-----The Boat-----


Our sailboat, named Syzygy, is a Valiant 40, one of the hardiest and smoothest bluewater cruising boats ever built. She’s 40-feet long and 12.5-feet wide, with a 6.5-foot draft, and a total weight of 22,500 lbs. Designed by Bob Perry (one of the world’s most well-regarded modern boat designers), the Valiant 40 earned many rave reviews and was inducted into the sailboat hall of fame. Valiant 40’s are famous for their solidity, quality, balance, and performance. The boat is a cutter-rigged sloop, meaning it’s got two foresails (a jib and a staysail) like a cutter, and only one centrally-located mast, like a sloop. This setup can be particularly handy in heavy weather. She’s got a thick fiberglass hull, which, like many Valiants, suffered from unsightly — but no worse — osmotic blisters. They were repaired in 2005, and they have not returned. Our boat, hull number 201 (making it the 101st Valiant produced out of about 200), was built in 1978 in Bellingham, WA, and spent most of her life in the Pacific Northwest, where her first two owners sailed and chartered her out of Seattle. The third set of owners sailed her down to Mexico to cruise warmer waters, and then abruptly retired in Arizona. As a result, she spent years sitting up on stilts in a dusty work yard in San Carlos, Mexico, before we discovered her online. Like many 30-year-old sailboats, Syzygy suffers from years of wear, corrosion, and neglect — but nothing that two years of fastidious care can’t repair. Unlike many old boats, Syzygy was loaded with cruising-worthy equipment: a monitor windvane, a cockpit autopilot, a watermaker, a collapsible dinghy and outboard motor, a hard dodger and bimini, a tow generator, an SSB radio, two 85-watt solar panels, a hot water heater, a diesel forced air heater, four anchors, and a liferaft. These bonuses made buying her (for $60,000) much easier. With a quarter berth, V-berth, and two settees, Syzygy can sleep six people. With a propane stove and oven, a fridge, sink, and toilet, she can also feed and attend to those people. And because all of Syzygy’s running rigging is led to the cockpit, Syzygy is a good boat on which to teach newbies about sailing. Obviously, there are far more specifications that make Syzygy what she is, but this diagram gives a good idea of her basic design. It’s worth noting that Syzygy is cursed with a different, earlier version of the 8,000-lb keel, in which the forward half is lead and the aft half is foam, leading to some cracks where the two meet… something to look out for if you’re thinking of buying a Valiant. Not that we have any complaints.

17 Responses to “The Boat”

  1. LOUIS KRUK says:

    HEY BABY…what a site!!! We’re siting here in LA CRUZ…BANDERAS BAY…just happened to need to worship myself…so, GOOGLED my name…stumbled across your site…AND, WE both love it. It put us back in YOUR company…which you have starved us of in recent times. Looks like all is well. Maybe I should have read far enough…are you in MX or SFO???


  2. Rafael Paonessa says:

    Love your website. One FYI: The pre-Texas Valiants, while
    excellent boats, have a tendency for osmotic blisters on the
    hull. So watch out for that. Enjoy.

  3. jonny5waldman says:

    We know. Lucky us, though: Syzygy had a blister job done a few years ago. And even if the blisters come back, they’re just cosmetic — or as Captain Bob like to say, “like zits.”

  4. Dan says:

    Hey Matt, Its Dan from that “farm you grew up on in NJ”. haha Nice boat man. Lots of luck to you guys. Got an extra seat on that boat? Holmes Bros. are working me to death out here bailing. I could use an around the world cruise vacation. Anyways Hope to see you around.

  5. Fireworks « Irrational Basis says:

    […] my sexy man.  What a fun, crazy, wild ride it has been since then!! Tonight we will be partying on the boat, out on the Bay, hopefully under a beautiful, clear sky  (though, I’m doubtful since it is […]

  6. Bruce says:

    Hi! Great web site…and great choice of boat.. I too own a Valiant 40, built in 1978. If you are not aware ,there is a valiant owners group [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Valiant-sailboats/] where you can get advice/ideas. No matter what you run into repair-wise, someone has already been there.

