The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Easily Driven Boats Are Better

As any of you who have read my stuff for a while know, I dislike the “which is better” meme. Instead, I generally prefer to compare cruising boats and gear through the lens of “which is better for a given usage”.

But after five decades of going offshore there are some things I feel strongly about. This is one:

For long-distance shorthanded offshore voyaging, easily driven boats are way better.


Easily Driven?

But what does easily driven even mean?

It would be easy to assume that this means a boat that’s easy to steer but that’s just part of it.

When experienced sailors say a boat is “easily driven” they are referring to one that makes good progress without requiring undue work for, or stressing, her crew, even in adverse conditions.

We can further break that down into:



A boat that can reduce sail early (reef) and still go well, even in big waves, without undue motion and at reasonable heel angles.


Heel angle is not an issue for multihulls, but we still want an easily driven one because being able to reduce sail early and still keep going well reduces capsize risk and the huge loads that the structural members of multihulls (particularly cross beams) are subjected to, as well as reducing stress on the crew.


A boat that uses minimum fuel at a reasonable cruise spreed, while moving through the water with an easy motion.

And, of course, if we cruise in a sailboat we are interested in a boat that is easily driven under both power and sail.

Why Easily Driven Matters

So “easily driven” is a phase that old farts…err…salts throw around a lot, but other than that we don’t hear it much these days. 

Is that just because we old salts are out of touch with modern reality?

Nope. Once we head offshore, an easily driven boat is the single biggest contributor to the comfort and safety of our voyage after the big five.

Boats that are hard to drive exhaust the crew by: 

  • More pitching.
  • More heeling—heeling a lot might be no big thing on a day sail, but it’s no fun when it goes on for days on end. Everything is harder:
    • Cooking
    • Eating
    • Sleeping
    • Going to the head.
  • More reefing.
  • More un-reefing—if the boat is hard to drive we need to set more sail the moment the wind drops, even a little, or she tends to get slow, and the motion gets uncomfortable—my Fastnet 45 suffered from this problem; this is first-hand experience talking.
  • More need to set specialized off-wind sails.

None of these things are that big a deal when day sailing, although an easily driven boat is still way more fun, but when this stuff goes on for days on end it’s brutal.

And when crews, particularly shorthanded crews, can’t sleep, eat and shit in comfort, mistakes start being made, which leads to stuff breaking; a self-reinforcing cycle that sometimes leads to disaster, and at the very least makes the voyage a trial, not a pleasure.

Wait, it gets worse: On a boat that’s hard to drive through the water, passages go on for longer, because not only are these boats generally slower, they get slower still as the passage goes on and the crew get more tired and therefore don’t add the sail required to keep a boat that’s hard to drive moving.

Now some will say “who cares if we are slow, this is cruising”. Wrong answer:

  • A passage that goes on longer ups the chance of getting caught out in nasty weather, which…yes, you got it…makes the voyage longer still.
  • As the crew get more tired they tend not to add more sail when the wind drops, and an under-canvassed sailboat offshore in waves has a more uncomfortable motion than one sailing properly, and that in turn makes the crew ever more tired.

Boats that are not easily driven are prone to nasty self-reinforcing cycles.

Swell Changes Everything

We may get away with a boat that’s hard to drive inshore in smooth water, but once offshore in swell that same boat will turn into a recalcitrant monster.

Why Have I Never Heard About This?

So here we have one of the most critical selection criteria for a successful, fun, and safe offshore boat, but when was the last time you heard anyone even talking about whether or not the boat they are thinking of buying goes through the water easily?

Why? Because most boat buyers have not been offshore enough, in enough different boats, to know it matters, and those who do know probably already have easily driven boats.

Let’s dig into how we can make sure we buy an easily driven boat. And then take a look at the things to avoid so we don’t screw her up after we buy her.

