The Best Boats for Globe Girdling
To define the best boats for sailing around the world, owners detail what worked and what didn't.
Communication systems weren’t examined, although the usefulness of satellite phones was praised. But Steve Moss of Yamma, a Hallberg-Rassy 36, stressed that “in spite of satphones, SSB radio is still essential for emails, voice communications with other boats, receiving weatherfaxes, and the like.”
When it came to giving practical advice to would-be voyagers, some sailors pointed out that many of those with limited experience seem to be unaware of the high electricity demands made by all the equipment installed on cruising boats. “Make sure that your electric-power demands can be satisfied with the quantity of electrical storage and generating equipment that you have on board and that you have a diversified portfolio of options available, including engine, generator, solar, and wind,” advised Jim Patek of Let’s Go, an Ovni 435.
Many praised the usefulness of solar panels. But Alfredo Giacon of Jancris, a Mikado 56, said that “while panels were perfect in the Med, where summers are dry with long, sunny days, in the Caribbean I had to add a wind generator as it was often raining and days were shorter.”
Lars Hässler of Jennifer, a Beneteau Oceanis 5000, suggested that cruisers “double your diesel tanks and try to have a 1,000-mile range. This will give you freedom of movement in less-populated areas of the world. If there’s no space, sacrifice one water tank, because you can make water with a watermaker, but you can’t make diesel.”
Hugh Fraser, who built Scotia, his 50-foot steel boat, listed some useful tips that could be easily accommodated on a production boat. “For lightning protection, a spike on the masthead seems to work,” he said. “Stow a spare GPS and radio in a tin box in case your boat is hit. For your safety and comfort, make a combined stainless-steel security grate and mosquito screen for the companionway hatch, so you can lock yourself in at night and keep cool. Carry a spare computer and a separate hard drive loaded with all your programs. Among the things to avoid are deep freezers, because they’re too power hungry, and certainly spade rudders, because if they break, you may lose your boat,” Fraser added.
The safety aspect, more than any other, should be the overriding factor when choosing a boat for an ocean voyage. Yet several people stressed the need to try and keep things simple. Tere Batham, who spent 10 years roaming the Pacific aboard Sea Quest, a Colin Childs, emphasized that “we don’t believe that it’s all that sophisticated equipment that really makes the boat. It’s good-quality winches, anchoring gear, and a reliable engine that are paramount, as they’ll give you peace of mind.”
While a boat may be perfect for one sailor, that same boat might be quite unsuitable for another. No one put that better than Alex Whitworth. When asked about his own wish list for items that would’ve contributed to the quality and enjoyment of his circumnavigation via the Northwest Passage on his 33-foot Berrimilla 2, he said, “Nothing. My voyage was sailed on a shoestring. Quality and comfort weren’t considerations.”
At the other extreme, Kurt Braun, who completed a circumnavigation at about the same time on Interlude, his 74-foot Deerfoot, also answered “Nothing” to those same questions. Instead, he gave this advice to anyone planning to get a boat and leave on a long voyage: “Go bareboat chartering and/or passagemaking on someone else’s boat to confirm that you’ll enjoy cruising on your own yacht before making the investment in a boat or equipment.”
Among those who seemed to have most nearly achieved their ideal were Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger of Hawk, an aluminum Van de Stadt Samoa 47. “Because we’d done a circumnavigation before we built this boat ourselves, we were able to incorporate everything we really wanted in the design,” Beth said. “We’d hoped to get it all into 42 feet, but we ended up at 47 feet. If we could’ve squeezed everything into 42 feet, we would’ve preferred it.”
CW editor at large Jimmy Cornell’s World Voyage Planner will be published in September 2012 by Cornell Sailing.