The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Colin and Louise Have a New Boat

My last article on looking for a new boat after selling our much loved Ovni 435, Pèlerin, was written almost two years ago to this day.

Two years of searching and hoping, two years of fleeting highs and subsequent crashing lows.

It was beginning to look like it would be three years if nothing turned up soon. But at last, it’s over. We have found our new boat.

We started out with a clear vision of what we did and (more to the point) didn’t want in our new craft, but as time went by we began to re-evaluate some of our decisions, which is only natural, every boat is a compromise.

And any forty-year-old boat in immaculate condition should likely be named Unicorn. Anyway, stubborn unwillingness in the face of reality to change your mind is not evidence of genius.

It soon became clear we were going to face a major challenge to get anywhere near to a ‘perfect ten’ in terms of construction, comfort and beauty. In fact, we rarely seemed to find anything above a three.

We considered quite a range of models, mostly from the 1970s, a period when designers and builders were still turning out robust cruiser/racers.

This was an age when you could thrash around the cans in a boat that sailed like a champ in a breeze and stood up to its canvas well, with a comfortable, if basic, seagoing interior at the end of the day.

All ideal attributes for our new home waters of the west coast of Scotland.

By the 1980’s, designers were moving towards lighter boats with lower ballast ratios and more volume, in the worst cases necessitating that the crew double as mobile ballast, perched on the weather rail like a row of sodden sparrows.  Which was definitely not for us…

So, as John and I agreed, the best of those earlier boats could make good and affordable cruisers, albeit often with some modification, but at the time Louise and I felt they were on the large side for our ambitions, physically and financially. So we dialled the scale down a few feet and set about finding the right (smaller) boat.

The Short List

What boat models did we consider?

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Philip Aston

Congratulations Colin.

Dick Stevenson

Congratulations! Dick & Ginger

Matt Marsh

Very nice, Colin.
It’s rather interesting to see you end up, after all this, with a boat very similar to the C&C 35-2 that we chose — same length, beam, draught, displacement, and hull shape, to within a rounding error, and a general arrangement that’s not too different either. Those basic parameters seem to be a winning recipe for an all-around cruising boat.
Yours would be severely underpowered for the Great Lakes (SA/D of 12.9 against our 17.6) just as ours would have to be reefed down all the time in your waters; while your rig would be frustrating to use here, I suspect you’ll be able to fly your sails in more efficient trim for longer than we can in the kinds of breezes you get around Britain. Horses for courses, and all that.
I’m looking forward to seeing more of her, and to hearing more from you and Louise as you get back out on the water!

Terence Thatcher

Very pretty boat, altho her lines seem to reflect the IOR quite a bit. Also, she is a jib driven boat, it appears. That can be taxing. I know; I have one. SailboiatData has her SA/D ratio under 13. Is that really correct? I guess if you sail around Scotland, you don’t want too much sail area?

John Harries

Hi Terence,

I have not run the calc but looking at the boat I would guess that’s an error. While it is true these early IOR boats in the UK where short rigged and relied a lot on a big foretriangle and overlapping genoa I doubt the SA/D is that low. When I get a moment (on the road at the moment) I will check.

John Harries

Hi Colin,

Sounds right, although to be complete for others, as you know, I’m sure, SA/D on this side of the pond is always 100% foretriangle and no overlap counted. That said, I’m guessing the SHE36 will be >14 and probably closer to 15, even on that measurement method. After all this is an S&S race boat that took names on the race course.

Matt Marsh

My references (possibly incorrect) list the SHE 36 at I=41.1, J=14.3, P=37.1, E=10.0 ft. That yields SA_100%fore = 293.9 sqft and SA_main = 185.5 sqft, for SA_tot = 479.4.

That does indeed give SA/D = 12.9 at her 14,580 lb displacement.

There are a couple of references that list her at 550 sqft (i.e. SA/D = 14.7) without providing dimensions or details; this figure appears to include the overlap of a 125% genoa.

So, on raw ratios, she looks severely underpowered. How can she possibly be competitive?

Part of it is that big overlapping genoa. Small mains and big overlaps were a classic way to game the IOR rating a bit.

But that’s not all of it; a comically large 140% IOR genoa only brings her up to 600 sqft total, for an SA/D of 16, still on the low side by the usual keyboard-racer guidelines.

No, it’s about the conditions she’s built for, and how efficiently she uses that power. This boat’s 5400 lb lump of lead hangs down 6’3″ and she carries her waterline beam out nicely amidships. Combine that with a relatively short mast (i.e. less weight high aloft) and you can bring a lot of stability to bear when the wind picks up. Her mainsail may be small, but it’s an efficient high-aspect shape. She has a fine bow, well shaped for slicing through waves to windward without shedding speed. And she has nice symmetries end-for-end, so she’ll be able to translate wind and heeling into thrust and speed without fighting the helm or becoming unbalanced.

