IBEX 2013, put on by our friends at Professional Boatbuilder Magazine, is the largest trade show specifically for boat builders in the USA and is a good place to check in on some of the latest systems and gear available to the trade. Last week, the FPB Yachts troupe decided it was time to catch up with many of the vendors and manufacturers we work with on a regular basis, Read the rest »
FPB Series NotesFollowing are the latest posts on the FPB 64 program. This section covers systems, how the FPB 64s perform in the real world, along with data on why we do things the way we do. For more information be sure to check out SetSail.com/FPB64.
Our thought has always been that the best indicator of success in the marine business is not units sold, or boat show pizzazz, but rather how your boats are being used. Are they sitting in marinas or out there racking up the miles, treating their owners to the world of new experiences that lay beyond the horizon?
Those of you familiar with our work will know that we consider being able to maintain comparatively fast cruising speeds the most important factor in safe, comfortable ocean crossing. Get this right and you enjoy making passages. Get it wrong and you will prefer sitting at the dock reading about the folks who are really out there cruising.
Our theoretical numbers now have Read the rest »
One of the blessings that comes with the FPB program is interaction with highly experienced owners (neophytes rarely have the background to understand the tradeoffs we make in the design process). These owners often bring with them excellent firsthand knowledge, based on years of real world trial and error, that helps us improve the FPB breed.
We’ve been out the past few days, testing the latest NAIAD stabilizing software on Wind Horse. We’ve had 20-to-30 knots blowing straight into Narragansett Bay with opposing and slack current, so a variety of sea states: from steep to “holy cow, look at that!” As you can see by the track above, we have been taking the waves at all angles, from dead ahead, to on the stern, and everything between. At the end of this post there are a couple of short videos.
Growing up navigating by sextant and lead line taught us to appreciate modern electronics. We love radar, GPS, SONAR, and AIS. We are attached to free wifi, and data via cell service. What we don’t like is a hodge podge of antennae strewn here and there. So the farm – as in antenna farm – is on the design priority list during the concept phase, to make sure there is an orderly way to install them all.
A primary design consideration is always what you can see from various places on board. As yachts get larger the sight lines diminish, and you begin to rely on secondary input: usually crew members wearing headsets, calling distance off the dock or to another vessel, to the con. We’d rather see and judge for ourselves. Hence a rigorous study early, the results of which guide the ensuing design.
There are several different criteria we are looking to fulfill:
Among the very first things we look at in designing a yacht is dinghy storage, launching, and retrieval. This design aspect is as fundamental to successful cruising as anything else aboard. We have had a simple and reliable system since the first FPB first launched seven years ago, modified only recently by the advent of deck winches that power out as well as in. With booms easily controlled by permanent guys, locked off with rope clutches if required, and the dink stowed at deck level, the process is easy enough to get into and out of the water that we usually stow it aboard each evening.
As simple as this is, we still consider this to be potentially the most dangerous job on board.
With the Wicked FPB we have refined the dinghy process to make it significantly easier and more controlled.
We used to envy the folks who cruised with shallow draft for the benefits it conferred. There is the obvious, extending your cruising opportunities to areas like the Bahamas (above), but there other significant advantages as well.
Throughout history, the most successful seagoing vessels have shared common attributes. Take, for example, the greatest warriors and travelers of their time, the fiercesome Vikings. When they sallied forth from their northland fjords, they employed high speed, extremely maneuverable, shallow draft designs to help them expand and conquer their world.
If you are a regular visitor to SetSail.com, you know we like fine rear ends. Flat buttock lines in particular arouse our instincts. With most yacht designs, there is a conflict here between comfort and performance (and this varies with different speeds, or more correctly speed-length ratios). Typically, you pick a speed regime and sea state and live with the results.
But if you stretch the waterline, keeping other design aspects constant, good things begin to happen.
We took the afternoon off, went for a drive, had a gelato, and enjoyed being outside in the harsh winter for which Arizona is known. We’re down to rechecking basic assumptions (again), finalizing deck geometry, and fine tuning the hull shape. This can be a dangerous time in the design cycle.
When you start to consider powerboat (stinkpot) systems, virtually every decision revolves around air conditioning. Air conditioning holds you hostage. High heat loads from large windows and poor-to-nonexistent shading, coupled with a lack of ventilation, force you to fit large compressors, which means a big genset. Since you cannot do without the genset, you need a second, both of which are too big to just run air conditioning at night, so a small night generator is needed. All other systems decisions flow from this conundrum.
But what if you had good ventilation, even when there was no breeze, and then coupled this with minimized heat loads?
Most of the folks we know in the marine “business” (an oxymoron for sure) play the game for love, or because they simply have no choice, they are pulled to it. The hours are long, the outcome often uncertain, and the risks higher than many economic endeavors.
