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Dock Buzz

Dock Buzz

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.

Compare the stealth fighter jets of today with that of the Wright Brothers design and you may get a glimpse of where Martini 1.5 is headed.

Compare the stealth fighter jets of today with that of the Wright Brothers design and you may get a glimpse of where Martini 1.5 may be headed.

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.

David Hall has his eyes on the future/

David Hall has his eyes on the future.

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; 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.

With cutting edge technology and design, MYPD's Revolver 42 makes a statement of ownership that is defined by its uniqueness.

With cutting edge technology and design, MYPD’s Revolver 42 makes a statement of ownership that is defined by its uniqueness.

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

Michael Peters' design expertise covers working with metal, composite and wood materials.

Michael Peters’ design expertise covers working with metal, composite and wood materials.

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.

The Revolver 42 is not for everybody, but that just might be the point.; MPYD, 47 South Palm Avenue #202, Sarasota, Florida 34236. (941) 955- 5460; email — INFO@MPYD.NET

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.

The eCraft 20 sets a new standard in state-of-the-art technology and environmentally responsible boating.

The eCraft 20 sets a new standard in state-of-the-art technology and environmentally responsible boating.

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.; Rufus Van Gruisen eCraft Yachts, One Maritime Drive Portsmouth, RI 02871 Tel: (401) 683 3520 ext 103. email:

The cargo ship Goblin offers commercial applications that just might be applicable to recreational boating.

The cargo ship Goblin offers commercial applications that just might be applicable to recreational boating.

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,

Goblin's impressive performance is a result of the importance the Baumweller DST400 Series high torque electric motors play in the ships operations.

Goblin‘s impressive performance is a result of the importance the Baumuller DST2-400 Series high torque motors play in the ships operations.

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

Torqeedo's Deep Blue may be writing a new chapter in the history of boat drives.  A powerful electric drive using only high-tech components, the system is clean for the water and the air.

Torqeedo’s Deep Blue may be writing a new chapter in the history of boat drives as the system is clean for the water and the air.

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

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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in Dock Buzz


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Necessity Is The Mother of Invention

Whether due to the ongoing energy crisis, the global economy, or a host of other factors all working together to exert a strong tidal pull on the boating industry, there are several forward thinking designers and engineers out there whose ideas may warrant a closer look by the status quo.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

The origin of this most recognized of proverbial sayings I’ve chosen to be the title of this discussion is, for the most part, unknown. While some scholars, who often spend lifetimes studying such esoteric endeavors as tracking down the undeniable source of said adage and others —and kudos to them—however shipmates, I choose to follow yet another path in my own pursuit of accumulated knowledge, passing neither pro or con judgment on such donnish deeds.

In fact, and in praise of said dedication, we have recognizable and attributable sayings such as the treasured, “ A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom,” by none other than Richard Wayne “Little Richard” Penniman; or the emotional, “Yo, Adrian,” flawlessly delivered by Sylvester Stallone in the 1976 film, Rocky. And just to drive things home, who can forget this memorable gem from Charles II (1630–1685), who was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland: ‘Let not poor Nelly starve,” referring to one of his many mistresses, the actress and commoner Nell Gwynn, as he lie on his death bed. Or as my good friend Capt. Chris Kelly would say, “Go no further.”

The point here readers is that we seem to be entering an era where the way things were, are not necessarily the way things are going to be. For example, let’s take a quick look at moving a boat through the water. (Sailboaters need not read any further; for the technical information that follows really has nothing to do with what they do. However, I humbly and respectfully beseech and request my ragbagging brethren to push on if merely for the enjoyment of partaking in my wordsmithing.)

For most of us who enjoy our fishing, cruising, or however we involve ourselves in the lifestyle, getting from Point A to Point B, perhaps on to Point C and the rest of the alphabet as we meander on back to A, means we have to consider our fuel consumption. And to address this important concern, I would say that most of the established and respected boat designers, builders, and engine manufacturers around the world have taken this cause under careful scrutiny and thought: To wit, the enthusiastic acceptance of Volvo Penta’s IPS and the Cummins/Mercruiser Zeus systems.

Now, I’ve just begun to do some digging is this area and came up with three companies that  appear to be into technology and a way of thinking that might be the start of something new. Just have an open mind. Think iPad, okay, and what a gizmo like that will eventually lead to.

The first up here is the M Ship Company out of San Diego, California. Founded in 1998 by Chuck Robinson and Bill Burns, M Ship is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business specializing in the design, development and delivery of innovative marine concepts for the military, commercial and recreational markets.

The M80 Stiletto redefines hull design. Its geometry is unique because it consists of three interrelated features that improve ship performance – the Central Displacement Section, the Planing Tunnels and the Rigid Skirts.

