Monday, December 22, 2014

Have you seen me ?

- Well, it has been 42 years since that picture was taken. Now, it is common to see large boats, Imoca; VOR; Maxis leaping out of the water like scalding cats. Sure the 128' x 69,000Lbs., probably the lightest fiberglass structure for a monohull  does not compare in size and purpose of the others. She was designed for Jean-Yves Terlain for the 1972 single-handed Transatlantic race.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Tall order.

The new Rambler 90'.
I understand that Rambler is designed to be competitive on handicap and given the right condition in light air and downwind (and luck) to address the heavier, bigger 100 footers with lighter weight, and a test of patience and skill to show them one thing or two.
 RamblerGroupama 70  Bow view. For comparison I drew the bow section of Groupama, the 70' winner in the last V.O.R. Similar for sure but subtle differences due mainly to the increase in displacement of the much larger boat indicating more volume but also a more obtuse end at the stem.

To be noted: the soft shape of the mid section located aft of the keel. Turned into sharp chines fore and aft towards the bow and stern.
I had seen this type of daggerboards before on Abu Dhabi, the VOR 70. They appear on Comanche as well. I suppose the intent is to close the gap of the slot into the hull, keeping an optimal shape of the board to the bottom.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Down East Boats.

I have had the opportunity over a period of 10 years to design many so called "Lobster Yachts".  In size range from 36 to 40 feet. About one every year; they are good boats and people liked them.
Then all of sudden in 2008 the market dropped under us. The final draw happened when we had to cancel an operation due to start in China. It was a wise decision considering than since then not one non-commercial boat has been sold. So what went wrong ? And why such good boats are not taking of again with a slightly better economic climate?
To give you an idea of what the Lobster yacht is all about, here are condensed words from the brochure.
"Good classic looks with flare and tumblehome. Seaworthy and stable. Smooth and comfortable. Very efficient S-bilged hull with no speed bump that needs extra horsepower. Fast and economical with a single engine and no box over the cockpit sole. Protected propeller and rudder."
 All combined in designs evolved from 100 years of working the sea all day long and transformed into exceptional versatile yachts. What is there not to like about it?

A little side story.
The above rendering is by Stephen L. Davis who passed away not too long ago. He was the best of the best illustrators and over the years did a lot of brushing for Tyd. Some  examples.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Volvo Ocean Race. Cargados Carajos ?

- Vesta aground. The dramatic Video catching the moment where Vesta, the VOR competitor hit the Cargados Carajos Shoals. This cannot leave us without feeling horribly bad about the crew, the boat, and for the Race.

- The sequence of events must have been creeping for some time before, probably by compounding small errors to end up on an island. I am not to analyze the issue of responsibility but simply know that actions have consequences and that there must be a reason. Once, I have been in that situation of ending on a sand bar. Thank God without the complete disaster as depicted above.
A little side story.
- S.O.R.C 1979. We had a good clip on Desperado, an early 57' U.L.D.B capable of going 25 knots with very little help. That night, closing on the finish line we had to negotiate a channel. The navigator was down below at the chart table. Probably sensing something was not quite right, the owner asked me to check on the navigation. That is when we hit. Bone crushing, we were dragged on the bank and heeled well over. We took the appropriate precaution for the crew with a life vest, life raft overboard, and calling the Coast Guard. They were not long to arrive, we were not the only ones in this predicament. They towed us sideways out of the beach and out of danger and onto the nearest lift. If we did not sink on the way.
- Well, this Series may as well be over before even starting. But maybe not.

- On the spot, as you can imagine it was difficult to assess the amount of destruction and the amount of water ingress that could sink us. But going inside again just after the C.G dragged us to open water, I did not see any problem with the hull itself from where I was standing. Water was sloshing around the keel area, the vertical floor system inside the sump having been crushed. This fiberglass sump build over the entire length of the lead keel probably saved the boat of major rebuilding. As Desperado was battered by the swells, this space between the hull proper and the lead keel took the brunt of the crashes and slowly crumbling acted like a shock absorber. We rebuilt the floor and the spacer and went on missing only the next race.
- This drawing out of the accommodation plan does not show the construction details, only the sump.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


- Newport. before departure.

