OFFSHORE DREAM MACHINE FOR SAILING AROUND THE WORLD
Dreams come in all different sizes, shapes, and packages. I had a dream of sailing around the world on a multihull, and I chose a Privilege 39 Catamaran, an offshore Dream Machine that can take you anywhere you have the courage to point the bows.
Dreams machines must be honest. They must deliver the goods when you are sailing on the high seas. Too many boats look great while they sit at the dock, but when you take them offshore, a demolition derby begins.
Our Dream Machine is a Privilege 39 catamaran. It's thirty-nine feet five inches long and twenty one feet wide. It has a draft of about four feet fully loaded with cruising gear. It's built for offshore sailing, and will take you anywhere you want to go in the world.
That being said, a catamaran this size is better suited for sailing downwind in the trade winds rather than sailing in the high latitudes found in arctic regions. It can sail in the high latitudes, and Exit Only would survive sailing in those regions, but the boat wasn't designed for high latitude cold weather sailing. In those regions, catamarans over sixty feet in length with a high bridge deck clearance are better suited to the task. Nevertheless, a catamaran my size can be sailed to any destination if it is done in a conservative manner. But there's no doubt about it, at high latitudes, bigger is better when you are in a catamaran. What are the specific features on Exit Only that make it a good Dream Machine?
1. It's built tough to Bureau Veritas Standards. Bureau Veritas certifies that a yacht meets the standards set up by the French government for offshore sailing yachts. Exit Only is a heavy yacht. Its construction is substantially heavier than most catamarans its size. That means it's not a greyhound racing from point to point. It's more like a tank that can take a licking and keep on ticking. It won't set any speed records, but if conditions get nasty, it will survive. Whenever I am in a gale or storm, I am glad that I am securely hunkered down in Exit Only because I know this catamaran is up to the task.
2. Exit Only is essentially unsinkable unless you break it into small pieces by getting run down by a ship. It has four water tight compartments in each hull, and if you knock a hole in one of the compartments, the boat will not sink. This feature is extremely important. When my yacht was sailed from France to England by a delivery skipper, the boat struck something that knocked an eight inch hole in the starboard bow. There is a collision bulkhead about one foot back from the leading edge of the bow, and that bulkhead stopped water from entering the next watertight compartment. Only a liter of water entered the first water tight compartment, and the yacht was never at risk of sinking. The same size hole in a monohull yacht would cause it to sink in less than ten minutes. Those watertight compartments were a great comfort when I sailed through the tsunami debris field south of Sri Lanka after the catastrophic Asian tsunami of 2004. There were giant partially submerged trees floating in the waters south of Galle, Sri Lanka, and any one of them could have put a gaping hole in my bow. Having collision bulkheads and watertight compartments is good, and every catamaran should have them.
3. Exit Only has two steering wheels. Two wheels are an excellent idea. Did you ever see a jet airplane with only one steering wheel? If one wheel breaks, the second one is ready to go. Not a big deal you might say, but talk to sailors who have broken the steering cable that goes from their one and only steering wheel to the steering quadrant. Their trip rapidly becomes a hellish experience if they can't repair the steering. They have to steer their yacht with a jury rigged emergency tiller. On Exit Only, we have four ways to steer the yacht. There is steering wheel one, steering wheel two, emergency tiller, and finally, the push buttons on the autopilot. That type of redundancy means we will probably never experience a steering emergency.
4. Exit Only has two rudders. Two rudders are not optional in a catamaran. You have two hulls and you need two rudders to optimally control your yacht. I have seen yachts that lost their rudder or the rudder disintegrated because of poor construction or damage from striking submerged objects. Having a second rudder means you still have at least modest control of the yacht if one rudder becomes inoperable or disappears in the depths of the sea.
5. Exit Only has two engines. Not all catamarans have two engines - some have a center nacelle in which they place a single engine that provides all the power for moving the yacht when there is no wind. Exit Only has one engine in each hull which gives redundancy should one engine fail, and it makes the yacht extremely maneuverable in tight quarters under power. Two engines double the horsepower available when you need to push into strong headwinds and contrary seas. Normally we use only one engine at a time, moving at five knots under power. But when we need to, we can turn on the second engine and get the speed up to seven and a half knots. Two engines give us the power to motor to windward in winds up to thirty-five to forty knots. When we navigate through tricky passes in atolls, we always run two engines just in case one engine fails at a critical moment. You have great peace of mind knowing that in an emergency there is a spare engine to get you through. Each of our engines has its own separate fuel system so if contaminated fuel shuts down one engine, the second will be able to continue running without interruption.
