In a previous captain's log, I described Land Rover Defenders, Dream
Machines you can drive around the world. In this log, I will describe
our Privilege Catamaran, a Dream Machine you can sail around the world.
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 have the
courage to point the bows.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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