This week’s progress building our beloved MV (Motor Vessel) Möbius and XPM78-01 here at Naval Yachts reached another exciting milestone with the cutting of the first wood being used to build our interior cabinetry and furniture. We are VERY excited about this and as per the title we think “You Wood Too!” Not that the work on all things metal and mechanical aren’t exciting as they continue to progress very well too, but this most recent deep dive into designing and now starting to build the interior of our new home and boat has us particularly excited and wanting to share it with you so please join us as we dive into the latest progress in designing and building mv Möbius.
As you may recall if you read the previous post “Miss Mobius World Wood Pageant” we have chosen to use Rosewood for all our interior woodwork and so it was a very exciting day when the first truckload of solid and veneer arrived from the lumberyard near Istanbul. With different languages and species all this wood is from the Dalbergia family and goes by several names including Santos, Palisander, Pelesenk, African/Burmese Blackwood and (your choice) Madagascar/Brazilian/Indian/Honduran/Yucatan/Amazon/Burmese Rosewood. You may be interested to know that these woods are called Rosewood because they give off a rose like scent when being cut and worked so I will borrow from the bard’s astute observation that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, add my own “and be as beautiful” and from here on in I will simply refer to this as Rosewood.
The photo above was taken as the protective wrap was first pulled back to unveil the stacks of hundreds of flitches of Rosewood veneer quickly followed by the same reveal of these planks of our solid Rosewood. While we had spent a LOT of time searching for and choosing this wood it still took our breath away with the reality and beauty of this wildly varied colours and swirling grain patterns.
Christine and I were still in Florida being Gramma and Grampa so Dincer had flew up to Istanbul to personally select the specific batches of veneer and solid Rosewood for us and as usual he did a masterful job of choosing the just right Rosewood for us.
My dear friend Eileen Clegg once called me an “extremophile” which I took as a compliment, and with Möbius being the first of Naval’s XPM eXtreme eXpedition Passage Maker series of boats it seemed only fitting that we would have sought out a wood with such eXtreme ranges of colour and grain. The only thing more eXtreme than the beauty of Rosewood is its price but Christine and I may well spend the rest of our lives living aboard Möbius and want to be surrounded by beauty every one of those days so this was an easy decision to make given the infinite amount of joy it will provide for us and others who join us aboard.
This photo shows how the cabinetmakers have unpacked the first four of that stack of wide strips of veneer known as flitches shown above into matching layers after cutting off any splits or damage at their ends.
Is this Beauty in the eXtreme or what??? As with most other facets of boat building Naval does all their cabinetmaking in house which includes doing all their plywood lamination so these Rosewood flitches will soon be matched up on either side of marine birch plywood and be pressed and heated in this large hydraulic laminating press to create the finished veneer panels. You will see this fabulous bit of kit in action in the upcoming weekly updates. As beautiful as the veneer is the solid Rosewood more than shared the spotlight as you can see here with these first four 25mm / 1” planks to emerge from their own stacks off the truck.
The very large staff of professional cabinetmakers, which I will be introducing to you over the coming weeks, seemed to be equally as excited and impressed by the opportunity to start transforming this Rosewood into furniture and cabinets for Möbius.
You Wood too right? Those first planks were soon coming out of the table saw and shaper as these T shaped strips which will next be glued to all exposed edges of the veneered panels. This solid Rosewood edging is at least a 10mm / 3/8” thick which enables further shaping and ensures that none of the veneer edges are exposed to any wear and tear over the years. Panels which will have all four sides exposed when finished on things like drawer fronts have these solid Rosewood T’s glued on all four edges with mitred corners such as the one on the far left here. All the outer corners of these T edges will be rounded over with a 3-5mm radius to make them very easy on your hands and very luxurious in their looks. Another technique for creating the large 50mm/2” Radius external corners and reducing the amount of Rosewood required on things like vertical cabinet edges, corners of the bed frame, etc. begins with gluing these triangular shaped lengths of solid Beech, the white wood here, to lengths of solid Rosewood. Why? might be a common question so I grabbed a piece of scrap wood with a 50mm Radius on the bottom side and made that horizontal pencil line to show how the Rosewood portion of the glued up piece on the bottom left will be machined with that large radius surface being all Rosewood and the inner triangle of Beech providing the a large surface area for the adjoining panels to be glued in place and be hidden in the joinery on the inside. Once the glue has cured the next day and operation is to machine these laminated lengths of Rosewood and Beech ……. …… into this shape and you can now hopefully see how this creates the two wide flats at 90 degrees to each other to form the large vertical corners on cabinets and corners and then have the full 25-30mm thickness of Rosewood to form the rounded outer corner.
