“Adventure is just bad planning”

“Adventure is just bad planning.”
– Roald Amundsen

 

 

 

 

 

“When you spend enough time on boats, there are going to be moments when you wish you were just about anywhere else.”     

 – Dave Mallach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s been true for me here and there, and sooner or later you may find it true for you. In preparation for all possibilities, I invite you to join me today for a graceful meander down a path that skips through Newtonian physics, yacht building best practices, boat loss insurance data, and that ever-exciting world of explosive welding.  Most of this will tilt toward big boats, but there is a method to my madness – A boat is a boat, and knowledge is power. Who knows, someday you may thank me for this post (but let’s hope not).

I. The Physics of the Matter

 

Let’s start with Sir Isaac. It seems the mythic story of Isaac Newton’s apple – the one that delivered to him (and us) the truth of gravity – is not a myth. Best evidence shows that it actually happened, and in fact the the grandchild of that tree can still be visited. Perhaps a visit will provide your own inspirations.

Said apple fell during during England’s Bubonic plague of the mid-1660’s. Newton was “socially distanced ” in a farmhouse for two years, and he later explained how the plague allowed him to do his best work:

“I was in the prime of my age for invention & minded Mathematicks & Philosophy, more than at any time since.”

I’m certainly no Newton. And I’m no engineer (I just play one on TV?).  But socially distanced as I am here in the Hamptons, I’ve begun to wonder about …. impact forces! Last week we discussed the hazards of sea collisions with shipping containers.

 

I’ve always managed my businesses with the philosophy that “What can’t be measured, can’t be managed.” So how, I wondered, do shipbuilders intelligently build around impact forces they can’t measure? Clearly, there must be a way. But I found hard answers hard to come by. Google didn’t help much, so I posted some question on  yachting forums I respect, both recreational and commercial. No dice there, either. Then I reached out to some of my amazing clients (I really do have some of the best and smartest clients found anywhere), and hit the jackpot.

I have a client who is a major league quant. He started his career as a particle physicist, and now works as a derivatives trader (and is a skilled baseball data hobbyist.)   He explained that impact forces between moving objects are measured by something called (thank you, Sir Isaac)  “Kilonewtons.” He directed me towards an idiot-proof app called  Gigacalculator.  There I was able to easily plug in the following assumptions:

 

  • Traveling in a straight line at 10 knots;
  • Colliding dead on with a shipping container (loaded, they weigh roughly 50,000 pounds);
  • Thereby pushing that container two feet out of the way upon collision; following,
  • 10 seconds of direct contact.

You’ll see here an average impact force of 329 kilotons and a peak force of 658 kilotonsA torpedo, basically.

 

 

Loyal readers may remember my blog post entitled “A Survey from Hell” about the damage incurred by the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald. This painful tragedy resulted from an [entirely avoidable] collision with a freighter in the Sea of Japan:

I can’t calculate those kind of forces, but let’s stick with our shipping container model. My understanding is that 600 kilonewtons is roughly the force delivered by a 60 ton hydraulic press. Seeing this demo, I can imagine what this could do to a ship’s bow.

 

As for what happens at the point of contact,  I’ll direct you to a well-thumbed book off my bookshelf:

It turns out what sinks a yacht, technically, is not frontal damage to the bow. Rather, it’s the resulting side forces, which force the hull sides outward. That sideways pressure, as you’ll see here, breaks the welded joint connecting the hull to the all-critical waterproof bulkhead:

This is what keeps yacht and ship builders up at night. It’s not the durability of the steel or aluminum plating. It’s all about the welds!

 

II. Ship Building Best Practices

 

Welding – An art AND a science!

 

I entitled this section “Ship-Building” in reference to my closing plea in last week’s post,  There is No Bad Weather, Just Bad Boats :

But to me, if a client is going to spend $5m, $10m, or far more on a true ocean-going vessel, it’s because they want the challenge of rounding Capes – not puttering though canals. They don’t need slick marketing or magazine cover shots, convenient labels or copycat builders. In my humble opinion what they need is a ship, not a boat, and that ship should be built in a shipyard, not a boatyard, and it should be a Dutch ship, or one that aspires to that level.

 

In other words, a quality Dutch shipbuilder and shipyard like Hartman Yachts. 

Hartman has building ships for seven generations. Johan Hartman, the current owner, was commanding ocean-going freighters at the age of 22. His builds are the state of the art, mission-critical ships, whether for commercial or private usage. Hartman, 100% privately owns, builds and operates a fleet of +100m ships like these:

 

 

 

 

In fact, if you order a new Long Island 40 Classic like this one, for end-of-2021 delivery…

 

…. she may very well come to the USA on this very yacht-transporting Hartman freighter:

 

And if you need to move a damaged destroyer across the Pacific, well, Johan can certainly build one of these for you as well.

Now, back to welds…. I’ve been to shipyards all around the world (including Turkey, Vietnam, and China) where they still rely on basic acetylene torch technology:

 

 

But welding from premier shipyards is now done with computers, using solid-state welding machines that provide maximum control of things like (come on, I know you really want to know) waveform shape, the pitch of the leading and trailing edges, pulse settings, crater time, burnback time, and much more:

After that, impact-dependable welds depend upon extensive and continually upgraded staff training and the correct choice in welding wire.  Once again, it ain’t easy. Or cheap! In the early stages of a build – those involving long, continuous welds in a flat position – the best practices is to use a very expensive, special metal-cored wire, called Coreweld C6.

It costs much more than standard flux-core wire, but as in all things, you get what you pay for. Later in the construction, when they’ve run out of flat runs and the hull begins to take its final shape, a different wire is called for: Dual Shield 70 Ultra Plus. And finally, for ship areas with thinner plates, AristoRod comes into play – a bare, solid wire alloyed with manganese and silicon.

So, the right machinery, the right skills, the right rods, and you are ready? Nope, far from it…

III. Your Controlled Explosion

For considerations of weight and performance, quality yachts like Hartman’s Livingstone 24 must join its steel hull to an aluminum superstructure. And without the most exotic of materials and practices, that is impossible – You cannot just weld steel to aluminum. The hear required to weld steel liquifies the aluminum. You’ve got to get hi-tech…

… and built yourself a “ship sandwich” by:

  1. Starting with the steel hull on the bottom;
  2. Ending with the aluminum superstructure on top;
  3. But inserting in between a bizarre bi-metal invention, a kind of gasket that has been formed in a controlled explosion that permanently fuses together a thin layer of steel to a thin layer of aluminum (Imagine, if you will, a copper penny fused flat to a steel nickel). This strange amalgamation allows you to:
  4. Weld the top of the steel hull to the steel bottom of the bimetal gasket, and after it cools, to weld the the bottom of the aluminum superstructure to the aluminum top of the same gasket.

It’s called explosive welding. It was discovered in WWII, when B52 crews found strangely fused metals resulting from iron shells blowing through their aluminum-skinned planes.

Here’s what a controlled explosion looks like, graphically:

and here it is in real-world production:

 

And that, my friends, is how you build a ship sandwich!

IV. Sunk Investments

I’m going to step away from impact damage now to talk about a statistically more likely scenario out in the great beyond (or in the middle of your home channel). When it comes to outright sinking, insurance company data shows that only 4% of boats sink from collisions. The main culprit, at 40%? Water intrusion. Yup, your basic and boring seawater inflow through open hatches, doors, and blown thru-hulls. Check out this recent example, where a yacht ran aground in the middle of the night, in the middle of  a supposedly navigable channel:

With her stern exposed to following waves, eventually the sea found its way in through the stern’s tender garage. Trust me, nothing good ever happens after that.

Now, long-time clients will recall my take on tender garages in the post Love me Tender.  All in all, I really preferred this much safer, side opening alternative:

 

Speaking of Zeelander, the Demo Z55 that I showed many of you last fall is still available, and will be displayed at the coming Palm Beach Boat Show.  You’ll find that opportunity HERE. I’ve run this fine yacht a bunch, so by all means launch a flare if you’d like to hear her full story. I’d be delighted to meet you at the last day of the show, Sunday March 28th.

From there I’m off to to Holland to celebrate the splash of Hull #1 of the new Long Island Yacht 29 Classic,

and to investigate this [currently hush-hush] project:

 

Of course I’d be delighted to meet you in Holland in Early April. Please call me for EU entry details.

 

OK, more to follow on collisions, sinking and other mishaps. Please stay tuned for your next blog post, where I will explain why your bilge pump sucks (in fact, it’s almost useless). And I’ll explain what I think you really need when things go wrong.

Meanwhile, thanks for all you do. And as always, for whatever you need, just launch a flare!

 

Big Wave Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghosts in the Machine

Welcome to Chapter #3 in Zeelander University’s Master Degree program – The latest course in your 12-part series in advanced Zeelander ownership.

Today we’re going to explore together one of yachting’s high water marks in innovation, one where Northern European builders and engineers jumped far ahead of the rest of the industry:

The ins, the outs (and the sideways) of IPS drives

Zeelander Yachts – starting with their Z44 model – was an eager, early and successful adopter of Volvo Penta’s IPS drive systems. Every Zeelander built to date features this technology. That includes our about-to-be shipped Zeelander 55, arriving at our CT docks in mid-June. She is powered by twin Volvo Penta IPS 1350HP engines:

Z55 #7 w/twin IPS 1350’s, arriving CT mid-June
Closeup of the IPS 1350

Zeelander’s positive owner experiences with these drives suggests we take a comprehensive “under-the-hood” view of exactly what this integration does for owners, and how. Trust me, by the time you finish this chapter you’ll know more about this technology than 99% of your dockmates.

If you are late to the Zeelander University party, or would like to dive in again, you’ll find Chapter #1 on Night Vision options right here,  and Chapter #2’s coverage of Yacht Tender Storage Solutions here

But first, a word about about our fleet. By mid-June I will have two Zeelander models available for your viewing at our Norwalk, CT docks – A 2013 Z44,

Z44 Sistership

and the brand new Z55:

Z55 Sistership

A Brief Note About Safe Viewings: I look forward to showing you the Z44 and Z55 in person. Towards that end, I’m keeping a close eye on CT’s social distancing guidelines.

Longtime readers know my dedication to (an obsession with?) safety on the water. It has earned me in some circles the nickname of Safety Dave. I can live with that. I’m gratified that The Fog Warning’s blog postings devoted to safety issues continue to be its most widely read and shared. In fact, the single most viewed posting of all time continues to be this cautionary tale

So please rest assured that I have your best interests at heart in exactly when and how to show you these fine vessels. I promise you a good and safe time will be had by all, both at the dock and at sea. 

Meanwhile, back in our brave new world of virtual realms, here is your own private “boat show in a can” – 360 degree virtual tours of the Zeelander 44, 55 and the flagship 72:

Z44, Z55, Z72 and a Heesen 164 last June at our private Newport event. Stay tuned for this summer’s event schedule.

I. It’s an IPS World

Volvo Penta’s IPS technology is now almost 15 years old. I remember when I first heard Volvo’s pitch at an advance industry conference. It all seemed just too good to be true:

  • Joystick operation (a Hinckley exclusive, up until then);
  • Reduced fuel consumption;
  • Higher speed with less noise;
  • Tighter turning radii; 
  • Fewer engine installation hours;
  • A completely flat power curve, from low RPM to high (sorry, jets).
  • Dynamic Positioning (exactly what was that, I wondered?); and
  • Smaller (!) engines????

I was unconvinced, at first. Now, with some 540 builders having installed over 24,000 units, it’s hard to remember why it seemed so controversial. But indeed it was. Especially for me.

At the time I was selling large, powerful Turkish motor yachts with straight shaft MAN inboards, usually 1550 hp models. As a sometimes stodgy traditionalist, I was a tough sell. In particular, Safety Dave had a hard time getting past this key question:

“What happens when you run aground at speed?”

If a pod ripped off, I couldn’t see how it wouldn’t leave an awfully big hole in the bottom of the boat.

Volvo wholly answered my concerns with this [now] classic “test to destruction” video:

https://youtu.be/nLmlWgLHZAc

Some 15 years later, as far as I can determine there has never been a case of catastrophic hull damage due to an IPS grounding. In what I suppose is becoming the theme of today’s post, You gotta love great engineering!

