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Explorer 39

Explorer 39 Caroll – Around the world single-handed

It’s quite rewarding when we learn that a blue water sailboat from our design office departs for a long range trip. If this adventure is a round the world voyage, then we hardly can express how deep an achievement like this touches our hearts. However, if the voyage is performed by a sixty-one years old sailor in solitary, then it is the ultimate glory. That is exactly what is happening with our client Raimundo Nascimento. In September 2011 he successfully reached the meridian of his departure, completing half the distance to circumnavigate the globe. When crossing the Torres Straight, and calling at Tuesday Island, he reached the point of no return. From now on, each mile sailed will bring him closer to his home port, Ilha Bela, Brazil, his arrival being scheduled for the end of next March.

The story involving Raimundo and B & G Yacht Design began in 2004, during that year’s Recife to Fernando de Noronha Regatta, perhaps the most coveted offshore racing event in the South Atlantic. On that occasion the B & G associate yacht designer Roberto Barros was participating in the race in his MC28 Fiu, while Raimundo was skippering his thirty-six foot series production sailboat. Roberto’s and Raimundo’s yachts were practically side by side inside the club’s basin, and it was then that the two sailors came to be acquainted with each other. It was during a pleasurable lunch at the club’s veranda that Roberto told his new friend that the office was giving the last touches in a project he expected to have an impact among offshore cruising sailors, the Explorer 39. This boat should be a piece of cake to be sailed by a short-handed crew, besides possessing the ability to control her draught from 2.25m (7’ 6”) to scants 0,53m (1’ 9”). According to Roberto this should be the office’s stake on how the cruising mono-hulls of the future should be.

The Explorer 39 is designed to be a swing-keel, two rudders sailboat. This design is the office’s bet on how the cruising boats of the future should be. Rendered image:

A few months after the race Raimundo paid B & G Yacht Design a visit intending to know more about the so praised new project. We believe that it must have been a case of love at first sight, since a short time later he was acquiring the plans, and following our advice, ordering a custom construction to Estrutural Boatyard, from Cabo Frio, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of the most renowned boat builders in that country.

The Explorer 39 is specified for PVC foam-sandwich construction, resulting in a extremely rigid boat, while keeping the lightness so important for the alacrity of her performance. Photo: Marcos Toledo

The boatyard was worth its fame, building a yacht to be praised by any yachtsman, no matter how sophisticated should be his standards. This superb level of quality is now proving to be worth every single dollar spent in the construction

The Explorer 39 Caroll construction details are good enough to leave anyone with the mouth watering. The boat impresses the most exigent cruising sailor from anywhere Photo: Roberto Barros

As soon as the boat was launched Raimundo went sailing to Ilha Bela (Beautiful Island in Portuguese), where she would be stationed before departing for the great adventure. Just to make a sea trial, Raimundo invited a group of keen sailors to take part in the most competitive Grand Prix racing circuit in the South Atlantic, the Rolex Ilha Bela Racing Week. Even though the boat hadn’t been tested yet, her performance was outstanding, especially when sailing up-wind, causing a stir among other competitors who never expected such speed from a no compromise cruising yacht. However Raimundo’s real endeavour was quite different; his actual purpose was no other than getting prepared for a round the world trip single-handed.

The large compartment abaft Caroll’s saloon is ideal for the installation of bulky equipments, like, for instance, the Fisher & Panda power plant. Note how “clean” and reliable the transmission to the steering wheel is. Photo: Marcos Toledo

We have seldom seen among our clients such a perfect preparation for a long range cruise as that accomplished by Raimundo. We must admit he was no landlubber, since his former yacht was a series produced thirty-six foot cruiser-racer. However, great part of the merit for the top-class job accomplished is due to the competence of Marcos Toledo, the manager of the boatyard.

Caroll moored in front of Ilha Bela Yacht Club. In spite of being a cruising yacht, the boat proved to be competitive in grand prix racing. Photo: Marcos Toledo

Caroll started the round-the-world trip leaving port in low profile style. Our eyebrows were raised when we learned that after a short call at Rio de Janeiro, Raimundo sailed non-stop from Rio to Recife, his shake-down trip, in a scant eight days, from Recife to Grenada, in fourteen days, and from Grenada to Panamá in only eight days.

