There is a double feature now live in print and online at Soundings Magazine… Read the rest »
Wicked FPB 97
Following is a series of posts detailing the design and construction process of the Wicked FPB 97.
We’ve been chasing the holy grail of the perfect cruising yacht for 40 years. The Deerfoot, Sundeer and Beowulf series are considered the premiere sailing yachts on which to circumnavigate. The FPB fleet is judged by the most experienced owners and journalists to be the best ocean-crossing motor yachts today. To find out why, read on:
Tuesday morning finds us wending our way out to open water on Iceberg. A battery of tests are in store: everything from engine load and fuel burn, to optimizing stabilizer settings, checking roll periods, loading alternators, and pretty much anything you can think of in between. Read the rest »
You are looking at what drives the FPB team, what our client (and we) have been waiting to see after 2.5 years of intense effort. A lovely clean flow release off the stern with minimal magnitude indicating a highly efficient cruising machine (this at 13.1 knots GPS averaged in two directions). A wicked wake indeed. Read the rest »
We will shortly begin a wicked set of sea trials with FPB 97-1. Along with the usual wringing out of the boat before handover, one of the objectives is to gather a data set with which to refine our velocity prediction algorithms. Read the rest »
The Wicked One is at hand. Stay tuned…
A standard part of every hull construction sequence is a series of X-Ray checks, the location of which is dictated by the owner’s surveyor. Circa have just completed this process on FPB 97-1 and we thought this QC check process might be of interest.
The FPB 97 has enormous stabilizer mechanisms, sized for support when aground and hitting things, the loads for which are far more than hydrostatic loads. The over strength mechanism, however, is of no value, and in fact can damage the boat, if it is not properly reinforced. Read the rest »
Testing The Underwater Exhaust In Various States Of Trim In Preparation For The FPB 97: Motion Impact
One of the most difficult design aspects to get right is an underwater exhaust. Powerboat builders and designers have been wrestling with these issues for years, and nobody–let us repeat that, nobody–has a pat answer. With conventional motor yachts, there is so much horsepower involved in propulsion that exhaust noise is a major issue. Add in engine rooms that are almost always near the center of the vessel, and the need for–and difficulty with–an underwater exhaust multiplies.
In our case the options are easier. We have very small power requirements, so noise and vibration are minimal. The engine room is all the way aft, so the noise is isolated from the living quarters. The aft location coupled with small engines and big rudders makes it possible to place an underwater exhaust, if indeed it is warranted, behind the prop(s) and rudder(s). This eliminates the inefficiencies that occur when you are injecting exhaust, and the related turbulence, ahead of the propulsion/steering foils.
In the case of the FPB 97, we have a scale model in Wind Horse with which to experiment, which is what we’ve been doing of late. We have set her up with extra payload, so that hull immersion forward and aft is closer to the FPB 97. In the case of the underwater exhausts, this affects the imersion of the exhausts, and how they sound during various sea states.
At the same time, this gives us data on the behavior of the canoe body in unusual (for Wind Horse) load conditions. There are some factors we’ve been studying that point us in a certain direction, and we are testing to see how these work. Changing the trim, moving fuel/water forward or aft to immerse or raise the stern, allows us to get an idea of how the FPB 97 might react.
We are a ways from finalizing things…there are still some configurations to test, but we are zeroing in on a decision.
In the meantime, we’ve made a short video, taken going uphill against a 4-to-7 ft (1.2/2.1 m) sea.
We have an amazing array of rendering tools with which to simulate the real world. This weekend the task at hand (other than keeping an eye on the flora and fauna) is experimenting with night lighting, and it can get confusing at times.
It has been a very long day, with a previously short evening, and after three multi-hour Skype calls to different parts of the world, your correspondent is in need of a pick-me-up. There’s the cold Izze soda awaiting in the corporate lounge, and probably some cheese and crackers. But after a day like this what energizes the soul even more is a bit of Wicked sex.
We’ve been hard at work fine-tuning FPB 97-1 for her very experienced owner. His goal is a highly efficient cruising platform, one which is easy to maintain, and has the highest degree of reliability. There is an instinctive understanding of the difference between the theoretical ideal and the everyday practical. The results so far, of this collaborative effort towards the perfect family cruising yacht, may surprise some observers.
There are numerous structural considerations impacting what can and cannot be done with the exterior shape of a design like the FPB 97. The structural requirements of the window mullions, for example, have an enormous impact on the interior and exterior appearance. So too, the connection of the mullions to the roof structure above and coamings below. The deck framing, sole, and roof support systems are other areas that control aesthetic fate. On the other hand, you cannot start the structural engineering, until you have a pretty good idea of the design. But how do you figure out the design if you don’t know the structural requirements? This is like one of those notes that pops up in a spreadsheet program when you’re building formulae that says “circular reference”.
Our approach to this conundrum is based on the WAG principle.
The FPB 97 has a wicked amount of fuel and water capacity, so much so that only in special circumstances would the full amounts of either ever be carried. The weight and position of these liquids obviously have a substantial impact on fore and aft trim and stability. We are dealing with close to 37,000 liters/9,800US gallons of capacity (after deducting for structure, separating coffer dams, and stabilizer coffers).
Big news in the FPB world. FPB 97-1 is underway, and the folks at Circa are hard at work, getting ready for the day when they start to cut metal. On our end, we are ever so pleased to have released hull shape 975-80-C for building. The process that brings us to this point is long, painstaking, and involves a mix of scientific analysis and black art (also known as gut instinct born of experience). As we tend towards obsessive about such topics, perhaps a few comments might be in order.