To say they are inventive falls far short of the reality of their products. Case in point; The M80 Hull. Known as The Stiletto, the twin M-hull vessel is 88 feet in length with a 40 foot beam, providing a rectangular deck area equivalent to a conventional displacement craft 160 feet in length. The vessel’s draft fully loaded is three feet and is designed for a speed of 50-60 knots. Right now, it’s in military and drug interdiction use but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see a yacht version slipping down the ways.

According to the M Ship Company, the M-hull’s advanced planing-hull technology provides superior advantages over the more traditional designs. These include ride quality, speed, stability, range and the ability to carry payloads. The reduction of the “drag hump” offers very efficient cruising speeds not normally associated with planing craft and M Ship has done extensive studies with government and academic support in order to validate these benefits. Its test data and video are available upon request.

Next is the Axcell 650, a boat I had the opportunity to pay a short visit to while at last year’s Palm Beach Boat Show. From the outside, the Axcell 650 Catamaran Sport Yacht offers a sleek, eye-catching low profile design with distinctive ‘gill-slit’ intakes on each side, which, by the way, and as I would soon find out, have been specifically designed for an additional and important performance function. But what really began to interest me was something written on the banner that stretched across the transom: “With Patented HybridAir™ Technology.” Now that was something that pinged my radar and waiting my turn to get aboard, listened carefully from dockside as I started to pick up some buzz words from someone wearing an Axcell shirt.

The ‘gill slits’, visible aft on the port side, allow huge amounts of air to be drawn in and redirected.

Brian Barsumian, who along with his dad Bruce, are the principals in the company responsible for this daring design and technology. They call it MACS Research Inc., the capital letters standing for Multi Air Cavity Ships™ and have been at it for some 13 years now with the result of their visionary research and work sitting right there in the dock.

The huge lift fan down at the end of one engine room enables the 650 to get up and go.

The 650, designed by J.C. Espinosa of Stuart, Florida-based Espinosa Inc., is a beautiful looking boat both inside and out. That’s my opinion. Some simply do not like the catamaran styling nor the lines. However, I found her to be a head turner and mine was going back and forth, looking here and there as I got the cook’s tour with Brian. I hope to get back on with both Bruce and Brian at a later date for a comprehensive sea trial and walk through, and perhaps a sit-down with Mr. Espinosa as well, but for now, I noted how well this prototype is finished off in yacht quality fashion with copious amounts of room available enabling her owners and guests to be away from the dock for long periods of time. And there’s a 16-foot, 90-hp RIB tender tucked into a garage in the stern.

With lots of folks queuing up on the dock for a look-see, and realizing of course that the Barsumians were eager to show their boat, I slipped into the starboard sponson’s engine room with Brian for a quick tour. I got the layout and technology very quickly. The boat has been designed to pump low pressure air, much like a hovercraft does, via a pair of automated lift fans working off the twin C-18 Caterpillar 1,150-hp turbo diesels. And yes, those ‘gill slit’ intakes are all part of the technology that gets this 59,000 pound vessel cruising, according to the Axcell literature, along at a 38-knot cruise speed. This is a very cool boat and one that I am definitely coming back for. Stand by. I’ll let you know when it’s happening.

My third offering on this topic is by Effect Ships International (ESI) AS of Sandefjord, Norway, who also seem to be playing with the hovercraft—or ASV, for air supported vessel—technology as well, and have come up with a prototype they call the M65. And here’s where you have to put in some visionary work and ignore the boxy, unadorned test vessel pictured here. As with the iPad analogy, think Patrick Knowles design or something out of the Trinity yard.

With that said, ESI has sunk some $10 million into its research and development of the M65, garnering the Innovation Award at the 2011 European Powerboat of the Year contest. In a nutshell, the concept calls for a special underwater shape to the running bottom of the hull complete with a large cavity to trap the blown in air, courtesy of a fan mounted in the bow. At the stern, a special flap closes off the cavity, trapping the air within. For this prototype, ESI used a fan driven by a D3 Volvo Penta diesel but envision using electric power from a genset or from a hybrid main propulsion system. The illustration shows the side rails that prevent the air from escaping. According to Ulf Tudem, the company’s general manager, the propulsion system can be pods, jets, outdrives, fixed-shaft, or surface piercing.

When the main propulsion system is engaged – Tudem says it can be any type, including pod drives, jet drives or outdrives, fixed-shaft and even surface-piercing props – the M65 accelerates and gets on plane much faster than conventional boats because it doesn’t need to get over the proverbial hump.

Do you think Orville and Wilbur Wright ever envisioned the Space Shuttle and risk-taker Richard Branson? My final thought on this: The dog would have caught the rabbit if he didn’t stop to take a leak.

Fair winds, shipmates. –Cap’n Ken

If you choose to get in touch with any of these builders, please tell them you saw the posting on the Boat & Yacht Report site. We work closely with the marine industry and especially when getting information like this out.

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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in Technology