Distant Shores III | Sailing Blog - Technical Hints and Tips - Sailing Television

The New Boat at Dusseldorf

UPDATE Dusseldorf Video

Boot Dusseldorf is the largest indoor boat show - plus this year it has Distant Shores III in the show!! So here's a quick tour around so you can see what she looks like…
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Here's the view as we walked in to see her finished for the first time!
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There is a spacious aft cockpit with centre table. The aft cabin is under the cockpit and the table acts as a skylight.
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The galley is right at the bottom of the companionway for easy access. There is a fore-aft mounted fridge and a top loading freezer. The stove is a GN Espace model we've been excited to try out.
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The saloon is raised for excellent views while seated.
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Forward are the bunk cabin and large double stateroom…
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The bunk room has two good sea-berths and plenty of storage. It also has notices asking people not to sit or lie down on the bunks please - but they don't seem to work :-)
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The forward cabin is large with lots of stowage…
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The forward heads has a separate shower.
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Back in the saloon the nav station has views forward so you can steer (using the missing Raymarine autopilot and plotter)
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The aft cabin is palatial spanning the width of the stern under the cockpit. The cockpit table above provides 4 ventilation hatches. Side hull windows provide a good view.
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The aft heads also has a separate shower, and includes a wet locker for foul weather gear.
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Distant Shores III draws just 1.0 meters or 3'3" with the keel up. Here's a stern view also showing our Varifold 4-blade propellor and the twin rudders.
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If you are in the area please drop by the Discovery stand to say hello and let us show you around. Boot Dusseldorf is "THE" show to see with more sailing yachts in one place than I have ever seen!

Distant Shores III Update

It's been a while since I posted an update on the progress of Distant Shores III. Here she is in the factory in Southampton with shipwrights swarming over her :-)
So much has been done since we visited in the beginning of November!!
We visited back in November before heading off on the catamaran to cross the Atlantic

At that time Discovery were still finishing up the plug for the deck. It's taken a while but here in this photo is nearly complete…

Meanwhile the hull and interior is moving ahead well. Bulkheads are all in and interior modules are being fitted.

Over in the joinery department (woodworking) the last of the interior is being completed. This is the forward cabin V-berth. Pieces like this are completed outside the boat then installed as a whole module and glassed into the hull.

Jump ahead to early December and the deck has been laid up and is being pulled from the mould. In the lower part of the photo you can see the steel frame that keeps the mould perfectly strong and true. It is on rollers to move it around.

The hull layup has been complete for some time and has now been painted with anifouling - in this case we're giving "Copper Coat"… a try.

First trial fitting of the deck.
The bulkheads have been put in somewhat tall and must now be cut down to the proper height to be a perfect fit. This process can take a few hours to trim it just so before it can be settled in place permanently.


Today much more is complete! Hatches and deck hardware, windows and teak decking… but there is still much to do before Distant Shores III is slated to head off to the boat show in Dusseldorf THIS Weekend!
The boat show in Dusseldorf (January 20-28) this year) is the biggest indoor show in the world and has a huge variety of boats big and small. The venue is located right on the Rhine River so yachts can motor up and "Big Willi" will lift them from the water and its a short ride to the halls to display.
There are more cruising sailboats here than I've ever seen in one location - including some quite large ones.
For power yacht enthusiasts there are some truly amazing boats you would never expect to see indoors! (seen here trundling to the building a few days ago)
It's a great show if you're trying to find your dream boat since more boats are in this one venue and you have days to compare them!
Photos courtesy of Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

Here is a short video I made of the Dusseldorf show …
If you're thinking of coming over to check out the show (and see Distant Shores III of course) please let us know!


Planning a World Cruise

It's a very exciting time planning an upcoming cruise! Whether you are planning a summer cruise of a week or two, or planning something a little longer as we are… the planning stage should be a fun exercise as well as a chance to learn about your destinations and route.

In our case we're planning our first trip out into the Pacific Ocean to the Galapagos, Marquesas, French Polynesia and onwards. But first we will be back in the UK to collect our new Distant Shores III next spring, so our planning starts there.

The new boat will be ready in time to appear in the Dusseldorf Boat Show in January. Then she'll be back in the UK for final checks before splashing her in the Solent for our initial test-sailing in late March. Below is a section of the pilot chart for March in the North Atlantic. It shows winds around force 4-5 with a slight preponderance from the W-SW and only 2-3% of calms. The red "10" in the English channel indicates that 10% of the time the waves are greater than 12 feet high. The next red line indicates 20% so our sailing ground will be between 10-20 percent waves above 12 feet. The open channel is likely to be "perky" ;-)

You can follow the link for the US Government site to download the pilot charts yourself, which all include a handy section on how to read them. http://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=msi_portal_page_62&pubCode=0003

Of course it's still cold in March so we won't be planning very long passages. The Solent is a protected body of water with many nice harbours and uncrowded anchorages (that time of year) so it should be fun cruising while we get to know Distant Shores III.

