A cruising sailboat without a crew is almost as forlorn as a cruising sailor without a boat. One needs the other like a sail needs wind - or a gin and tonic needs ice and a slice...
But there's definitely something special about a cruising boat. Size isn't it - large or small - they all have it. Nor do they have to be stunningly beautiful or hugely expensive. It's not about what they are; it's more about what they can deliver - simple pleasure, high adventure or genuine white-knuckle challenge.
Perhaps just a day sail on the lake or a trip along the coast. A voyage across an ocean maybe, or even a circumnavigation of the world. And best of all, by utilising nature's free and sustainable energy resource - the wind. Pure freedom.
They are beguiling machines, sailing boats. Take this beauty for instance...
So whether you're a paid-up, certifiable sailboat fanatic or just curious about those of us who are, you're sure to find something of interest by cruising around in this website. Who knows where you'll fetch up?
Owning a sailboat, particularly one designed for offshore and ocean sailing, can change your life.
With a few gallons of fuel, adequate food and water aboard she'll take you thousands of miles leaving a carbon footprint in her wake that would delight the most ardent environmentalist.
Hey, you can catch your own fish, make your own drinking water from seawater (or collect nature's free offering with a raincatcher) and charge your batteries with a windcharger or solar panels - all without using a drop of fuel!
With a bluewater sailboat equipped in this way you could go the whole nine yards, sell your shoreside assets, cast off the shorelines together with the tedium of life ashore and set off on a cruising life of freedom and adventure.
A surprising number of people do just this. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...
Whilst it is of course the sails that provide the driving force, it's the sailboat's underwater shape that goes a long way to governing its inherent stability and performance in a seaway. Take keel and rudder configurations for instance...
Long, or Full Keel
Fin Keel and Skeg-Hung Rudder
Deep Fin Keel and Spade Rudder
Twin, or Bilge Keels
It's here that the interior designer can recreate the appeal of a country cottage or splendor of a minor palace, often in the process making access to fixtures and fittings impossible without major surgery to the boat's interior. It's much better to follow the wise adage that 'form should follow function' and leave all the glitz and glamour to vehicles with wheels on.
The interior layout of a cruising sailboat is all important. Take a look at these two similar - but different - interior layout options...
One of them is much more suitable for long-distance offshore sailing than the other.
Displacement can be roughly translated as meaning a boat's all-up weight, and it will come as no surprise that - size for size - a heavy boat will need more wind energy to get her going than a lighter one. Compare the pic of the Hinckley Sou'wester 42 earlier on this page to that of the Vega 42 below...
Both are 42 foot cruising boats, but the Hinckley displaces 24,000lbs and the Reva considerably less at 18,500. This puts the Hinckley firmly in the heavy displacement territory so you could expect it to be considerably slower than the Reva, but to provide a more comfortable ride when the going gets rough.
Whether the Reva actually will sail faster than the Hinckley depends on an number of other factors, particularly their individual Sail Area/Displacement Ratios.
We can say without fear of argument that all cruising sailors will have a keen interest in their sailboat's resistance to capsize.
An indication of this is provided by their boat's GZ curve - at least from static considerations that is. To get a complete understanding of the stability element of seaworthiness, dynamic stability must be taken into account too.
But back to the curve - Just how does it reveal its secrets?
First we need to understand how a boat's Righting Moment is established.
When I first ventured offshore, instruments were pretty basic. Navigation was something of a black art involving sextants, radio direction finding (RDF) equipment, position lines and cocked hats.
These days, my RDF set is probably in a museum somewhere and the sextant hasn't been out of its box in a number of years.
Cockpit instruments were independent units; the log measured speed and distance run, the depth sounder told you how much water was under your hull, and the 'windex' at the top of the mast showed you where the wind was coming from - and that, together with a magnetic compass, was just about it as far as our instruments were concerned.
How things have changed!
What's more, you can add your own! Take a look at what we've got so far...