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More Articles From Online Book: How To Buy a Cruising Boat:

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  2. Is It a Need or a Want?
  3. Buying a Boat—A Different Way To Think About Price
  4. Buying a Cruising Boat—Five Tips for The Half-Assed Option
  5. Are Refits Worth It?
  6. Buying a Boat—Never Say Never
  7. Selecting The Right Hull Form
  8. Five Ways That Bad Boats Happen
  9. How Weight Affects Boat Performance and Motion Comfort
  10. Easily Driven Boats Are Better
  11. 12 Tips To Avoid Ruining Our Easily Driven Sailboat
  12. Learn From The Designers
  13. You May Need a Bigger Boat Than You Think
  14. Sail Area: Overlap, Multihulls, And Racing Rules
  15. 8 Tips For a Great Cruising Boat Interior Arrangement
  16. Of Cockpits, Wheelhouses And Engine Rooms
  17. Offshore Sailboat Keel Types
  18. Cockpits—Part 1, Safe and Seamanlike
  19. Cockpits—Part 2, Visibility and Ergonomics
  20. Offshore Sailboat Winches, Selection and Positioning
  21. Choosing a Cruising Boat—Shelter
  22. Choosing A Cruising Boat—Shade and Ventilation
  23. Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New Voyaging Boat
  24. Cyclical Loading: Why Offshore Sailing Is So Hard On A Boat
  25. Cycle Loading—8 Tips for Boat and Gear Purchases
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  27. Impact Resistance—How Hull Materials Respond to Impacts
  28. Impact Resistance—Two Collision Scenarios
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  34. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 2, The Boat We Bought
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Petter Mather Simonsen

Here is a heavily biased post; in terms of European designers I would throw in a vote for the Dutch designers Dick Koopmans Sr. and Dick Zaal. Both make very offshore capable designs that take good care of the crew. I would guess that some of Zaal’s designs are a bit more easily driven than those of Koopmans.

Dave Pyle

Dijkstra has designed boats for Bestevaer Yachtse (KM Yachtbuilders) and they are now developing a Bestaever 36 and soon a 41. Have no idea of prices but probably a bit more reasonable than some of his larger yachts.

Douwe Gorter

There was an article in Yachting Monthly November 2023 on the latest Bestevaer, the 36. The baseprice is 546.000 Euros excluding VAT.

Alastair Currie

Interesting article. Many modern designs do sail offshore, trans Atlantics, Pacific et cetera without impacting crew or safety as suggested. However, my view is based on an anecdotal analysis. Perhaps associated with modern features such as autohelms, powered winches, furling and in mast reefing system, and milk run passages (is any passage a milk run), stress on crews is not excessive compared to easily driven hulls; colder, northern latitudes, more risk of variable extremes in weather, I acknowledge your experience and observations here.

In the 90’s I had to learn to sail modern hull forms, flat forefoot and wider, buoyant sterns. Rounding up and slamming were problems that demanded new helming methods, better concentration. I also have experienced the reefing dilemma that you mention on a Bavaria 40 Cruiser. Going up wind in a sloppy sea in variable wind conditions, was a chore, the boat could not sail in lighter winds with reefed sails, it needed the power, which became to much when the wind picked up again.

I would add Peter Bret’s Rival designs to the list of easily driven boats. My 41C can be driven easily but if not reefed will heal excessively, yet reefed will drive powerfully with less heal.

The market does drive styles, but is it the chicken and egg dilemma? I don’t know.

A good read, thanks for the insights.

Robert Berlinquette

Hi John, would enjoy to hear your thoughts of the Sceptre 41/43 (the difference btwn the two lengths is an added sugar scoop just like the Outbound 44/46), Bob Perry also did a review of the Sceptre. See attached photo

Robert Berlinquette

Hey John, thanks for your input, that being said I’ve already pulled the pin and purchased a Sceptre 43. Fortunately it’s doesn’t have in mast furling and has a totally clear stern except for radar pole. So it’s totally up to me to screw it up. Lol. I was still going to send Bob a email (not sure if he’d reply) because I heard that Hein went to Bob for advice on the shape of the hull.

