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Old 13-09-2015, 12:23   #1
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Southampton Boat Show

Had a wander around the Southampton boat show today, which was fun and interesting. But which convinced me even much more that I couldn’t buy a boat to suit me off the shelf.

I had always been curious about the Discovery 55’s, and finally got to see one in person and wander around in it.

It is laid out almost exactly like my boat except that it has a weird multilevel salon, with a semicircular settee around a big table up on a podium, and a kind of passage to starboard of that with a pilot berth, and the nav table on still another level, up high where you can see out through the front salon windows and keep watch from there.

I loved the nav table but hated everything else about that salon – no way for people to hang out spread around the very small salon – it’s either sit around the table or go to your cabin. Completely impossible for a liveaboard. And there’s no salon sole as such, and I have no idea how you would load sails on board or large quantities of provisions.
There’s no windshield but just an ordinary flexible dodger. Not much good for high latitudes, although I guess you’ll be standing watch more from the raised nav table.

The cabins benefit from large hull ports which really add light and view, especially the Pullman berth. I have small (conservative, strong) hull ports in master cabin and salon, but my Pullman cabin and forepeak cabin are a bit cave-like with nothing but deck hatches.
Deck hardware is just like my boat, which is not a complement. Deck hardware is fru fru poseur yacht type – vertical windlass, no dockline fairleads (just stainless edging on the rail – looks like same source as mine), no samson post, no warping drum. Does have padeyes for Barber haulers, however – wish I had those.

The interior is very slick and nice but there are some low quality materials in it. I especially hate the Ikea type square-edged cushions which you see everywhere now, and which will look shabby in one season.
One thing I absolutely hated was the step from cockpit to side deck is slanted downward (!) towards the rail and made of smooth teak (!) – a recipe for flying through the guardrails. These boats are not made for being at sea for long periods and rough weather. On the plus side, the side decks are wider than mine (and that’s a big plus) – going however with the much smaller salon.

I also got to walk through a Contest 57. This one had no nav table (on a boat this size!). No windshield, light deck hardware. Terrible engine access. Ikea-type cushions galore. Considering the great reputation of these boats, I was surprised at the light, cheap-looking joinery – a cut below the Discovery.

Next was an Oyster 575. Reminded my very much of the Contest 57 but with build quality more like the Discovery. Most elegant fitout without the Ikea cushions. Nice boat, but like the rest, not made for serious voyaging.
Next thing I looked at was a French 72-footer, can’t remember the name (some initials). One of those Wally-boat type deck arrangements like a ballroom floor with two helms sticking up at random out of it. Nothing to hold on to, as something for holding on would ruin the sleek lines. I can imagine flying straight across that ballroom floor deck and right through the guardlines in rough weather. Cheap Ikea settees set on the flat deck suitable only for use in the marina. Bleh, total poser yacht. Made for running from one marina to another in the Med in calm weather and impressing your friends, and nothing else. I wouldn’t take that out in the North Sea if you paid me to do it.

Then – an Amel 55. Hmm. I’ve always admired Amels but never liked them, and would never want one for myself. But I had to say – compared to all these sleek for-show yachts – I liked the thoughtful, purposeful, non-sleek idea of the Amel. Everything about it is made for function, not show.
I definitely would not go the trouble and great expense of changing my boat for one of these. The only way to get what I really want will to have it built, I think.
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Old 14-09-2015, 01:57   #2
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Re: Southampton Boat Show

Edit: The French boat was a CNB 76
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Old 14-09-2015, 03:53   #3
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Re: Southampton Boat Show

If the Discovery 55, Oyster 575 and the Amel are not fit for long term ocean voyages in your opinion, then how is it that these same boats take sailing couples around the world all the time? Many of them are doing it right now. 'Just anchored next to a Discovery 55 yesterday here in Italy, Canadian flag with a couple from Nova Scotia. Good friends of ours sailed from England all the to Turkey, crossed over the pond to the Caribbean then up to Annapolis, MD in a whirlwind 18 months.... all on a Discovery 55.

