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:

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?)

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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



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:



And, the superb custom Viking 82 Skylounge  – 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.


Big Wave Dave


Mayday! A Cautionary Tale



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 ……


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.

*** Crunch of the Week ***

I. Crunch of the Week:

As far as I’ve been able to determine, The Fog Warning is the most widely read blog in this (rather small) industry. On average,  anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 people around the world are regular readers (not counting shares and forwards, which I can’t track).  So a huge thank you to all my loyal readers for your continued support and engagement. And don’t be shy about sending these on to your friends and family. I do appreciate it.

I’m very happy to report that last week’s posting (that scary shipboard docking explosion) was the most widely read posting in the ten years I’ve been doing this. It had over 4,000 readers!

This could be a random activity blip, a lucky outlier, or maybe it just means people like maritime disasters. I don’t want to fall into the TV news practice of “If it bleeds, it leads,” but in biz you have to listen to your clients. So I’ll be sprinkling this kind of coverage around here and there, starting this week.

So here’s your crash of the week (literally), in one of my favorite harbors in the world:

The boat biz takes me to Portofino fairly often, but not so often that I lose my amazement over how many yachts cram themselves into that tiny harbor. Sometimes it seems you can almost skip from the cliffs on the west to the docks on the east by walking from boat to boat. But that doesn’t excuse this crash!

Last week’s posting attributed that explosion to the boat, and largely absolved the Captain. But this one? Sorry Captain, but this one is user error,  beginning to end. Even if his back up cameras weren’t functioning, boats of this size always have crew hanging off the transom with portable radios, keeping closely in touch with the bridge. A friend from La Spezia told me that the official explanation was “gear failure.” I don’t buy that for a second. What do you think?

II. Time to go…

A client called me last week to say this about his brokerage listing:

“It’s time for this boat to go away.”

Mind you, it wasn’t a sad statement, as he’s going to build a new boat. We had a long talk about how to make this happen, and when we hung up, the song Hello, I Must Be Going  popped into my head. Even if you know the song well (and who knew Groucho had a range of  one and a half octaves?) stick with it for his inspired dance at minute 1:45. Such amazing, physical humor:


So yes,  its time for our Reliant 40 Commuter brokerage boat to go away! Here’s her plans:


The owner has just dropped the asking price by $55,000! He is now asking $595,000, and the full listing can be found here:

Our Yachtworld Listing

She is in Florida at the moment and will be coming north in the next few weeks. Which means you will have at least two opportunities to see (and sea trial) her this summer!

  • First, you are invited to come to Reliant Yachts’ dockside event in Sag Harbor, NY on July 22nd and 23rd! You can spend as much time as you like aboard the Commuter 40, and sea trials are available by appointment (if you let me know quickly). She will be located exactly here:


  • Then she comes to Maine in August. We will be displaying her at the Maine Boats and Harbors Show in Rockland from August 11th through the 13th. If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending this show before, let me say that it is a wonderful, intimate show in a quintessential downeast town. With no more than 3,000 or so attendees, there is plenty of time and space to take a leisurely look at boats you will love (at least two of my clients bought their Vicems here). Full details about the show can be found at The Maine Boats and Harbors Show, and sea trials can be had by appointment.

III. On The Subject of Brokerage

You will see some of our latest brokerage listings popping up here in the coming weeks. And that calls for another classic clip:

Why post this now (not that anyone needs a reason to laugh hysterically)? Because you have many choices in listing your boat for sale. I estimate that there are between six and nine thousand brokers on just the east coast who would be happy to list your boat. But if this video proves anything, it is that real talent is a rare thing. You can try to copy it, but nothing succeeds like the real deal.

At Reliant Yachts, between Dave McFarlane, Jim Ewing and myself, we’ve sold in excess of $50 million in fine yachts in our time. Our Rolodex (to use a word from a bygone era) is the deepest in the industry. There is virtually no one we don’t know, or can’t access, in the service of selling your boat for you.

What’s my point?  If you’re thinking about selling your boat, call me to work out an effective marketing strategy. As readers of this blog probably recognize, I love creative marketing.