We will also plan some "open day" events then so if you'd like to come and see Distant Shores III there will be an opportunity as well.

Year 1

Looking forward to May with the weather becoming more pleasant we will be heading off on our first longer cruises. We'll cross the Channel to Guernsey in the Channel Islands and visit France as well. Then after one more trip back to the UK we'll set off on the big voyage.

The summer plan is to head south along France, then Spain and Portugal to Gibraltar. Way back in 2007 we sailed this coast in December (Yikes!) so are expecting a much warmer cruise with a chance to poke in some of the harbours we missed that time!

Next we'll sail across to the Caribbean in November - arriving in Antigua in December to complete 2018 with a Caribbean Christmas.

Here is our recent video Q&A on planning the world voyage.

Are you planning a cruise in the next 1-2 years?

Crossing an Ocean

I'll always remember the sense of accomplishment Sheryl and I felt as we came in to Horta in the Azores after crossing our first ocean. Wow! We were tired and ready for a real night's sleep. It had been an 18-day double-handed crossing with sleep in 3-4 hour stretches and included our biggest storm to date. Boy were we thrilled to have sailed across the Atlantic!
arriving-atlantic-crossing-azoresThat was way back in 1990 in our first year of cruising/living aboard. We've since spent hundreds of days at sea out of sight of land including 6 more Atlantic crossings but the thrill of that first one is still a life memory.

The Proper Yacht - Room for Crew

On that first ocean crossing we were aboard Two-step, a Sparkman & Stephens design, we built ourselves from a bare hull and deck. This 37-footer was a small boat inside and a wet boat with low freeboard, but we sailed her 68,000 miles and three times across the Atlantic before moving up to our next boat. (The second picture is our third boat, Distant Shores II, a Southerly 49, sailing downwind wing-and-wing. Much nicer!)
atlantic-crossing-wavesBut perhaps one of Two-Step's biggest shortcomings was that she was a bit too small for bringing along additional crew. Doing watches 3 to 4 hours-on-/3 to 4 hours-off gets tiring. Nowadays we prefer doing passages with additional crew. Even one more crew means you can reduce the watch schedule, 4 people total and it makes a much more pleasant passage where everyone gets much better sleep.

Our new boat, Distant Shores III, a Southerly 480, is being built from the ground up with the plan to accommodate extra crew on passages. Distant Shores II could only handle 4 people on offshore passages in comfort. Distant Shores 3 is designed to have 6 aboard (Sheryl & I plus 4 additional crew) and we are planning safe comfortable sea berths for all. Here is an interior plan… For Offshore we will have a maximum of 6 people total aboard including us, and crew can choose the best berths for the conditions and preferences.


What's it Like at Sea?

It's not all storms and excitement on the ocean, although we certainly expect some exciting squalls on this passage. The transatlantic trade wind crossing to the Caribbean from Europe is likely to be all downwind. We have had a few calm days on 3 of our 4 east-to-west crossings on this route, but mainly the trades blow 15-20 knots or more from the east. We set the sails and roll along downwind, sometimes not even adjusting the sails for days on end. Typically there are squalls that pass regularly bringing rain and winds gusting up to 30 or so.

Here is a video from our recent Atlantic crossing in 2015 as we are completing our crossing the Atlantic to St Lucia. Everyone is very excited!

Offshore Ocean Overnight

If you've never done an overnight passage on a sailboat the thought of crossing an ocean and spending perhaps 18 days out of sight of land might well be daunting. In that case we would recommend a shorter passage first - one or two nights just to see if you like it.

View Schedule - Legs - Availability - Click Here

Do You Want to Cross an Ocean?

This isn't a dream for everyone! It's a big adventure and requires a big commitment in time. But if you dream of crossing an ocean then the trade-winds crossing of the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean is certainly one of those dream passages. Setting off in cooler fall weather from the Canary Islands, we head south for a few days. Tradition says "sail south until the butter melts" but with modern weather routing software we can make a better plan than that! On our last crossing we stopped at the Cabo Verde Islands, and we plan to do this again on our next crossing too. The islands are dramatic and friendly and it's a nice way to get 850 miles under your belt, then take a few days rest before jumping off for the big transatlantic crossing.

Join us Aboard Distant Shores III

We have always enjoyed bringing people along with us through our television shows to share the ocean life. Now with Distant Shores III we have planned the boat so we can bring along 4 additional crew and share the lifestyle directly. We have planned some passages in our Sail Away Weeks schedule. The big one is crossing the Atlantic (via the Cabo Verde Islands). We have planned 25 days this for adventure with probably 16-18 days at sea. That gives us a week or so in the Canary Islands, Cabo Verde Islands and Antigua when we arrive to celebrate!

