A rather scattered feeling week as Christine and I scurry about trying to get everything done before we fly back to the US and Canada for two months of long overdue and much needed Gramma & Grampa time with our kids, grandkids and many others. It will be almost two years since I’ve been back there so I am REALLY looking forward to this chance to spend time with the loved ones we so gratefully get to count as our family and friends. Our challenge is that this long list of friends and family are spread out all across North America so there is no one or even several common areas we can fly into where groups of them live.
However this is nothing new for us and so our favorite method is to rent an SUV, do a quick DIY mini camper conversion by building a platform bed in the back, picking up a cooler and some basic culinary tools and hit the road. We’ve been referring to these as the “Nauti Grandparents World Tour” and I think this will be our fourth or so NA Road trip
Here is one example of how I setup this Ford Edge SUV for our two month trek back in 2018. This is one of our favorite spots on the Florida everglades just a few miles away from where Christine’s son Tim lives where we have crocs to entertain us for our morning breakfast. And NO that did not include them having Barney or Ruby FOR breakfast! This was how I converted the 1998 Galloper that we were gifted by our dear friend John for our trek from Portugal to Turkey back in 2017. Simple but effective and we have a treasure trove of great memories from these trips so it is a pattern we hare very happy to repeat.
I like living on The No Plan Plan so we don’t have a route or schedule worked out but our current thinking is that after we land in Miami this coming Thursday Oct. 7th I will get busy with the camper conversion of the SUV and spend the weekend with friends and family in the southern Florida area before we start making our way North. We will likely do a somewhat diagonal trek to see friends in northern Florida, Alabama, Chicago and South Dakota and probably cross into Canada around the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. From there I’m looking forward to introducing Christine to some of Canada’s finest jewels by going through the Rockies to see spots such as Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise. Lots more family and friends to see in BC as we eventually make our way over to Vancouver and then Vancouver Island before we need to head south along the Pacific coast down to the SF Bay area and LA where we’ll turn left and start making our way East back to Florida where we fly back to Turkey on the first of December. It will be interesting to see what the odometer reads when we turn it in but likely more than 10K miles in total I’m guessing.
I will keep you posted from time to time here on the blog and those who wish can also follow along on FB and Instagram but this will likely be a bit of a hiatus for my blog articles till we return to Möbius at the beginning of December.
But enough of the future and let’s get back to the past week and what’s been going on. As per the title, I’m just going to catch you up on the bits and bobs of jobs that we got done this past week.
In last week’s post which you can read HERE I covered the installation of the big Blue Media or “sand” filter that I installed to more thoroughly filter the sea water as it gets pumped through the watermaker and converted into clear clean and almost pure H2O. This extends the life of the other two sea water filters from weeks to about one year so well worth the time and trouble. I received quite a few questions and Emails about this and you can read some of that in my answers to the comments on that posting but I thought some of this was worth posting here on its own with a few more details added.
One part of the discussion was about how Watermakers work and I noted that I’ve never been sure that Watermakers use “Reverse Osmosis” as this is a purely mechanical process of forcing salt water under very high pressures to pass through a semi-permeable membrane that won’t allow the larger sized salt and other molecules pass through so you get close to pure H2O as a result. I think the confusion in terminology comes in due to the fact that these membranes are very universal in use for lots of different applications and one of those is for actual reverse osmosis treatment of water such as ones in homes that use the chemical process of reverse osmosis to “pull” the raw water through the membrane and filter out unwanted minerals and other molecules to create clean water on the other side of the membrane.
My understanding is that high quality membranes such as those from DOW and Parker, only allow particles smaller than 0.0001 microns to pass through so very little other than the H2O molecules themselves can make it through.
This graphic from SeaTask does a nice job of putting this into perspective and as it notes, not much more than the H2O molecules can make it through that membrane.
Several people asked if we were doing any additional treatments to the watermaker water before drinking it. The short answer is no, we don’t do any additional treatment and drink the product water as it is called as it comes out of the watermaker. The slightly longer answer is that while some others do add additional treatments ranging from the use of second actual RO filter to UV (Ultra Violet) radiation, we feel that these are superfluous. Both Christine and I have been drinking watermaker water for decades with no known side or ill effects so we are very comfortable with this.
However, we do also have a 210L/55USG polyethylene tank that we also keep filled with watermaker water at all times. We did this as a redundant backup type of system and a bit of a “belt & suspenders” approach for that critical to life commodity of potable water. This tank is completely independent with its own pump with a dedicated faucet in the galley sink and as with all our aluminium built in tanks, it too is ONLY ever filled with water from our watermaker. No shore water allowed onboard. Therefore even if we were to somehow loose the entire 7300L/1900USG supply of potable water in the six aluminium tanks welded into the hull or their pumps or plumbing failed, we would always have about 200L to tide us over until we could fix the watermaker or whatever the problem was with our potable water system. We use this plastic water tank every day as literal drinking water supply from the faucet in the galley sink, but we do this just to keep this tank, pump, lines, etc. in good working condition, not because of any concern for the quality of the water itself and we regularly drink the water from all the other faucets as well.
I have read mixed reports of concerns that watermaker water is “too pure” in that the “good” parts such as some minerals and vitamins but we have always had a daily regime of multi vitamins, vitamin D & E, Omega 3, etc. as a “just in case” we might be short on any of those with our regular eating so these would more than make up for any lack of minerals and vitamins in our onboard potable water.
If anything, the only slight downside of drinking watermaker water is that it is pretty much tasteless and we do notice that when we are travelling or eating at other people’s homes that there is more “taste” the water, which of course can sometimes be very good and other times not so much so!
More XPM Family News
A few weeks ago in my post “The Artnautica Family Continues to Grow” I shared a few details of the next two XPM boats being built at Naval Yachts, the XPM78-02 Vanguard and the first of the larger XPM85 mode. This week I received two new introduction videos that Naval has posted on YouTube and I thought you might enjoy seeing these so here are the links below.
XPM78-02 Vanguard Intro video
XPM85 intro video from Naval
I will do my best to keep you updated as these two new builds progress so do stay tuned for more XPM goodness in the coming months.
Some TLC for our Tender “Mobli”
I was finally able to carve out some time to work on getting our Tender which we have called “Mobli” as a slight play on Kipling’s character Mowgli.
Basic specs are:
LOA 5.0m / 16.4ft
Beam 2.0m / 6.5ft
Draft 288mm / 13.8 inch
Weight: 1088 Kg / 2390 Lbs
Engine: 110HP Yanmar 4JH4-HTE
Propulsion: Castoldi 224 Direct Drive Jet
Our design intent was not for a typical RIB dinghy to just ferry us ashore in an anchorage and much more so a full on Tender that we designed using the same four SCEM principles we used for Möbius; Safety, Comfort, Efficiency and Maintainability. This will be our mini eXplorer boat to take us to places we can’t or don’t want to take Möbius to such as up small inlets and rivers, into super shallow bays and enable us to take multi day eXcursions in safety and comfortably dry in most any weather. Should also make for a fun boat when we have grandkids and others that might want to go water skiing or wakeboarding.
Mobli will also be our backup plan if we should ever run into catastrophic problems with Möbius being either unable to move or worst yet, sinking or on fire. As such Mobli will be both our lifeboat should we ever need to abandon ship and also be our emergency “get home” solution by being a little mini tugboat capable of pushing or pulling Möbius at a reasonable speed in reasonable sea conditions. Hence the 110HP inboard, which also met our single fuel boat design criteria by eliminating gasoline for an outboard engine. After seeing so many jet drives being used the pilot boats being built for Coast Guards, military and police use, we went with a jet drive for added safety, shallow water ability and high mobility in any direction. Having industrial quality rubber fenders or rub rails wrapped around all sides gave us all the better abilities to be a mini tugboat and be that much safer and cleaner when we make contact with docks or other boats.
For ease of boarding we designed the bow on Mobli such that we can butt the squared off bow fender up against a dock or the end of the Swim Platform on Möbius and then use these two very solid handrails for maximum safety for those getting on/off.
Prior to leaving the Antalya Free Zone back in May, Christine and had installed the Castoldi 224DD Jet Drive into the hull so she is watertight but I ran out of time during the launch and so I just set the 110HP Yanmar 4JH4-HTE engine in place on the engine beds and covered her up until this week.
