a picture my son drew of a wave on a beach

Looking at ­Boats

tagged with: #sailing #boats

Living in the Outback far from the sea I have become increasingly obsessed with what I cannot have. Of course, if I found myself on the deck of a boat I would probably miss the flat brown Outback. This post is link-heavy with things I have been reading and am still reading. I am following my interest in boats and trying to learn in the hopes of an opportunity to buy one before I’m too old.

Take everything that follows with a huge pinch of salt, I really don’t know what I’m talking about. As usual, do not hesitate to contact me with any corrections or admonishments.

Half-joking but half-serious Ted Brewer came up with the Comfort Ratio Formula. Ted sums it up here,

It is based on the fact that the faster the motion the more upsetting it is to the average person. Given a wave of X height, the speed of the upward motion depends on the displacement of the yacht and the amount of waterline area that is acted upon. Greater displacement, or lesser WL area, gives a slower motion and more comfort for any given sea state.

As an aside, I reckon I could develop a Comfort Ratio for bicycles…

I found a list of boats and their Comfort Ratio’s on the Cruisers Forum.

Looking down that list I picked out some of the boats I had previously researched and added in a few extra that were not in the original list.
The theory goes that the higher the Comfort Ratio number the more comfy the boat.

These ones tend to be more solid and may struggle to get up in lighter winds.

Moderate Bluewater Cruisers 40->30
Baba 35 41.94
Tayana 37 Cutter 40.78
Alberg 37 39.3
Nicholson 31 38.72
Roberts 35 Cutter 38.21
Cheoy Lee Clipper 36 37.41
Brolga 33 37.36
Nicholson 33 36.59
Alberg 35 Sloop 36.48
Clansman 30 36.1
Cheoy Lee Offshore 31 35.45
Cornish Crabber Pilot 30 35.37
Island Trader 36 35.16
Swanson 32 32.38

It is suggested the boats in the 30->20 range are more suitable for coastal work. Many if not all of these types of boats have travelled the world extensively. Possibly in less comfort than some if the Comfort Ratio is to be believed.

Coastal Cruisers 30->20
Island Packet 350 29.89
Tartan 37 (K/CB) 28.97
Colvic Countess 33 28.74
Contessa 32 27.84
Cavalier 37 27.63
Island Packet 32 26.95
Island Packet 320 26.93
Hylas 44 26.82
Jeanneau Sun Fizz 40 26.56
Compass 29 26.11
Westerly 36 Corsair 25.85
S&S 34 24.1
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 32 22.62
Gib Sea 37 22.47
Gib Sea 33 22.35
Van De Stadt 34 22.26
Dufour 36 Classic 21.97
Tartan 33 21.91

S&S 34

When I was very young my oldest brother had a dartboard featuring Ted Heath the tory British Prime Minister (he redeemed himself to some extent by sacking Enoch Powell and in later years opposing Thatcher). Ted Heath was also a competitive sailor and comissioned the first production S&S 34 in which he beat the Australians in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Yachting World 1989 thought the S&S 34 was a very exciting boat
“Heath joins the fast set” according to the British press

The S&S 34 was designed by Olin Stephens the yacht designer half of Sparkman and Stephens. The Australian brothers Tom, Terry and Harley Swarbrick knew a good thing when the saw it. They acquired one of the moulds and started building them here in Australia. The S&S 34’s became very popular boats and for good reason. They have a long history of competing in races, circumnavigations and other exploits. Recently Jessica Watson completed a sail around the world in an S&S 34 taking only 210 days.

The S&S 34 Association maintains a listing of boats for sale.

Clansman 30

Zippy, splashy and small - I wrote about these solid little boats before. The Clansman scores highly on the Comfort Ratio. With a low Capsize Screening of 1.5 which may mean it is also safer and more stable than most.

Line drawing of a Clansman 30
Bruce Fairlie designed the Clansman 30

I am not entirely convinced it warrants the high comfort ratio score for long ocean passages. Mind you this is based on my extensive YouTube sailing experience, watching Troy and Pascale 😜 - Ha!
Frustratingly, I really have no idea…

Mottle 33

The Mottle 33 was designed by the late Joe Adams. Joe spent much of his life around my old home, the Mid-North Coast, before moving to the Phillipines where he was tragically murdered.

He designed boats that were fast and fun to sail. The Mottle has a fin keel and spade rudder. It later became the Naut 33. The low comfort ratio of 19.3 would indicate a light racing boat, not really what I’m after but from a few comments I’ve read they are fun and sea kindly boats.

Cavalier 37

The Cav 37 is reputed to be a dry boat although Kay Cottee experienced a few knockdowns during her 189 day voyage round the world. Designed by Laurie Davidson the Kiwi yacht designer.

It has a comfort ratio lower than the Clansman but I’m not sure that means anything. This Cav 37 is going for $69k which seems a lot if you ask me.

Brolga 33

I initially liked the Brolga 33 just for it’s name. It was designed by Professor Peter Joubert and has a reputation for toughness and stability. Another design of his, the Currawong was recently raced in the Sydney to Hobart.

A good example of a Brolga 33 is Berrimilla II which has proven herself around the capes and the North West Passage.

Doven 30

The Tasmanian Doven 30 is also called Knoop 30 after the designer, Walter Knoop of Belerive Yacht Club. They have a good solid lead keel and are very popular in Tassie. The ads never stick around for long… they sell (no pun intended) pretty quickly.

Swanson 32

Based in Dee Why in Northern Sydney the Swanson brothers built boats until the mid 80’s. There’s an interview with Jim Swanson over on the BoatSales website. Jim really down-plays his influence on Aussie boat-building which is a shame because from what I can gather, the Swanson 32 and his other boats are well loved.

Plans showing the internal layout of the Swanson 32
Swanson 32 - Accommodation plan

The Swanson 32 is a lovely shaped hull with a canoe stern. A comfort ratio of 32.38 the Swanson 32 just comes under the banner of Moderate Bluewater Cruiser. The builds are apparently often inconsistent as many of them were built or finished off by the owners. There are a few threads discussing them over on Seabreeze.


These are some links to different keyword searches on BoatsOnline which seems to be the defacto boat selling website at the moment. I wonder if I could build something to combine and filter these to only show new listings… 🤔

SA / Coffs / Qld / s&s / sparkman / clansman / mottle / swanson / doven / knoop / brolga / cavalier / contessa / compass / viking

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