Aluminum exploration sailboat at anchor in Antarctica

High Latitude Cruising

The ultimate global cruiser

While the perfect boat for everyone is a chimera, a boat being the results of compromises to suit a cruising program, a crew and a budget, the Enduro 54 is the ideal boat to explore the world and its far corners, and notably the grand and unspoiled scenery of the coasts of Labrador, the Canadian Arctic, Alaska, Kamtchatka, Greenland, Svalbard or in the southern hemisphere the Chilean Channels of Patagonia, South Georgia, the Antarctic Peninsula, Crozet and the Kerguelen.

Design criteria

The Enduro 54 is an expedition sailing yacht for live aboard and cruising worldwide including high latitudes. She has been designed and optimized for various types of sailing such as high latitudes and long passages which often go hand in hand with these remote regions, but also tropics and moderate latitudes inclusive of round the year navigations.
While a versatile sailing boat, she is not an icebreaker, nor a true polar boat with retractable prop., engine dry exhaust, double skin or moreover an elliptical hull shape like the french schooner and expedition yacht Tara. Such a shape offering little resistance when trapped in freezing ice, ice floes pressure cannot damage the boat. Ice forming will just lift the boat, as when trying to squeeze a cherry stone between fingers. Having said that, the Enduro 54 has been designed for high latitude cruising in the most inhospitable parts of the world, mostly during the summer season, but could even sustain being stuck among ice given the right conditions (see Ice Navigation below).

Heavy seas

high latitudes sailing yacht in rough seas


With reasonably accurate forecasts available from a variety of sources, weather dictates passages, at least the relatively short ones lasting less than 4 days. This is the case when travelling to Svalbard from the northern coast of Norway or even crossing the Drake where boats can await the right weather window in southern Chile or even in sheltered moorings of the Antarctic Peninsula e.g. Melchior or Desolation Island when returning north to Puerto-Williams or Ushuaïa. However, and especially for longer passages e.g. Labrador, Greenland, South Georgia, Kerguelen, etc, the boat must be able to safely stand up to foul weather, blustery winds and rough seas. This is also the case around Iceland, as soon as a little early or late in season. High latitude weather if not totally unpredictable can change fast and become really wet and terribly windy.
The Enduro 54 is a sturdy aluminum sailboat with several watertight bulkheads and doors, sheltered watch and steering positions, a streamlined and efficient sail-plan with a cutter rig configuration easier to handle when short-handed, a stout and comprehensive rig with inner forestay and running backstays, twin rudders for optimum control in heavy seas, two autopilots plus many other redundancies. Moreover a pivoting centerboard confers the ability to sail the board up or adjust the position of the Center of Lateral Resistance (CLR) without undermining the excellent stability. Downwind, even in breaking seas, the CLR moving aft enhances directional stability; furthermore the boat doesn't trip surfing down on waves. No keel broach effect reducing the risk of capsizing and moreover a much more gentle sea-motion providing comfort to the crew and an easier life on board.
With a deep draft and a fabricated aluminum centerboard with an optimum Naca profile, upwind capability and windward performance are actually superior to most standard and a compromised draft fixed keel boats, approx. 2m to 2m50 for boats of this size vs. this 3m55 draught with the board down (i.e. c.a. 12' vs. some 7 feet). Quite different actually from this longstanding poor reputation stemming from some lumpish center-boarders with low performance hull and centerboard crude designs. On these standard boat series, the centerboard and daggerboards are plain thick metallic plates with simply the edges filleted; a plane couldn't fly with such wings !
Whether at sea or at anchor, under strong squalls a lower windage is an asset : no excessive freeboard, a coachroof with an aerodynamic shape and dedicated lockers for all gear to clear the deck.

Ice navigation

sailboat in brash ice

Working her way into brash ice in the waters off the Antarctic Peninsula

The Enduro 54 is designed to be able to safely power through a field of brash ice. Robust aluminum construction with lavish scantlings (e.g. 8mm/10mm garboard/hull bottom, 12mm bustle and even a 16mm thick aluminum plate for the grounding sole) and a maintenance free unpainted marine aluminium alloy hull with good abrasion resistance fit the bill. Furthermore all appendages are retractable with the swing centerboard lifted up when motoring, in addition to the safe kick-up rudders. A comprehensive protection cage surrounds the propeller.
Dual seawater inlets with protective grating for the engine cooling are located on each side of the bustle and skeg, and all seacocks are above the waterline on welded aluminium thru-hull fittings. As for very cold weather an interior steering wheel can be used, located inside the pilothouse under a coachroof hatch with direct visibility towards a perched crew member standing in the mast crow's nest to guide the boat among floes with simple communication signs instead of yelling orders or talking via VHF.