So for the past months since launch, Mobli has been patiently waiting in her chocks on the Aft Deck for some time and attention to get her sea worthy too. You can see how Mobil has been designed for a Goldilocks close fit on the Aft Deck and by putting her at an angle the weight is kept very close to the centerline of Möbius and does not cause much heel when onboard. What little listing there is we can easily compensate for by moving a bit of our potable water to tanks in the other side using the built in water transfer pump system. We designed the engine bay lid to hinge up and out of the way to provide maximum access all around when open and then fully sound proofed when closed. Once I get the engine fully installed I have the sound insulation foam to install on all sides and the underside of the lid to keep Tender nice and quiet when underway, just like her sibling Möbius. Our decision on the whole jet drive propulsion system became very easy when we discovered that the Castoldi 224DD and Yanmar 4JH4-HTE were available as a total propulsion package that came with everything needed including all the wiring harnesses, hydraulic steering, dashboard instrumentation and switches, CentaFlex coupling and Transmec Cardon shaft, wet muffler, etc. I’ve been most impressed with the completeness of this single package and will help to make the installation much more trouble free. If you look at the drawings above you can see how the CentaFlex flexible coupling on the left, bolts to the Yanmar’s flywheel and then the Transmec Cardon shaft on the right, bolts to that at the front and then the Castoldi input flange aft. Here are all those parts in real life and one of my tasks this week was to work out the correct length and alignment of this drive train so I could then do the second job of bolting the 4 motor mounts on the Yanmar to the 20mm thick AL engine beds you can see them resting on here. A slightly different and closer view for you. The CentaFlex coupling helps to eliminate any vibrations and provide a smoother coupling of the Yanmar’s power to the jet drive. You may recall seeing a much larger version of this same kind of CentaFlex coupling that connects Mr. Gee to the Nogva CPP gearbox. so nice to keep it all in the same family. Once I had the fore/aft position of the Yanmar worked out, the next very important task was to align the output flange of the Yanmar flywheel to be precisely the same as the input flange on the Castoldi. It is a bit tricky and time consuming as you need to align the centerline of the Yanmar’s crankshaft to the input shaft of the Castoldi. As such, you need to measure and adjust the Yanmar in all six degrees.
I clamped the aluminium flat bar to the face of the Castoldi flange and uses this as my horizontal and then rotated 90 degrees to be the vertical reference points from which I could measure to the machined surfaces of the flywheel and bellhousing. Additionally, I needed to get the two centerlines to meet up and so I came up with this magnetic pointer that I could attach to the center shaft on the Castoldi and extend that to the centered hole in the end of the Yanmar’s crankshaft. A ways out as you can see here so then I adjusted the rear two motor mounts down a bit and the front two up a bit to tilt the engine downwards until the pointer was dead centered. Of course this now puts the vertical alignment out of whack a bit so you have to go back and reset those and around you go till you get them all just right. Once I had everything aligned I could centerpunch the locations for the two bolts that fasten each motor mount to the engine beds and drill them out for the 10mm hardened steel bolts.
Of course Mr. Murphey was on the job with me as always and to be able to get the drill into three of these bolt locations I had to lift and shift the engine out of the way which meant that I then had to go back and redo all the alignments! Finally all done with mounting the engine and time to prep the CentaFlex Coupling and the Cardon shaft to be installed next. As the weekend slipped away, all I had time for was cleaning up and painting the drive components and getting them all safely stowed away for the next two months while we are away. When we get back in December I will finish installing them and the drive system will be all good to go. Then it will take me some time to install all the steering, control panels, hydraulic lines, starter batteries, throttle cable, wet exhaust system, etc.
Looking forward to getting to all those jobs when I return and then being able to launch and test Mogli to see how she performs. Launching will also require me to rig up the Davit Arch in order to launch Mobli so be sure to stay tuned for those updates as they start to roll out when we get back to Turkey in December. That is about it for actual work on Möbius this week as I will be busy for the next few days before we fly out on Wednesday, getting Möbius tidied up and ready for the arrival of the wetter rainy months of winter here in Antalya. I will do my best to post a brief update just before or after we fly out.
Thanks so much for joining us on this grand adventure and don’t forget to add your comments and questions in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
After the novella that I turned last week’s post into I will change the pace for this week and write about something else I get asked about a lot and that more people can likely relate to than last week’s Tech Talk deep dive into fuel maps and CPP props. And a lot shorter!
Hope you enjoy and let me know in your comments either way.
Green Grass Prototyping
In one of my former lives I was a drafting and CAD teacher and in the architecture classes I taught I showed my students the value of what I referred to as the “Green Grass” approach to prototyping.
I took this title from a practice that I had first run into when I was attending the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and they were doing some major construction projects on this hugely awesome 400 hectares/1000 acres campus. When it came time to put in the many sidewalks and pathways around the campus rather than do the typical set of engineering studies to determine minimum walking distances, foot traffic density and the like, they instead just planted all these areas in grass for the first year. After being used that first year they went back and simply put in sidewalks and walkways on top of all the well trodden pathways had been made by all the people walking on them for the past year. I thought this was a brilliant method that I admired for its humbleness of seeing that the users were the true experts and that “we is smarter than me” type of approach. I have gone on to use this approach for the rest of my life and applied it conceptually to most of my many “build” projects over the past 50 years, the latest of which is the design and building of our new boat Möbius. Hence this week’s title. Seemed all quite apropos that I should come across this perfect example on my walk to the bank yesterday in the small town of Finike Turkey where we are currently docked and working on Möbius at the Setur Finike Marina.
Pretty clear proof that the civil engineers who did this recent renovation miscalculated and forgot to put in this section of walkway that more people than me thought should be there! I find this Green Grass Prototyping to be one of those concepts that is so simple and easy to understand, yet ever so smart and powerful. I thought it was worth writing about both because I get a lot of related questions about some of the ways we have used this on Möbius and I also hope that it is a concept than many of you will find useful and powerful in some of your own projects. Here are a few examples we have right now on Möbius.
Shading & Cooling of Super Salon
After living aboard for over seven months now, we are eXtremely pleased with the 360 degree views we have through the 26mm/1” thick glass that surrounds the SuperSalon or Pilot House. It is a thrilling place to be both day and night. We knew that all this glass would require some additional attention to control the heat coming in from the sun as well as the heat going out at night and we have quite a few options as to how to control both of these. As with most parts of boat design it is all about juggling the various pros and cons of each option and deciding which one will be the just right, just for us, Goldilocks choice. In many cases this is exacerbated by the fact that in order to evaluate many options you need to live with it for awhile and experiment with different arrangements before you will know how each possible solution works and how well it does or does not fit you. For controlling the PH windows we have options that include applying some of the amazing new films that are being made, using blinds on the inside or using shade cloth on the outside. This is where the Green Grass prototyping really shines and so we have been applying it to the shading of the SuperSalon glass. For the past few months we have had this nylon mesh garden shade material draped around the sides and front of the SuperSalon. We bought a 20m length of 2m wide shade cloth that is readily available from home improvement and hardware stores as it is used extensively for everything from shaded overhangs on cafes to semi-privacy screening on link fencing.
And I used some of these plastic spring clamps in my Workshop to clamp the unused width of the cloth to the AL pipe handrails running all around the roof overhang.
This has been working really well as it allows us to lift it up out of the way entirely in a few seconds and so we can experiment with how much of a difference it makes in the morning vs afternoon sun, etc.. One of the unexpected things we’ve learned is that in addition to reducing the amount of UV and sunlight getting through the glass, this draped material keeps the glass itself much cooler and also forms a bit of an air insulation pocket in the large space between the cloth and the window glass. Being loose and not attached at the bottom seems to also help in that there is a natural breeze blowing through this space keeping it from trapping hot air inside. It looks completely blacked out from the outside but when you are inside there is still reasonably good visibility so you know what is going on around you. Still early in our prototyping phase with this but our current thinking is that we will still likely go ahead and put in some film on the outer surfaces that will reduce the UV and heat transfer without adding much tint or colorization. But we think we will also do a more finished installation of this shade cloth by putting in some tracks or fasteners around the top and bottom and sewing up a strip of the shade cloth to attach to these. Right now we are enjoying the HUGE difference this has made to the inside temperatures in the hot up to 40C/105F we’ve had this summer.
Another place where we have been applying the Green Grass approach is with the furniture in the large area up in the SkyBridge. We purposely left his large area open and then Christine found some inexpensive patio furniture that fit just right into the dimensions of this area. It is all loose and easily moved about so we are trying out different configurations of these furniture pieces for a month or so at a time while we enjoy it each breakfast and evening sundowner’s. We pay attention and talk about what we like, what’s working, what’s not with each configuration and I will use these when it comes time to build in a more permanent solution. A good example of where this prototyping really pays off is that I’ve realized that the AL frame running around the circumference of the windows where they transition from fixed tinted glass to removable panes of clear acrylic, ends up being at the same height as our eyes when we are sitting down. This gets in the way as you are looking out and showed us that we will want to install a raised platform for this area where the furniture will sit. This will also make it easy for me to convert the table to a pedestal style that can be raised and lowered and will give us some easy to access storage under the platform. I will build a prototype of this platform as well using PVC pipe and fittings for a framework and some plywood for the raised floor so we can Green Grass the platform as well and figure out the best shape and height.
Media Filter v2.0
I’ve also been doing some Green Grass prototyping with the media or sand filter that does the bulk of the work filtering the sea water being pumped into our Delfin 250L/hr watermaker.