Sure, she’ll be a bit lethargic in a Force 2, but that’s not what you design for in a boat meant to circle Great Britain. Put her in the wind and wave conditions she was born to enjoy, and she’ll probably be happy to fly efficiently-trimmed full sails at 50° off the true wind at about the same time as my C&C 35 on the same point of sail is easing the traveller and taking in its first reef, and John’s J/109, already reefed, is getting bumpy enough to fall off by ten degrees.

Numbers aren’t everything. Raw power isn’t everything. The SHE 36 is fast for the same reason that the Mazda Miata is the most popular amateur racecar for 30 years running, while Dodge Hellcats keep spinning out into lamp posts — making smart use of limited power is a much better recipe than making stupid use of tons of power.

John Harries

Hi Matt,

Thanks for doing the numbers. I had not got around to it (on the road).

Your analysis makes sense to me, although it certainly comes as a surprise that the number is that low.

Terence Thatcher

Sorry, despite the great discussion it generated, I did not intend to start a debate about the IOR. I do admit, however, that when my boat gets a little squirrelly going down-wind, I do curse the tendency of some cruising designers to allow their products to be influenced by racing rules. ( Well, not the old CCA rule.) I also carry a 135 genoa, because my boat is jib-driven. Offshore, the solent jib is always ready to hoist, but inside, it takes time and effort to get ready to deploy. My last single-handed effort to short-tack up a narrow channel has convinced me to buy an E-Wincher. Colin, you may want one too.

John Harries

Hi Colin,

That should be a great sail for short handed cruising. We got a #3 aramid blade with the 109 that looked like it had never been out of the bag that has turned out to be a very good cruising sail, even in quite light air, and is very easy to tack.

John Harries

Hi Terence,

I think pretty much all rules have undesirable type forming, even the CCA: inefficient too shallow keel / centreboard hulls, engines as low as possible in the bilge, and the yawl rig are three that come to mind.

Mark Wilson

Congratulations Colin. S&S, say no more.

Pedro Fernando

Congrats on the new boat! enjoying her lines

Ignat Fialkovskiy

Lovely lovely boat 🙂
May I ask you please why there are no Nicholsons in your list?

Richard Simons

Congratulations Colin I guess this will be my next boat, having followed you on the Ovni route. I still enjoy the details you helped me choose, I am hoping to head to the pacific next year. Best of luck richard

Alan Bradley

Very exciting, Colin, congratulations. I always enjoy your articles and will be looking forward to the progress reports as you prepare for and make your voyage home.

Lee Corwin

Owned a SHE 36. An English man crossed the pond with her and she sat in Stonington Connecticut on the hard. Strong safe boat that went to weather well. Other than the Outbound 46 I had built the best sailor I’ve ever cruised or raced. For a fin tracked very well even surfing. Excellent choice. Keel wet/stick dry and best of fortunes

Robert Hellier

Do I sense a bit of a pattern? Pete Goss sold his Garcia 45 recently. You sold your OVNI 45. Are the French go-anywhere swing keels taking a hit recently? Anything about your OVNI that didn’t sit right by you? Or is it just the transition to a different kind of sailing that compelled you and Lou to move on?

Congratulation on the SHE. “She” has fine looking lines and very well cared for. Can’t beat that when the price is right, even if above your original budget.

Prentiss Berry

Congratulations Colin. I’m happy that you will be back on the water the the boat looks beautiful. I’m looking forward to hearing about your new adventures.

Alexander Hubner

Congratulations Colin, I hope to read more articles from you again
Regards Alex

Marc Dacey

Congratulations to you both. She looks fast and powerful and, having owned a C&C racer design as my first boat (like learning to drive in a Porsche), I predict many lively passages. She’s quite IOR-influenced to my eye, with the pinched stern, tumblehome and the long J on the foredeck, but that suggests better form to windward than a lot of newer cruisers. Well done.

Marc Dacey

I think S&S design, for those who know it, is the reason for the used boat price premium and the likelihood that that premium will persist into the future. They look fast and fit for purpose in the yard on the stands.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Colin and all,
As someone who is largely clueless about yacht design history and as someone who knows 3 boats pretty well and most others hardly at all, I really enjoy the elaboration and asides on design, history, performance, etc. directed at the boats being discussed.
Thanks, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Rob Gill

Wonderful news Colin.

From a purely selfish view, having read your accounts of transiting the Irish Sea with interest and nostalgia, if the forecast is ambivalent, I would so enjoy reading your account of a North Sea delivery trip, with perhaps a stop in the Shetlands for good measure?

Rob Gill

Haha, of course to early. West of Ireland could be an acceptable alternative, providing whisky tasting notes included….?!

Stephan Hamann

Very interesting development from an Ovni to such an IOR design. Congratulation for the beauty and always good winds.
For me those old, specifically French, design have a problem with the hight. With 1,90 m it hurts to hit the head to often ….

John Harries

Hi Colin,

I agree, headroom is way overrated and putting full headroom throughout, as so often demanded these days, in a boat under about 45 feet results in ugly boats with poor deck layouts and sight lines. In fact if you gave me a magic wand I would wave it and take the headroom down 3″ on my J/109 as that would improve sight lines when sitting on the cockpit seats, even though the current headroom is already less than 6′ in most places—sight lines are already great when steering sitting on the side deck.