Michele Del monaco

Great article and analysis, as crew fatigue is perhaps the factor that most impact security and pleasure of cruising.
What do you think of an italian ‘70 years Alpa 11.50 (, from your description it seems to fill all your point, except that I’d trasform the sloop original sailplan into a cutter

Michael Jack

Great article, John. I am preparing to buy a new-to-me boat (upgrading from my Sweden Yachts 41) toward the end of next year and so have started my research by reading everything again on your site and the books you recommend (just started Robert Perry’s book). I am on a steep learning curve. I am curious as to your opinion of the Hallberg Rassy 49 (if you have one since it is a European yacht). It is more readily available here than many of the boats you describe and at a reasonable price (I agree with Petter regarding Koopmans but they are usually an order of magnitude more expensive than HR) . I also see that the sister ship of Morgan’s Cloud (Paquet) is for sale and am very curious on your opinion of her if you care to share.

James Greenwald

What are your thoughts on GermanFrers? Most spefically the swan designs of 80’s and early 90’s

Lars Jacob

I also would be interested in your opinion about the F&C 44. If I understand correctly you were racing on one, for a while. Would they fit into your definition of easily driven?

Colin Speedie

Lovely boat, but (at least) some lacked sea berths. Maybe others differed.

Colin Speedie

I owned a Dufour 39 for nearly twenty years. She was almost a sister to a Swan 40 (from Frers as well) and sailed beautifully and was certainly easily driven. But she was very powerful and took some sailing, so I wouldn’t want her at my age today.
But I must give a plug for S & S and our She 36 as she absolutely epitomises the kind of boat you describe in this excellent article.

Allard Schipper

Hi Colin and John,

I am looking at a Dufour 39 that has come up on the market. Looks fast and beautiful. We are a couple in our 40s and early 50s. Too much boat for us? I have also looked at a Hughes 35 which has the same S&S hull design as the She 36 (#2166). It’s a fairly common boat here (great lakes). The one I saw had some issues but there are more on the market. Are they worth pursuing?

James Greenwald

Thanks for the input,
I am currently outfitting an 1988 Swan 53 factory Scheel keel, aft cocpit companionway. I agree the vessel can be a hand full and I have tried to mitigate that as much as possible.

James Greenwald

For sure; Left you photo & message in Facebook, 135% Foresail and not show furling staysail and Code sail on torsion furling cables. 3 electric winches along with E-Wincher. All in effort to make this beast more manageble and retain performance

Pete Running Bear

Interesting article as usual John, thanks!
James, I sail a swan 53 too so I’m totally biased, but I’d say they’re easily driven for sure. They’re fast and comfortable boats. As happy in 7kts as 40kts. Sure there’s lots of stuff to do and string to pull, with a with hanked on staysail, in-board and out-board sheet leads, runners, preventers etc. but what else are you going to do?

Incidentally, mine also has the Scheel keel, way more practical than the 3.1m version. The main downside is that the 2.3m rudder is only 10cm shorter than the Scheel keel, which is a bit of a liability, especially in stern to the wall mooring in small Mediterranean harbours.

Not a fan of companionways going into the aft cabin personally.

Huw Morgan

Can’t beat experience in poor weather. I was very disappointed with a Contessa even though they have still got a hell of a reputation since the infamous Fastnet race disaster. I found poor build quality and an uncomfortable motion in many conditions. Slamming easily even though the hull shape looks promising. Dutch designs often good and reasonable prices on many Van de Stadt designs. Modern Halbergs sail well and much faster than Rival mentioned but are suffering a bit from trying to follow other fashions. I would love a Sweden Yacht if I could afford one, I wonder if I’m mistaken due to their beautiful shape?

