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The Ghosts in the Machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Z44 Sistership

and the brand new Z55:

Z55 Sistership

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

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

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

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

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

I. It’s an IPS World

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

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

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

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

“What happens when you run aground at speed?”

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

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

https://youtu.be/nLmlWgLHZAc

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

II. Some History

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/vetk4VGS344

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

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

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

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

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

Z55 #7
IPS Twin Drive Installation

III. The Ghosts in the Machine

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

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

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

They all magically come together to produce: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/ekRmPiPWYc0

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

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

At Moment 0:53:

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

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

At Moment 1:21

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

At Moment 1:43

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

At Moment 2:53

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

At Moment 4:17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV. The Future

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/NAN_rQM3rr8

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

V. Maintenance

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

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

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

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

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

Volvo’s Active Corrosion Protection System Screen Readout

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

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

VI. Warranty

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

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

VII. Class Takeaways

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

1. What makes a yacht great, and why?

2. Who makes a great yacht, and how?

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

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

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

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

Knowledge is power!

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

Safety Dave

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

 

Love Me Tender

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

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

Where is the best place to store my tender?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. THE UP

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

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

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

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

Here’s my own scoring on the matter:

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

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

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

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

II. THE BACK

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

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

Azimut 77 – Rear Slide design

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

Pershing 70 – Rear slide design

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

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

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

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

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

Big Wave Dave’s weighted average?

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

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

III. THE WAY BACK

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

Freedom lift (empty)
Freedom Lift (full)

Or, hydraulically lifting swim platforms:

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

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

And the hydraulic platforms? Well…

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

Here’s how I score it:

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

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

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

You can read all about it in this post here.

IV. THE DOWN

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

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

https://youtu.be/lpqkNOwzDdQ

Here’s how Zeelander pulls that off:

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

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

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

Zeelander 55 Plan
Zeelander 72 Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/Z1HWEV1OokI

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

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

https://youtu.be/EFcQpbZG0Gc

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

https://youtu.be/pB7mAOq0KSM

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

https://youtu.be/SX2vkWa8XbQ

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

Your go-anywhere private beach resort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

V. Signing off

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

https://vimeo.com/410643739

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

Big Wave Dave

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

https://youtu.be/OiSHaFawYDU

Your “MZY” – a Master’s degree from Zeelander University!

I. Zeelander’s Latest Video Review

I have a lot to share with you all today, about yachting things both big and small. But the most exciting by far is the the premier of a really impressive video review of our [soon to arrive] Zeelander 55.

Last fall’s video review of our Zeelander 72 has become (by far) the most viewed Zeelander video on the web (you’ll find it at the end of this report). But it will be getting a run for its money with this latest Zeelander 55 review. If you watch closely you’ll get a very strong feel for her handling and responsiveness. I guarantee a quality viewing experience here:

https://youtu.be/o9JBmm_O9Rc

You’ll find more about her pricing and availability later in this posting.

II. Welcome to Z.U.

I’m delighted to welcome you here to Zeelander University. The story begins with some young people: Two young friends of mine are finishing up their advanced degrees in New York (in law for him, an MBA for her) and of course both have been shifted entirely to online classes. They tell me that from a learning perspective they don’t feel particularly shortchanged. But being young, single and ready to mingle, they report feeling extremely shortchanged, socially. 

Their both winners, and they’ll be fine. I’m impressed by their flexibility and dedication under difficult conditions, and they’ve inspired me to launch this new initiative – Your online MZY degree A Master’s degree in Zeelander Yachts! 

All the Z’s (so far) – 44, 55 and 72.

For those of you who find yourselves homebound (yachtbound?) I invite you join me here on The Fog Warning for the first in a 12-part series in advanced Zeelander ownership. For each class, I’ll select a single item from their intelligently designed options list, and do my best to relate it to your real-world yachting needs.

As always at The Fog Warning, these discussions will touch securely on yachting safety, but you can also expect wide ranging discussion of yachting ergonomics, aesthetics, and just plain fun. I’ll try to not make it too geeky, but then again, it is an advanced degree…. 

You can expect discussions springing off various Zeelander’s options like these:

  • Stabilization technologies – What technology works best, and when? 
  • Navigation electronics – Does Radar/Chart overlay really work?
  • Engine choices – What is your actual cost per extra knot?
  • Dynamic positioning – What are the hidden dangers?
  • Broadband vs. onboard WiFi systems – Cheaper Netflix?
  • Tender choices – All of them!

I am sure that by the time we get through both this crisis and this course (and we find ourselves back on the water with friends and families)  you’ll find there isn’t much you won’t know about what Zeelander can do for you. Everything, that is, except what you’ll learn on sea trials of these fine yachts, which I’m quite happy to schedule for you. 

So pull up a chair, grab a hot cup of coffee….

….and let’s get to it!

III. Mater’s Degree Lesson #1 – All you ever wanted to know (but were afraid to ask) about Night Vision

I know a skilled captain, one with many more sea miles under his keel than mine, who’s philosophy on yachting at night is simple: 

Just don’t do it!

I get that, I really do. But it’s a little like saying don’t boat in fog. Great in theory…

I come to nighttime operations from a different perspective, for two reasons. First, I’m a sailor. At 6 or 7 knots top speed, you never have the luxury of completely avoiding nighttime sailing. My trawler, for that matter, tops out at a blistering 11 knots (downhill) so that luxury doesn’t apply here either. Sometimes, despite the best plans and intentions, you find yourself getting home after dark. 