Drifting ice is often unpredictable and potentially quite hazardous; any navigation in the ice pack has to be done very cautiously. Winds, very strong or opposite currents yielding enormous pressures or swell can cause floes, even of moderate size, to become real dangers which can easily crush and damage the larger polar boats. However if the boat is stuck in a sheltered mooring area with no side or shear stream and with an appropriate distance from the shore to avoid any movement, the ice formation will progressively grow around the hull from a few centimeters, as soon as the weather clears up and temperatures fall below -15° C for salty sea water (or -5°C for fresh water for instance towards the end of a fjord), to a maximum of around 1 to 1.5 m during an entire winter. Appendages would be retracted and with this kind of thickness the ice will likely not reach the hull bottom center with the sturdy bustle containing the incompressible lead ballast remaining in liquid water, while the rest of the hull, notably the fore part, would tend to be lifted up under ice pressure. However the propeller would need to be removed with a drysuit, or an anti-icing device positioned around it. Having said that, while a few aluminum boats, including some with a fixed keel and rudder, have safely stayed an entire winter under these quiet conditions, with amazingly no damage to their rudder, the ability to over-winter or going through pack ice thicker than 10 to 15 cm is not included in the Enduro 54 design goals criteria. Being momentarily stuck in freezing but steady ice in a sheltered area is a non issue though.

Once the centerboard is raised, the minimal draft facilitates access to sheltered anchorages including shallow waters where larger ice floes cannot get in, bearing in mind 90% of floating ice remains below the water. When mooring lines are taken to shore, quite frequent in high latitudes anchorages, this calls for safer and quieter nights; no need to wake up every time a drifting floe tends to get hung up on a shoreline or worse the need to desert the anchorage when floes would start bumping into the boat producing truly frightening loads; even small berger bits and moderate size floes can quickly overweight a leisure boat.
The dink telescopic mast 2 parts can be used as ice poles aka "tuks" after attaching metal blades to them, for pushing floes away from the hull.
The dinghy, especially when the Hypalon tubes are on, is lifted up under the boat arch, preventing it from being chewed or occupied by various species of seal. Polar bears of the Arctic or Leopard seals in Antarctica can quickly lacerate or wreck an inflatable dinghy, making it useless.

Remote and poorly charted areas

Self-sufficiency and autonomy are critical to any serious exploration and blue water cruising boat capable of remaining independent for long periods. Long passages are often required before embarking on the exploration of high latitudes remote territories. As with any true long-range cruiser stowage capabilities and fuel range are paramount. On the Enduro 54 the walk-in forepeak is huge and the vast aft lazarette includes several dedicated lockers to store all kinds of equipment. Moreover there are plenty of lockers and bilge compartments in the boat interior to stow provisions for several months. For instance in the arctic isolated villages supplies are either expensive or impossible to obtain or worse, bulk purchases can cause shortages for the natives. In these remote small towns, stores are not set up for cruising boats and often not supplied more than once or twice a month.
There is tankage for more than a 1000 liters (c.a. 300 gallons) of fresh water plus a high output 100 l/h water-maker, and 2000 liters (c.a. 500 gallons) of fuel.
Long periods of calm are common in the high latitudes, where the polar high pressures are extending during the summer, so motoring is frequent, in addition to the fuel consumption for heating the boat. A sailing yacht like the Enduro 54 could easily stay at least 2 to 3 months with complete self-sufficiency in remote places such as the Antarctic Peninsula or Greenland, with say 6 people on board.
Another important factor for autonomy is the significant redundancy of equipments : e.g. 2 rudders, 2 autopilots, 2 wind generators, 2 dinghies, 2 outboards, 3 heaters, large battery banks and many different charging devices, ... and the ability to keep the boat functional by being able to make repairs during a cruise and even under way; hence the walk-in forepeak, its workbench with a vice and good many spares and tools.