For a smaller sampler of offshore sailing we are doing a passage from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands. We plan a stop in Morocco either at Rabat or Agadir. Either stop means there will be a leg of a few hundred miles (2-3 days) at sea on passage before we arrive in the Canary Islands at Lanzarote.

View Schedule - Legs - Availability - Click Here

If you'd like to join us for a "virtual" ocean crossing then why to check out our recent videos on the Atlantic crossing…

Join us aboard Distant Shores for the adventure of a lifetime crossing the Atlantic


Discovery Test Sail & DS3 Plans

Here is a (nearly final) drawing of our new Distant Shores 48, being built by Discovery Yachts. We're currently working with Discovery on the new design and think she's a beauty! A mainsheet arch keeps the cockpit clear while moving the attachment point to the boom aft. This is because mid-boom sheeting means high loads and a heavier boom as well. We learned from experience here (see Youtube). The pilot house design means more comfortable passages/night-watches as well as protection from the elements. Plus great views from the saloon! We'll get some better quality drawings in a couple of weeks!


We also shot a Vlog style YouTube (below) on a Discovery test sail in England. We sailed on a Discovery 55 (not the new 48 that we're building). We also fly our new drone, visit southwestern Cornwall, meet horses on the highway in the New Forest, and look around the Discovery Yachts factory in Southampton.

Discovery Test Sail

Most Discovery yachts are delivered with a Selden furling mast, and this one was the same, set up with standard Kemp Dacron sails. Some people recommend a high performance sail for in-mast furling units and I'm sorry we didn't have it to test. Nevertheless performance was quite acceptable and the boat pointed quite well with the self-tacker sheeted in.
Looking at the self-tacking track above, I liked how it is rigged with the sheet running across the track. This is different from the way Southerly rigged it, and appeared to moderate the tacking procedure, smoothly sliding the car across. Nice!

Down belowdecks the main saloon has magnificent views from the saloon table, and also a forward view for a helmsman in inclement weather. Our new 48 will have similar views.

Production Plans

Building a new boat takes a while! We are hopeful the new Distant Shores 48 by Discovery will be ready in time for the Dusseldorf Boat Show in January 2018. Better get back to work!

How to Sail with a Swing Keel

Throughout our 27 years of international cruising, Sheryl and I have sailed over 100,000 nm and 40,000 of those miles have been sailed on the two lifting-keel yachts - Distant Shores, a Southerly 42 and Distant Shores II, a Southerly 49. Many people have asked what it is like to sail such a boat, how they sail upwind, what to do in storms, what happens if you hit the keel, what to do in huge waves and more.

Sailing Upwind

We always put the keel all the way down when working to windward. Our Southerly 49 draws 10' 3" (3.13m) with the keel down - an extremely deep aerofoil keel. Since the swing keel is also deeper than a conventional keel, it performs well upwind. The design doesn't carry as much weight deep down so the boats aren't as light or stiff as a racing boat, but they do well compared to a standard cruising boat with a moderate keel and offer many advantages to the cruising sailor. As you can see in the photo below, Southerly 49 keel at 10' 3" (3.13m) is a REALLY deep keel!

Aerofoil Keel Shape

Some centreboard boats have a flat board for a keel but the swing keels on the two Southerlys we've owned are both airfoil shaped and perform well upwind. I asked world-renowned yacht designer Rob Humphreys how important it was to have an aerofoil shaped keel. He said, "It’s vital, and not just for upwind performance. A well profiled aerofoil section keel optimizes the lift-drag ratio and widens the stall angle."

Sailing in Shallow Water

Whenever we are sailing in shallow water and there is a chance we might touch the bottom, we look over the chart and raise the keel to a comfortable depth. For example, when crossing the shallow Caicos Bank (photo below) we raise the keel halfway so we draw just 6-7 feet. The boat will still sail well, but she will not point as closely upwind. You can see we are close reaching. It is great to have this ability when exploring.


Lifting the keel can reduce or eliminate the risk of the yacht broaching. According to cruising guru Jimmy Cornell, who owns a Garcia Exploration 45, "continuing to lift (the keel) up to the point where the board is fully retracted, is a great advantage as the risk of broaching is virtually eliminated. The absence of a keel to act as a pivot in a potential broaching situation means that the boat does not tend to round up when, in a similar situation, a keeled boat would do just that. It is a feature that I have blessed on many occasions and that has allowed me to continue keeping the spinnaker up longer than I would have done otherwise."

