Quintessa is a 2004 Hylas 49 Cutter. She was designed by Sparkman and Stevens of New York and is part of the Stevens line of sailboats that dates back to the early ‘90s. She was custom built for her first owners, a Doctor and his wife, who sailed her on the East coast of the United States, largely in New England. In 2012 Quintessa was purchased by her current owners, us.
In searching for a new yacht to live aboard full-time and cruise extensively, we considered many factors. Having spent a total of four years cruising the Bahamas and Caribbean on our previous boat, a Sabre 38, we had a good idea of what we wanted in a boat. We knew the boat would have to be capable of crossing any ocean and taking us anywhere in the world we wanted to go.
A number of years ago, we received wonderful advice on choosing a boat: make lists and prioritize. There was: “his list”, “her list” and the “together list”. After working and re-working the lists, making priorities and trade-offs, and late-night negotiations, we came up with a screen to put potential boats up against. We quickly narrowed the field of choices down to three: Hallberg-Rassy, Oyster and Hylas. The other general requirement that we both agreed to was we wanted a boat that was relatively new and 95% ready to cruise, preferably one that had already been cruised. Having spent four years re-fitting our last boat, neither of us wanted to go through that process again! The option of ordering a new boat was also considered, but we both felt to satisfy the first requirement: a good boat that had already been outfitted for cruising and shaken down, it would be a huge advantage to buy preowned, not to mention a nice financial savings.
After many trips up and down the East coast surveying boats that met our criteria, we narrowed it down to the Hylas. Further refinement narrowed it further to the Hylas 49. One of the top characteristics that was on the “together” list was sea-kindliness or comfortable sailing in heavy seas. The Hylas 49 is legendary for its favorable sea motion owing to its heavy, three-quarter length keel and hour-glass hull shape. Some of the other notable priorities on the lists were: 1) alley galley (her list), 2) third cabin to double as shop (his list), 3) lots of light down below (her list), 4) good engine access (his list), and 5) a reverse transom with swim steps and a garage (together list). After sorting through a total of 17 criteria, the Hylas 49 proved to be a really good fit for us.
Finding the right pre-owned Hylas 49 was a stroke of luck. By a chance encounter at a boat show with someone who knew someone, we ended buying Quintessa. As it turned out, luckily for us, Quintessa was right in our own neighborhood and we found her before she ever went on the market.
About the name: The original name of Quintessa was actually–Quintessence. The story goes, the original owner had a favorite habit of calling everything “quintessential”. Therefore, they named their previous two boats “Quintessence” in jest, and it naturally followed that their dream boat would be named Quintessence as well. We hemmed and hawed over what to name the boat. We liked the ring of “Quintessence”, but we thought it was a little too long, and a bit fussy. Then, right in the midst of trying to come up with a name, we went to visits friends in South Carolina. Just before arriving at their home we stopped for wine to bring as a hostess gift. There we met a pretty young girl at the checkout. Her name was “Quintessa”. We took it as a sign. As a final foot note: knowing it was bad luck to change the name of a boat, we figured we would only have a little bad luck since we were only changing four letters. We don’t think we have had any bad luck! Knock on wood!
The specifications of the Hylas 49 are:
LOA: 48.88 ft / 14.90 m Sail Area: 1,251.00 ft2 / 116.22 m2
LWL: 39.50 ft / 12.04 m SA / Disp.: 19.95
Beam: 14.24 ft / 4.34 m Bal. / Disp.: 45.35
Draft: 6.23 ft / 1.90 m Disp. / Len.: 231.56
Disp.(net): 31,967 lb / 14,500 kg Comfort Ratio: 33.97
Ballast: 14,497 lb / 6,576 kg Fuel: 200 gals. (3 tanks)
Aux: Yanmar 75 HP Water: 200 gals. (2 tanks)
Gen: Fischer-Panda 8 KW
The only problem with our choice (a big compromise on one of our criteria), was that she was not 95% ready to go. Since she had never been cruised per se, there was a lot of necessary equipment missing. Also, since she had never been shaken down on any serious passage, we would have to do that, and resolve the needs and issues ourselves. We decided on Quintessa, despite this shortcoming, and chose to delay our departure by one year to commence a mini-refit, something we vowed we would not do.
