Born to Cruise
Blue water beckons; the Discovery 58 answers.
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.