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S&S Swan General - Full time cruising a Swan 431
10 May 2020 - 23:30
Join Date: 12 January 2011
Posts: 12

Full time cruising a Swan 431


Finally we took some time to write an introduction and to express our thanks to this great forum and the S&S Swan Association. What a great website. We are Henny and Martin, we used to live in the Netherlands, now we are full time live aboards. Since 2017 we decided to permanently live on the oceans on our Swan 431.

We owe a big thanks to this forum and website, especially of course, to Matteo and Lars but also to many, many other contributors. It played a big part and/or convinced us to choose a S&S Swan, I cannot recall what came first anymore. We learned so much about these beautiful yachts and we still do. We planned from 2003 to 2016 to retire early and live on the oceans, that worked.

In the first years we looked at different ships but somewhere around 2007 we started to get hooked on S&S design and especially the S&S Swan 48 or as a smaller option a 43. For years we thought the 48 would be the perfect sail ship and live aboard. Next to that maybe, the most beautiful one, but that is hard once you start looking at the 43 for the looks, still undecided….

We thought the 43 would be very small but still possible, she is so good looking and an easier ship to handle than the 48. With both ships we also loved the big underwater ship. We tried to find every information we could find about the 48 and 43 and dreamed about how to make these our home and ship to sail the oceans. So many evenings we looked a pictures, read everything on the S&S Swan site and other info we could find. Yes the dreaming was hard work too.

Around 2014 we convinced ourselves that maybe the 48 would be too big. Too big to handle in tight spaces and when we get older (not yet we are in our fifties now). Also more of a challenge handling solo sailing her as the other person is sleeping. Maintenance cost was also a concern for us. Only to be confirmed from visiting a Swan 65 on a boat show, they mentioned “the 48 is a little one of the big ships”. Things are bigger and fall out of scope at your regular marine shops so driving up maintenance cost on different levels. Looking at our other lovely obsession; the 43, we still thought she would be too small for a long term live aboard.

Then somewhere along the line, we started looking at the 431 pictures. After getting over the bridge deck entrance we realized she maybe the perfect cruiser, sailor and live aboard for two people. She has a very spacious and airy cabin which is great if that becomes your house. She has small windows in the cabin so enough light but not too much sun. She is roomy because of her sea berths. Her bridge deck gives space in the salon and the aft cabin to be used for sleeping. We do like the bridge deck of course to the aspect of keeping rolling waves out of the cabin, very safe. Her underwater ship looks slightly more modern so maybe she surfs a little bit more running downwind, or this is wish full thinking, I don’t know. From crossing the Atlantic we have to say she did a great job with the wind from behind. We love her lines too as she looks a bit more timeless in our opinion than our previous obsessions. She sails like a witch (a good one) but we still have to learn a lot from her. She response fast and every sail trim is rewarded, very motivating. That fact that she also was designed as a flush deck racer was an appealing thought too.

In 2016 we stopped working and from the moment we started looking to buy a Swan 431, #3 came on the market. We did not want to respond on day one to look too hungry, but we did in week two. We were looking at Yachtworld daily (for years) and knew what was on the market, we had to see her. We were very impressed with her pictures. After we planned a visit, we where blown away with how she was maintained. Almost entering a boat show model. We made an offer, it was excepted in one or two days and within a month, we owned a Swan 431. This was only possible because of the S&S Association to have the confidence to know what to look for and make a proper judgment and reading all this info for years. As this is our first ship, we would probably not have dared to buy a 40 year old yacht without knowing so much about the quality of the Swans and the excellent design.

The previous owner kept her close to original but with modern comforts. All measurements are still the same for rating purposes. Some changes were made, like a full spray hood over the bridge deck and a mainsheet winch to the cockpit. A beautiful paint job outside (snow white) and a great varnish job inside. Complemented with a gorgeous three spreader white Reckmann mast. We love it, he did an excellent job on maintaining and improving her, we try to continue this standard. To stay in line with her racing ideas, we kept the foredeck uncluttered while sailing. We love it. Everything is still handled from the deck and mast but this deck is made for working and it’s a delight to work on.

In November we sailed her, with a delivery captain, to the Netherlands to do refitting at Nautor Swan service center in IJmuiden to convert her into a self sufficient live aboard cruiser. They installed a new gas installation, installed the stay sail back, replaced new rod rigging. The biggest project; the keel step was replaced by a custom made new one, copied from the original. We replaced the B&G navigation equipment to nmea 2000, added radar, ais and forward scan. We kept the Neco autopilot (still working great). We epoxied the bridge deck (removed the old analog clocks) we added a bimini, spade anchor, 75 meter of chain and many other safety and smaller things.

We sailed her from the Netherlands to Portugal in 2018 and continued our refit there. We prepared her for extensive cruising added a; wind vane (Wind Pilot), solar panels, water maker, inverter, live raft plus cradle on deck, dinghy crane and so much more. We sailed to Madeira and the Canaries, for some try outs, solved some problems and then crossed the Atlantic in January 2020. The plan is to continue to New Zeeland and do another refit there and then continue on. Maybe add lithium batteries and change the power situation. It is good now but the advantage of lithium is looking really good for a live aboard, who knows. We probably have think do something with our teak deck from 1997 too.

For now we are stranded in Bonaire as corona closed the world and we need to also plan for the hurricane season. The plan is to stay here, good chance we are safe for hurricanes and hope there is a solution next year to go through the Pacific.

This is a bit long introduction, I should have done it earlier that would have shortened it.

We do keep some track of what we do and where we are. It is nothing special just something for family, friends, ourselves and anybody that likes to follow us.  (at this date a work in progress). We mostly post on Instagram (sailing.snow), some video on YouTube (sailing snow), sharing a passion for sailing oceans and our Swan 431. And yes, now two years later, we love that bridge deck, its perfect, extra found benefit, not needing a cockpit table, is really great.

So thanks again for this forum as it made us live in the best ship we can think of. We never regretted our choice, the longer we have and her, the more we appreciate her design philosophy and build quality.

Martin and Henny

Swan 431, Snow #3


18 May 2020 - 20:52
Join Date: 04 February 2014
Posts: 20

Hi Martin,

The 431 does indeed look like a great all round boat. May I ask where in Portugal you had work done?



24 May 2020 - 20:50
Join Date: 12 January 2011
Posts: 12

Hello Pete,


In Portugal we where on the hard at Sopromar in Lagos. Very good experiance and a lott of skills. I think they have workshops for evrything

And staying in Lagos for some time was very nice too. We lived on the boat in the Yard and could also do work ourselfs.


25 May 2020 - 14:31
Join Date: 04 February 2014
Posts: 20

Great thanks Martin. I was due to be in Lagos this week on the boat. Hopefully travel will be possible sometime before the end of the summer!

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