantitative as I am used to. This article reads more like a user requirement to me as it is relatively solution agnostic and that is what got me thinking about good user requirements writing.

Moving back to our subject at hand, I would say that the user needs to be much more defined than a couple although that is a key part of it. You could say that you are designed for 1% to 99% height range, that the couple has average strength for 70 year olds, is each capable of performing all tasks on the boat, etc. You can obviously get way too specific and cover a very small group like if you say that they are on meds that require refrigeration, sure that will be some percentage of potential buyers but you probably shouldn’t require refrigeration for this reason for all, if it is included it should be justified by the fact that most buyers really want refrigerated food. You do have to watch saying that you will capture 90% of your potential customers with this requirement and 80% with that one and pretty soon you find that the overlap becomes very small. Switching to the use environment quickly, all oceans probably needs some bigger caveats than just no high latitude. You could say all oceans but exclude air temperatures above 90F and below 40F (there must be a better way to define this but I am not sure what) because otherwise you will be adding lots of HVAC, ventilation and things like keel coolers which will make the design bloated. Another thing that I think you could consider is a list of countries where it will be sold and where it will be sailed to. One of the things that I have learned from the comments here is that NZ has a lot of regulations about sailing offshore so if NZ is a potential place to sell or sail the boat, these regulations should probably be investigated and it may mean that you decide not to include them but then it is a conscious decision. A lot of this stuff is stuff that has already been discussed or I am sure will be. By pulling it together into a definition of the user and use environment, it just sharpens the conversation.

I have probably written too much here for a simple suggestion but hopefully it is helpful and somewhat applicable to boat design. I am not terribly fond of the requirements process (although talking about it in the context of boats does make it fun) and I am thankful I have systems engineers on the team I lead who take care of most of it.


Mark Wilson

Dear Eric

I very much enjoyed reading this. Several times to make sure I understood what you are proposing. It gives a fascinating insight into a different world.

However, I think you may be overthinking this one. John and his team are not trying to re-invent the wheel. From what I observe they are merely trying to remedy a navigational error that the yachting industry made at the back end of the last century. They are attempting to grab the tiller, or maybe the wheel, and put the ship back on course into safer waters.

There has been some exciting progress in the last 30 years but most has been of a technical and electronic nature that can be bolted onto to most boats. Most of the known knowns were known back then. And many of them were incorporated into the better boats of that era. If yacht production had stayed on course back then the Adventure 40 would remain and interesting fantasy project.


Carl Redmond

I really like the idea of being able to purchase a standard ready to go minimum equipment baseline vessel fit for purpose as this can get me started sailing while staying within an affordable price point. Then as I gather experience and accumulate additional funding I can prioritize system upgrades that I wish to add. The fact that the vessel as originally purchased is designed to facilitate the easy addition of additional equipment is the icing on the cake as it gives me the peace of mind that later equipment additions will not require $$ wasted to reconstruct or modify existing installations to accept the additions. The ability to DYI the subsequent install is also a big plus as installing items yourself saves money and puts you in a better place to self perform subsequent servuce and or repairs if needed. This A40 project gives me hope that I can eventually afford to go long term cruising in an excellent boat. Thanks for this great initiative !!.

Carl Redmond

That would make my day !!

David Mosbach



I find that there is a constant tension here at AAC between an ocean crosser, even high latitude sailors, and people like me who dream of high latitude sailing but actually sail on a big lake.

All of the information here at AAC is applicable to both “markets” if you will. I have benefited immensely as a new sailboat owner by the advice and recommendations of this site. I anchor. I reef. I have a rig. I have an electrical system. I don’t cross oceans. It is my humble opinion that this membership / readership (like me) is underappreciated on this site. I understand brand, marketing and focus, which every business needs. But please don’t discount the probably very large number of members who love the information here but don’t qualify for the mission (Of crossing oceans).

Why bring this up and is it actually relevant? It’s Saturday morning and currently 9 below zero (F) with a wind chill of negative 19 where I live. My wife and are are drinking coffee, enjoying a Saturday morning, and looking forward to football. We have a Tartan 34 that we day sail and cruise, weekends and two weeks a summer. She says as I was describing what I was reading here at AAC, “Let’s buy on of those.” (The A 40).

