Watch how fast a monohull sailboat sinks

Another monohull sailboat sinks.

The beautiful Dubols half-tonner “The Alchemist” was owned by the commodore of the Island Sailing Club of Cowes, UK.  During the “Round the Island” race, the skipper hit the wreck of the SS Varvassi, leading to a rescue operation by the RNLI. Watch as this sailboat sinks with the White Cliffs of Dover in the background.

World Cruising Club’s transatlantic rally, ARC Europe 2016 begins!

World Cruising Club’s transatlantic rally, ARC Europe 2016 begins!

ARC Europe 2016 BVI to Bermuda

Thirty-eight boats have left the BVI’s and are heading to Bermuda before continuing across the Atlantic ocean. A majority of the vessels have less than twenty nautical miles between them. A distance that is outside VHF radio contact but only about four hours travel time if assistance is needed. Communication takes place via satellite-phone-based devices that also transmit a GPS location to the club’s base camp and an online map for the friends, family and fans to enjoy.

ARC rally from Virginia to Bermuda 2016

Also there are just three cruisers that have started their rally from Virginia. That’s where Lindsay and I plan to start with Makara next year. As you may recall, we had planned to be a part of the rally this year. It didn’t take long after purchasing Makara in December and sailing her down the east coast to realize that we didn’t have enough time to prepare for the open ocean by April. We have decided to sit this one out at the Historic Sea Port of Key West, Florida for a year.

Watching the ARC Europe 2015 rally on the “Fleet Tracker” was helpful in making a decision to purchase a catamaran over a monohull. Last year, a Leopard 48 sailed (and probably motored some, too) faster than ALL OTHER BOATS in the rally, both monohulls and catamarans included! It’s important to note that this was only during  the DOWNWIND leg, however it is the longest leg. The catamaran was not fastest was the wind was coming from the beam (the side), while travelling between the BVI’s and Bermuda. Here is a screen shot from last year showing skipper Albert Levy in the lead at the halfway point. That lead was maintained all the way to the Azores. I was impressed by Robertson and Caine’s Leopard catamarans from that point on. I started my search for used Leopards and found Makara soon after!

Halfway to the Azores

Let’s see what we have for multihulls in the rally this year:

5 catamarans out of 41 boats

3 Leopards

2 are 45 feet long

Makara is 47 feet long, so I will be cheering for both of the 45 footers this time! I will wait for the downwind leg, however…..

2015 ARC Europe – Leopard 48 “Dala” wins

After sailing 11 days from Bermuda to Horta, Azores, the sailing catamaran “Dala” is bound to finish first in just a couple of hours. I have been following her across the ocean, reading the blogs from the owner and captain, Albert Levy.

Leopard 48 finishes first at Horta
Leopard 48 finishes first at Horta

This is Albert’s first time across an ocean, and he has hired an experienced captain to assist him and his partner. He made a wise choice, because his journey from the BVI’s to Bermuda involved some broken parts on the top of his mainsail.

I read his detailed description of exactly what went wrong and how he got excellent service in Bermuda to make repairs. Now since Lindsay and I may have a similar rig, I have made a mental note to bring along some extra parts for this rigging!

Doyle Anomaly Headboard system on a Leopard 48 catamaran
Doyle Anomaly Headboard system on a Leopard 48 catamaran – CLICK FOR VIDEO

After this system was repaired in Bermuda, they set off bound for Horta, Azores on May 20th. After a few days at sea, the main halyard broke, which is the white line you see above. The entire mailsail came falling down in the middle of the night. This is unfortunate but perhaps the line was damaged when the parts broke on the previous journey. Anyway, the experienced captain that Albert brought with him was able to use a smaller line on board to raise their sail again, but only part of the way as to not overload the line and break it again. This means they never sailed under full sail or near their top speed again for the remainder of the trip. Yet somehow, they have managed to finish first! Why is that?

They were the first boat to take a more northerly route, and there were stronger winds up there. Also, I think the Leopard 48 is a fast boat. The other Leopard 48 in this same rally is sailing vessel “Widago.” They are bound to finish 2nd in the catamaran class and 8th in the rally. As you can see from their pictures, they don’t necessarily look like hard core sailors that are hungry for a win!

The crew of SV Widago and SV Dala in the 2015 ARC Europe
The crew of SV Widago and SV Dala in the 2015 ARC Europe.

Watching them perform well even through the mishaps gives me confidence to make the same journey myself.

2015 ARC Europe – About sailing fast


After spending a few days enjoying Bermuda’s hospitality, yachts sailing under the flags of 20 different nations left St. George’s Harbour in Bermuda on May 20th to make the 1800 nautical mile journey to Horta in the Azores.