II. Some History

This wouldn’t be a Master’s Degree program without some history in it, would it? Well, the IPS story starts in Sweden in 1959 – A time when a small Northern European country was able to punch above its weight (warning: more boxing metaphors to follow) and command the world stage in sports. 

That’s when Ingemar Johannson, (he of the crushing right hand he affectionately called “Toonder and lightning,” but others called “The Hammer of Thor”)

shocked the boxing world by taking the heavyweight crown away from Floyd Patterson (with seven knockdowns in three rounds, at Yankee Stadium) as seen here.

And just a few months later, at the New York Boat Show (anyone remember the classic NY Coliseum shows, on Central Park?)

https://youtu.be/vetk4VGS344

Volvo Penta introduced the world’s first sterndrive engine, the Aquamatic:

Over the next three years Volvo Penta sold a then-unheard of $20m of these engines (in 1960 dollars!). They even hired their Swedish heavyweight champ to promote it, albeit on somewhat shaky waterskis:

https://youtu.be/JlAGJdMbpuw?t=185

Ingemar, in case you are wondering, promptly retired to buy and operate a Volvo-powered commercial fishing vessel in the North Sea.

As for Volvo, many revolutions (sic) later, in 2004 they landed their biggest knockout blow to date with launch of their IPS program.

Z55 #7
IPS Twin Drive Installation

III. The Ghosts in the Machine

If you happen to know exactly what “IPS” stands for, go ahead and blow The Fog Warning’s official horn (and your own):

IPS stands for “Integrated Propulsion System” – The artful (largely computer-driven) integration of a motor to a separate underbody drivetrain.  Its game changing features (beyond the joystick) included:

  • Forward facing counter-rotating props; 
  • Set into pods that pivots to port and starboard over a 30 degree range; 
  • 100% aligned with the bottom of the hull;
  • Eliminating the cost, drag, vulnerability and maintenance required of separate rudders, shafts and struts and gutless bearings;
  • Set into small and “slippier” hubs; allowing,
  • Larger prop blades.

They all magically come together to produce: 

  • 40% longer cruising range;
  • 20% higher top speed;
  • 30% reduced fuel consumption;
  • 30% less CO2 emissions;
  • 50% lower perceived noise; and,
  • All at lower horsepower!

For me that lower HP remains the icing on the cake. The IPS 1350’s equivalent horsepower (measured at the crankshaft) is actually produced by a 1000 HP engine. Why pay for more HP than you need? For comparison’s sake, in the straight-shaft world going from a 1000HP engine to a 1350 would cost you an additional 30%. 

Before we take a closer look at the magic under the hood, a brief aside about the notable efficiencies IPS drives provide by their “100% alignment with the bottom of the hull.” Here is a diagram of a traditional drivetrain, with its 12 degree downward shaft offset. It’s easy to see how much thrust is misdirected and wasted:

Now compare that with the completely flat IPS angle here, where every ounce of thrust is is directed towards forward movement:

Comparing these two diagrams I can see how Volvo’s engineers back in the day must have had the thought “There has to be a better way!”

There is. And here’s exactly how it works, via some high-value video – The best video I’ve ever seen of how IPS drives behave as you manipulate the wheel, throttles, and joystick (in split-screen view, no less). This video greatly increased my understand and appreciation of exactly what is going on under my feet as I move Zeeladander’s around.

You will note the full pod pivot, the operation of the counter-rotating props, and the varying exhaust trails as the skipper puts this [triple] IPS installation her through her paces:

https://youtu.be/ekRmPiPWYc0

The operation of double IPS installations (as in our Z55) is identical. The same is true for our Z72’s triple engine installation. Once boats get up into the 80+ range, quadruple IPS installs are common. But the basics never change.

Here are some things to look out for, minute by minute:

At Moment 0:53:

Here the boat is in idle, her props fully at rest. Notice the continuous exhaust bubbling out of the pod’s hub, rising up against the bottom of the hull. That’s a uniquely IPS experience. With traditional drives the exhausts exit at or through the boat’s transom. But with IPS drives at idle you’re always sitting on a bubbling cushion of air. On a flat calm day you will feel a little bit of vibration, and hear some gurgling.

Personally, this never bothers me. And the larger the boat, the less you’ll feel and hear (I see zero effect on the hull in this video’s 48′ test boat). But Zeelander owners typically have asked the builder to add Volvo’s Clearwake system for a quieter experience. It’s an exhaust bypass system that diverts the engine’s discharge out the transom in idle, just like in traditional straight drive installations. This option works automatically and seamlessly, and Zeelander’s owners report it a good investment. We have added it to June’s Z55 #7 delivery, so please feel free to call me for its pricing:

At Moment 1:21

Note how the pods pivot when the steering wheel is manually turned. Who needs the added complexity, cost and drag of rudders? In my experience, the high speed turning radius of IPS boats is a good 20% tighter than traditional shaft-driven boats, with less slide-slippage. It really does feel like the boat is turning on rails. 

At Moment 1:43

As the engines are put in gear, note how the props counter-rotate. And if you look carefully, once the props are moving the exhaust stream source changes from the center hub up to the base of the unit, right against the hull. This is a performance move, as it reduces air in the prop stream, and eliminates cavitation.  Less air, more performance!

At Moment 2:53

Here you get a great split-screen view of joystick operation. Now we see how much of the fly-by-wire coordination is computer-driven. Again, gotta love that great engineering.

At Moment 4:17

Here you see a few moments of my favorite IPS/Zeelander feature: Dynamic Positioning. That’s where the “ghosts in the machine” really take over. You can get a fuller appreciation of the technology here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks4lsblg29E

Personally, I never got the phrase “dynamic positioning.” What does this engineering gobbledygook even mean? The phrase pre-dates IPS, by the way, part of a failed commercial and military project that went nowhere at the time. It took awhile for the technology to catch up with the vision.

I prefer the term Virtual Anchor, because that’s how we really use it. Push the button and two GPS sensors and a digital compass all spring into action, keeping the boat “anchored” and at a fixed compass heading for as long as you want. At the Palm Beach Marina (with its sometimes 3 knot ICW currents) I’ve held a pod-driven yacht 18” away between two opposing finger docks (without fenders) for fifteen minutes at a time. And this feature really comes into its own when you are:

Jockeying for position, waiting for the bridge to open…
Putting out your fenders…
Waiting for the fuel dock slip to open…
Casting to breaking fish, in current…
Launching your tender (safely, on the down-wind side)…
And of course, setting up for your perfectly romantic sunset/sunrise view.

They’re all just a push-button push away.  Worry free. Well, almost….

There are two things I suggest you keep an eye on: First, while you may be virtually anchored in place as you await that bridge opening in substantial current, most of the other boats around you will not be. And they can and will swoop down on you! If its a crowded day with many bridges to cross, I’ll put out my fenders just in case. On a less crowded day I’ll set my radar alarm to its 1/16th of a mile setting. That’ll pick up your intruders.

Now, in a credit to both their engineering skills and the size of their R&D budget (more on this below), Volvo Penta made this scenario easier to manage with their latest development: Enhanced Dynamic Positioning. When virtually anchored, all you have to do is just tap the joystick once, and your boat will shift over 30’ in that direction – and then automatically re-anchor herself! When the offending intruder has passed by you, you can resume your prior position with just another touch. Here’s a cool demo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9MfgZV1w9o&feature=share&app=desktop
Brilliant!

Secondly, you shouldn’t put swimmers in the water while you are virtually anchored. Once you hit that button, the props are going to spin under their own (utterly blind) command. So when swimmers (or divers) are out and about, change the virtual for the actual – Drop that small, beautiful stainless plaything that sits so nicely at the bow of your bigger beautiful plaything:

IV. The Future

As I said, I give Volvo credit for continually evolving and improving IPS technologies. In my view, traditional straight shaft designs in our industry have been essentially static for the last fifteen years. MAN and the other big-box builders moved over to environmentally friendlier “Common Rail” technologies then, but haven’t done much since. Hinckley made improvements to their harbor-speed steering about six years ago, but I’m not aware of too much else since then. But Volvo’s dedication of significant resources to their R&D budget continues to pay off for owners (for example, see Active Corrosion Protection, in the Maintenance section, below).

As for the future, IPS is destined for a major enhancement in a year or so: An entirely self-docking boat! By connecting onboard sensors with dock-mounted beacons, docking will be managed by the ultimate “ghost in the machine”. An early version works well. In a demo test in Europe an industry observer wrote:

Even as an RYA instructor/examiner with years of experience berthing all kinds of boats, including craft fitted with IPS and a joystick, I wouldn’t have been able to maintain such slow, steady progress into the berth whilst keeping the boat perfectly on track.

I suspect that the actual release of this technology awaits a chicken-or-egg business challenge – until marina’s adopt and install the required beacons, owner’s won’t pay for the option (no pricing is hinted at yet). But I am certain that once its released – and Zeelander’s own engineers have put it through their own rigorous tests – it will become available to you. Until then, here’s your preliminary look:

https://youtu.be/NAN_rQM3rr8

Beyond that, Volvo has a working model of a hybrid electric IPS drive. Based upon what I saw at the Dusseldorf boat show this winter, hybrid drives are growing in popularity far quicker in Europe than here. But once worldwide demand for this technology increases, I’m sure you’ll see Volvo introduce it into the market

V. Maintenance

The maintenance needs of traditional inboards are different than pods. Inboards require:

  • Sacrificial-anode replacement;
  • Prop adjustment;
  • Cutless bearing repair;
  • Shaft alignment;
  • Anti-fouling paint;
  • Engine oil checks;
  • Transmission fluid checks; and,
  • Fluid checks of hydraulic steering.

Pods delete from your concern prop adjustments, cutless bearing repairs, and shaft alignments. But they do add to the mix:

  • Drive-oil changes every 250 hours, or annually;
  • Lower-unit oil checks.
  • Annual removal and inspection of prop sets and seals;
  • Re-greasing of the prop shafts; and,
  • Lower unit antifouling paint.

As for your zinc replacements, you can take that off your to-do list (and off your annual budget) by opting for Volvo’s Volvo Penta’s new ACP (Active Corrosion Protection) system. It replaces conventional anodes altogether by applying carefully measured countering currents, continually measuring and automatically adjusting the electrical output for protection in both brackish and salt water. What’s more (and I just love this) it displays your degree of protection in real time on your engine control panel:

Volvo’s Active Corrosion Protection System Screen Readout

If you keep your boat in a “hot” marina (just check your yard bill for how often they have to replace your anodes) this is for you. It’ll save on hauls and divers, big time. As always, for options pricing, just launch that flare…

Speaking of your budget, on an annual basis pod maintenance (done right, by our certified IPS techs) is going to cost a little more than straight drives – perhaps $1,000 more per engine (on the other hand is should cost about $2,000 less than jet drive maintenance). But net/net, the increase in IPS fuel efficiency over straight drives will leave you ahead if you use your boat more than 150 hours a year.

VI. Warranty

As for Volvo’ warrantee, IPS systems come standard with two year’s of warrantee coverage. But on your price lists you will find the option of increasing that term by three years, for a total of five year’s protection.

Now, there are way too many variables for me to predict your service needs in years three to five. But I will disclose here an industry secret: Volvo incentivizes its techs, worldwide, to respond to extended warrantee owners first. As I see it, if you need critical service over the July 4th weekend, its nice to be at the top of the list.

VII. Class Takeaways

A client recently engaged me in a long talk about The Fog Warning’s mission statement. As quoted on its homepage, it’s all about answering those big, eternal questions of yachting:

1. What makes a yacht great, and why?

2. Who makes a great yacht, and how?

My client, a skilled yachtsman and a bit of philosopher, suggested that the “who” is a more subjective question than the “what.” He has a good point. I’ll talk about the “what” first.

Locked away and thinking hard in the Hamptons (however comfortably) these last three months, it’s become clearer to me than ever that what makes a yacht great, in measurable and objective ways, is great engineering.

I have long looked to Norther European builders for this kind of innovation and quality. Now, of course great engineering does not live exclusively in this part of the world. But when I look at what Volvo has done on the propulsion side; what Feadship, Lurssen and Heesen have done for big yachts; and what Zeelander delivers for “small” yachts, I see theIr uncompromising devotion to quality engineering as their defining character. Personally, I’m excited to be associated with that kind of character.