I’ll be able to show you this in much more detail in the coming weeks as the cabinetry progressed so let’s leave the cabinetmakers alone for a bit and go back aboard Möbius to see how things are progressing there.
The “Sparkies” as our brilliant Kiwi (New Zealand) designer Dennis would call the team of electricians who are growing in number aboard Möbius, are now busy running literally nautical miles of wiring throughout the conduits and wire trays and have setup shop in the SuperSalon to do the cutting and labeling of all the individual runs of wire. If you look in the background of the picture above (click to enlarge any photo) or in this close up shot you can see some of the runs of flexible conduit going up the inside of the vertical SuperSalon window mullions which are soon filled up with the wires for devices up in the ceiling of the SuperSalon and the SkyBridge. Each length of wire is labeled with the temporary tubular yellow labels you see here. With hundreds, perhaps thousands of wire end connections to make, this labeling is key to making it faster and clearer for the Sparkies to know that the right wire is going to the right switch, light or circuit breaker. Before the final wiring of each connection is done each wire will be cut to the just right length and additional labels will be heat shrunk to each end of all wires for future reference whenever someone, aka ME! is doing any modifications or maintenance of any of the eXtensive electrical systems aboard Möbius.
Down in the Basement we see that the “Poopsmiths’ ** aka plumbers in Kiwi speak, have been busy starting to install the runs of Vetus Sanitary hose for all the Grey (shower & sink) Water and Black (toilets) Water tanks, pumps, drains, etc.
** Full list of such wonderful Kiwi slang words here for those of you interested in “dropping your gear’ and go “full tit” to be fully “home and hosed” when it comes to speaking like a native down under. I hope this doesn’t’ come across as rarking you up or pack a sad for too many of you and if so the next drink is my shout but this offer is only good at sparrow fart.
Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile will recognise this and for the rest of you this is one of the hatches which I’ve designed and Naval is is now building in house. The little army of aluminium boxes on the right are the hinge boxes which provide the support for the SS hinge pins that slide through the 8mm / 5/16” holes in their sides.
Turning these boxes transparent in the 3D model of these hatches (click to enlarge) will show you better how they work. Everything but the Rosewood inner liner is all aluminium but I have coloured the Lid Blue and the Frame in Red he blue for added clarity and you can see how the Blue Hinge Arms which are welded to the Lid, extends into the Hinge Boxes under the deck and rotate on the white SS 8mm diameter hinge pins. I used one of my favorite CAD tools, Autodesk Fusion 360 to design these hatches and here is a little animation Fusion enables me to create which I hope will show you how the hatch works.
One of the most rewarding aspects of designing and building your own stuff is when your designs are transformed into reality and here is my most recent example. This is what the Hinge Arm you’ve seen above looks like as a component within the Fusion 360 model. And here I am holding that very same Hinge Arm after Uğur has cut it from a solid block of aluminium. We decided to create a few prototypes of these hatches to fully test out my design in the real world and here is one of the prototype assemblies of the Hinge Arm assembled within the Hinge Box on a temporary threaded hinge pin. Hinge Arms tacked to the Lid and Hinge Boxes tacked to the outer Frame. A quiet ”Open Sésame” and Voila! it works! The hatch opens fully to the 120 degree angle I wanted as the Hinge Arms come into contact with the inner edge of the cut-out in the outer Frame where the Hinge Boxes attach.
After a few tweaks with the prototype hatches to get these hinges working and positioned just right we were ready for the critical step of welding the Hinge Boxes to the actual Hatch Frames that have been welded into the decks on Möbius.
As you can see from the photos and models above, the two Hinge Pins have to have their centerlines precisely aligned in order for the Lid to open smoothly so Yiğit and I designed up a jig that Uğur and Nihat could use to hold each pair of Hinge Boxes in just the right position under the deck plates and up tight against the outer Frame surfaces and tack the Hinge Boxes in place. You can see the aluminium plate part of this positioning jig in Ugur’s right hand here and It worked just as we hoped. I forgot to take a picture of the jig itself so what you can’t see but can hopefully imagine is that there are two arms welded to the edge of that aluminium plate which exactly replicate the Hinge Arm positions and have matching pipes for the Hinge Pins to go through. So Uğur slides these two arms on the jig into the rectangular openings you saw above in the outer Hatch Frame and then holds each Hinge Box in his left hand and slides it over the arms of the jig and inserts an 8mm pin through the holes in the Hatch Box and the jig.
Takes longer for me to type this than it did for Uğur and Nihat to tack the Hinge Boxes in place and hope this all makes some sense to most of you?
