The Perfect Bluewater Sailboat

There are millions of boats—it’s not possible to sail them all. At best we sail a few … but, the perfect bluewater sailboat (the one we take to sea) is usually the boat we make memories with—it becomes a special part of our life and family.

If you already own your perfect boat, you know what this means … some people argue that no boat will ever be “perfect” because settling on numerous design trade-offs make perfection impossible to attain … but, it’s true to say: the search for the perfect bluewater sailboat takes time—your final decision depends on empirical facts, and a gut feeling!

My perfect bluewater sailboat, the SV SOLSTICE, was built from a bare hull with my own hands. I admit there are times I wish I could change certain characteristics about SOLSTICE (I didn’t know then what I know now), but one thing’s for certain about sailing tens-of-thousands of miles with SOLSTICE, I’ve made lots of memories, and I’ve forged a deep love and understanding of that vessel … THAT has made my journey perfect.

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the perfect boat, is your boat …

… it’s all about the memories.

Behind us in this photo, the Panama Canal’s locks open; we navigate SOLSTICE into the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

Solstice is a powerful bluewater sailing vessel … exhilarating to sail offshore!

Built by Paul Exner from a Cape George 31 bare-hull laid-up in 1991, and launched as a complete vessel in 2002, Exner knows every inch of SOLSTICE’s construction and history; she’s a true bluewater expedition vessel: full keel, cutter rigged, fast, highly versatile for ocean sailing, and well-suited to instruct shorthanded bluewater sailors.

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Aesthetics, robust construction, sail configuration, hull form, and bullet-proof reputation are characteristics of the Cape George 31 that Paul admired when he chose to build and own SOLSTICE. Less than a year after graduating college in 1989, Paul literally saved every penny he’d earned and purchased a new Cape George 31 bare hull to invest 10 long-years building himself from scratch—SOLSTICE became one of Paul’s life-achievements that uniquely prepares him to consult other sailors to purchase new or used yachts, modify or refit a yacht and its marine systems, and outfit any bluewater team for ocean voyaging.

More than anything in his life, Paul Exner paid dues to the marine industry (four decades of service since 1975), and continues today to analyze and improve any ocean-going yacht using his boat-building knowledge and extensive experience aboard hundreds of modern yachts ocean-tested under real world scenarios. With experience in yacht construction, refit, and tens-of-thousands of bluewater miles sailed, rounded-out with a background in yacht racing … Paul can show you how to “dial-in” any vessel, especially the “perfect” bluewater sailboat.

Impressive characteristics of a bluewater sailboat

What’s impressive about SOLSTICE is that she’s built to sail … she’s not overloaded with excessive marine systems to nag at your attention; as such, the “focus” of sailing her is based on the seamanship methods for bluewater sailing that will entertain our skill and fulfill our quest for adventure; frankly, that’s why we go to sea, otherwise we’d choose to travel by RV (Recreational Vehicle). When you sail SOLSTICE with Paul you’re immerse aboard a bluewater vessel that’s optimized for good ole sailing characteristics.

The cutter-rig-full-keel combo offers tremendous flexibility to sail a wide variety of complex sea-states. SOLSTICE is setup for short- or single-handed operation to benefit sailors seeking hands-on experimentation and practice aboard a safe and comfortable passage making vessel. She carries a full quiver of sails to handle any wind condition … she’s an offshore machine that’s fast in light winds and heavy-air alike, capable of surfing down waves to leave her quarter-wake behind, and equally at home while ghosting along on a calm sea with gentle winds.

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The running rigging systems of SOLSTICE are smartly laid-out and appropriately sized for average human ergonomics; a full complement of Lewmar Ocean Series self-tailing winches are used for the primary and secondary winches in the cockpit, and on the mast for halyards and reefing. The yankee headsail flown from the bowsprit sets on a Profurl furler controlled from the cockpit. Her Monitor wind-vane autopilot by Scanmar is superb equipment for long passages. Hands-on steering is made via a laminated tiller of Ash-wood; Solstice’s helms-person can glean that extra sensitivity required to coax her into a perfect sailing groove.

A short-handed team of three sailors (including Paul) is accommodated aboard SOLSTICE. The main saloon provides a spacious interior for debrief meetings and sleeping berths for two sailors in separate bunks made comfortable by 4” foam and 6.5’ length. The forward cabin is ideal for one sailor amidst the sail inventory, which can be converted to a double bunk. A single head supports the crew. A 1,000 watt Inverter provides AC power to charge phones, laptops, and camera batteries.

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Built with passion and attention to detail, Paul Exner completed Solstice’s construction from a new Cape George 31 bare-hull with the help of a few close friends, and the guidance of master-builder Todd Uecker (President of Cape George Marine Works). Solstice was built over a 10-year period in an old dairy barn in Middleton, Wisconsin to a robust standard and stout stature making her a strong vessel for bluewater sailing. Solstice is as structurally sound today as she was when her hull was laid-up in 1991 of vinylester resin and woven fiberglass in Port Townsend, Washington.