Not requiring a tall cradle to be stationed in a club’s yard is a dream come true for any cruising sailor. Photo: Roberto Barros

Already in Panama, Raimundo sent an e-mail to Roberto Barros telling a curious fact. The owners of other yachts in transit through the canal when coming to chat with him invariably asked where his boat had been built and from which country were its designers. When he answered that both, builder and designers were Brazilians he couldn’t avoidl sneering with their expression of incredulity.
The crossing of the Pacific Ocean was a remarkable experience for him. There, in an ocean he had never been before, he understood that he was experiencing the most exciting adventure in his life. The newsletter we received from him tells vividly his deep feelings at the occasion:

I must admit I had no idea what it represented to stay all by myself for thirty-one days in an ocean aboard a twelve metres long yacht. There were moments of contentment, when I accounted the number of miles added to our progress, alternating with, moments of stress, when winds and seas rose alarmingly. The most difficult occasions took place at dusk, when I realized how insecure I felt about what to expect during the night. I always developed a pessimistic expectancy for the unknown. One hour later those bad omens just vanished, and I was already foreseeing the day that would come ahead, with its lights, its colours, to replenish my self-confidence. At any rate, it is not easy for a sixty-one years old inexperienced sailor to be sailing alone in the middle of the South Pacific.

The Explorer 39 interior layout is intended for a couple to live with plenty of the creature comforts in a modern cruising sailboat, with accommodations for up to other three crew members in short passages. Renderd figure: www.idé

The most challenging part of the trip up to now was the stretch between the Marquises and Tahiti. The Tuamotus represent a difficult hurdle to be overcome, with their myriads of low islands, difficult to be seen at night or in bad weather, spread along the way.

Caroll anchored in the Marquises, French Polinesia. Photo: Raimundo Nascimento.

I intended to pass through this archipelago during the day, however a prolonged lull spoiled my plans and I ended up crossing the straight between Rangiroa and Arutua at night, under heavy rain and 25 knots winds. The decks were being washed every so often, not inviting me to stay outside for too long. As soon as the danger was left behind I resumed letting the wind vane steer the boat and went to sleep for four hours in a row until the firsts beams of sunlight reached my bunk across the portholes. At this point I thanked the Lord, meditated for thirty minutes and peace was re-established between me and the elements...

When calling at Tahiti Raimundo travelled home for a couple of days to deal with personal issues, when we had the chance to chat with him by phone.. He confirmed our expectations that the boat is quite easy to be handled and is a great performer. Being a cautious sailor, he told us that during the night he uses to give an extra reef in the mainsail and use the self-tacking jib for easiness of manoeuvre during the night, sparing the boat’s gears and himself. He informed us that he intends to write a book about his adventures, and will compare his own experiences with the ones related in the book “Rio to Polynesia” written by Roberto Barros forty years earlier. (this book is available for free in the B & G Yacht Design site with a link from the site’s front page). He wants to make comparisons in comfort and safety between boats of that vintage with the state of the art technology available nowadays.


Caroll’s navigation table and electronic equipments. Photo: Luis Gouveia

From Tahiti Raimundo sailed to Apia, American Samoa , from where he sent another newsletter:

I scheduled my departure from Papeete to take place at 6 a.m. of August 13. However this only happened one hour later, since, as it is so common when cruising, there were still important things missing to be done. In all my departures I use to have a tummy ache at the last minute, perhaps for the fear of having to cope with the unpredictable. I was in a sad mood leaving behind such an enchanting place and pointing our bows towards places where I have never been before. Beside, I was beginning to feel at home in Tahiti, having already made some local friendships. I must admit I have no talent for enduring farewells, since I get touched for the most insignificant reason, always allowing a stubborn tear to roll down my face. Imagine if I have a couple of friends assisting me with the hawsers...

The trip started with no wind, obliging me to use the engine for fifteen hours, until the trades resumed its customary role, allowing us to sail again with a favourable breeze... but it didn’t last for long. A few hours later it vanished leaving us in an area of flat calms for two consecutive days. In lack of better alternatives, I chose to run the engine during the day and to sleep at night, protected by the radar alarm against a collision, letting Caroll to drift at her will.

When the wind returned, it came to stay, first blowing at twenty-five knots, and later reaching thirty-five, with gust of far more than that.

On Tuesday night the wind reached gale force, howling at steady forty knots between gusts. I doused the mainsail, even though it was already in the third reef and let the boat running under bare pole. Even without any canvas our speed was seven/eight knots, with Caroll skimming the billows’ crest, tossing about in a mad way. Since my arrival was scheduled for Wednesday, I spent the night on watch, the most prudent decision in the circumstances. With the boat literarily “flying”, we arrived in Apia at 9 a.m. on that day.