While Uğur and Nihat were busy working up on deck, our awesome Master Welder Sezgin was busy down on the shop floor under Möbius finishing up the welding of the Hatch Lids. And the pile of finish welded Lids piled up quickly. In case you are wondering, he tacked two lids together to help hold each Hatch Lid assembly in alignment and prevent them from warping or moving as they were welded up. Then the tacks are ground off to separate each Lid and the Lids are cleaned up and prepped for the last bit of welding the Hinge Arms to the Lids which is perhaps the trickiest and most important step to ensuring that the Hatches open, shut and seal just right. Once the Lids have their Hinge Arms welded on they will be sent off to the glass supplier to cut and install the 15mm tempered glass to complete the Lids and I’ll cover that as it happens in the next few weeks.
And as Porky the Pig used to say “Th-th-th-th That’s All Folks!” At least for this week. Hope you are continuing to enjoy and possibly even get some value from these weekly progress updates and I look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions you leave in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
It is Christine’s Birthday today, Happy Birthday my Beautiful Young Bride! So I snuck away early Friday afternoon and we drove East from Antalya along the coat to the beautiful old town of Alanya and have a fabulous room up at the top of a hill in an old castle with a view out over the original Red Tower and the inner harbour. Here is a quick panorama shot to give you and idea of this fabulous old city or Alanya.
But not to worry, I’ll do my best to make sure this week’s Möbius progress update posting WILL happen before the weekend is out and right now there is a HUGE downpour that has already dropped more than 80mm/3” of rain in less than 2 hours so we are enjoying the view from our room across the the harbour to the mountains on the far side. Christine is busy working on her daily Turkish lesson so she doesn’t loose the “streak” she is on with them and I’m taking advantage of the time to get this blog post started. As you might have already noticed, this will be a much longer post than usual as there is much to explain and show you so settle into a comfy chair with a good beverage and let’s get started.
This week was particularly exciting as work started on building the new hatches for Möbius which we have been designing and deliberating on for many months. Having Xtremely great hatches is super important to us because they bring in most of the fresh air and all the natural light into both our Master Cabin and the aft Guest Cabin. We have lived aboard boats with hatches for decades but never with ones we would rate as great. Sometimes they are just not well sized, sometimes they open the wrong way for the breezes, or they let any nearby raindrop in. Worst of all though is that pretty much all of them start to leak at some point, especially ones up on the foredeck when on passages in big waves that often bring volumes of sea water crashing onto the decks and penetrating even otherwise good seals no matter how well you try to “dog” them down tight. So we were determined that we would find a way to have truly GREAT hatches on Möbius. Hatches that are Goldilocks by being just the right size in just the right place and oriented just right to catch the least bit of fresh breezes coming over the bow when we are anchored. And MOST importantly of all, hatches that would NEVER leak under any conditions.
Then I added in two more and perhaps two of the most challenging must have characteristics; one, the hatch frames had to be raw aluminium that was shaped and thick enough to be welded directly into the decks and underlying framework, and second the hatches had to be significantly above the requirements for them to be certified for a full self righting situation.
This is a tall order and set us out on a very long and winding search for many years now dating back to well before we decided to move over from sail to power and to design and build our own boat as we had already been on the hunt for new hatches for our last sailboat Learnativity for a long time. We’ve been to most of the big boat shows on several continents to talk with the various hatch vendors. We’ve tapped into all the online forums, magazines and trade journals we could find. We’ve talked to MANY fellow liveaboard cruisers, most of whom share our pain and spent time exploring every detail of their hatches. All of which helped us figure out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to hatches so we had a very clear sense of the key traits of a great hatch and we know what we were looking for.
It may sound like an episode from Mission Impossible or an obsession to some of you but I believe it is possible to design and build a boat that stays dry inside in ALL conditions and does not EVER leak. One key to this is that one of my primary rules is that there will be NO penetrations of the deck or hull which could ever leak. None, zero, nada. No bolts, screws or rivets which penetrate the hull. No parts mounted through holes cut in the deck and then sealed with caulking or the like. One of the places where even good hatches often end up leaking is through their mounting of the frame to the deck where water finds its way, often under very severe pressure from so called Green Water in high seas, through fasteners or through seals and sealants that fail over time. Hence my hatches had to be welded into the hull and leave a single challenge to being leak free; the gasket that seals between the hinged lid and the outer frame. Even this is a challenge, but a solvable one which lets me put all my focus on making these lid seals as leak proof as possible.
I’m sure many of you are shaking your heads at this point with a wry smile on your lips and a wish for good luck but we are accustomed to being on the hunt for parts and equipment for Möbius with equally as daunting lists of Must Haves and other requirements and eventually we were able to find a few companies who make truly great hatches. But, and you knew that was coming didn’t you, none of these companies carried their great hatches in our sizes or at all and so they would need to be custom built and this was going to take both too much time and cost too much so the choice was simple and a bit like Möbius herself, we would need to design and build our own.