As for the second, more subjective question – Who makes a great yacht? Well, that’s more your call than mine. Put another way, that’s for your needs, values, and tastes to determine. The Fog Warning has averaged 6,800 annual readers over the last few years. That’s thousands of different opinions of what’s best, and every one is more important than mine. All I will say on the matter is this:

Knowledge is power!

See you at the next class (if not on a CT Zeelander before then).

Safety Dave

Four screens + one bottomless cup of coffee + 25 hours of work = Z.U. #3

 

Love Me Tender

Welcome back for chapter two of your continuing twelve-part series in advanced Zeelander ownership. In the end you’ll be awarded your well-deserved Masters in Zeelander Yachts degree.

This week we try to answer that age-old question of yachting, reportedly first asked by H.M.S. Bounty’s Captain Bligh himself:

Where is the best place to store my tender?

The industry presents lots of options. What solution best meets your needs?

This discussion is somewhat technical (it includes a rating system of all choices), but then again this is an advanced degree!

I’ll begin with an admission of …. hard headedness. Over the years some long-time clients and readers of The Fog Warning have called me to task for my famously inflexible opinion about the best way to store yacht tenders:

“Trust me, all of your storage options are bad. Pick the least bad one.”

I’ll explain today how I came to that opinion. And why I’ve recently changed my mind.

The choices are fairly narrow. We all know that yacht tenders are stored Up, Back, Way Back, or Down. Having launched, retrieved, and transported a wide variety of tenders in my time, I get to make the rules. So I’m evaluating your choices under the following criteria:

  1. Space Utilization
  2. The “Disruption Factor”
  3. Aesthetics
  4. Safety
  5. Ease of use (and speed)

I rate on a scale of 1-10 (with an understanding that except for our children, there are no 10’s in either boats or life). I know from experience that my clients aren’t shy about expressing their opinions, so I look forward to hearing your own ratings. Just launch those flares!

I. THE UP

Mahogany Rose – Vicem 67 FB – $1,050,000

Flybridge yachts, like Mahogany Rose, above, offer tons of acreage up top for hydraulic cranes and tenders. Cranes can be sized to lift quite sizable tenders (not to mention cars, motorcycles, jet skis, and submarines). I’ve found that with some practice you can launch or retrieve even a fairly large tender in under fifteen minutes (in sheltered waters).

It’s a well-tested choice. With a yacht over 100,000 pounds, the added weight up high doesn’t affect your pitch and roll much, and if you’re fortunate to have stabilizers, not at all. Crane hydraulics are a tried and true technology, and if you check routinely for hydraulic leaks (and have a couple of quarts of backup fluid stashed in your bilges) you’re good to go.

In a fun aside, check out an earlier Fog Warning post about a creative (and healthy) emergency hydraulic fluid back up, under the Way Back section later in this post.

Here’s my own scoring on the matter:

  • Efficient use of valuable space: With all that space up top, why not throw a tender up there? All in all, you can store larger tenders up top than any other solutions. And for bigger yachts, + 30 meters, you can even have both a crane/tender and a jacuzzi. My rating? 9/10.
  • The “Disruptive Factor”: How disruptive is launching and retrieving a tender to your partying guests? Not very. It all happens largely without impacting anyone in the cockpit, or down below. But the process is a bit of a circus (like docking your boat in high winds, it tends to attract lots of gawking), and it invites lots of comments from your distracted guests. But when the time comes to line your tender back to your cockpit or swim platform boarding areas, things go more smoothly when your guests aren’t wandering about. My rating? 8/10.
  • Aesthetics: Some find the look a little clunky, others find it wonderfully “shippy.” It’s a highly personal thing, and I’m not going to piss anyone off with my rating. But please let me know yours. No rating.
  • Safety: There is no way around this – You’re swinging a 1,500 pound load twenty feet up in the air, often amidst wind or waves. It’s a one-man or woman operation in only the calmest of conditions. Otherwise, while you’re manning the crane remote, at least one other person (up top, down below, or both) must use tender lines and boat hooks to keep the tender aligned fore and aft with the mother ship. What’s more, as with all of your tender storage choices (except one, discussed below in THE DOWN) its easier and safer if you drop your anchor first. But I add points for this: I don’t know of a better shorthanded solution than a crane for a man overboard recovery. My rating? 5/10.
  • Ease of use: Like I said, its a bit of a circus, with lots of moving parts. And, depending upon the reach of your crane, there will be situations where dockside use is impossible without turning the mother ship around 180 degrees. My rating? 4/10.

Big Wave Dave’s weighted average? 27/40, or 68%.

Note: Mahogany Rose, the Vicem 67 listing above, is in Charleston, and very much for sale (just launch a flare). In addition to the crane and tender up top, she also features a fully pivoting radar mast. It’ll allow you to get you under that 19′ 3″ bridge in Chicago, halfway through your life-changing Great Loop cruise.

Also, one of my older listings, a recently sold Viking 82, took a different approach to tender storage by putting the crane and tender up on the front deck. I’m curious how you’d score that one.

II. THE BACK

By “back” I means under the cockpit. From a design standpoint, doing that well can be very tricky. Designers have to give a lot of thought to the tradeoffs involved, because as that great deadpan comedian Steven Wright once said:

There are two ways to approach this challenge – a lifting cockpit (like the Palm Beach boats) or by means of a transom slide (most everyone else). In both approaches it takes larger boats – with both ample beam and freeboard – to pull it off well:

Azimut 77 – Rear Slide design

Case in point, narrower designs sometimes require partially deflating the tender to squeeze it in:

Pershing 70 – Rear slide design

And some designs don’t optimize their freeboard considerations, and these can take some muscle (and gymnastics) to operate:

And, of course, the more you squeeze under your cockpit, the more you’ll limit your valuable space in the cockpit. This inevitably reduces your cherished seating and storage capabilities, as you’ll see here:

Palm Beach 55 – Lifting cockpit design
Palm Beach 55 – Lifting Cockpit Design

So, paraphrasing comedian Steven Wright, how am I gonna score it?

  • Efficient use of valuable space: The above pix make pretty clear that the space tradeoffs – particularly as to cockpit seating and storage – can be significant. And for me, cockpit seating is a critical part of guests’ enjoyment. My Rating: 5/10.
  • The “Disruptive Factor”: In a lifting cockpit design everyone has to bail out from the cockpit. My ratings? 1/10. And 8/10 for the rear slide (see smaller cockpit space, above).
  • Aesthetics: It’s all about how well the designers can keep the freeboard profile reasonable. My rating? 9/10 if they can do it well. But if it looks like they’re hiding something big in the oven, a 6/10.
  • Safety: No safety impacts that I can see. My rating? 9/10.
  • Ease of use: Lifting cockpit – Not only do you have to clear the cockpit of guests, but you also have a fairly long walk aft to the end of the swim platform. I timed this last fall at eight minutes to launch or retrieve. My rating? 4/10. Rear slide: 8/10 (and six minute’s work).

Big Wave Dave’s weighted average?

29/50 (58%) for the lifting cockpit.

39/50 (78%) for the rear slide.

III. THE WAY BACK

What we all see every day, in every harbor: Swim platform mounts like Freedom Lifts:

Freedom lift (empty)
Freedom Lift (full)

Or, hydraulically lifting swim platforms:

In my experience, both technologies work fine. Builders love them because they require little or no design modifications at the factory. And there is a healthy after-market business culture to sell and support them.

My reservations, such as they are, are not deal-killers. I don’t love the corrosion risks of Freedom Lift’s aluminum components. But I do appreciate the sliver of useable platform space it allows between the transom and the edge of the tender.

And the hydraulic platforms? Well…

  • Obviously, it’s a two step dance – You’ve got to first launch the tender before your guests can swim from the platform, or use it as their private “beach.”
  • Backing into a slip you have to remember that you’ve got twelve or eighteen inches of tender sticking out beyond the swim platform edge. That’s going to hit the dock before your boat does. The costs of forgetting are high (Don’t ask…. just please don’t ask).
  • While the pictures and videos rarely show it, best practices require that the tender be tightly tied down to the chocks or mounts, and that the platform be tightly strapped to the transom. This takes more time than you might expect, and often take some gymnastics to get it all right.

Here’s how I score it:

  • Efficient use of valuable space: You can store your tender aft, or you can have a platform for boarding or swimming. You can’t do both well unless the yacht is particularly big, or the tender particularly small (see Steven Wright, above). My Rating? 6/10
  • The “Disruptive Factor”: Points added for having an unencumbered cockpit space. Points lost for “you can’t do both well,”above. My Rating? 7/10.
  • Aesthetics: Well, the degree of gracefulness depends upon whether you are at rest, or underway. At cruising speed, that additional four or five degrees of bow rise really adds to an awkward look when you’re balancing a tender way aft. My Rating? 4/10 at rest, 2/10 underway. I average it out here to a 3/10.
  • Safety: Having a functional lifting platform available at all times is a great man overboard recovery tactic. But of course you’re unlikely to have the time to launch the tender first when you hear that big splash and yell. Plus, see backing in, above. My Rating? 4/10.
  • Ease of use: But for strapping things in and down, they are easy-to -use solutions. But doing it right can easily take six or seven minutes. My Rating? 7/10.

Big Wave Dave’s weighted average? 28/50 (55%).

NOTE: That creative emergency hydraulic lift repair I mentioned earlier?

You can read all about it in this post here.

IV. THE DOWN

As I’m mentioned up front, my conclusions about tender use and storage have evolved over the years. With a bunch of Zeelander operating hours now under my belt, I’ve seen that putting the tender below deck in a central garage is a game-changer. After all, megayachts have been doing this for years, and they be no fools:

My own conversion began with this: A “real time” retrieval video that clocks in – beginning to end – at just 1 minute and 50 seconds:

https://youtu.be/lpqkNOwzDdQ

Here’s how Zeelander pulls that off:

The garage is standard equipment for both the Zeelander 55 and the 72, and the tenders are chosen off their option lists.

Sans le youyou (as the French say), the garage of our next available Zeelander 55 – shipping to the USA next month – looks like this:

You’ll get a better sense of its location from these Z55 and Z72 plans. Note that the weight of the tender is exactly where designers want it for optimal handling – Low and central!

Zeelander 55 Plan
Zeelander 72 Plan

With all tender storage solutions, you’ll know its done right when the yacht’s trim doesn’t change, with and without the tender. I use the “marble test” to check (does a marble roll about differently on the flat cockpit deck, before launch and after?)

In my experience, Zeelander’s do not lose their marbles.

When I say that designers look for “optimal handling” in their weight calculations, for both the Z55 and the Z72 their turn-on-a-dime ability is fully verifiable by video, as seen below:

https://youtu.be/JfNChyl3HNU
https://youtu.be/o9JBmm_O9Rc

As for tender choices, both garages are custom-sized for either a Williams 280 or a Williams 285 Minijet tender.

The Williams 280 is 9-foot 2-inch long, and weights 440 pounds. Its 45 horsepower waterjet engine gives her a top speed of 31 knots:

https://youtu.be/Z1HWEV1OokI

The Williams 285 is 9′ 6″ long, and weighs 695 pounds. It’s 85 HP engine pushes her to 37 knots.

But, for speed demons everywhere, an optional 100 HP engine delivers 42 knots! Notably (for all you drag racers) that is the top speed of both the Z55 and the Z72 models with their largest engine packages (of course, the packages we chose for our coming Z55 and Z72 stock yachts).

https://youtu.be/EFcQpbZG0Gc

If you and your’s require a bigger tender, Zeelander has a plan for that (where there is a will, there is a way!) If you go back and review the Z72 plans above, you’ll notice that just behind the garage is the crew cabin. If you opt out of that cabin, you can extend the garage to handle a full 5-person tender, the 12′ 8″ Williams 395:

https://youtu.be/pB7mAOq0KSM

To the extent that a tender is a water toy (albeit a large one), I’ll note that the garage has dedicated storage space for other water toys. Just about the most popular item off Zeelander’s option list are SeaBob’s. Most of the Zeelander’s delivered to date have one or two tucked into their garages, with additional charging stations installed by the swim platform):

https://youtu.be/SX2vkWa8XbQ

If you want to push your water toy enjoyment to the max, the Zeelander 72 is large enough to store and present your own private (and moveable) “inflatable beach resort,” as shown here for soon-to-splash Z72 Hull #2:

Your go-anywhere private beach resort

All that’s missing in this private beach resort pic is Zeelander’s “safari” approach to celebrating sunrises and sets:

As always, for the full details about yacht base pricing and all of these options, just break out your flare gun.