The budget for the refit ultimately entered into the amount we would offer for the boat and had a self-imposed cap of 100k US, a figure we inevitably exceeded by about 50 percent but, then again, it is a boat… The items that were addressed in the re-fit were:
- Installation watermaker (Spectra Catalina 400)
- Installation SSB (ICOM 800)
- Installation sat phone (Globalstar)
- Installation antenna and davit pole
- Installation life raft (Viking) and MOM
- Installation AIS and plotter (Raymarine)
- Installation computer system integrated with electronics
- Increase house and bow battery bank (980 Amp-hr)
- Increase charger capacity (Mastervolt 200 Amp)
- Increase inverter capacity (Mastervolt 3000 Watt)
- Add battery bank monitoring (Mastershunt and EASY)
- Reconfigure high amperage wiring (per Mastervolt design)
- Add 230-volt system for European power (Mastervolt)
- Add hydronic heat
- New upholstery, canvas and linens
- Replace entertainment system
- Add spinnaker and storm sails
- Add preventer and whisker pole
- Replace running rigging
- Add new dinghy and outboard
- Add pasarelle for med-moor
A technical note on the electrics: With Mastervolt’s custom design services the boat electrics were re-designed to be a single battery bank system with inverter capacity to handle the European power issue. This single battery bank was accomplished by installing additional 4/0 cable and re-configuring the wiring to “cross-tie” the three 8-D batteries in the main bank. One additional 8-D battery in the bow, which serves the windlass and thruster, was connected in parallel to the main bank by a remotely operated electronic solenoid. This allows the bow battery to be brought on-line with the house to provide additional amperage for light loads, or the house bank to be brought on-line with the bow battery to provide a voltage boost for the bow thruster. Cross-tying is a wiring topology that attempts to equalize the load and charge on each of the batteries. Isolation fuses were installed to isolate a single battery if one should fail.
To accommodate European 230 voltage, the two largest loads; the water heater and the house charger, were moved to a separate switchable panel. The water heater was converted to 240 volts so that it could operate on either the US grid (220 volts-two phase), the generator (240 volts-two phase), or the European grid (230 volts-one phase). For the house charger, a multi voltage /multi cycle charger was installed (the Mastervolt 12-100/3). While on the European grid, all other 110 volt / 60 cycle loads, including the air conditioners (only one at a time), are handled by the large inverter (Mastervolt Mass Combi 2500).
Below decks, Quintessa is laid out with three sleeping cabins which accommodate five adults. The forward cabin is a double V-bunk which can be converted into two twins by removing the filler piece. The crew cabin on port accommodates one adult but a slider can be pulled out to convert to a tight double bunk. The crew cabin also doubles as a shop with a stainless work bench, tool storage and a vice when it is not being used for crew. The aft stateroom is a centerline queen berth with a coil-spring mattress.
There are two heads, one on starboard forward and the other aft. The forward head is configured with separate doors for private access from either forward cabin. Offshore this head is used for showering with its fold-down shower seat. The aft head is the ensuite bathroom for the master stateroom and includes a separate shower. The shower has a second access from the navigation area, and offshore it is used as a wet hanging locker. The additional head door is also opened in the summer to enhance air circulation when privacy is not required in the aft cabin. Both heads have Vacu-Flush toilets.
There is an alley-galley to starboard with a three-burner stove and oven, microwave, and double sink. The galley has two separate Frigoboat refrigerators which can be configured in any combination of refrigerators and freezers.
To port is the navigation station which is outboard facing. The main salon features a U-shaped dinette with a moveable ottoman, and table that can be expanded to seat six. The starboard settee pulls out six inches to convert to an extra sea-bunk for offshore passages. Lee cloths are fitted to this bunk along with the crew cabin bunk and the master stateroom.
Engine room access is from all sides with access points in the main salon, galley, navigation stations, aft cabin, aft head and shower. There is a manifold system for fuel management which allows fuel to be selected from and returned to any of the three fuel tanks. Fuel can also be polished from one tank to another.
