This is the 2nd post of my latest adventure, sailing from Tortola in the BVI’s down to Buenos Aires, Argentina. To make it easy to keep track of things, I’ll simply number each email/post.
Since I’ve still got a few days before getting on another airplane to head to the boat, I thought I would tell you a bit about the boat we’ll be sailing, so you can better put the voyage in context. This is especially important if you’ve followed some of my previous adventures aboard the ULDB65 Barking Spider 3. That boat was a race boat, all about speed (which it achieved- many runs in the teens and 20’s, with a top boatspeed just over 25 knots), and sacrificed all creature comforts to obtain it. It could be a challenging boat to sail, but rewarded us with ocean racing victories, fast passages and day sails and lots of ear-to-ear grins. We cruised it, too, from Hawaii to Alaska to Mexico, not because it was a great boat for cruising, but because that was the boat I had.
Now I don’t know if it is because I am older or any wiser, but this new boat is not quite like the old one. It is a 2006 Beneteau Cyclades 51.5, and I have named it Ambassador, to help smooth our entry into ports around the world. At 51 feet long and a very beamy 16 feet wide, it has 4 private double cabins, each with ensuite head and shower, plus a 5th crew cabin and head in the forward V. The spacious salon seats 10 comfortably to starboard in front of the nav station, there is a large galley along the port, an island counter and storage area, and plenty of room in the cockpit and on the wide open decks.
It is a very comfortable boat, with most every amenity, including 100hp Yanmar, modern color GPS plotters and electronics, twin wheels, furling 110% jib, triple reef main with stack pack, a brand new asymmetrical spinnaker, below-deck autopilot, dodger, floating bimini, electric windlass, Onan generator, air conditioning and heating, fridge, freezer, fully equipped galley, and much more. Motoring, it cruises at about 8 knots, with a max of 9.5 knots. Sailing is still performance oriented thanks to its modern hull design and smart sail plan, and it will outpace most other racing/cruising boats of its size.
So what does this all mean to our adventure? It means it should be a pretty comfy ride! We’re not racing, so we don’t have to push every 10th of a knot and re-evaluate sail trim every 20 minutes. We can relax and enjoy the ride, and just go with the wind. If the wind goes quiet, we can motor. With a big dodger and bimini, we’ll be well-protected from the elements, and each of us will have a nice double bed with regular linens for sleeping, instead of a pipe berth and a soggy sleeping bag. Of course, having said all this, I bet we will still enjoy tweaking the boat pretty often to get the last 10th of a knot of speed, just because that’s part of the joy of sailing.
I’ve attached a few small pictures of the boat, which should save me a few thousand words…