Aventura IV’s Logs

Aventura IV

For much of my sailing life I have been trying to find out if there was such a thing as an ideal cruising boat. With this in mind, I conducted several surveys among cruising sailors, I spoke to designers and boat builders, but the more I tried, the farther my target receded in the distance. Eventually I concluded that my dream, was just that, a dream, so I might as well accept defeat, settle with what I’ve got and make the best of it, which is exactly what I did. So when I decided to sell Aventura III that forlorn dream was finally put to rest… or so I thought.

Even after I had taken the decision  to launch the Blue Planet Odyssey, the thought never occurred to me that I  would sail in it, and most certainly not on my own boat.

Everything changed  when I started looking into the logistics of the northern route, whose most challenging section was to be the transit of the Northwest Passage. Those of you who have  been following the evolution of the Blue Planet Odyssey know that its main  mission is to raise awareness of the effects of climate change. And nowhere are  those effects more obvious than in the Northwest Passage which has only become  navigable in recent years as a direct result of global warming.

Navigable the Northwest Passage may be, but  the challenges associated with a successful transit, especially from east to  west, are still considerable, so I decided that, as the proponent of that idea,  it was my responsibility to lead by example, and attempt that transit myself.

With hardly a year left until the  planned start, I had to quickly find a suitable boat for that voyage and,  having looked around at all that was available, I decided that finally I had an  unmissable opportunity to come up with a concept which would be nearest to that  elusive ideal cruising boat. I was extremely fortunate in being able to infect  with my enthusiasm Stephan Constance, the manager of Garcia Yachting and  Allures Yachting, in my  view the best aluminium yacht builders in the world, and also Olivier  Racoupeau, one of France’s top yacht designers.

Aventura IV

My requirements were very clear: a  strong, fast, comfortable, functional and easily handled boat perfectly suited  for both high latitude and tropical sailing.

Many of the best features in my  previous boat were to be incorporated into the new one: an unpainted aluminium  hull, centreboard, shallow draft, cutter rigged.

What was new, however, was my  insistence on a deck saloon that would ensure almost all-round visibility. This  was something that had never been tried before on a centreboard yacht, primarily  because the added height may affect its stability. By settling for a low deck  saloon, and thus accepting the unavoidable compromise of limited headroom, the  designer produced what I believe to be the perfect solution: a comfortable and  spacious deck saloon with 270° vision without  compromising either the stability of the yacht or its looks.

Opting for a two  rudder configuration was the logical solution on this shallow drafted  centreboard boat, as the leeward rudder will ensure finger-tip steering as I  experienced when I tested the Allures 45, with which this boat shares most  underwater characteristics.

Being of the old  brigade persuasion of the traditional propeller shaft, it took a while to be  persuaded of the advantages of a saildrive on this type of boat, being assured  that the cone of a centrally located propeller will act on the rudders much  more effectively than a propeller set at the end of a long shaft.

Agreeing to a bow  thruster took an even greater effort of persuasion, until I remembered the  nightmare of maneuvering in some Mediterranean marinas where the distance  between pontoons was often shorter than that of my boat. A humiliating  compromise this certainly was, but it may also be the one factor that may  persuade Gwenda to give Med cruising another try.

One area where I  was not prepared to compromise was the interior arrangement where I told the  designer that I wanted to have as many comfortable sea berths as he could  possibly squeeze into a 45 foot boat. The need for all those berths was the  large number of friends that I suddenly found I had once it became known that I  intended to sail through the Northwest Passage.

Aventura IV: An unpainted tin can for all seasons

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