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Dreams come in all different sizes, shapes, and packages.  I had a dream of sailing around the world on a multihull, and I chose a Privilege 39 Catamaran, an offshore Dream Machine that can take you anywhere you have the courage to point the bows.


Dreams machines must be honest.   They must deliver the goods when you are sailing on the high seas.  Too many boats look great while they sit at the dock, but when you take them offshore, a demolition derby begins.


Our Dream Machine is a Privilege 39 catamaran.  It's thirty-nine feet five inches long and twenty one feet wide.  It has a draft of about four feet fully loaded with cruising gear.  It's built for offshore sailing, and will take you anywhere you want to go in the world.


That being said, a catamaran this size is better suited for sailing downwind in the trade winds rather than sailing in the high latitudes found in arctic regions.  It can sail in the high latitudes, and Exit Only would survive sailing in those regions, but the boat wasn't designed for high latitude cold weather sailing.  In those regions, catamarans over sixty feet in length with a high bridge deck clearance are better suited to the task.  Nevertheless, a catamaran my size can be sailed to any destination if it is done in a conservative manner.  But there's no doubt about it, at high latitudes, bigger is better when you are in a catamaran.

What are the specific features on Exit Only that make it a good Dream Machine?


1.  It's built tough to Bureau Veritas Standards.  Bureau Veritas certifies that a yacht meets the standards set up by the French government for offshore sailing yachts.  Exit Only is a heavy yacht.  Its construction is substantially heavier than most catamarans its size.  That means it's not a greyhound racing from point to point.  It's more like a tank that can take a licking and keep on ticking.  It won't set any speed  records, but if conditions get nasty, it will survive.  Whenever I am in a gale or storm, I am glad that I am securely hunkered down in Exit Only because I know this catamaran is up to the task.
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2.  Exit Only is essentially unsinkable unless you break it into small pieces by getting run down by a ship.  It has four water tight compartments in each hull, and if you knock a hole in one of the compartments, the boat will not sink.  This feature is extremely important.  When my yacht was sailed from France to England by a delivery skipper, the boat struck something that knocked an eight inch hole in the starboard bow.  There is a collision bulkhead about one foot back from the leading edge of the bow, and that bulkhead stopped water from entering the next watertight compartment.  Only a liter of water entered the first water tight compartment, and the yacht was never at risk of sinking.  The same size hole in a monohull yacht would cause it to sink in less than ten minutes.  Those watertight compartments were a great comfort when I sailed through the tsunami debris field south of Sri Lanka after the catastrophic Asian tsunami of 2004.  There were giant partially submerged trees floating in the waters south of Galle, Sri Lanka, and any one of them could have put a gaping hole in my bow.  Having collision bulkheads and watertight compartments is good, and every catamaran should have them.



3.  Exit Only has two steering wheels.  Two wheels are an excellent idea.  Did you ever see a jet airplane with only one steering wheel?  If one wheel breaks, the second one is ready to go.  Not a big deal you might say, but talk to sailors who have broken the steering cable that goes from their one and only steering wheel to the steering quadrant.  Their trip rapidly becomes a hellish experience if they can't repair the steering.  They have to steer their yacht with a jury rigged emergency tiller.  On Exit Only, we have four ways to steer the yacht.  There is steering wheel one, steering wheel two, emergency tiller, and finally, the push buttons on the autopilot.  That type of redundancy means we will probably never experience a steering emergency.



4.  Exit Only has two rudders.  Two rudders are not optional in a catamaran.  You have two hulls and you need two rudders to optimally control your yacht.  I have seen yachts that lost their rudder or the rudder disintegrated because of poor construction or damage from striking submerged objects.  Having a second rudder means you still have at least modest control of the yacht if one rudder becomes inoperable or disappears in the depths of the sea.



