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London Boat Show

Wow its been a month! Right now we are back in the studio north of Toronto in the middle of a huge blizzard. Already have 60cm of snow and plenty more coming tonight.

Site-seeing on a cold London Evening

But the month hasn't been all snow. First Sheryl and I went to the London Boat Show ( What a great time! We had not been to that show before and found it very different from the north American shows we have attended. First there were lots of sailboats! Almost half the show was devoted to sail – one half the huge ExCel center in London's Docklands. And many of the stands (thats British-speak for booths) were very elaborate. On second thought maybe thats why they were called stands. Some of the swankier powerboat booths incorporated multi-storey restaurants serving champagne to potential clients!!

Meeting a Distant Shores Fan at the Raymarine Stand

Of course we were also filming for “Distant Shores” - sort of “what sailors do in the winter” kind of thing. And we were at the Raymarine Stand chatting to people who have seen our show in the UK. It was fun. We have had Raymarine gear on Two-Step for the past 3 years and love it. Especially the C80 plotter which has become the center of our navigation. With Radar image overlaid on the chart, as well as the info from the autopilot, wind, speed and depth as well – the C80 is a revelation! Certainly we will be putting one on the new boat – or maybe the networked version, the E80. So the boat show was a good time to meet fans of the TV show and chat about Raymarine kit at the stand (kit is stuff, stand is booth. There, I'm getting better at the proper English).

Southerly Stand

But one of the main reasons we went to London was to see the Southerly sailboats. I have been leaning toward the Southerly for a few reasons.

1. It is a solidly built fiberglass boat. I had been looking at aluminum as a building material since it is very strong but difficulties with paint systems and potential corrosion issues has diminished my enthusiasm. So although there are a few attractive aluminum monohulls built with retracting keel I guess they are not for me.
2. Shallow draft! Still a main concern as mentioned above. And although there are a number of shallow draft keels, they are mostly not meant to be dried out. In some cases what is shallow draft is merely relative to the standard keel. So the shallow draft Oyster 655 is 6 foot 8! (which isn't exactly shallow but certainly beats the standard draft of 9 foot 4!)
3. Multihulls look quite appealing, but are generally too beamy to be welcome in many of the more crowded marinas. In the Caribbean they are perfect, but I really want a boat that can go anywhere. The French Canals are another potential cruising ground that we would like to poke our nose into. And with limiting widths of 5 meters most modern cats longer than 35 feet would be too wide.
4. Quality. Northshore have been building Southerly swing keel boats for almost 30 years and have acquired a reputation for solid quality.

So we looked at the Southerly display at the London Boat Show. They had both their smallest boat – the 110, and their new 42RST. The 110 (at roughly 11 meters or 35 feet long) is a very nice looking boat that packs a lot into a relatively compact footprint. It is a lot larger inside than Two-Step. Actually. if we were just to replace Two-Step it would be a top contender. But we are looking for something larger.
Part of our plan with the new boat is to be able to have guests come and stay on board. Besides being able to accommodate additional film crew for our TV series, we are hoping to have space to have other guests to share the sail. Over the past few years we have had a number of requests from viewers of the show who would like to come on-board and share the sail with us. So the new boat we are looking at would have room to accommodate this. Watch this space for more news on this.
The Southerly 42RST (Raised Saloon Twin Wheel steering) was our current odds on favourite even before we saw her at the boat show. We had sailed on a couple of Southerlies earlier, and were impressed with them – but this model – with twin wheel looks just perfect.

Southerly 42RST Twin Wheel cockpit - his and hers wheel!!

There aren't any pix of the model we are going to get but the main specs are the same.

So, there's our big news!! We will be getting the new boat this summer – and getting her in shape to do the Atlantic crossing this coming fall. From England (where they are built) we will sail south across the Bay of Biscay, then Portugal as a shakedown. Then off to Madeira and the Canaries before crossing in November.

But we have a long way to go before then! For now I am working away on electrical budgets, figuring out how the sailplan will work best for the passages we are planning, and what seem like a million other details. The boat will be built starting in late April, and launched in August. Boy are we excited!! The last time we had a new boat was when when launched Two-Step – 19 years ago year – and we had to do all the work ourselves.

So, coming up over the next few weeks I will be doing more work on planning ships systems to make the new boat into our ultimate passagemaker – with shoal draft ability. Electrical systems, water system planning, anchor tackle, weight calculations for all this new equipment and more.

AND, if anyone thinks they might be interested in a chance to come along for a leg of the journey, I am working out a schedule for the next 8 months. The new boat has 2 guest cabins. One is a vee-berth and the other is a cabin with 2 bunks. I am just working out costs for a few of the different legs, we will be doing – starting in a few interisland passages around Madeira and the Canaries, possibly a chance to crew on the transatlantic passage in November/December and a few hops around the Caribbean. If you think one of these chances to gain some cruising experience would work for you, please drop me a email and I will send you out our schedule when its ready and add you to our special “share the sail” mailing list.

Tower Bridge - near St Katharine Docks where we stayed
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