The FPB 78 is the newest member of the FPB squadron. With metal cutting for the third FPB 78 underway (FPB 78- one, two and three are for current or former FPB owners), this Dream Machine is off to the fastest start in FPB history.
The FPB 78 is the fourth design in this series, fine-tuned by over 100,000 miles of open ocean FPB experience during the past eight years, feedback by our owners, and a huge effort by the FPB team around the world from the UK, to New Zealand, to North America.
Welcome aboard. Lets start our tour in the Great Room.
The great room is one of several focal points for life aboard.
The galley, breakfast bar, salon, theater, and one of the two helms are situated in the most comfortable region of the hull. When making shorthanded passages, this great room layout allows for ease of communication and togetherness.
Of course, with more people onboard there is the option of hanging out together or separately, with the Matrix deck available as a living space as well.
The FPB 78 great room, with its outward angled windows and negative edge headliner, offers an unobstructed view of the world outside.
The evening view can be compelling and varied courtesy of the sophisticated lighting system.
The outward cant of the 3/4” (18mm) laminated low-e glass also provides a base for the window covering system to lay against. This eliminates window shade movement and provides a seal to the coverings that enhances insulation properties.
There is space for a large TV – 65” is shown here.
The screen can also be observed in a low position, ideal as a radar monitor when using the Ekornes chairs on watch.
The low TV position makes it possible to maintain situational awareness on passage from any location in the great room without blocking the view outside.
On soundings, the Matrix deck is the primary con, but on passage the inside bridge will often be the watch standing station.
There are excellent sight lines from this location.
And there is space for a functional nav station without overwhelming the great room with electronics.
The galley has loads of counter space, lockers, drawer storage, and room for a variety of appliances.
There are four fridge/freezer units. Volume of these totals 28 cubic feet/800 liters.
The C-shaped configuration works well in port and at sea.
Grabbing a quick snack when on watch you can maintain situational awareness with the excellent view forward.
The view aft is not too bad either.
This is one of the many lighting options for ambiance and working on night watch.
The ship’s master systems panel is located in the aft starboard corner of the great room, where any lighting associated with operation of the panel is shielded from the helm. The design allows you to wedge yourself in securely in rough weather. The majority of AC and DC breakers are located here, as are the genset, inverter controls, heater and air conditioning, fridge and freezers, plus engine Powerview, and great room lighting circuits. Most of the black boxes for the nav system, engine controls, and related are also located within this cabinet for ease of access.
From the galley or the the systems controls/engine data panel turn around and you are looking at the stairwell to the lower deck, which also provides valuable wall space for favorite photos and art. When you get down to the bottom of the stairs, owner’s quarters will be on your right, forward, with twin guest cabins aft, on the left.
We are looking forward now, down the hallway which leads to the annex or forward cabin, or into the owner’s suite, depending on how the bulkheads are configured (they can be reconfigured in a few minutes). On our left is the water tight door which divides the accommodation deck.
There is not a lot to say about the owner’s suite that these renderings don’t communicate better. There is enough space and ambiance, more than a quarter of the accommodation deck, that if you feel that you want to get away from guests or crew this is an ideal private lounge. Its location ensures quiet – there are three sets of double isolation bulkheads between here and the engine room. The suite features excellent natural ventilation, and the pillows on the bunk are within a step of the pitch center for minimum motion when on passage and heading into the waves.The starboard side features an office and 13 ft/4m of closet space (with an additional 1m on the port side). The partial bulkheads at the left side of the rendering are part of the isolation and privacy system.
These bulkheads can be closed off from the office if there are night owls at work. With guests or crew aboard who need access to the forward area – which can be configured as laundry/pantry/gym, or as a stateroom – this becomes a hallway.
Here is a plan view showing the owner’s suite with its bulkhead in open mode, with the annex set up as a work out space.
The lighting throughout the FPB 78 features multiple dimming circuits on LED floods and rope lighting. This has functional advantages, but it is also downright cool, or better put, sexy.
Here is a look at the accommodation deck for FPB 78-2, with the aft end configured as crew quarters, the forward annex as an extra guest cabin and the owner’s starboard bulkhead positioned in what we call privacy mode.
Guest cabins are generous in size, with adjacent heads and bathing facilities.