5.  Exit Only has two engines.  Not all catamarans have two engines - some have a center nacelle in which they place a single engine that provides all the power for moving the yacht when there is no wind.  Exit Only has one engine in each hull which gives redundancy should one engine fail, and it makes the yacht extremely maneuverable in tight quarters under power.  Two engines double the horsepower available when you need to push into strong headwinds and contrary seas.  Normally we use only one engine at a time, moving at five knots under power.  But when we need to, we can turn on the second engine and get the speed up to seven and a  half knots.  Two engines give us the power to motor to windward in winds up to thirty-five to forty knots.  When we navigate through tricky passes in atolls, we always run two engines just in case one engine fails at a critical moment.  You have great peace of mind knowing that in an emergency there is a spare engine to get you through.  Each of our engines has its own separate fuel system so if contaminated fuel shuts down one engine, the second will be able to continue running without interruption.


6.  Exit Only has four solar panels that realistically put fifty amp hours of power into the deep cycle batteries each day.



7.  Exit only has two Aerogen wind generators.  The two generators pump a combined two hundred amp hours into the battery banks each day while we are at anchor or sailing in the trade winds.  When the winds are blowing, we can sit for weeks at a time without having to turn on the engines to generate electricity.


8.  Exit Only uses a double headsail downwind sailing rig assisted by two eighteen foot spinnaker poles putting 1000 square feet of sail out in front of the yacht.  We cruise effortlessly downwind in the trade winds day after day.   This rig has carried us 20,000 miles downwind as we sailed around the world.  Sometimes we keep this rig up for weeks at a time.  The double headsails can be reefed, and it puts the center of effort of the sails at the bow pulling us downwind with a balanced helm.  The helm is so well balanced that the autopilot can almost go on vacation - it has so little work to do as it keeps the boat tracking downwind.



9.  Exit Only has an Autohelm 7000 autopilot that puts out 1200 pounds of linear force directly into the steering quadrant.  Our autopilot has steered Exit Only 33,000 miles around the world.  We keep a complete spare autopilot on board, and have had to use the spare only twice.  In French Polynesia, a failed bearing stopped the autopilot until the bearing was replaced, and while sailing up the Great Barrier Reef, we stripped the epicyclic gears in the autopilot, and I had to replace them.  Not bad for 33,000 miles of service offshore.  In the entire trip around the world, I have hand-steered the yacht for less than twenty-four hours total.


10.  Exit Only has a seventy pound Beugel anchor.  Exit Only has dragged CQR anchors all across the Pacific Ocean.  It didn't matter whether we used our forty-five pound CQR or our sixty pound CQR, we dragged them causing quite a few sleepless nights.  The problem with the CQR design was that it was difficult to set in marginal bottoms, and it couldn't be trusted to reliably reset when wind and current changed the pull on the anchor.  Once we got our Beugel, our anchor dragging woes were over.  The Beugel sets quickly and resets well when there is a change in wind or tide.  It also works well in tight anchorages.  In fifteen thousand miles of sailing from Australia to the Caribbean, I had the anchor drag once in the Red Sea in fifty feet of water where the bottom was sloping rapidly away from land.  I also dragged anchor one time in the Canary Islands in forty feet of water in an area known to have poor holding.  When I put the anchor down, I back down on it with both engines in full reverse, and when the  anchor is firmly set, I put my head on my pillow and sleep soundly through the night.  No anchor watch for me because I know my anchor will hold.


11.  Exit Only has two stainless steel chainplates bolted through the decks at the bows.  There are large diameter stainless steel bails welded to the chainplates, and the bails are a chafe free attachment point where I can shackle my parachute storm anchor if we ever get in a mega storm.  The chainplates are twenty-five inches long, and they will never pull out of the deck even in extreme conditions.  When I was 300 miles north of New Zealand hunkered down in a fifty knot gale, the parachute sea anchor give us a secure refuge in our turbulent water world.



12.  Exit Only sails level and doesn't roll when going downwind in the trades.  Monohulls roll relentlessly to port and starboard when sailing downwind.  Imagine what your life would be like to sail across the Atlantic for two weeks if you rolled from side to side half a million times during the trip.  That never happens in a catamaran, and is one of the reasons trade wind sailing is so great in a catamaran.  It's truly no bruising cruising.