This is not as difficult as it sounds as it is more a case of assembling all the various features which are on our Must Have list and putting them together into a single design of a hatch. None of these features are new in and of themselves so we are not so much designing a new hatch as we are creating our own combination of features and ideas from many different sources. This holds true for the design of the whole boat IMHO as there are very very few features truly new and never seen before features in any boat. What sets any given boat apart from others is the combination of features they select to use and how they put them all together.
I find Autodesk’s Fusion 360 to be a fantastic tool for doing this kind of evolutionary design work and I used it to try out my initial ideas for the Goldilocks just right hatch I’ve outlined above and ended up with the design you’ll see below. I have not had time to create any proper renderings of these so I will just grab some screen captures from within Fusion 360. I have coloured the two basic aluminium parts for clarity with the outer Frame in RED and the inner Lid in BLUE. I’ve made the 15mm/5/8” thick glass that is glued to the Lid and the partial deck surface around the outside of each hatch to be transparent so it is a bit easier to see what’s inside and added a bit of wood appearance to the inner wood liner which is all that will be seen from the inside of the boat.
Basic components you see here are:
* Red Outer Frame made from 3 pieces of 8mm/ 5/16” thick AL plate
* Blue Lid made from a 8mm thick outer flat bar frame welded to a top which is CNC cut as a single piece from 10mm/ 716” aluminium plate which then has a 15mm/5/8” thick clear tempered glass plate which sits flush with the other edges of the Lid frame and the top Deck surface.
* 20mm/ 3/4” thick wood inner liner which extends through the interior upholstered head liners.
I have omitted the handles and latch details for clarity but you can see where they attach to the two round bosses on the underside of the blue Lid.
Two SS gas compression lift cylinders are also not shown and will mount to the aft corner of the Gutter inside the red Frame and the side of the blue Lid to assist with opening when the latch handles are turned. In the interest of time and what will likely already be a long post, the basic key design requirements I ended up with include the following:
KISS (Keep It Simple & Safe) the design for both functional use as well as the fabrication of these hatches by using the least number of individual parts and keeping each one as simple as possible using stock aluminium.
KISS the fabrication process as straightforward as possible requiring as few special tools, jigs and machines as possible so that it can all be done in house with our current capabilities.
Design the hatches so as to eliminate any high pressure sea water forces from bearing directly on the seals so that readily available good quality seals will be able to easily keep all water out for many years of daily use and then be easily replaceable when they do eventually wear out.
Ensure that the entire hatch is well above and beyond engineering and certification standards to stay intact and fully sealed in the case of a full roll over or self righting recovery.
KISS the latching or locking mechanisms by having no external access for opening, all latches operate from inside only.
KISS the latching system and have an ability for a varying degree of locking or “dogging” down the hatches over time as the seals may take some set.
Present the least possible interference and disruption of the clean deck surfaces for both equipment and humans. eg. no toe stubbers or line catchers
Maintain the lowest possible maintenance factor as with all other aspects of the design of these XPS boats.
Along the way to the final design I ended up designing these hatches to be completely flush with the deck surfaces they are welded into. I wrestled with this decision of flush versus having the hatch frame extend up above the deck surface by 50-100mm/2-4” or so which is typical of most hatches and which was how I had initially thought they would sit. I came up with several such above deck designs which would have worked very well but in the end flush mounted hatches won out through my version of “the process of elimination”. What is the most sure fire way to deal with those high pressure sea water forces being able to reach the seals? Eliminate them. What is the best way to keep the deck surfaces free and clear? Eliminate any part of the hatches being above or below the deck surface. By making the top glass surface flush with the deck any big seas that end up on deck will simply pass right over these hatches and leave the seals to just deal with any standing water that collects in the Gutter area you will see below that runs like a moat around the outside perimeter of the Red Frame inner and outer frames before it drains out the two holes in the bottom of the Gutter.
It is a bit difficult to show but here is a quick render of how the top glass surface of the hatches sits completely flush with the deck surface.
Notice anything missing in the rendering above? Where are the hinges??One of the trickier parts of creating a fully flush hatch is how to keep the hinges below the deck and this is what I came up with for our “hidden” hinges.
For clarity I have turned off the deck plate that sits flush with the red tops of the outer frames and made the Hinge Boxes that are welded to the red outer Frame to appear transparent so you can see the blue hinge arms inside. The 8mm Hinge Pins are in white.
I’ve turned the Deck plate on for this render and moved around to show the inside rear hinge area from the inside with the hatches fully open.