Apparently my first attempt with this plastic tank pool filter wasn’t quite up to the job as the 45PSI feed pump pressure proved too much for the seam and it split. So I found a more robust model that I could get shipped in here which is no easy task let me assure you, and spent 2 days getting this bad boy installed. As you can see it is wrapped in glass fibre to withstand much higher pressures. Unfortunately the only size that would fit moved the six position valve (black plastic bit on top of the white watermaker) from the top to the side so it took me a bit longer to figure out how best to re-route all the hoses and get everything to fit. It was close but I ended up being able to get it to fit just nicely behind the Blue filter body and still allow me to see the various pressure gauges I have on the plumbing and to fit all the hoses coming in and out. The low pressure (45 PSI) Feed Pump first pushes the sea water from the sea chest through the Blue media filter which removes almost all of the algae, dirt, etc. and then it goes through the 25 micron filter on the Right here before going through the final 5 micron filter. All in all it worked out very well. These media filters are not commonly found in marine Watermakers but they really do dramatically reduce the amount of filter cleaning and maintenance. Without one of these I would typically need to clean each of the 5 & 25 micron filters before each use and replace them about once a month. In my previous boat, adding a media filter reduced this to changing these two filters about once a year and even then they were still very clean. Inside the big Blue filter body, I first fill the bottom 10cm/4” (similar to the “Grade 2” in this illustration) with crushed rock about 20mm / 3/4” in size These rocks cover the spokes or laterals in the bottom of the filter and prevent the mesh surfaces from clogging with the sand above. Super simple in operation, no moving parts, the water enters at the top and the water pressure pushes the seawater through the full height of the sand and then exits out the bottom outlet. Rather than typical pool sand, I use what is called Zeolite which is far superior to regular pool filter sand in that it traps MUCH more and much finer particles and it cleans out much easier when back flushed. From what I read Zeolite is a natural mineral formed millions of years ago in volcanic ash flows that settled in seas and lakes. Zeolite a filtration area of about 1,000 times greater than sand media beds and the key to the truly amazing performance of this all natural Zeolite is in its molecular structure which looks like this. Much more surface area to trap finer particles in much higher volume than grains of sand. After each run of the watermaker it takes me about 3 minutes to backflush the media filter with fresh seawater by simply moving the handle on the filter valve to “Backwash” and then about 30 seconds at “Rinse” and it is all clean and ready for the next run.
The mechanical pressure gauges and Maretron pressure sensors make it easy for me to monitor any clogging of any of the filters and know which one is clogged.
I could argue that fresh water is ultimately even more critical than diesel fuel for us in order to live the completely self sufficient and eXtremely remote life style we do, so having these extra layers of filtration and dramatically lowered maintenance tick of all four of our SCEM priorities of Safety Comfort Efficiency and Maintainability.
Self Sufficient Freedom
This is especially relevant when we are at the very tiny remote islands we so enjoy which often have very limited fresh water for themselves. This is one of many favorite such spots we’ve been to, here in the Lau Group of islands in Fiji with a total of about 120 residents ashore when we were there in 2015. In several instances in our past experiences our watermaker proved to be quite the relationship builder wherein we were able to add value to the lives of those ashore by providing them with more fresh water rather than showing up wanting to take it from them to fill up depleted fresh water tanks onboard. This is the Aur atoll in the Marshall Islands when I was there in 2012.
Having a watermaker is also a key factor in our #1 benefit of this lifestyle which is Freedom. Without a watermaker, passage making boats often have their schedules dictated by the range of the supplies they carry. This applies to electricity needing to recharge batteries with shore power, diesel fuel when your tanks are too small to allow greater range and to fresh water as I’ve outlined above.
Being able to make all the electricity and water we need and having enough fuel that we only need to fill up about every 18 months allows us to travel the world with an eXtremely clean and minimal wake of disruption of the world around us.
It means that when we reach our next destination we have no demands often constrained shoreside resources and no stress from desperately seeking more water, fuel or electrical power.
Thanks for joining me again this week, hope it was enjoyable and you learned something. Please add your comments, what you learned, what you are still curious about, in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
Our lives aboard Möbius have settled into the same pattern of working our way through the list of jobs needing to be finished before Möbius is fully sea worth and ready for us to get back to crossing oceans and eXploring the salt water world we both love so much. This work is far from “glamorous” or eXciting, just neccessary and a pattern we are accustomed to from our decades being full time live aboards and stewards of many boats before.
What IS eXtremely eXciting is the arrival of more and more members of our family of XPM style boats from the desk of our beloved Naval Architect and designer, Dennis Harjamaa who runs Artnautica Yacht Design in Auckland NZ. So let me provide a bit of background to help put this all in context.
Finding our Goldilocks NA and Designer for XPM78-01 Möbius
Back in 2016 when Christine and I got serious about switching from sail to power and designing and building our own new “Goldilocks” just right, just for us passage maker, we spent a year searching the world for our equally Goldilocks NA. There are a LOT of Naval Architects and boat design firms but what made our search so challenging was that we did not want to be just clients the designer worked FOR and end up with a boat design that was based on what the designer thought was best. Instead we wanted a designer who would work WITH us in a highly collaborative way to transform the very specific visions and specifications which we knew well from all our nautical smiles at sea. It took us almost a year and a lot of both nautical and air miles but we finally found and met up with Dennis when we had our previous boat in New Zealand and we knew right away that we had finally found our Goldilocks guy.
Winding the clock back a few years more, somewhere around 2010, after designing a lot of very successful smaller boats, Dennis set out to design the Goldilocks boat for himself and his partner Raquel to live aboard and enable them to start exploring the world by sea. What he came up with was the LRC58 which you see rendered here and hull #1 called “Koti” has been their full time home near Auckland since it launched in 2013.
Since then FIVE more LRC58’s have launched from the Aluboot yard in the Netherlands and you can read all about them HERE on the Artnautica.EU website. But wait! There’s more!!!
Not only did Dennis design the LRC58, he also built her almost single handedly! So now you are starting to understand why Dennis was and still is to this day our Goldilocks XPM designer!
The XPM Line of Boats Begins
Christine and I found the LRC name to be too generic and overused in the boating world and so we came up with the more specific eXtreme eXploration Passage Maker or XPM title to better suit this unique style of boats and therefore Möbius became hull #1 of the new XPM78 design.
We spent almost two years working with Dennis in what quickly became a collaborative work of art and engineering and resulted in the completed 3D model and drawings that were used by Naval Yachts to build XPM78-01 Möbius. This is a relatively new style of boat which do not yet have a common name or acronym but are all designed and built for a small but growing group of like minded people with a common set of priorities and use cases. They are most often a couple, sometimes with a child or two, who want to be able to have a floating home that can carry them across oceans and eXplore the most remote spots on the planet and do so with the highest degree of safety, comfort, efficiency and low maintenance. Such requirements tend to determine the overall characteristics of these boats so they are long, slender and slippery all aluminium hulls that are low to the water, self righting and efficient to run with as low amount of maintenance as possible to operate.
Since designing our XPM78-01 Möbius, more and more people have been intrigued by what Dennis calls his LRC or Long Range Cruising boats and have sought him out to design a Goldilocks version of an XPM for them and that’s what brings us to this post.
Over the years as more people became aware of our work building Möbius and chronicling it all with these weekly blog posts, Christine and I have been fielding more and more requests by people wanting to know more about these XPM boats, In spite of my Emails being even longer than my blog posts, some of these people have been brave enough to keep asking questions and receiving more and more of my novellas aka Emails as their interest grew. In several cases this has led to them coming to meet with us for lengthy tours of Möbius, Naval Yachts and the Antalya Free Zone and as you’re about to see, in several cases this ultimately led to several signing on the dotted line with Artnautica and Naval to design and build an XPM for them.
The first are an American couple, Chris and Sebrina and their son Rhys who not only endured hundreds of pages of my Emails but they also very courageously flew over to Antalya last December and we spent several days with them aboard Möbius as she was nearing the end of her build and showing them around Antalya and Naval Yachts. Apparently they liked what they saw as a few months later they had signed on with Artnautica and Naval to design and build what is now hull # 2 XPM78-02 Vanguard.
These are some relatively recent renders of how hull #2 has evolved. You can see the XPM78 family resemblance and she is based on the same models as Möbius. However Chris & Sebrina worked with Artnautica and Naval on some important modifications to make this the just right, just for them, XPM78. Keen eyed followers might notice that the Pilot House has been lengthened by about 1 from aka 1 meter which is a change that we recommended as well for all future XPM78’s. More significantly and perhaps controversial, the Pilot House has also been raised by about the same amount to enable the area underneath to become living space that includes a 3rd cabin. Some of the other key changes that Vanguard will have include:
Twin John Deer 4045 engines with double prop tunnels to keep the draft down.
electric hybrid propulsion by Praxis added to the propulsion from twin JD diesel engines
addition of a 3rd cabin
extending the PH as noted above to make the salon in particular more roomy.
raise the PH to convert what is the Basement on Möbius to all living space on Vanguard.
bulwarks wrapping around the side and bow decks
windows in the sides of the hull
Some will love those changes, others will question but all that matters is that this is what’s best for Chris, Sebrina and Rhys.
There are a growing number of designs similar to these XPM’s from other companies that have appeared in the past couple of years but almost none of these have gone on to be built. So pictures like this are a big deal IMHO!
Construction at Naval began in April and matches the way Möbius was built. A steel frame is built on the shop floor and then the hull is built upside down on top of this. For the curious, if you go back to posts here starting around April 2018 you can see when Möbius was at this same point and follow the construction from there if you’d like to look into the future of the building of Vanguard. This is the most recent photo I received from Chris which I think was taken a few weeks ago at the end of August.
