For years we’ve been wrestling with a way to improve on the FPB 83, Wind Horse. We’ve done smaller, as in the FPB 64: a very efficient, attractively priced, well-mannered yacht. And we’ve worked up a larger version in the guise of the FPB 115, about which we can get excited. But to improve on the Wind Horse combination of comfort, sea-kindliness, heavy weather ability, trans-ocean average speed, systems efficiency, and ease of handling for a couple has yet to happen.
Besides, this was the year we were supposed to get back to the serious business of field testing and research. Given the work load of the past year (cruising full-time while spending 60 hour weeks on the FPB program is not as easy as it might sound), we were due for some R and D and R and R.
So what would tempt us to change plans? We’ll start with systems.
Admittedly, we tend to be obsessive about systems efficiency. We enjoy quiet anchorages, and do not appreciate neighbors who incessantly run their engines or gensets to generate power.
The power consumption and replenishment cycle is directly related to efficiency, or lack thereof. Improved efficiency allows smaller gensets. Get it right, and you do not need a backup generator. Saving on the daily fuel burn significantly extends the vessel’s endurance. This impacts usable range – how far and for how long you can venture forth. And to the extent that the boat represents shelter in a world unhinged, there is a significant improvement on how long you can survive without getting back into the system. This is also a kinder approach to the environment, and way more fun.
The work we did last year with the solar power generating system for Wind Horse really opened our eyes. What if we started from scratch with a clean sheet of paper (okay, a blank computer screen)? How many of those 320 watt, 19% efficient (at converting solar energy to electric power), solar panels could we fit? And think of the output robbing shading that might be eliminated.
Add in a new approach to air conditioning, coupled with a truly unique ventilation system (which we will address in the next few days), and it begins to look like it might be possible to sit at anchor, totally independent from fossil fuels while maintaining a wonderful level of ambiance. Even Al Gore might approve.