St. George’s Town, Bermuda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The group set sail from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands on May 9th as part of the ARC Europe and ARC USA Spring Rallies, with more than forty boats sailing with ARC Europe this year; thirty leaving from Tortola and six from Virginia, USA for the first stage of the rally, which was a passage to Bermuda where a further seven yachts joined in.

The current leader is “Dala”, a Leopard 48 sailing catamaran. This is very similar to a sailboat that Lindsay and I plan to purchase in December of this year. Our current options are these similarly priced sailboats aging from 6 to 16 years old: Lagoon 44, Leopard 45, Bahia 46, or Leopard 47. Does this mean that we have a chance to sail faster than the rest of the pack when we make this journey next year? Perhaps. Let me tell you why.

Halfway to the Azores

Generally, the larger the boat, the faster it can go. For a displacement boat, a heavy deep-keel boat, the maximum speed a given hull can attain from wind power is called “hull speed” and is largely dependent on the waterline length of the boat. Hull speed is expressed as 1.34 X the square root of LWL, or length of waterline. This Leopard 48, “Dala” has a waterline length of 45 feet 5 inches, she should be able to sail 1.34 x 6.74, which is 9.03  knots. If we purchased a Lagoon 44, it has a waterline length of 41 feet 10 inches so the hull speed would be 8.67 knots, which is 0.36 knots slower than “Dala”. This means over the course of 24 hours, “Dala” will theoretically sail 8.6 nautical miles farther that a Lagoon 44. In theory then, everything else being the same, a 44 foot sailboat must sail for one hour longer each day to cover the same distance as a 48 foot sailboat! So according to the math, it is impossible to sail faster than a longer boat.

But as you can imagine, there’s more to it than that. For example, just because one car’s engine is bigger than it’s competitor doesn’t guarantee it will win the race! “Dala” is leading this race with the third place boat being a Hallberg Rassy 54, which has waterline of 46.9 feet and a hull speed 0.15 faster than her. Clearly “Dala” is doing better than the others even though it’s hull speed is slower. Why is that?

Most of the time due to the condition of the boat, light winds, headwinds or opposing waves, sailboats are not traveling at their maximum hull speed. However, there are simple things that sailors can do to their boats to make them go faster through the water. For starters, keeping a very clean bottomside and having the sails and rigging “tuned up” makes a bigger difference than a couple of feet of waterline.

The most important thing about sailing fast, however, is knowing which course to take and how to trim the sails. Just a few degrees off course or having one sail overtrimmed can change the boat’s speed by almost a knot.

Sail Trim

The entire crew has to understand what the boat needs and work together for days on end to give the boat what it wants before they can achieve the fastest speed through the ocean. Sailing fast is important but it’s not always about winning. There’s a little more to it than that.

For us, it’s not about winning a race or being the best at something because we are cruisers. Being in the right place at the right time is the goal. A good sailor has researched the best ETA and then calculated the expected travel time to determine when to depart. Whether sailing down a coastline or crossing an ocean, it’s about adapting to changing conditions and doing one’s part to maintain the expected ETA.

The Harbour at Horta, Azores
The Harbour at Horta, Azores

At the end of the journey, all we want is to arrive in the right harbor with two very important conditions in our favor. We need to arrive with the sun high and behind us so we can see the buoys or the bottom and with the right level of tide so we can safely navigate inside without hitting anything. Then we can secure the boat, clear in with the authorities and get on with exploring the next exciting destination! Someday soon, we’d like for you to join us and find out for yourself.

2015 ARC Europe – Post 2

Almost to Bermuda

On the 9th of May, 2015, 51 boats were off to a breezy start of about 16 knots, gusting to 19 knots in Nanny Cay, Tortola for ARC Europe & ARC USA 2015 rallies. As the horn sounded at 12 noon, first to cross the line were ‘Rhea’, with a sneaky move around the buoy marker, followed closely by ‘Doppelbock’ in second and ‘Mahe 3’ in third. Six of the ARC USA boats decided to get underway early to make their way to Florida. In the multi-hull division, at a later start of 1210pm saw ‘Mantra 2’ cross the line first followed by ‘GEM’ in second and ‘Intrepid Elk’ in third.


ARC Europe Leopard 38

Now, three days later, I’m watching “Widago” take 5th place out of 51 boats. She is sailing on a beam reach, which is probably a very fast point of sail for her. “Widago” is a Leopard 48, one of the few catamaran models that we are considering to purchase at the end of this hurricane season, which is around mid-November. I’m very pleased about the idea of cruising at almost 9 knots, which would be about three times faster than our old boat “Third Aye.”

When will they finish this leg to Bermuda? Well let’s do a little math for “Widago”.  Speed = Distance / Time. Therefore, Time = Distance / Speed.

DTF (Distance to finish) = 212.1 NM and Speed =8.7 knots (NM/hour). Therefore, Time to finish is 212.1 / 8.7 = 24 hours.