I believe Chris and/or Naval will soon be creating a blog to cover this build and I’ll be sure to pass that on here for those interested.
Not to be outdone, another couple, Andrew and Lily, also from the USA have recently signed on with Artnautica and Naval to build XPM hull #3 and this one will be much larger at 85’ LOA. Covid travel restrictions have not allowed us to meet in person yet, but Christine and I have had some video calls with Andrew and Lily and they too have been subjected to my barrage of Emails as I attempt to answer all their questions. Unfortunately as you may have heard in the news, there has also been a Covid related shortage in the world’s aluminium supply so work on both XPM78-02 and XPM85-01 has been delayed but Naval has been busy getting ready for the aluminium to arrive by building the steel support structure that XPM85 will be built upon.
Dennis and Naval are still working with Andrew to finalize the design so I don’t have much more to show you yet but will bring you updates when I get them and we could not be more eXcited for Andrew & Lily as their dreams are transformed into very real aluminium. But wait! There is still MORE!!
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands
As if these new XPM builds were not enough eXcitement for one blog post, things have been equally as busy or more so over in the LRC world of Artnautica. Somewhere around 2018 Dennis was in conversation with the owner of LRC58-03 Britt which launched from the Aluboot yard in July 2017. Rob Westermann and his wife Janet have been touring the many waterways surrounding the Netherlands and their conversations with Dennis soon resulted in Rob setting up Artnautica Europe. Rob and I first met at the big METS marine trade show in Amsterdam back in 2018 and have gone on to become very good friends who have visited with us in Antalya several times. Rob is eXtremely bright and entrepreneurial and he has been a great partner with Dennis to extend and expand the LRC line of boats being built in the Netherlands as well.
Rob & Janet enjoyed their life aboard Britt so much that they decided they wanted not only more time but more boat and so began a conversation and a whole new design process that has now culminated in the LRC65 which will become the new home for them to continue to explore Europe and the world.
FYI, LRC58-03 Britt is therefore now for sale and can find out more about that and how to contact Rob HERE.
LRC65-01 Britt II
As you can imagine, Covid restrictions are doing their best to get in the way of getting LRC65-01 off the drawing board and into the build, but Rob is tenacious and very experienced so he was able to get in an order for some aluminium just as the supply was drying up and they expect to begin construction in about a month.
Dennis & Rob have created two layout versions GA 5 and GA 6 have each with different galley, settee, and helm station positions, as well as a different position of the staircase leading forward. This could be interchangeable between the two layout options. As you can see here in this rendering of the framework of LRC65, the LRC/XPM boat similarities are much more than just skin deep. Here is a similar shot of Mobius’ framework. When you peel away the outer aluminium plating, the familiar Artnautica framing signature is very clear to see.
There will be several propulsion options for the LRC65; twins of either Beta 75 or John Deere 4045 DTF 70 (80hp). The single-engine option will have a turbocharged four-cylinder, 130-160hp engine, likely supplied by SABB who make the CPP gearbox of choice and can therefore supply the whole driveline (Deutz, Iveco, and AGCO Sisu).
Phwew!!! That was quite the tour of the XPM Family Tree!
Coming around the XPM world full circle, I will leave you with this photo of the very first XPM, our beloved Möbius.
Hope you enjoyed the tour and if you have any questions or would like to consider creating your own XPM just let me know in the “Join the Discussion” box below or send me an Email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another hot and busy week onboard the Good Ship Möbius here in the Finike marina as we continue to work on the seemingly endless ToDo list of jobs we need to complete to get Möbius fully ship shape to the degree that we can be confident to go to sea on her. Weather here continues to be wonderful although the daytime temps have been creeping up to the mid 30’s (mid 90’s for those who are metric challenged) but we have the AirCon working very well now and use that to cool down Christine’s office during the daytime, the SuperSalon for dinners and our Master Cabin just before we head off to bed. The “eXcessive” EPDM insulation we installed throughout the boat is really paying great dividends now as it keeps the heat out and the cooled down temps in so the loads on our AirCon chiller system are minimized.
This great weather, which is normal for us in this part of Turkey, also inspired Captain Christine to take to the air as she started to log more hours with our DJI Mavic Air 2 drone. We’ve had it for quite a while but have both been so busy with boat work that we just have not had the time to fly it and become familiar with it. Christine will put together some videos she took with it and post these a bit later for you to enjoy and I can give you this aerial view of Möbius as a teaser.
This is where we are tied up at Finike Marina and will give you a different perspective on what Möbius looks like from above. Easy to see the 14 solar panels from this viewpoint. Flying a bit further away to give you this view looking back at Möbius to help orient you as to where we are within the marina. You can Click to enlarge this or any other photo. This pano shot from a bit further out will give you a better sense of our surroundings and where we go for our evening swim after quitting work every day.
You may recall that back in June we drove up to a big hardware store north of us to pick up a new air compressor for the Workshop and after testing it out and thinking over the best location, I got around to permanently mounting it this week.
Reminding you that this is a WORK shop, so a bit messy, but you can see the white Kuletas compressor mounted underneath the Aft end of my Port/Left side workbench.
This is one of the newer types of compressors that has two motors each with two compressors so four compressors all together. This enables each one to be smaller and run at lower RPM’s and run eXtremely quietly! I can hear it come on when I’m in the workshop but it doesn’t interrupt a conversation and you can’t hear it at all outside of the workshop.
This air compressor is a super handy bit of kit to have and in addition to using it to power some pneumatic tools, clean tight passages out and blow up inflatable kayaks and the like, we use this to provide air to breathe using our Hookah or Snuba gear to work underneath or dive down to about 20m/65ft up to 100 feet around the boat.
It was definately a shoehorned fit with less than 1cm to clear at the top but this location keeps the compressor out of the way, easy to service and uses an otherwise not so usable wedge shaped space. And of course we continue to have some “infant mortality” jobs on the list such as when this seam in our brand new sand filter burst and started spraying seawater all over the Workshop.
While I hunt down a newer and better version I have just bypassed this for now and run the seawater supply to our Delfin 200L/hr watermaker through just our primary and secondary sediment filters for now. These “media” or sand filters are most commonly used for swimming pools so many of you will recognize this. However they are the secret weapon for dramatically reducing the maintenance of a watermaker by filtering out almost everything down to about 5 microns prior to going to the two sediment filters. We would normally need to clean those filters every 10 hours of use and replace them every month or so whereas with the media filter in front, the sediment filters last for over a year.
What I will do for the rest of this posting is go through the belt drive system I designed and built to power the seawater pump and Electrodyne alternator mounted on the front of Mr. Gee. I’ve been reminded by several of you that I promised to do this many months ago so my thanks for your patience in waiting until now. Hope the wait will have been worth it.
To put this all in context, I had a relatively large seawater pump and two very large alternators that I needed to mount on Mr. Gee our Gardner 6XB and then drive them both from his crankshaft.
The seawater pump weighs about 7kg/15lbs and each of the Electrodyne 250A @ 24V alternators weigh 40kg/88lbs so the mounting system needs to be eXtremely strong and solid. Both the pump and the alternator require a good bit of power to drive them so the drive system needed to be equally as tough and to be up for this task of years of trouble free service.
I won’t go into much detail on this but the seawater pump pulls seawater direct from the sea chest in the Engine Room and then pumps this water through three heat exchangers/coolers, one to cool engine oil, one to cool the engine’s water/antifreeze coolant and one to cool the Nogva gearbox oil before it finally and perhaps most importantly gets sprayed into the exhaust elbow to cool down the exhaust gas and then exit out of the boat. If this pump fails for any reason, the engine would overheat quickly and cause some extreme damage. Both of these bits of kit are therefore very critical to keeping the boat running, the seawater pump in particular so I needed to come up with a design that would be as bullet proof as possible.
There are two of these big red Electrodyne brutes which have a de-rated output of 250A @ 24V and each one weighs in at 40kg/88lbs and can take up to 20HP to drive at maximum output so their mounting and driving systems have to be equally as eXtreme.
However this essentially gives us the equivalent of a 12kW “generator” whenever Mr. Gee is running so these ensure that we never have any shortage of amps to keep our batteries fully charged and power all our electrical systems whenever we are underway.
Of course we are at anchor much more than we are underway so our 4.4kWp solar array keeps the batteries fully charged the majority of the time.
But how to mount them and drive them was the big question?
Direct PTO Mounting for Electrodyne #1
Mounting one of the #1 Electrodyne alternator was relatively easy as Gardner LXB engines have a dedicated PTO driven system for driving one alternator. I had a short jack shaft in my spare parts that I was able to machine some adaptors for that connect the end of the jack shaft to the PTO output and the input shaft of the Electrodyne. Then I was able to machine some other adaptors for these ribs where the alternator body bolts directly to the side of the Gardner crankcase. Using this Black metal band strap to hold it all together. KISS and eXtremely strong, what’s not to like?
As you can see this was quite the shoehorned fit but was relatively straightforward to do compared to coming up with a way of mounting the second Electrodyne.