I will say this, the two things I really don't like on the Discovery 55 is the boom being only 4 ft off the stern platform deck (got a scar on my forehead from it) and the Formica interior floorboards which as super slippery. And I don't particularly care for the raised super sized table, but those are personal choices. Not the boat for us, but others seem to be doing just fine on one.

Ken
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Old 14-09-2015, 04:22   #4
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Re: Southampton Boat Show

Thanks for the review.

I nearly bought a Discovery 55, but they were a bit expensive for me then. I like the high saloon so you can see out whilst at anchor and it is the main reason I got mine. The raised seating areas tend to be a little too small with the smaller models. I found Southerlies, except the 57 unworkable for that reason.

I think the Discovery sloping step may be designed so you can more safely step down onto the high side deck, which is the side you would normally prefer. At heel the step should be near level.

I know what you mean about shelter. So few yachts have adequate shelter even for an August crossing of the North sea. Strange isn't it. Even Swan, and Baltic yachts, building yachts near the Arctic Circle build med beauty queens instead of the solid work boats that you would think would follow given the requirements and inspiration from where they are located.

Have you checked out the Nauticat? They have a pretty good pilot house. I know someone who did the NW Passage in one and is now on an attempt to do a figure of eight round the Americas. I think it will be a first.

All these builders will put up a glass windbreak for you. I have one from Oyster. Likewise many of the other mods you mentioned that you were looking for.

I agree about the Amel. Nice, but not for me.

I do like the look of the CNB76. A beauty. With a raised keel and carbon spars. It has a garage, how can you not like it! I think they screwed up though. The seating is too low. What's the point of raised seating where the windows are above eye-level? That could be a deal breaker for me. Also, with such a big boat they could easily have done an inside helm.

I hope to get down this week if I can find a non-rainy day. I'll be looking at electronics as well. I'm due a mini-refit.
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Old 14-09-2015, 04:37   #5
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Re: Southampton Boat Show

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
If the Discovery 55, Oyster 575 and the Amel are not fit for long term ocean voyages in your opinion, then how is it that these same boats take sailing couples around the world all the time? Many of them are doing it right now. 'Just anchored next to a Discovery 55 yesterday here in Italy, Canadian flag with a couple from Nova Scotia. Good friends of ours sailed from England all the to Turkey, crossed over the pond to the Caribbean then up to Annapolis, MD in a whirlwind 18 months.... all on a Discovery 55.

I will say this, the two things I really don't like on the Discovery 55 is the boom being only 4 ft off the stern platform deck (got a scar on my forehead from it) and the Formica interior floorboards which as super slippery. And I don't particularly care for the raised super sized table, but those are personal choices. Not the boat for us, but others seem to be doing just fine on one.

Ken
Well, people circumnavigate in MacGregor 26's.

Getting around the world on trade winds is a little different mission from mine.

And I don't say that my use is typical or common, or that these are bad boats. Just not for me.
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Old 14-09-2015, 04:45   #6
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Re: Southampton Boat Show

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Originally Posted by poiu View Post
I think the Discovery sloping step may be designed so you can more safely step down onto the high side deck, which is the side you would normally prefer. At heel the step should be near level.
Maybe, but it will be level only at one particular angle of heel. On an even keel and all other angles of heel, it will be sloping. And it is just perfectly smooth teak! That is absolutely a recipe for a broken leg or MOB.

My Moody has steps in the same place but with raised ribs of teak to grip your boots. This is better, but it still gives me the willies to step out onto it in rough weather.
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Old 14-09-2015, 04:51   #7
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Re: Southampton Boat Show

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Originally Posted by poiu View Post
Have you checked out the Nauticat? They have a pretty good pilot house. I know someone who did the NW Passage in one and is now on an attempt to do a figure of eight round the Americas. I think it will be a first.
Nauticat is the rare boat which is made for my kind of trips.

Considering how expensive and what hard work it is to have the ability to make miles under sail upwind, an honest motor sailer is a better solution for many, maybe most cruisers.

But I am one of those who has spent the money and does the work to be able to go upwind over long distances.

So the Nauticat is still not quite the right boat for me -- not nearly enough sailing performance. Too much windage, too stodgy hull form, too heavy, too little sail.

The pilot house is wonderful, though.
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