13.  The remainder of the features on Exit Only are fairly standard for a cruising yacht, whether it's a monohull or a multihull.  Those features include:  radar, high frequency radio for ship to ship communication and email, VHF radio, EPIRB - emergency position indicating radio beacon, Iridium satellite phone, GPS, C-map computerized charts, complete survival gear and emergency gear, Givens six man life raft, and a reverse osmosis watermaker.


This list could go on for more than a dozen pages.  Our inventory of spare parts and sailing gear is too long to enumerate.


Exit Only has been our home on the high seas for more than eleven years.  It's an honest Dream Machine that has lived up to our expectations and taken us safely around the world.  You can't ask much more than that from any yacht.



Imagine that you were flying in an airplane and the stewardess came to you, put a parachute on your back and pushed you out the door without telling you how to open the chute.  Sounds absurd, insane and impossible?

That is exactly what happens to most yachties when they pull the rip chord on their life raft.  They donít have a clue about how to properly deploy and use it. They see their life raft inflated for the first time when they abandon ship.

Ignorance about life rafts is epidemic.  Every couple of years, yachties take their raft to an inspection station and a week later, pick it up.  They feel that the money paid to the inspector is an insurance policy against disaster.  This approach guarantees they will remain ignorant about how to properly deploy and use this important piece of survival gear.

Each time you have your raft inspected, you have a golden opportunity to see it fully inflated and familiarize yourself with its contents and proper use.  We took our life raft to Marine Safe in Slaackís Creek south of Brisbane.  The hour that we spent watching our raft being inflated and inspected could save our lives.  Here are some of the facts of Life Raft Life.

1. Before you launch a life raft, tie the rip chord to the yacht so the raft doesnít blow away and disappear in the darkness.  The rip chord on our life raft is sixty feet long.  So we donít expect our raft to inflate immediately after we pull out a few feet of rip chord.  The extra chord is really not extra.  Itís there to allow the raft to sit a safe distance away from the yacht.

When you launch your raft, throw it in the water downwind so that it wonít be damaged by blowing up against the yacht.

Donít deploy the raft sea anchor until you are well away from yacht.  You donít want the sea anchor or raft to become entangled in the yacht.

Tie your Go Bags containing survival supplies to the rip chord so that they wonít be lost if they get washed overboard.  You can use the rip chord to recover a Go Bag and bring it into the raft.

There is a knife in a pocket on the canopy where you climb on board the raft.  Use this knife in an emergency to cut the tether that joins the raft to the boat if the boat actually sinks.

There are water activated batteries that automatically turn on a flashing light on the canopy of the raft so that you can see where the raft is located if you must abandon ship in the dark.

The carbon dioxide bottle contains thirty percent extra carbon dioxide to be sure there is enough gas to fully inflate the raft.  This extra carbon dioxide escapes through over pressure valves in the tubes of the raft.  These valves are tested during inspection to make sure that they open and close properly during inflation.  If the valves should leak, the raft contains screw-in plugs to stop the gas leak.

Life rafts must be inflated and tested for many hours to make sure that there are no slow leaks in the material or seams.  If they donít maintain their pressure, there is a leak that must be found and fixed.

Inspectors tell if the carbon dioxide inflation cylinder is full and ready for action by weighing the cylinder.  The weight of the compressed carbon dioxide is printed on the side of the cylinder (2.04 kilograms).  If the cylinder weight is correct, then carbon dioxide has not leaked from the cylinder and itís ready to go.  Total cylinder weight on our last life raft exam in New Zealand was 5.89 kilograms.

The inspector  tested the emergency hand inflation pump and showed us how to attach it to the inflation tubes and floor.

The life raft canopy has a device for catching rain water that drains into a tube attached to a plastic bladder in which to store fresh water.

The inspector showed us the contents of the survival pack tethered to the floor of the raft.  Included are food rations, pouches of water, medical kit, seasickness medicine, signal mirror, signaling flares, fishing kit, repair/patching kit, flashlight with spare batteries and bulb.  All expired items must be replaced.