Enough! My conclusions? By the criteria I’ve been using above, I have yet to find any significant disadvantages to this “Down” design. Here’s how I score it:

  • Efficient use of valuable space: This is perhaps the most valuable yield I’ve seen from IPS engine placement. Moving the engine systems aft provide all the space a garage requires, without impacting either the size of the engine room or the size of the master or VIP cabins. My rating? 9/10.
  • The “Disruption Factor”: On both models, access to the garage from deck level is by means of a hatch, away from exterior seating. Your guests and their margaritas can stay put. There is, however, some disruption on the Z55, as the hatch is just aft of the salon entry door. That will block traffic, intermittently. My Rating? 8/10.
  • Aesthetics: There is simply nothing to see when the garage is closed. My rating? 9/10.
  • Safety: I see no compromises to safety anywhere. Actually, quite the contrary. I’m sold on the garage’s central location for bad weather launches and retrievals. I’ll start with three examples: 1) With Zeelander’s optional gyroscopic stabilizer (look for that discussion in upcoming Zeelander University Chapter 5) and dynamic positioning systems (Chapter 9) you can always “anchor” the mothership so that you can launch and retrieve your tender on the down-wind and down-tide side, regardless of conditions. 2) With your key-fob remote control in your pocket, you can single-hand yourself in and out of the garage in any weather. 3) What’s more, you’re never stepping down into a pitching tender from a rolling deck – You start and end your journey already seated. I can’t say enough about these safety advantages, and I very much look forward to demonstrating them for you. My rating? 9/10 (only because I don’t do 10’s).
  • Ease of use: Quick and easy, as our viral 1:50 video shows. Minor impacts include: 1) You can only dock starboard to (for the Z55), or portside to (for the Z72) to launch and retrieve. 2) When docked stern to, you’ll need 9′ of room between your yacht and the one aside you in order to launch. My rating? 8/10.

Big Wave Dave’s weighted average? 43/50 (86%)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this [too geeky?] chapter. If it gave you some things to contemplate during some idle moments, I’ll feel I’ve done my job (in a socially distanced way).

For me, this learning experience has been a reminder that happiness in life usually flows from flexibility. I began this chapter with my long-held opinion that all of your tender storage choices are bad. But new approaches and new designs have opened my eyes. I look forward to your thoughts on the matter.

V. Signing off

I’m going to close today with some recent pix and video’s of our next available Z55, Hull #7. She is just finishing the last of her last interior work in Rotterdam, and she will ship to us in thirty days. As you’ll see below, just about all she needs is her next owner. If that spirit moves you, we should talk fairly quickly. After all, why ship this fine yacht someplace other than your dock? Beats me!

https://vimeo.com/410643739

We will pick this up again soon. Meanwhile, stay safe.

Big Wave Dave

P.S. A small gift for you – This punk version here of Elvis’ classic Love Me Tender. If you’ve rocked out like this lately, I want to hear all about it.

https://youtu.be/OiSHaFawYDU

The Survey from Hell

I’ll get it to it, I’ll get to it. But first, a word from our sponsor…

We are eight weeks out from the delivery of our (or even better, your) Zeelander 55! It takes about ten months to build a Z55, depending upon the level of customization. But with yachts this size just about everything comes to life in in her last 60 days. To quote Hemingway (on an entirely different subject), completing a yacht happens…

“…two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

Well, as you’ll see here, we’re knee deep in the suddenly right now:

If you would like to accompany us for her first early Spring sea trials in Rotterdam, please let me know right away. I’ll do my best to smuggle you aboard. Otherwise, I’d be thrilled to take you on a sea trial in Connecticut in the late Spring.

But if you cannot wait that long too see the finished product, we will be displaying a sister ship at the Palm Beach Boat Show from March 26th through the 29th. You can cruise through her virtual tour (I just love the unhurried views this technology provides) right here.

We will also be presenting in Palm Beach our Zeelander 72….

…. and that particular 360 degree tour awaits your arrival here.

And, finally, we are presenting one (maybe two) Zeelander 44’s at the show, almost identical to what you can tour here.

The specific listings for these boats three fine yachts…..

are just three little clicks away:

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/2020/zeelander-72-3640530/

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/2020/zeelander-55h-3640027/

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/2012/zeelander-44h-3483654/

 

Ok, loyal clients, I commend you for your patience. Here now, the story of a survey from hell. And I apologize in advance for being a bit flippant about a very serious story.

The USS Fitzgerald, after narrowly escaped sinking.

This photo is of the USS Fitzgerald, a destroyer that in the summer of 2017 collided in the Sea of Japan with a tanker ten times its size. Seven sailors lost their lives is this tragedy, and only the selfless bravery of a number of seamen prevented many more deaths. Indeed, they kept the ship afloat until all could be rescued.

Collisions at sea are something I try to keep tabs on, having been involved in one myself. So I read the initial reports that summer, and wondered how two massive vessels – in this age of modern electronics – can collide at 20 knots in clear weather, in relatively sheltered waters.

Direct impact to the Captain’s cabin.

A few months ago I read an upsetting account of exactly how it happened. It is a very sobering read. In short, it was a combination of:

  • Extremely short-staffed boats, some 15% under headcount;
  • An over-taxed and over-scheduled Pacific Fleet, on an almost wartime footing with Korea;
  • Thoroughly exhausted and under-trained crews.

But what really jumped out at me was the horrendous level of deferred maintenance of the Fitzgerald. The Navy’s investigation of this accident was largely what we would recognize as a ship’s survey. And it truly was, in my mind, a survey from hell. It listed things that we (so fortunate that our missions are just recreational) would never tolerate on our own boats.

The Freighter

Simply put, the systems that we take for granted in our modern yachting life were broken. Some were inoperable for months before the collision. Crew and officers repeatedly complained to HQ that the vessel was at risk of a collision, but they were ignored. These include the radar systems (one was completely non-functional, and the back up radar’s tracking function required a crewman to manually punch a reset button 100 times per minute to track other vessels. AIS systems, VHF radios, chart plotters (crew used laptops as backups), vessel intercom systems, and even critical emergency pumps were inoperable.

This story will make you sad, and angry. But there are real heroes here, and you will be moved by their courage. You can read the full story here:

https://features.propublica.org/navy-accidents/us-navy-crashes-japan-cause-mccain/

Or you can do what I did, and listen to its riveting podcast on Audm.

I do believe there are lessons for us all here. When you have absorbed it all (the podcast is over an hour, and worth every minute of your time), please feel free to share your thoughts with me, online or off, and I will cover them in future posts of The Fog Warning.

Casting off now, loyal readers. Launch a flare if you need anything.

[Big Wave] Dave

If it ain’t Dutch… [Continued]

I. Portuguese for “peaceful, or gentle…”

I’ve heard it said over the years that “Northern European’s don’t do sexy.” Yachts, that is. I don’t know if that’s ever been true – after all, these are the people who brought us Zeelanders, as sexy a yacht as any I’ve seen come out of Italy:

 

But it certainly ain’t true now! I am pleased and proud to announce the fourth and last leg of The Fog Warning’s new “Group Holland” initiative:

The Sossego [Sah-SAY-go] Comfort  22


 

The Sossego line of go-fast aluminum yachts are built by the Gebroeders van Enkhuizen yard. Sossego  – a beautiful word (do what I did – get a native Portuguese speaker to say it. It pours out like melted butter). The Enkhuizen’s are right next door to the Feadship plant, in Makkum, and share many of the same subcontractors. They’ve long been known for launching some of the finest aluminum yachts (both sail and power) in all of Europe. This one, hull # 3 in the line, is as fine an example of a performance flybridge as I’ve ever run.

 

 

Running this fine yacht in the North Sea at maximum RPM, flying along at 36 knots, I was stunned at her sound engineering. I measured  just 60 decibels at full speed. If you can hear her twin MAN 1550’s in this sea trial, your ears are a lot better than mine!

It became clear to me after a couple of day in the factory that the Sossego is what you get when you combine the best of ever-skillful designer Frank Mulder’s efforts with a yard that devotes itself to empirical and uncompromising engineering, flawless construction methods, and a fine aesthetic sense:

 

 

She is currently making her way to her winter harbor in Majorca. I’d be happy to meet you there and show this fine yacht to you. Until that time, the best look at her is:

  • This clip (with some great running shots) from Dutch TV:

 Sossego Interview

  • And this virtual tour. Select “FOTO”for the best experience:

Click for Interior and exterior virtual tours!

You can see the full specifications on The Fog Warning Yachtworld page, here:

The Sossego Yachworld Listing

But… stay tuned and buckle your seatbelt, loyal readers, for some exciting information about her big sister, the Sossego 30M:

 

Meanwhile, as always, if you have any questions or comments, just launch that flare! Or find me at FLIBS at the Zeelander dock….

II. Zeelander at Fort Lauderdale

Just check this out….

Now, come check her out in person! I’ll have the latest Z55 at the Fort Lauderdale boat show. She’s a 2,000 hp beast (if a beast can be this beautiful) that hits 42 knots!

She and I will be in the Green Zone of the show – that’s on the north side, not far from the bridge. Specifically:

Green Zone, HOF FD 37A

 

I don’t have to tell you how big FLIBS is. Call me if you get lost!

I now have some big news on the smaller Zeelanders – The 44. I have two of them (that’s 88 feet of Z, people) available for immediate delivery from the factory. To give you a sense of scale, here’s a 44 next to her big sister:

 

I find that the Z44 shares that great mix of indoor/outdoor space with the Z55. I ran a Z44 in Holland last month with eight people aboard, and it swallowed us all up quite nicely.

The best way to get a sense of her spaciousness is through this virtual tour:

Zeelander 44 Virtual Tour

If you are looking for a wonderful little yacht right now, you have your choice of the Black Sable or Bentley Blue models:

 

Call me (or even better, see me aboard the Z55 at the show) and I’ll take you through the options and pricing for these two wonders. Trust me, one of them belongs at your dock this season. Let’s find a way to make that happen….

III. Long Island Yachts Runabout 40

I’m excited to talk with your today about the queen of Long Island Yachts’ fleet, their Runabout 40:

 

As I mentioned last month, Long Island Yachts of Rotterdam, Holland has a deep admiration for the looks and performance of classic American downeast designs. After great success in Europe – over 80 boats sold – they now come home to the country that inspired their classic designs.

I ran this boat in Holland last month, and found she delivers a nice balance of space both above deck and below. Below decks, you’ll find accommodations for four – a master cabin with an island bed, and the guest cabin with twin berths. You’ll also find a seating area, and a surprisingly spacious bathroom with separate shower area.

The entire interior is very nicely finished in bright teak and an attractive off-white finish.

 

 

The helm station offers a purely classic design, but with a state of the art dashboard:

 

 

The dinette is well protected by the windscreen, with a functional galley opposite. The spacious aft cockpit offers seating for six.

The deep V hull of the Long Island 40 Runabout is designed to travel comfortably at high speed. Her standard engines are straight shaft twin Yanmar 315’s. Upgrading to the optional twin Volvo IPS 600 enables the boat to reach speeds of over 40 knots.

You can see the full specifications (and her attractive pricing) on The Fog Warning Yachtworld page, here:

The 40 Runabout Yachtworld Listing

You will also find there exciting information on the rest of the Long Island Yachts line:

Including their 33’s:

 

Their 28:

 

And their 25’s:

 

 

 

As always, if you’d like to hear the full story, just launch that flare (and find me at the show).