Our current boat is relatively simple. Solar yes. Autopilot yes (wheeled). GPS yes. Bow sprit and Asym spinnaker yes. Adjustable jib cars yes. Jib 110% yes. Main rigged at 2nd and 3rd reef points yes.

We are heading out to sail when everyone else is heading in yes. Looking forward to 30 knot sailing days yes. Sailing in all weather yes. Our lake can produce steep 6 foot waves and 60 mph storms. In those conditions, aren’t we all equal? Don’t we all want the water out, the rig standing and the people safely in the boat?

The market for the A40 is much broader than you might imagine. Most of us won’t circumnavigate, except with John Kretschmer.

I’m not suggesting design changes. I am suggesting that sailing is sailing, wherever you do it. Robust is robust, and to some of us, that is a quality of overriding interest and need. Elegant design knows no boundaries, either of use or appreciation. Some people will buy something just because of how much fun it is to behold. I think in the movie they use the word, “Yar.”

The conversation had evolved to the point that what is critically important is not what equipment the A40 arrives with when you buy her. The critical design feature must be, what equipment can you add to her for your own purposes, which might evolve over time. Is there room for a larger battery bank? Can you conduit wire easily throughout the length of the boat, even up the mast? Are the attachment points there ready to be used? That is the critical feature she must have for a minimalist delivery.

One more thing. The cost is largely irrelevant, within a certain range. There is no difference between 250k and 300k when amortized over ten years (maybe $500 a month or so). People will pay for quality and what they prioritize. Obviously there is a huge difference between 300k and 600k. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m simply suggesting that too far into the weeds about money is a mistake. It’s going to cost what it’s going to cost, and we all have to accept that. If you stay within the concept that John set out originally, the cost is what it is. And not one person who is seriously thinking of buying such a boat is going to let the cost (within a certain range) effect their decision.

Mark Gadue
Tartan 34 “Jack Aubrey”

Dick Stevenson

Hi Mark,
I have been beating a similar drum off and on for years. One can encounter “survival” conditions coastal cruising pretty easily with a little bad luck, and your boat needs to take care of you. The scantlings may shift somewhat and equipment (no JSD for ex.) but the basic boat has to perform the same functions easily and safely. In some ways, offshore there is more room for error as the hard stuff is not close-at-hand.
So, yes, I think the A40 would make a terrific coastal cruiser and that the AAC web site can be appreciated by most anyone who sails.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
BTW, fun boat name

Pedro Fernando

it sure sounds you are going thru an awful lot to talk yourself into buying a new boat.
you dont need it. your wife already said: lets buy one of those

David Mosbach

ROFL – this is my marriage dynamic too!

Maxime Gérardin

Hi Mark (and Dick),

thank you for the point. Pascal and I certainly won’t argue, as when we were teaching sailing we spent so much time emphasizing to trainees how important it is that they start on small daysailers, however unattractive at first glance, before heading for the liveaboard courses. And the more focused on learning a course was, the less distance we would cover!

In Europe too there are so many people who don’t cross oceans but do very serious cruising – we do hope many among them will be interested by the Adventure 40!

Marc Dacey

Having taken a RYA course in southern Brittany, there are few more serious places to day sail thanks to proximity to the Bay of Biscay and the large tidal ranges, and even fewer places as pleasant in which to tie up in the evenings.

I can’t help but support the initiative that the boat be as “customer-customizable” as is practical and the point made about conduit access is excellent.

Charlie Armor

I’m not put off by the lack of options. I’m very tempted by the A40. However, I will think long and hard about putting down a deposit, not least because I suspect it would be unrealistic to expect the yard to commit to meaningful delivery dates for the early boats.

As I understand it most yards do not treat a place on their waiting list as a transferable asset. The reason I’ve been given is that each boat is custom and the lead times for some options make trading your place in the queue unworkable for them.

John’s “any colour as long as it’s black” approach would avoid this problem. I suspect many buyers would value the ability to trade their place in the queue, either swapping with someone further up or down the list or selling it outright. This sort of flexibility would make the decision to put down a deposit significantly easier.

Charlie Armor


Maxime Gérardin

Hi Charlie,

thank you, and we fully agree. In fact I think this point was brought earlier, in the comments to an older article.

We’ve not finished checking that there is no legal constraint preventing this, but we definitely would like to allow for places in the line to be transferable!