The tougher the yacht, the greater the impetus to explore…
Bristol Pilot Cutter
Bristol Pilot Cutters were built to get commercial shipping pilots out into the Bristol Channel as fast as possible. A darwinian business, the first cutter to meet the ship got the job of bringing her in safely. For a daring breed of Bristolian, being a pilot could be highly lucrative but dangerous profession.
Over time, a boat perfect for the job was honed by Bristol boat yards. The concept was relatively simple. A flexible sail-plan, easily handled by one or two crew, and a sturdy wooden hull that could handle rough weather with ease.
Fast, but tough, many found themselves abandoned as the age of steam rendered them obsolete. Today they have a dedicated following in the form of the Bristol Pilot Cutters Association, as well as being raced extensively and used as dependable cruising yachts.
H.W. Tilman, the mountaineer and explorer, sailed his Bristol Pilot Cutter Mischief to some of the remotest corners of the globe, writing extensively about his adventures, before disappearing without trace on route to the Falkland islands in 1977 in a much less seaworthy boat.
Just as the Bristol Pilot Cutter is a reflection of the nature of the sailing in the Bristol Channel, the Boreal is characteristic of the waters surrounding Treguier- one of the wilder parts of the Brittany coastline. Designed and developed by a typically intrepid Frenchman looking for the perfect boat to sail his family almost anywhere, Boreal remains a relatively small business that builds tough aluminium yachts with lifting keels- meaning they can creep into shallow waters or even dry out on a beach as the tide falls.
Guillaume Danis, owner of a Boreal 44, uses his to explore the high-latitudes and documents his adventures on his Arctic Boreal Expedition Website . Well worth a look. The picture accompanying this article is of Guillaume’s Boreal.
Jimmy Cornell is a legend most popular amongst cruising sailors. Author of the bible of cruising World Cruising Routes , Jimmy and his wife have sailed over 200,000nm and there’s pretty much nowhere they haven’t been. Looking for a yacht that could help them tick off the Northwest Passage, Cornell wanted something built to his specification. The Garcia Exploration 45 is the result, a yacht that’s the product of a lifetime’s cruising wisdom.
In anchorages the world over you will find Amels in various states of repair and disrepair. A favourite of the live-aboard long-term cruiser. The product of an uncompromising Henri Amel’s vision of the perfect cruising yacht, up until recently, buying an Amel meant just that- you couldn’t change the specification at all. That came with certain eccentricities; fake teak decks that would make any traditionalist run a mile, a ketch rig, and a fixed layout. But, the Amel proved itself a tough winning formula. With the passing of her eccentric father, Amel has moved with the times, but the broad outline remains. A tough French ketch, with a dedicated global following.
The Dutch are world renowned for building sturdy yachts, most recently carving out a name for themselves in the superyacht sector. The K&M yard produces smaller custom projects in both aluminium and glass reinforced plastic, up to 100ft. The majority of them have a Land Rover like appearance, but the yard has also turned their hand effectively to modern classics with a sturdy underbelly.
Recently, the company launched a standardised 45ft model, the 45 Pure , their first break into the semi-custom market. A rugged exterior belies a warm feeling below deck, complete with stove and the atmosphere of a sturdy ski lodge. A boat you could imagine sat storm-bound at anchor in for days.