III. All Work and No Play…

On the way back from the Annapolis Show I stopped in DC to see an exhibit I first read about in the Wall Street Journal. The National Gallery has put on a stunning exhibit entitled:

Water, Wind, and Waves: Marine Paintings from the Dutch Golden Age

I found it just exceptional, of interest to anyone who loves boats and boating. I learned that in the 17th century,  maritime art for the Dutch was their “Hollywood” entertainment. Here are some examples of what you’ll see (but only if you hurry! The show closes on November 25th):

 

My new best friend, Miss Google Analytics, tells me that of all the pages I’ve published on The Fog Warning, month in and month out the number one hit is …. “About The Painting.”  That’s the rather academic video atop my home page that educates us all on Winslow Homer and his iconic painting (and mine) – The Fog Warning.

Given that popularity, I am compelled to post his as well, the National Gallery’s talk on this wonderful and entertaining exhibition. Enjoy!

IV. Let’s Be Careful Out There

About fifteen years ago I was representing a small Turkish builder called Dereli Yachts. They build a neat jet boat called The Daytripper 40, and I sold my share:

If you watch the video carefully, you’ll note two things:

  • She was a truly beautiful yacht.
  • And, she ran sort of bow up.

Visibility was an issue here.  One client of mine solved the problem by adding a full blown tuna tower, with a second helm station twenty feet off the deck! But I found one night on Long Island Sound that in zero visibility weather, trim is of secondary importance.

My job was to bring the D40 from Huntington N.Y. to Newport RI for the boat show. But I got stuck waiting for an engine part, and couldn’t leave with the rest of the fleet. At 6pm I began the 120 mile run to Newport, budgeting four hours at 30 knots. Then the squalls hit….

An hour after sunset, heavy rain and wind made it an entirely instruments-only delivery. The rain was hard enough that the automatic tuning of the radar wasn’t optimal, and I had to play around with my own settings. It made no difference at all (there be nothing to see) but I left the windshield wipers running the whole time. More about that later, my friends…

Fortunately,  radar showed that there weren’t many boats out on Long Island Sound that night. A scattered freighter or two, and the ferries out of Port Jefferson and Orient Point. But running on full instruments,  those blips got every ounce of my attention. In the end, at 15 knots, it took about six hours to get to the dock in Newport. I was a little frazzled.

Returning to the boat early the next morning,, I found that sometime during the trip I had thrown the helm-side wiper blade. The steel retaining clip, arching back and forth hour after hour, had etched a perfect (an deep) half-moon scratch in the glass. Trust me, it looked a lot worse than this:

The entire windshield had to be replaced. A very expensive lesson.

It’s not like running those wipers added any value. We’ve all seen, even in daylight, how heavy rain (or seas) overwhelms most wipers.  This is why I’m a big fan of what you’ll find on commercial boats (and more and more on expedition yachts): Bladed high-speed circular ports. These suckers will cut through anything:

Looking back on this trip now, and remembering how stressed I was tracking those ferries,  I wish my radar had a MARPA option. MARPA was an expensive “black box” option (I can’t even find a picture of it now)  allowing you to mark and track individual targets over ever-changing collision courses. It was clunky, and it required some training and practice to use it effectively.  But at the time it was state of the art.

When I started selling boats in the late 90’s there were still plenty of older boats with green screen radars. Remember this?

These  were limited in the their displays (split screens were a generation or two away) and integrated badly (if at all) with chart plotters. Which is why delivery captains always had one of these in their travel bag:

 

Yup, you tracked targets changing vectors with a grease pencil, marking up the radar screen. Post-It notes helped for range and distance:

A pilot told me that air traffic control back in that era wasn’t much more sophisticated. Here’s how they did it:

Well, we’ve come a long way, baby!

On a foggy morning last month in Holland I helped take a stunning Dutch explorer yacht out into the North Sea. The dykes in the area were 14 feet high, and significant traffic control was necessary to safely approach the locks. I counted twenty targets  converging upon the lock passageway, over 270 degrees of horizon. Plus, of course, a steady stream of traffic was coming in from the other side. But collision avoidance is much easier now than it used to be.

The explorer was equipped with Raymarine’s new Quantum 2 CHIRP radar, with Doppler processing. Every single target was automatically identified and tracked, with clear indications of whether they were heading towards or away from us. Here’s how it works:

All I’ll say is I wish I had this on that squall-heavy trip to Newport!

OK, one and all, I’ve got a plane to catch. You know the drill – need anything, dig out your flare gun. And let me show you the Zeelander 55 at the show. I will be there full time, except for scheduled appointments to show The Baron, my Vicem 72 Flybridge at her dock in Miami:

 

Friday appointments are all booked. But call me about availability over the show weekend. She is worth seeing!

Ciao for now,

Big Wave Dave

 

 

If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much!

I’ve been traveling the breadth of Holland for most of September.  Having bounced around between Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and that booming metropolis of Urk (no, that’s not a typo) for weeks on end,  I return with fascinating tales and stunning boats for you. So grab a Heineken or two and settle down for the story.

I was invited to the Netherlands by a consortium of Dutch builders eager to establish (or improve) their beachheads on our side of the pond. I got up close and personal looks at over two hundred new yachts, and met with over a dozen builders.

I found there’s a lot of truth behind the old “If it ain’t Dutch…” joke. The Dutch truly have a unique relationship with the sea. The hard fact is that most of their country is below sea level, so they don’t have much choice!  Crawling through their yachts, I found some of the best engineering on the planet. I feel very strongly that we need this level of engineering in our harbors, too. Which is why I am so thrilled to now be representing three of Holland’s premier yacht builders in America!

I. First, Zeelander Yachts

Zeelander has been selling their fine yachts (including the hot one cruising through that cup of  coffee, above) in the USA since 2010. Their Z44 and Z55 models are well established on both coasts. I think you’ll understand why this year their best seller is their Z55:

 

 

 

 

 

 

As stunning as they are to the eye, what’s going on behind the scenes – from their hull design and uncompromising standards of soundproofing to their impressively laid out systems – is even more impressive. You can see what I mean by meeting me aboard their latest Z55 (a triple IPS 45 knot boat!) at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show (from October 31st  through November 4th).  I know my clients and loyal readers. So I know you will love this boat.

Be forewarned that I’ll be divulging some Zeelander secrets at the show. You can hear some advance news about Zeelander’s new Corniche 55:

and their under-construction  Zeelander 72:

And if that is not enough, I will have details on what to me is a pinnacle of avant-garde engineering: Their stunning Hybrid Drive, Rina-Green Class Plus Zeelander 164:

The artist renditions of three alternatives for its interior design will grab your attention. I am certain of it.

But to tide you over until your FLIBS vacation, here’s a cool little advance holiday for you:

II. Hartman Yachts

These are the boats that brought me to Holland this fall! It all started with a review of their Livingstone 24  in the latest issue of Passagemaker Magazine. Her classic jazz-age styling made me reach for my passport:

This 24 meter shares her lines with two larger siblings, the 34M and the 42M. Viewed as a complete series, these sketches provide the best view of Hartman’s deep dive  into classic yachts:

The Livingstone 24

 

The Livingstone 34

The Livingstone 42

I’ll be writing about this fine yacht quite a bit in the months to come, but if you can’t wait, here’s the review that sent me to Urk:

 

I’d be remiss here in not mentioning Hartman’s Explorer line, the Amundsen Series. Designed to go anywhere at almost any time, their design and overbuilt scantlings come directly from Hartman’s experience in building ocean-tested commercial freighters – boats that routinely go from Holland to the Falkland Islands, regardless of weather. Their intelligent and redundant systems will identify their 26M, 35M, and 42M yachts as true Explorer-class yachts:

Amundsen 26

 

Amundsen 34

Amundsen 42

III. Long Island Yachts

I must say, this was the big surprise of my trip to Holland:

I had not heard of Long Island Yachts, despite their oh-so-American name (they’re actually named after a very special place in the Bahamas). I was surprised (and then excited) to learn that over eighty  have sold in Holland. I find the Dutch to be a very friendly, but rather grounded people. It takes a lot to get them excited. Well, clearly these Long Island Yacht builds turn them on!

 

I firmly believe these little pocket yachts are poised to make a big splash in our harbors. Why?

  • Their designs are spot on.
  • Their build-quality is as close to flawless as I’ve seen on small yachts.
  • Their pricing is quite advantageous.

But hey, don’t just listen to me! Come see for yourself, as I’ll have a beautiful red one for you to board at the Fort Lauderdale Show. Please call me for the details.

IV. Oh Wait….

One last thing about the Fort Lauderdale Show – The Baron, my Vicem 72 brokerage listing, will be open for private viewings in nearby Miami. I will be making scheduled trips  during the show, so please call now for an appointment. For a more public viewing, here ya go:

V. Things I hate!

Welcome to a new regular feature of The Fog Warning – Things I love, and Things I Hate. This week, it’s all about the hate!

I’m often asked where the name “Big Wave Dave”  comes from. I rarely tell the story. It’s too embarrassing for a marine professional (sic) to admit.  But as The Fog Warning’s reach has expanded (with 10,000 new readers this year alone) I recognize that a good part of this growth is the boating public’s hunger for better coverage of “real world” safety issues. So in the interest of the greater good, I will overcome my embarrassments for you, my loyal readers. You owe me one.

First, some video’s that explore that brave and dangerous activity of boarding moving vessels. (Warning, don’t try this at home).

The first is about mail deliveries on the Great Lakes. In some communities mail gets delivered right to your dock. And, as you’ll see,  that mailboat don’t dawdle!

Mailboat jumper tryouts

The "mailboat jumpers" are part of a time-honored tradition that helps put Lake Geneva on the map. FOX6 News was there on Tuesday for tryouts for the 2018 season — and not everyone stayed dry! via.fox6now.com/a1U5Q

Posted by FOX6 News Milwaukee on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

 

And then there is this boarding exercise,  from Finland. How else would your pilot board from an ice flow? And do they pay these people enough?

 

Finally, my points are made by this hair-raising tale (it ends well):

Personally, these videos instill in me an attitude of gratitude (as new-age meditators put it). Gratitude  for the fact that the universe, in its infinite wisdom, provided for the evolution of bow rails!

After all, these too-often overlooked options keep you and yours where you’re supposed to be.

Of course many downeast-style yachts dispense with these rails altogether. Far and away the majority of Hinkley’s don’t have them. In fact, these yachts are beautiful in part because there are no stainless rails breaking up their sweeping lines. Here’s a good example of that (and bonus points if you catch the captain almost falling overboard seven seconds in):

The bow rail discussion (do I or don’t I?) is a little bit like the flybridge discussion (Do I shoot for the panoramic visibility and extra outdoor space that a flybridge offers, or the pure beauty of an express model?).  A little tangent here folks….

I was speaking with a client just last week about his dilemma. His point, and of course we all get it, is that life is too short to have a less-than-beautiful boat. And whatever visibility, functionality and outdoor space a flybridge adds, it hurts to sacrifice one’s sense of style. On the flip side, when you’re running your boat, why care what she looks like to the crowds?

There’s no right answer here, of course. But I will say that one of the things that  completely won me over to Zeelander is how beautifully they balance interior and exterior space, without sacrificing visibility.

First, the designers at Zeelander went pedal-to-the-metal in providing full panoramic view from the helm of their 55. You can see it best clicking on this virtual tour:

 

I’ve never run an express-style yacht with this kind of 360 degree visibility. From a safety perspective, I cannot say enough about it.

And then, in terms of the indoor/outdoor space issue, the Z55 is the only express-style yacht I know that offers a quantum of outdoor space comparable to a flybridge. Check out these plans:

 

With her transom hydraulically opened, her beach-sized platform spread out just above the water, her bar area windows retracted and her sunroof open, the Zeelander 55 offers four outdoor areas for you and your guests, without sacrificing any room down below. I have never seen this on an express-style yacht. Come see me at the Fort Lauderdale show and I’m happy to demonstrate at length.

Well, now back to bow rails. In my ten years with Vicem, and some $40m in boats later,  I never did a custom build without bow rails. The conversation came up quite a bit, of course. Most commonly I heard “Hinckley’s don’t got ’em, why should mine?”  But in the end, safety won out repeatedly, and every one of my clients opted to spend the $14,000+ to add bow rails. Rails, I might add, high enough to do their job. Too many rails end just above knee height, as seen here….

…putting them at the perfect fulcrum point to toss you overboard.

Let me repeat that: ….putting them at the perfect fulcrum point to……

Ten years ago I was working a 50′ yacht at a CT boat show. Her bow rails were knee-high.  A client happened to call me for some advice, so for some privacy I worked my way up to the bow, thereby becoming the object of an old industry joke:

Q: How can you tell who’s a yacht broker at a boat show?