The Blue Hinge Arms will initially be milled out of a single meter long piece of square aluminium stock to form the profile for the Hinge Arms you can make out in this and the rendering below and then cut and machined to 50mm/2” long lengths for each Hinge Arm which is TIG welded to the outer frame of the Lid. For those interested in more details this section side view might help to see how the Deck (orange), Outer Frame (light blue) and Lid (yellow) all work together. I’ve turned off the seals that fill the gap on the top of the inner most vertical light blue Frame and the inside surface of the Lid.
The gap between the outer edges of the yellow Lid and the light blue Frame is about 5mm and there will be two 20mm diameter drain pipes for the water to quickly flow out through the bottom of the light blue horizontal Gutter frame where the Lid sits. The Latches and Handles are omitted here for clarity and will attach to the round yellow boss seen on the right side here. There are ten hatches in total, all of them square, six large ones 700mm/28” square, one 600mm/24” and three 450mm/18”.
Whew! Hope that long explanation and renders help give you a good sense of what these hatches will look like and how they work, now let’s get back to reality and see how this design is being transformed into real aluminium.
It all starts with two full sheets of 8mm aluminium plate which the CNC plasma quickly cuts into the individual pieces for the ten hatches. CNC cutting is a very precise method which creates this very small amount of scrap. One of the many great things about building with aluminium over other materials such as fiberglass, carbon, etc. is that every bit of scrap is equally efficiently recycled so all this goes into the recycle pile in the yard and is sent off to be melted down into new sheets.
As you can see here and noticed in the renderings above most of the parts of this hatch design are made from single lengths of 8mm plate, basically simple flat bars. Only the Gutter bottom of the 3 part Frame which you see here, and the 10mm top plate of the Lid are cut out as fully formed parts.
The 10mm top plate parts are out being cut by a waterjet CNC machine as we want to have a fully finished edge out of the CNC machine to be flush with the edges of the 15mm glass plate. As you have read in the intro, I really pushed hard on KISSing this hatch design to end up with the least number of pieces in the overall design with the least specialised tooling or jigs required.
I also spent a lot of time working out how these parts would be formed, assembled and welded to keep the build time and costs as low as possible.
The majority of the work to shape the parts was done with four equal large radius bends for the corners of the outer and inner Frames and the outer edge of the Lid frame. To do this, Uğur and Nihat quickly made up this jig for the big hydraulic press and did a couple of test bends to dial in the process. We decided to build one full Frame first to make sure our methodology and tooling was optimal and this is the first bend of that first hatch Frame. I designed the Gutter bottom to be a single piece so that we could take advantage of the accuracy of the CNC cutting to ensure that the outer and inner frames had to be the exact right size, all edges parallel and perfectly square.
Here is that first Frame with all four corners of the inner frame bent and being checked for fit. Using large clamps, the inner frame is then pulled tight against the inside of the Gutter bottom and then the overlapping ends you see up at the top of the photo are cut to the exact length and the inner frame is tacked together. With the inner frame tacked together in precisely the right size Uğur welded both sides of the butt joint to turn the inner frame into a single continuous inner frame. The same process is repeated to bend the four corners of the outer frames. Then the outer frames are clamped tight to the Gutter bottom, tacked in position and the butt joint welded up. The inner frame is reinserted into the Gutter bottom, clamped up very tight all around and tacked in final position.
The fully assembled and tacked Frame is then cleaned up and ready for final welding.
The upside down Frame in the back is one of the 450mm / 18” hatches and the one in the foreground is the 600mm / 24” hatch Frame. Here is a close up shot of the Gutter I’ve been referring to which is where any water that runs down through the 5mm gap between the outside edge of the Lid and the inside edge of the outer Frame you see on the far right. This Gutter is 45mm / 1 3/4” wide and about 75mm / 3” deep and there will be two 20mm / 3/4” ID drain pipes welded into the bottom of this Gutter to quickly drain all the water down and back into the sea. Sezgin arrives with his TIG welder and gets busy welding up the outside corners to turn the 3 pieces of the Frame into a single part which is then ready to be fitted and welded flush into the deck plates. Outer frame fully welded to the Gutter bottom…. …… followed by the inner frame being fully welded and this Frame is ready for final machining and then fitting into its location on the deck.
I don’t think you need to know much about welding to agree that this is not only strong but beautiful work and it is a shame that it will never be seen once these are welded into the Deck, but we will all know its there and helps account for the huge grins we will all have on our faces when we launch. I realise that these hatches are Xtremely Xtreme, over the top some will surely say. But will NEVER leak, and as the guy who has to live with these, sleep under them, maintain them and fix anything that goes wrong, I think they are well worth the extra effort and I could not be happier with the way these have turned out and look forward to showing you the next phase of building the lids and then fitting and installing the finished hatches into the boat.