I wonder how “Widago” will do on the trip across the ocean, which is typically a downwind route.

There are only six boats that will be leaving from Portsmouth, VA today. They are joining the 51 other in Bermuda, before heading across the ocean together, bound for the Azores and beyond. Their start was delayed by Tropical Storm Ana.

Lindsay and I plan to join them next year.

2015 ARC Europe

Now that the 2014-2015 cruising season is ending, the chances of a hurricane forming in the South Atlantic are increasing. It’s time for the sailboat cruisers to head to safer waters. Most of them head north to the USA or travel across the north Atlantic towards Europe. Many of them head for the dreamy cruising waters of the Mediterranean. Who can blame them?
ARC Europe Route


As I posted last year when the sailboats were leaving Europe, the World Cruising Club organized them and provided safety information in an event known as the ARC, or Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.

For the route leaving the Caribbean and the east coast of the USA, it’s called the ARC Europe.

As the World Cruising Club states:

ARC Europe is the west-to-east Atlantic rally, sailing from the Caribbean or North America to Europe.  Starting from Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola British Virgin Islands or Ocean Marine Yacht Centre in Portsmouth Virginia, the two fleets rendezvous in St George’s, Bermuda before crossing the Atlantic to the Azores.

After cruising the Azorean archipelago, boats sail to Marina de Lagos in southern Portugal, or sail independently to northern Europe.

In every port there will be social activities, plus tours ashore in the Azores.

Here is the schedule:

2015 ARC Europe schedule

As you can see, they start tomorrow. I wish them all the best of luck and perhaps I will post again about specific boats in the rally.

Lindsay and I are still learning about preferred routes and seasons. We have a pretty good idea about where to be for the best sailing, but having the World Cruising Club organize the whole thing is much preferred for our first time across. We intend to use this route next year.

Old boat to future boat: “Third Aye” versus a 2005 Leopard 43, comparing layouts of two very different boats.

In July of 2008, I purchased a 1976 monohulled 30 foot Irwin Sloop for 5,100 USD on Ebay. I used it as a livaboard vessel while working in Key West as a SNUBA guide. I later changed the name to “Third Aye.”

Tadd Prax 1

There was just enough headroom for me to walk upright and not hit my head on the “domelight” in the saloon, which looked like something from my first car in high school.


As you can see from the “accommodation plan” and “inboard profile” below, the boat is pretty much divided into thirds from bow to stern.

1976 Irwin 30 layout
1976 Irwin 30 layout

In the bow, one third of the length is taken up by the v-berth and head on port with sink and locker on the starboard side.

 Third Aye V-BerthIMG00183IMG00182

The middle third is the saloon with a table that folds down and settees on either side. This needs to be raised up and everything stowed when a meal is finished. Storage lockers for personal items and clothing are stored behind and below the seats.


On the starboard side just down the companionway is the galley for one with an ice box I converted to a freezer. On the port side is a chart table and navigation station. Behind that is a tiny aft berth for crew to rest while underway.


The remaining third of the interior is for the engine room, which is inconveniently located under a bonnet or hood on the interior of the boat, between the galley and the chart table. This was very tight and I had to use mirrors and flashlights to see where to put the screwdriver or wrench when replacing parts. In the stern is the steering linkage and a large locker on the starboard which is accessed from the cockpit above.


In 2009, when Lindsay and I spent quite a bit of time and money fixing her up and finally sailed away, we got along very well aboard despite the small space.



After purchasing the dive shop in 2012, we rented an apartment in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. Not living aboard any longer, she was being neglected on a mooring at the El Cid marina, and costing us money. Besides, it was too small for us to use for our future travel goals, and we wanted something larger and safer. We sold her for 10,000 USD, with a clause that she be delivered to Rio Dulce, Guatemala before final payment. That in an of itself is another great fiasco, a good story to tell now about how delivery captains can seriously affect your life. Ask me about it sometime.

Goodbye Third Aye!
Goodbye Third Aye!

The next boat we buy, after selling the dive shop, will hopefully be a Leopard 43. Architect Alex Simonis and builders Robertson & Caine won praise for this catamaran’s speed, windward ability, ease of handling, innovative design features, and phenomenal robustness. The maximum hull speed is 8 knots through the water, if the waves are from behind, in “following seas”, the boat is pushed faster than that over ground. This is over twice as fast as “Third Aye.” They were built with the robust South African standards, received glowing reviews in major sailing magazines, sailed to the Caribbean on their own bottoms, not shipped over. They are a very popular charter boat and currently there are two available right now on I will provide the links to them at the end of this post.

2005 Leopard 43 under sail

This drawing of the layout with shadowing vividly shows the spacious cabins.