Brimming over with the joy of completing one more leg of the trip, I began a difficult search, trying to find a place to anchor, since there was a profusion of other yachts that had run from the storm, looking for a shelter in that safe haven. I dropped the hook for eight times to no avail, since the bottom was rocky, requiring at least 100m of chain for a safe grip, while I had 50m only. Luckily the cruising community, especially when you are in remote places, has an inexhaustible sense of solidarity, and soon I was being offered assistance by an American, which I accepted without a blink, since I was reaching the limits of my resistance. We tried once more, this time following the American’s suggestion, however equally without success. Then he contacted the harbourmaster by VHF asking permission to use the commercial pier, but the pier was already crowded. A German cruising sailor who watched our struggle from aloof arranged to get permission for us to stay alongside a fishing trawler, and this wasn’t difficult to accomplish, for my profound relief. I showed my gratitude to all those who helped me so spontaneously, had a reinvigorating shower and went to sleep.

In spite of this being Raimundo’s voyage of his dreams, he can’t take too long to complete the circum-navigation; first for personal reasons, since he is leaving to others the complex task of managing his business, and also because he needs to leave the Indian Ocean before the hurricane season. Being a superb planner, he knows he needs to round Cape Agullas in early summer, meaning that in March or April he may be back to his home-port. Having this shortage of time in mind, Raimundo spent a few days only in American Samoa, leaving for Thursday Island soon after. The following newsletter informed about this passage:

After spending twenty-four days at sea in this last leg, I finally arrived in Thursday Island, Australia, completing half the distance around the planet. This was the most tiresome stretch yet. During the first two days we had too much wind. The following eight days we hardly had any wind at all. For the rest of this crossing we had 20/35 knots favourable winds with 2.5/3.0m wave patterns, the boat rigged wing and wing, with the jib attached to the whisker-pole. The boat tossed about incessantly, making life inside the cabin miserable. I wished I was born with four arms and four legs... The only place I could get some rest was in my bunk, supported by sail bags and cushions, narrowing the space between walls.

I had to stay awake all night, since there was a continuous queue of ships sailing in both directions. I had to be alert all the time, monitoring the traffic in the radar screen and AIS, since being a channel, ships have the right of the way. I called at Thursday Island at dawn, since I didn’t have the guts to stop in another island, which I had chosen previously, considering that my approach was going to happen at night, and despite Caroll being shoal friendly, I didn’t want to take the risk in a sea infested with coral reefs. It was a hard decision to proceed, taking into account the heavy traffic and the strong currents that prevail in the straight. I wonder how brave must have been those early sailors who crossed this channel before GPS!

Thusday Island is a very beautiful place. However it is the town where everything is forbidden, because of environmental laws, besides the presence of crocodiles and sea snakes in its waters. The authorities made a throughout inspection inside the cabin, confiscating any sort of provisions I had on board. Then you have to go to the supermarket and buy Australian products. This is O.K!

After so much red tape, I’m craving to go back to my country, which, in spite of the politicians, is the best place in the world to live...

We were ready to publish these reports in our site when we received a dramatic e-mail sent by S.S.B. My dear, what a narrow escape! It vividly reminded us or our friend Webb Chiles, who reported an almost identical incident in those very same waters, during his last circum-navigation aboard The Hawk of Tuonella.

Today at 3 p.m. I was approached by a fishing trawler with a crew of four, three of them wearing hoods, looking like being Indonesians, ordering me with signals to stop the boat. I was in the way of hoisting a smaller jib when I heard the noise of their engine, and at first glance I imagined they were there by chance, but when watching more carefully and seeing they were hiding their faces with hoods, my legs trembled uncontrollably They were at no more than 300m from us. After thirty seconds of no action, I finally ran aft as fast as I could, started the engine, disconnected the wind vane, turned on the automatic pilot, and in full throttle and the assistance of the sails, changed course and ran away like a bat out of hell. It seems they didn’t expect this reaction, since they probably believed I was going to stop. Notwithstanding, they also changed course trying to catch me. However sailing at ten knots Caroll was no easy prey for them, and the distance between us kept increasing. After fifteen minutes of fierce pursuit they gave up chasing us, while I kept the engine at its maximum revs for a whole hour until they disappeared on the horizon.