The other bit of excitement this week was the Mr. G., our Gardner 6LXB main engine was lifted up one floor and moved into his new home and my new workshop for restoring him to better than new condition.
That is him hanging from the end of the extending boom of one of the many “Preying Mantis” cranes in the yard while Mother Möbius looks on over on the far right making sure her energy source is being treated well. Now safely resting on the door into his new home on the first floor. Ready to be rolled over to his place in this voluminous new workshop area where he will be lovingly restored and then taken back down and mounted inside Möbius in a few months. It is now Sunday night and we are back from our FABULOUS weekend in the town of Alanya, about a 2 hour drive east from our home in Antalya. We walked our little hoofies off probably logging 20km over the two days and most of that as you can see was either straight up or straight down!
It was just as spectacular from our room at night. The pano shot above is looking the opposite way from the previous one above, this one looking West along the coast towards our place in Antalya. Worth clicking on these shots to see some of the details of the castle and fortified walls of this town that dates back to the 12th century.
Before you go, while it is very short here is a time lapse video of some of the work this week and I hope you’ll enjoy seeing a hatch built in about 30 seconds!
Lest you think that hatches are all that has been hatching here is the latest progress photograph of the Dinc twins, Yiğit and Mert who as you can see are also making GREAT progress and growing up fast already.
Thanks for joining us and please do add your comments, questions and suggestions in the Join the Discussion box below.
As many of you reading this would know, Circa Marine in Whangarei NZ is the very talented engineering firm and shipyard which worked with Steve Dashew to design and build all of the FPB series of boats which totals about 20 boats all together I think.
Christine and I were fortunate to spend a day with the great people at Circa back in November 2016 when we sailed our previous boat down there and they were extremely generous in answering the hundreds of questions we put to them as we made our way in and around the FPB78’s and FPB70 they were building at the time. As we discussed the four different size FPB’s they had built, 64/115/78/70 we got the distinct impression that the FPB70 was their favorite and they had many of their own ideas they’d like to incorporate in the future. Of course we didn’t know then and neither did they that the FPB series was going to end and so not too surprising to us that they have decided to create their own new Circa version and take advantage of their deep experience in building these kinds of boats. Clearly these boats will benefit from what is now about 20 years of experience in building these types of boats, let alone many other boats they have been building for even longer and that this new Circa 24 will be an incredible boat.
Looks like our intuition when we were visiting them was right and like us Circa has decided that the 24m or 78ft size is the sweet spot or Goldilocks just right size for these kinds of boats and owners so we take that as great validation for our coming to the same conclusion with Möbius several years ago. This makes sense as well in that the FPB70 was the last of the FPB’s to be designed and therefore the one which benefited the most from what is almost 2 decades of gathering such a plethora of real world data from all the previous boats, all those years and hundreds of thousands of nautical miles of owner experiences and all of Circa’s experience in building these boats. Steve was extremely diligent at collecting and curating all this data, sharing it so generously and articulately on the SetSail blogs and learning from it all and the results certainly show this evolutionary journey. Everyone from Steve to all the talented people who worked with or at Circa over all those past 20 years certainly deserve a great deal of credit and a huge amount of gratitude for developing this new style of boat and putting them on the marine world map.
New Zealand is certainly a hot spot in the marine world in general and especially so for these new kinds of eXtreme Passage Maker style boats and the “family tree” has very deep roots there. Back in the early 2000’s, prior to the FPB’s, Kelly Archer another very talented Kiwi, had designed and built his personal boat “Ripple” which obviously caught Steve’s eye at the time and Steve and Kelly went on to have a long partnership designing and building the FPB’s.
Oh, and I might add that Kelly chose to put a horizontal version of the same Gardner 6LXB main engine in Ripple. Brilliant!
No coincidence then that we found our own “just right” designer for Möbius in New Zealand when we met up with Dennis Harjamaa at Artnautica Yacht Design. Dennis had designed AND built a boat for himself based on the same DNA I’ve been outlining of long, lean, low all aluminium low maintenance boats for couples with the shared passion for crossing oceans in extreme safety, comfort and efficiency. These boats known as the LRC58 and there are now four of them out exploring the world and a fifth beginning it’s build phase at Aluboot in the Netherlands. Good article here on the three LRC58’s which Dickey Boats in NZ have built and you can follow along with Rob at Artnautica.eu while he was building his LRC58-3 “Britt” at Aluboot.
Thanks to all our “Giant Teachers”:
Since I was very young I’ve always been fascinating by the way in which we humans are able to continuously learn, innovate and advance by “standing on the shoulders of giants” which Wikipedia nicely describes as:
“… expresses the meaning of “discovering truth by building on previous discoveries”.