For years we’ve been wrestling with a way to improve on the FPB 83, Wind Horse. We’ve done smaller, as in the FPB 64: a very efficient, attractively priced, well-mannered yacht. And we’ve worked up a larger version in the guise of the FPB 115, about which we can get excited. But to improve on the Wind Horse combination of comfort, sea-kindliness, heavy weather ability, trans-ocean average speed, systems efficiency, and ease of handling for a couple has yet to happen.
It starts as a hazy vision one sleepless night, an outline, and there is a compulsion to see where it leads, even if it is not on the master plan. When the beast strikes, you have to feed it – there is no other option. Days are long, nights are short, computers whirr overtime and the design spiral fits seamlessly together. Gigabytes criss-cross the internet. Hydrostatics, structure, layout, motion, systems, ventilation, aesthetics – meld wickedly, as if this were meant to be.
Some years ago we installed a 1000 watt 230 VAC Aqua Signal flood light on the forward mast. It proved useful on occasion for checking sea-state at night, and maybe once or twice a year looking over anchorages in the dark. When Todd Rickard and Mark Fritzer visited IBEX last fall they ran into a company selling high intensity LED spots and floods called Rigid Industries. They were impressed, so we decided to give a set of these a test on the new forward mast on Wind Horse. That’s Chris Martin of Martin Engineering doing the install.
We’ve been through the drive line and are about to reassemble things, have checked the tanks, and the rest of the systems, with very little wear and tear to show for our 5700 hours and 57,000 miles +/- of travel. As we’ve done a series of posts scattered here and there on this subject, perhaps a recap is in order. We’ll then give you a brief rundown on changes we are making and why.
But first, a few thoughts on maintenance, frustration, and costs of ownership. Read the rest »
Corey McMahon and cohorts have been working on “the list” and this afternoon’s feature was an inspection of the diesel tanks. After 5700 hours of engine time over 6.5 years, and more than 40,000 US gallons (170,000 L) of diesel, sourced all over the world, we were more than a little curious as to what we would find.
The prop shafts have been removed (they slide past the rudders) and we’ve given them a close look. The cutlass bearings are both still within tolerance, with the starboard bearing showing no wear. The port bearing has on the order of 1/8″ (3mm) of slop, not much really.
However, we are replacing both since the shafts are now out. The shafts show almost no cutlass bearing where.
Corey (left) and Casey (right), from the Triton Marine crew, head down and tails up, taking the drive lines apart on Wind Horse. After 5700 hours we want to have a detailed look at the various elements to see how they are wearing.
Over the last 30 years we’ve been involved in many aluminum and fiberglass yacht construction projects. Our experience has been that properly built, aluminum holds a substatial edge overall in maintenance issues. “But what about corrosion, and the horror stories that are rumored?” you might be thinking.
To anwser that we offer the photos above and below. Those are sacrificial zincs, formerly attached to the hull of Wind Horse as sacrificial anodes, so that any corrosion comes off their mass rather than the hull.
A couple of notes from the FPB 64s. Pete Rossin (FPB 64-3) has a detailed look at his navigation station on the Iron Lady website. You can see lots of photos and read Pete’s comments on how he is using this gear by clicking here. Osprey (FPB 64-4) has safely crossed what many consider the most dangerous chunk of ocean inside of 40 degrees of latitude, the Tasman Sea. As often happens, the forecast gale morphed into 55 to 65 knots (storm force), blowing against the South Australian current. And the Coffs Harbor entrance bar, which they had been told was passable, actually had a 12 to 15 foot break across the entrance. We’ve chatted with the crew and will have a detailed update once we have finished the debrief. Right now we know that the boat behaved as expected, and dealt with the conditions with aplomb.
