Pogo 50 - Lifting Keel - Full-On Performance

If you want to cruise, but cruise FAST... read on!
I got a chance to sail on a Pogo 50 last week in the Anguilla Regatta. For the first day of the regatta there was lots of wind, and we photographed the race from the press boat. On the second day I went out aboard the Pogo 50 for the race. Thanks very much for having me aboard guys!!

In case you haven't heard of Pogo, they are a French Boat builder (not a child's toy :-) specializing in very high performance monohulls. For years they have built Mini-Transat boats, 6.5 meters long (20 feet) and then grown to 30 and 40 footers. Always high-performance! But now they have branched a little more toward cruising with the new Pogo 50.
A Pogo 50 is still very much the high performance craft, but set up for cruising. Appropriately Pogo 50 Maremosso (which we met in Anguilla) was on an Atlantic cruise, and just entered the regatta for fun with their 4 crew.


Did I mention the Pogo 50 is a swing-keel boat like ours (well… somewhat like ours)
Comparing our Southerly 49 to the Pogo 50 they are surprisingly similar in a number of respects…
Both the Pogo and Southerly can raise their keels for shallow water. The Pogo's draft with the keel down is just a foot more than ours at 11'5. Raising the keel for shallow water our Southerly draws just 3 feet, the Pogo less than 5. The difference here is she keeps much of her ballast in the bottom of the swinging 3 ton keel. We have a 3 ton plate in the hull which we can sit on when we have swung up our 2-ton keel and are beached. The Pogo must not be grounded like this I think or would risk damage as the keel is external even when swung up. (Image from YBW.COM) Both the Pogo and Southerly also have twin rudders.
Pogo mast is 6 feet taller than our Southerly. She has quite a bit more sail area in the main however, with the high performance "fat head" sail configuration.
Even the interior layout is similar with the main cabin forward and two aft cabins. The biggest difference is the displacement. The Southerly 49 is nearly twice as heavy!

Inside they have simplified to keep it light, but do have a workable cruising interior. Here in the well-organized nav station, co-owner Guido describes their successful Atlantic ARC crossing (finished 17th).
The interior (shot here from the Designer Finot-Conq website) is quite light and airy, and light-weight as well.
It was unfortunate that we had very light winds the second day of the regatta when I was racing aboard Maremosso. I had watched her roaring around the course the previous day, only to find light flukey winds for my day on board. Nevertheless it was obvious that this is a VERY fast, fun and responsive boat to sail. When even the slightest puff stirred the water we zipped along, but the crew was frustrated they couldn't really show her stuff!

Stay tuned as I will do a further review, and a short video feature showing the Pogo 50. If you are interested in real racing performance, in a cruising monohull, you should look at Pogo.

Catamaran Thoughts…

Down here in the British Virgin Islands we see a LOT of catamarans cruising around. Many of them look specifically designed for the charter trade with MANY cabins and heads and opening patio doors. But some are much more purposeful and look like they might make a good "Around the World" cruiser. One that has caught my eye recently is Outremer. Might this boat be good for our round-the-world journey?

Popular Caribbean Charter Cats - Lagoon, Leopard, Fontaine Pajot
Fast Cats - Outremer, Catana
Cruising Cats - Antares, Privilege
Are there more?


Comparing catamarans to monohulls is difficult. Catamarans cost more to build for the same length. Two-hulls, two engines, more accommodation, etc. so it is usually better to compare, say, a 46 foot monohull to a 40 foot catamaran, since pricing will be more similar.


Comparing boats on a price basis (rather than boat for boat same length) most monohulls will have a longer waterline length and might be better upwind. Cats might well be faster off the wind and make downwind passages faster. This is not a given though. A former charter-cat, set up for the windy Caribbean, then laden down with all the toys for cruising might be slower than the average monohull…


Monohulls heel over when sailing upwind. Although cats do not heel over they do bounce around in a seaway. Motion is different, and for some people, mono-motion is preferred. And some people prefer the motion of a cat. Of course within monohulls the motion of different boats is quite different. Although there are other factors, a longer waterline generally means a smoother motion. In my experience cats tend to have a slightly more complicated motion as you have two hulls each in different waves.


Catamarans definitely have more interior space. So if you like big spaces, the cat will be great. But be aware you shouldn't necessarily fill up all that storage space. Any boat will suffer from overloading and may even get dangerous. No boat likes to be overloaded but catamarans suffer perhaps more. Moving onboard with "all the stuff" lowers speed and performance on both mono's and cats.

Are you a Cat Person?

In some cases it comes down to what you feel is right. Do you like catamarans? I have even heard people say a catamaran is "just not a proper boat". And of course catamaran people refer disparagingly to monohulls as "half-a-cat". I have always like monohulls, but was quite happy on our week in the BVI chartering a Lagoon 380 (which we filmed in Season 5 here).