Ocean Sailing Downwind

Before we sailed a Southerly Yacht across the ocean (we've now done it 5 times), I wondered what it would be like on a boat with a swing keel. Talking with other sailors who owned shallow-draft swing-keel yachts, I realized there were more options for sailing efficiently if you have a lifting keel. Swinging the keel up to raise it means you have actually moved the centre of lateral resistance backwards. It's possible to use this to your advantage when sailing downwind. Normally the yacht designer has carefully calculated the best position to mount a fixed keel. For a yacht with a swing keel, the design is done to optimize performance with the keel all the way down. When we swing the keel partially up, the centre of effort moves aft as you can see in the diagram below. We use this to improve performance when sailing downwind plus it reduces helm effort. It is similar to sailing a dinghy. With the keel most 70 percent raised, we have modified the bottom profile so the boat is more like an arrow. In this position the boat loves to sail downwind!

Distant Shores III

If you are considering buying a swing-keel yacht, please contact us for more information on the new Distant Shores III. She will have a swing keel just like Distant Shores and Distant Shores II and, based on our experience, she will be a great boat for a circumnavigation! We are currently working with a design team to develop this new model - to be launched later this year!

Swing Keel FAQ


Can you sail with the keel up?

Yes. The boat is safe to sail with the keel in any position including raised all the way up. Naturally the boat makes a lot of leeway when going to windward with the keel completely retracted, but she only heels a few more degrees. To understand this you can look at the image below of the keel for our Southerly 49 before it was installed during the build. The keel assembly consists of the massive grounding plate (weight 3180 kilos) plus the swinging keel at 2050 kilos. When you swing the keel up the centre of gravity does raise but not by enough to effect the safety or heeling by very much since so much of the ballast is in the grounding plate. In the picture above we have the keel of our Southerly 42 almost all the way up sailing the shallows of the Bahamas. We are drawing about 4.5 feet instead of our usual 9 feet (2.72m), the deepest draft of the Southerly 42. We are beating upwind and, despite making more leeway than usual, she still makes progress upwind.
Cool Keels - 8

What happens if you run aground?

The keel is designed to swing up into the hull when raised. Since it pivots on its front bearing in normal operation there is no damage if you hit something. Of course we try not to run aground, especially when moving at speed. The lifting pennant goes slack and the boat slows down. This is unlike a "vertically-lifting" centreboard which can be damaged by hitting something as the board jams in its case.

Does the board rattle?

We have never heard the keel move while sailing either of our Southerlys. We do not call it a centreboard since the weight and profile make it more like a regular keel. The swinging keel part of the assembly weighs 2050 kilos (4400 pounds) on the Southerly 49 which is about the same as a BMW 740 automobile! I don't think it could rattle. When we drop the keel down all the way it makes a thump as it comes to rest in the stops in the massive grounding plate.

Does the keel require maintenance?

Yes. The keel lifting mechanism is a system and as such has a maintenance schedule. Once a year we check the hydraulic level, and every five years we replace the pennant that lifts the keel.

Are you considering a Swing-Keel Sailboat?

We're currently developing a new model of swinging keel shallow draft monohull. Distant Shores III be 48 feet long with a draft around 3' with the keel up. If you are in the market for a similar sailboat and would like more information please email us.

In an upcoming blog I will discuss how to sail a swing-keel yacht in heavy weather conditions…


Ultimate Passagemaking Sailboat - Accommodations

By Paul Shard, Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Are you planning an extended cruise? Is "bluewater cruising" in your future? If so you may be planning to bring additional crew along on some of the offshore passages. Read on!

Planning our ideal passage-maker I have been looking at other layouts in the 45-50 foot range. Here are a few of the best known names in offshore monohulls. Hallberg-Rassy, Oyster, Hylas, and comparing to our last boat, the Southerly 49. We're looking at planning a passage with the two of us aboard, and planning to have extra crew join us on some longer passages. Let's see how the boat would accommodate the extra 1-3 people on passage, as well as how the boat could be set up for extra guests on routine sailing and exploring.

In these images below I have labelled the preferred berths as I would assign them to my passaging crew. We need to look after our crew!

Oyster 475

Above is the Oyster 475 with a lovely large aft owner's cabin. The galley is nicely located near the centre of the boat for reduced motion. On passages I would plan to use the aft cabin with lee-cloths to keep off-watch crew secure. There are 2 more sea berths just forward of the mast, and if a fifth person was aboard they could use the saloon settee. If going downwind of course you could use the forward cabin, but on many passages that berth will have too much motion for this watch keeper :-) So the Oyster layout will give you an extremely comfortable boat for the typical cruising couple, plus accommodate 3 additional crew for passages all in their own bunks.

