What is an Open 60 and why do we want one?

Open 60s are a class of sailboats that were designed to sail singlehanded around the world.  They are tough, fast, and relatively easy to sail for a boat that is 60′ long and fast enough to get a speeding ticket in downtown Seattle.  Perhaps more importantly, they are purpose-built for sailing in the most difficult conditions, around the great capes (Horn and Good Hope), dodging icebergs all the way.  They also have lots of handholds for, um, safety.


When Al mentioned that he had an old Open 60, and that he had singlehanded it to Hawaii 3 times, the wheels started turning…

And when he said that his was one of the last “traditional” Open 60s, before canting keels and 23′ wide sterns, I thought, “Very Interesting…”

The Traditional Open 60.  Kangaroo not included.


This is a more modern Open 60

Aerial photo-shoot of the IMOCA Open 60 Alex Thomson Racing Hugo Boss during a training session before the Vendée Globe in the English Channel. The Vendée Globe is a round-the-world single-handed yacht race, sailed non-stop and without assistance.

(Dogbark won’t look like this, even when we are done with the re-fit.)

But there are a few similarities:

  1. Most of the sails are on furlers, so roll them out when you need them, furl them up when you don’t.  Easy-peasy, right?  (The biggest ones are 78′ high on Dogbark)
  2. Instead of 15 people hanging out over the rail to level the boat out, they use a water ballast system that pumps water to the high side.  (Water is cheaper to feed.)
  3. Hulls are really stout and are actually designed to hit hard objects like icebergs or shipping containers and not sink.  (Lots of bilge pumps included too.)
  4. They have a lot of positive stability.  Which means they like to stay right side up.

We like the idea of staying right side up.  So we bought Al’s boat.  And he threw in lots of furlers and bilge pumps, and even a few crash bulkheads.    And the rest, as they say, is history…


Dogbark arrives in our front yard, Bainbridge

(Footnote:  We absolutely love sailing her too.  Turns out Jim King and Kanga Birtles knew a thing or two about boats and she is in fact fast and easy to sail.  Wahoo!)