Michael Jack

Hi, Huw. I have only owned one Sweden Yacht (my current 41) and I like it very much. I don’t have a vast range of experience, but I almost bought this one because of the beautiful shape (ok I went a bit deeper than that in the decision but it certainly helped). As John mentioned, she sails extremely nicely to wind but she is a bit of a pig downwind (I was warned by the locals in Sweden). I am planning on scaling up at the end of next year (if things go to plan) because although she is a great boat to sail, I find the comfort factor just a bit on the low side for my increasing years and my plans to sail somewhat further afield than the Baltic and Norway. As John has said somewhere, bigger is better for liveaboard (at least I think he said that).

David L Oliver

Bill Crealock drew beautiful boats that sail very well, especially the line from Pacific Seacraft. There is great similarity between his work and Bob Perry’s.

Craig Stephens

In sail or power excessive beam is the #1 killer of weight, speed, easy driving, and sea-keeping…and a little excess is a lot.

Craig Morrison

Hi John, Do you have an opinion on Island Packet 439?

Stein Varjord

Hi John,
There is one significant benefit with a full keel; no keelbolts or similar to worry about. Many fin keel boats are not really worth repairing after a grounding that will perhaps mean just a paint touch up of a full keel.

However, that means those fin keel boats were poorly designed and built. A strong enough fin keel is possible, but the full keel will remain inherently more robust.

Still, a full keel is not, or very rarely, justifiable. The primary properties of a sailing boat must be how it sails, not how it resists severe misuse. The full keel giver poor sailing properties, so it’s undisputedly an outdated solution. It must be seen as a parallel to steam engines (and very soon any combustion engine really): Only for museums and people who like retro, for the style, not the function.

John Tully

Ted Hood and Deiter Empacher. I am biased , we own a Bristol 45.5. She sails well with very little drama , hoves to comfortably and points well with the help of the centerboard. I know Little Harbors have slightly slacker bilges some have the Delta bottoms , never sailed one of those but would love to give one a go.
I agree with Balanced ends . The basics of building an easily driven hull form have been known since the vikings .
As for a current boat that i would consider as Blue Water , it would have to be a Kraken .

John Tully

Hi John , I was wondering about the sea kindliness of the Krakens as well. Looks like they are a little wide in the back end . Maybe they gave a little up to the current trends , at least they have the rudder (singular) behind the keel .
I have never sailed a F&C but as you, I have never been a fan of Frers boats . Been on and sailed plenty of Hylas’s and almost bought one before we found the Bristol. Sailing them was the kicker to go with the Bristol . We were looking for a blue water boat that would be easily driven . The Hylas took far to much attention under way with changing conditions. As for the center board, it did give me pause , all that extra gear . So we sailed all the Bristols we looked at with the board up , they did as well as any comparable cruising boat in the same displacement range, no more or less leeway. With the board down, upwind she digs in nicely. Never had any feeling of tripping . Lets face it, a 5 foot draft has many advantages. We had no trouble balancing the helm at any point of sail.
We will be in Nova Scotia next summer if you would like to try sailing a Hood boat .

Richard Dykiel

I just came across the new motor boat designed by pogo

They claim an easy going motion and economical at 10-12 kgs for coastal cruising.

Matt Marsh

Our C&C 35 Mk.II (lines plan attached) definitely falls in this “easily driven” category.
Key traits that make this work:

  • Fore/aft balance of lines and volumes; forebody prismatic coefficient is similar to afterbody prismatic coefficient. Thus, the boat does not fight the helm as she heels; any weather helm you feel through the wheel is directly related to whether your sails are properly reefed and trimmed for that wind condition.
  • Moderate D/L, SA/D, and SA/WS ratios. She’s not so overpowered that we need to reef all the time, nor so under-canvassed that we can’t keep her moving.
  • Efficient, practical rudder and keel shapes. That sharp sweep is a life-saver when weeds and ropes are in the water, but the aspect ratio is thin enough to generate efficient lift.
  • Hull lines that are appropriate for her speed and usage and aren’t trying to pretend to be something she’s not. The shape has enough form stability to extract good power from the sails without heeling too far, but isn’t problematically wide or flat.