Hallberg-Rassy 48 MkII

Here is an interesting take on an interior designed to look after 2 couples in style. The forward cabin is called a "Super Cabin" by Hallberg-Rassy who correctly suggest most cruising boats are sailed by 1 or 2 couples. Instead of a lot of small cabins common to ex-charter boats, they propose 2 very nice cabins and a smaller 3rd cabin forward. Seems like a good idea. For passage making there are great bunks for 4 people, but the 5th would need to climb over the 4th in my picture above. Both the 2 luxurious cabins have separate showers - nice!

Hylas 49

The classic Hylas layout again has 2 people in the luxurious aft owner's cabin (separated by a lee cloth). The 3rd crew have a private cabin just forward of the mast, then 4th and 5th crew get to curl up a bit on the saloon settees. This is another nice layout for a couple, and there is a luxurious forward cabin for guests up forward, although they would likely not want to sleep there on passages unless downwind. Neither heads appear to include a separate shower. The large galley is nicely positioned near the companionway and narrow enough to keep the cook in place and comfy on passages.

Southerly 49 Distant Shores II

Distant Shores II - our Southerly 49 has the main owners cabin forward so we always moved out of it on passage and slept in the aft cabins. A third crew slept in the saloon, and finally the 4th could sleep forward, or divide one of the aft bunks. These cabins are a bit low to make access for the second berth bit difficult, so in practice we only did this a few times. Downwind I (Paul) used the forward cabin on our last downwind transatlantic passage. The galley is nice at sea… although there is a bit more motion than if the galley was aft. The forward shower is a dedicated unit.

Aft Cockpit or Centre Cockpit

I think many people will agree the main aft owner's cabin is a good feature. Aft cabins are great as they allow spacious headroom above the aft cabin, but this centre cockpit design means a smaller cockpit. We enjoyed the large forward stateroom on DS2 but did not like that we had to move aft for passages. Our 49 had that nice large cockpit, but paid the price with lower headroom in the 2 aft cabins.

What do you think?

Would you prefer an aft cabin, or aft cockpit? Or something else?

Mainsail Choices

By Paul Shard, Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

What sort of mainsail setup is best for long-distance sailing?

On our first cruising sailboat - the 37 foot Two-Step - we had full battens and a rudimentary single-line reefing system. You can see the deep first reef in the picture below. By pulling the single line in the cockpit you would bring both reef points down to the boom using a pulley system hidden in the boom.
Unfortunately the sail-slides were just plastic and regularly broke. Also the single line system tended to get tangled inside the boom since the pulley system would spin around and add friction. Regularly we had to try to untangle the lines.

Both these shortcomings were eliminated by the clever setup in the Selden masts we had on our 2007 Southerly 42 Distant Shores. The sail slides are replaced by Selden's excellent roller car system … check out the link here
We also have this on the Southerly 49 and this system works VERY well. The cars slide easily, never bind and are quite strong. We carry a couple of spares, but in nearly 50,000 miles with this system we have only broken one car.
Reefing is similar to our original "single-line" system but with an important difference. The Selden system involves a car in the boom that cannot become tangled as it could on our older system on Two-Step. Basically the car moves back and forth inside the boom such that it can't rotate and twist. Clever solution to the problem. Here's link to Selden's website describing the system.
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This system allows you to have 2 reef points, each reefed with a single line from the cockpit. We also have a third reef, but this can't be done the same way. We have that as a traditional jiffy-reef.

In-Mast Furling

We have never sailed offshore using an In-Mast or In-Boom furling solution, but I confess I have often wondered if its time to give them a try. In-Mast systems seem the most time-tested, and many boats have circumnavigated with this. On our last crossing there were numerous boats on the ARC with in-mast furling and I envied how easy it would be to reef in our out so easily. Here is a big Hallberg-Rassy 54 with a Selden inmast furling system and a full batten mainsail.
Our crew Anthony, an experienced offshore racer, has the Selden "In-Mast" system on his Bavaria 50 and has done a number of offshore races with it and thousands of miles. He got me thinking more seriously about giving it a try…

Disadvantages include added weight aloft and the potential for a jam if something goes wrong.

Advantages are ease of operation when sailing short-handed, your spend less time furling and covering the sail, and you're more likely get the sail out and set up on a light air day. We SO OFTEN see cruising sailors just motoring with the mainsail cover on when they might be able to sail. We might have been guilty of that ourselves on occasion…

If anyone has experience with this please chime in! Comments Please :-)

Pogo 50 - Lifting Keel - Full-On Performance

If you want to cruise, but cruise FAST... read on!
I got a chance to sail on a Pogo 50 last week in the Anguilla Regatta. For the first day of the regatta there was lots of wind, and we photographed the race from the press boat. On the second day I went out aboard the Pogo 50 for the race. Thanks very much for having me aboard guys!!