Maintaining communications in remote territories is not only important to receive weather forecasts and ice charts, but also to keep land contacts abreast of the ongoing cruise progress, seek technical information to make repairs on board and possibly order spares in advance to the next harbor stopover and of course can be used for all types of emergencies either concerning the boat or the crew medical state.
In the high Arctic or in far and remote areas such as the Antarctic Peninsula or isolated islands like South Georgia satellite communications are a must have. Iridium with satellite orbiting the poles offers the best coverage in these regions including extreme latitudes; a compact handheld 9555 phone (or 9575) with an external high latitude antenna e.g. from OCENS can be used. A premium alternative is the Iridium Pilot with its omnidirectional satellite antenna leveraging the Open Port service for email, web browsing and voice communications. A good radar, a sat-compass and autopilot are indeed useful for cruising anywhere in the world; however it's important to remember flux gate and any magnetic compass are not reliable in the arctic high latitudes.

As for unsurveyed or poorly charted regions an aluminum sailboat with a swing centerboard is second to none. The low draft coupled with a robust hull and lifting appendages including "kick-up" safety devices : retractable rudders and a centerboard swinging up, make this boat quite suitable to sail in these areas. The centerboard is easy to maneuver in shallow waters and while locked at sea can be unlocked during coastal approaches. Because the rudders and especially the centerboard pivot instead of being permanently fixed or lifted up straight into the hull (which is even more vulnerable), the chances of damaging them in accidental grounding are much lower. Furthermore the rudders are protected by the hull bustle and skeg; as a matter of fact they do not need to be retracted for the boat to dry up. Following a hit with debris or marine life the rudders will "kick-up". Moreover for instance under the contingency of drifting ice pushing the boat towards an unsafe shore with emerging shallow rocks, they can be safely lifted-up manually or mechanically.
Sturdy and efficient anchors, enough chain and good many mooring lines including some long floating ones (e.g. Dyneema : lighter and doesn't absorb water remaining flexible in the cold) to run ashore and avoid tangling with kelp (or the prop.), plus some cables and chains to use around rocks, complete this list. A small anchor and ice screws can be helpful to momentarily tie to an ice sheet. A powerful LED searchlight (with possibly remote control) to see far ahead of the boat can be mounted on the pulpit. Given the remoteness of these areas, it is assumed all safety and emergency equipment, including a comprehensive medical kit, appropriate tools and spare parts are already on board, operational, and the crew has been properly trained.

Cold weather

This sailboat has been designed with appropriate insulation and ventilation to remain comfortable in both warm tropical and colder high latitudes.
Meticulous insulation performed (PU foam spray in addition to thick layers of rigid foam) of the deck and hull above the waterline, in addition to thick and insulated cabin soles plus double glazing for all windows. Condensation being a real issue in cold weather, a proper ventilation is required with many deck and roof opening portholes or hatches in every cabins or heads, plus numerous air vents and dorades. Furthermore a sheltered opening porthole has been added to the pilothouse back panel window for the sound operation of the stove once the door and all other openings are shut. The foul weather gear locker in the companionway is heated. In very cold regions a canvas entry airlock is added to the pilothouse coachroof aft extension to protect the pilothouse door and limit cold air intakes. Needless to add the crew should have appropriate clothes and personal gear available on board.

3 different heating devices on board : a central heating diesel water heater with radiators across the boat, a diesel stove and an electric wall heater to be used in marinas on when there is too much energy on board. The central heating can be used to warm up the main engine before starting in very cold weather. The stove exhaust can be fitted with different draft caps to operate in gusty winds.

The vast pilothouse with a navigation station and steering wheel, a raised saloon and a galley is a central place allowing to navigate, watch the sea, relax, enjoy a movie, cook, eat and lounge with a view of the surrounding wilds. The crew can huddle around the stove without missing the pristine scenery. Sheltered and even heated watch and steering positions, in addition to a comfortable and easy life on board, notably due to a seaworthy interior layout and confortable berths at sea, coupled with gentle sea motions of this centerboard sailboat, make for a safe and enjoyable high latitude cruising.

 sailboat under moonlight Alaska

Moonlighting over the gulf of Alaska


high latitudes sailboat

At anchor in Antarctica