Mounting Big Red #2
Physically mounting the second alternator was actually not too difficult thanks to the nice large flat mounting pad that the Gardner 6LXB’s have on their front Left corner. This was originally used to mount things such as air compressors on the automotive version of LXB’s used in trucks or to mount water pumps on the marine versions. I had another place in mind for the seawater pump so I used this mounting pad for the second Electrodyne instead. Pretty straight forward, I machined two 25mm thick AL plates and drilled them to match the spacing of the four threaded holes that were already in the mounting pad.
Then I machined and drilled the riser for the through bolt on the bottom of the Electrodyne and welded this all together. This created a super solid mounting system for this second Electrodyne. Then I fabricated a SS bar that connects to the red tab you see just in front of my knuckles here, which holds the alternator in its final position and it was now fully mounted.
But how to drive this second Electrodyne AND the sea water pump was the big question!
Mounting the Jabsco 6400 Series Sea Water Pump
Having used the Left side mounting pad on the Gardner for Big Red #2 I now needed to come up with an equally robust mount for the Jabsco seawater pump.
As you can see the pump has a simple flat mounting pad on the bottom with four bolt holes to fasten it down and wanting to KISS (Keep It Simple & Safe) I decided to go with an equally simple flat bar of 25mm thick AL which I could quite easily mount vertically over on the Right side of Mr. Gee. Didn’t take me long to fabricate this mounting bar, bolt the Jabsco pump to it and create some simple mounts for this bar to bolt onto the front right side of Mr. Gee.
As with the Electrodyne alternators, the mounting part of this puzzle was relatively easy, now on to the bigger challenge of driving both the water pump and the alternator.
Designing the Drive System
I spent a LOT of time sketching out ideas on my favorite medium; old cardboard boxes! I would sketch up very rough ideas of every possible drive system I could imagine and pulled lots of dimensions off of Mr. Gee, the Electrodyne and the Jabsco sea water pump as I refined the design. As my idea took shape I started searching for the components I would need for the actual drive components such as the pulleys for the belt and what their requirements were for power, RPM, etc.. I knew this was going to be a rubber belt drive system but traditional V-belts were just not up for the job even if I used two or three of them and they tend to slip quite easily if the belt tension is not just right and very tight. They also require very close alignment or else they start to wear and through black rubber dust all over the engine room.
Ask me how I know all this?!! For a long while I thought I was going to use a multi V serpentine belt drive setup, As per this nice lineup of different V belt types of pulleys, you can see that these multi rib belts and pulleys are able to handle much bigger loads and are more durable. These are used on millions of cars and trucks around the world to drive their alternators, water pumps, etc. so they are well proven. Better yet, I already had two of these as they came with the Electrodyne alternators I already had on hand. You can see one inside the white rectangle on the left. However, this still left me with having to custom build a multi V groove pulley to drive all this off of the front end of Mr. Gee’s crankshaft and one to mount on the keyed shaft of the Jabsco water pump. Not a big deal in and of itself, BUT if I was going to have to build custom pulleys, why not go for an even better belt drive system?
Good – Better – Best
Traditional V belt drives are good and serpentine multi groove V belts are better but cogged belts are THE best when it comes to driving high power shafts. My Harley Davidson motorcycles used these instead of chain drives so I was very familiar with them and how well they worked.
Many of you might know of these and refer to them as “timing belts” as they are used in millions of gas and diesel engines in cars, trucks, busses and boats around the world to very accurately drive the camshaft in those engines. In that job they are required to have zero “slip” or else the timing of the valves opening and closing won’t work and they need to be eXtremely long lasting as replacing them can be very expensive due to all the labour required to remove and replace them on most engines.
Once I got onto that line of thinking the choice was simple. Amongst other benefits these cogged belts gave me the following benefits:
Tried and True having been used for decades in millions if not billions of exiting engines
Readily available to buy new ones around the world if ever needed. (I of course have two spare on hand already)
Zero slip = zero belt dust = super accurate tachometer sensing on the alternator
fast, easy, tool-less belt changing
automatic tensioning with readily available spring loaded tensioners used in those millions of other engines
low axial (sideways) loads on the bearings of the alternator and water pump which in my experience is the #1 cause of failure.
Dead quiet operation; no belt squealing or squeaking
As you can see, this decision was easy, now on to designing a way to make this all work and find the cogged belt drive pulleys I would need to buy or make.
McMaster-Carr to the Rescue!
Where do you go when you have these kinds of needs for mechanical parts?? THE best source I know of, which also happens to have one of THE best designed web sites I’ve ever used; McMaster-Carr.
Within seconds, I got to this page that had eXactly what I needed. A full range of these beautifully machined cogged belt pulleys. Took me a few more hours playing around with different sizes for the three pulleys I needed to get the RPM just right for the outputs of the water pump and the alternator;
* one large 142mm pitch diameter for the main drive off the Crankshaft,
* one medium size 142mm pitch diameter to drive the Jabsco pump at its sweet spot of output when Mr. Gee is at 1400 RPM cruising speed
* and one smaller 66 Pitch diameter pulley to drive the Electrodyne at its Goldilocks RPM.
In addition to the three pulleys; I also ordered the just right sized cog belts made by Gates. Only one belt is needed but I ordered 3 so I have two for spares in the unlikely event that one belt breaks at some point. The real Pièce de résistance though came when I happened to notice down at the very bottom of the McMaster-Carr page you see up above, these “quick disconnect bushings”.
Took me a few minutes to realize just how ingenious this design was and the short story is that the smaller diameter of the quick disconnect part in my hand has a slight taper to it which fits into the matching inner hole of the cogged pulleys. This allows the Quick Connect to slide all the way inside the cogged belt pully and you’ll notice that these Quick Connects are slit on one side opposite the keyway. Holding the two parts together you tighten down the three bolts which forces the tapered QC to expand and jam itself tightly onto both the keyed shaft and the outer cogged pulley.
Brilliant! You will be forgiven for not sharing my eXcitement but for me this mounting system to attach the cogged belt pulleys to just about any size of keyed shaft was was like a gift from the mechanical gods. I quickly added three to my order and it was on its way to me.
Putting All the Puzzle Pieces Together
I now had all the pieces for this fun puzzle but still had to design it all up so that it could be installed on Mr. Gee. So I turned to my favorite 3D modeller, Autodesk’s Fusion 360 and was able to convert all my cardboard sketches into 3D models of each of the pieces and then accurately position them. McMaster-Carr provides 3D model files for everything they sell so I could quickly download the three pulleys and three Quick Connect fittings. Took a bit longer to create the 3D models for the Jabsco pump and the Gardner parts surrounding the crankshaft but with those on my screen I could then try out different positions within the constraints I had from Mr. Gee.
This was additionally challenged by the fact that I had also designed a custom version of the Gardner chain drive hand starter system which is the black line diagram you see overlaid here. Things were particularly “interesting” and close fitting down around the crankshaft where I needed to fit the red chainwheel for the hand starting chain and then come up with the Blue AL adaptor for it to spin on which in turn would be just the right spacing for the cogged belt pulley mounted on the custom Olive Green adaptor to attach the cogged pulley to the crankshaft. As you may have figured out by now I don’t throw ANYTHING away and so I had kept the original 4 V belt pulley that came with Mr. Gee, even though it had a large piece of it broken away. But this gave me the center piece that was already machined to just right fit on the keyed end of Mr. Gee’s crankshaft so I cut it out with a plasma gun and used it …. ….. to quickly machine it into this part which is the Olive Green part in the 3D model above. After making a few more parts, I could now dry assemble everything to see how well my 3D modeling transformed into the real world on the front of Mr. Gee.
Now to test how the belt fit and if all the pulley’s aligned with each other in all three planes so the belt would run true and free with no binding or chafing.
Worked out great!
BUT, there was still one critical part missing.
Can you figure out what that missing part is? Correct! I need to add in that spring loaded automatic belt tensioner!
To mount this onto the front of Mr. Gee in just the right fore/aft position so that the black idler pulley rides exactly in the center of the rubber cogged belt, I needed to space it out about 38mm so I quickly used by drill press/milling machine to build this solid AL spacer. Next I made up a template for the 10mm thick AL plate that this would mount onto. Like this. Bolted that to the Gardner cast AL support bracket supporting the cast AL cooling water holding tank, held the spring loaded tension wheel out of the way while I slid the cogged belt into lace and released the tensioner.
Et Voila! It all came together and works like a charm. Final piece of this multipart puzzle was to add in the chain drive hand crank system to make sure all the many players in this very busy front end all played nice together. You can see just how tight some of these clearances were in all this but it worked out just as I had modelled it, all the belt pulleys and chain wheels aligned with each other so they were all happy and it has been running like a charm for the past few months now.
Whew! Sure glad I was finally able to put this all together for you and for those who were brave enough and preserved to get to the end of this long and winding explanation. Congrats to all of you who did and for the smart ones who just skipped to the end.
I’ll leave you with one parting shot from Christine’s recent photo shot with the drone. It is a bit distorted with such a wide angle but this is looking across the entrance to the marina where Möbius is a bit left of center along that stone breakwater.
Thanks for joining me here again and don’t forget to add your comments and questions in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
We don’t use SCEM as filters per se, we use them to keep us on track, keep our priorities straight, by reminding us of what our fundamental values are for this boat. When doing our due diligence and research on some potential piece of equipment It is all too easy to get attracted or distracted by things like cool features or just the sheer number of choices and so as we go through our decision making we are constantly circling back through SCEM to make sure these fundamental requirements are being met.