In case you haven't heard of Pogo, they are a French Boat builder (not a child's toy :-) specializing in very high performance monohulls. For years they have built Mini-Transat boats, 6.5 meters long (20 feet) and then grown to 30 and 40 footers. Always high-performance! But now they have branched a little more toward cruising with the new Pogo 50.
A Pogo 50 is still very much the high performance craft, but set up for cruising. Appropriately Pogo 50 Maremosso (which we met in Anguilla) was on an Atlantic cruise, and just entered the regatta for fun with their 4 crew.


Did I mention the Pogo 50 is a swing-keel boat like ours (well… somewhat like ours)
Comparing our Southerly 49 to the Pogo 50 they are surprisingly similar in a number of respects…
Both the Pogo and Southerly can raise their keels for shallow water. The Pogo's draft with the keel down is just a foot more than ours at 11'5. Raising the keel for shallow water our Southerly draws just 3 feet, the Pogo less than 5. The difference here is she keeps much of her ballast in the bottom of the swinging 3 ton keel. We have a 3 ton plate in the hull which we can sit on when we have swung up our 2-ton keel and are beached. The Pogo must not be grounded like this I think or would risk damage as the keel is external even when swung up. (Image from YBW.COM) Both the Pogo and Southerly also have twin rudders.
Pogo mast is 6 feet taller than our Southerly. She has quite a bit more sail area in the main however, with the high performance "fat head" sail configuration.
Even the interior layout is similar with the main cabin forward and two aft cabins. The biggest difference is the displacement. The Southerly 49 is nearly twice as heavy!

Inside they have simplified to keep it light, but do have a workable cruising interior. Here in the well-organized nav station, co-owner Guido describes their successful Atlantic ARC crossing (finished 17th).
The interior (shot here from the Designer Finot-Conq website) is quite light and airy, and light-weight as well.
It was unfortunate that we had very light winds the second day of the regatta when I was racing aboard Maremosso. I had watched her roaring around the course the previous day, only to find light flukey winds for my day on board. Nevertheless it was obvious that this is a VERY fast, fun and responsive boat to sail. When even the slightest puff stirred the water we zipped along, but the crew was frustrated they couldn't really show her stuff!

Check out this video on Shallow Water Piloting


Catamaran Thoughts…

Down here in the British Virgin Islands we see a LOT of catamarans cruising around. Many of them look specifically designed for the charter trade with MANY cabins and heads and opening patio doors. But some are much more purposeful and look like they might make a good "Around the World" cruiser. One that has caught my eye recently is Outremer. Might this boat be good for our round-the-world journey?

Popular Caribbean Charter Cats - Lagoon, Leopard, Fontaine Pajot
Fast Cats - Outremer, Catana
Cruising Cats - Antares, Privilege
Are there more?


Comparing catamarans to monohulls is difficult. Catamarans cost more to build for the same length. Two-hulls, two engines, more accommodation, etc. so it is usually better to compare, say, a 46 foot monohull to a 40 foot catamaran, since pricing will be more similar.


Comparing boats on a price basis (rather than boat for boat same length) most monohulls will have a longer waterline length and might be better upwind. Cats might well be faster off the wind and make downwind passages faster. This is not a given though. A former charter-cat, set up for the windy Caribbean, then laden down with all the toys for cruising might be slower than the average monohull…


Monohulls heel over when sailing upwind. Although cats do not heel over they do bounce around in a seaway. Motion is different, and for some people, mono-motion is preferred. And some people prefer the motion of a cat. Of course within monohulls the motion of different boats is quite different. Although there are other factors, a longer waterline generally means a smoother motion. In my experience cats tend to have a slightly more complicated motion as you have two hulls each in different waves.


Catamarans definitely have more interior space. So if you like big spaces, the cat will be great. But be aware you shouldn't necessarily fill up all that storage space. Any boat will suffer from overloading and may even get dangerous. No boat likes to be overloaded but catamarans suffer perhaps more. Moving onboard with "all the stuff" lowers speed and performance on both mono's and cats.

Are you a Cat Person?

In some cases it comes down to what you feel is right. Do you like catamarans? I have even heard people say a catamaran is "just not a proper boat". And of course catamaran people refer disparagingly to monohulls as "half-a-cat". I have always like monohulls, but was quite happy on our week in the BVI chartering a Lagoon 380 (which we filmed in Season 5 here).