Second, my passion in life (beyond Zeelander’s, of course) is fly-fishing. The whole River-Runs-Through-It thing. But over the years I’ve spent more time fly fishing oceans than rivers. I live in the Hamptons, and up here that means fly fishing for striped bass from a flats boat at 3am. Because, as children of all ages know…

…monsters only come out at night!

My own personal go-to aid for hunting monster at night is a FLIR hand held night vision system:

It’s waterproof, has long (rechargeable) battery life, and it will show a big bass’ tail breaking the surface from 35 yards away. I can only cast 30 yards, of course, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

The handheld version does have its limitations, as I belatedly learned three years ago. I was running a Hinckley jet boat from lower Manhattan to Seawanakha Club in Oyster Bay. That’s about a 25 mile run, and after a [too] great dockside dinner I didn’t head east until just after sunset. She was radar equipped, of course, and my SOP for nighttime operations over open water is 15 knots, so all in all, it was no big deal. 

A Short Editorial Digression

No big deal, I might add, except that in my experience jet boats hate going just 15 knots. The shallow draft advantages of jet drives are well known. Their disadvantages? Well, for one, their power curve is quite narrow – They like going five knots, and they love going thirty knots. But in between? They tend to drag and lurch a bit, a semi-stagger that announces to the world they’d really just rather get up and go.  Like keeping an eye on my dog Trout around chewables,

it can be a little …. wearing. Trout and I find the power curve of IPS boats to be both wider and more predicable.

Anyway, as many of you know, the mooring field at Seawanaka is very crowded in summertime, and finding your assigned mooring ball at night can be tough.

I pulled from my trusty FLIR out, but found it completely useless.  It took a few minutes for me to figure out why – its’ heat sensing technology doesn’t work through a windshield (or even Isinglass, I later learned). In the end, I stood on the pilot seat, head and scope poking up through overhead hatch, and eventually found the right mooring. But I wasn’t thrilled with the work-around.

On a Zeelander, of course, my handheld would have worked just fine, operating this fine yacht fully from her rear (outdoor) docking station:

Portside exterior docking station

Even better, of course, would have been using FLIR’s big screen displays. On the Zeelander option lists, it runs through the Garmin Glass Bridge system display, in what I find to be a completely seamless integration.

It costs roughly $30,000, and I find it worth every penny. Handhelds are fine for small boats, but I highly recommend an integrated FLIR system for big yachts.  

An aside to my loyal readers: For a full options list on both the Zeelander 55 and 72, just launch a flare and I’ll get it right to you.

Here’s what the integrated units do that handhelds don’t:

  • Much greater range – a couple of miles, vs. just 50 yards. 
  • A built-in Wi-Fi connection, transmitting the FLIR screen from your helm to your phone or tablet. Terrific for dockside security, even if you’re belly up to the bar.
  • A wwo lens systems – one for low light (an enhanced video camera, essentially) and one for thermal, heat sensing displays.  For the latter, even the heat caused by the friction of a boat’s hull as it moves through the water makes her wake visible. 
Actual, low light, and thermal views
  • Because they are built primarily for naval use, their lenses are heated, allowing full use in sub-freezing conditions. 
  • They have a remarkable 2-axis gyro-stabilization feature.

All in all, this is why someone (not me) once said:

“If you want to use a tougher, better-performing FLIR, you’ll have to join the Special Forces.”

I certainly welcome you to apply for the Special Forces. For myself, I’d just settle for a FLIR-equipped Zeelander!

IV. Your Zeelander construction report

Your next available Zeelander 55 (#7 in her run) is about six weeks away from her first splash. Here you can find this week’s walkthrough of her latest status:

For how we have chosen to option #7 out for you, just launch a flare and I will send you her complete details and pricing.

And, your next available Zeelander 72 (#4 in her run) is getting closer and closer to her end-of-year delivery. Here is the latest shot of Z72 #2 getting unloaded:

Zeelander 72 #2

Again, feel free to let me know if you’d like to understand exactly how we optioned her out (and why) with full pricing.

And, as I’m sure you’ve anticipated, here’s your impressive (12 minute!) video review of the Z72 I mentioned up front:

https://youtu.be/JfNChyl3HNU

 

V. Virus Supplies from the boat locker

Last week I went to check on Gypsy, my Island Gypsy 40 trawler. She’s shrink-wrapped and on the hard in a closed marina in the Hamptons right now. But I wanted to prepare my season-opening checklist, and I really needed to get out of the house. Poking around in my darkest locker, what did I find among my fiberglass supplies but half a box of disposable gloves, and four N95 ventilator masks! So, if your yard is isolated, and you are as bored as I am, it may be worth your while to dig around in your bilges to see what you can find.

 

Well, the class bell just sounded. But fear not, lesson #2 is in your near future. Between now and then, I’m here for whatever you need. Meanwhile, take care, stay safe, and launch a flare if you have the luxury of boredom in these trying times.

Big Wave Dave (and Trout)

Westhampton beach, this week

 

The Survey from Hell

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

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

“…two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

are just three little clicks away:

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

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

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

 

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

The USS Fitzgerald, after narrowly escaped sinking.

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

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

Direct impact to the Captain’s cabin.

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

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

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

The Freighter

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Big Wave] Dave