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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.
 

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I completely agree with SO’s post on learning a new boat. Takes years, even if you’ve done it before. I was speaking to a delivery skipper about a problem he had aboard a boat he’d delivered dozens of times. Lost electrical power to a few systems, while underway. There turned out to be a fuse bank, separate from those behind the nav station, that were buried in an obscure place he never knew about.

On the other hand, dual helms are a matter of personal preference, not a bright line. We find they allow the cockpit to be a better living space, as no one is ever climbing around the helm. On several hulls I’ve sailed with them, the aft section can be too wide to helm from the center and ever see around a salt sprayed dodger, so the dual helm is more functional. If anything, it is important to have autopilot controls at both helms and that does add cost. All depends.
 

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Purchase a "serious" yacht for the first time can be a real catch22. For someone with no serious experience about sailing,

. two helms are just no advantage and actually a disadvantage.
I don't spose Im allowed to say stuff anymore like: "What a load of Piffle! Carbunkham and Codswallop!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

For a start, the OP (who hasnt been on the forum since January 12 months ago) is not a learner sailor: "Coming out of a 38 footer that I frequently solo sailed." Jumping from a 38 to a 55 is no huge leap at all. In fact I am thinking...

Dual wheels, to me, are a dream come true for a cruising boat. Suddenly its a party cockpit like a catamaran, and easy at sea to get behind the wheel safely.
In port when stern to the dock my wheel is off and tied to the lifelines. But be careful, I did this once in Malaysia and when finally pulling out of the dock I tossed the lines, put the engine in forward, started to move forward... before I saw I had no steering wheel. It was firmly cable tied to the lifelines and I was heading towards an expensive boat...

:captain:

:)

Mark
 

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I completely agree with SO’s post on learning a new boat. Takes years, even if you’ve done it before. I was speaking to a delivery skipper about a problem he had aboard a boat he’d delivered dozens of times. Lost electrical power to a few systems, while underway. There turned out to be a fuse bank, separate from those behind the nav station, that were buried in an obscure place he never knew about.

On the other hand, dual helms are a matter of personal preference, not a bright line. We find they allow the cockpit to be a better living space, as no one is ever climbing around the helm. On several hulls I’ve sailed with them, the aft section can be too wide to helm from the center and ever see around a salt sprayed dodger, so the dual helm is more functional. If anything, it is important to have autopilot controls at both helms and that does add cost. All depends.
Minni and NewModMan... the cockpit design and the dual helm approach to it involves a number priorities all driven ultimately by the boat's architecture.

The way I sail and I can only speak from my experience of decades with my boat... I so rarely drive from the helm it's almost not necessary. In fact, my AP has a rotary dial to set the course and it's like a mini steering wheel. The AP is forward in the cockpit where I can be sheltered... and that's one of the reasons I have not installed a bimini. I am just not back there much at all. But if I do want to get aft of the helm I have to walk on one of the benches. No big deal at all! I will also add that I installed a larger diameter helm so I can comfortably sit on either coaming top and steer and see well. I can also steer standing on the bench behind the helm and get excellent visibility or stand on the cockpit sole... or sit on bench behind the helm. But Shiva is not wide enough back there to even have 2 helms. I have seen racing boats with HUGE single helms. Interesting solution for fat ended boats. I don't know what I would want in a fat ended boat as far as helms go. Two helms really seems like a racing solution where hand steering is the ONLY way. I don't race so that solution is not needed. YMMV
 

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I’ve been aboard a J boat with a single huge helm that had to be buried in the floor. Remind my self I spend 90% of my time at anchor.
 
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I’ve been aboard a J boat with a single huge helm that had to be buried in the floor. Remind my self I spend 90% of my time at anchor.
I've seen one of those... with a cockpit smaller than a bathtub. I guess it keeps everything from getting swamped by a boarding wave. Definitely only for racing function, and not comfort!
 

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Braavos, congrats on the new-to-you Southerly. Nice boats. I also like the Discovery line, I was aboard one in Annapolis during October's show. I could swear it was a 55 or close. It was sailed across the Atlantic for the show and was returning after the show. No doubt a capable hull.

I'm sure there is truth to what Jeff H describes about design. He's a naval architect and knows his stuff. Whether it matters to the average bloke, like me, is a reasonable question and I'm pretty sure he would acknowledge it. Everything is a compromise.
 

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While this is YEARS out of date and you will probably never read it AND it probably doesn't apply to all Discovery yachts- BUT the very boat you were on in Annapolis-was found so "unfit for its intended purpose" it had to be shipped back to the UK! Discovery was sued and they LOST and the owners of the yacht won £1.5 when they paid £1.375 for delivery of the new yacht. The delivery skipper had massive problems getting it over to the States. They won the suit in 2019 - well because nothing decent has happened in 2020 - we all know that by now- sigh.... I found this out because I was trying to research if the hulls were strong enough for ice since they are reinforced with kevlar. Hope you see this little tidbit of info.
 

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the very boat you were on in Annapolis-was found so "unfit for its intended purpose" it had to be shipped back to the UK! Discovery was sued and they LOST and the owners of the yacht won £1.5 when they paid £1.375 for delivery of the new yacht. The delivery skipper had massive problems getting it over to the States.
Wow. Seems that was likely one and the same. It did not have any obvious defects at the show, but this article suggests it was prettied up first.

 
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