Now we get to the fun stuff, or as we say on Wind Horse, “the play room.” If you are concerned with safety, ambiance, cost, and frustration, it starts and stops right here. Get the systems and drive line right and your cruising life will be most pleasurable. Get it wrong, well, that is why so many boats sit in marinas and boat yards, and why dreams often turn sour.
The interior decks of the FPB 97 offer many opportunities and a few challenges. There is an enormous amount of volume, which is wonderful to have at anchor, and we want to preserve the sense of openness that comes with that space. But this is a seagoing vessel. There are certain requirements that relate thereto: handholds, furniture that secures one’s body, working areas that are functional in less-than-benign conditions. It is the latter which allows you to enjoyably voyage to those wonderful cruising destinations.
When we first started seriously thinking about going cruising, the accepted wisdom held that a couple could, at best, handle a 38-footer. A unique opportunity came our way to purchase a beautifully maintained and almost new 50-footer, and even though she seemed almost too big, we quickly adapted to Intermezzo’s size, and were happy to have the comfort of a larger yacht. Over the years we went from 50, to 62, to 68, and then 78-footers, all easier to handle for us as a couple than the previous yacht. Wind Horse, at 83 feet, is much easier for the two of us to cruise on than any of our sailing yachts. We think that will be the case with the new FPB 97.
As we have matured (hate that concept!) the idea of taking crew has been discussed more than once. Since this subject is up for its annual review, we thought it might be an interesting exercise to share the crew vs. no crew reasoning. Although we will discuss this in the context of a FPB 97, the logic applies to smaller yachts as well.
Where you intend to cruise, and the ambient weather with which the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) have to deal, is the starting point for the systems analysis and their integration into the rest of the design. The space these take for installation has an impact on structure and interior design, and the power needed to operate them dictates the requirements of both AC and DC electrical systems. Sitting in a lovely anchorage in the Bahamas, or French Polynesia, has totally opposite requirements in this regard versus exploring Tierra del Fuego or visiting Antarctica.
Growing up navigating by sextant and lead line taught us to appreciate modern electronics. We love radar, GPS, SONAR, and AIS. We are attached to free wifi, and data via cell service. What we don’t like is a hodge podge of antennae strewn here and there. So the farm – as in antenna farm – is on the design priority list during the concept phase, to make sure there is an orderly way to install them all.
When it comes to creating a successful yacht for long distance voyaging, you have to start with the fundamentals, and build from there. Get the foundation right, and everything else falls into place. Get it wrong, and regardless of how cool the boat looks, or how much you like the interior, the real world experience is guaranteed to be less than optimal.
We’ve disclosed the exterior of this Wicked new FPB early because it is fundamental to how the boat functions in a holistic systems engineering context. Likewise the Matrix deck, which is also fundamental. Now come the details about what makes possible the cruising dream to which we all aspire.
“Having a boat that can deal with whatever might happen—no matter what—provides a mental comfort level that defines their view of happy sailing.”
–Bill Parlatore, Editor, Passagemaker Magazine
Designing, specifying, and building a modern cruising yacht demands clear goals about what the yacht is intended to do. In the FPB Series, as with all our yachts, the first priority is going places (read: crossing oceans) in maximum comfort and safety, quickly, with the ability to operate for long periods away from civilization. Toss in optimization for short-handed passage-making–cruising as a couple should the owners so desire–and you have the ability to go where and when you want, without concern for crew requirements, servicing errant systems, or the schedules of yacht transport companies.
“The 83ft-long (25m) wave-piercer…could easily be mistaken for the spawn of the Royal Navy with its unpainted battleship grey, all-aluminum body. But that day, in those conditions, it was the only boat that I would have wanted to climb aboard to face the English Channel.”
–Motor Boat & Yachting
The sun has set, the chimes have struck, we dally no longer. The FPB 97, the Wicked One, stands revealed.
Fanning Atoll is one of those magical places rarely visited by cruising yachts. The lagoon is beautiful, the islanders friendly, and if you happen to be transiting the Pacific to the north during hurricane season, it is the perfect place to wait until you have a clear run up to Hawaii.
A primary design consideration is always what you can see from various places on board. As yachts get larger the sight lines diminish, and you begin to rely on secondary input: usually crew members wearing headsets, calling distance off the dock or to another vessel, to the con. We’d rather see and judge for ourselves. Hence a rigorous study early, the results of which guide the ensuing design.
There are several different criteria we are looking to fulfill:
Our approach to cruising yacht design is based on the concept that getting there should be as enjoyable as sitting at anchor absorbing a wonderful sunset. If you are physically and mentally comfortable, and instinctively know your vessel can deal with the sea and the odd bit of operator error, then you are going to go places, at the drop of a hat.
Among the very first things we look at in designing a yacht is dinghy storage, launching, and retrieval. This design aspect is as fundamental to successful cruising as anything else aboard. We have had a simple and reliable system since the first FPB first launched seven years ago, modified only recently by the advent of deck winches that power out as well as in. With booms easily controlled by permanent guys, locked off with rope clutches if required, and the dink stowed at deck level, the process is easy enough to get into and out of the water that we usually stow it aboard each evening.
As simple as this is, we still consider this to be potentially the most dangerous job on board.
With the Wicked FPB we have refined the dinghy process to make it significantly easier and more controlled.
We used to envy the folks who cruised with shallow draft for the benefits it conferred. There is the obvious, extending your cruising opportunities to areas like the Bahamas (above), but there other significant advantages as well.