When we were working on the design of Wind Horse Steve Davis suggested a flying bridge enclosure. At the time we could not see the need, thinking we’d simply move to the great room if conditions warranted more protection. Six years and 50,000 miles later we understand the wisdom of his suggestion.Read the rest »
Vic Kuzmovich, NAIAD’s stabilizer guru, was out with us aboard Wind Horse today doing slow speed stabilization tests as a model for the FPB 112. There is a video link at the bottom of this blog so you can see the results for yourself.Read the rest »
With Wind Horse at rest we have been able to get an accurate measure of the fuel left aboard. To do this we have moved all remaining fuel to the forward central tank, and then measured its height with our calibrated Tank Tender. The fuel data for the passage from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to Fort Lauderdale looks like this:Read the rest »
We are fitting the Maretron NMEA 2000 system on the FPB 64s. Data display and alarm sequence is extremely flexible. The only drawback we have seen so far is a lack of averaging capability – only raw sensor data is displayed. With speed, heading, and many other items this is not acceptable and we have made this known to Maretron (who tell us they are working on their codes now.Read the rest »
Todd Rickard has recently returned from a visit to Circa in New Zealand where he was working with clients and checking details with the builders. He brought back a few photos of different details on FPB 64s number three and four. We will start with the swim step extension on the fourth boat, shown above. This boat is being built under survey, to Australian New South Wales rules. As such, there are numerous details required by the authorities, so the boat can be chartered. One of these is four rather than three lifelines.Read the rest »
Long time correspondent Alan Leslie was kind enough to send us a few photos yesterday from the capital of the island nation Vanuatu, Vila. This is one of two Sundeer 64 cutters. For a mature lady she is looking very good to our eye.Read the rest »
The FPB 64s are fitted with emergency tillers, the main purpose of which is to lock the rudder on center when hove to behind a parachute anchor. The two inch schedule 40 steel pip (galvanized) slips over a projection on the tiller to which the hydraulic cylinders attach.Read the rest »
The second FPB 64, Sarah Sarah, is bound for the Pacific Northwest. As it is late summer in the Northern Hemisphere, there is pressure to get the sea trials wrapped up, and be off to the north. So, we have not been able to get the time required onboard for a complete set of photos. However, we do have some interesting details to share and over the next week we’ll do a series of posts.
We’ll start with the owner becoming familiar with his new cruising machine. Note the back up manual wheel. The wheel is removable, but at this point the plan is to leave it in place (there are two auto pilot systems as well which are the primary steering systems).Read the rest »
The best way to check fuel consumption is by filling the tank. Ideally this is done before and after a passage so just the underway hours are used in the calculations. When you are in coastal mode, as we have been, some interpolation is going to be required. As we have just topped off with diesel in Gibraltar we thought you might be interested in the figures.Read the rest »
The water injection elbows on the exhausts of Wind Horse’s engines and genset are fitted with temperature sensing bands supplied by AquaAlarm. If these exceed a preset temperature they close a circuit which triggers an alarm. In theory, this is an early warning of salt water flow failure. We are also fitted with sensors on the water flow itself upstream of the engines. None of these devices has ever given us a warning signal.
Read the rest »
Avatar and crew are now happily basking in the Southern Hemisphere winter warmth of Vila in the island nation of Vanuatu. We sent her skipper, Rod Bradley, a list of questions about the passage which we was kind enough to answer. Rod’s comments provide an interesting look at how the first of the FPB 64 series performs on an ocean passage. Follow Carol and Mike Parker’s adventures with Avatar on their website by clicking here. Read the rest »
It is now officially warm, we are using our awnings, and even running the air conditioning on occasion. All of which brings to mind the subject of air con capacity. If you are going to have a air conditioning, and it is very nice in some situations, it needs to be looked at in an overall systems context. Typically the major power consumer aboard, if designed without thought for overall efficiency, the penalties can be substantial. The industry norm is to maximize capacity, for the worst possible situation, and then run the air on a low duty cycle. This forces you into big generators because of starting and running loads, which are loafing (bad) when the air is not running.
We think there is a better way.Read the rest »
We’re told open roadsteads, with bouncy sea-states, are not unusual from here on out. For most yachts it can get down right uncomfortable when the wind is at right angles to the chop. Wind Horse is very stable with ocean swells coming into the anchorage. They barely move her. But the short period chop from ferries and dinghies are another story. Which is one of the reasons for her big booms.Read the rest »
We’re anchored off the beach at Sanxenxo. This is an open roadstead, exposed to the Atlantic from the south, which right now is quiet. There is a long period small swell sweeping in which does not affect us. But the shorter period power boat wakes, of which there are a multitude, excite our hull. Hence the booms are deployed with flopper stoppers for the first time in two years. Read the rest »
We have finally found a windless day with flat seas in which to test our new props. What we know so far is that at a little over full payload we can achieve 2400RPM at wide open throttle. Our original target was 10.5 knots at 1600 RPM, at three quarters payload. Lets see how we did on the calculations: Read the rest »
We have just spent three days at anchor. For at least eight hours a day the portable computer and the desk top Imac with its second monitor and three exteral hard drives have been in use. There are two freezers going, a big fridge, and we are cooking electrically. We also don’t overly concern ourselves with power consumption for lights.
The amp hour meter says 930 amps or 310 amps per day average (at 24 volts), and the battery capacity is listed as 50%. If we were to sit another day we’d probably run the genset tonight to do a little battery charging. But as we are moving 38 miles, the engines will do a pretty good job of charging while we are under way.
We continue to be impressed with our Panasonic NN-CF778S combination oven. Capable of using microwave, convection, and broiling to the same dish, automatically if desired, it is also working well in a straight baking (convection) mode, as attested to by the photo above from last night.Read the rest »