Ocean, ADL.

An ocean post : no 4 in the practical side i think.

I could call this post, Ocean : everything else.  What i mean by that and the title is something that was once a cornerstone of my work as a nurse and that is ‘activities of daily living’.  On a boat i regard that as everything outside of the sailing, navigation and sailorising so things like cooking, eating, sleeping and so on right down to using the heads bucket….that basic.

When i think about my life in sailing i realise that so much of it has been shaped by offshore racing where sailing the boat was all important and secondary things were often not thought about if at all.  I think it was designer Ron Holland who said that all he needed inside a boat was somewhere to boil a kettle and somewhere to lie down. It’s arguably the case that the lack of success in many of the boats that i sailed was less to do with the driver and the sail trim and more to do with being cold, wet, tired and hungry. I do remember that one of the successful racing yachts had a notice pinned over the navigation table which had the following questions “1. Are we going in the right direction. 2.Are we going fast enough 3.Are we getting enough rest.  Maybe they did better than us because they were usually going in the right direction, their trim was good and just possibly the driver wasn’t shivering, sick and sleepy at the helm.  I for one have actually broached a one-tonner simply due to falling asleeep at the tiller !

The other influences on my sailing life come from the other things i have done in the great outdoors, canoeing, sea-kayaking and long distance hiking come to mind.  In each of those we have done decently long trips with minimal equipment and endeavoured to keep ourselves fed well, in good order and as comfortable as possible at camp. Much of our ability to make ourselves comfortable in too small a space comes from living under canvas for quite long periods….one year i think we managed 40 days/nights like that. While i can maximise the use of small space i also think that for longer term living a bit more space than a 22 foot boat would things a lot more comfortable.  When i was looking at boats in the 25 foot range such as the Sadler and Ecume de Mer i couldn’t help but think that if i had to accept the compromise of a deep keel i could at least have some useable space as well.

In the practical side of the ocean series so far i have really been concentrating on single points mainly about the sailing performance.  So far all i have really nailed down is that “we’ll need a bigger boat” as the saying goes.  In posts that i am already working on i am expanding that idea to include earth-shattering conclusions such as that the boat needs plenty of sail area so that it can make it’s miles especially in light weather, that it needs a ‘sweet’ hull and foils, and enough displacement to carry 2 people, their water, food and stores.  Added to that i would now say that the boat has to have the actual or potential features to allow the crew to cook, eat, sleep, keep watch, dress and undress and so on. My sailing with a small and light boat and a small and heavy boat have demonstrated how difficult those simple things can be.  In the Liberty i experimented with each of the ‘ADL’ during my spring trip now that WABI”’ has a functioning tillerpilot and it was Inanda’s failings in the same respect that finished her as a concept.  While the 2 of us have sailed and cruised the little liberty successfully that has largely been because we have mainly just done coastal passages and can sort ourselves out at the end of the day. The long cross channel return trip really showed up the boat’s weaknesses, not just her lack of ‘legs’ but the difficulty of doing anything other than just sailing the boat. I fully accept that on the day i knew that we had to absolutely sprint for it in wind against tide conditions and that created a situation which was just like driving a small and lively IOR race boat.  Long distance sailing shouldn’t be like that unless we are racing…and we aren’t and ‘yes-but’ going to windward for days on end would still be a pain.

It took one entire post just to say that the long distance boat ‘needs longer legs’ and on the back of that i have had to start looking at larger boats.  My point here is to put the performance aside and say that we have to do all the other stuff , not at at the end of the day and while at anchor but while on passage.  Recent experience and experiments suggest that there are things i can do to make the other stuff easier or harder but fundamentally the boat needs a base set-up that allows the crew to keep watch, cook, eat and sleep ….and so on and while the boat is on passage.

The first point ‘longer legs’ suggests the need for a bigger boat, my experience with the Liberty on our cross-channel trip hinted that maybe boats in the old half-ton class or around 30 feet might be the place to look so of course i did a search and most of the boats i immediately rejected because they were either outside my budget….or were caravans….sorry but my boats have to have some chutz and pah !.  Older race boats might be viable but certainly before the era when the half ton class became delicate, distorted, fragile and twitchy.  That really means dipping back into the late 1970’s and boats that i don’t know.  I thought today to take a couple of boats from this era and see if they could have the ADL potential…an ex race boat should have the legs.

Starting point.