2005 Leopard 43 BVI layout

There are four cabins, four queen sized beds, two quarter berths in the forward cabins, and the v-shaped settee in the saloon converts into a double bed. Therefore, this model sleeps up to 8 adults on the queen sized beds, 2 children in the quarter berth, and 2 young adults in the saloon. That’s 12 people on a 43 foot boat, provided everybody packed light in soft luggage. What a layout!

There are four bathrooms, or “heads” with showers, and an additional fresh water shower outside at the swim platform.

The Leopards are famous for incorporating the cooking space into the dining space, called a “galley up” design. We love this concept of bringing the chef into the room, instead of being trapped in a hallway of one of the pontoons. For dining space, there are two options. Inside for windy or rainy conditions and the v-shaped settee seats 8. 2005 Leopard 43 Saloon BVI

Outside in the cockpit, which is preferrable for cruisers, seats 6 on benches with backs and 2 more on a cooler, with cushions provided for all seats. That’s a total of 16, which is 4 more than can sleep aboard! Again, what a layout!

2005 Leopard cockpit seating

Catamarans have over twice the deck space, and the “trampolines” are every charter guests dream come true. There are even dolphin-watching seats installed up front at the “pushpits.”

2005 Leopard Front of deck

To see more pictures and videos of this boat design, follow this link: 2005 Leopard 43 on in BVIs. And a second boat for sale here: Another 2005 Leopard 32 on in BVIs.

2014 ARC Summary Report – Monohulls are faster?

All boats have crossed with a “no news is good news” result. No major problems with the fleet have made the headlines of any sailing magazines or blogs that I have seen yet. Well done by all.

Philo Cat Ena

Here you can see that a little catamaran called Philocat Ena has reached the harbor in St. Martin well ahead of most boats. Not until we look at the results, which are corrected for handicaps and MOTORING PENALTIES can we determine the finishing order.


Philocat Ena has finished second, because they used their motor quite a bit they were not first. Still, impressive to take on an Atlantic crossing on a light catamaran and do it faster than it’s taller competitors. But does that prove that catamarans cross the ocean faster than monohulls?

Let’s compare them. They are in two different classes. Here we can see the first and second place catamarans finished their crossing in 16 days.

ARC 2014 Division Results

Blue Waves actually sailed faster on this crossing than all other catamarans. Well done sailing and maintaining a beautiful boat.

Lagoon 45 Blue Waves

And on this table we can see that ten monohulls, some of which are built to go fast, finished before the third place catamaran did, which was in 17 days and a bit.

ARC 2014 Division Results boat 40

Congratulations to the crusing class monohull winner, Arietta.

Arietta 4.2

This disproves my theory that all catamarans make crossings faster that monohulls, in general. Nine other monohulls finished  before the 3rd place catamaran did. I’m sure some catamarans are faster that some monohulls, such as the Philocat Eno and Blue Waves are  faster than most all of the monohulls.

However, if we compare all catamarans to all of the monohulls that made this crossing they are not faster. They cats  were interspersed among the monos. Perhaps it’s the way a catamaran skipper drives his boat, maybe they like to take it easy and don’t like heeling over. It wasn’t a race, after all, it was a RALLY.

But still, I will attest that a catamaran is more comfortable on anchor than a monohull, which is where Lindsay and I intend to spend most of our time.


This is especially true wherever there is motorboat traffic passing the anchorage. Even small boat wakes from outboard engines tend to “rock the boat” more on a monohull than a catamaran.


Tipping over when accidentally going aground will never happen on a catamaran either. What a nightmare that would be!

Monohull sideways aground

We can all agree that the appeal of chartering a cabin on a catamaran is more attractive than on a monohull, so I think our decision is still sound to purchase a catamaran in the 40-foot-range. Don’t you agree?


2014 ARC Halfway Report

All boats are on their way to Saint Lucia, 2,700 nautical miles to the southwest. The weather provided good north-easterly trade winds for the first few days. After slowing a bit, from 0 to 10 knots, the winds are now expected to shift south of east, improving the speed of those boats that are north of the rhumb line as they can now turn a bit more to the port side, rather then having the wind directly behind them.

ARC catamarans halfway

This image above is from the world crusing club’s “fleet tracker”. I have isolated the catamarans from the fleet of 178 boats. If I were to add in the monohulls, it would look like this:

2014 ARC all boats halfway

These boats are all sailing somewhat together and only the racing class can be seen approaching the finish very soon.

You can follow them yourself by visiting this site.

The ARC crossing record is 10 days, 21 hours, 25 minutes and 10 seconds, set by Caro a Knierim 65 in ARC 2013. This is likely to be under serious threat from 100 foot super maxi Leopard by Finland. Leopard is sailing with a crew of 23 in ARC 2014, and has a considerable history of conquering Atlantic speed sailing records and is the yellow boat that is shown about to finish the race this evening.