IV. A Closing Note

If you’re lucky enough to spend your time playing in, on, and under the ocean, you probably have no shortage of passions. I certainly have more than my share. But if I have to choose one above the rest, it’s salt water fly fishing:

Captain Dave at Montauk

Last week I was on my flats boat at one of my secret spots in Peconic Bay. It’s a place where, when the stars align and the universe wants to smile upon you,  some very large bass can come into water as shallow as 24 inches.  Just as I was quitting for the day, out of the corner of my eye I saw a fish-as-submarine ghost her way up onto the flat (at +45 inches and +40 pounds, most probably it was a “she”). But while she was seen only from the corner of my eye, I was clearly front and center in hers. So she quickly ghosted back into deeper water before I could cast. She was the largest bass I’ve ever seen on the flats. She left me shaking.

I’ve been thinking about this fish, and the life she’s lived, all week. She’s probably thirty years old, or half my age. Which means that for thirty springs she has slowly made her way up from her Chesapeake Bay winter grounds, to feed or spawn in Long Island waters. Or perhaps she leaves Montauk to starboard and makes her way north to Nantucket, or downeast Maine.  She’s probably seen hundreds of flies and lures swim by her in her time, but wisdom born of age and experience has kept her safe. I’m sure she is far more worried about a Mako shark or a large seal than this middle-aged Jewish guy with a five ounce fly rod. But she was concerned enough to drift off my flat, and out of my life. I wish her well.

Writing this today I realize that it wasn’t the fish’s size that moved me. No, it was the size of her life. I’m humbled by the waters she’s travelled, the things she’s seen, and the lessons she’s learned. I add that special feelings to the many that have come from my time on the water. So I sign off now with this “message in a bottle for you,” my 4,000 loyal readers:

Get yourselves out on the water this week, my friends, and live large.


*** Chain, chain, chain ***


Let’s face it – ten scary minutes at sea get a lot more attention than a thousand peaceful hours. The problem is that those fun hours can lull us into a false complacency. It’s easy to forget that most problems afloat start small and seem innocuous. But bad consequences can mushroom very quickly. As long as no one gets hurt, we live and learn, and trust in insurance coverage!

But little things count. With a well-designed and properly built yacht, plus the requisite amount of good maintenance, skill, and (always) good luck, the odds are you can intervene before things get out of hand. If not, a cascading chain of events can get real ugly, real fast.  An aspiring novelist I know passably well (um, that would be me) has written this about that:

At sea Tommy learned that bad things usually happened in sequence.  A line would wrap and tangle on its winch, and the resulting jam would cause a distant overloaded pulley to explode. The newly freed line would release its sail outwards, and the boat would careen off course.  The boats’ new angle to the wind would send heavy booms swinging across short distances at high speed. Then something hard would hit something soft, and masts would come tumbling down. 

But not inevitably.  Every crisis at sea has its own soundtrack, and Tommy had ears that could hear paint dry. As often as not he’d hear that slightest groan of a line before anyone else.  Back when he was a delivery skipper he didn’t mind sailing the old, beat up boats. He liked the challenge, and the daily tests of anticipation. So in time he forgave himself for his failure at hearing, and for sleeping through a faint ker-plunk in the middle of a rough passage. But he never got over the fact that he didn’t see it coming.


This compelling video shows how a small mistake can spiral out of control.   I gave some serious thought to not publishing it here, but in the end decided its educational value outweighed my squeamishness. And, as far as I can tell,  no one was hurt in the explosion. Trust me, you will watch it more than once.:  

I would love to hear your play-by-play on these events, loyal readers. For what its worth, here’s mine:

First, there’s lots of moving water here. Because its harder to see, it’s easy to forget that current pushes even big boats around a lot more than wind can. Here, the captain turned in through the breakwater late and slow, and the current swept him down into a tougher docking position than necessary.

It happens to the best of us, of course, and to those way short of best, like me. Case in point: Last month on the morning after the Palm Beach Boat Show,  I took our boat –

Reliant Yachts Commuter 40

through the narrow slot in the docks the boat show opened up for us. My good friend Paul Crean had warned me the night before about the four knot cross-current, but I ….. forgot? I failed to compensate enough, and just like the captain above, I came out late and slow. Of course I got swept down current about twenty feet, broadside, and was lucky that a late jump of RPM was enough to squeeze me through the slot unscratched. The mega yacht I just missed was even luckier! I beat myself up all afternoon about this (after all, I had been warned), and in the end decided the mistake was psychological. Surrounded by a gazillion dollars of competitor boats and hard docks, I slipped into a fearful, tentative mode. A mistake, that.

