Bluewater Sail

There is a magic about being out of sight of land under sail; it is a connection to a past we can only imagine. Experiential educator Lance Lee, founder of the Apprenticeshops, the Atlantic Challenge, and numerous initiatives to educate all of us about the raw value of challenging experiences, said in an interview on NPR something like this: "Running parallel to the information superhighway is a cow path. My job is to yank you off the highway and onto the cowpath from time to time." There is no better way to get off the highway than sailing offshore.

I like boats that look good, sail well, are relatively shoal draft so you can hang out in more places, and have enough volume to carry lots of food, fuel, water, spares, and friends. There are many yachts and price ranges that can fill this bill. With the advent of sophisticated weather routing services, speed is becoming a more handy virtue in weather avoidance versus the displacement-focused school of thought, although this debate has been going on for years.

There are so many good boats in this category: Hinckley, Hylas, Hallberg-Rassy, Bristol, Sabre, J Boats, Hanse, Moody, and on and on. Some models are better than others depending on your purpose. I have many contacts in the industry to help me sort through the many offerings of different builders. Often there are owners' associations and/or discussion threads on different marine websites that you might find useful. I often run searches to dig up info on a particular boat model or engine.

Buying an older sailboat that will be suitable for offshore passage requires a top notch surveyor and an understanding of all the parts and pieces that might need attention. The Bristol 41.1 that I renovated required nearly the same investment in renovations as the purchase price, and that put no price on several hundred hours of my own labor. There are some great values out there in passagemaking sailboats, some may be ready to go to sea with little additional preparation, but many require a hefty investment.

© Peter Bass 2013-19