This concept has been traced to the 12th century, attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Its most familiar expression in English is by Isaac Newton in 1675: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
Christine and I are retired teachers as are most of our siblings so we have that in our DNA as well and we see these “giants” as the great teachers in our lives. We do our best to be very highly motivated learners and we certainly want to add our deep gratitude and appreciation for the many giants whose shoulders we humbly stand upon, learn from and leap forward.
Currently we find ourselves standing upon the shoulders of several other such giants and teachers such as Dennis at Artnautica and Dincer and Baris here at GreeNaval who have been instrumental in transforming our vision into the reality that is Möbius and we can’t wait to launch her and join this growing family of eXtreme passage makers out exploring the world one nautical smile at a time.
Last month I put up a post “Newest Member of this Family of Passage Makers” about the newest members of Dennis’ Artnautica LRC58 line of boats, the LRC58-3 “Britt” and LRC58-4 “Raw” which have both been launched and are now at sea as will be joined by LRC58-5 being built in the Netherlands. My larger comment and purpose for that post, and for this one, is to highlight the rapid growth of a whole new style and type of long, skinny ocean crossing passage makers which are most often designed to be owned and operated by a couple with no crew.
An overall name for this new family of passage makers has not emerged as of yet and they aren’t trawlers, they aren’t pilot boats, they aren’t military boats though they have characteristics from all of these types and many others.
I will write a future post that will go into more details of this new style of ocean crossing beauties but wanted to introduce you to the newest family member which my crack researcher Christine uncovered yesterday in this recent article Simon Murray wrote for Power and Motoryacht magazine entitled “Meet the Special Forces-Inspired Tactical 77”.
The “Tactical 77” as it is being called is a recent design from Bill Prince of Bill Prince Yacht Designs of a 24 meter all aluminium ocean crossing passage maker for an ex Special Forces gentleman to take his family out cruising the world.
She will be built by the Canadian builder Tactical Custom Boats located near Vancouver British Columbia and near where I lived while going to the British Columbia Institute of Technology BCIT and University of British Columbia back in the early 70’s and then taught High School for many years in nearby Ladner.
Located in Richmond B.C., Tactical’ s web site says they build;
High performance aluminum boats designed for speed, comfort, and safety in all operating conditions – without compromising dependability, luxury or design.
Sound familiar? As you can see from these pictures, location is not the only thing we have in common. The similarities to our upcoming addition to this new family named Möbius which we are referring to as eXtreme eXploration Passage Maker or XPM are striking. It is no coincidence that the looks of these boats are so similar because the owner’s requirements and the design goals and use cases overlap extensively. To quote this P&M article;
“Prince was tasked with designing a cohesion of extremes. The client wanted a high-performance vessel with pseudo-military exterior styling and interiors that emphasized luxurious, superyacht-like accommodations.”
It will if you’ve read over my earlier post “Project Goldilocks: Mission Impossible” where I outlined the overall mission and all the key characteristics Christine and I have for designing and building Möbius.
Prince went on to say about the client;
“He wants a really comfortable yacht that will scare the Coast Guard from a quarter mile away.”
Christine and I are not interested in scaring our friends in the world’s Cost Guards but are very keen on similarly deterring any “bad guys” with mal intent towards us.
“We have designed go-anywhere capability and luxurious accommodations inside aggressive, pseudo-military exterior styling,” says Prince.
There are a few differences mind you when it comes to weight, costs and power. For example “the boat will be propelled by twin MAN 1,900hp inboard diesels giving the Tactical 77 combined 3,800HP and top speeds over 35 knots.” Yikes! Mobius for comparison will have about 150HP and a top speed of 11-12 knots. But I’ll be much happier paying our construction costs and our fuel bills!
However at their core all these new kinds of boats share very similar purposes and owners and I was most intrigued by a story the designer Bill Prince shared when interviewed for this article:
With the owner’s highly specialized background, you would think clients like him are exceedingly rare. Yet Prince had three people come to him separately a few years ago, asking for essentially the same thing:
a low-maintenance, go-anywhere-in-any-kind-of-weather, aluminum cruising boat that doesn’t require a full-time crew.
“In the space of six to eight weeks I listened to three gentlemen who were all experienced yachtsmen describe almost the same spec,” said Prince. “So, I’ve seen this coming for a couple of years.”
Almost like reading my own writing!
In the Mission Impossible posting I shared that the mission statement Christine and I brought to Dennis, Dincer and Baris is:
“The just right boat for exploring extreme locations in equally extreme safety and comfort.”
and some of our key characteristics for Möbius included:
all aluminium, no paint, no stainless
Go far, Go everywhere, Go nowhere (@ anchor), Go alone
Interior with extremely high craftsman level fit and finish
You get the idea.
