Benchmark Bluewater Cruisers – A Brief History of Discovery Yachts
October 2nd, 2023
Discovery Yachts have been responsible for the design and build of a range of very capable bluewater cruising yachts, all conceived with effortless, short-handed sailing coupled with comfortable and easy living in mind. They set the benchmark for serious cruising in their market segment.
The History of Discovery Shipyard
Founded in 1998 by John and Caroline Charnley, the Discovery Shipyard went on to become a leading British builder of luxury bluewater cruising yachts, operating out of Southampton on the Solent. The Charnleys decided that they wanted to sail around the world 2 handed after selling a business and to have room for family and friends from time to time. They wanted a deck saloon, interior watch keeping and a yacht that would sail fast and safely and be comfortable and seamanlike. Discovery 55#001 was launched in 2000 and went to the Southampton Boat Show. She was to have been their yacht but she sold at the show and so another was commissioned and they were in the yacht business.
Over the years, the shipyard expanded the range, developing the Discovery 57, 58, 67 and also a 50 foot catamaran.
In 2017 the Discovery shipyard also took over the production of another great British design, Southerly Yachts. With their wonderful Stephen Jones’ hulls providing speed and power, practical deck layouts, and exquisite interiors, the Southerly cruisers perfectly complemented the Discovery Yachts line.
After over 20 years of superb yacht building, The Discovery Shipyard sadly closed its doors just before Christmas 2021, announcing that they had run in to financial difficulties.
However, both Discovery and Southerly yachts remain very popular on the brokerage market today, and their reputation lives on.
The Discovery Yachts Range
The Discovery 55 sisterhood is iconic with their easily handled Solent rigs, automated sailing from the cockpit and lovely deck saloons with interior watch keeping capability. They have a walk in engine room and three good sleeping cabins. They offer a safe platform for serious cruising, rewarding sailing and they are also incredibly easy on the eye. They were designed for a couple to sail far aboard.
Discovery 55 MkII
With all the unique and special features of her original 55 sisters, the MkII was developed with a one-piece deck moulding, giving more contemporary and sleek styling deck saloon’s coachroof, along with flush deck hatches. The new deck house design includes narrower mullions, but retains the opening forward windows that provide excellent natural ventilation when at anchor.
The additional volume in the Discovery 57 over the 55 is obvious below decks, with comfort both at sea and in port a key priority in her design. She has around 40% more volume than her smaller sister internally. The twin helm stations provide an easy walk through to a comfortable, large, deep cockpit, ideal for entertaining. And of course she is a powerful sailing yacht with excellent manners, yet easily handled by two. The elliptical deck house windows make for a light and airy interior environment.
The Discovery 58 has the same hull as the 57, but with a more conventional deck saloon. She offers the option of twin or single wheels in her spacious centre cockpit. Conceived and built for extended bluewater cruising short-handed, her substantial keel with a high ballast ratio provides high levels of stability and the engine is so quiet you barely register it at all. There is also a marvellous walk-in engine room.
The largest yacht in the range, the Discovery 67 was built for family use, but her interior layout also provides plenty of room for crew as you wish. Her electric in-mast reefing for the mainsail, plus a large furling genoa and a self-tacking furling blade jib, is a powerful and easily managed sail plan. The very spacious accommodation has been loved by Discovery 67 owners who have sailed their yachts to all 4 corners of the globe.
Discovery 50 Catamaran
Designed by Bill Dixon, the first hull was built for the Charnleys who sailed her far. Enormous emphasis was placed on sailing performance, and comfort for long distance sailing. She is a pretty yacht too. As this class developed, she was offered with the option of a 3 cabin / 6 berth or a 4 cabin / 8 berth layout. There was even the option of a hot tub on the foredeck, which could also be used as a splash pool when in the tropics.
Berthon & the Discovery Brand
Berthon worked with Discovery for many years, working with them to manage the pre-owned Discovery fleet and introducing the new owners of Discoverys into the Discovery family. We know the yachts well and many of them have passed through our hands, some of them on more than one occasion.
We recognise that it is key for the purchasers of Discovery yachts through Berthon to have good support, to get to know their yachts and also access to an effective parts and aftersales service. For this reason we work with John Eustace of JE Marine who worked for Discovery for 10 years and is the go to person for all things Discovery. He is available for familiarisation, training, deliveries and supply of needed spares – as well as telling you what is needed, and is also there to get parts required to you wherever in the world you are. Our relationship with John is deep and we have been working together on Discovery sales for over 8 years.
Berthon Boat Co are also experienced in the refit and maintenance of Discovery Yachts, both at our Lymington shipyard in the UK and at our service operation in Palma de Mallorca. Berthon Spain in Mallorca also provide comprehensive guardiennage packages and have extensive experience in caring for Discovery Yachts.
Ask us about the Discovery and Southerly yachts that are on the market. We know the brands well and always have a selection. Here is a list of what is on offer today: