Born to Cruise

Blue wa­ter beck­ons; the Dis­cov­ery 58 an­swers.

Cruising World - - Contents - by Mark Pills­bury

Old or new? Ei­ther one could be used to de­scribe the Bri­tish­built Dis­cov­ery 58. On the one hand, it’s a de­sign that’s been around awhile, one that evolved from the Ron Hol­land Dis­cov­ery 57 that was launched in 2012. On the other, the re­vamped and up­dated model just made its de­but here in the States at last fall’s U.S. Sail­boat Show in An­napo­lis, Mary­land. And its cur­rent builder, the Dis­cov­ery Yachts Group, is a new com­pany that in­cor­po­rates a cou­ple of Eng­land’s ven­er­a­ble sail­ing brands — Dis­cov­ery and Southerly Yachts — as well as Blue­wa­ter Yachts’ cruis­ing cata­ma­ran and Bri­tan­nia Yachts, a line of “mod­ern clas­sics” that is still on the draw­ing boards.

Ei­ther way you choose to look at it, though, the Dis­cov­ery 58 we vis­ited last fall dur­ing our Boat of the Year test­ing is in­tended for blue­wa­ter sail­ing, with solid bul­warks from stem to sugar-scoop stern, a ver­sa­tile so­lent rig, a deep and ac­ces­si­ble chain locker and a stylish and com­fort­able live­aboard deck-sa­loon in­te­rior. In other words, if you’ve got a rough patch of wa­ter to cross, this boat would be a wor­thy con­tender for the jour­ney.

Let’s start on deck, where a dodger on the boat we sailed pro­tects the for­ward end of the cen­ter cock­pit, com­pan­ion­way and a por­tion of the two long set­tees that flank a sturdy dropleaf teak table equipped with stain­less-steel hand­holds at ei­ther end. Aft of the loung­ing space, an owner has a choice of ei­ther a sin­gle wheel or twin helms, which we found on the boat we vis­ited. Be­sides com­pos­ite wheels, both pedestals sported chart plot­ters. To port were sail­ing in­stru­ments and switches to con­trol elec­tri­cal equip­ment on deck, while en­gine and thruster con­trols were lo­cated to star­board.

Solid stain­less-steel rails, 30 inches high, sur­rounded the tran­som up to the wheels; from there for­ward, dou­ble life­lines ran to the bow pul­pit and im­pressed BOTY judge Bill Bolin, who noted the se­cu­rity they of­fer, and also their rar­ity on other off­shore-ca­pa­ble boats we vis­ited. “We didn’t see enough of those, in my opin­ion,” he told his col­leagues. Bolin ap­proved too of the Dis­cov­ery’s wide teak side decks and split stays (up­pers led out­board; low­ers to the side of the cabin house), which kept the path­way for­ward clear.

On the fore­deck, a Seldén sprit was mounted in one of the two beefy an­chor rollers, await­ing down­wind sails. Just aft were Reck­mann hy­draulic furlers for the genoa and self-tack­ing jib. A trav­eler span­ning the width of the aft cabin top, An­der­sen elec­tric winches and an elec­tric in-mast furl­ing Seldén spar (a con­ven­tional main with slab reef­ing is an op­tion) com­pleted the sail­han­dling sys­tems. Sails were from North.

At its yard in Southamp­ton, Dis­cov­ery in­fuses its Diviny­cell-cored fiber­glass hulls and decks us­ing vinylester resin, adding Kevlar cloth in high-stress ar­eas, such as around the keel. Bulk­heads, in­clud­ing two wa­ter­tight for­ward

ones, are bonded in place. An owner can choose ei­ther a deep (7-foot-8-inch) lead keel or a shoal-draft (6-foot-5-inch) foil.

The boat is pow­ered by a 150 hp Yan­mar diesel, with shaft drive. Un­der­way, even at full throt­tle, BOTY judge Ed Sher­man found the 50 db sound level down be­low to be among the low­est of the boats we tested. By com­par­i­son, some of the 2018 fleet had rat­ings ap­proach­ing 70 db. Sher­man at­trib­uted the quiet down be­low to thick sound in­su­la­tion in the en­gine room (yes, the boat has a walk-in en­gine room be­low the cen­ter cock­pit). But BOTY judge Tim Mur­phy noted the en­gine was set up with a split ex­haust sys­tem that sent ex­haust gas off in one hose and cool­ing wa­ter in an­other, elim­i­nat­ing splash­ing and typ­i­cal ex­haust noise.

The 58’s deck-sa­loon de­sign pro­vides a lot of in­te­rior liv­ing space — and great views thanks to the sa­loon’s raised sole and large ports to ei­ther side and for­ward. An added ben­e­fit is space be­low for tank­age, keep­ing weight low and in the cen­ter of the ves­sel.

Step­ping down from the com­pan­ion­way, there’s a raised table sur­rounded by a U-shaped couch out­board and bench on the cen­ter­line. A raised nav­i­ga­tion desk sits op­po­site, giv­ing the skip­per clean sight lines both for­ward and athwartships. The desk in­cludes space for a pop-up plot­ter and other in­stru­men­ta­tion, along with ra­dio gear. Adding en­gine and au­topi­lot con­trols would trans­form the area into a true pi­lot­house.

The builder al­lows for con­sid­er­able cus­tomiza­tion. On the boat we vis­ited, the owner chose to forgo a set­tee for­ward of the nav sta­tion, opt­ing in­stead for a large flat area where charts could be spread out, with stor­age be­hind. There is also a lay­out avail­able that moves the nav sta­tion for­ward so an­other cabin with bunks can be added by the foot of the com­pan­ion­way.

For­ward of the main bulk­head and three steps down, there was a cabin with bunks to port and a head and shower op­po­site. The for­ward cabin sported a queen-size is­land berth and a cou­ple of hang­ing lock­ers.

A well-ex­e­cuted gal­ley and pass-through to the own­ers cabin was on port, aft of the sa­loon and an­other three steps down. A sink and am­ple counter space was lo­cated on the cen­ter­line, and a five-burner gim­balled propane stove and oven flanked by more counter and stor­age space was out­board. A fridge, freezer, dish­washer and mi­crowave promised to keep the chef in the crew happy.

The 58’s aft cabin was stun­ning. Light poured in through large ports in the hull and hatches over­head. A for­ward-fac­ing is­land queen berth was on the cen­ter­line; in its own siz­able com­part­ment to star­board and for­ward were the head and shower.

To keep the lights on, the boat we vis­ited had a 7 kw Cum­mins Onan gen­er­a­tor aboard, as well as a bank of three so­lar pan­els mounted on a rack over the stain­less-steel dinghy davits on the stern.

Other nice touches in­cluded a pair of teak seats on ei­ther side of the bow and stern pul­pits, and life-raft stor­age in­cor­po­rated into the life­line rail­ing. All told, the boat, fit­ted out with a slew of op­tions, car­ried a price tag of $1.8 mil­lion.

Un­for­tu­nately, the fickle Ch­e­sa­peake Bay breeze took the day off when it came time for a test sail aboard the 58. It was dis­ap­point­ing to miss the chance to ex­per­i­ment with the sail com­bi­na­tions made pos­si­ble by the twin-head­sail rig, not to men­tion the ease of han­dling the big Dis­cov­ery with winches and furlers con­trolled by the touch of a but­ton. After all, that’s what the boat was built for.

The sa­loon sole and din­ing area are raised, en­sur­ing great views (top). The gal­ley is lo­cated in the pas­sage­way to the aft cabin (above). The chart plot­ter pops up from the nav sta­tion.

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