On the one hand the owners of these new style of boats have their own unique use cases and criteria, so each of their boats will be similarly unique. However when viewed by others they will tend to look similar because at their core these boats are designed and built for those who share a passion for long, low, lean & mean low maintenance boats which inspire them to cross oceans in eXtreme safety, comfort and style. We can’t wait to add Möbius to this growing family of ocean crossing passage makers and more so to join them out exploring this awemazing watery world of ours.
It took us a long time to find the just right Goldilocks designer for our new boat Möbius, but we knew we’d found him almost instantly when we first started talking with Dennis Harjamaa at Artnautica Yacht Design. One of the many things which sets Dennis apart from most other naval architects and designers, and made him the perfect fit for us, is that he not only designed the first LRC58 to be his own boat, he also built it almost entirely single handed and has lived aboard full time with his wonderful partner Raquel ever since launching “Koti” (Finnish for home) in beautiful Auckland New Zealand.
Dennis’ LRC58 design caught more than our attention and three other LRC58’s have now been built in different yards around the world and Christine and I have been fortunate enough to spend time on two of these in our travels the past two years.
The most recent LRC58-3 launched last July at Aluboot (www.aluboot.nl) in Hindeloopen, The Netherlands and her owner Rob Westermann , who was a very hands on part of the build, could not be prouder or happier. Rob has very appropriately named her mv Britt.
Rob managed to find time to photograph and blog throughout the build and you can find all that and a full description of this boat at the EU site for Artnautica.
Congratulations Rob! And Dennis!
Related to this, and another truly phenomenal resource is the blog of mv Dirona, a 2010 Nordhaven 52 profusely populated with excellent articles by a couple who are fellow live aboard passage making explorers, James and Jennifer Hamilton. I mention James and Jennifer not only to point you to their treasure trove of a blog but also because they have been cruising around the UK and northern Europe the past few months and on their way to a berth in Harlingen in The Netherlands, they passed Britt which caught their interest immediately.Rob invited them aboard for a full tour which James in typical fashion photographed and wrote about in this thorough posting describing his impressions and what he found aboard Britt. I think you will find this a great use of your time to read, just be forewarned that once you start exploring James & Jennifer’s site you won’t likely get much else done for the rest of the day.
One of their other postings I think you might find particularly worthwhile while we are on this theme of these long and skinny all aluminum ocean crossing passage makers, is the similar overview James posted after he and Jennifer spent time with Steve and Linda Dashew aboard their truly awemazing FPB 781 Cochise. Most of you would probably know all about these ground breaking boats from the SetSail blog which Steve has been lavishly posting to for more than a decade with the intricate details of their entire journey from a life of sailing to designing and building the most famous of these kinds of boats, the FPB series.
You may have read Christine’s March post here “Meeting Steve” about her serendipitous meeting with Steve and Cochise back in September 2016 when we were finishing our big renovation of our 52’ steel sailboat sv Learnativity in Vuda Point Marina in Fiji. Steve and Linda had Cochise out on what they thought was going to be a round trip passage from where they built all their FPB’s at Circa in Whangarei New Zealand up to Fiji for an extended set of sea trials and anchored just outside Vuda Pt. Marina. So Christine and Barney paddled out to say Hi and get a closer look at Cochise and she tells that whole story in her post.
While certainly still relatively small in numbers compared to trawler style passage makers such as Fleming’s, Nordhavn’s, Selene’s and the like, this new “family” of long lean efficient all aluminium passage makers is certainly growing both in numbers and in variation on this theme. A “family name” has not yet evolved for these type of boats but I suspect it will over time.
In the interim there are more and more people who, like Christine and myself, have been inspired and enlightened by this nameless and growing family of boats now out exploring the world’s oceans and even more so by their energetic and innovative designers, builders and owners. We’ve been long time and long range live aboard world passage makers and thought we would continue to wander, ponder and wonder at this awemazing world of ours one nautical smile at a time under sail indefinitely. However, the newfound challenges and adventures of voyaging under power aboard one of these new family of boats with their shared set of characteristics and this relatively new ability for a couple to easily cross oceans safely, comfortably and efficiently under power, has inspired and seduced us into doing what we’ve always done, which is to go wherever is calling our hearts and minds the loudest.
Möbius is how we have decided to answer these calls and set sail on this whole new journey. We started this journey about three years ago and as you can tell, it has completely captivated and delighted us already. Thanks to finding Dennis, Baris and Dincer at Artnautica and Naval Yachts to form “Team Möbius” with us and bravely take on this collaborative work of art and engineering, we can’t wait to launch Möbius next year and be back at sea again to join these other family members in secluded anchorages around the world.