    Look forward to following your adventures
    Fair winds!

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Ahoy from another V40, SeaSpan, lying in Clearwater,FL.
    We’ll enjoy your progres as you go. Great site, great adventure.
    We share common “clean wake” policy with all SSCA members.
    Any chance you are members? If not, check out web site: SSCA.org.
    Many VERY experienced circumnavigators contributing to the site.
    Membership cheap with great benefits- I think there’s a local group near you as well.

  8. Tony Moussis says:

    Hello and good luck on your trip,the valiant is truly and safe boat to cruise in especially in heavy seas,you will then appreciate her design..The blisters are not just a cosmetic pimple i have talked to original owners over the years who have disclosed that these blisters above or below the water line a pencil can be pushed thru…thta is how soft some are. The resin never ever really cures. Now with modern day repairs all this still makes a sea worthy boat, but pleas do not under estimate the blisters.Not to fear their trips around the world were save.happy sea travels to you both. Tony m.

  9. Jim and Carrie says:

    Great blog sites Matt and Karen. Hope we make it over to visit before you heave ho!

  10. Kathryn A says:

    Matt & Karen, Have an absolutely wonderfull time. Stay safe and enjoy those beautiful sunsets. Love, Keith and Kathryn

  11. Elaine in MN says:

    As your Mom’s Cyber-Sis, Karen, I guess I’m your “Cyber-Aunt” and I am looking forward to going around the world via your website posts and videos. I would love to meet your sexy man someday, so when you finally come home to roost, take a detour through Osseo, will you? With lots of love and daily prayers, Elaine

  12. Jodi Solem says:

    This is going to be an amazing adventure for you and for all of us following you! Thank you for bringing us along! Have fun! Lots of blessings to you both! – Jodi (Elaine’s daughter)

  13. Alice and George says:

    We really enjoy watching the two of you embarking on your world adventure. You look like you are having a great time. Please stay very safe.

  14. Tom says:

    A great start to a great adventure. Matt, I sold you the radar; I hope it worked out for you. Karen don’t let anyone tell you that you are not a sailor; you are a great sailor. Love your website and I am a little envious. Currently refitting my Valiant and hope to follow in your wake. Be safe and have a great time!!


  15. William says:


    How’s it going? A couple ?’s about the Syzygy. Are you using any autopilot?
    What are you using for navigation? Battery power? Genset? Watermaker? Food while a float?
    How did the rebuilt refrig. work out? Any mechanical problem?

    Well hope all is going great.

    Best regards,

    William and Amanda

  16. mattholmes says:

    william & amanda, we have a monitor windvane and an old style autohelm 3000 tiller pilot that has been a little trooper for us. We use each about half the time. Definitely wouldn’t do the trip without an electric autopilot (and a backup). Navigation: MacENC software on a mac computer, with various charts depending on the location (all vector and raster charts are free to download in the US fyi). Batteries: 4 six-volt rolls-surrette marine lead-acid batteries, each 360 amp-hours, so a total of 720 amp-hours. No genset, but we have 360 watts of solar and a KISS wind generator. A watermaker that needs some rewiring before it will work. Food is whatever you eat at home, minus most of the fresh stuff half of the time. The rebuilt fridge worked out really well, so far–best things about it are the green LED right there that tells us when it’s running, and the external thermometer to keep tabs on the temperature. No mechanical problems so far to speak of; the seawater pump started leaking indicating leaking seals so I swapped it out with the spare we happened to have on board. Everything is going great at the moment! Check out my maintenance blog as well for some more technical details.

  17. SYZYGY is for sale! says:

    […] the sturdy 40′ Valiant that took us across the Pacific Ocean is up for sale.  I know – it seems much too soon, […]

Leave a Reply