The Ship

About Guppy XL

For now GuppyXL is sailing around in my head and on papers only, but when we have the funds, she will become real – and this is what she will be like:

  • 24 meters over deck – build of GRP ( Glass reinforced plastic)
  • A strong and seaworthy hull – preferably a heavy displacement long keel or semi long keel. She doesn’t need to be super fast, more importantly she should behave well at sea. Not jumping around too much or rolling/leaning over heavily as we will mostly have people on board that are unfamiliar with the ocean. 
  • Lots of deck space for activities on deck while sailing and at anchor – Of course a high railing all around. 
  • Bowsprit , because a ship needs a bowsprit. It’s the best feeling in the world to stand there while sailing  (especially if some dolphins are jumping under you 😉 
  • Proper space to do maintenance, have tools and gear stored – enough room to teach kids some handy skills too.
  • Lots of storage space.  After all the two Minicats also need to come, besides lots of other adventure equipment, spare parts, sails, books, hiking, climbing and good foul weather gear for everyone onboard.
  • Big wheel house with a good view, so that kids can be inside in case of bad weather and still see the ocean to observe and feel its power and beauty. I want to avoid the “being stuck in a hole down below deck and getting smashed around” kind of feeling. 
  • Lots of open and communal space.
  • Good size kitchen open to dining area so it’s all a bit more of a social happening.
  • Opening transom when at anchor, as a swimming platform and dock for dingy’s and little sailboats.

Why build a new ship?

I began quietly searching for a ship two years ago, asking around and searching the entire internet for a suitable vessel.

There are many suitable ships out there, I have looked at a couple of possible candidates which led me all over the world. However, unsuccessful.. Many are old, build in steel or wood and even though I can fix them they will cost lots in maintenance to keep them afloat afterwards. ( We even poked a hole in one boat just tapping around on some rust.. Oops)

We want to keep the program as affordable as possible, and therefore it is important that the ship is as maintenance free as possible. 

We did also find some well maintained boats, but then they weren't suitable. Most of them were made as luxury yachts which is not what we're looking for when sailing with youth. I looked at a beautiful boat in Croatia and came along for a week as crew on one of it's charters, but realised quickly she was unpractical for long voyages and too much work to transfer from a luxury yacht into a practical moving school.

The more we searched and spent time on Ships we realised the enormous amount of time and money needing to be invested in any of these boats in order to make them suitable - on top of that stayed the ongoing maintenance costs of an older vessel, especially when build in wood or steel.

We calculated and puzzled and searched the internet for months and months to find the right boat, it would cost right into the million to get any of these boats ready.

However after looking at so many boats and thinking about how to make them work, I did get an even better idea of what the ideal ship should be like.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that it doesn't make much sense to buy an old boat - the costs for refit and upkeep would exceed the cost of a new build ship within 5 years. 

Below is our estimated scale after months of research - Figures are in Euro.

With older boats not only the maintenance and refit should be taken into account but also the safety

Even though older vessels can be very safe and seaworthy they still need to comply with the modern safety standards - which  have been made much stricter. Therefore old ships are for sale relatively cheap but will need to be upgraded to the new standards. Things ships are being tested on include but are not limited to: structural strength, construction materials, stability,  watertight bulkheads, watertight integrity, hatches, port lights, windows, doors , Materials for valves and piping, Machinery, Electrical, General Systems, Damage survivability.

When we build a new boat all these things can be taken into account and build right to start with, ensuring for a safe vessel that will comply with the modern safety regulations.

The way I look at it is that we have to build a new boat anyway, whether we completely rebuild and old boat or start from scratch on a new one, the amount of work and money doesn't seem to make much of a difference, but the end result does!


Old Boat VS New build boat Pro’s and Cons

Old Boat


  • Needs complete rebuilding ( mainly because of current safety standards ) ends up costing the same if not more then New Build
  • Will need more maintenance over time, therefore will already outrun total cost after 4-5years.
  •  Very hard to find a GRP boat ( which needs way less maintenance)


  • Program could start approximately 1/2 to 1 year earlier
  • Don’t need the entire amount of money at once but in stages - the end amount is still the same

New Boat


  • Need big amount of funds to start with
  • Could take a little longer until program is running because more funding is needed to start therefore will delay start of building.


  • Will be purposely designed and therefore perfectly suited for this goal.
  • Much safer as the newest safety standards can all be integrated
  • Can be made from almost maintenance free material like GRP
  • Much lower maintenance cost over time

The ideal ship

She shouldn't be to big, a smaller ship means a smaller group of students. They will be a much closer group in the end than when there's 30 or 40 kids aboard, fights and splitting up in groups would be a real issue with such a number. However with a group of 12 students we believe the quality of life onboard and things learned will be much higher.

Another reason for choosing to stick with a ship length of 24meters and 12 students is the regulations - With more students and a bigger ship, you get into the large vessel category, which means much more paperwork with many more costs.


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