It’s a lesson best learned (or not, apparently) by watching experienced sportfish captains dock in tough conditions. These guys are never shy about leaning on their sticks, in both forward and reverse. Those boats are all freeboard, their towers and cabin trunks can present almost as much windage as a mainsail. So in any breeze or current they tend to play it this way:

Come in hard, and land soft.

It beats coming in soft and landing hard!

Second, once the Captain got her through the breakwater and begun to angle her stern in, the portside wind grabbed her and spun her a little too far downwind. To spin her back upwind into docking position,  he really leaned on his thrusters. That’s asking a lot of them, in these conditions. That’s why I usually spec oversized, hydraulic  thrusters, as they are immune to overheating and shutting down.  In any event, again, more RPM would have been the better approach, spinning  his stern back upwind quicker.

Remember, throttles are your friend!

Third, awfully, the explosion. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to me that anyone was in the salon for “the boom.” Again, from my novel:

At the wedding Tommy met a drinking buddy of Dawn’s who’d just been fired from his job as a tugboat captain. The guy held his beer too tightly, and his hands shook with something between a tremble and a tremor.“I pushed fuel. Barges with two hundred thousand gallons of gasoline up and down the East River, from Hell’s Gate to Jersey. Freaking ridiculous job.”

“Hell’s Gate can be tough. Especially wind against tide,” Tommy said.

“Fuck Hell’s Gate.   Fuck wind and tide. I’m talking ventilation. Fumes. If you don’t watch airflow through the barge every second, especially in the summer…”

“It goes up?”

“Fuck, man! The U. N. building, the Statue of Liberty, they’re right there on the water. “

He drained his beer and gestured for another.

“Would you have any warning?” Tommy asked.

“You might hear the ‘Ka-‘.  But you’dnever hear the ‘-boom.’”

Clearly, in this video fumes met spark, badly.  I am puzzled by the source of fumes.  Boats like this are always diesel, and typically don’t have propane tanks. And propane explosions (sad to say I’ve seen one and heard two more) are usually much more violent than what we see here. There’s no tender garage under the cockpit, so it’s unlikely they had gasoline aboard, but I suppose it’s possible. Maybe there was an open can of paint thinner lying around, or some acetone-soaked rags? Whatever the source, I’m almost certain the igniting spark came from the thruster’s electrical connections.

Thrusters are high-amperage motors, right up there in draw with windlasses. The longer the captain leaned on them, the hotter those connections got.  And then, whether through poor design, poor build, or poor maintenance, something glowed or sparked. And then … boom.

The potential weak links in the chain are too many to list, but I’ll start with what I’ve seen in other boats:

  • An oversized fuse, allowing the electrical wire to carry more than it’s rating.
  • A corroded fuse housing.
  • A defective fuse (it can happen), or, God forbid, no fuse at all (ditto!).
  • A poorly crimped lug to the fuse block (vise grip pliers are no way to do a safe crimp).
  • An oversized lug (I see this way too often), perhaps held in place by a rusting washer.
  • Undersized wire running to a too-distant battery,  fastened down without strain relief, stretching its connections.
  • An errant screw poking out through a bulkhead (again, seen way to often), pierces the wire insulation. I’ve been guilty of ignoring this on one of my own boats. Except for you rigging knife, there’s no room for sharp things on boats!

I don’t blame the captain here. For all we know he was new to the boat, and to the harbor. No, this disaster was all about the boat. My takeaway?

When you put big-boat components on little boats, make sure you do it right!

Again, I just hope no none was hurt.


I’m just back from an amazing trip to Turkey. It was my 20th trip to Istanbul, and my first in five years. It was great to be back with old friends, among great boats.

You’ll see in the following pictures that Reliant Yacht’s  builder builds a lot of big yachts. From my perspective, that’s a wonderful thing. All things being equal, if you can build a great big boat, you can build a great small boat. The reverse ain’t always true.