Sailing Cats

Catamarans do not heel over when sailing. Of course as the wind increases there is a point when they will lift a hull. For a racing boat this means an increase in speed, but for a cruising boat this is not recommended. Best to reef before the wind reaches the force where the boat is overpowered and "lifts a hull". For those of us used to sailing mono's there is an adjustment to sailing style. You need to be sure not to overpower the boat. Charter cats sometimes are built with shorter masts to make them safer to sail. Owner-Versions might have a higher performance rig. In either case you may need to get used to "sailing by the numbers". So if its up over 20 knots its time to put a reef in even if you're sailing quickly, since its hard to tell how close you are to the edge. In the mono, your rail would be in the water and you know its time to reef :-) Sailing by the numbers may not be for everyone.

Could Distant Shores III be a Cat?

From our quick look around the Outremer 45, I was impressed. Racy and seaworthy looking, she apparently racks up some impressive runs offshore. Who knows??

What do you think? Would a catamaran suit your cruising style?

Distant Shores III - Criteria for the "Around the World" Sailboat

Are you planning an ocean cruise? Perhaps even an "around the world" sailing adventure?

Sheryl and I have now sailed over 100,000 miles on 3 different boats over 26 years of cruising. We plan many more ocean miles and "sailing around the world". If you've followed our exploits you know we like poking into cute places, and crossing oceans as well. The next boat will do all of this, even better than before!

Sailing Qualities - Upwind ability

All 3 of our boats have been quite good upwind. Our Classic 37 Two-Step was pretty good at pointing but was also a wet boat to windward and pitched too much with her short 27 foot waterline and long overhangs. Those are wet decks!
The Southerly 42 was better and much drier. But our Southerly 49 Distant Shores II is the best. She draws 10'2 with the aerofoil keel down and she heads very close to the wind. The new boat must be as good as this…

Comfortable Motion

All three of our boats have been on the heavy side, and this means softer motion at sea. But the 2 Southerlies have had long waterlines for their length. This translates to a good motion with good speed as well.

180 Miles a Day

On the last transatlantic passage we averaged nearly 200 miles a day. After 26 years of sailing we have come to believe a faster boat offers the ability to avoid bad weather, make passages in shorter weather windows or divert away from bad weather. 200 is difficult to achieve but 180 mile regular runs are possible.

Light wind ability

More common than storms, light air conditions are often overlooked when buying a boat. We quite enjoy light air passages (such as our very light transatlantic passage last spring). Our Southerly 49 is pretty good in light air but we do not have a bowsprit to accommodate a code-0 sail. That will be on the list, as well as tankage for 800-1000 miles of motoring.

Downwind Ability

With her swinging keel we can go very well downwind with the Southerly 49 (we swing the keel most of the way up).
Our only real complaint with Distant Shores II for downwind work is that her spreaders are too far swept-back. This means you can't put the boom all the way forward as we could on Two-Step. Jibing is difficult to prevent if the boom isn't all the way out (as when we jibed and broke the traveller car mid-atlantic). DS3 will have less swept spreaders.

Tough Construction

"Around the World Project boat" will be extremely tough. You never know but we might end up rounding Cape Horn or transiting the Northwest Passage (last one less likely). I will ruggedize the bow with additional kevlar to toughen the boat. Our friends John & Amanda on Mahina Tiare III recommend that a boat should be able to withstand a 6 knot grounding. Good advice. Many modern hulls will not survive this. DS3 will for sure!

Cockpit and Helm Position

Both our Southerlies have had traditional fabric dodgers - which we almost never fold down. We had this on our Classic 37 Two-Step but replaced it with a custom hard-dodger project. The new boat will have a hard dodger. Although centre cockpit boats have many advantages, moving the cockpit forward tends to mean its wetter with more spray. The aft cockpit is easier to sail, and with a hard dodger there's also a comfy place for rougher weather.

Accommodation - Passagemaking

Our most pleasant long passages have been with competent friends along as crew. For passages we need comfortable and safe sea-berths for 4 people. We have done 4 ocean crossings and numerous 1,000 mile passages with just the 2 of us, but having crew comfortably aboard is a great option.

Accommodation - Coastal Cruising

We like having guests aboard. At a minimum, a really nice extra cabin for a visiting couple is a must.


Our ideal is a U-shaped galley near the companionway with plenty of storage and good ventilation.

Shallow Draft

We just really love exploring, and have found the shallow draft works for us. DS3 will be shallow draft for sure - able to poke in rivers, the gorgeous Bahamas, canals, inland waterways etc. We have now sailed 40,000 miles in our swing-keel Southerlies. Done properly this has very few drawbacks - mainly added complexity and some expense. Swing-keels offer benefits of access to cruising grounds out-of-bounds to others, plus the ability to have a VERY deep draft with the keel down.
In the next few weeks I will be putting up posts with much more detail on the new Distant Shores III, design, systems etc.

I welcome your comments and questions … and if you're considering a shallow-draft world-cruising boat in the future I hope following our boat-building project will be helpful to you.

