Online Book:

Boat Design & Selection—Ovni 435

Includes FREE Introductory Chapter (scroll down)

Find out what happens when a sailor with decades of experience as a professional research sailboat skipper in demanding conditions sets out to have his dream voyaging boat built. Colin shares the process of having a semi-custom Ovni 435 built as well as the subsequent shakedown and debugging of this voyaging boat. If you are considering buying a voyaging boat, new or used, you owe it to yourself to read this Online Book.

Table of Contents:

Turning The Dream Into Reality

Ever since I was a small child I have had a fascination with building things, or making them better—boats, cars and motorcycles have all come and gone in this manner. Some started as good basic raw material, others as well formed objects that simply needed fine tuning and affection. And like many of us who [...]

Choosing A Suitable Boat, New Versus Old

An OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat being framed.

There is a strong argument for buying a used boat for long distance cruising. The purchase price is initially more affordable, the boat often comes with a fairly full inventory, and may be well sorted out and ready to go. Such boats do exist, but experience suggests that the reality is more likely to be [...]

A Boat Built To Travel

The OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat has a well-protected rudder and prop.

For us the choice of boat was dictated by our need for a traveling base camp for our wildlife photography interests, as much as for recreation. As the places we wish to visit are generally remote from civilization, we need a craft that can go virtually anywhere, for extended periods, and be as self-sufficient as [...]

Making The Most Of Aluminum

The OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat deck showing deck fittings welded on rather than screwed on.

Aluminum has many obvious attributes as a construction material—high strength to weight, durability, lack of maintenance—but there are other, subtler benefits that aluminum can offer, especially if starting from scratch. Careful thought at the planning stage to take advantage of that potential is time well spent. It is an easy material to work in. Louise [...]

Self-Defence In Harbour

The OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat anchor locker and bow.

Those of us with aspirations to cruise in higher latitudes tend to focus on obviously important kit—sails, ground tackle, engine—but sometimes at the expense of simpler and less apparent elements. For example, some of our time will still be spent in port, but that almost certainly won’t be the sort of haven we’re used to [...]

A Practical Interior At Sea Or In Harbour

The OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat interior layout showing woodwork.

A boat designed for extended offshore cruising has very different priorities from one designed for the occasional weekend aboard or a two week annual holiday. The former, is, after all, going to be your home, and you will be spending the majority of each year aboard at anchor or in harbour. The emphasis therefore shifts [...]

Limits To Complexity

The new and the old both have their places

We are now at the final stage of selecting our navigation systems, and as new products are being launched all of the time, have decided to wait until the last minute before committing. But to some degree the choices are being made for (or taken away from) us, as so many of the manufacturers are [...]

Are Spade Rudders Suitable For Ocean Crossings?

Evidence of crevice corrosion and metal fatigue

As I mentioned in a previous posting, one of the most attractive features of our new OVNI is the protected rudder, which we think is an essential feature for a long distance boat. However, the three cruising boats I have owned over the last 25 years were all equipped with balanced spade rudders with no [...]

A Practical Cruising Rig

An OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat with a roller furling yankee, coupled with a hanked on staysail on a detachable stay. The mainsail is fully battened, using Harken cars and mast track. Single reefing lines lead aft to the cockpit handled by a power driven winch.

Here in Europe the standard rig for most yachts sold as “cruisers” is still the sloop, usually with a large overlapping genoa of 130% or more. That might be fine in sunny sheltered waters with an army of gorillas to help out, but is less than ideal for shorthanded crews sailing in windy and exposed [...]

The "S" Word—Stability

The OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat under jib, staysail and main.

From the first time I saw one, I thought that one day I’d like to own an OVNI for long distance cruising. Living and working for part of each year in France meant that I encountered OVNIs and their sisters from Garcia and other builders regularly, and saw them return battered but proud from distant [...]

Self-Sufficiency In Power

A Superwind wind generator and solar panels on an OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat.

When we were planning our new boat, one of the first aspects we discussed was our preferences for power generation, and our desire to have as much “free” energy input as possible. There were three reasons for this: our desire to avoid the complexity of a diesel generator; our own commitment to renewable power after [...]

The “C” Word—Corrosion

Stainless steel stanchions are isolated in plastic sockets to avoid corrosion on this aluminum OVNI 435.

If there is one simple word that springs to mind amongst the uninitiated in relation to aluminum boats it has to be corrosion. If we had a pound for every time someone warns me against bringing spare change aboard and then dropping it we wouldn’t have to worry about a cruising budget—we’d have money in [...]

Electrical Systems And Aluminum Boats

Electronic panels on an OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat.

All of the yachts I have sailed over the last 20 years have been simple boats with fairly minimal electrical equipment. Not one of them (even up to 80ft) had an autopilot—sail training vessels often don’t, as they are set up to be sailed “handraulically” as we say over here. So when we approached the [...]

What Has Worked So Far—Domestically

An OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat at anchor with portable solar panel against cabin side.

Well, we’ve finally moved aboard and are on our way, and although we haven’t travelled very far yet, or even in the direction we had initially planned, it’s a definite relief to be off. This is largely due to the “summer” the South of Britain has been enjoying—certainly the worst in terms of relentlessly poor [...]

What Has Worked So Far—On The Water

An OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat underway using a Windpilot self steering gear.

Well, now that we’ve had a chance to sail our new home a little, we can give our first impressions on the OVNI as a yacht in her own right, as well as on some of the equipment we have added. So far our view is overwhelmingly positive. She sails well and is easy to [...]

Keeping The Water Out—Details

The custom stainless steel cowl covering the transom engine vent on an OVNI 435 aluminum sailboat.

Having sailed our boat a little, we’ve now embarked upon the finishing-off process. In some cases that means fixing the obvious deficiencies, in others identifying potential problems before they become apparent, and then (hopefully) coming up with the right solutions. John and Phyllis’s adage of keep the rudder on, the mast up and the water [...]

Shoal Draft Voyaging

OVNI 435 underwater hull shape.

On the face of it, one of the main attractions of the OVNI range is their shoal draft and beachability. We’ve all seen the photos: parked on some deserted islet with an impossibly azure sea far in the background. The theory looks enticing, but how far does it reflect reality? Undoubtedly, it can be done, [...]

Achieving The Impossible

Interior 11

When we ordered Pèlerin, we had some pretty specific ideas about what we wanted from her as a home, and as a voyaging machine – and then we had to find a way of making these two contradictory requirements meet in practice. In effect we have two boats – one is a floating home with [...]