Wandering through the factory I (almost literally) bumped into this:

That’s twenty tons of lead! And another ten tons came in the next morning. Why? Because that’s what it takes to keep this 36 meter composite (cold molded) sailboat sailing. She’s just two months away from her splash:


In the end, all that lead will end up welded into this keel:

The cockpit is mostly hi-tech carbon fiber, and the layout is such that all 100’+ of this boat can be easily sailed by just two crew:


Here’s the massive carbon rudder post, perfectly engineered:


I’m going to try and get back there for her sea trial later this summer.  By all means let me know if you’d like to come help me sail this beast!

Speaking of beasts, later that day I got a tour of our latest battleship, just 48 hours after her splash. She’s a composite (cold molded) semi-displacement 37 meter designed by my good friend Tanju Kalaycioglu:



I’ve known Tanju for almost fifteen years. IMHO he’s one of the finest designers on the planet.

You don’t have to take my word for it–just look at his work here:


You can see more on his website at Reliant Yachts, in the US and Istanbul, has a close working relationship with Tanju, and we can help design and build for you just about anything that floats.

Anyway, I spent a great deal of time aboard this 37M with our electricians, watching them run their final tests on her numerous sub-panels. It’s quite sobering to realize exactly how much top-notch electrical engineering is required in yachts of this size. I learned the electrical wiring alone for this yacht weighed in at an excess of 20,000 pounds!

Then, I moved on to our smaller boats. I haven’t been able to disclose too much about them until now, and I appreciate your patience.

We here at Reliant Yachts have sold three (yes, three!) forty-foot tenders to a single client. They will serve as tenders to his huge mega-yacht, currently under construction somewhere in Europe (it’s design and location is confidential, for now). These tenders are of three very different designs, for three different purposes. All will be stored in a “three-car garage” some 75 feet above the waterline. The design/build specs to fit these three boats into their assigned slots involve tolerances of  less than  1/4″! I am so impressed with what our team can accomplish. Not everyone in our industry can pull off this kind of thing.

Two of the tenders are of composite, cold molded construction (the third will be aluminum, and I’ll be able to talk about that one next month). Here are the first two:

Reliant Yachts X-Series Tenders

On top is our Limousine Tender, designed to carry you and your guests, Venice vaparetto-style, from cafe to cabaret (extra points to whomever can identify that line).

To me, it’s pure George Clooney-elegance (as in here, from his Venice wedding day):

The second tender, our X40 Express, will make a lot of waves in the US market when she splashes. Feel free to contact me for full details and pricing information. Build time is much quicker than you might expect.

Here’s a pic of our Reliant Yachts’ team reviewing the first two tenders. Left to right, it’s Dave McFarland, the heart and soul of Reliant Yachts, reviewing the framework with our chief composite tech. Next, in black, is Jim Ewing, the architect who provides the brilliant aesthetic vision behind all of RY’s unique stylings. And finally, on the left, Tim Grunert, our extremely impressive Turkish/Swiss engineer and yard manager. A great team, among the best I’ve worked with.

These before and after views never cease to amaze me. I marvel over the process that begins with wood and epoxy and ends with one of the most modern and high tech of looks imaginable. That we can achieve this with boats from 40′ right on up through megayacht sizes just blows me away.

Well, I’ve covered a lot of water here. Thanks for tagging along on this ride. If there is one thought I’d like to leave you with, it’s this:

The best small boats are usually built by those who build the best big boats!

And whether it is one of our standard designs, like our 60 Express:

Or our 75 Classic:

Or our Burger-inspired 93 Motor Yacht:

Or one of your own schemes and dreams:

In composite, glass, aluminum or steel, up to 50 meters and beyond, let us here at Reliant Yachts make your dreams come true.

Ciao for now, my friends.


Big Wave Dave

PS: Now you knew, you just knew, I was going to sign off this way…

*** Fasten your seat belts ***

A bumpy night, indeed! Clearly Bette Davis wasn’t talking about boats here (we all know what she was talking about).  But talking,  writing and selling boats is what I do. So this week The Fog Warning turns to the timely subject of hull construction. Specifically, an analysis of cold molded vs. fiberglass construction methods.

Let’s start with a video. Here’s a [cold molded] Vicem 72 doing 26 knots through 7 foot waves (and 30 knot winds), somewhere off the Chesapeake. Watch (and try to imagine the feel) as the boat comes off each wave, burying its substantial bow:

Wait, I say! Where’s the Archimedean (spellcheck assures me this is a real word) crash of 60,000 pounds of boat suddenly displacing 250,000 pounds of water? Where’s that teeth and kidney-rattling thump? And how does that laptop just sit there, unsecured, on the nav table? These questions all have the same answer: cold molded construction.