This week in this Part 2 of our decision making process, I will do my best to summarize the more specific criteria we use to ultimately make our final decisions upon. I will cover this as a series of the following questions that we ask and answer to our satisfaction at least, as we evaluate each bit of kit and then use these to make our call.
What problem is this item attempting to solve?
Is the problem/item a want or a need?
Consequences of adding this item? Domino effect?
Does it pass the Goldilocks test?
New vs Tried & True?
What problem is this item attempting to solve?
Might sound like a silly question at first but it is surprising how often answering this question provides the most help in in our evaluation of a design decision or of a given piece of equipment. Let me use our decision of what battery type to use for our House Battery Bank to illustrate but one example of how valuable this question was.
To put this question into context, keep in mind that Möbius is a completely Battery Based Boat, meaning that ALL of our onboard electrical power comes from our House Battery Bank and therefore this is one of THE most critical systems on the boat and one that in some cases our lives can depend upon. For an XPM or any true eXpedition boat that is going to be able to carry us safely and comfortably to locations across the full spectrum of eXtremes of climate and remoteness, we need to be as self sufficient as possible and so our onboard electrical power rates right up there alongside diesel fuel and fresh (potable) water as a critical requirement. An XPM type boat is designed to spend the majority of its time at anchor or at sea, in our case often for months at a time, so in all our design and equipment decisions, we assume that we will have no shore based resources such as shore power, stores, shipping, airports, etc..
Finally, for a bit more context, let me add that we have also chosen to not have an independent generator onboard so ALL of our four voltages, 12 & 24 Volt DC and 120 & 230 Volt AC, come from our House Battery Bank. Most of the time we keep our batteries charged via our 4.48kW array of 14 320W Solar Panels and when underway we have 12-14kW available from the two eXtremely robust 250A @ 28V Electrodyne alternators which Mr. Gee keeps spinning. One of the very first decisions we needed to make to chose our batteries was what type or chemistry of batteries would be the Goldilocks just right, just for us House Batteries? I’m not going to go over this in any detail here but these are the five battery types we had to chose from:
FLA; Flooded Lead Acid
AGM: Absorbed Glass Matt
Many of you and others we talked to, thought for sure that the choice was obvious; go with Lithium and we did consider them, and all the other types, very thoroughly. But it was that question of “What problem is this trying to solve” that made it clear that Lithium was not the best choice for us and that’s the story I’d like to elaborate on here a bit.
Our battery decision making started at the very beginning of our design process, around 2016, and in some ways we designed and built the boat around the House Batteries. For the first few years, we thought we would go with GEL based OPzV batteries such as this one.
These OPxV type batteries are eXtremely robust and often referred to as “traction batteries” as they are used in things like all electric forklifts in warehouses so they had good cycle life and good resistance to sulfation and other features that wold make them a good choice for Möbius.
During this time we were reading more and more about Lithium batteries and we were seeing more and more people who were choosing to go with them so we also spent a good bit of time researching the various types and makes of Lithium, primarily LiFePO4 or Lithium Iron. This relatively new type of battery was said to have a lot of amazing features with the top ones being longer lasting (more cycle life), ability to accept much higher charging rates thus take less time to charge, but perhaps the biggest feature was their much higher energy density. This means that you get much more usable Watts from the same amount of space and weight compared to what you would get from other battery types. Said another way, you could get the same amount of energy out of a much smaller size and lighter battery bank.
As the months and years went by, these claims were validated more and more and we saw the steady increase of Lithium Iron being the batteries of choice for more and more boats so it seemed like the choice was clear right? However when we applied our criteria and use case and asked the “What problem is Lithium trying to solve?” question, we realized that we didn’t have the same “problems” as most of these other boats such as size and weight of our House Batteries.
My earlier comment that we had designed the boat around our House Battery Bank is not that far off as we had designed the hull to take maximum advantage of the characteristics of our original consideration of OPzV batteries which were very large and very heavy. Each OPzV 2/4V cell measured 215mm/8.5” Wide x 277mm/10.9” Deep x 855mm/33.6” High and weighed 110kg/242lbs each, and we needed 24 of these! As we often do, we turned this “bug” into a feature and built four large battery compartments into the framing of the bottom of the hull such that each compartment straddled the 25mm thick x 350mm high keel bar running down the centerline of the hull. By positioning these battery compartments on the very bottom and center of the hull, we effectively turned the lead in our batteries into a proxy for some of the lead ballast we needed. This is a photo from last year of one of our four battery compartments.
The point here if you are following along with me is that for the use case and design of an XPM, the “problem” that Lithium batteries would solve with their high energy density for a given weight and size just wasn’t a problem we had; we had the room and we wanted the weight. So the search for our Goldilocks batteries continued.
For awhile we continued to think that OPzV Gel batteries were the best fit for us, however, just as we had been following the developments of Lithium batteries we had also been tracking the growing use of Carbon Foam type batteries from FireFly. They ticked all the boxes on our list of criteria, most notably these were proving to be eXtremely robust and several attempts by test labs trying to purposely destroy these batteries failed and they proved to be almost indestructible which is a huge factor for us and our use case. These Carbon Foam batteries are also able to work and charge in much lower temperatures such as those we expect to have when we are in polar regions of the world and they are one of the only battery types that don’t suffer from sulfation. and are happy, even recommended, to stay at Partial State of Charge for long periods of time which would normally be the death of most other batteries.
Near the end I found real world installations of these batteries, some of which had been in place for more than ten years and so just before placing this large order of batterie we changed and ordered 24 of these 4V L15+ size Micro Carbon Foam batteries which now make up our 43.2kW House Bank (1800Ah @ 24V) made by FireFly and they have been working flawlessly for the past six months.
Let me be clear that I am NOT saying that Lithium batteries are not a great choice for many boats, nor am I saying that Carbon Foam batteries are “the best”, I am just hoping to explain how and why we made our decision to go with Carbon Foam and why they are the Goldilocks just right, just for us choice. All thanks in part to the question we regularly ask near the beginning of our decision making process; What problem is this trying to solve?
Is the problem/item a want or a need?
We often put each item we are trying to decide on into either the Need to Have or Wish/Want to Have category. Pretty self explanatory I think, Need to Have are items that we feel are mandatory must haves in order for us to feel confident in going to sea and living full time aboard Möbius. Examples for us include things like;
our high output watermaker,
Furuno Radar and other navigation equipment,
eXtremely high amounts of acoustic & audio insulation,
comfortable Helm Chairs,
that little FLIR One thermal camera I used to find the overheated wiring a few weeks ago,
great HVAC systems
Global communication capability (right now via our Iridium GO)
and items like this.
The Want/Wish to Have category can be subdivided into groups such as;
buy as soon as the budget allows
later when it is ready for real world use (ours)
nice to have, perhaps a gift to ourselves or each other
Current examples on our Wish/Want list includes things like:
second Furuno Radar with NXT technology,
forward facing sonar when it is has been in more mainstream use and is robust enough for our use case
active stabilization, most likely Magnus Effect type
kite sail with autopilot to add to our propulsion and reduce fuel usage
Portland Pudgy, Christine’s long time wish for a small, light sailing dingy
affordable high speed internet such as that being promised by 5G and satellite based systems being developed.
We also have a third category worth mentioning which is the Don’t Want Onboard category which is sometimes the best choice. Items on this list would include things like;
anything that requires propane (too much of a pain to fill around the world)
anything that requires gasoline (too short a shelf life these days)
Consequences of adding this item?
As a good friend and fellow world sailor likes to say “Everything needs” and so we spend time trying to imagine what the needs and other consequences will be if we add this bit of kit to Möbius. Our primary prioritization of Maintenance, lack thereof, would factor into this for example and hence decisions such as;
no paint/wood/SS on the exterior,
being single fuel boat with no propane or gasoline,
but it could also be other consequences of adding this item to our boat. An XPM is complex by virtue of needing to be so self contained and as we often say Möbius is like a floating village in that we have to look after making all our own water, all our own energy, dealing with all our own waste and so on, but we do strive to apply the KISS or Keep It Simple & Safe philosophy to all our decisions by finding the simplest solution possible. Examples of this would include:
manual roll attenuation with our fully mechanical/manual Paravane A-Frames
manual Tender Davit system vs hydraulic
Gardner engine (no turbo, no electrics, low revs, etc.)
The Domino Effect is perhaps a branch of the consideration of the Consequences of any decision as I just outlined above and is when the result of a decision has follow on effects to other systems on that boat. This can work both ways; sometimes these dominos are positive ones and in other cases they are negative or undesirable consequences. For example, installing the eXtreme amount of EPDM and acoustic insulation throughout the boat has a domino effect;
stabilizes the interior temperatures and makes them more temperate in both very hot and very cold climates
this reduces the energy required to cool/heat the boat
this allows us to install smaller capacity and less expensive HVAC systems such as Air Conditioning and heating
this lowers the demand on our House Batteries and HVAC systems so they run with less loads and last longer
An example of when the Domino Effect can work the opposite direction might be the option we considered of installing fin type active stabilizers. These work extremely well to reduce the roll in many conditions when on passages but they would also introduce a Domino Effect of consequences that took them out of the running for us, such as;
their protrusion from the side of the hull reduces the safety factor when in areas with uncharted rocks, coral heads and the inevitable groundings on these.
not suitable when ice is present in polar waters
unlikely but possible if a fin is hit hard enough to create an underwater breach of the hull
are extremely complex and often top the lists of most maintenance problems we read from other global passage makers.
most require a significant hydraulic system to operate which adds yet another whole system onboard to maintain and repair.
