We visited the Earl's Court Boat Show today, and the most interesting boats we boarded were the Southerly 38 and 32 footer. These are English made boats with swing keels and relatively high production quality. They have been made for 30 years by Northshore yachts, who also make the respected Vancouver cruising sailboats.
Anyway, there are Southerly boats at our marina, and the finish is nice but I always thought of them as solidly-made coastal cruisers. The swing keel makes the boat beachable, which is a big deal over here with shallow water bays and drying slips.
As we looked over the offshore touches on the 38 and 32 models (connection points for harnesses, full handrails inside and out, etc.), I asked if they were often taken off-shore. I was told about how the Shards, of the Distant Shores program, had just replaced their 19 year old Two-Step with a 42 foot Southerly:
Anyway, I was surprised, but not too much. I did read Jimmy Cornell's latest book earlier this year, and after decades of cruising he had gone with an Ovni aluminum swing keel made in France, and put thousands of miles on it, including visiting Antartica. He liked the keel for exploring and anchoring in shallow bays, and beaching the boat.
According to the Shard's website blog about the new boat, they narrowed their choices to a boat with a swing keel for similar reasons, but opted against alumninum as a hull material. That left the Southerly as the next choice for them in the new boat market, with a fiberglass hull, and they documented their involvement with the production process.
The 35 foot model would have met their needs if they hadn't wanted to do chartering with guests as part of their program, and thus they went with the 42 footer. I was a bit surprised today that the berth arrangement wasn't signiifantly different between the 32 and the 38 footer, but storage would be. Interesting boats.
Anyway, this is simply a sharing about how some higher profile cruisers went swing keel, and why, despite some concerns expressed by others by the choice. Apparently, the Shards pretty much took the new boat and crossed the Atlantic with it. Their report after 5000 miles with the 42 appears positive, and their Bahamas trip sounded like a lot of fun (and then on to the ICW).