Stephan Hamann

I agree with the lines, usually short but high boarded boat don’t look nice. But I used to live on my Ovni and I appreciated the headroom. But in fact it was a 445.
Today I am looking of something smaller and she will have its compromises.

John Harries

Hi Colin,

I agree that standing headroom, at least in the galley and possibly salon is good to have on a live aboard boat, but I would argue that this is more a function of boat size than how much time we spend on the boat.

For example, if I decided to live on a small boat, say 35 feet LOA, I would not insist on standing headroom for the reasons I detailed in my earlier comment. In my view smaller boats have intrinsic trade offs, some are advantages (cost, ease of handling, maintenance etc.), and some not (volume, headroom, storage) but if we try and make a small boat big, as we see so often today, we end up with a poor design.

Paul Browning

What a wonderful boat, congratulations on finding her, and buying her! But, for me it’s great to see my boat preferences vindicated by a far more experienced and knowledgeable sailer than I.
We went through all this in 2020 when we started looking for our “escape the world” boat to disappear with, and boats with a skeg hung rudder and some boat under water that didn’t need 15 knots to get moving seemed a pipedream. And were laughed at by all and sundry, pointing us at the more modern floating condos with huge beam all the way aft, plumb bows, zero forefoot and zero prospect of heaving to in a blow and even less of not pounding itself to bits in anything other than a zephyr upwind.
We found a Holman & Pye designed, Australian built Bowman 47. Likewise designed in the 1970’s and very similar to a Bowman Corsair 46 but with 6” more freeboard to give the extra LOA. 13 or 14 were built downunder, most without the mizzen. We’ve added an extra metre to the boom and a 135% headsail instead of the 110 and she reaches hull speed (7 knots) happily in 8 knots of breeze upwind (13 apparent). The first reef is not until approaching 25 apparent and she just charges along. She tracks beautifully dead downwind wing on wing with the windvane steering and no thought of unintentional gybes or broaches. And is such a pretty boat. A boat designed for a sailor to relax aboard.
At a mere 10,500kg I just love it when we pass the 25 ton 50’ floating condo’s stuffed full of heavy “essentials” we can somehow do without. And at a third of the cost.

They are out there and you and I have both proved it! Enjoy.


Congrats Colin. She has a sweet line.

Eric Klem

Hi Colin,

Congrats on the new boat. I was not familiar with the design previously but it seems like it should be a lot of fun. Our boat is also 36′ (CS36T) and I really like the size for the type of sailing we do.


John Harries

Hi Colin,

36-36 feet seems to be a theme with AAC writers these days.

As you say, a very functional size, as long as we keep them fairly simple and don’t overload, again, as you say.

David Westcott

Hi Colin,
Congratulations on making it through the ups and downs to the new boat.  She looks rather lovely.
Funnily enough, we have just done the reverse of your journey having gone from an S&S designed Tartan 37 to an Ovni 365. Such different boats! But just as the Tartan fitted our previous sailing, the Ovni matches our current activities and plans. The Ovni is a lovely boat to sail, smooth and solid, and the extra couple of feet and her layout make her a pleasure to get about in.
Perhaps it is a function of my lack of artistic sensibilities but I reckon the Ovni’s Row Away Factor is up there with the Tartan’s. Or maybe that is just the power of ownership coming to the fore.

John Harries

Hi Colin,

I always think of Ovnis, at least the older ones like yours as “she looks the business”. There are few higher compliments.

Jim Picerno

First of all congratulations on your very pretty new boat. Though I have to wonder why you didn’t opt for a smaller aluminum boat. Someone mentioned Peter Goss’s new boat which prompted me to do a quick search. He opted for a much smaller but very interesting custom “ugly duckling” kind of boat. I have to admit, as I advance in years the idea of moving to a smaller simpler boat has more and more appeal.

Dan Tisoskey

Congrats! Great list of 30 foot boats. I was fortunate to find a Pretorien for the right price close to my region in the Northeast U.S. and jump on the opportunity this past fall. We just sailed her a few weeks ago and really love the feel and look. Now I know why the boats on your list have such a cult following. If anyone crawled around on the Wauquiez built boats from this error, I am sure they would agree they are the finest built French boats and can compete with any builder of that error.

Paolo Fantini

Hi Colin congratulations for your new boat she looks fantastic and the S&S Desing is a plus to me. If you sail to Scotland through the Irish Sea and stop by in Dun Laoghaire I will be happy to offer a Guinness. My boat is actually there.
Fair winds

James Patek

Just wanted to add my congratulations to Colin and Louise. She is beautiful. Have a wonderful passage home.


Rob Gill

Hi Colin, photos of storm jib setup with soft hanks set in comments for Storm Strategy – fore reaching, as promised.

Michael Scheuerer

Happy to see you sailing again! Congratulations and thank you very much for the recommendations we got from you…..Steff&Michael SY TiAma