This popped up reasonably locally…in fact we must have driven past the yard while on our break. https://www.boatsandoutboards.co.uk/Sailboats/javelin-javelin-30/187261

Doesn’t look too bad, hull shape loses out with those long overhangs until they are working ie either heeled or with some speed on. For a 30 foot boat the LWL is only 22 feet but that gives us a theoretical hull speed of 6.3 knots and i suspect those overhangs would actually give us more rather than less speed.  First impression then is of a fin and skeg design from that era and not an immediate reject.               Once again it’s a genoa dominated rig so it needs either very good furling gear or several hanked jibs….i like hanked jibs.   The depth of the fin keel might be a problem although i have seen boats of this size and shape set up with beaching legs.  In regard to some aspects of performance ‘numbers’ that i haven’t covered so far this one should have good ultimate stability as it has a decent ballast ratio but its sail area/displacement ratio is a bit on the low side.


If we tentatively accept that ‘she’s got legs’ lets get onto today’s main work and see if the ADL might be do-able on passage.  I haven’t really described that in detail so far so at this stage i want to offer my own simple ‘principia’, lets call it.

My ocean ADL principle.

“That it should be possible to do each function of our activities of living at sea whilst sailing in most conditions without affecting a seamanship function and not being potentially dangerous to the off-watch crew”

Thus it should be possible for the watch-keeper to be keeping watch, while staying warm and dry…say sat in the companionway under a sprayhood…while the off-watch crew is asleep and secure in a bunk, or for example i am either navigating or cooking while Jax is  asleep or resting.  The critical thing there is not that the off-watch is disturbed although that would be a good feature, it is whether the task can be done without endangering the off-watch or whether the task can be done at all with the off-watch occupying a bunk.  It can’t for example be done that way in the Liberty where the galley space is in the companionway.

So lets look at the working space of the boat inside. First impression is that she’s not a deep dark cave like the more modern half-tonner (GK 29) that we saw.  Second impression is of a fairly simple and basic fit-out.


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I happen to like quarter berths on sea-going boats, we had a layout like this on the Frances and it made it worked well.  Having 4 actual bunk spaces means that one person should be able to sleep and that the other person can still sit in a bunk say….we often don’t ‘rack-out’ at the same time.  I don’t like the placement of the stove and kettle potentially right next to the head of the port quarter berth but i think i can see a way to alter that. On first impression it does look as though we could have one crewmember asleep or resting in a quarter berth or one of the main cabin berths and for the watck-keeper to be cooking and/or navigating.  On first view then although the layout is a bit basic and old fashioned it looks functional. Looking at the centre section just aft of the mast i am also wondering if we could create a transverse double berth with an infill.

I don’t know boats from this era at all, my first experience of a half-ton class was i think a Stephen Jones design which was so lightly built that it wasn’t possible to keep the engine aligned with it’s shaft with it’s backstay pumped down hard. From memory we used to disconnect the shaft when the boat went in it’s winter cradle.  I think this, much earlier IOR era produced the similar looking and successful Contessa 32 which is a great boat….i did my yachtmaster exam in one but they are way outside my budget.  I did sail 2 slightly later designs : a Peter Norlin ‘Scampi’ which was a good upwind boat and a Ron Holland designed half-tonner, a Shamrock i think.  It’s generally thought that GRP boats of this era are better in respect of their layup because they were over built compared to the flimsy boats that followed.



  1. Again, wisdom imparted and received Steve — thanks. The Javelin is a classy-looking yacht. Apparently it was a Fred Parker design which was briefly successful on the racing circuit before the new post-Ecume de Mer designs came along. Here’s a user report from the YBW forums:

    “I was impressed with it as a sailing boat, it handled well and was fairly quick and close winded. It had a single cylinder Yanmar which pushed it along quite happily at 5 knots, but which took for ever to slow the boat down in reverse. I wasn’t so impressed with the accommodation..,It was all very spartan, and the bunks were too narrow for me – I fell out a couple of times. I thought, for the price, it was an excellent choice for a young man who didn’t mind a bit of discomfort.”

    Your mileage may very eh Steve!

    ADL could also stand for “a design for life.” A life at sea that is — nothing to do the the song about working class identity in Britain by The Manic Street Preachers.

    Talking of spartan, Roger Taylor has been at it again:


    1. As of today the Javelin is on ebay. I have rejected the boat as although i could make a slick sailing boat out of it the 5 foot draft is just too deep and i can’t afford to have a scheel-keel designed and cast.


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