I believe they were professional fishermen and amateur pirates, since they didn’t posses long range weapons. However if it wasn’t for the superb speed of my boat I would be most probably lying deep in the Indian Ocean together with my beloved Caroll. Tomorrow I’ll probably be out of the range of Indonesian fishermen and this night I’ll sail with navigation lights off, counting on radar, AIS and my watches, to avoid a collision. I thanked the Almighty to have allowed me to keep going on my trip...

We follow Caroll’s voyage by Spot and presently (10/10/11) she is approaching Keeling Cocos Island , his next port of call. Because of Raimundo’s outstanding accomplishments we are going to include his boat in our “hall of fame gallery”. We are delighted by the persistent good performances of the Explorer 39 during this trip. Since the class is just beginning its career, we hope the good records Caroll is proving to be capable of obtaining, will encourage other cruising sailors to learn more about this boat’s potential.

Explorer 39 being built in Uruguay.

The Uruguayan computer analyst Julio Gonzales is building an Explorer 39 in Montevideo, Uruguay. He obtained permission to use the installations of a local technical school and is profiting from the skill and enthusiasm of its young students.

The hull strip-planked core is already completed and was extremely well finished. At the present time the fibreglass external lamination has been already applied and the hull is ready to be turned upside. Julio prepared an interesting site,,   to relate his experiences as a yacht builder.

We extracted from his site the following information and we intend to report periodically the progresses of his construction. The Explorer 39 is a swing-keel shallow draught cruising yacht, the ideal type of boat to operate in the River Plate, where an accelerated process of sedimentation is turning the estuary waters shallower at each season. In the long run Julio intends to use his boat in long distance cruising, and he counts on the versatility of his boat to provide him with a scope of usage unmatched by any other fixed keel yacht of the same size.

Being built at the Escuela Tecnica Marítima del Uruguay

This home page is a tribute to all amateur boat builders and cruising sailors.

The construction is taking place at the Maritime school of Uruguay (UTU), a public institution ( a small part of each one of us, Uruguayans, where various technical courses are offered.
There is a boat building department at this school where fishing boats and leisure crafts are built, but the Explorer 39 with her twelve meters L.O.A. and 3.70m beam is up to now the school's larger challenge. The plans were acquired from B & G Yacht Design,, former Roberto Barros Yacht Design,, a well known yacht design group, which was first established in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but presently is operating from Perth, Western Australia.

Why the Explorer 39 ?

The idea of building the Explorer 39 is a long time dream nurtured during the years when I owned a Plenamar 22, a weekend sailer too small for more ambitious dreams, and from this standing point I began looking for something more adequate for my future plans. First I searched the yacht market for an adequate model which suited my needs, but the prohibitive prices of first hand yachts deterred me from acquiring a production boat.
Then I began to consider building myself the boat I was looking for as an amateur and, somehow, trying to prove that yachts are not necessarily that expensive. (I'm far from claiming that amateur construction is inexpensive. Only that prices currently practiced by the yachting industry are abusive). Here in Uruguay it is possible to accomplish quite interesting achievements regarding amateur boat building.

The core strip-planking already finished, ready to be covered by the external fiberglass lamination

First Explorer 39 hull is already turned upside.

Very quietly, with no fanfare, much in the style of Marcos Toledo, the owner of Estrutural Boatyard, was turned upside the Explorer 39 hull under construction for Mr. Raimundo Nascimento, a yachtsman from the city of São Paulo.

In spite of the low profile of the event, Mr. Raimundo Nascimento has a lot to congratulate for. The use of CNC laser cutting for the hull's moulds generated a perfect hull shape. The PVC foam sandwich construction was performed with a high degree of quality and the finishing of hull outside surface is superb
Marcos removed the moulds as soon as the boat was turned upside and began the installation of interior bulkheads. It will take a very short time to join hull and deck, since the superstructure was fabricated simultaneously with the hull. The boat is expected to be launched during July or August this year.

We at the office are looking forward to sail her in different conditions, with her keel lowered or retracted, and see how it's like to sail a 40 foot monohull in two feet water depth.
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Explorer 39 first hull soon to be turned upside.

The first Explorer 39 under construction at Estaleiro Estrutural, Cabo Frio, Brazil, has its hull practically finished. Her owner, Raimundo Nascimento, is intending to invite his friends to a barbecue when turning the hull over. We from the office will certainly be there, since we are quite happy about this design.
We are convinced the Explorer 39 is a unique cruising sail boat, but it is necessary to wait for this hull to be sailing for us to feel at home to fully promote the many particularities of this project. We had a pleasant surprise when we received an e-mail from the prestigious French sailing magazine, Loisirs Nautiques, asking us to publish a note about the Explorer 39 in the Paris Boat show issue. It seems that cruising yachtsmen are already beginning to discover this design. We will keep our visitors informed about the latest progresses of Raimundo's boat.