I might add that having gone through this Domino Effect as we considered active fin stabilization, it also helped us see that we could find a different type of active stabilization if we should ever want that, and one that eliminates most of the dominos I listed above. This would be stabilizers that use the Magnus Effect which is offered by several different manufacturers now.
Does it pass the Goldilocks test?
We essentially answer this question by virtue of having gone through all the questions and priorities I’ve already listed. Because we have highly personalized our overarching principles of SCEM and articulated much more detailed specifics of our use case, our decision making helps us ensure that we are making choices and decisions that are by definition, Goldilocks, just right, just for us.
However, this is such an important factor for us that we do keep coming back to to this “Goldilocks Test” to make sure we are avoiding the tendency to “go with the flow” of following what others are doing or “the way its always been done” and are staying true to ourselves and our preferences. I will site a more “meta” example here which is our decision in the design phase to “upsize” the length of the boat from the 18-20m / 60-65 ft that we initially imagined and then at the same time “downsize” the interior to have just 2 cabins and 2 heads.
Our decision to extend the length to 24m/78ft was driven two factors; simple physics that hull speed is a factor of Length on the Waterline and our discovery that contrary to popular opinion there is not very many restrictions on boats that are over 20 meters whereas there are some very significant changes to the rules governing ships that are over 24 meters. With our prioritization of efficiency, we pushed the length to just under 24 meters. With our infrequent use of marinas the increased docking fees do not affect us very much. Furthermore, with more and more catamarans being purchased, many marinas are changing their dock rates to be calculated based on overall area of each boat, LOA x Beam and so our slender 5m Beam reduces our overall area and we are often cheaper or about the same as much shorter but wider boats.
Our decisions to “downsize” the interior and thus reduce maintenance and costs was based on the fact that 99% of the time Christine and I are the only two people living onboard so we wanted to make the interior fit us and our needs. Our Master Cabin is very spacious and luxurious for us. Our Guest Cabin works very well when we do have guests onboard but most of the time it is a very purposefully designed Office for Christine Kling, the Captain’s nom de plume when she is working on her next book and running her growing book business. Our SuperSalon is indeed living up to that name the more we live in it. And my very full size Workshop and Engine Room is that of my dreams.
There are many other examples of how the Goldilocks Test has driven our decisions such as;
Manual Paravane system and Tender Davit that is KISS and as former sailors handling lines, winches and clutches is second hand.
Though we designed and built the cabinets, electrical and plumbing for them, we chose not to install either a Dryer or a Dishwasher as we are just not fans of either one and prefer washing and drying by hand.
I could give countless more examples of how we have applied the Goldilocks Test to almost every decision we have made during the design and the building process but I think you get the idea. We have now been living aboard Möbius since she first launched in February and we are finding that our continuous use of this Goldilocks Test has worked eXtremely well for us in designing and building Möbius and we can and do recommend it highly for almost all decisions and choices you make.
New vs Tried & True?
Christine and I are self described nerds and geeks so we have a great fondness for technology that is on that well named “bleeding edge” and we have a full compliment of devices to show for it. However, when it comes to equipment for Möbius, and especially all of it that is on that Must Have list, it must be remembered all those decisions must be made within the context that Möbius is an XPM type boat that is designed and built to live up to that acronym for eXtreme eXploration Passage Maker. So when it comes to deciding on equipment, materials, construction and design of these items, they must, all be Tried & True. To us this means equipment that has been in regular use on boats, ideally with similar use cases as ours, for several years and has stood that test of time.
Some examples of this for us include:
we delayed our decision to go with FireFly Carbon Foam batteries until after we had been able to find enough examples of these batteries being installed in other people’s boats in large numbers for many years.
We chose to go with all Furuno for navigation because it is so widely used by commercial boats in fishing fleets, government agencies and the like and hence this equipment is designed and built for continuous 24/7 use in some eXtremely harsh conditions. They also have an excellent reputation for their continued support of even their oldest equipment.
Our decision to go with a Gardner 6LXB engine that is still one of the most efficient diesel engines ever produced and is still in use in thousands of commercial boats worldwide. It is also perhaps one of the best examples of the KISS approach to design and engineering which adds to how well it passes the Tried & True test.
individual MPPT controllers for each of our 14 solar panels as this has been well proven to be the most efficient combination for both overall efficiency, least affected by shading and highest redundancy.
Let me end with a final example of the value of taking this Tried & True test for mission critical ships and equipment from no less than the US Navy! A recent article caught my eye a few weeks ago where even the us Navy has learned the folly of installing untested equipment on their ships. This link to the article USS Gerald R. Ford Problems: The Navy Admits Its Big Mistake (popularmechanics.com) provides a brief but telling story. as outlined in that article the Chief of Naval Operations, Mike Gilday, says the U.S. Navy built the aircraft carrier USS Ford with too many new technologies. such that now, the Ford is several years behind in its life cycle because of problems with many of those new technologies.
The last of the Ford’s four advanced weapon elevators, the most glaring example of the ship’s tech gone wrong, should enter service later this year.
When the Navy first built the Ford, it incorporated nearly two dozen new technologies, some of which are still giving the service headaches 4 years after the ship entered the fleet. Those delays meant the Navy only commissioned the Ford in 2017, despite laying it down in 2009. Even then, problems lingered, especially with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and the advanced weapon elevators (AWEs).
The ship’s first full deployment, originally scheduled for 2018, is now set for 2022.
I think this unfortunate real world example does help to make the point that for XPM types of boats with use cases to match, all the “mission critical” equipment onboard MUST have passed the Tried & True test.
Bubble Bubble, Toil & Trouble!
Leaving you with the latest bit of kit that Captain Christine just approved and installed onboard, a fully manual sparkling water maker! Especially in these hot summer months, Christine particularly enjoys her cold sparkling water and I do too but we don’t like having to buy it in cases of plastic bottles. We have our watermaker for similar reasons for our regular drinking water. Initial tests have elicited the same smile you see here so this item has now passed the all important Captain’s Test and has been welcomed aboard. Thanks so much for making it this far if you have and I do hope that this slightly different format and content is of interest and value to most of you. Let me know either way with your comments in the “Join the Discussion” box below and I’ll be back with more for you same time next week.
I’m going to depart from the usual Show & Tell weekly update posting here today and do something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time and continue to get requests for. It will be less Show/photo based and more Tell/text based than usual so it may not be your cup of tea and please feel free to skim and speed read accordingly.
Over the 5+ years of designing and building what is now XPM78-01 Möbius, I have very gratefully received a lot of recommendations for our followers and others we meet, for equipment and bits of kit they think we should install. This always leads Christine and I to researching and learning as much about each item as we can and that in itself has been eXtremely valuable and helpful. Many people have been surprised at our decisions as to what bits of kit we do decide to use and those that we don’t and have been curious as to our reasons and our process for making these decisions which by now, likely run into the thousands.
I have done my best to answer these questions when they appear here as comments on the blog or ones I receive via Email or text messages and these have often led to valuable exchanges in the discussion section. However, I’ve been meaning to write a better response that outlines our decision making process for a long time and that is what I’m going to do my best at today.
For more details than you probably want with the background and context of our thinking around these topics you can refer to THIS blog post from back in April 2018. In that post you will find two summative points I made that will provide some context to this article;
the byline of our purpose to be “Wandering, Wondering and Pondering the world one nautical smile at a time”
and that we were setting out to; “ design and build an exceptional long range Passage Maker that is strong, safe, fast, fun and efficient, serving as our full time home along with the infrequent guests who join us on expeditions exploring the most remote locations of the world in exceptional safety and comfort.”
Lastly, let me be sure to be clear that ALL of what you will read below is framed within the context of two primary points:
1. Our only application here is for an XPM type of boat that is going to be used as intended to live up to that moniker of eXtreme eXploration Passage Maker.
2. This is all about our pursuit of what we called “Project Goldilocks”, wherein we set out to design and build the just right boat, just for us to live and learn on for the indefinite future.
All our decisions are made within this Goldilocks concept of just right, just for us and while we hope and hear that the sharing our our thinking and our experiences is of some use and value to other cruisers, please don’t misconstrue any of this to be what is “best” for any other boat or sailors.
Decision Making Process:
As with most decision making I think, ours is not a linear step by step process and is more of an ongoing series of discussion, mostly between Christine and myself, which cycle and loop through many different categories but for the sake of this explanation, let me outline the basic categories that we cycle through.
Over the combined years and nautical smiles that we’ve both logged while sailing the world, a set of “first principles” emerged and during the very early days of designing Möbius, after a LOT of discussions between us, we synthesized these down to four: Safety Comfort Efficiency Maintenance or SCEM for short.
