Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Northport, NY
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Re: Discovery 55
Purchase a "serious" yacht for the first time can be a real catch22. For someone with no serious experience about sailing, or the physics of design it can be a beauty contest selection where you defer to your chosen experts to steer you to a sensible boat. But once you commit to purchase you essentially forced to learn with a trial by fire. And there is a lot to learn... and it will take years. This learning curve may or may not determine when you embark on your offshore adventures. I think a prudent new skipper will learn pretty quickly how little they knew and how much they need to know.
Selection of a boat with consideration to hull form, keel architecture, and rig / sail plan is very critical. The basics can be learned from many books out there. I suppose one assumption, underscored by Jeff's post is that hull, rig design and sail plan have been ADVANCING and for good reason - designed have learned from the school of hard knocks what's works better.
I have to confess that I bought a new first boat with very very little knowledge and a lot of confidence and enthusiasm to learn. For me the process was about 5 years and involved all manner of "system upgrades" and equipment additions not to mention as much sailing in all conditions in Southern New England that I could get.
Shiva has a fractional rig... and at the time of purchase I was unaware of the benefits of this sail plan. I learned pretty quickly and the points Jeff made are spot on. A masthead and fractional rig were offered at the time. I did not order a boat but bought the fractional that the importer had brought in to sell... so I didn't have the opportunity to sail each and see the difference. I think I was lucky and am a advocate for the fractional rig. However there are downside at anchor as the fractional will be more restless.
Aesthetics are a personal matter, but things like no steps on the interior and no wide open spaces without hand holds all over the place are sensible choices for an offshore boat.
The other important thing I found is a large dry cockpit is a blessing. Virtually all the time spent above decks is in the cockpit so it needs to work.. and that means also the ability to "stretch" out when sailing or at anchor. I see too many boats without this feature.
My final comment is about the number of helm stations. Unless one is racing or one likes to manually helm... two helms are just no advantage and actually a disadvantage. More mechanical things to tend to, take up lots of cockpit space and add a lot of cost to the boat. People who cruise spend little time at the helm except for "fun conditions"... really challenging conditions or for photo ops. Challenging I define as conditions when a human can helm better than an AP. Regardless steering is tiring so most people are using their APs most of the time.
May your passages be full of fair winds and following seas.... enjoy your new boat.
pay attention... someone's life depends on it