Cool Keels - Dusseldorf Boatshow


I just got back from the Dusseldorf Boat Show in Germany (Boot 2016) and my head is still spinning with all the "boat overload"!! It is a really big show and I am sorry I didn't have a few more days to talk to more suppliers and see more! There was really a lot more there than I had imagined - more boats, more equipment, more toys, more of everything to do with boating. Check out this video I made at the show…

I went aboard a number of boats looking to see what's new … Beneteau, Jeanneau, Dufour, Hallberg-Rassy 43, Sunbeam, Oyster 575, Garcia 52 Exploration, Faurby, Nordship, Bavaria Nautitech 40, Delphia 46DS, Allures 39, Linnsen and more!

If you are interested in buying a sailboat, this show has got to be a "must-stop" on your tour. In fact, if you get to Annapolis and Dusseldorf you'll probably see most of what's worth seeing.


I did get aboard the interesting Bavaria 40 foot Nautitech and was impressed. It has an interesting layout with a smaller cabin and large after deck, nice quality build from the quick look I had. But I guess my heart just isn't into catamarans… sigh… they sure look perfect if your plans are mainly Caribbean/Bahamas/tropics. For us the difficulty of getting marina space or through small canals with cats is a big factor. Motion on a monohull is usually better, and certainly upwind ability is important for me too. I guess a cat just isn't in the cards for us. But if you are in the market for a 40'ish size cat, the Nautitech is worth looking at…

Cool Keels

I was keeping an eye out for interesting keels - extra good when the boats are out of the water at indoor shows like Boot Dusseldorf.
Here is the Sirius 40 with a twin-keel. Twin keels are not renowned for amazing sailing performance but they are a very good solution for sailing in a tidal area where you will need to beach the boat often. But if you need shallow draft (like Bahamas) they aren't such a good solution since they are about halfway between a regular keel and a flat bottom keel version. More of a "shoal keel". For the Sirius it draws 1.4 meters VS 1.5 or 1.75 regular keel.
Cool Keels - 1
Here is the Delphia 46 shallow winged keel with centreboard. The boat is beachable as Delphia say the keel is plenty strong enough to rest on the wing. She is pretty shallow as well drawing just 1.3 meters (4'4"). The centreboard swings down from the keel to extend the draft to 7'.
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I filmed this review of the Delphia factory and a quick test sail on the 46 a few months ago.

Allures lovely hulls are made in aluminum by Grand Large Yachting, the somewhat redundant name of the company that also owns Garcia (below) and Outremer catamarans. Allures have very fair aluminum hulls, but the decks are made of fibreglass. This allows for the toughness of aluminum in the water but the versatility of fibreglass in the complex shape of a deck. They have a very shallow centreboard so this 39.9 footer draws just 3'6" or 1.1meters.
Cool Keels - 3
Garcia have made a new line of rugged high latitude sailboats called "Exploration". First a 45 footer was built for Jimmy Cornell, now a 52 has been made in that same style. The keel is similar to the Allures above. The Exploration 52 draws just 1.27 meters (4'2") and can be beached sitting on her belly. Note the incredibly strong stemhead plate protruding from the bow. Ready to push through sea ice on your way through the northwest-passage :-)
Cool Keels - 4
Here is something different. It's a swinging keel that stays outside the boat when you swing it up. It doesn't disappear into the hull or centreboard casing as most others do. Presumably this is so the interior can be the same for versions of this models.
Cool Keels - 5
Higher up on the ladder is the lovely Gunfleet 58 with shallow bulb keel and deep centreboard. Gunfleet was founded by Richard Matthews (who also founded Oyster) and are built in England. This keel will put a reasonable amount of weight quite low in the bulb, and also has a VERY deep draft with the centreboard. On this 58 footer the airfoil shaped board reaches down nearly 12 feet, but with the board up she is just 5'8". She's not beachable though. If lying over on the side I imagine the rudders would be vulnerable (and your drinks would spill :-)

Cool Keels - 6
Here is one of our first times beaching the Southerly 42 in the remote Bahamas.

Southerly's keel arrangement. This is the keel from our current Southerly 49. It uses a 2-part system total ballast 5200kg. The swing keel (weighing a hefty 2 tons) is in the raised position in this photo below. The rest of the ballast weight is in the grounding plate, which will bolt into a recess in the bottom of the boat.
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Sitting on her belly at the pub! The grounding plate takes the weight. We would only do this in a very sheltered area where there would not be waves. After a nice pub dinner we climbed back aboard and headed out at high tide when we floated off. (Filmed in Season 7 of Distant Shores)
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In areas with high tides many boats "take the ground". This is a beach in Chichester England where tides reach 5 meters (16 feet).
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A Beneteau with a standard deep keel who shouldn't have anchored so close to us… oops.
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