Our Go Bags need to have lines attached to them so that they can be tethered inside the raft.  This keeps survival supplies from being washed out of the raft in extreme conditions.

There are two inflation tubes on the Givens raft.  The gas supply to each tube is separate and either tube by itself can support the raft and its occupants.

If you store your life raft where it can get wet, moisture will destroy it.  Most life rafts are vacuum bagged so that there is no chance for ingress of water while the raft sits in its canister on deck ready for an emergency.

-- Conclusion:  The next time you get your life raft inspected, watch the inspectors inflate the raft and become familiar with the features unique to that raft.  There is no room for cutting corners in the life raft department.  You must know how to deploy and use it.  You must have complete confidence in the people who have inspected and repacked it.

Inspecting life rafts should be done by professionals who have the tools to do the job properly and the skills to repack it so that water will never get inside.  Honest and competent inspectors can save your life.  Dishonest and shoddy inspectors could cost you your life.





Captain Dave and his family spent eleven years sailing around the world on their Privilege 39 catamaran, Exit Only. During the trip, the crew of Exit Only shot 200 hours of video with professional cameras to show people what it's like to sail on a small boat around the world.

The Red Sea Chronicles is a one hour and twenty-two minute feature film showing their adventures as Exit Only sails through Pirate Alley in the Gulf of Aden and up the Red Sea.  The professional footage documents their experiences in Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, and the Suez Canal.  It chronicles the rigors of traveling in a remote section of the world rarely visited by cruisers.  Exit Only dodges Yemeni pirates, fights a gale and sand storms in the Bab al Mandeb at the southern entrance to the Red Sea.  The crew explores deserted islands on the western shores of the Red Sea, and learns to check the cruising guides for land mines before venturing ashore.

The Red Sea Chronicles also has outstanding Special Features including an Instructional Video on Storm Management that tells sailors how to deal with storms at sea.

And don't forget the two Music Videos: "The Red Sea Blues", and "Captain - Save Our Souls".

The Red Sea Chronicles is a first class adventure that stokes the sailing dreams of both experienced and wannabe sailors alike.  Order your copy of the Red Sea Chronicles and experience the adventures of Exit Only as they sail around the world and up the Red Sea.

Meet The Crew

Dave Abbott - Captain

Captain Dave always dreamed of sailing around the world on his own sailboat, and his eleven year circumnavigation with his family made his dream come true.

Donna Abbott - First Mate

Donna earned her stripes the REALLY old fashioned enduring the rigors of passage making for the thrill of exploring exotic ports across the globe.


Sarah Abbott - Deck Swab

Sarah is the newest member of the family and crew. Despite her limited sailing experience, she jumped right in to life on the high seas. Her fresh and enthusiastic perspective on cruising help make the Red Sea Chronicles so special.


David Abbott - Cameraman/Director/Editor/Narrator/Composer

David shot over 170 hours of footage on the voyage from Australia to Florida. He then spent a year and a half on dry land editing and producing the Red Sea Chronicles DVD. In addition to the narrating the film, David also scored, performed, and recorded the entire soundtrack for the project.


Wendy Abbott - Voice of Ninja Crab

Wendy is the daughter of Capt Dave and Donna. She sailed on Exit Only from Florida to New Zealand. Wendy guest stars as the voice of a Ninja Hermit Crab in the Red Sea



10. The Red Sea Chronicles is an affordable gift for the sailor in my life.  Where else can I get a totally awesome gift for only twenty bucks?  
 9. I work hard for a living, and I deserve to reward myself with the Red Sea Chronicles.  
 8. My Dream Machine could use a shot in the arm, and the Red Sea Chronicles will give it the boost that it needs.  
 7. Every minute spent watching The Red Sea Chronicles extends my life by a full year.  
 6. I want to see what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before I spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one.  
 5. I want to see how a catamaran handles in heavy weather.  
 4. I want to see the Storm Management video so I understand what I need to do when I get in a storm at sea.  
 3. If I buy The Red Sea Chronicles, then Maxing Out Media will start production on two new DVD's - Australia to the Red Sea, and Med Sea to the Caribbean.  
 2. I like the Maxing Out web site, and I would like to support the website by purchasing their DVD.  
 1. After watching the Red Sea Chronicles, I can finally see myself sailing on the ocean of my dreams.


