Distant Shores III - Criteria for the "Around the World" Sailboat | Sailing Blog - Technical Hints and Tips - Sailing Television

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.
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