Oxford defines First Principles as;
“the fundamental concepts or assumptions on which a theory, system, or method is based”
It was a long and winding but very fun and rewarding effort to boil the results of our discussions down to a “reduction sauce” of SCEM and then articulate what each of these meant to us, but these first principles proved to be invaluable throughout the entire design and build of Möbius and has been generating growing dividends ever since as we continue to use them almost every day.
I don’t think it makes sense to try to put SCEM in any order as they are all important but it would also be true to say that Safety ranks up at the top of our decision making. Safety is also somewhat synonymous with confidence which is a value that we MUST have before we will ever head out to sea or even “just” be on anchor in our floating home.
Safety in this context is primarily the safety of ourselves and our passengers as well as those around us. Whenever we find ourselves in some kind of severe unexpected situation at sea one of us literally asks the other “Is anyone going to die?” and that bifurcates the discussion and our decision making from there. Given our use case of having Möbius take us to some of the most remote locations in the world where we often find ourselves quite totally alone and in some very eXtreme environments, it is not any exaggeration to say that our lives do quite literally depend upon our boat and our ability to use her and it is within this context that safety factors into every decision we make and every bit of kit we install.
It isn’t a “bit of kit” but this first principle of Safety also influenced our very purposeful design of Möbius to be easily mistaken for a military, coast guard, police type boat with a “don’t mess with me” vibe. This all relates back to our use case of being in eXtremely remote locations and locations where conditions ashore are unknown and possibly have people who might be motivated to approach us with mal intent if they see a bright and shiny “superyacht” off their shore.
Two other very quick and different examples, out of hundreds at least, to illustrate our safety based decisions;
1. Anchoring and ground tackle. We prefer to anchor rather than use mooring fields or marinas and SWAN or Sleep Well At Night becomes of paramount concern every night, and day we stay anchored. Our basic tenants for choosing anchor and ground tackle might be summed up as “go big or go home” in that we go with the largest and most bulletproof anchor, chain, windlass, etc. that we can carry. We only want one main anchor on the boat such that EVERY time we put the anchor down we know our best bit of kit is holding us in place be that for an hour’s lunch stop or for weeks or more through storms and all that Mother Nature can test us with. In keeping with another theme in our decision making of only going with “Tried & True”, for our anchor we went with a Rocna, the same brand of anchor that had served us flawlessly through over 12 years of sailing our 52’ steel cutter “Learnativity” and just upsized it to about the largest one they make at 110kg/242lbs. This is attached to 120m/400’ of 13mm / 1/2” G4 galvanized chain and a Maxwell VWC 4000 windlass.
2. FLIR One thermal camera. In last week’s post, you saw a vivid example of the value of this small bit of kit that I used to identify the faulty wiring that had severely overheated and could have easily resulted in a fire and further damage. An odd item that you won’t find included on too many other boat’s list of Safety Equipment but I think last week’s use alone will explain why this is on our list of Safety Equipment.
Comfort in this context is somewhat synonymous with Safety because if we don’t have a boat that allows us to do what we do without being beat up when conditions get rough, or there is equipment that is not comfortable and convenient to use, then we won’t be as likely to use it.
Comfort takes on an eXtremely important role as it encompasses what keeps us wanting to sail further, go to more places, stay longer in those we enjoy and so on. You will often hear those of us who are full time live aboards or spend most of the year living on our boats say that “we are not camping”! For us, this is our home and our life and most of our days so designing and building a boat that will “… take uson expeditions exploring the most remote locations of the world in exceptional safety and comfort.” as I noted in the old April 2018 post I linked to above.
Examples here would include some of the obvious such as eXtremely comfortable Helm Chairs as one of us usually needs to spend most of our waking time on passages sitting in them and when conditions get rough these seats need to keep us comfortably in place and able to fully control the boat while seated.
Less obvious Comfort related items would include things like our paravane stabilisers which dramatically reduce roll both while at sea and on anchor and make life aboard both much more comfortable and safer.
Lack of comfort on an global passage maker such as Möbius would also result in fatigue, aches and pains which would lead to poor and possibly dangerous decisions at sea.
We use Efficiency in an all encompassing way here as it applies to everything from fuel efficiency to cost efficiency to time efficiency. These are often very interrelated to themselves as well as to the other three First Principles of SCEM. Fuel efficiency is obviously related to cost efficiency but less obvious perhaps is the efficiency of things like insulation of the hull and all our bulkheads. This high degree of insulation adds to our overall efficiency in multiple ways such as reducing the energy requirements of our HVAC systems (Heating Ventilation And Cooling) to keep the interior of the boat as cool or warm as we wish. Better insulation also makes the whole boat much quieter, keeping each cabin sonically isolated from both the sounds of others in or on the boat as well as some of the sounds of the sea in big storms which can add to the stress of the situation and which in turn can compromise safety.
Less obvious perhaps are things such as electrical efficiency with sizing everything from wires and cables to batteries, inverters, chargers, refrigeration, HVAC and indeed almost all of our electrical equipment. We have to produce all our own electricity and therefore efficiency in producing every watt and then using every watt most efficiently allows us such “luxuries” as being able to be at anchor indefinitely.
We must also produce all our own Potable water for drinking, cooking, bathing, etc. as this is critical to our self sufficiency and health. Therefore being able to produce all our own fresh water most efficiently in terms of the energy our watermaker requires and the time it takes to do so, factors into our decision making and thus another example of the key role efficiency plays in our decision making and equipment selections.
Actually this should probably be LM as it is all about LACK of Maintenance, but this First Principle also drives a lot of our decisions in the design and building of Möbius. Pretty much everything on a boat, no different than a house or a car, requires maintenance to keep all their bits and pieces working properly, looking good and lasting as long as possible. On a boat, and especially on an XPM boat, the conditions we operate in are much more severe and harsh. Imagine if your home was constantly being shaken, sometimes quite gently as in a swaying tree house, but sometimes shaken quite violently as if it were perched atop the Disneyland Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Add to this being immersed within salt water and humid salty air and you can begin to appreciate why cruisers often joke that their life is spent moving from one exotic repair destination to the next!
What raises Lack of Maintenance to being a First Principle for us though is what we call the “two hand rule” which we illustrate by holding up our two hands and saying “See these? If something breaks or stops working, these are the only two things that can fix it”. For most of us, doing our own maintenance is the only way we can afford to life this life and for the less sane of us, we actually enjoy working on our boats. Up to a point at least. On a more serious note, in our use case we NEED to be able to fix our boats ourselves by having the neccessary tools, materials, parts and skills because we are often in places or out at sea where we are the ONLY people present. There is no one else to call for parts, tools or expertise and even if there was they couldn’t get to you. In this context then, being able to do your own maintenance and fixing can become something your life depends upon.
In our case examples of decisions we have made that are highly influenced by the Maintenance or lack thereof principle, are things such as deciding to build an aluminium boat and to leave it all raw and unpainted. Aluminium naturally forms a thin almost invisible layer of Aluminium Oxide on the surfaces exposed to air which therefore creates an eXtremely hard inert protective coating that requires zero maintenance on our part.
Lack of Maintenance also drove other exterior decisions such as having no paint, no stainless, and no wood. In addition to the significant reduction in Maintenance, these decisions also go towards cost efficiency as repainting a boat, keeping it all clean and shiny and varnished, is also eXtremely eXpen$ive so the benefits start to multiply.
Another good example of this decision making process and how our first principles often multiply each other is our choosing to go with Carbon Foam FireFly batteries. We literally live off our batteries as we have no generator (also less maintenance and more comfort) and these Carbon Foam batteries are about as bullet proof as batteries get, require almost no maintenance, have extremely long cycle life and are eXtremely cost effective.
Whew! As usual, your brevity challenged author has yet again applied his mastery of neverasentencewhenaparagraphwilldo to make this go much longer than originally intended and so I’m going to stop here and follow the lead of the truly talented author onboard, Captain Christine Kling, and turn this book aka article, into a multi part series.
Here are some examples of topics I will cover in the next parts of this series about how and why we make the decisions and chose the equipment that we install on Möbius:
What problem is this item attempting to solve?
Is the problem/item a want or a need?
Consequences of adding this item? Domino effect?
Does it pass the Goldilocks test?
New Tech or Tried & True?
Valuation? Is it the best value?
Perhaps the most important reason for stopping here and turning this into a series of articles is to pause to ask YOU if this is the kind of content you want and find useful???
I’m not suggesting that this will become the new form for all my future articles as I think it only fits a few topics and I will continue to produce the Show & Tell articles as the work on finishing and then cruising on Möbius continues. However I would be eXtremely appreciative if you would add a short comment in the “Join the Discussion” box below to let me know your thoughts on this type of content, and the Show & Tell ones as well so I can get a better feel for what’s working best for you and what’s not? What would you like more of/less of? What topics would you like me to address that I have not so far?
I can’t promise that I can or will do all that you ask but I do promise to take your suggestions into account as I continue to write and post here on the Mobius.World blog. My thanks in advance to all your feedback and assistance in improving my writing. As you’ve clearly seen I can use ALL the help I can get!!