- Like birds, the summer is over and it is time to go South. For the large yachts, November first is the starting line; the end of the hurricane season. A couple of weeks ago, I took an early going on the S/V Two an Eighty Two feet boat. Captain Rick is a long time friend and the opportunity to go Offshore with competence is a priority for me. We hit the weather window perfectly and a good ride to Charleston, South Carolina. By coincidence, my daughter Dominique had decided to move there at the same time and it was fun to have dinner together on the boat. Then onto Ft. Lauderdale. 

- A few observations associated with the trip.
We motored all the way, trying to average 8.5 to 9 knots. Sometimes with the Mainsail up, sometimes with the Jib. Deliveries are just that, going as fast as you can to the destination.

- Modern sailboats have many conveniences but also drawbacks.

- One is the over sophistication in the area of sail handling. One example is the roller- furler boom which unrolled by itself while on the wind. The breeze was moderate but I can imagine what could have been a disaster in stormy weather. One instance, for example, approaching Charleston we were aware of coming heavy squalls. Fortunately, under power and already inside the very long channel, we were hit by 40 knots of wind and heavy rain. Visibility was not to bad and therefore we make out the markers as we went along. Earlier and under an unfurling sail, it would have been another story. Also sometimes in the middle of the trip the headsail dropped, the strap at the top having unleashed itself. Not so much of a problem except that with over one hundred feet of the mast length, it became prudent to wait for calmer seas before sending someone to the masthead.

- The electronic world has invaded boats with marvelous technology. I like radar, I like chart plotter and a few other things.  - But again we found a vulnerability with the autopilot tripping for the last 24 hours; the continuous watching of gauges; be the black and grey water for four bathrooms with separate showers; or checking the engine room for the alternator going too hot. Lots of systems make the kiss concept goodbye. Of course, this is what it is in the public eye and the more the better it seems.
- On another subject, the watch system. For someone accustomed to the 4 on 4 off, I was introduced to a different schedule. We had a crew of seven on the first leg and six on the second. It came to divide the watch of two with three hours on and six off. Not too long time on deck and with a good resting period.
I enjoy very much deliveries, putting time in a capsule and always learning.

- A little side story:
Just back from the trip, I noticed a familiar mast across my office window. The Lunacy, ex Star Cruiser is on her way to the West Indies. Charles Doane makes the trip every two years and I was happy to see the boat again. You can follow the adventure on

Charles is the Cruising Editor for Sail Magazine.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Building a 40' steel Pilothouse sailboat. Puzzle.

- Boat design and building are like putting a puzzle together.

- But it has to be assembled in a certain manner to achieve the expected end result. Usually referred to as the "Design Spiral", but more about that later. To put a boat together requires a lot of time, patience and not to be lazy and afraid about checking, checking, and also about double-checking. The best way to save precious expensive time is to start with a very clear statement from the client about function, purpose, destination, proposed budget, and any other provisions that might alter the almighty weight of the vessel. I have seen too many times where you start for the client with a Colin Archer and end up with a daysailer! It is crucial to narrow down early into the project The Choice. Trade-offs and options will come soon enough. To illustrate, I am presenting L'Oceane 40', an Offshore boat with all the characteristics of a proper yacht with a look that demands respect. Respect of the sea being foremost in the delivery.

- It always starts with a drawing, and as mentioned above a good description of what is expected. If given a free hand as far as the overall boat, it is important to nail down the type of accommodation plan as soon as possible. Yes, many boats are designed from the inside-out as shown with the shoe boxes production so prevalent these days, and this one is no exception except for the fact that by design the look can be rendered much better. The sketch arrived and surprisingly only a few changes where made from the original. A separate shower, more space in the forward cabin, and a modification to the table in the cockpit. Also a little later, the inboard rudder was switched to a transom-mounted blade with a skeg, the easier way to install a trim tab for the wind vane part of the installation. 