Here’s another example, bringing a [cold molded] Vicem 78 from Fort Lauderdale to Miami (yah, that’s me dating myself with the Victory at Sea comment). It’s deceiving, as this is a bigger, heavier boat than the 72, but these are 8 footers, with a few 9’s thrown in for effect:

To quote Aretha Franklin, my eternal Queen of Soul:

Rock steady! 

Steady enough that a helicopter could have landed on our deck, first attempt.

As an aside, that sort of ride can lull you into a bit of ill-advised complacency. When we reached Miami we had to plan a starboard turn into Government Cut.  We belatedly appreciated how rough those conditions were, and how critical the timing of that turn had to be (those were not waves we wanted to stay broadside to for very long).  But we throttled back, cruised along until we found a longer fetch, and did a fast power turn right into the channel. Peace of cake.

Got it? Cold molded construction is all about the ride.

In my hundreds of hours of running cold molded boats, all over the world in all sorts of conditions, I’ve experienced very few instances of pounding. Here’s an eye-opening and stomach-churning clip about pounding, offered for definitional purposes only:


The rare instance I had came when dodging a fierce lightening storm off Croatia, running too fast for the conditions. (Lightening strikes were hitting the water randomly, and I’d do it exactly that way again, all things considered.)

Notwithstanding that day (it’s become a great scene in my novel), if you blindfolded me aboard a test boat I could tell you with near 100% certainty if she was of fiberglass or cold molded construction. So too could most of my owners and captains. When the issue is ride, cold molded is better, every time. Why? Because the hulls are designed to flex, to squeeze themselves through difficult waters rather than hammer themselves through. It’s a thrilling feeling.

So then, what exactly is cold molded construction? Personally, I prefer the term “Composite Construction.” But I recognize that can be confusing to many (“Wait Dave, I thought fiberglass is composite construction?”).  So let’s stick with “cold molded” for today.

It’s lunchtime here in the snowy Hamptons, and I’m writing in front of my fireplace, thinking about sandwiches. Which, whether cold molded or fiberglass, is exactly what a modern hull is. In fiberglass hulls the “meat” that makes up the inner layer is hi-tech foam. The outer layers (the bread, if you will) are fiberglass cloth, saturated in resin or epoxy. When everything cures, you end up with a bonded sandwich, much lighter and stronger than a hull built of solid fiberglass.

With cold molded, the “meat” is thin strips of solid mahogany, four or five layers’ thick, saturated in epoxy. Then, as above, the outer layers (inside and out) are fiberglass cloth. The strength comes largely from the way the the mahogany layers run in alternating directions, like this:


This method works brilliantly up to about 120 feet. At mega yacht size, boats tend to twist laterally as they rock and roll, and every component must be designed and built to handle that movement. It’s easier to accommodate that twisting with fiberglass, steel and aluminum construction. But make no mistake, very large yachts have been built with these mahogany cores:

[This is a good place to note that Reliant Yachts and SuMarine (our builder in Turkey) has the expertise and experience to design and build everything up to and including mega yachts — from expedition yachts to the fastest of the go-fasts — in fiberglass, steel and aluminum as well. Call me for the details.]

So a sandwich is a sandwich. But, as we’ve seen,  cold molded gives you that great ride. It’s also:

  • Lighter  (which means you can go faster with the same engines;
  • Stronger, both torsionally and for impact-resistance;
  • Quieter (nothing beats the natural sound-deadening qualities of wood);
  • More insulated against heat and cold;
  • Doesn’t need a gelcoat, so gelcoat blisters are moot;
  • Cheaper (there’s no need to build an expensive mold) if your skilled labor costs are low; and,
  • It gives you that romantic (if not technically accurate) thrill of connecting yourself to thousands of years of navigating wooden boats. That romance is easier to show than to describe:

The flip side, you may ask? I’ve spent  all morning trying to come up with the disadvantages of cold molded construction, and I’ve come up with only one: The comparative lack of familiarity with the technology, making re-sale more challenging. That’s where….

Warning: Self Serving Statement Ahead

….an informed broker can be your best friend.