A: He/She is  the one on their phone with their back to the crowd.

Guilty as charged.

We talked for awhile,  my phone tucked in one ear as I took some notes in my ever-present notebook. These days I use this one, and if you’d like one for note taking at the fall shows, just launch a flare and I’d be happy to send you one:

All was fine until I dropped the pen. Leaning forward, braced against the (low) rail, a gentle wave from a passing wake rocked my boat slightly. Much quicker than I can write, I instantly went from six feet above the water to five feet under, hitting the dock with my shoulder as I passed it by. Instantly, as in:

Underwater, I was immediately aware of two things:

  • Which way was up (duh, the sunlight);  and,
  • That my arm hurt like hell.

I popped up, and looked aft to the crowds on the dock. No one saw me go over, and with my head just below dock level I was pretty much invisible. I couldn’t wave (I needed my other arm to stay afloat) but I could inch my way down the dock with my one good arm. I made my way up the ladder on the boat’s swim platform.

I was reasonably sure my arm was broken, but X-rays at the ER showed it was just a bad bone bruise. Three days later I was on a plane to Istanbul to splash a new Vicem 67 Flybridge.

So yes, I’m the only one in my industry who can say I fell overboard at a boat show. My colleagues awarded me a prize – an antique kapok-style  life jacket, labelled Big Wave Dave.

I have yet to escape that name. I don’t suppose I should.

What are the lessons of this embarassing tale? I will leave you with just one, plus a classic video clip to drive the point home: Bow rails are a personal decision. There are things to be said for high, none, or very low rails. But I’ll quote Archimedes here, who said this about fine yachts with knee-high bow rails:

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

Yes, I hate ’em.  And so should you. And please remember this:

Ciao for now, loyal readers. I’ll see you at FLIBS!

[You now know the saga of] Big Wave Dave

 

Solutions

I. A Christening

I was shocked to learn that long after his heroic WWI exploits in the Middle East, Lawrence of Arabia swapped his camels for boats and became a successful boat designer. By all accounts, Sir Lawrence was pretty good at it. Here is a wonderful video of the 1938 christening of his record-breaking hydroplane, Empire Day:

Now I’m going to steal a little bit of Sir Lawrence’s thunder to announce a christening of my own, welcome you to the long awaited The Fog Warning Magazine!

My grandmother used to say “Good things come to those who wait.” I hope she was right, as this magazine certainly has been a long time coming. As always, I have the full story for you.

Long time readers of The Fog Warning Blog know that its keel rests firmly on answers to two key questions:

What makes a yacht great, and why?

Who makes a great yacht, and how?

As for the who, I’ve found over and over again that the best builders are those who listen best to their clients. Of course, if it were easy every builder would do it. But in the crowded marketplace of builders and designers, it’s actually a fairly rare thing. It takes a confident and flexible approach, a well-managed ego, and a whole lot of cash!

It’s no different in this brave new world of online publishing. My loyal blog readers have been telling me for some time what they want, too. And what they want is ...more!

As in:

More stories that provide well-grounded answers to our two big questions;

More high value, ad-free content, including interviews and product reviews;

More engaging video content; and,

More in-depth profiles of fine new and brokerage yachts –Maybe even yours!

These needs push beyond the boundaries of what a simple blog platform can do. It calls for a more robust and visually exciting platform – a free monthly interactive digital magazine. So,  I welcome you now to Issue #1, and I hope you enjoy it. It is available as an App on the iTunes store:

Apple App Store version of The Fog Warning

and the Google App Store:

Android App Store version of The Fog Warning

You can avoid the one-time (Apple-required) $0.49 fee by entering the code “000” under the “Current Subscriber” tab.

Of course, for desktop readers, and for anyone interested in my archives, the blog will continue for your viewing pleasure.

Meanwhile, as always, if I can help you buy or sell your yacht new or brokerage, whether listed by me or with your own broker (at no additional charge) you know the drill –

Just launch that flare!

II. Four Creative Boating Solutions

The simple truth is that our boats basically live in a punishing environment:

 

Even a partial list of challenges can be sobering. Consider a world of:

  • High salinity,
  • Dripping humidity,
  • Baking sun,
  • High temperature, and
  • Constant vibration.

Throw in cramped access to mechanical equipment and it’s only a matter of time before challenges pop up. I’ve come to feel that for these moments – the times when our pleasures collide with our problems – working through the solutions becomes part of the fun. It won’t always feel like fun in the heat of battle, but it certainly can later, swapping war stories at the bar.

By solutions I don’t mean only the fixing  of things (sometimes under great pressure), but also the improving of things. Finding better ways to go faster, smoother, safer, longer, and cheaper.  Today The Fog Warning addresses four such solutions, although presumably not in the way Bette Davis had in mind…

A. The Need for Speed

Here’s a story about a fruitless try at improvement. The goal? Faster!

Some readers were perplexed by last month’s 360-degree video of my unusual little pocket Yacht, Gypsy.

Here’s a typical comment:

“Um, Dave, have to say your trawler is a little ….. strange!?!”

That she is! She started life in 1993 as a Taiwan-built Island Gypsy 32. How she got stretched to become the world’s only Island Gypsy 40 is an interesting and instructive tale – one of unreachable goals, amateur engineering, and failure. And the story of the creative deal making that made her mine may be of use to you as well.

The story starts with a trawler owner’s strange obsession with speed. Strange, because no matter what you do, a 32 foot trawler with a single 220hp Cummins diesel can only do nine knots, and that’s flat out and downhill! But this owner was determined to get her to twelve knots, without re-powering. Any naval architect could have told him that a 33% increase in performance was impossible. But he developed his own homegrown re-engineering plan, and went to work in three [increasingly expensive] stages:

Stage  I – The “Bulbous Bow”

You’ll see here a torpedo-like extension protruding from the bow:

If its upwards sweep reminds you of a surfboard, you win! Yes, he directed his yard to glass in the front half of a surfboard, and then faired it to fit the hull.  For the record, the yard did a great job (although I live in fear of T-boning a dock and shearing off all their excellent work).

Bulbous bows are not uncommon on big commercial boats. Here’s the Queen Mary:

 

The Ronald Reagan Aircraft Carrier:

 

And most big freighters:

These extensions modify the laminar flow of water around the bow to reduce drag and increase speed, range, fuel efficiency and stability. Large boats can see a speed increase of up to 15%.

The secret to their success is that as the boat moves through the water it creates two successive bow waves. The bulb extension produces the first wave, and the bow itself produces wave #2 a second later. Physicists say that the principle knows as “The Destructive Interference of Waves” causes the two waves to cancel each other out, allowing the boat to pass through with less effort. It looks like this:

 

It’s a tried and true technology, but naval architects are unanimous in their belief that it only really works with waterline lengths greater than 50 feet (and even then, only at full RPM). No one told Gypsy’s prior owner about this limitation. So tens of thousands of dollars later, he found his bulbous bow added only an additional .7 knots of speed. At a new top end of  [only] 9.7 knots, he began a second modification.

Stage Two – The Stern Extension

Increasing waterline length is a tried and true method of increasing speed for any displacement boat, whether sail or power. The physics is well understood: Overall speed is limited to 1.34 times the square root of the waterline length in feet. Naval architects write it this way:

HS = 1.34 x √LWL

An almost three-foot (cored) hull and transom extension was tagged onto Gypsy’s stern.

This time the physics worked as expected, increasing her speed by 1.3 knots. He now had an 11 knot boat. If only he had quit while he was ahead….

Phase 3 – The Kort Nozzle System

Here where things got a little weird….

In the 1920’s canals in the Hamburg area were collapsing due to wake erosion. The German authorities required large boats to have wake-limiting prop guards installed around their propellers. That didn’t do much to protect the canals, but captains were delighted to find increases in both speed and thrust. This caught the attention of one Ludwig Kort, an aeronautical engineer from Hanover. He experimented with multiple shapes and sizes of these guards, and through trial and error developed an optimal design – one that improved propulsion efficiency by 10%. “The Kort Nozzle” system received a US patent in 1930. Today you sometimes see these nozzles on large, heavy boats like these:

However, a naval architect would have pointed out this works only for large boats, with large diameter props, and at speeds under 10 knots. Here’s what he did Gypsy:

It was a disaster, costing her two knots of speed. This put her back to her original 9 knots. And I won’t even discuss what this nozzle did for her handling in reverse.

Last Stage – The Deal

Sadly, the owner passed away unexpectedly just after the Stage Three sea trials. His yard was left largely unpaid, and a messy estate plan left Gypsy’s future uncertain. Soon the yard, the broker, and the estate were all locked into a three-way lawsuit. Gypsy just sat on the hard in a distant corner of her yard for well over a year as everyone (but the lawyers) suffered. I was doing a survey there when I tripped over her, and it was love at first sight.

I had just sold my Prout 39 sailing cat,

and was looking for a small trawler. With close to one hundred deals under my belt, I thought I could devise a win-win-win solution to make this little pocket yacht “go away.” It took months (largely because of the lawyers) but in the end, I sold all parties on a creative deal that made each of them reasonably happy. But no one was quite as happy as me, as I took title to Gypsy at a killer price!

But then again,  I found myself owner of a strange-looking 9 knot boat that proved almost uncontrollable in reverse. So, I removed the nozzle system (there is a place in boating for sledge hammers), and Gypsy now happily maxes out at 11 knots. As a former sailor, that’s plenty fast for me. I fuel her up just once every other season – long enough between fuel docks that I sometimes forget where the fuel fill is.

Here’s what you can pull out of this strange tale:

  • The need for speed can make people do crazy things. Do your homework before making structural modifications to your yachts. Marine architecture is not for the untrained. Even calculating simple things like trim tab performance can be much more difficult than you might expect. Sometimes it’s an art, but usually it’s a science!
  • When it comes to closing complicated deals, a skillful, flexible business approach can come in handy. With twenty years of creative problem solving experiences afloat, I can put these skills to good use for you, my loyal readers, in the sale or purchase of your next yacht. So, you now what to do….

Just launch that flare!

 

B. Stable and Able with Stabilizers

I recently had much fun running two stabilized yachts offshore – one with fins, and one with gyro’s. Baron, my 2008 Miami Vicem 72 listing, has TRAC (fin-style) stabilizers. Here she is, underway:

IMHO, stabilizers are great.  But the truth is that on large planing hulls most days you won’t need them. Hull forms designed to run on top of the water don’t present an underbody that rolling seas can grab on to until waves reach helm height. Baron’s owner tells me that even running to the Bahamas he often forgets to engage the stabilizer option! But when your sea state reaches a steady five or six feet, you’ll be glad you can flatten them with a touch of a button.

On the other hand, displacement and semi-displacement hulls (which I’ll define for the moment as any trawler-style yacht that can be pushed to 20 knots) ride in the water, where they are much more at the mercy of being pushed around by seas. For these boats, you’re not going to forget to engage your stabilizers.

This brings me to an important design consideration – one easy to overlook in buying a fin-stabilized boat, or adding one to your current boat. They must be sized to your intended rock-and-roll speed.

 

The ideal size of your fins, measured in square feet of surface area, is determined by your rough water boat speed. This requires some analysis of your boating life. If you spec them for your normal (flat water) 28 knot cruise speed, they will prove inadequate for handling things at your rough water speed of 18 knots. So with fins you should decide up front what speed you can run comfortably and safely run for hours at a time. All stabilizer manufactures can help you with these calculations.

Alternatively, you can go with gyro stabilizers, like the Seakeeper systems. This megayacht has three of them!

Once they are at full RPM (and this can take 30 minutes or more) you can turn their stabilizing function off and on at will. Last month, aboard a Seakeeper-equipped fifty-two foot trawler, I experimented for hours outside Jupiter Inlet. When I engaged the system, it was like King Neptune himself reached up from the seabed and grabbed hold of the hull. A very impressive experience.

