The Next Best Thing
As today’s rapidly changing technologies push development in all directions, we take a look at some of this past year’s more interesting advances in boat design and propulsion.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler
If you were at the 2013 Miami International Boat Show, and happened to be strolling the docks at the Sea Isle Marina, you most likely caught a glimpse of a rather strange looking something flitting across the choppy waters of Biscayne Bay and out to Government Cut. What appeared to be a cross between a spider, a pontoon boat, and one of those Cybertronian Autobot Transformers was actually a very early high tech prototype vessel of, well a prototype vessel from the mind of Silicon Valley-based David Hall and his Velodyne Company.
Armed with a vision of realizing a practical and applicable design for their computer controlled active suspension vessel, capable of handing a variety of sea conditions while keeping things on an even keel, Hall and his team of young, cutting edge engineers, made their Martini 1.5 available for test rides, one of which I was able to get on.
The ungainly and creepy-crawly looking 35’ long, 19’ beam ‘boat’ sits on a pair of foam-filled pontoons powered by a 150-hp outboard mounted at the end of each one. It’s a rather complicated gizmo consisting of four articulating arms, each controlled by Hall’s suspension units, a screw activator and a DC electric motor, all connected to an aluminum platform, which in turn, is covered by a modest enclosure. There are several other components including a gyro mounted in the middle and below the deck.
In the end, and while underway and activated, all these parts work together to move Martini 1.5 through the water. With information being fed to the onboard computer, which makes on the spot adjustments as to the position of each independently working arm, and compensating for wave height and trough, the result during my time out on the water was a rather surprisingly smooth and comfortable ride. It was also very cool to watch the pontoons and arms going up and down, ‘sensing’ the sea conditions as we ran over the wakes of other boats and a bit of rough water on our approach to the ocean.
Hall and his team have high hopes for their design and technology and are continuing in the research and development of the next phase of achieving their dream. For more information, visit the company Website at http://www.velodynemarine.com; or get in touch with David Hall at 345 Digital Drive, Morgan Hill, CA 95037. +1(408) 465-2800.
From the extreme, ground level concept of Martini 1.5, we make a 180 to the equally extreme and individually unique world of Michael Peter Yacht Design (MPYD) and the uber exciting Revolver 42.
Since 1981, MPYD has established an impressive and eclectic gathering of clients numbering some 30,000 and covering more than 350 designs. The group has also garnered more than 200 Class 1 Offshore racing wins with 13 world titles. According to MPYD, “…our designs have no definite visual signature.”
One look at the Revolver 42’s sleek lines, it’s citron-green paint job—also available in what
can only be called a stimulating offering of other color palates—and all its high tech accoutrements including retractable overhead and aft and side windows, electrically operated swim platform that disappears into the transom, and the striking, minimalist interior, makes this one of a kind design statement a head turner in any port…and even, perhaps, a trend setter for future interpretations.
She offers a variable, deep-stepped hull with flat port and starboard sides; infused hull with the hard top vacuum bagged in carbon fiber, with the same material used in all areas subject to concentrated stress; and a pair of 700-hp Mercury 700SCi supercharged racing engines coupled to NXT transmissions that promise exciting performance around the 65 knot mark.
As more and more electric power finds its way onto the roadways of the world, so too does this same power source, even though in its beginning stages for on-water application, has already made its presence known in the marine industry.
First up is the eCraft20, an all-electric 20’ launch realized by the Portsmouth, Rhode Island-based engineering father and yacht designer son team of Rufus and Rogan Van Gruisen, who along with naval architect Matt Smith, are looking to bolster the concepts of comfort, safety, and sustainability while still being able to be enjoy their boating lifestyles.
The neat looking eCraft20 has a classic profile that belies her high-tech propulsion system, is capable of moving her through the water at up to eight knots, and can carry enough battery power to last all day. An optional bank is also available. She is outfitted with seating for eight adults and has a range of about 30 nautical miles.
A simple joystick controls both speed and steering, and options include a GPS chartplotter/fishfinder, a refrigerator, barbecue grill and interior courtesy lights. With the built in battery charger, re-charging is as convenient as plugging the extension cable into a marina shore power outlet or, if trailering, into any 115 Volt, 15 Amp household receptacle. http://www.ecraftyachts.com; Rufus Van Gruisen eCraft Yachts, One Maritime Drive Portsmouth, RI 02871 Tel: (401) 683 3520 ext 103. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps some trickle down technology from Nuremburg, Germany-based Baumuller might find its way into the pleasure boat sector in the near future. The company, with its hybrid propulsion system as used on the 135 meter/442 foot long Goblin, a cargo ship built to carry corn, coal, stone, and sand, is the first inland vessel so outfitted with this kind of power.
Goblin took her maiden voyage this past July and is plying a regular route between Krefeld,
Mannheim, and Karlsruhe. With a pair of 634kW Mitsubishi diesel engines and two 285kW Baumuller DST2-400KO torque motors, her captain can have the choice of four different options to power his ship; fully electric, electric with diesel assistance, diesel with electric assistance, or just diesel.
Baumuller’s advanced control system takes care of synchronizing the diesel engines with that of the torque motors and even with the 634kW Mitsubishi genset as well for seamless on-time starts. Besides this kind of control, the system completely monitors all critical engine parameters including temp, electrics, and torque.
Goblin’s speed reached 13.7 mph with a load of some 3,550 tons of coal and realized a 10% energy savings, with its hybrid ability. It was also reported to be a quiet operation with little vibration as well. For more information, visit http://www.baumuller.com
Wrapping things up for this installment is Torqeedo, another Germany-based company—Starnberg is the home city—that is a market leader in the rapidly growing electric outboard sector. And with a line up of 14 models, ranging from a mini one horsepower right up to an 80-hp engine, there may be one of these to fit many applications. In addition to the engines, accessories include solar charging and high performance, lithium batteries.
From kayak enthusiasts, using the 15-pound Ultralight 403 to the top of the line Deep Blue, a powerful electric drive surrounded by high-tech components and designed for commercial operators and green boaters, the various offerings can fit into may applications.
These and other technologies, some still on the drawing boards and even in the imaginations of dreamers and yet-to-be engineers, will hopefully get the opportunity to improve our boating experience and widen its appeal.
For more information on Deep Blue and the entire line up of Torqeedo products, contact the company at www.torqeedo.com