I’d like to emphasize “aren’t trying to pretend to be something she’s not” which is a descriptor that all the best boats — whether from M&R, Perry, C&C, etc. — have in common.
A great many cruising boats from the mid ’90s and newer have hull forms that try to copy the lightweight, broad-transomed shapes that fare so well on fast downwind races, bringing the apparent wind way forward and making up for it with insane form stability and planing lift. But that simply doesn’t work when you add the weight of a cruising fitout, cut the rig down to something that’s manageable short-handed, and slow down from 18 knots to 8.

C&C 35-2 Lines Plan small.jpg
Justin Francis

I have a fairly new to me Alden 44 designed by Niels Helleberg. I was out in a seaway upwind in 20 knots for the first time the other day and noticed the boat really wanted some speed (over 6 knots to be sure) to be comfortable, which in turn required a decent amount of heel that I was trying to minimize for my inexperienced crew.

But I bring this boat up mostly to learn more about where you draw the line on “unduly-influenced IOR design”.

Matt Marsh

I’m not sure where John would draw the “IOR run amok” line…. for my part, I’d characterize it as:
– Pinched ends (i.e. noticeable hollows in waterlines & diagonals at both bow and stern)
– Wide beam at midship, unusually narrow beam at 1/4 and 3/4 of length
– Too-short boom and high-aspect mainsail combined with a comically large genoa
That Alden 44 dates from the mid ’70s, before the worst abuses of the rule had time to take effect.

Colin Speedie

Hi Matt

I was around in the 70’s owning and racing IOR boats, and whilst I’d agree with much of your analysis, I’d just suggest that some of those boats made very good cruisers later in their careers. Many of them were designed as cruiser-racers in the first place, which helped.

I felt then that the really negative change came at the end of the 70’s as reduced displacement and especially ballast ratio really kicked in. Less robust (in many cases) and with the need to have crew perched on the toerail all the time made for some pretty marginal designs – and they weren’t even that fast…

Some IOR designers – Holman and Pye, Group Finot, S & S etc. still managed to design some of the early, good looking, capable boats that are still around.

Justin Francis

I was trying to keep heel to 15 degrees, and I think that increased the discomfort because we could not power up enough to properly move through the sea state. I was trying to ease everyone into it but I may just have made it the worst of all worlds.

Matt Marsh

20 knots of wind with inexperienced crew will do that. Vanishingly few people can get comfortable with beating upwind in force 5 / gusting 6 until they have many, many hours of experience in lighter conditions.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Matt,
I would agree that there are “vanishingly few” who can get comfortable in F5 gusting 6 close-hauled. On an ocean passage with a few more days out and where there is the likelihood of a wind direction shift, I might consider heaving-to.
If continuing on, I would suggest a head-set of expecting work and discomfort in running the boat (with attention to not being injured) and a well padded and lee-clothed “nest” to collapse into when taking a break.
I have long ago given up to aspiring to be one of the “vanishing few”.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Jesse Falsone

This characteristic is true of all keel/CB boats of that era. Low form stability but high B/D in a shoal keel means they need to heel some to stiffen up. The Alden 44 is a fantastic design although I think a bit narrow aft for good reaching.

Denis Foster

Hello John and AAC community,

In Europe you have Frers design Hallberg Rassy 46 and 53 that seem to tick a lot of the boxes to be easily driven blue water cruisers.

You find them cruising in many oceans around the globe.

Surprisingly more modern Frers design have gone to large sterns, twin spade rudders swept back spreaders etc.. probably for marketing reasons.

Discovery 55 and Amel Meltem/Mango SM and 54 also have big world cruising track records.

