Of all the boats in the world, how did we choose this particular boat? (Pun intended, naturally.)
There’s one simple reason. The Outbound 46 was designed for exactly what we’re doing: living aboard and cruising offshore. It wasn’t designed for us (it’s not a custom boat), but it might as well have been—it fits our needs and wants almost perfectly.
That’s a pretty special thing. Every boat is a compromise, designed for certain purposes under certain constraints and requirements. There are boats for daysailing in protected waters. There are racing boats designed to go fast. A few boats are optimized for crossing oceans. Some boats are best for entertaining and living aboard. Others are designed to maximize size and interior space while minimizing cost.
I’m tempted to say that the Outbound is better than those boats. But really, it’s just different—optimized for the things we want to do and the qualities that are important to us.
The designer (Carl Schumacher) and the builder (Phil Lambert) embraced the same purpose and qualities we value when they created the Outbound 46. So when we learned about the boat, something just clicked. It was a near-perfect match. Here are some of the reasons we chose the Outbound over every other boat.
(Note: These are not photos of our boat. We hope to share some of those soon! These photos were provided by Outbound Yachts.)
Storage, storage everywhere
You can make a boat’s interior seem bigger if you don’t build in any storage. But then, where would you put your stuff? We learned on our last cruise (six weeks in Southern California) how important it is to have a place for everything. And that includes freshwater and diesel, those essential life-supporting fluids. The Outbound has tanks for 200 gallons of each.
A livable interior
There are a few small features in the cabin that can make a boat really feel like a home: walk-around bed, built-in dinette, ample counter space, proper shower, comfortable desk, etc. Boats need space for dirty, wet equipment and projects, too. The Outbound has all of these features and more.
A low-maintenance exterior
Our previous boat had beautiful wood trim on deck and in the cockpit. It was finished bright with six or more layers of gleaming varnish. We loved the way it looked, but hated maintaining it. (In fact, we hired someone to do it.) The Outbound has virtually no exterior wood—just a small amount of trim at the companionway where you step from cockpit to cabin.
When anchored in a bay or harbor, we go ashore in an 8-foot inflatable dinghy. That requires climbing from boat to dinghy and dinghy to boat several times each day. Without a swim platform, we have to go over the side of boat—it’s possible, but it’s a hassle and can be harrowing in some conditions. A good swim platform is like the foyer in a home: A nice place to step in, set down your things, take off your shoes, and get sorted before going inside.
Adaptable sailing rig
Most sailboats have a simple sloop rig, with a fixed-size mainsail and genoa. When the wind speed builds, we reduce the size of our sails to keep the boat stable, safe, and under control. On many boats, this reduction (called reefing) is possible but not easy. So we’re really excited about the Outbound’s “solent” rig, which has a large but easy-to-reef mainsail, and two genoas on the bow—a larger sail for light winds, and a smaller sail for heavy winds.
Outbound Yachts, LLC
The builder is still in business (a surprising rarity in the sailing world), the owner is personally involved in operations, and the company has a great reputation for supporting their customers. This meant we could order a brand new boat, to our specifications, and count on support we as begin cruising full-time.
Hull shape and weight distribution
Nerd alert! Sorry, but I’m kind of an armchair naval architect. And the Outbound 46 is a brilliantly designed boat. It’s moderately heavy relative to its length, striking a balance between sailing performance and comfort at sea. It has a low center of gravity, with most of the weight concentrated down low in a solid-fiberglass hull, a substantial keel, and those big tanks I mentioned. And the hull shape is ideal for ocean sailing—relatively narrow with tapered ends and a rounded bottom—making for less rolling motion in waves. (Another way to make boats bigger inside is to design a boxy, flat hull, which many builders have started doing in recent years. Not Outbound.)
As I write this, our new Outbound 46 is due to ship from China in a few days. Soon we’ll be able to see how these design features hold up in practice. Stay tuned!