Click on images to enlarge them

Explorer 39, the cruising boat for the years to come.

Anticipating the launching of the first Explorer 39 to be completed, we are unveiling her secrets in a sequence of images produced by our fantasies during a virtual cruise.
Our anxiety to see this unique sailboat already sailing is very demanding. Its swift waterlines together with its cozy interior were already shown in a quite realistic sequence of rendered images recently published in our site. Now it is the turn to show its wake at speeds above its limits, or a glorious close hauled sailing in a tropical paradise.

The class has already one boat almost completed and another with her hull already turned upside. The almost finished Explorer 39 belongs to the Brazilian yachtsman Raimundo Nascimento, and is being built by Estaleiro Estrutural, a very competent boatyard established at the town of Cabo Frio, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The other boat belongs to the Uruguayan computer analyst Julio Gonzales, and is being built by the students of the Technical School of Montevideo, in Uruguay. (see the site:
Raimundo first heard about the Explorer 39 design in September 2005, when, during the “Recife to Fernando de Noronha Regatta”, one of the most popular long distance races in the South Atlantic, he met Roberto Barros. He was then competing with his former yacht, a series produced thirty-six foot cruiser/racer, while Roberto Barros was aboard his home built MC 28 Fiu. On that occasion, in a fleet of one hundred boats from various countries, twelve were designed by the Roberto Barros Yacht Design (now B & G Yacht Design) office. Highly impressed with the performance of most of the twelve different boats from the office, Raimundo told Roberto about his intention of upgrading his yacht for a larger one, and was searching for a new design. Roberto then informed him that the Explorer 39 brand new design had just come out of the oven. When he knew that the project contemplated a retractable swing keel and that its minimum draught was scants 530mm with the keel totally raised, he knew straightaway that the Explorer 39 was the boat for him.  

The concept of the Explorer 39 was brought to us by Darke de Mattos, a friend of ours who is an experienced ocean racer and cruising sailor. During his racing career, Darke had competed in the most important world racing events, like the Admiral’s Cup and the Bermudas Race, always with top of the line crews and state of the art designs. On the other hand he has a taste for nice looking lines, being one of his boats the legendary Atrevida, a gorgeous one hundred foot schooner designed by Hereshoff and built in New Orleans during the early twenties.
This time, however, he neither wanted a racing boat, nor a classic one. He wished something to be praised in the years to come. He wanted a boat not too big, so she could be sailed single-handed with very little effort, rigged with an easy to handle sail plan, and last but not least, with controllable draught, so he could dream in visiting the most interesting cruising grounds, inaccessible to fixed keel yachts.
For personal reasons Darke didn’t start to build his boat yet, but he is following the progress of the construction of Explorer 39 hull # 1 with great interest, since he still intends to build his one. We are thankful to him for having the opportunity of designing such an exciting cruising sailboat with his collaboration.
Darke, among other plans, has a special interest in visiting the Sub-Antarctic islands and the Antarctic continent. However he keeps a long-lasting dream of visiting many South Pacific atolls, one more reason for willing to own a yacht with controllable draught.

Our group of persons involved with this design have very similar intentions, and we have other potential clients from different countries with the same endeavours.
Our excitement with the near launching of the first unit is inciting us in wanting to foresee how the Explorer 39 will look like when sailing in an admiral’s sea or when surfing freak waves in the roaring forties. Since dreams are free and technology can give a good hand, here is how we expect this design will actually be on those conditions.
In our virtual cruise, the Explorer 39 experiences good and bad weather to return sound and safe to her berth in the hypothetic marina where she is stationed.


See the 3D images of the Explorer 39. The first boat of the class is under construction in Cabo Frio, state of Rio de Janeiro- Brazil
Click on images to enlarge them


The first Explorer 39 is already under construction at Estaleiro Estrutural, a High-Tec boatyard situated in the City of Cabo Frio, state of Rio de Janeiro. The moulds for the building stations are already in place and soon the plug will be ready for the building of hull number one.
Specified for sandwich construction, the Explorer 39 is one of the most advanced swing-keel cruising yachts among our designs. When launched, the cruising community will be able to see how comfortable and easy it is to sail this unique yacht.

Click on images to enlarge them

This note was published in " Loisirs Nautiques", Paris Boat Show issue, December 2006.