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Old 11-02-2015, 02:39   #1
sdf
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Boat for polar cruising

Hi everyone, recently I have been thinking about the best suited boats for sailing the Arctic and Antarctic peninsula (or around ice in general), and can't decide between anything, so I have turned to this forum for help. My question is: If you were choosing a boat for OCCASIONAL polar cruising, what features would you want the boat to have? If possible, please touch on the following:
Hull Material - Metal or fiberglass/wooden? I have seen videos and read about fiberglass boats going to these places without any problems. What do you think?
Keel - fixed or lifting? full or fin?
Rudder - skeg hung? spade? transom hung? What are your thoughts on a transom hung rudder that can kick up if it hits anything solid?
Cockpit? open or closed? Center or aft?
Rig- Big or small?

I guess what I am asking is if you were choosing a boat, would it be something like an OVNI or a more modern, lightweight boat? (something like an RM 1360) How does fiberglass really handle the ice? obviously not crashing into an iceberg the size of your boat, but the inevitable bump against one of the smaller chunks of drift ice?

Thanks in advance for answering.
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Old 11-02-2015, 03:15   #2
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

Have a look at Skip Novak's boats, both on Youtube, & his website www.pelagic.co.uk he's been doing high latitude expeditions for a few decades, & said vessels are optimized for such. Although he & they, definitely do a lot of standard voyaging as well.
Still, he's kind of a major authority on the subject. Especially given his skippering & fitting out multiple boats for RTW races, prior to beginning his current program(s).

Ah, & the Cliff Notes Version; Metal Hulls, LOTS of insulation, Separate spaces for wet gear, dinghy's, warps, foulie drying lockers. Lifting keels, much like on say a Pearson 40. Multiply redundant, simple, beefy systems.

Metal boats are the norm for high latitude cruising & exploration, so given the one's you mentioned, I'd take the Ovni. But keep in mind that for thousands of years, Alaskan natives have been going to sea in ice filled waters in kayaks which have Seal skins for hulls.

On the rudder thing, were it me going with a kickup, transom hung rudder, I'd choose one with a kickup cassette system, like you see in a lot of custom multis (Kurt Hughes, John Shuttleworth, etc.), & shorthanded offshore (mostly French) racers. That way, the rudder's designed to be weaker than the cassette, & acts as a "crumple zone" . One which can be replace in situ (the rudder blade that is). And I, personally, favor such a rudder type, in pairs.

That or a stout spade rudder. My last boat's rudder was constructed of aluminum "wing frames" welded to a solid shaft, with plate welded overtop of all of that, & wrapped & faired in glass. The shaft being about 6" in dia. where it entered the hull (on a 40' composite racer). With 3 sets of massive bearings, spread over 4.5' vertically, inside of the boat, up to the deck level.
Kind of like the type which the Dashew's advocate, & built into a lot of their boats. Albeit their rudder posts were/are more like 8-9" (on far bigger boats than mine).

Also, some folks will suggest a rudder built as described above, but with the lower 1/3rd or 40% made out of something a bit weaker. Like foam & glass. So that the tip's sacrificial in a hard collision. And you're left with a decent sized rudder to get home with, & perhaps even to rebuild upon, after doing the appropriate NDT on what's left of the original rudder.
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Old 11-02-2015, 03:55   #3
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

I think the best boat for high-latitude cruising is the best boat for everywhere else, as well: Full keel, stern-hung rudder, gaff rig (simple, low-aspect, easily maintained and very powerful). A heavy-displacement boat will usually be built more sturdily than a fin-keeled racer, so have the advantage over stray ice chunks, and the capacity to carry LOTS of supplies and provisions is not to be despised. I'd look for a non-cored fiberglass hull--something like a Cape George or a Falmouth 34, or find/build a steel boat, if you can handle the constant battle with rust. The Wylo 30-something comes to mind as a steel-hulled boat that meets several of my standards.
Good luck searching, and while you do, check out perhaps the books "Northern Lights" (author forgotten), about a young guy who sails Labrador in a frail wooden engineless small schooner, and "North to the Night" by Alvah Simon, where he spends a winter frozen into arctic ice on his boat. On purpose!
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Old 11-02-2015, 08:52   #4
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