- Fail to plan, plan to fail as they say. So, a project starts on paper or rather nowadays with computer-aided design programs. For L'O. the size was limited to 40' to avoid regulations over the 12M. limit. The envelope with the beam and the draft define her main characteristics. The draft is always a big decision making. In this case, a steel boat and no specific concern about shallow water, I felt comfortable with a depth of 6'-3" -1.9M. to achieve the stability and performance required.

- You would expect to see a fin with a bulb at the bottom. Well, you see with a steel boat it is imperative to keep the ballast low but also to be able to keep within the foil fuel and water, sometimes batteries and pumps. Therefore I avoid bulbs that would implicate a thin upper shell. They are also a to build and there is nothing better than a well-drawn foil from top to bottom. I favor a trapezoidal profile because the design brings the lead further forward and benefit of a longish top for added volume capacity. 

- A far as the lines plan. Again, one has to adapt the shape to the material medium employed. With a metal boat, I favor three options. Developed chines; developed round bilge or the origami method which I call Imagiro.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

From one step to two steps.

One step at the time.
But it became time.
So, for a 28' sport fisherman.
This has to be the man.

The Offshore fishing version is based on the Mako 28, showing the same deck arrangement and stowage.
I have added the two pods to offer protection and utilities. One for a small head, the other for personal gear and provisions. To my knowledge there are very few aluminum 2 steps boats, and if any for sport fishing.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Raph - Gauloise.

- Good old boats. One of my favorite things is to visit boatyards. The main reason being to wander in the back alleys where the skeletons are. A treasure to be found, memory to rekindle, and sometimes despair over the vision, the dream of what could, would have been before neglect and age send you to the cemetery.

- One of the relics is the aluminum 56' designed by Andre Mauric. Raph is the original name, sponsored by the new marina at St. Raphael in the South of France for the Singlehanded Transatlantic Race and skippered by Alain Gliksman. Originally rigged as a Ketch, I sailed on her shortly after her launching on a quick hop in the Bay of St. Tropez. She is a Thoroughbred and her lines are pure Mauric, the architect from whom I learned a lot. A  mathematician and geometry head, to design good looking boats over a long career. A particularity was, on Lines Plans to draw the diagonals normal to the sections to best guess the water flow direction over the hull.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Is this the Summer of "Summer Afternoon" ?

Well, it looks like it, at long last. Behind boats there are always stories; boat stories. So, to explain Summer Afternoon in an nutshell, please take the time to read an article I wrote many moons ago.

Now fast track; the boat is in Newport now and Chauncey took on himself to refresh the small schooner.
Sanding, varnish, sanding, varnish, paint, sanding, varnish, paint, paint, varnish, varnish.... you got the point.
My contention was to launch the boat first, which we did before the task of refurbishing. The local boat ramp is next to the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, very close to the house and therefore conveniently located. It was fun.

Well. We had to get help. Six coats of varnish and painting is not to sneeze at, and with not much time, it became necessary to hire the best varnishers. Summer is short.

Bermuda Race 2014

                                                                                 June 20, 2014

As you can see by the posting date, I have been slow in feeding the electronic beast. Slow like this start and for the rest of this event of some 615 miles from Newport to Bermuda. And....the winner is.....
Actaea a Hincley Bermuda 40.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Class 40, Atlantic Cup 2014.

The Class 40 renewed their Cup for this 2014 edition. 
Fewer boats, but equally good competition over the legs.
Starting in Charleston to New-York, then on to Newport.
With inshore races over the weekend, marred by the 
demise of Dragon hitting a rock in the Passage.
I am fond of this Class, but like said one of the designers; 
"It is so hard to get racing going in the US". Yes, for 
smaller or bigger boat you still a few one offs built but
for some reason there is little grip elsewhere.
Especially for single or double handed racing events.

Next year, I believe that the new generation of Class 40 will follow the success of David Raison's Mini Transat by increaing the width at the bow within the constraint of the new adopted rule to minimize the "scow effect". I designed a 40 representative of what the breed will be like