Which sandwich would you like? At Reliant Yachts, each of our models is available in either cold molded or fiberglass.

Fiberglass costs more, of course (remember that mold?).  But if — like Bette Davis —   bumpy nights turn you on, we’re happy to build it exactly your way.  Please feel free to call me  (or see me aboard our Commuter 40 at the Palm Beach Show next week) for the details on any particular boat.

So that’s it for this week. Thanks, as always, for indulging me.  And stay tuned for the next edition of The Fog Warning, where I talk about presidential yachts —


— and, after much urging from you, my loyal clients,  I begin a four-part series on the history of downeast boats. Hmmm, someone should write such a book, no?

The season approaches, so enjoy!

Big Wave Dave


PS: I must leave you with a small gift: The original Rock Steady!


From Yacht to Ship

I. Running the Race – 

Our Hinckley Experience event in Sag Harbor last weekend was much fun, but I will admit I worked my ass off!  When it was over I was pleased to have time to play – by taking our Talaria 34R from Sag Harbor to Hinckley’s yard in Portsmouth, RI. That’s 56 nautical miles, and it was a blast.

You can click on this twelve second selfie video (called G Major, for reasons that will be made clear in a minute), made as I jetted through The Race at 30 knots. We’ve all seen The Race in much tougher conditions, but I think the universe decided to grant me an easy trip. Thirty comfortable knots was a real treat!

G Major

A couple of points: My daughter’s boating friends call me Safety Dave. It’s a bit of an obsession for me, and it colors all of my boating values. Case in point, you’ll note in the video that I’m wearing an offshore-level inflatable PFD. Day or night, if I’m running boats alone, it’s on. Tucked into its’ folds are a mini-epirb locator and a really good knife. If I could find a small enough waterproof VHF with decent battery life, I’d hide that in there too.

Secondly, if you are wondering what was playing through those headphones, it’s the recording that Steve Jobs said almost caused him to abandon his life-long atheism. For me, all I’ll say is that for that great day on the water my personal soundtrack was …. transporting.


II. And then…

I pulled into the Hinckley/Hunt docks in RI, and this enormous destroyer-like bow loomed over me:


Just Splashed Hunt 72

She’s the latest splash of Hunt Yachts’ Ocean Series – the 72, just a few short weeks from her turnover to her experienced owner. Walking under her prow I had two nautical epiphanies. The first was:

So this is where a vessel crosses the line from yacht to ship!

Crossing that line ain’t just about size. We’ve all been aboard big boats that we wouldn’t take across the Gulf of Maine in heavy fog. Or across the wind-against-Gulf Stream to Bimini. Maybe the simplest way to define that line is where design and implementation come together to deliver safety and comfort in big waters.

My second epiphany? Walking up and down her dock, looking at her from every angle, I couldn’t get past this feeling:

This is an American ship!

She may have been built in Asia, but to my eye, C. Raymond Hunt Associates designed a ship that has a fundamentally American look. No one would mistake it for a European design, or Asian, or even a Canadian design. It is 100% American in look and feel. I don’t see enough of that anymore with big boats, and I was glad to experience that welcome feeing again.

I’ve been doing offshore Design/Build’s for most of my career. They can be tricky. But I could tell in just a couple of hours that Hunt Yachts’ succeeded with their Ocean Series

(IMPORTANT CAVEAT: I haven’t run her yet. But after talking to the delivery team, I’d be surprised to be surprised).

How does a creation like this come to pass? In my experience it’s when:

  • There is a clear and unambiguous merger of the  the owner’s vision with that of the design team,
  • fluently translated by an American company for a skilled foreign yard,
  • and supported by a two-continent management structure that preserves quality, maintains costs, and sticks to its planned schedule.

If it were easy, everyone would do it.

They don’t.

It’s crystal clear to me (reserving final judgement till I run her) that Hunt does.

And, most strikingly,  Hunt Yachts has the people, practices, and management to deliver you a yacht exactly like this one in twelve months, for seven figures less than you might expect.

I’d like to repeat that, because ….. it bears repeating? Hunt Yachts has the people, practices, and management to deliver you a yacht exactly like this one in twelve months, for seven figures less than you might expect.

It just quickens my pulse.  Perhaps yours as well. If you would like in-depth, substantive information  about the why, the what and the how much, well then I’ll just quote James Taylor here:

Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, all you gotta do is call….

