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Old 08-18-2003
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This is what Im looking for...

This is a very interesting inquiry that begs a lot of questions and which may not really have a perfect answer. To be frank I think that it may be imposible to find a boat that meets all of your criteria. Some of the apparent appearance of a mutually exclusive contradiction may derive from your choice of terms and how what these terms mean to you.

To try to explain, if you are going to be cruising long distances with 3 or 4 or 5 adults, then you are talking about a boat that minimally has a displacement in the 20,000-25000 lb. range in order to carry all of the supplies, clothes, food and other consumables that such a venture would require. (Of course if two or three fo the ‘people’ are children then you should be able to get by with substanially less. It also helps that you are willing to live with a spartan boat. Boats like the Farr 11.6 (which is what I own) are raced across the south Atlantic with crews of 6 to 8 but that is a lot different than voyaging. When they are taken cruising they are usually cruised with a couple and perhaps a couple of young children.) When you say “you want a boat that is fast” you would be hard pressed to find a 20,000-25000 lb 30-40 footer that would be particularly fast. I can’t think of one off hand.

But, of course the term ‘Fast’ is a relative term at best. Depending on your definition of fast, there are monohull 40 footers that are truely fast with PHRF ratings in -9 range (Farr 40 for example), there are reasonably fast coastal cruisers that rate in the 40 to 50''s (like the Aerodyne 38, Farr 395 or the Farr designed Beneteau First 40.7), there are pretty fast coastal cruisers with ratings in the 70’s and 80’s (Such as the C&C 37/41+, C&C 41, Farr 11.6, Sabre 40-2, X402,) , not all that fast coastal cruisers that rate around a 100 (such as Tartan 40’s and Sabre 38’s) then there are relatively fast cruisers (like the Brewer 12.8''s of Caliber 40’s) that rate in the 120’s. Of course, it is all in how you define fast. Before dismissing 30 seconds a mile as insignificant, in a distant leg, say a thousand miles, that is an 8 hour ( say 50 mile) lead but that extra speed can often be leveraged by being able to sail out of light air, power reach in high winds, or get away from a storm, so that in practice the significance is often much greater than that.

Then there is the suitability of a truely fast boat to distance cruising. Obviously, the truely fast 40 footers are quite stripped out and lack the kinds of storage and tankage that is required to travel "to many diff places in the world". They gain thier speed by having large sail plans and enormous stability to be able to carry those sail plans. That stability comes at the price of very light hull and rig construction and deep keels that represent a large percentage of the weight of the boat. A truely fast 40 footer might have a draft of 8 or 9 feet. Obviously that kind of draft would not be suitable for travel in many of the shallower venues of the world. This whole draft business is quite significant. Depending on the venue drafts deeper than 5 or so feet can be quiter restrictive but other circumnavigators have told me that they had no problem was 6’ to 6’-6” draft. On the other hand, nothing succeeds like draft in producing high stability, good windward performance and low drag; all qualities that are necessary for a fast boat. Obviously, some compromises are necessary because 5 feet of draft is too shallow to produce a truely fast 40 footer. The obvious compromise choices would be a keel/centerboarder, a bulb keel, dagger board with a bulb, or a wing keel or some variant on the above. All of these represent a significant compromise in speed over a deep fin keel. A shoal fin or long keel really would not quality as they tend to have too much drag and not enough lift to produce a even a reasonably fast boat.

Probably the most easily found are keel/centerboarder versions of boats like the C&C 41 or the Sabre 38. Keel centerboarders generally do not have the same stability as a deeper keel boat unless they have a lot more weight which of course has a performance penalty. Still they can offer very good upwind performance with the centerboard down, and very good downwind performance with the board up. They can be set in a partially raised position which can help balance the helm. They are vulnerable in a grounding and add maintenance that is hard to perform in most remote venues. Bulb keels allow nearly the stability of a deeper fin. If shaped properly (sqashed bulb or Scheel profile) they act as an endplate and offer close to the same windward performance as perhaps a 15% deeper fin. They do not offer the kind of big reductions in draft of a centerboard but they also are much simplier to build and maintain. A recent US Naval Academy study suggests that they are easier to free in a grounding than any other keel type. If I could have any type of keel for a fast distance cruiser, it would be a daggerboard with a bulb. This offers the high performance of a deep fin and yet the shoal draft of a center board. Of course daggerboards with a bulbs are as rare as hens teeth. They require a lot of skill to engineer correctly and to distribute the loads of a hig impact grounding or collision at sea, but in reality that level of engineering is not that hard to solve, but the solutions are expensive, or should I say very expensive. Lastly there are wing keels. These are becoming quite common but few of these are truely wing keels in the same way that the America’s Cup wings are actually wings that help reduce drag and provide lift. Most are simply overglorified bulb keels that at best act as end plates. In the same US Naval Academy study, Wing keels were found to be the hardest to free in a hard grounding especially if the boat is heeled. I would consider wing keels to be bar far my last choice for the needs that you articulated as being your boat needs.

When you start talking about moderately fast boats, there are a lot more possibilities out there. Boats like the Beneteau First 40.7, C&C the C&C 37/41+, C&C 41, J37, J40, Farr 11.6, Sabre 40-2, X402, Tartan 40’s and Sabre 38’s, are all quite fast but they are mostly aimed at coastal cruising and so often lack an interior plan that makes sense for offshore sailing or the kinds of tankage and storage that is necessary to support as many as 5 people.

So I guess you at the point of deciding which compromises to make. You might decide that 4- 5 people are too many in which case you can get by with a smaller lighter boat (like the Farr 11.6). You might decide that speed is not all that important and so you might settle for a reasonably quick heavier cruiser like a Brewer 12.8 or a Peterson 44. You might decide to spend more money and get the boat that in all other respects is probably the perfect boat for your needs a J-44 single head, two stateroom layout. Or you might decide to something kinky like buy an older Open Class 50 (too deep and too much sail area without a lot of conversion dollars) or perhaps something like the old Hunter 54. (Before you turn up your nose at these, they were actually quite well constructed, the hull was based on ‘Tuesday’s Child’ the Ostar Transatlantic racer, and quite a few of them have circumnavigated successfully. You can generally pick these up in the $100-110K range. They have shoal draft, cutter rigs (the second best offshore rig) and a lot of speed. Most of these will need a fair amount of upgrading (steering gear and mast support structure being the two known areas of concern) mostly because these are 20 year old boats but they are very fast shoal draft and have one of the best dinghy solutions that I know of. )

Good luck,
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