Iain Dell

Hi Denis

(apologies John for wandering a tad off-topic) the issue of those sterns and rudders has come almost literally to bite in my home marina, where the staff have realised that two of these fat-backsided things cannot easily fit together between the standard finger pontoons without bashing together; it was ‘educational’ watching one try to berth next to another. The other issue is that the angled twin-rudders now seem to be catching almost as many lobster pots as the plethora of pots around here catch lobsters. You can have the most easily driven hull in the world – but that’s not much help when moored to a pot!

Jesse Falsone

Thoughts on the Cambria 44/46? I want an offshore capable boat for shorthanded sailing with shoal draft but good upwind performance. Has to be top notch build quality. I cruise extensively on a Tartan 37 so I’ve warmed to the keel/CB, just want something bigger. Concerned about the steep companionway ladders on the earlier Cambrias. The last few 46 models had easier access. Also comcerned about the age. Going from a 43 yr old boat to a 35 yr old is not much difference but quality is a big step up.

Jesse Falsone

Thanks John. I believe the Cambria 44 was designed as a keel/CB and the deep keel (with bulb) came later. Only a few were made and it just so happens there’s one at my marina (a transient). It looks quite proper but draft has to be well over 7ft. Not what we’re looking for and not for sale anyway. I have to trust that Walters got this design right in keel/CB configuration.

Dan Tisoskey


Holman and Pye would be a good Europe designer to add to your list. I know Colin mentioned them earlier in the comments and he is a big fan of the Gladiator and Pretorien done by the Wauquiez yard in France. After sailing a full keel, ultra heavy hull, I can appreciated “easily driven” We sail a Pretorien and after our first year of ownership, we absolutely love the change.

After reading Robert Perry’s Yacht Design According to Perry, Bob mentions the hull and the keel are two separate designs and should not create slack bilges to be blending together. Now I fully understand what he is talking about.

Dan Tisoskey

I forgot to mention the Rustler 36 is also a Holman & Pye design.

Paul Browning

We have a Holman & Pye designed Bowman 47, which is one of about 13 built in Australia from 1978 to 1993 and is very similar to a Bowman Corsair 46, but with higher freeboard and no mizzen. As I was reading John’s article, I was thinking she is the very essence of easily driven.

After our first 18 months with her I was concerned with her performance in less than 10-12 knots so fitted a 1 metre longer boom and correspondingly bigger main and replaced the 110% furling jib with a 130% genoa and she now sails happily upwind in 5-6 knots of breeze and reaches along at hull speed in 9-10 knots. The full main is now about the size of the main+mizzen she was designed with, and with one reef is only a bit smaller than the full main used to be.

We tend to reef both main and headsail upwind approaching 15 knots and carry that until 25+, which is quite a wide wind range that is really handy for a crew of just 2. If the wind drops off under 15 knots we’ll keep the reef in the main and roll out more headsail, which again is easier on the crew. Beam reaching, we reef the main at 12-15 knots to make it easier on the autopilot or Hydrovane but leave the full headsail out until 20-odd knots. Again they’re nice wide wind ranges that make it easier on the short handed crew.

Jeff Downing

John excellent topic and well described. So here’s my pitch, what are your thoughts on the Mason 44, and the Passport 40 (by Perry)? Completely different hull designs but I hear very positive things about them from owners.

William Breaux

Hi John,
Do you have any opinions on the Shearwater 39? Going to look at one in Annapolis…thanks

Eric Van Moorlehem


I believe these European boats deserve honorable mention in the category of easily driven and quality built: Luffe, Faurby, Finngulf and Sweden yachts.