So now let’s look at this ship, circling around my pet themes of  safety and comfort.

I got a substantive tour from my friend Peter Van Lancker, President of Hunt Yachts:

Life boat material

While Peter and I have swum in the same seas for over 20 years, we only really got to know each other this year. It feels longer, perhaps because so many people I trust in the marine biz trust him. He reminds me of a line from my novel (which I really hope to finish this year):

There are only two kinds of people in this world – Those you want in your liferaft, and those you don’t.

You want Peter in your life raft.  I’m assuming his survival skills are high. But mostly I’d want him around for his attitude and temperament. Go up to RI and meet Peter, have him walk you through this latest delivery. Trust me, you will enjoy him, and her.

Anyway, the sexy photos first, and then I’ll bore you with my technical comments. Here is a panoramic walk thru of the living areas:

And here is the simply stunning flybridge:

See why I call her a ship? For me she is a get-there-and-back vessel. Everything I could find was over-built to do exactly that. Some examples:

Massive Cleats

All deck hardware is oversized. That isn’t as unusual as it used to be, fortunately. But when the winds are howling, it ain’t so much the cleats as what backs them. On the Hunt 72 I saw that all are over-backed and over-bedded. For anyone who doubts that cleats can pull out, I urge you to walk any New England coast after a nor’easter. You’ll find lots of this:



Hinckley, by the way, does a spectacular job of backing-and-bedding with their jet boats as well. In a future post I’ll comment upon their high-tech backing plates. Very, very impressive. I’m doing a windlass upgrade on my trawler at the end of this season, and I’m going to do my best to do it in the Hinckley way.

Anyway, howzabout this viewing port, which I found under the master bunk?


My first comment was what the hell? A bulletproof inspection port, looking at …. nothing?  I looked down through it, and saw only the bottom of the boat.   Peter explained:

“Dave, everyone runs aground. It’s just a matter of when. If you hit a reef on our boat, the probable impact point is visible through this port. You can quickly get a handle on how badly you’ve grounded. And if it’s advisable to back her off yourself or call for help.”


Speaking of brilliant, whenever I’m at a boat show, exploring down below on multi-deck boats, this thought drives me nuts:

Why would anyone get into something they can’t get out of?

So here are the opening ports in the 72’s master cabin:


They are large enough that in an emergency (or, as has happened twice in my boating life, you sheepishly get locked down below) you can safely exit. I leave it to your imagination, but this is not a little thing.

Parenthetically, I had a particular fondness for this space in the engine room. I believe that every ship should have a dedicated tool bench, with a beefy vice. Someone once defined cruising as sailing from port to port, rebuilding your pumps. Hey, lets face it – stuff breaks offshore. Pardon the less-than-artful repetition here, but when you need to get home in serious conditions, serious boats need a serous place to fix stuff:


I’ll have a lot more to say in future posts about Hunt’s Ocean series, the advantages and mechanics of their design/build process, and exactly what the skilled design team at C. Raymond Hunt bring to the table. But as I think you can tell, I truly, madly fell in love with this American ship!

And those 30 knots I did through The Race on the Talaria 34R? This one does that with ease, through conditions much tougher than what I saw last week.




III. Our Next Hinckley Event

As I said above, last week’s Experience Hinckley event in Sag Harbor was a blast. I am following it up with an event in Rye, for all my NYC and Westchester clients. It will be a wonderful  cocktail party brought to you by Hinckley Yachts and the luxury realtors at Houlihan Lawrence.

On Thursday, July 21st, from 4 till 8pm we will be displaying a Hinckley Talaria 29R:

Photo Courtesy of Hinckley Yachts

Photo Courtesy of Hinckley Yachts

and a Talaria 34 Pilothouse:



The venue for this wonderful event will be this spectacular waterfront estate in Rye (note the owner’s 29R at his dock):


I’m excited about this, and you can be too! Your invitation can be found at:

I do look forward to seeing you there (but stand by for details on something I’m planning for August in Montauk).

So, ciao for now. As always, if you have any questions, comments or idle chatter, just launch a flare!

-Safety Dave (In my inflatable airbag, taking my bike to work on the 4th.  I never leave home without it!)

bike vest

Photo courtesy of Helen Kim

bike vest