Sailing Cats

Catamarans do not heel over when sailing. Of course as the wind increases there is a point when they will lift a hull. For a racing boat this means an increase in speed, but for a cruising boat this is not recommended. Best to reef before the wind reaches the force where the boat is overpowered and "lifts a hull". For those of us used to sailing mono's there is an adjustment to sailing style. You need to be sure not to overpower the boat. Charter cats sometimes are built with shorter masts to make them safer to sail. Owner-Versions might have a higher performance rig. In either case you may need to get used to "sailing by the numbers". So if its up over 20 knots its time to put a reef in even if you're sailing quickly, since its hard to tell how close you are to the edge. In the mono, your rail would be in the water and you know its time to reef :-) Sailing by the numbers may not be for everyone.

Could Distant Shores III be a Cat?

From our quick look around the Outremer 45, I was impressed. Racy and seaworthy looking, she apparently racks up some impressive runs offshore. Who knows??

What do you think? Would a catamaran suit your cruising style?

PredictWind Weather Forecasting & Routing Review

How can you get weather updates while at sea? What is the best day to set sail on a passage to get the best conditions en route? How do you choose the route for the fastest and most comfortable passage?

Getting good weather information at sea used to be one of our biggest challenges over our 26 years of cruising internationally. That has changed dramatically this past year as we have been testing PredictWind.
PredictWind is a subscription weather routing service that integrates with the IridiumGO satellite communication network. As we were doing over 6,000 sea miles and 2 transatlantic crossings this year it seemed a good time to try it out.

Although PredictWind can be accessed through a website, what caught our attention was their IridiumGO interface and app. This means we can access weather forecasts and routing information while we're at sea using the IridiumGO unit.

We run the PredictWind app on our Mac laptop connected to the IridiumGO by wifi and ask to download a forecast. It takes a couple of minutes to connect and presto - we have downloaded a GRIB with the weather and routing data. The app has a very good GRIB reader so you can immediately check out the PredictWind forecasts.

Multiple Forecasts

A feature for the true weather aficionados - PredictWind uses four different weather models. GFS CMC and two special PredictWind algorithms. I have been using them to compare and average the forecast models. Having the side-by-side display of the different weather models definitely helps raise your confidence in the forecast, or make you aware if the different models are disagreeing. A very good feature!!
(note in the lower left the key for the 4 models with the PWG forecast route highlighted in blue)

Weather Routing

Getting weather and GRIB files at sea is great but then you need to work out the best route for a fast and comfortable passage. For most of our 26 years of cruising I have done the job myself, "guesstimating" our performance and stepping off our daily run on the paper chart (remember those 😀)   

Nowadays sailors have a couple of options: 1) Retain the services of a professional weather router who can email, phone or radio you with daily reports and suggestions or 2) use PredictWind to do the routing with their powerful computer and send you reports on demand. We've been testing PW routing this season and it's been excellent.

To calculate a route you need to know how fast the boat will go given different wind strengths and headings. PredictWind lets you put in a custom polar table for your boat, or choose from a number of tables they have already set up. Then when you want a route suggestion you just click on your start and destination and input your planned start time. The PredictWind central computer sends back a detailed report with suggested routes for each of the weather models and tables showing the conditions to be expected along the way. The file they send back is very small - just a few KB - so it's easy to receive at sea over satellite or SSB pactor.

Here's a sample of our passage routing file from the leg across the Atlantic. Depending on which weather model is used, we might expect to take 12-13 days. Of course weather forecasts 2 weeks out are not going to be that great, but we are updating it at sea whenever we want! Nice.

Departure Planning

Looking for that "weather window" for a tricky passage? When should you set sail to get the fastest or most comfortable passage?

Running through the scenarios for the best departure date used to take me awhile and was a bit of a rough estimate, as I would quickly step off estimates of our daily runs given the weather forecast. PredictWind has a great feature that does this for you! "Departure Planning" allows you to quickly compare a set of departure times and see what the passages would be like. In the example below we are comparing 4 departure dates a day apart - leaving December 8 at 12:15 and 24,48 and 72 hours after…
Note how it summarizes how much time will be spent upwind, downwind and the percentage of time in which wind strengths and swell heights….

Extra Features

In this review I haven't been able to cover all that PredictWind can do but before we finish, here's one nice extra for the cruising sailor who has a website (like us :-)
This is a nifty tracker page that PredictWind has coded. You can put it up on your website and the folks at home can see where you are. This uses an IridiumGO feature to track you, and PredictWind updates the positions on this map… and makes the folks at home feel better…

The Verdict

PredictWind is an excellent solution to the cruising sailor's basic need - reliable knowledge of the weather at sea. Plus it does a remarkable job of providing weather routing. Paired up with the IridumGO unit it is an amazing combination for the offshore sailor.

Read More

Check out the PredictWind website for more information here…
offshore-evening-sail - 1
How do you get your weather information when at sea? Have you ever tried PredictWind or used other weather routing systems? How did they work out for you? We value your opinions. Please leave your comments and/or questions below…

And please share with a friend you know who might enjoy learning about this weather routing system. Thanks!

You may also like:
IridiumGO! - Review for Cruising Sailors

Transatlantic Passage Planning

When to Abandon Ship

The O Words - Offshore, Ocean, Overnight