The areas outboard of the hallway separating guests and owners contain a plumbing systems room to port, and high power electrical gear to starboard. The plumbing room has the selection valves for the damage control pump pickups and fuel manifold where they are easy to reach, along with heating and hydraulic system components. The electrical locker has inverters, fuses, contactors, and related gear for both the high powered electrical circuits. Inverters are installed in an area isolated for noise with a dedicated ventilation system, including an extraction fan.
Each guest suite has a vanity, hanging locker, and lots of drawer space under the bunk. In addition, there is a locker in each head for spare bedding, towels, and supplies.
Moving aft we come to the engine room, with its pair of of six cylinder John Deere diesels. The full width engine room has excellent access to systems for visual checks when underway and maintenance. There are beams overhead for lifting engines and genset, and a large work bench. The air inlet is sized for passive operation, although there are separate pressurization fans as well.
There are a variety of ways to use the aft end of the FPB 78. If there is to be crew aboard, this is most probably where they will reside. This is just one of many possible layouts, the result of much feedback from owners who have had crew in the past, and professional sailors. The one thing everyone agrees on is that the boats with the best quarters get the best crews.
On the other hand, there is this made-in-heaven workshop, with adjacent hang out/relaxing area, which is how FPB 78-1 and 3 are starting life. To port there is a large work bench, room for a drill press, bearing press, belt/disc sander, and sink. There are two large sets of tool drawers, one facing aft and the other with drawers opening inboard so they are handy to the engine room. The starboard side has room for a table and chairs for lounging, as well as general storage for equipment like dive gear used aft. Shown here on the starboard side is one of the two folding pipe framed shelves. There is room for a large TV on the bulkhead, which can be used to monitor ship’s systems, display reference material, or for fun.
The space forward of the owner’s suite measures 18.5ft/5.7m in length, enough space for a variety of uses. The layout shown above, as one big room, is how the first and third FPB 78s are being done. The aft one third of the area has storage space below the sole, on top of the fresh water tanks, for a large inventory of storage bins. The forward two thirds has the bilges exposed below the sole. Part of this volume is taken up with systems, but there is still substantial space left for spare propellers, extra rodes, etc.
This area can also be divided between living space and forepeak..
The space could be used as a laundry room/pantry, large office suite/library, or even a walk-in closet. Or, as in the case of FPB 78-2 an extra cabin with two single bunks.
The Dream Machine is the second FPB to have a Matrix deck.
This is twice the size of the flying bridges on FPB prototype Wind Horse and the FPB 64s, and just a touch smaller than the 97. The Matrix deck can be enclosed or left open as weather and inclination dictate. There’s plenty of space for relaxing. On soundings, navigation has the benefit of elevated sight lines and a full array of electronics. And there is lots of nav desk area for paper charts if you happen to like these for reference.
Watch keepers have the choice of the helm chair or relaxing comfortably on the elevated settee to starboard with a good view forward.
There is a head and vanity in the aft starboard corner for the watch keeper. Seating is long enough to sleep on, and we think this will be a favorite sleeping area at anchor for the younger generation. Those trombone slide type rails in yhe nav desk retract when in port.
There are good sight lines for docking with your head out the window and controls close at hand. The port side control set is portable and can be moved to the outboard docking station if required. Note the notch to starboard of the nav desk. This will allow the watchkeeper to get right up to the window in rain or fog. The window can be opened for unimpeded visibility, typically without wetting the nav desk in moderate rain.
Shallow draft, under five feet/1.5m, opens a new chapter in exploration potential.
The ability to “dry out” is a direct benefit. And when the fins or props need cleaning, this is an easy way to get the job done.
We started out talking about efficiency. Each step along the FPB evolutionary path has brought us better systems, more ambiance at anchor, and less generator time.
With the FPB 78 we are at a point where the genset will rarely be needed.
There are a series of factors with the FPB 78 that make for generator-free cruising. First are ten 340 watt solar panels, capable of providing sufficient power at anchor to take care of the 24-volt DC loads. This leaves the massive capacity of the 24 volt house traction battery bank, 1800 amp hours (20 amp hour discharge rate), to deal with cloudy days, and/or extra AC circuit loads. With excess loading beyond the solar capability likely to be moderate, you can sit pleasantly at anchor for days on end, waiting until you are underway for any recharge required. And once those diesels are turning, a pair of 250 amp (28V) alternators will rapidly recharge the batteries.