For environmental comfort, Quintessa is built with three heating/cooling zones each with a separate reverse cycle Cruisair heat pump. Each head has hydronic heat and towel warmers. Four dorades and six deck hatches provide fresh replacement air below.
PRE-ARRIVAL BRIEFING FOR QUINTESSA
Summary Page: (previous visitors on Quintessa please read this page at a minimum)
1) Clothing: Storage space is limited aboard and you should pack LIGHT! If you are packing for the islands, or the Southern Med, temperatures are mild to hot, and everything is casual. Think layers, for warmth, so no heavy coats or sweaters. We live in tee shirts and shorts, and usually get five days out of the same shorts. You will want to add one pair of long pants, a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, and a light weight windbreaker. There is no need for foul weather gear or safety gear. Also, we provide beach and bathing towels, and all bedding. For footwear, you will want two pairs of shoes: one for walking or exercising on shore, and a good pair of sandals (such as Tevas or Keens) for wearing on deck, in the water and ashore. The important thing with sandals is that they dry out and can be easily slipped on and off.
2) Luggage: It is important that you pack for the boat in soft sided, collapsible duffle bag style luggage. ABSOLUTLY NO roller type or hard sided suitcases! Hard sided luggage cannot be easily stowed and can damage the woodwork. If you need to be able to wheel your bags (which we understand) you can purchase a folding roller rack in luggage stores or at most airports for around $30. If this is not possible please contact us in advance and we will work out a solution. If you show up with roller or hard sided suitcases they will be stored on deck and may get wet and damaged!
3) Both with the U.S. Coast Guard and officials in foreign countries, IF THEY FIND DRUGS ON A VESSEL – THEY KEEP THE VESSEL and you just bought us a new boat! For this purpose marijuana is an illegal drug. Get busted in most foreign countries and you are in for a lifetime of hurt. We don’t do illegal drugs and we assume you don’t either, but if you do, leave them at home.
4) Personal computer, tablets and smart phones: Please only bring the essential electronic devices. If you don’t want to bring your own, there are two PCs and a tablet on the boat you can use to check e-mail, make reservations, etc. We also have a printer/scanner/copier you can use. We have a wifi hotspot on the boat which should be available in most ports. Having said all that, please keep in mind we try to limit the amount of time we spend on electronic devices and the internet so as to spend more time enjoying the cruising experience. We hope you will share that objective.
Full Text: (first timers, please read the entire document from this point on)
Welcome ! Whether you are planning to join us for a coastal cruise or an Atlantic crossing, we hope this document will help you with what to expect when you are aboard Quintessa, our Hylas 49. Your safety is our first concern, and this document will cover some important rules to follow when aboard, but just as important, we want your time aboard to be both interesting and fun.
Quintessa has many of the comforts of home, but unlike home, the boat moves! So, rule #1 is “One hand for the boat”, especially when going up and down stairs, or getting on and off the boat! More on this below:
As you arrange your transportation to and from Quintessa, understand that all our schedules are weather and conditions dependent. If we are not where you expect us to be, please be patient, we will work out a solution to get you to the boat or the boat to you. The old rule when visiting cruisers generally applies: you can pick a time or a place but not both.
No matter where we are, we will have the ability to communicate with you via e-mail and cell phone (text messaging is not always reliable). Also, your family and friends will be able to contact you in case of an emergency. Quintessa’s contact information is:
- Cell phone: Our cell phone number will change to a local number with each new country we visit. We will make the current number available to you prior to or upon your arrival which you can also share with those who may need to reach you. If you have our local cell phone number, use that first (you will need to use a country code if calling from another country).
- Satellite Phone: If we do not answer the satellite may be below the horizon at that moment so try your call again in a few minutes. You may also leave a message. We can pick up the message when service is available again (usually less than 10 minutes).
- Email address: This is the most reliable option but may take a while to respond. If we are expecting to hear from you we will try to check for e-mail frequently.