Two things to keep in mind about gyros:

  • They take time to reach warp speed. Large megayachts, with as may as six units, can take a few hours for their gyros to rev all the way up. You probably won’t be surprised to know that charter fees kick in when this powering begins, not when you arrive with your luggage! I’ve heard that Seakeeper is developing a remote app that can begin the process remotely, even while you are driving to your marina. But I’m not sure I’d want to push that much juice through an unoccupied boat.
  • Secondly, they require AC power. That’s one more load on your generator. In recent years they have reduced their power consumption considerably, but on large applications I still prefer two generators.

My good friends of more than twenty years, Charlie and Aaron of Atlantic Marine, know these systems better than anyone. They have provided me with this video of their latest installation and sea trial aboard a Sabre 40:

 

C. A Creative Approach to Tender Lifts

When it comes to solutions, some come from far outside the box. And sometimes, from outside the bottle….

A skilled and knowledgeable client of mine runs a 50 foot downeast design out of the Bahamas. She has a Freedom Lift tender system like this one:

The loads are such that they must be hydraulically driven. A few months ago my client was cruising the Out Islands, and had launched his tender to explore some isolated beaches. Returning late in the day, he found his lift wouldn’t raise. A quick look in the engine room found a significant puddle of hydraulic fluid under the lift reservoir. Not a happy find!

His options were rather limited. He had no spare hydraulic fluid. The hand crank on lifts only work if there is fluid. It was a long haul back to his marina, and with the lift in the down position it would have been harbor speed the whole way (and who knows what damage could have resulted). But in a moment of brilliance, while mopping up the puddle of leaked fluid he noted its color and viscosity were very similar to this:

As a great cook and healthy eater, he happened to have an extra large bottle of olive oil in his galley. He pumped it into his system, and was able to lift his tender normally. When he got to his marina, he replaced the fluid more permanently. I have the most brilliant clients, don’t I?

D. Bilge Pump Blues

Unlike John Lennon (who sailed from NY to Bemuda on a 40 footer)  I don’t believe Bob Dylan is a boater. Nevertheless, one of his songs came to mind last month as I was I was checking out an older sailboat. I tried to test the cockpit mounted manual bilge pump, but one push of the handle ripped the unit out of its mount. It left me singing the last two lines of Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues:

The pump don’t work
‘Cause the vandals took the handles

This reminds me of another “solutions” story (and another song) concerning a Vicem 52. Here is the very boat in question, courtesy of French TV:

About ten years ago we had a captain bring her from Miami to NY’s Huntington Yacht Club. She arrived about noon on a sunny June day, and I was working hard at my desk about a half mile away when a colleague called me from the club:

“Dave, your Vicem is sinking at the dock!” 

Maybe because I was on a tight deadline (reviewing a complicated stabilizer design), I refused to believe it.

“Oh come on! What boat travels 1300 miles safely to just sink at the dock?”

But then I remembered that old adage that more boats sink at their docks than at sea, and I raced over. But not before I called a local yard and asked them to get their largest travel lift ready just in case.

Walking down the dock I saw that her waterline seemed ok, and figured it all had to be a false alarm. But when I opened up her lazarette hatch, I found 18 inches of water sloshing in her bilges. It began to look like she really had travelled all that way to sink at our docks.

What would you do, loyal readers? If you are curious, here’s what I did, step by step:

  • I listened for the bilge pumps, and heard nothing. I ran up to the helm to check the bilge pump switch. As I recall, it was this very one:

It was set to AUTO, but its indicator light was off. It did not light up when I threw the switch to MANUAL. Even though bilge pumps on Vicem’s are wired directly to the batteries (bypassing the master battery switch) I checked the battery switch. It was in the OFF position, but switching it to ALL didn’t light the panel light, or start the pump. Clearly, whatever was to follow would follow without bilge pumps! Then,

  • I started the engines in case I had to run her across the harbor for a rescue haul.
  • I ran back to the engine room, but not before grabbing a wine glass from the galley sink. Yes, it was time for a drink! Scooping up water from the bilge, I took a swallow. Was it salt water, or fresh? If the fresh water tanks had leaked, there was no crisis at hand. But…… I couldn’t tell! It was, at best, brackish. What did that mean? I assumed the worst.
  • There was a tool box at hand, so I grabbed a screwdriver and scribed a line along the water line on a stringer. At least I would know if the water level was rising. A few minutes later I checked, and I still couldn’t tell!  The normal rocking of the boat in the harbor made it hard to know if water was still coming in.
  • But no news was better than bad news, so I moved on to try and find her thru hulls, now entirely under water. It wasn’t as easy as you might think. I was involved in the design and construction of eleven different models in the Vicem line. I could not tell you, then or now, the thru hulls locations in each model. There wasn’t a diagram in that engine room showing their location, but there sure is one in my boat’s engine room today, a simple laminated one like this:

 I knew such a diagram was in the owner’s manual (Vicem’s have great owner     manuals) but didn’t want to take the time to look.

So, I started feeling around on my hands and knees, turning off the valves as I found them. Then, reaching way back underwater by the transom, I touched something metal, and got zapped!  Whether DC or AC current, it was a good, unhealthy shock. Ample cursing followed. Making my way back forward, I passed my earlier scribed line, and became reasonably sure that no more water was coming in. I climbed up the ladder and called my marine electrician friends (See Charlie and Aaron, of Atlantic Marine above!) and the delivery captain, now on his way to the airport. Then, out of solutions and out of crisis, I waited for the experts.

Here is what they found:

  • The Yacht Club staff had washed the boat down, and went to lunch. They had left the hatch open, and hose running. A few thousand gallons later, someone ashore turned off the fresh water hose. There must have been some sea water down there to begin with, hence the slightly brackish taste to it.
  • The Captain had lost power to one of the trim tabs on the way north. His temporary repair had left a pair of steel vice grips around its hydraulic cylinder. The wrench had at some point rotated around, pulling out the green wire of the bilge pump system. Goodbye, bilge pump! Exploring around the bilges, I had touched that same pair of vice grips, connected myself to the hot wire, and gotten shocked. Fortunately it was jus DC.

End of story. No harm, no foul. And this quick aside:

 

Who is Bob Dylan (circa 1978), and who is your favorite yacht broker, same year?

 

 

 

And now, my last solution for you: There is an old bit of wisdom about bilge pump sizing  that ends with the phrase “No pump works as well as a scared man with a bucket.” That May be true, but in my telling it should read “….. with two buckets!” Because in my engine room I keep two at all times:

The reason? Because after I scoop one, I can hand it up to my mate, who can hand me the bucket they’d just  emptied overboard. Twice the throughput, for an additional $4.99. Hard to beat!

Ciao for now, loyal readers. I hope you will enjoy both the blog and magazine versions of The Fog Warning. And feel free to pass on your own solutions for future issues.

Big Wave Dave

 

PS: You knew I was going to end with this one:

You Snooze, You Lose (again)!

I. More Mayday

My last posting, Mayday – A Cautionary Tale, was the most widely read (and shared) post in the ten years I’ve been doing this. I am thrilled to report that readership of The Fog Warning has now climbed past 10,000 readers. For what this can mean to you and your yachts, please see below.  But for a refresher, here’s the original posting:

II. You Snooze, You Lose…

Go ahead, punch The Fog Warning sales button:

 

Truant, my Vicem 70 listing (and one of my most-inquired about yachts) is now under contract! Her new owner has owned some truly remarkable yachts (including the most stunning Lyman Morse ever) and knew exactly what he was looking for. His successful search says a tremendous amount about his taste and values, about the enduring brilliance of Vicem yachts, and the “blank check” stewardship of her seller.

But fear not, fellow yachtsmen! I present you with other compelling choices. I have spent the last few weeks moving up and down the east coast showing these fine offerings (click on the vessel name for the full listing):

The Baron, my Vicem 72 listing in Miami:

The Baron

Mahogany Rose, my Vicem 67 listing in Charleston:

 

Mahogany Rose

Essence, my Vicem 85 listing in Palm Beach:

 

Essence

And, the superb custom Viking 82 Skylounge  – Untethered: 

Untethered

If you are looking for a fine yacht for this season, now is your time. Anyone who worked the Palm Beach Boat Show last month would tell you that quality yachts are trading hands right now. Sales velocity has picked up, and inventory is dropping.

I looked at the data last night, and found that older listings are [finally] finding new owners. Stated another way, older listings have really been the norm for the last few years, but they are now attriting out.

Almost 400 powerboats in the 65 to 85 foot range sold in the US over the last twelve months. I did the (very tedious) math very carefully and found the average time-to-sale was 13 months.

By price, it breaks down like this:

Under $1,000,000 11 months
$2,000,000 to $3,000,000 13 months
$2,000,000 to $3,000,000 12 months
$3,000,000 to $4,000,000 10 months
Over $4,000,000 13 months

But note that these numbers mostly relate to production boats. Classic, custom and otherwise unique yachts are averaging 28 months. Large sailboats? An incredible 31 months.

III. All about the Velocity

It doesn’t have to take this long to find or sell the right yacht. I’ve both broadened and sharpened The Fog Warning’s approach to help you add velocity to your deals.

  • If you are looking to buy, and feel Baron, Mahogany Rose,  Essence or Untethered could shake up your life I suspect you may soon miss out. All have had showings in the last few weeks. If you don’t want to be on the wrong side of one of my snoozeagrams, launch a flare today.
  • If you are shopping more broadly than these offerings, please consider letting me help you find your next yacht, no matter where she swims.  I am currently helping one client find his ideal Fleming, and another find her ideal Marlow. With all significant projects, I can now provide a signifiant “real dollar” cost savings. Please call for details.
  • If you are considering selling your current yacht, let me put the full power and reach of The Fog Warning behind you. As mentioned above, we are now at over 10,000 readers. And all indications are that they are exactly the right kind of readers.  What’s more, Constant Contact, the email system that regularly connects you to The Fog Warning, just awarded me its 2017 All-Star award:All Star Award 2016 WinnerThe reason? 94% of my recipients choose to click and read every Fog Warning posting. I am honored by your allegiance. Clearly you value what I deliver. Which is why I am investing considerable time, effort and money on moving The Fog Warning to an exciting and more powerful platform – a [free] Interactive Digital Magazine, with app versions for all devices. My goal is to add even greater reach and value for you, my loyal clients, finding or selling your yachts more quickly. I aim to put The Fog Warning’s award winning content in front of as many qualified boat shoppers as possible. Simply stated:

Let me put your yacht in front of their eyes! 

  • Even if your special yacht is currently listed with another broker, The Fog Warning can add velocity to that listing at no additional cost to you. Just launch a flare to hear the benefits to you of this groundbreaking initiative. At the very least, I promise you an eye-opening conversation about the state of marketing in our industry.

In short, loyal readers, let’s push The Fog Warning button together and sell or buy your fine yacht:

 

IV. Your Mayday Comments

Yes, my cautionary tale is the most read (and most widely shared) posting ever. To all who took the time to pass on their “glad you survived” comments, my profound thanks. And, I’ll add this thought: ME TOO!

I found the substantive comments of great value, and I believe you will too. Here are a few, along with my answers:

  • Wow, Dave. An incredible story. Thanks for sharing. I’ll admit I always considered myself a “safe” captain. Always had more than the required number of flares, pfds, etc. and close at hand. When you said “I always wear my mini-ditch kit” my first reaction was that it sounded like overkill. I was shocked, however, by how quickly the smoke overtook you.

Well, no one was more surprised than me. One reason is that the boat had an enclosed helm. There was no helm-side door, and the windows were fixed. The aft end was mostly enclosed by eisenglass. There was no simply no place for the smoke to go (except my lungs).

  • Dave, I’m curious about the salvage team that tried to intercept your tow. I’ve had some experiences with those pirates. Or are they vultures? Looking forward to your coverage on the applicable laws and practices.

Stand by for that, Batman. The deeper I dig into this, the more fascinating the details.

  •  I think being alone on that delivery may have been a huge advantage for you. You only had to worry about yourself and the vessel. There were no children, inexperienced passengers, non-swimmers and such to distract you. They would very likely interfered with your the mission critical tasks.

Well said, and this hadn’t occurred to me. It argues toward a forceful approach with guests. When it comes to guests at sea, maybe there is a time and place for volume and authority?

  • It sounds to me that even if you had a life raft, you wouldn’t have had time to deploy it.

True, that. And hydrostatic releases for rafts are irrelevant to fire situations.