The X factor in this is air conditioning, which we are dealing with in several ways. First is a reduction in air conditioning requirements as a result of the passive air flow system. Naturally pressurized air flow from a series of inlets on the underside of the forward roof overhang and front of the Matrix deck coaming will keep the great room temperature in check.
When the air is still, a pair of extraction fans in the aft port corner will pull fresh air from the passive vents forward through the interior and out the aft end of the house. These extraction fans also work as a galley exhaust. The staterooms have a system of Dorade pipes – each fitted with a fan – one for extraction and a second for pressurizing. Heat load in the great room is reduced with big overhangs forward and aft, the outward angle of the windows with overhangs beyond, and with a laminated low-e glass. In addition, there are high efficiency cellular shades on each window.
Couple this with significantly more insulation than previous FPBs and you will understand why it will be rare that air conditioning will be needed at anchor. And if it is one of those hot, sticky, end-of-the-season nights in Fiji or the Bahamas, where air conditioning would be ever so nice while sleeping, the battery bank will supply power for the compressors.
On the FPB 78 the generator is a backup for the solar panels.
The area adjacent to the aft end of the great room, which we call the porch, has a large locker in the starboard corner, with space for coats, emergency gear, and dinghy equipment. For 78-3 there will be a settee under the stairs with storage for fishing gear. FPB 78-1 and 2 have their washers and driers in this location, with a large work surface over them. There is a barbecue, sink, and cleanup area integrated with the engine room air intake.
In unpleasant weather the porch can be closed off, making a convenient “mud-room” and/or environmental air lock for the interior.
The aft deck are is enormous with the forward section shaded by the roof overhang.
To put the FPB 78 aft end into context, there is room for up to an 18-foot dinghy on the starboard side and an 11-foot RIB on the port side.
Shown here are ten and fifteen foot dinghies.
In spite of twin engines, props protected by full depth skegs, and hundreds of thousands of miles without drive line problems, we still want a fall back position if propulsion or steering is compromised. That is where the forward mast comes into play. We think a small sail, all the way forward, will help get the bow down wind after which its area and windage should help us get somewhere, if somewhat slowly.
The A-frame design hinges down for maintenance or when hauling out with a travel lift which it would otherwise block.
There are several interesting details on the foredeck:
- A powerful Lewmar 65 deck winch for kedging, second anchor rodes, and handling dock lines in a blow.
- The Maxwell V 4000 windlass.
- A mud dam (breakwater) to keep mud and weed from the chain from migrating down the deck.
- A 550mm/24” wide anchor platform that allows easier access to the bow fairlead than in the past.
- The large foredeck hatch.
In a fleet designed for toughness, the FPB 78 is the meanest of the bunch. Bottom framing and plating are in excess of what would be considered ice class by Lloyd’s rules from the engine room forward: from the 24mm/1″ thick grounding plate, to the 16mm (5/8”) central turn of the bilge and engine room plate, not to mention the 12mm (1/2”) rest of the bottom. The FPB 78 is available with an MCA Category 0 rating, the most stringent standard under which a small yacht, can be built. Although the paperwork is onerous for the builder, the benefits in terms of resale and insurance can be substantial (very few yachts qualify).
The normal FPB approach to fuel and water tanks, using them to form in effect a double bottom for additional safety, creates 6800 US gallons/25,800 liters of capacity of which 70% represents fuel. Under normal circumstances 3500 US gallons of diesel would be considered full load. The extra capacity is available for special situations such as extra long trips, or protection against supply disruption.
Now it gets interesting. Between our tank testing, database of ocean crossing fuel burn and speed information, and a suite of software carefully tuned to our hull shapes, we have a pretty good handle on what sort of performance to expect from the FPB 78. For example, we know that FPB prototype Wind Horse easily averages 10.75 to 11 knots – roughly 268 miles per day.
The FPB 78 has a similar waterline length to Wind Horse, with a more efficient drive line than any previous FPB. With the integral fuel tank capacity, burning under eight gallons/30L per hour, you can go a long way, then come back, and still have sufficient fuel to allow cruising until you find the right price and quality of diesel.
How far are we talking about?
