Small Boats, Big Voyages • On April 21st of this year, young Matt Rutherford completed a 309-day circumnavigation of the Americas via the Northwest Passage and Cape Horn when he sailed into his homeport of Annapolis, Maryland. The voyage was remarkable for many reasons, not the least being that it was made solo and in a 27-foot Albin Vega. A stout little cruiser, to be sure, but still only 27 feet long. For many modern sailors, and those aspiring to do some blue water sailing, such a small boat would never be considered suitable for voyaging. And there may be some who abandon their cruising dreams because they can’t afford the 45-footer that so many experts deem necessary for offshore sailing. That’s too bad.
As we publish our annual feature on small cruisers, weekenders and daysailers, it is good to remember that there have been many notable voyages made by intrepid sailors in boats even smaller that Matt’s Vega.
In the 50s, twenty-something John Guzzwell built a lovely 20-foot sloop and then sailed little Trekka around the world on a very safe and seamanlike voyage. His book, Trekka Around the World, is a classic that illustrates just how inexpensively and simply you can cruise.
In the 60s (and for the next 30 years), Tim and Pauline Carr roamed the world aboard their 1905-built, 28-foot gaff-headed cutter Curlew. Their adventures often took them to the high latitudes, including Antarctica, the Falklands and the South Georgia Islands. Their book Antarctic Oasis tells of their adventures in the Great Southern Oceans.
In the 70s and 80s, Lin and Larry Pardey made a leisurely and very solid eastabout circumnavigation aboard their 24-foot Lyle Hess cutter Seraffyn. Their famous phrase “Go Small, Go Now” is the best advice ever given to cruisers on a budget. They now cruise aboard their 29-foot cutter Taleisin. They have written many books, including Cruising in Seraffyn, which has sold more than 50,000 copies.
In the 70s, regular BWS contributor Patrick Childress sailed his Catalina 27 around the world, much to everyone’s surprise and delight. It was a classic westward voyage and was completed without incident. Patrick and his wife Rebecca are out cruising again, this time aboard their vintage Valiant 40 Brickhouse—a veritable ship compared to the 27-footer.
In the 80s, 18-year-old Tania Aebi spent two years sailing around the world aboard her Contessa 26 Varuna and returned to New York City an inspiration to many young sailors, particularly young women. Her book Maiden Voyage is a great story filled with the adventure and romance of a young woman’s sail around the world.
So, it has been done and can be done. In this issue, we highlight 77 small cruisers, weekenders and daysailers, several of which would make fine boats for extended cruising. It’s not the size of the boat that matters most, but the size of the dream in the skipper’s heart.