How do you create the best possible cruising yacht? Read on and we’ll share our formula. Read the rest »
The most popular blogs from the past twelve months.
We’ve been chasing the holy grail of the perfect cruising yacht for 40 years. The Deerfoot, Sundeer and Beowulf series are considered the premiere sailing yachts on which to circumnavigate. The FPB fleet is judged by the most experienced owners and journalists to be the best ocean-crossing motor yachts today. To find out why, read on:
In case you don’t have an FPB anchored nearby, we’ve included below some brief comments from several of our owners, as well as a couple of hard-nosed magazine editors. We’ll start with Bill Parlatore, the individual many credit with the start and nurturing of the ocean cruising powerboat industry. Read the rest »
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?
The passage from the tropical South Pacific island nation of Fiji, south to New Zealand, is one of the more difficult you will find. There is a high risk of heavy weather, sometimes extreme, that every year catches a few yachts. Obviously it is best to avoid this form of unpleasantness. The key is boat speed, understanding weather, and patience. But even the professionals occasionally get caught so it is advisable to be prepared.
This was the case last week with FPB 64-1 Avatar. During her passage to New Zealand she had two days of force eight gales on the nose, gusting force nine (35 to 40 knots gusting 49). As much as we’d have preferred for Avatar and crew to have an easier trip, these conditions generated exceptionally valuable data, as we shall shortly see
Last week, while driving with a friend through Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, we were asked why our yachts look so different from the norm. That got us into a discussion about beauty, function, and environment (we’ll post some photos from that drive in a few days). We have always believed that a yacht should make your heart sing, especially when viewed from the dinghy. And while some forms of art – yachts being included in this category – are an acquired taste, there are certain absolutes. Proportions, flow of lines, detailing commensurate with the overall design, are part of this equation. So to is how the object fits into its environment. Art on land is one thing. But when you take it to sea there are other issues. It is here that as Frank Lloyd Wright said “form follows function”. The more frequently one leaves the marina and the further one travels, the more absolute these seagoing considerations. Read the rest »
“Having a boat that can deal with whatever might happen—no matter what—provides a mental comfort level that defines their view of happy sailing.”
–Bill Parlatore, Passagemaker Magazine
The various rules to which yachts are built are based on seagoing loads. If you design to ABS or Lloyd’s, odds are you will be OK offshore, but there is little extra margin for the mistakes which are a part of cruising. With an ABS keel structure, if you go aground, it is almost certain a trip to the boat yard is in your immediate future. But if you engineer to four times ABS, you are probably going to continue with your cruising.
We have tested these these theories ourselves, and had our owners repeatedly test them on our sailing designs. Now we have some real world verification of the FPB 64’s factors of safety.
The photos which follow were taken of one of the FPB 64s after it tangled with a reef in the Fiji Islands. She has been hauled to replace a damaged stabilizer fin. At the end of this post is a link to the details of the event which has some excellent lessons for us all.
Steve Suters, John Gowing’s FPB 64-4 captain, has been kind enough to fill us in on some of the details of their recent brush with storm force winds (55 to 65 knots), steep seas, and a breaking entrance bar crossing. We have included the photo above of FPB64-1, Avatar, as a reminder of boat scale versus the waves about which you will shortly read. A the end of the blog are two short videos.
As you go through the following keep in mind one key fact: this was taking place in an area of south flowing current, opposing the wind driven waves, steepening them and causing them to break.
If the sea trial photo above has you wondering how the FPB 64 handles heavy weather – say seas three times this size and 30 to 40 knots of wind – we have a couple of e-mails from Pete Rossin aboard Iron Lady, to sate your curiosity. Pete and Debbie, and crew Steve, are on their way north to the Islands. They left New Zealand with the intention of riding a bit of gale force pressure north, and getting in a few rides in the process.
There are three e-mails from Pete that follow. Read the rest »
We get a lot of questions about range, fuel burn, boat speed, and how this works out in the real world. Whether you have an FPB or a trawler, the same basic issues apply. In this blog we are going to review the factors which impact the fuel equation and then compare data for several different types of vessels. The photo above and below of the FPB 83 Wind Horse, were taken in Gibraltar, a favorite (low cost) fuel stop. Read the rest »
With 5200 hours on the engines, more than 50,000 mile in six cruising seasons, Wind Horse has proven to be our ultimate cruising tool. Now closing in on her seventh year afloat we have the proverbial wish list, with items big and small about which we need to decide. Considering that Wind Horse is being used far more intensively than any of our previous designs, and in much more demanding environments, our wish list is quite short.
When we are aboard, we are always thinking about fine tuning details, the curse of perfectionism with which we have lived these many years. But we have learned to wait before going forward, spend time ashore to give ourselves perspective, and then decide if it is really worth the time, effort, and expense to act on those desires.
This blog is a form of internal discipline. We want to recap how Wind Horse has been used, what is likely in the future, as part of the decision making process. Let’s start with where she has taken us. The distances, comfort level, conditions, and what we have learned.
With the first run of FPB 64s nearing completion we have been at work on a few options for the next group of boats, most of which are retrofittable to the first run. We have also updated the drawings closer to the real world, the originals being somewhat out-of-date.
Let’s start with the back end of the boat.
Speed often equals reduced motion when you have your design ducks in a proper row. But when you discuss this in polite circles (which for the purposes of this blog we shall include the local sailor’s bar)the concept often generates a hardly concealed look of disbelief. If you have ever ridden a bicycle slowly, wobbling this way and that, you will understand one of the principles which are at work. Or, if you have sailed high performance dinghies, and felt the stability that comes as you transition to a plane, you know whereof we speak.
That the combination of cruising, speed, and comfort is not more universally respected probably has to do with negative experiences brought on by excessive speed in an uncontrollable configuration. But if your autopilot can steer the boat as she accelerates,
This past week we have been asked three times (by e-mail and in the marina) about the switch from sail to power, and what we thought about it now. Before answering the question some context is in order.
Prior to Wind Horse we had only twice set foot on a stinkpot, both experiences being very short. We loathed power boats, a feeling built up from years of negative interaction. Our sailing yachts, both racing cats in the olden days, and cruising designs more recently, were fast, nimble, and a joy to sail. Beowulf, the 78 foot ketch above and in subsequent photos, was the ultimate high performance cruiser, and crossing oceans aboard her was mostly a pleasure. We enjoyed sailing her agressively as a couple and the challenge of making quick, seamanlike passages, without undo risk, with just two of us aboard, was a big attraction.
Since launching we’ve had master aerial photographer Ivor Wilkins on standby for the right conditions to shoot the first FPB 64. The day before Avatar was due to depart for Vila in Vanuatu the appropriate wind and sea state arrived. The photos which follow (with a link at the end to high res versions) were taken in post severe depression conditions.