From Whangarei, where FPBs are built on the North Island of New Zealand, if the mood strikes, at a comfortable 11 knots, you can go direct to Puerto Monte, Chile, staying above 53 degrees latitude, a distance of 5000 nautical miles, with a reserve. Prefer the Northern Hemisphere and in a hurry, then how about the northwest corner of the state of Washington? That is 6,000 miles, and leaves a 10% reserve, so perhaps we should slow down to 10.5 knots, at least until we’ve consumed half our diesel payload and know we have Gray’s Harbor made. Of course making a straight shot through the South Pacific means passing up some of the best cruising in the world. So, maybe at least one stop in American Samoa to top off with the lowest cost diesel in the Pacific basin, which means keeping our average 11 knot boat speed is easy. Want to make the trip from Capetown, South Africa to Florida, or New Zealand direct to Panama without stopping? Okay, 6,500 miles plus reserve means we are slowing down to 10 knots or just a touch under.
The FPB 78 has a unique drag curve that is almost a straight line once the drag hump around 12 knots is passed. Pair this with common rail engines that deliver 230 HP at 2300 rpm M1 rating, and 330HP at 2600 RPM M4 rating and you will find that drag and the M4 prop curve neatly coincide. This results in an engine propped for M4 rating working in M1 mode. Which gives us our 11 knot cruise at a very smooth and quiet 1600 RPM.
However, you are probably wondering what we are going to do with a pair of 330HP engines in a yacht that burns 8 gallons/30 liters per hour or about 80 HP per engine. The answer is nothing – if everything goes according to plan. That extra power is there for emergency use, a special weather event for example, that requires a high turn of speed to get remove yourself from the risk factors. Or a medical situation where time is of the essence. There will also be occasions when an extra turn of speed will get you in before dark. How fast are we talking about? We are not going to say at this point. We’d rather show you during sea trials during the last quarter of 2015. Let’s just say we expect a few eyebrows to be raised.
We started out chatting about dinghies and the ability to carry an 18’+ RIB. We have been wrestling with dinghies for more years than we care to admit. As we mature and as our dinghies get heavier, we have endeavored to design easier handling systems for launch and retrieval. This includes having a hinged lifeline gate (referred to in an earlier post), that will allow us to keep the dink at deck level when lifting it off and on the chocks. Next, we have come up with a new boom control system. The rendering above has booms out in the at-anchor angle. Notice the boom strut connected to the traveler control car. By running the car back and forth on its track we have positive control of boom angle, without a bunch of rigging hanging off the boom ends and running across the deck.
FPB 78 – Offshore Motor Vessel: Preliminary Specifications
- LOD 86.2’ (26.27m)
- LWL 83.66’ (25.5m)
- Official length (MCA rules) 78.08’ (23.8m)
- Beam Deck 20’ (6.1m)
- Extreme Beam (edge of rub rails) 20.8’ (6.35m)
- Draft-half load Canoe Body 4.5’ (1.4m)
- Draft-half load Prop Skeg 4.75’ (1.475m)
- Air Draft (top of masts-excluding antennas) 22.3’ (6.8m)
- Displacement Full Load (3600 US gallons liquids) 121,000 lbs / 55 tons
- Fuel Capacity 4850 US Gallons (18350 L)
- Fresh Water Capacity 1950 US Gallons (7380 L)
- Minimum Range of Positive Stability 140-degrees(half fuel in one tank, full fresh water tanks)
- Cruising Speed 11. knots
- Top Speed 12.5 knots
- Approximate Range 10 knots – 7100 NM 10.75 knots – 5550 NM (Note: speeds/ranges are smooth water/clean bottom)
How does the FPB 78 compare to Wind Horse, the FPB 64, and the 97? The answer is that there is no way to directly compare the designs, as they are each optimized towards different goals. But there are definite physical differences which are quantifiable.
Taking all this into consideration, it should come as no surprise that three FPB 78s under construction. All three of these Dream Machines are for existing or former FPB owners.
If you’d like to join us on this journey, contact Sue Grant: [email protected].
Click here to read more FPB 78 updates.
Note: We have had literally hundreds of comments and dialogues surrounding our posts about the evolution of the FPB 78 design. We have compiled them all into one place for organization and ease of reading. Click here to see the dialogue.