Solstice … Bluewater Expeditions
Solstice is a powerful bluewater sailing vessel that’s exhilarating to sail offshore … built by her skipper’s hand from 1991 to 2002, Paul Exner knows every inch of Solstice’s construction and history; she’s a true bluewater expedition vessel: full keel, cutter rigged, fast, high-versatility for ocean sailing, and well-suited to instruct shorthanded bluewater sailors.
Aesthetics, robust construction, versatile sail and hull combination, and bullet-proof reputation are characteristics of the full keel cutter that led Paul to build and own one. In 1991, a year after graduating college, Paul used every penny he’d saved and purchased a bare Cape George 31 hull to complete himself and commission as SV Solstice—one of Paul’s successful undertakings that uniquely prepared him to consult other sailors to purchase a new or used yacht, modify or refit a yacht and its marine systems, and outfit any bluewater team for ocean voyaging. More than anything, Paul Exner paid dues to the marine industry for four decades, and continues today to analyze and improve any ocean-going yacht using his boat-building knowledge with Solstice and extensive experience aboard hundreds of modern yachts ocean-tested under real world scenarios.
As an expert in yacht construction Paul has sailed and evaluated tens-of-thousands of bluewater miles aboard Solstice … Paul can show you how to dial-in a full keel vessel better than any other sailing instructor. What’s most 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, we can focus on the most important methods for bluewater sailing that build skill and confidence … the SV Solstice is the real deal bluewater expedition vessel … and Paul will put you in her drivers seat.
Serendipity played a role when Paul embraced the idea that he’d build Solstice himself and do everything for the boat with his own hands: a tradition and lifestyle of self sufficiency that carries Paul and Solstice forward today as the bond between boat and skipper forges ahead!
Her cutter rig full keel combination offers us tremendous flexibility to sail a wide variety of complex sea-states. and she’s easily sailed short- or single-handedly to benefit sailors seeking hands-on experimentation and practice aboard a safe and comfortable passage making vessel.
Solstice 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.
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 the Titanium-based Pro-Furl furler, controlled from the cockpit. A Monitor wind-vane autopilot by Scanmar is superb equipment for helming Solstice on long passages as it only requires some apparent wind. 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 team of three, including Paul Exner, may be accommodated aboard Solstice. The main saloon provides a spacious interior for debrief meetings, and sleeping berths for two sailors in separate bunks of 4” foam and 6.5’ length. The forward cabin is ideal for one sailor amidst the sail inventory, and can be converted to a double bunk for a couple. A single head supports the crew underway and at rest. A 1,000 watt inverter provides AC power for a multitude of electric equipment including charging of phones, laptops, and camera batteries so the sailing action can always be photographed or videoed.
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.