We interviewed Carl Michael who owns a Prout 35 Snowgoose which he bought from our for sale by owner listings. He kindly answered our questions about the Prout 35 after his Solo Atlantic Crossing in 2020 which is available to see on his YouTube channel. Please subscribe to his channel to follow for more awesome adventures.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the boat?
I’m a 30 something adventure motorcyclist turned sailor. Having returned from a 6 month motorcycling tour of South America, I was looking for my next adventure. Whilst cycling in France, I saw a number of boats cruising slowly along the Loire with their mast unstepped and drink in their hand and seemingly without a care in the world. Having been wild camping in the high altitude of the Bolivian Altiplano, the humidity of the rainforrest, and the harshness of Patagonia, a boat looked to be a comfortable option. And so the search began for a safe, solid liveabord sailboat.
Why did you choose the Prout 35 Snowgoose?
Initially I was avoiding Prouts. There was listed on catamaransite, and read the ad, then dismissed it. The design is too old, the bridgedeck clearance is low, they aren’t fast enough, and I didn’t like the look.
I looked at the Heavenly Twins 27 but deemed it too small. Viewed a Comanche 32 which I really liked, but it needed more work than I was prepared to do at the time. I saw a few custom catamarans also in the <40’ range. Then whilst at Multihull World in the UK I viewed a couple of Prouts. A Quest 31, and a custom 35. I still wasn’t convinced.
After nearly six months with little else available on the market, I decided to come around to the idea of a Prout. The listing I’d previous seen was in Spain. I flew over to take a look, and while I still had my reservations, I could see myself living on the boat, so I put in an offer there and then.
When was she launched?
Jade was first launched in 1977
What’s the best thing about her?
Easy to sail single handed. Small enough to inspire confidence when working on her, but large enough to be a comfortable liveaboard.
What would you change if anything?
If she was at the design stage again, I’d have head in the aft cabins. I’d also change the rudder stocks to allow mechanical tie bar to live inside the transom rather than outside. And for the sake of being modern more angles and straight lines rather than curves.
Is she easy to maintain?
Being a small boat she is relatively cheap and easy to maintain, but lots of compound curves, and the lack of any straight or parallel surfaces does add some complexity when refitting.
Is she easy to sail short-handed? To shorten sail? Easy to reach the boom?
In my first year I sailed single-handed from Spain to Greece via the Balareics, Sardinia, Sicily, and Malta. I later crossed the Atlantic, again single-handed. All lines lead to the cockpit. Being a cutter rig with an aft set mast means none of the sails are overly large. Both headsails are on furlers, and the main on my boat is an aftermarket in mast furler.
What’s she like in heavy weather / a blow / big seas
It’s worth pointing out that I’m a fair weather sailor. The largest seas I’ve been in were 4.5m when crossing the Atlantic. I had about 28knts of wind and would surf down the waves at up to 16knts. Being downwind, this was very comfortable and I could happily sit and read a book. Wind is seldom an issue, it’s the sea state.
How does she sail in light winds?
Light wind sailing with a spinnaker is fantastic. Very comfortable, and being a small boat, the spinnaker isn’t unwieldy when singlehanded. In fact I used one a lot on my solo Atlantic crossing. I’ve had 9.5knts downwind with a symmetric spinnaker, but around 6-8 knts is the norm. I tend to put it away when the apparent wind gets over 16 knts.
On whites she’s not so good, but that is more to do with sail material and weight rather than the design of the boat. It takes a good 12-15 knts until she picks up speed.
How does she sail close hauled?
I avoid being close hauled like the plague. I had two great sails at about 60 degrees. One from Cadiz to Portugal averaging 6.5knts over 8 hours in 15knts of wind, the other in 18knts where I was flying along at 8knts before reefing. Shelter from Zakinthos meant that the water was nice and calm.
Generally though going up wind is unpleasant. Having such a big genoa means it needs to be furled in stronger winds. This hurts the shape which ultimately affects pointing ability. I remember a sail in Portugal where we had 30 knts on the nose. The genoa was triple reefed. We needed to tack to clear a headland, but the tacking angle was so large, we were effectively going backwards, and just decided to motor instead.
Any problems with bridge deck slamming?
Slamming and the motion going into the waves can be a problem. It’s one of the few times I get sea sick. Here it’s the frequency of the waves that matter more than the height. The motion can be extremely violent. So much so that when motoring 5 knts into the 1m seas less than 5 seconds apart in Curacao I snapped a mast tang. I had to slow down to 2 knts to keep things civilized.
On all other points of sail, bridge deck clearance isn’t an issue.
How about on a reach, heading down wind?
Downwind sailing is a dream. Almost effortless regardless of the speed, waves and wind. My most enjoyable downwind sail was probably from La Graciosa to Arrecife. I had the genoa and the stay sail bot poled out and was doing near 8 knts in 20 knts true. In fact I was enjoying the sail so much that I missed the entrance to marina by about a mile.