2nd on the metal hull, steel is better than aluminum for this application. I would avoid wood hulls, though I do know of wood hulled vessels that have successfully crabbed the Bering sea in the ice, but they are heavy planked. The older thicker hulled full keel fiberglass hulls work as long as one is prudent about not bashing into bergy bits. For me a good one is Skookum marine built in the late 70s, early 80s. I would have a pilot house as well. You can find these vessels in the PNW and in Alaska. I have no vested interest in Skookum other than being a satisfied owner.
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Old 11-02-2015, 08:54   #5
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

Take a look at the Diesel Duck.


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Old 12-02-2015, 10:37   #6
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

I'd buy this!


The Boat For Sale
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:00   #7
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

Dock Street Brokers ::
Take a look at this.
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Old 12-02-2015, 13:27   #8
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

Check out the folks on Morgan's Cloud. Attainable Adventure Cruising and their Attainable Adventure Cruising website. These folks are some high latitude sailors who have an exhaustive website dealing with the production of such a boat called the Adventure 40 (aluminum) that is in preproduction mode and will cost approx $200,000. It is an exhaustive treatise of how this type of boat should be made from stem to stern and weighs in on the aluminum vs steel debate.

Also the French builder, Boreal, makes some well thought out high latitude boats. Much like the Ovni's or Garcia's. Closer to home, Waterline out of British Columbia makes some very nice steel boats!

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Old 12-02-2015, 13:34   #9
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

I like the Boreal very much. I have seen one close up and personal and this make could be my No 1 choice for moderate ice.

If wintering over prevails over sailing ability, I would steer towards boats like that red Vagabond.

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Old 12-02-2015, 14:17   #10
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

Here you go Yachts - IAATO and http://iaato.org/documents/10157/148...e-07b31bb54b67

People take 'glass boats down to the peninsula, I wouldn't take mine for a number of reasons.

However I have spent some time in ice assorted.... ice is very hard.... even quite small bits ( esky or chilly bin size) can be nasty if hit with any force...

I don't think I would be happy with a transom hung rudder if there was any chance of being iced in.

Make sure she is or can be well insulated.
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Old 12-02-2015, 14:26   #11
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

How about Hawk, Beth & Evans Starzingers boat,its for sale.
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Old 12-02-2015, 15:07   #12
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by steamgoat View Post
How about Hawk, Beth & Evans Starzingers boat,its for sale.
SOLD, I think.
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Old 12-02-2015, 16:21   #13
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

We keep our heavy steel cutter in Delaware City. We can get some fairly sipubstantial ice flows that pack up in the C&D canal and then come down the marina at a knot or two. We have a few fiberglass boats in the water over winter. None has had any ice damage to my knowledge.

That said, cruising around ice bergs is different. A refrigerator size growler is really a pick up size hunk of ice underwater.

Even having a steel hull I am concerned about striking ice at any speed. Pushing through surface ice is one thing, ramming chunks is different.

I like our boat, full keel, 1/4" below the water line, keel hung rudder.
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Old 12-02-2015, 16:28   #14
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

My furthest north is only 52N 55W, but even that can get interesting.
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Old 17-02-2015, 11:58   #15
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Re: Boat for polar cruising

SDF,
The first question is how far North or South? The second is how much money do you have to spend? The third is for how long? The most ideal boat for true Polar cruising would be a well built/insulated steel or aluminum boat with shallow draft and a simple sail plan. A basic boat could probably be bought(steel) between $30-$60K. A well equipped expedition boat would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, if your not going into the deepest latitudes, the boat you own now(fiberglass) could certainly work. Inexpensive fiberglass boats have been sailed by Matt Rutherford, Roger Taylor, Chris Bray and Bob Shepton and have made some remarkable journeys into Polar regions. I cannot speak for the Antarctic, but Summer cruises as far north as Baffin Island and Greenland are certainly possible in a well found glass boat with a competent crew. So, if money were no option, you could buy the "perfect" boat but, the perfect boat may well be the one you're sailing now. Good luck and good sailing.
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