The Best Boats for Globe Girdling
To define the best boats for sailing around the world, owners detail what worked and what didn't.
A few owners complained that their boats were smaller than ideal, although one skipper was happy with his decision to buy such a boat, as it allowed him to enter tinier ports and marinas. What some owners found to be a more serious handicap on long voyages than actual size was the lack of storage space, a deficiency they blamed on the fact that many current boats are built for charter, for which storage capacity isn’t a priority.
Regardless of the size of boat, the most common feature that people wished they’d had was a comfortable, sheltered watchkeeping position. Several mentioned the importance of a protected and ergonomically designed cockpit, one possibly outfitted with a hard dodger, that would make passages more comfortable in both hot and cold climates.
Asked to specify any design feature that would’ve made a considerable contribution to the enjoyment of their voyage, several owners mentioned shallower draft, which they said would’ve extended their cruising range. Other features mentioned were better access to the engine room for maintenance, a compact and safe galley, comfortable sea berths, but also provision for a double berth when in port.
The list was even longer for such outside features as a well-designed stern with dinghy davits and a platform or scoop with a folding or retractable ladder for easy dinghy access, swimming, and landing fish.
According to Mike Dorsett of White Princess, a Renegade 43, an important feature on a world voyage is “a larger-than-standard self-draining gas locker with space for additional tanks for cruising in areas where refilling them can be a problem.”
Suggested improvements at the bows were a retractable bowsprit, quick and easy access to the chain locker with a vertical drop to avoid the chain getting snagged, and a powerful and reliable windlass. For sailhandling, many considered essential a well-planned reefing system with lines led back to the cockpit, ideally to an electric winch.
The three most commonly mentioned pieces of essential equipment that some sailors had acquired under way or were planning to buy at a later stage were: a watermaker; a strong autopilot preferably backed up by a wind-operated self-steering gear; and an automatic identification system, or AIS.
The utmost importance of a reliable autopilot was highlighted by Roger Swanson of Cloud Nine, a Bowman 57. “I went for a long time, in fact two circumnavigations, without a good, reliable autopilot, but that was part of the experience,” he said. “Now I have a powerful hydraulic autopilot and use it a lot.”
Steve Lochner of Equus, a 48-foot Nicholson, mentioned these desirable items: “color radar capable of indicating the strength of approaching storm cells,” bow thrusters, and cockpit repeaters for the chart plotter and radar. He also pointed out that some production boats are sold without an electric-wiring diagram, which can make it very difficult to trace a fault.
Since most of those interviewed had spent long periods sailing under trade-wind conditions, several mentioned as important having easily handled downwind sails, such as a cruising chute, an asymmetric spinnaker, or an ISTEC Parasailor. Patrick Canut of Leon, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42, sailed with two genoas and wished he’d had “two poles while running wing and wing, especially when we had to jibe repeatedly with the wind close to 180 degrees. Now I believe that a Parasailor would’ve been a better choice.”