On a beam reach, she can quick also, but the sea state will dictate comfort levels. My very first sail was from Cartagena to Mar Menor. Once I turned the corner I had 16 knts on the beam and was sailing along at 7.5 knts. In beam on in bigger waves (2m) she can be very rocky. Sea sickness pills are likely required.
Typically, what’s your average speed on passage?
Average passage speeds are around 5.5 -6.5 knts
What’s she like under power? Speed, manouevrability?
At some point during her life Jade had a Yanmar 3GM30 shoe-horned into the engine bay. This combined with the steerable Sillette drive leg gives a surprising amount of manoeuvrability and speed under power. Not quite the same as having two engines, but no bad. Going astern in a cross wind can be challenging though.
Motoring at 6knts is no problem if needed. 7.5knts is the absolute maximum in perfect conditions. I have two props on board so it really just depends which one is attached.
Is she easy to dock, what’s the visibility like?
Docking is easy enough, but general visibility from the cockpit is atrocious. The cockpit sits very low in the boat. At 5’10” I can see both bows when standing, but only just. Tip toes works better. For longer sails there isn’t really anywhere you can sit/lie down and feel comfortable that you can see all around you.
The best visibility is actually from inside either the saloon or the master berth. It’s not 360 like a Lagoon or similar, but it’s not bad. This is where I tend to spend the time on long multi-day/multi-week passages.
What is she like on the hook?
Most of my time is spent at anchor. Normally between April to October in the Med, and year round in the Caribbean. Being only 4.5 tonnes loaded, I sleep very comfortably knowing that the 25kg Rocna is going to hold well.
The motion is usually calm and stable, though beam on into a swell is less comfortable than modern cats due to the narrow beam. That being said, seldom do I ever have to worry about spilling my beer. I can’t say the same when I have drinks on my friends 43’ monohull.
Is she comfortable down below?
Comfort down below is good. The galley is spacious and the head has more room than you could ever need. Being critical I would say the layout could have been better. Visit a Heavenly Twins 27, or an Ocean Twins 36 and see how well it uses its space, then you see where the Snowgoose 35 could improve. That being said she is perfect for a couple with the occasional guest.
Is she good for hosting guests?
A standard Snowgoose 35 should be able to sleep 6. You’d never to do it though. Somewhere down the line mine was converted to the stateroom layout. This provides a lot of space for the owners but less so for guests.
A couple and one guest is perfect. Two guests also works for possibly not for more than a week.
The rear cabins are crawl spaces and the one near galley is usually used for storage, that leaves the aft berth (without head height), and the two benches in the saloon. I feel bad when guests crawl into their berth, whilst I have a dressing room and nice size double.
How is the storage space on the boat?
Personally I don’t think there’s a lot of storage space once you’ve added your batteries, pluming, electronics, and accessories. Monohull friends think differently when I pull out my full sized Kacher wet and dry vacuum, Riese und Muller bicycle, electric scooter, and Bosch tools still in the original L-boxes.
What kind of modifications have you done and why?
I bought the boat from a fellow cruiser, who seemed to have questionable ability when it came to fixtures and fitting and electronics, that being said she was very well equipped.
Most of my modifications were based around comfort. The very first thing I did was to install an electric toilet. 25-35 pumps on the old Jabsco every time you get up in the night to go for a pee. No thanks. The second was to get a portable freezer. I bought the Dometic CFX50. Next came a watermaker, and a washing machine.
For power I added additional solar. Over 1kw at one time, now down to about 900w. Then changed out the windlass battery, 6 Trojan T105s, and starter battery for a 280ah LiFePO4 bank, saving nearly 200kg in weight.
Sailing wise I installed a completely new modern autopilot and, and NMEA2000 network, along with a class B+ AIS transponder.
The boat has an aftermarket in-mast furling system, but the cheap dacron mainsail had stretched, so splashed out on a new laminate mainsail. The genoa was kept, but it’s getting time to change it now.
Most of my other work has been just general maintenance and trying to up the interior a little (which whilst liveable could still use some work).
Any plans for further customisation?
I have been wanting to install a hard top over the cockpit cover for some time now. Unfortunately I haven’t been anywhere with access to good materials and working areas in order for me to carry out the work. I could do it from wood, but my preference is foam core and fibreglass to keep things as light as possible.
A lightweight hard top would allow a larger solar array and provide better shade, especially in the Caribbean.
If you were to swap her for another boat, what would that be? Or maybe you wouldn’t swap her?
I wouldn’t swap her for anything else in the same price range. You just can’t been the value of a Prout. Add to that the strong construction and you’re on to a winner. You could spend another $30,000 on refitting and kitting out the boat, the total cost of a Snowgoose 35 would still be tens of thousands less than even 20 year old boats like an FP Athena 38, Lagoon 380, or similar.
Anyhow, money being no object, I’d have a Neel Trimaran.
Anything else you would add to help people thinking of buying a Prout 35?
Just to do your own research, and see as many as possible. I can be overly critical so bear that in mind, along with the fact these boats are a minimum of 40 years old now.
The Snowgoose 35 were solid glass throughout including the bridgedeck and coachroof. Later, Prouts changed to balsa sandwich, so that’s something to note.