Timothy Schmidt

I have been thoroughly enjoying your articles and have appreciated your practical approach to the assessment of sailing qualities of sailboats, both experiential and analytical.
How about the Sceptre 41 as an example of moderation leading to an easily driven boat. We have had Venturi (formerly Twowowie) since 2018 and I think she ticks all the boxes. She also has good tankage and excellent forward visibility from the interior with forward facing windows in the cabin. We have no inside steering (as many do) and prefer it that way. Interested in your thoughts.
Tim Sclhmidt

Ken Ahrens

Hello, long time subscriber, first time posting.
I love this topic and have a question for John and the community. I’ve recently acquired a Skye 51, 51 LOA and 46 WL, long fin keel and skeg rudder. Designed by Kaufman and Ladd and commissioned by Alden Marine. Does anyone have any experience with this boat? I’ve only had her out once so I not real sure of her “Driven Characteristics”. From the limited research and information available, I’m lead to believe they are favorable. There were only 18 produced from 1980-1986, mine appears to be the last one produced in 1986. Reason for not sailing her yet is the extensive refitting that has been required due to spending +10 years in Mexico with very limited attention. I am just about to the point where I can start cruising her later this season(still in Mexico). The closest model and comparable boat that I can find is the information provided by John Kretschmer, he sails a Kaufman 47 and claims that it is a wonderful boat. Any thoughts or information is greatly appreciated.

Ken Ahrens

One more thing, my is cutter rigged not the ketch. Most were ketch rigged.

Ken Ahrens

Thanks for your input John. I am hoping anyone else on this site might have some experience with the Skye 51. Online resources are limited and I’ve struggled getting a good history of the boat and this style/design.

Kevin Farley

I recently joined and am in the process of having this boat surveyed.

I understand that this is a common production design. How does it match up to your criteria as an easy or difficult driver?

Matt Marsh

The Sun Odyssey 42DS is quite light for its size (DLR = 159, proportionally lighter than even John’s J/109), is modestly rigged (SA/D = 16.9), and generously powered (6.1 hp/tonne). It is a wide, shallow, broad-sterned hull optimized for light wind and sea conditions (Beaufort force 0 to 4) and capable of handling a bit more with some discomfort
Jeanneau doesn’t publish full lines and coefficients, but from what I’ve seen of the hull on this model, they’re probably about right for its purpose, at least when it’s sitting on its lines or heeled gently. The broad stern and the strong dependence on form stability to generate power in hulls of this type means that it might be a bit of a handful (i.e. fun and fast, but requiring some effort and concentration to drive) when heeled hard; you’d be well advised to talk to an expert who knows this model better.

“Easily driven?” In modest conditions, yes, but perhaps not so much under John’s definition. When the weather picks up, a boat like this will behave much more like a racer, requiring active management and putting considerable mental and physical stress on the crew.

Stuart Cobbe

We ended up going with a Malö 36, in following many of the same thought processes. A medium displacement boat, similar to the Frers designs but with slightly higher S.A./Displ, Displ/Length, and Bal/Displ. We think she is great to sail and kind on her crew.

Louise Silvester

Hello John,

I am thoroughly enjoying your book on chosing the right boat. We presently own an Ericson 29 tall rig and are looking at purchasing a 1982 Ericson 38. I am wondering if you have any comments or caveats regarding the design and offshore capability of this boat. We plan mostly to be coastal cruising on the West coast of Canada but may plan to travel as far North as Alaska once we retire.

Thanks kindly,

Mike House

Hi John
Thanks for the excellent and informative resource here. It’s added a heap of great thinking into my limited experience. We are looking at cruising SE asia and Aussie West /North coast – based in West Australia. Mostly sailing as a couple with occasional others. My wife has almost nil experience, and most of mine has been ocean racing 20 – 45ft boats and dinghy sailing, with a few deep ocean overnighters and week long coastal cruises. We are about 2 years out from purchase and researching heavily. Context for we are looking a lot at different boats, discussing dreams v actual plans, drawing up selection criteria based on your prompting. We are drawn to the Swanson 42 (Pretty well known in Australia – Sydney designer – not many elsewhere). Here’s an excellent example – what are your thoughts for suitability for the mission described and easy to drive?