What to bring and how to pack:
It is important that you pack for the boat in soft sided, collapsible duffle bag style luggage. ABSOLUTLY NO roller type or hard sided suitcases! Hard sided luggage cannot be easily stowed and can damage the woodwork. If you need to be able to wheel your bags (which we understand) you can purchase a folding roller rack in luggage stores or at most airports for around $30. If this is not possible please contact us in advance and we will work out a solution. If you show up with roller or hard sided suitcases they will be stored on deck and may get wet and damaged!
Storage space is limited aboard and you should pack LIGHT! If you are packing for the islands, or the Southern Med, temperatures are mild to hot, and everything is casual. Think layers, for warmth, so no heavy coats or sweaters. We live in tee shirts and shorts, and usually get five days out of the same shorts. You will want to add one pair of long pants, a long sleeve shirt a sweatshirt, and a light weight windbreaker. Jeans are discouraged on the boat because they do not dry well and often have metal rivets that can scratch the woodwork. Synthetics are best for on board, including underwear. Synthetics can be easily washed and dried. Include one or two UV shirts for sun protection and snorkeling. You will also want to pack a swimsuit and cover-up. Don’t forget a good sun hat with a wide brim (this is in additional to your favorite baseball hat!). You will want one nice outfit for going out which could double as your travel clothes. There is no need for foul weather gear or safety gear. Also, we provide beach and bathing towels, and all bedding.
As for footwear, you will want two pairs of shoes: one for walking or exercising on shore, and a good pair of sandals (such as Tevas or Keens) for wearing on deck, in the water and ashore. The important thing with sandals is that they dry out and can be easily slipped on and off. We run a barefoot boat so shoes are usually not used on deck and never below decks, as a general rule. If you are doing a passage with us, or for any other reason feel better wearing shoes below decks, you will need a brand new pair of deck shoes that have not been worn on the street.
Please keep your jewelry at home. Many of the islands and areas we will visit are largely poor. Not only is it intimidating to locals, it is not safe to show jewelry (real or fake) and puts you and the entire crew at risk. In some places we do not wear our wedding rings. This generally does not apply to the Mediterranean which is more sophisticated and pretty safe.
Other Things to bring:
- Prescriptions and sea sickness meds – Ensure you bring sufficient supplies for the duration.
- Passport – If joining us in or to a foreign country be sure your passport will not expire for at least six months after your expected return (have a photocopy of your passport with you and leave a copy at home as well).
- Driver’s license – For car rental, sometimes an international driver’s licenses is required in addition to your state driver’s license.
- Return ticket – If you are entering a foreign country with us by boat but returning by air or commercial ship you will need to have your return ticket prior to departure. If you are flying to a foreign country and leaving with us by boat, you may need to purchase a return ticket that you will cancel later. Alternatively, we can provide a letter ahead of time for you to show that you are leaving the country by private boat. Check with your airline.
- Visas – Some countries require visas, often which must be obtained well in advance of travel. Please check the requirements of all the countries you plan to visit.
- Cell phone – If you are joining us in a foreign country, make arrangements with your phone carrier ahead of time to ensure that you have coverage to avoid foreign roaming charges.
- Reading material (bring what you want but people find they have far less time for reading than they expect)
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Personal computer, tablets and smart phones: Please only bring the essential electronic devices. If you don’t want to bring your own, there are two PCs and a tablet on the boat you can use to check e-mail, make reservations, etc. We also have a printer/scanner/copier you can use. Don’t forget the chargers (12V, 110V or 220V will work). We have a wifi hotspot on the boat which should be available in most ports. Having said all that, please keep in mind we try to limit the amount of time we spend on electronic devices and the internet so as to spend more time enjoying the cruising experience. We hope you will share that objective.
Things Not to Bring: (the following is onboard for your use)
- Bath and Beach towels
- Hair dryer
- Reusable water bottles
- Extra day packs and carry bags
- Life jackets and safety equipment (except harnesses if you are joining for a passage)
- Snorkel gear (unless you want to use your own gear)
One Hand on the Boat!
Falling is the number one reason people get injured on a boat. Don’t try to carry things with two hands and leave yourself unable to hold on to a handrail. When getting on and off the boat, hand things over to someone else, and always place a hand on the railing. When descending from the cockpit, face the stairs while going down and hold on to the handrail. There are also steps inside of the boat. Move slowly!
