Posts

Love Me Tender

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

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

Where is the best place to store my tender?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. THE UP

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

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

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

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

Here’s my own scoring on the matter:

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

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

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

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

II. THE BACK

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

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

Azimut 77 – Rear Slide design

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

Pershing 70 – Rear slide design

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

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

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

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

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

Big Wave Dave’s weighted average?

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

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

III. THE WAY BACK

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

Freedom lift (empty)
Freedom Lift (full)

Or, hydraulically lifting swim platforms:

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

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

And the hydraulic platforms? Well…

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

Here’s how I score it:

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

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

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

You can read all about it in this post here.

IV. THE DOWN

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

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

https://youtu.be/lpqkNOwzDdQ

Here’s how Zeelander pulls that off:

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

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

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

Zeelander 55 Plan
Zeelander 72 Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/Z1HWEV1OokI

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

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

https://youtu.be/EFcQpbZG0Gc

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

https://youtu.be/pB7mAOq0KSM

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

https://youtu.be/SX2vkWa8XbQ

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

Your go-anywhere private beach resort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

V. Signing off

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

https://vimeo.com/410643739

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

Big Wave Dave

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

https://youtu.be/OiSHaFawYDU

Time and Tide…

I. The Magazine!

At least one of your holiday wishes has been granted! The Winter issue of The Fog Warning Digital Magazine has just been published on the Apple and Google App stores:

 

The winter issue contains 178 pages of cool articles and in-depth listings of featured yachts. You can subscribe to this free and engaging diversion here:

The Apple Store

or

The Android Store

Enjoy!

II. An Explorer’s Dream

The hottest sector in super yacht construction for the last five years has been heavy duty, go-anywhere explorer yachts. The reason is not hard to fathom – Explorer’s speak persuasively to the adventurer’s among us.  Big and long adventures  – the Antarctic, the Galapagos, the Norwegian fjords – these rugged and distant lands require yachts that can travel long distances safely, stay out for at least six weeks at a time (in environmentally friendly ways), yet make no compromises to luxury or comfort.

This video captures the romance of that kind of yacht, and that kind of exploration, better than any I have seen. She’s a Dutch-built steel explorer, not too different than my Amundsen 42M or Zeelander 164. You are going to watch this video more than once, so make yourself comfortable….

On your second viewing, if not your first, you probably caught at moment 2:10 one of my Dutch tender’s at work, the classically inspired Long Island Yacht 28!

 

 

Some 80+ Long Island Yachts have been built in the last eight years. Half a dozen serve as tenders to megayachts. I can’t think of a better endorsement. You can find the Yachtworld listing for this fine little yacht right here:

Long Island Yachts Runabout 28

Legend, the yacht in this video, is a converted commercial ship. My yachts, built expressly for this kind of voyage, are the Amundsen 42M:

 

 

 

And the Green-Class Zeelander 164:

 

I have quite a lot of fun information on these builds. Curious readers, dig out your flare gun!

III. “And te tide and te time…” 

As far as my research goes, those olde English words are the first recorded use, from the year 1225,  of the term we all know: “Time and tide wait for no man.” The full expression was:

“And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet.”

It doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue. Anyone who’s read the original Chaucer can tell you that. But I do like the historical nature of it all.

Last week I made a quick trip down to Fajardo, Puerto Rico to sea trial a really special sailboat. Running back into the harbor, the wind at our backs, I was momentarily surprised to see all the yachts at anchor pointing sideways to the wind. That reminded me that moored boats follow whichever is stronger – wind or tide. Docking a boat, its a good thing to know which is going to effect you more.

Here’s a video that makes the point. I’m docking The Baron, my Vicem 72 listing in Newport, a few months before her current owner took title. It’s a pretty tight fit. Tight enough that if you turn up the volume on my son’s play by play, you’ll hear

“Doesn’t look good, I don’t think he’s gonna make it!” 

The tide was running from port to starboard, with a little more velocity than I anticipated (you’ll see it drift this 30 ton yacht a little closer to it’s neighbor than I would have liked). Here is where a good set of bow and stern thrusters really came into their own. I’ll note in advance, for the squeamish among us, that no people, animals or yachts were injured in the making of this movie:

The Baron is in Miami. If you are going to be at the Miami Boat Show next month, I would love to schedule an appointment with you:

The Baron!

IV. Robotics

I’ve been knee-deep all month in financials, analyzing comparative construction costs for yachts around the world. Globalization has made hardware and material costs virtually identical no matter where you go. Labor, of course, is the great variable. Lately, because of increasing labor costs in China, Turkey – with its newly devalued Lira – has become an extremely attractive place to build a quality yacht at a great price. Sooner or later, though, advances in robotic construction is going to narrow down these advantages wherever you choose to build.

If that sounds years away to you, it ain’t. Here’s an amazing video of how Grand Banks is using robots in Malaysia to make their production molds. The magic is scheduled nightly, when most of the staff is home with their families:

 

V. Zeelander 72, hull #1 Update

The Robb Report, and many other magazines you probably have lying around, has been covering the coming launch of our Z72 #1:

Hull #1 is on schedule to splash sometime between January 30th and February 14th.I’ll be in Rotterdam for her first sea trial, and I’d love to have you along for the ride.

Here are the latest construction pix:

Portside

Swim Platform (note the electric motor).

Starboard

The Belly of the Beast

Custom Tile Work

Ciao for now, loyal readers. And remember to subscribe to The Fog Warning Digital Magazine on the Apple and Google App stores.

Big Wave Dave

Solutions

I. A Christening

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

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

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

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

What makes a yacht great, and why?

Who makes a great yacht, and how?

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

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

As in:

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

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

More engaging video content; and,

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

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

Apple App Store version of The Fog Warning

and the Google App Store:

Android App Store version of The Fog Warning

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

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

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

Just launch that flare!

II. Four Creative Boating Solutions

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

 

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

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

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

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

A. The Need for Speed

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

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

Here’s a typical comment:

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

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

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

Stage  I – The “Bulbous Bow”

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

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

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

 

The Ronald Reagan Aircraft Carrier:

 

And most big freighters:

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

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

 

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

Stage Two – The Stern Extension

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

HS = 1.34 x √LWL

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

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

Phase 3 – The Kort Nozzle System

Here where things got a little weird….

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

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

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

Last Stage – The Deal

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

I had just sold my Prout 39 sailing cat,

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

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

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

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

Just launch that flare!

 

B. Stable and Able with Stabilizers

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Two things to keep in mind about gyros:

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

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

 

C. A Creative Approach to Tender Lifts

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

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

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

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

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

D. Bilge Pump Blues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what they found:

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

Big Wave Dave

 

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