6. Exit Only has four solar panels that realistically put fifty amp hours of power into the deep cycle batteries each day.
7. Exit only has two Aerogen wind generators. The two generators pump a combined two hundred amp hours into the battery banks each day while we are at anchor or sailing in the trade winds. When the winds are blowing, we can sit for weeks at a time without having to turn on the engines to generate electricity.
8. Exit Only uses a double headsail downwind sailing rig assisted by two eighteen foot spinnaker poles putting 1000 square feet of sail out in front of the yacht. We cruise effortlessly downwind in the trade winds day after day. This rig has carried us 20,000 miles downwind as we sailed around the world. Sometimes we keep this rig up for weeks at a time. The double headsails can be reefed, and it puts the center of effort of the sails at the bow pulling us downwind with a balanced helm. The helm is so well balanced that the autopilot can almost go on vacation - it has so little work to do as it keeps the boat tracking downwind.
9. Exit Only has an Autohelm 7000 autopilot that puts out 1200 pounds of linear force directly into the steering quadrant. Our autopilot has steered Exit Only 33,000 miles around the world. We keep a complete spare autopilot on board, and have had to use the spare only twice. In French Polynesia, a failed bearing stopped the autopilot until the bearing was replaced, and while sailing up the Great Barrier Reef, we stripped the epicyclic gears in the autopilot, and I had to replace them. Not bad for 33,000 miles of service offshore. In the entire trip around the world, I have hand-steered the yacht for less than twenty-four hours total.
10. Exit Only has a seventy pound Beugel anchor. Exit Only has dragged CQR anchors all across the Pacific Ocean. It didn't matter whether we used our forty-five pound CQR or our sixty pound CQR, we dragged them causing quite a few sleepless nights. The problem with the CQR design was that it was difficult to set in marginal bottoms, and it couldn't be trusted to reliably reset when wind and current changed the pull on the anchor. Once we got our Beugel, our anchor dragging woes were over. The Beugel sets quickly and resets well when there is a change in wind or tide. It also works well in tight anchorages. In fifteen thousand miles of sailing from Australia to the Caribbean, I had the anchor drag once in the Red Sea in fifty feet of water where the bottom was sloping rapidly away from land. I also dragged anchor one time in the Canary Islands in forty feet of water in an area known to have poor holding. When I put the anchor down, I back down on it with both engines in full reverse, and when the anchor is firmly set, I put my head on my pillow and sleep soundly through the night. No anchor watch for me because I know my anchor will hold.
11. Exit Only has two stainless steel chainplates bolted through the decks at the bows. There are large diameter stainless steel bails welded to the chainplates, and the bails are a chafe free attachment point where I can shackle my parachute storm anchor if we ever get in a mega storm. The chainplates are twenty-five inches long, and they will never pull out of the deck even in extreme conditions. When I was 300 miles north of New Zealand hunkered down in a fifty knot gale, the parachute sea anchor give us a secure refuge in our turbulent water world.
12. Exit Only sails level and doesn't roll when going downwind in the trades. Monohulls roll relentlessly to port and starboard when sailing downwind. Imagine what your life would be like to sail across the Atlantic for two weeks if you rolled from side to side half a million times during the trip. That never happens in a catamaran, and is one of the reasons trade wind sailing is so great in a catamaran. It's truly no bruising cruising.
13. The remainder of the features on Exit Only are fairly standard for a cruising yacht, whether it's a monohull or a multihull. Those features include: radar, high frequency radio for ship to ship communication and email, VHF radio, EPIRB - emergency position indicating radio beacon, Iridium satellite phone, GPS, C-map computerized charts, complete survival gear and emergency gear, Givens six man life raft, and a reverse osmosis watermaker.
This list could go on for more than a dozen pages. Our inventory of spare parts and sailing gear is too long to enumerate.
Exit Only has been our home on the high seas for more than eleven years. It's an honest Dream Machine that has lived up to our expectations and taken us safely around the world. You can't ask much more than that from any yacht.
Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.
Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.
If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.
Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.
Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.
Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.
After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.
Join Team Maxingout as they sail through Pirate Alley and up the Red Sea
See what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before you spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one
After watching the Red Sea Chronicles you will be able to see yourself sailing on the ocean of your dreams
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