  • Dave, you said a few times that you wasted precious seconds. What would you have done if you hadn’t? 

Great question! The answer is something that never occurred to me in the heat (sic) of battle. There was a hatch right over my head. I never thought to open it. Duh! Smoke would have cleared more quickly, allowing me to both see and think more clearly.

V. Blank Check

I mentioned at the top of this posting that Truant’s quick sale proved the value of an uncompromising maintenance schedule. Recently I had the opportunity to review over 200 pages of maintenance records for one of my listings. They representing six years of “blank check” ownership, and it was a little like reading a great autobiography!

I invested the time in putting together a spreadsheet of it all, hoping for a “big picture” view of how maintenance dollars are spent.

She is a New England boat, stored indoors in a heated shed each winter. Here’s how her expenses break down:

 

I was surprised about how significant commissioning/decommissioning expenses can be. So I backed them out, presenting a picture of a southern boat, or perhaps a north/south boat:

One interesting dynamic that jumps out at me is upgrade costs. Almost by definition, upgrades are optional. But they do make a brokerage yacht stand out among the competition. I’m looking now at how upgrade projects pay for themselves, and/or affect sales velocity, at final sale. As usual, I look forward to your comments on this, that, and anything else.

Ciao for now, loyal readers. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I did writing it.

Enjoy!

Big Wave Dave

 

Mayday! A Cautionary Tale

Mayday!

 

Last summer I did a solo delivery of a friend’s 45’ boat from Sag Harbor to Newport. A few miles off Fisher Island she caught fire, and I sent out the first (and, I hope, the last) Mayday call of my life. It all ended well enough (meaning no one was hurt) but I thought it time to share the story with my loyal readers. Perhaps it can help you in preparing your boats (and minds) for the coming season.

She was your basic twin engine down-east style yacht, and I’ve done this trip many times, alone and with friends,  day and night, in good weather and bad. She was a well-equipped and well-maintained boat, but did not, notably, carry a life raft.

I was heading east at 11 am at a speed of 24 knots, with light winds and two foot seas. It was the proverbial weekday milk run, and the only other boats I saw were a couple of fishing boats drifting through The Race, perhaps three miles away.

I’ll say upfront that I love running boats by myself.  Even on Gypsy, my 40’ trawler, I’m most at peace when it is just the two of us:

Maybe that’s why I can be a little safety-obsessed (my kids’ friends refer to me as Safety Dave). When I am moving a boat alone,  90% of the time I’m wearing my own personal mini-ditch kit. I’d like to say that’s the case 100% of the time, but it just isn’t.

That kit consists of my Offshore inflatable PFD. I like this one, as it is rugged, fairly light, and not too uncomfortable:

There was a product recall a few years ago on this model, due to defective strap design. If you own one, make sure it’s been checked out.

To it I’ve attached this Mustang Utility Pocket. It hangs easily at waist level, and I usually forget it’s even there:

Into it I tuck this mini-EPIRB (properly registered with NOAA):

 

The Coasties who saved my ass that day told me that 25% of owners don’t register their new EPIRB’s, and 75% of those who do neglect to update it as their boats and contacts change over time. Enough said about that….

Also in there is a sharp knife, and a fairly recent signaling innovation – a compact laser flare. Day or night, it can get someone’s attention from two miles away:

So equipped, I was cruising along at 3,000 RPM,  when suddenly the RPM on the port engine  dropped to 600 RPM. I heard no reason for this – no cough, bang or break. What follows is my best recollection of the exact sequence of events over the next 48 hours.

+ 5 seconds – I remember muttering to myself “Well, that’s not good.”

+ 8 seconds – I put both engines in neutral, and began to check off possible reasons. I glanced at the fuel gauges, which showed half full. Then I remembered I’ve been stranded a time or two due to faulty gauges, and I kicked myself for not checking the engine room’s fuel sight tubes before departing Sag.

+ 12 seconds – I turned off both engines, thinking a restart might cure the problem.

+ 15 seconds – Dense, oily black smoke billowed through the enclosed helm area. I was shocked at how quickly my visibility was reduced to under 12 inches. I leaned forward to check the GPS Plotter, and began to cough.

+ 20 seconds – I grabbed the VHF mic (pre-set to Channel 16, but not by me). I was grateful that the new Standard mic had a GPS display right in the handset.

I announced a Mayday and my position, and with my other hand began to feel around for the manual Halon Fire Suppression switch. I was kicking myself that I didn’t know where it was.

+ 30 seconds – The Coast Guard answered my Mayday call, asking for vessel name. I didn’t pick up the mic to answer, and kept feeling around for the Halon switch. Coughing more, I found I could no longer see the plotter through the smoke. I had the (weirdly calm) thought “I’ll give it twenty more seconds. Then I’m going to have to jump overboard.”

+ 35 seconds – With a loud whoosh,the automatic fire suppression system fired. It took me a moment to identify the sound, as I had completely forgotten about the automatic trigger. Within seconds the smoke cleared, and I knew that everything was going to be OK. Then I saw the that the manual Halon switch was nowhere near where I expected it to be.

+ 40 seconds – I answered the Coast Guard’s call, and told them I was now in no immediate danger. They said I’d have a rescue boat alongside in twenty-five minutes.

+ 1 minute – I went out to the cockpit to take some deep breaths. I thought about opening up the engine room hatch and taking a peak, but then remembered my Coast Guard Six-Pack license training –

Whatever you do, don’t reintroduce oxygen into an engine room after the suppression system fires. Everything will just flare right up again!

+ 10 minutes – A large ferry boat stopped fifty yards away. Dozens of passengers looked down at me. The Captain called me on the VHF. I said all was under control, and they could proceed on their way. They refused, telling me that commercial rules required them to stand by until the Coast Guard arrived. I realized, happily, that if I had jumped overboard these guys would have fished me out even before the Coast Guard arrived.

+ 25 Minutes – I saw the Coast Guard rescue boat coming towards me from several miles away, and I flashed my laser flare at them. When she pulled up, I saw she was crewed by four Coasties – three men and a woman. Their average age was no more than 24 years old. I was pleased that they said they could see my laser flare from over a mile away!  Two of them stepped aboard my boat, and set up tow lines. One said “We heard your Mayday. You sounded very calm.” Indeed, I will say that through this entire episode I remained calm and clear-headed. You’ll see below I paid for it all later. 

+ 30 Minutes – A rather beat up private marine salvage boat arrived, and exchanged a series of dirty looks with the Coasties. There was no love lost between any of the parties. They follow us for most of the tow back to Long Island, clearly unhappy about missing out on their salvage fees. I made a mental note to research the rules of salvage.  I’ll cover this in a future post on The Fog Warning. 

+ 10 hours – Late that night I took a car ferry back from CT, making my way home. That’s when I become aware that some sort of delayed shock has set it. I noticed for the first time that my clothes smell badly of smoke. Fellow ferry passengers clearly were aware of it. Then I found that a real and uncontrollable tremor had set up in both of my hands.  And finally,  I noted that I had begun compulsively telling my story to complete strangers. All in all, an unsettling trip home.

+ 48 hours – My hands stop shaking. The fire department inspection in port revealed that the fire was electrical in nature.

Now, eight months later, here are my thoughts and observations on all that happened. I look forward to your take on it as well.

What I did right:

  • I was well equipped for this emergency, and believe I would have easily survived going overboard if the automatic Halon system hadn’t kicked in. Since I did not have the time or visibility to locate the boat’s PFD’s and signaling gear, I’m quite pleased to have been wearing my mini-ditch kit. If I did jump, the water temp was reasonable, and I’m a good swimmer (my normal pool routine is a 45-minute mile, three or four days a week). Even if I had drifted away from the boat in the strongly running tide, I could have easily stayed afloat until rescued by either the Ferry or the Coast Guard, with the possible help of  the EPIRB and the laser flare.
  • I was well trained. The Fire Safety module of the CG six pack license stuck with me. If I had opened up the engine room hatch, I’m sure a full abandon ship situation would have followed.
  • I kept my head. A lifetime of thoughtful time on the water became useful, as did the hundreds of  barroom war stories I’ve heard from friends, clients, and delivery captains.

What the boat did right:

  • She was well-equipped. The Halon system did its duty, and if I had done a better inspection before departing I would have known where its manual switch was,  saving valuable time and damage.
  • I’ve become an enormous fan of GPS displaying VHF handsets. They are not just a gimmick. When time and vision is short, they really can be a life saver.

What I did wrong:

  • I was new to the boat. I should have done a complete walkthrough before departing. Beyond the manual Halon switch, I didn’t even know where the PFD’s were. This is inexcusable.
  • Almost a month later I realized that I had completely forgotten about the red DSC distress button on the VHF. Using it would have saved valuable time. I am embarrassed to say that I wasn’t even really sure about how this feature worked. Needless to say, I later studied the manual carefully.

  • On Gypsy I keep a survival suit:

 

And a small valise-style life raft:

Even after the events of this story, I’m very unlikely to pack them aboard for a late-summer forty-mile trip to Newport. But maybe I should?

Beyond that, loyal readers, you tell me….

Safety Dave

 

*** Privet, i dobro požalovat’ ***

I. Privet, i dobro požalovat’ v tumane predupreždenie ……

WAIT!

Sorry about that. Part of my new Russian language blog snuck in while I wasn’t  watching. What I meant to write was Hello, and welcome back to The Fog Warning.

Why a Russian blog? Because Google Analytics tells me that readership of your favorite blog (and mine)  increased 40% worldwide this year, to over 7,200 readers. And while 81% of you are from the US, the next largest readership is from Russia. So The Fog Warning is now available in Russian. Feel free to click on the upper right flags to test it out. And stay tuned for the Chinese and Arabic versions to  follow.

II. If’n you kin do it, it ain’t boasting!

That’s St. Louis pitcher Dizzy Dean speaking, the Depression-era 30 game winner. His National League winning record remains unbroken to this day. I use this great quote whenever I find myself  gushing over a fine yacht. Like this one here:

 

Yes, she’s making 26 knots into steady seven foot seas, somewhere off the Chesapeake during a challenging wind-against-tide delivery. Two things jump out at me here:

  • Stabilizers are a truly wonderful thing. Look at the laptop on the nav desk. If it were a glass of wine, it wouldn’t spill a drop.
  • Cold molded construction? An equally wonderful thing. Watching this powerhouse bury her nose into some steep and square waves, I don’t see any pounding. Not even a shudder. This video shows better than any I’m aware of that cold molded boats don’t slam or pound. Instead, they are designed and built to flex, squeezing themselves though mountains of water. Which is why more than a few owners over the years have said this to me: “Blindfold me and send me out into the slop.  I’ll know right away if she’s fiberglass or cold molded.”

I’m coming up on my twentieth year in this industry. And in that time I have come across very few yachts that can move this fast, with this kind of  safety and comfort, in these conditions. So, to paraphrase Jimmy Dean:

If’n you can find another boat that kin do it, buy it!

As I’m sure you have already guessed, I have found one for you. Her name is The Baron, and she’s a the 2008 Vicem 72 Flybridge in Miami. I am overjoyed to announce that she is our latest listing. Take a look:

 I’ve spent more time running 72’s than any other model. More time, perhaps, than even on my own boats. I was there when the first one launched in 2007. Trust me, it launched big!

It was at the Monaco show, and I could almost hear the competition gasp! No builder in America, Europe or Asia came close to building a large flybridge that could match this yacht’s elegance, speed, and value. But what really blew me away was how purely sexy she was. She gave nothing away to those sleek Italian go-fasts. And what was true then is just as true now, making  The Baron a very serious contender for the most sex appeal, grace, and value afloat.

You can find some advance photography on our Yachtworld listing. And while professionally shot video will follow, here are some amateurish clips I shot last week to back up my claims:

Her original owner has placed her on the market at $1,425,000 She is in beautiful shape, having been full-time captain-maintained the whole time. You can find the complete listing here:

The Baron listing

She can be seen at any time. But trust me, she should be seen right away.

Thanks, and enjoy!

Big Wave Dave

 

PS: At the Lauderdale show last week a loyal blog-reading client I had previously only “met” on the phone called out my name across the dock. I asked how he picked me out.

He said “Dave, nobody at a boat show dresses like you!”

I hereby choose to take that as a compliment.