No Illegal Drugs!
Both with the U.S. Coast Guard and officials in foreign countries, IF THEY FIND DRUGS ON A VESSEL – THEY KEEP THE VESSEL and you just bought us a new boat! For this purpose marijuana is an illegal drug. Get busted in most foreign countries and you are in for a lifetime of hurt. We don’t do illegal drugs and we assume you don’t either, but if you do, leave them at home.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask
There are no stupid questions. If you think there might be something wrong, let us know. If you hear odd noises or motors running please mention it. Better to check than be sorry later. If you don’t know how to do something, that’s OK. We enjoy teaching others about this lifestyle we love.
Other than toilet paper, DO NOT put anything down the toilet (known aboard as the “Head”) unless you have eaten it first! Our boat has Vacu-flush heads and as such uses a greatly reduced amount of water for flushing. This is good for reducing the amount of water going into the holding tank but can leed to the head getting plugged up. Generally, for solids, do not use more than two reasonable lengths of toilet paper on the initial flush. If you need to use more toilet paper do an interim flush; the extra water used to unclog a head is always more than an additional flush. Secondary flushes can take up to four lengths of paper. There is a panel showing the level in the holding tank: Make sure you notify us when it gets to two thirds full (orange), and never use the head if is totally full (red)! You will be given a thorough lesson on using a head and shower when you arrive. Always let us know if the head doesn’t flush right.
Port Lights and Hatches
Windows on a boat are called port lights. They are only to be opened in port or at anchor, the same for hatches. If you close a port light or hatch, even in port, ALWAYS DOG IT (close the latches or tighten down the knobs). If water leaks in through a window or hatch it can cause endless hours of cleaning up not to mention possible serious damage. It is important that the knobs on the port lights be quite snug, and the handles on the hatches have resistance when latching. If you are unclear on how to dog windows or hatches please ask.
Lights and fans
Please keep all lights and fans turned off when not in use to save power.
Cabinets and Doors
All cabinets, drawers and lockers on the boat have double action catches. When underway all catches need to be kept locked. Locking is done by pushing the knob in so that it is flush with the door. To unlock you push the knob again and it will pop out. In the popped out position the door can be opened by pulling on the knob. When you shut the door it will snap shut but will not lock until you push the knob in. The unlocked position is fine for in port but underway they must be locked. IF WE ARE UNDERWAY AND YOU OPEN A CABINET OR DRAWER RE-LOCK IT RIGHT AWAY SO YOU DON’T FORGET. Locking or latching also applies to cabin doors. Doors can be latched open or latched closed, either is fine, but applies to both in port and underway. Doors must always be latched, one way or the other!
Keep your personal gear picked up at all times. The main cabin, galley and cockpit are common living spaces and need to be kept neat as a courtesy to others. This also applies to your own cabin, within reason, as there is equipment and machinery in cabinets and lockers throughout the boat that may need to be accessed. Each cabin will have at least one locker or cabinet for folded clothes or personal items for each guest to use. There will also be room for clothes on hangers in a shared hanging locker if you prefer.
We encourage the use of sunscreen but ask you to always wash your hands after applying it so as to not get the active ingredient on the woodwork. Ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide will get imbedded into the varnish and permanently damage the finish.
Shoes are not to be used below deck except in special circumstances. We also discourage the use of shoes on deck unless we are underway, at which time they are optional. When re-boarding the boat from being ashore, shoes should be removed on the dock or transom, and cleaned off.
We will give a safety and procedures briefing when you arrive that is appropriate for the nature of the sailing we will be doing. If we forget to do the briefing before we head out please ask us to do so.
Quintessa has a reverse osmosis watermaker which we run every few days. The water that is produced is very pure and has no fowl taste. We use this water for cooking and drinking, including making seltzer and soda. For drinking full glasses or filling bottles please use the galley faucet (cold side) as there is an extra charcoal filter to remove any impurities from the tanks. The use of water is not limited but please be conservative with water use at sinks and showers.
Please do not leave beverages unattended on tables or counters (especially red wine and soda). The large sink is the best place to temporarily hold a beverage while underway. There is also a drink holder in the cockpit.