"Story, quality, music, people, boat... Just excellent."

e got the DVD yesterday and watched it last night (we had no problem with the different format at all), what a great adventure and well put together DVD it was entertaining as well as informative and funny at times, a great combination. Well done you guys are natural movie stars, Laura and I watched the DVD twice and I am sure we will watch it many more times in the future."

I hope you guys are going to make more DVDís of your previous sailing trips for us to enjoy."

"Amazing...Just watched your dvd The Red Sea Chronicles for the third time today...I called my boss at home and turned in my notice...I'm going sailing!"

"The best cruising video to date from any source and should be on the shelf of every one who shares the cruising spirit even if only in dreams."

"...a great video that transported me from a damp, cold day in Wales to cruising aboard Maxing Out in the Red Sea - pure nectar."

"The only "problem" is that this has left me wanting more of the same stuff, just from some of the other places Maxing Out has visited!"

"Thumbs up. I also wish the entire circumnavigation was documented, but this small portion in the Red Sea is excellent. Well done."

I just watched the Red Sea Chronicles and second what all the others have said. I'd love to see a whole series of Maxing Out DVDs...Good job!"

Red Sea Chronicles DVD Previews

The Red Sea Chronicles is now available!

  We are attacked by flying fish as we cross the Indian Ocean on our way to Salalah, Oman. When we make landfall, the local suq (market) helps us regain our land legs.


  The riskier side of world cruising. In this episode we prepare to sail through "Pirate Alley" in the Gulf of Aden


We arrive in Aden with a damaged alternator and are delighted to find a superb local machine shop. As we prepare to leave, fellow cruisers are attacked by pirates.

  We must sail through the notorious Bab el Mandeb (Gate of Sorrows) to enter the Red Sea. 50 knot winds and relentless sandstorms are ready and waiting on the other side




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Blue Water





Storm Management Offshore
Parachute Sea Anchor Chainplates
When To Deploy Chutes and Drogues

The Almost Never Fail Catamaran Anchoring System
How Big Should Your Anchor Be?
Far Horizons
Tsunami Damage - The Starboard Bow Takes A Licking
Everywhere, Everything
Go West Young Man - Seasteading
Beam Me Up Scotty

Ten Reasons Why Night Sailing Rocks
When Are You Coming Home?

Sailing to Borneo to See Wild Orangutans
Double Headsail Downwind Sailing
Grand Schemes And Other Important Things
Rigging Emergency Prevented - Listening To Your Boat

Dreams Do Come True
I Have A Dream

I Am Wandering, But Not Lost
Missing Out
The Facts of Life

Red Sea Rigors and Rumors
Never Surrender Your Dreams
Red Sea Sunsets

Exit Only Survives the Global Tsunami
The Sea Is So Big and My Ship Is So Small

34 Things I Learned in 33,000 Miles
Space Travel

Ten Disasters I Was Afraid Of That Never Happened
Kissing Cobras

Pirates of The Malacca Straits
The Tree That Wanted To Eat My Boat

Offshore Dream Machine for Circumnavigation
The Facts of Life Rafts

Surviving the Savage Seas
Abbott Drogue - Adjustable Medium Pull Drogue
You Must Know The Sea

Listen to the Sound of Your Dreams
Clouds Are a Sailor's Friend

Exit Only
Life Is Good
Getting Connected

First You Think It, And Then You Do It
My Addiction
Cook's Look at Lizard Island

I've Got Trade Wind Dreams
Storms Come and Go
Go Ahead.  Live Your Dreams.
The Next Step

Take Care of Your Autopilot So It Takes Care of You
Danger Zones On Board Exit Only

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