The Outbound 52 is a successful sailboat. The Outbound 44 is also an example of success. The same is true of this builder’s 46, and messing with success is rarely advocated—but if careful thought is applied, tweaking an existing design can actually make it better.

A lot better, in the case of the Outbound 46. This seaworthy aft-cockpit cruiser has been pleasing offshore passagemakers for over a decade and nearly 60 hulls have been built to date. Recently, an interior reconfiguration made the entire boat much more livable, and added life to an already popular bluewater cruiser.

outbound 46

The key to the Outbound 46’s reputation is its ability to sail in all sorts of weather with a sea kindly motion that builds confidence offshore.


It’s been a dozen years or so since Phil Lambert launched the Carl Schumacher-designed solent-rigged Outbound 44 with its solid glass hull and well-thought-out stowage options. The boat was a hit, especially with cruising couples that sailed in high winds and big seas. One owner wanted a more ample swimstep so an extension was offered and for a while, marketing brochures called the model the Outbound 44/46. Today, the official paperwork still calls for a $1,500 extension but the company only features the Outbound 46 on their website since most owners opt for the longer version.

The design is a sailor’s boat and although beautifully appointed, it speaks best to those who are practically-minded and have sailed in heavy weather or faced the dilemma of where to stow everything for an extended cruise – perhaps even around the world. And just when it seemed the design was evergreen, Lambert found a way to improve it.

In hindsight, the change seems head-smackingly simple – just switch port to starboard and vice versa, in the aft half of the interior. The standard layout used to go like this: Come down the three-step companionway to the U-shaped galley which was to port, followed by a forward-facing nav station just ahead of a dedicated workroom. That workroom was so striking when first introduced, that it drew crowds at the Annapolis boat show. To starboard was a head with a separate shower stall and a guest cabin with a large double berth.

The new configuration moved the nav station and workroom to starboard while the cabin shifted to port. The workroom shrunk a bit but still has room for a washer/dryer combo, a genset, a water maker, a work bench and plenty of stowage space for a good supply of spare everythings. It’s now accessed via a door in the shower stall in the head, which remained to starboard but moved aft a little, allowing more light to come through the fixed deck ports (which stretch from the saloon into the head.) It’s a simple but very effective redesign.

The master stateroom is still offered in two configurations – a Pullman style berth with a head in the forepeak or an island bed with a separate head and an external sink. Since Outbounds are built to order and offer customization, I’d leave the head out of the master stateroom altogether and ask for extra cabinetry and a desk to fill that whole port corner of the cabin. I’ve found that office space at sea comes at a premium and it’s best not to mix the business of navigation with the business of life, so a separate desk is my coveted luxury.

dinette in outbound 46

The U-shaped dinette is to port and a straight settee that doubles as a sea berth is to starboard.

The rest of the interior already worked well and remains the same. The tanks are tucked neatly below the cabin sole to keep the weight down low. With 190 gallons of fuel and 200 gallons of water, that’s in excess of 3,200 pounds so the placement matters.

The Outbound 46 is a go-far boat so its practical passage-making nature continues on deck. The cockpit is deep, long, and narrow to allow efficient movement and secure outdoor seating. A dedicated liferaft locker is just ahead of the swim platform so it’s easily launched, and there’s ample outdoor or “garage” stowage for all those items that should never find their way belowdecks. There is also a collision bulkhead seven feet back from the bow, and the decks are clear of clutter to allow quick maneuvering from one end to the other.
Sail Area1,004 sq. ft.
Displacement28,500 lbs
Fuel capacity190 gal.
Water capacity200 gal.

The keel is an elongated lead fin that’s encapsulated into the mold, which means no keel bolts are necessary. Two drafts are available, 5’ 6” and 6’ 6”. The double-spreader rig carries just over 1,000 square feet of sail area. A primary headstay is attached at the stem and a convertible inner stay is three feet aft. An option for a traditional staysail is available as well, so there are numerous choices for both upwind and downind sail plans. A 75-hp Yanmar is standard and manages this moderate displacement design with power to spare.

Outbound owners are likely to go out when others stay at the dock, which is the true measure of a bluewater boat. The refreshed and optimized interior is just icing on the cake.

Other Choices: The Tartan 4700 is another sailboat long-range cruisers will appreciate. And the Bavaria Cruiser 45 also shines with competency.

For more information, visit Outbound.