by Des Ryan
Passport Yachts have been designing and building offshore sailing boats since 1979 and have gained a reputation as being some of the finest and most sought after yachts in the world. Be they old or new owners love them, including the fact that, owing to their high quality build, they usually have a very high residual value. Here, two owners speak:
High quality build - many different models
Robin Roots and Suzy O'Hagen moved onto their Royal Passport 49 True Blue in July 2004, and have been cruising in her ever since in a slow and luxurious circumnavigation. So far they have sailed from Brisbane Australia across the Indian Ocean and up the Red Sea, across the Mediterranean to Spain. They are thinking of crossing the Atlantic in the near future. Why do they love her?
'We like True Blue because she sails very well in both light airs and strong winds....the light airs performance is surprisingly often a bonus. People moan about lack of wind in the Med but over five years our engine hours have been way down on everyone else's, and this is really because in these conditions most folk have given up and turned on their motors.
'It goes withough saying that in a blow the boat takes care of herself, and we feel very secure (this is typical probably of all Rob Perry designs though).
'Passports have high gunnels, so the risk of falling overboard or losing things off the deck is reduced; you can really wedge your feet in when heeled over and in fact this was one of the things we looked for when we chose the boat (having decent gunnels).
'What else do we like? The quality of build is a major plus; the opening ports (22 of them!) throughout the boat are top quality stainless, and never rust or give leakage problems. We are therefore always cool and get cross breezes throughout the boat.
'All the solid timber locker fronts are louvred too which gives good ventilation to the contents.
'We like the the centre cockpit design (means we always feel safe), and we also like having a decent swim platform which has been able to accommodate a windvane this year.
'We would like better engine access and more storage, (True Blue is a skinny boat for her size, just over 4 metres, and that affects the depth of the lockers in the saloon).
'We also would like better scuppers or slightly more camber to the side decks as water sits there longer than we would like.
'In the last analysis the boat is now 16 years old and still, we think, looks and goes really well. Maybe because of the build quality or maybe because we have been lucky we have not had major breakdowns or problesm with True Blue, so fingers crossed that will continue.
Brian and Meaghan Rader, who hail from Boise, Idaho, sail a Passport 37, Potato Caboose. He says of her: 'She is 37' overall. Her length at the waterline is 29' 10'. She has a beam of 11' 11'. She displaces about 17,900 pounds, with 6,250 pounds of ballast, and has a draft of about 6'. She was built at the Hai Yang Boat Yard in Taiwan in 1986. She has very nice lines. She sails very well, and she has a very nicely finished teak interior with a light wood varnish. We find her to be very comfortable (albeit cozy) for two people.'
While not many Passport 37's were built (1984-7), they have a finer bow than the earlier Passport 40, and this makes the boat faster on the wind. There are many other aspects of the yacht that the Raders appreciate.
While Rader admits that she sometimes does not reverse well because of her construction (the propeller shaft is angled to port), he says this is a small criticism, as many yachts of this era particularly were the same.
She has a large fin keel that draws less than six feet, a huge advantage when anchoring in remote bays. She moves easily through the water, and can cruise at speeds of 5-6 knots on a close reach in a 10 knot wind.
The sloop rig, with a roller-furling headsail and three available reefs in the main, allows them to balance the sails nicely in wind strengths up to 30 or 35 knots. Above 35 knots, they employ a storm jib on an inner forestay and a storm trysail. Potato Caboose is quick in light air, and she goes to weather well.
They say their favorite interior feature is the galley, which is big for a 37-foot boat and designed to make you feel secure in a seaway. It has a deep double sink, separate refrigerator and freezer compartments, and excellent storage. Opposite the galley is a navigation station with a comfy seat, adequate work area for paper charts, and spaces outboard and forward for mounting electronic instruments.
Typical of the better Taiwan-built boats of the era, the Passport 37 has excellent joinery with rounded surfaces and no bruising corners. The Raders say that the elegant and bright interior, with wood finished in a light varnish and a white vinyl overhead liner accented with teak battens, was kind to them while living aboard during Pacific Northwest winters.
For more information about Passport yachts, of which there are many new models, go to their http://www.passportyachts.eu!website.