When we rebuilt “Legend” with Jan Verkerk, we brainstormed about the idea to change her machinery to Diesel electric. Eventually, the idea was abandoned for the sake of common sense at the time. Would our decision be different today?
Basically, a tug is just a big engine with barely enough steel around it to keep it afloat and house its crew and fuel. Because it needs torque, it usually has big propellers and the accompanying draught. How challenging is that for a yacht?
To reach a proper hull speed sailing with no tow, you need a different propeller, way less power and a completely different design. Taking the engines out of Legend would have required either adding about 400 tons of useless ballast to keep her in her lines, or shaving the bottom 6 feet to reduce her displacement. Neither proposal makes sense really. If you get to that point, you just bought the wrong boat.
So “what has changed?” you might ask.
Converting a tug boat engine room now will give you a lot of space and the option to add weight. None of this fits the bill of a luxury yacht, where the volume is reserved as much as possible for the relatively light guest accommodation. However if we look at future propulsion options, we know that future fuels will require more space, which could be set in additional tankage on the fringe of that now relatively empty engine room. “Weight?” you might ask. The answer could be batteries, but also the weight of metal required by the (possibly pressurized) fuel storage capacities.
So there you go: There still could be a future for tug to yacht conversion. Naturally, the draught issue remains a problem in posh marinas and shallow bays. Consequently, this approach is best reserved to explorer yachts with plans to live off the grid as much as possible.
Not every yacht has, like Octopus, the luxury of a floodable garage the size of a dry dock for a sizeable yacht. The relative lack of both space and design freedom is particularly felt on the larger classic yachts, where the size and status of the vessel warrant a sizeable tender, but does not allow the modern storage and handling conveniences.
Storage and handling go together. On-deck storage of tenders is particularly popular on conversions and smaller yachts. Most of the time, the tender is handled by a crane that can be made discreet when not in use. In our experience, though, a single point hoist of a tender of over 1500 kg becomes quickly challenging. In addition, the tender needs to be swung between its storage position and the water, making it difficult to belay or slip the control guy lines on fixed points on deck.
The best way to handle tenders over 1 ton is two points hoist. Now that is a nice fact as the traditional davits used on classic yachts are ideal. This can go with a second issue: speed of handling. Traditional davits rely on relatively weak winches and light ropes in four to six parts block and tackles. That makes for a slow movement. If there is a little bit of swell, the boat will start floating, but not enough for the crew to release the falls. This will allow some serious shocks in the whole structure till the boat floats completely. On top of that, the slightest roll can start uncontrollable swing unless there is enough crew to slip pennant lines all the time.
It is thus important to have as fast a movement as possible. Modern synthetic ropes and captive winches allow a single part fall and fast run, while keeping the appearance of traditional gear. For any vertical movement, the shorter, the better. On classic yachts, because there are still nice volumes in the superstructure above the main deck, tenders would typically be stored in a recess on the deck above (promenade deck, bridge deck or boat deck depending on the yacht configuration). Such a recess is usually found around the engine room trunk or on an open deck space aft.
A magic improvement that can be done is to bring the storage position down, possibly even below the main deck, in a side garage. This is quite common on modern yachts and can easily be retrofitted in a classic hull, provided the stability and load line rules can still be observed. Having a garage that also transforms into a marina deck when the tenders are out also helps the question of access to the water for guests. Indeed, the shape of most classic yachts precludes the existence of a stern bathing platform.
Hoisting from a garage is usually done by sliding traveler beams. Such beams can also be fitted for upper deck storage as on NERO.
Project “I” will have six tenders:
– Two large guest/limo tenders stored in a recess of the upper deck under davits
– Two medium (crew and sports) tenders, stored at sea in an open garage on the main deck forward, but kept under davits while at anchor.
– Two small tenders (a jolly boat and a fast runabout), also kept in davits when in use, but stored for sea or port stays in a full beam garage and marina deck aft.
When in season, for short passages and at anchor, all tenders will be stored under their davits for immediate deployment. In that position, they stick out of the parallel body, so for port stays as well as long sea passages, they will go to their sea stowage position on deck or in the garages.
On a chilly March day in 1898, the steam cutter “Queen Victoria” slipped into the waters of the Clyde to be further outfitted and begin service shortly after. She would spend the next 25 years as one of the pilot cutters at the mouth of the river Mersey, giving access to the port of Liverpool.
In 1924, she was purchased out of service and became the yacht “Adventuress”, for private use. Among other things her Rowan & Sons steam engine and boilers were replaced by a 420 BHP four cylinder Sulzer diesel engine. Arguably, this added the boiler room space to the usable guest areas. Still, why is a pilot cutter so attractive as a yacht conversion proposition?
To clarify things, maybe let’s explain what is a pilot cutter. Unlike pilot tenders, launches and other small crafts, a pilot cutter is a large ship that remains on station at the mouth of a great river or the approach of a busy port. Pilots are transferred from outbound ships by small yoles, spend some time, eat and rest on the cutter, then are transferred back onto an inbound ship.
Pilot cutters are ships between 45 and 60 m long. They have a reasonably powered engine to get to their station and keep it, but do not need great speed. They have decent accommodation space for their own crew and up to 30+ pilots. They are quite seaworthy, being forced to remain on station even when the weather stops pilotage. They have relatively clear decks for the handling of the yoles. In many respects, they have the exact characteristics that large yachts desire.
Over the last decennias, several North European cutters have been converted into successful yachts. Akula and Altair III have been reshaped from Dutch Pilot boats. The “Commandant Fourcault” has been converted as a dive support ship, quite apart from the standard yacht style and levels of finish, but efficiently giving service to those who would yacht differently. There are countless other examples.
Finally, Abeking and Rasmussen have produced several designs of SWATH yachts, all flowing down from their designs for the new century pilot cutters.
The Netherlands have so far resisted the attraction of the new SWATH design. Looking at their larger and quite modern cutters (about 80m), would we assume they’d make brilliant yachts too?
If you have to ask how much fuel she burns, you can’t afford her, to paraphrase the mythical J.P. Morgan quote, or why are modern yachts so inefficient?
A bit of history going back to the beginning of the age of steam. Till then, a boat that needed to give some speed was designed with the most efficient possible shape, to be able to deliver in the weakest of winds with the sails she could carry. Early steam engines were not very powerful, so hull shapes remained quite slender. Only the very largest of ships, sail or steam, could afford to have a more bulky form and still deliver. That is mainly because they were operating way below their hull speed.
The naval architects will excuse some liberties I take below to try and make things clear. Basically, the hull speed is a function of the square root of the length. As soon as a ship moves through the water, she will make ripples along her length. Faster and the ripples become longer waves until there is just one single wave peaking at the bow and stern. At that point, in theory, the ship cannot go faster… unless it changes its shape. As you get closer to that point, the relation speed to power becomes exponential and finally vertical.
Back to history. Yachts are prestigious affairs, so they would emulate the shape of hulls that need to be fast more than they need to carry heavy loads. That is the reason why yachts in the early XXth century either look like sailing ships or like warships. As higher engine powers became available, Owners asked for bulkier yachts, with more volume, more decks and as little draught as possible. That results in hulls with larger block and prismatic coefficients, less deadrise, wide immersed transoms and more rounded entries. The hull speed remains the same, only you need more power to reach it.
people started thinking about breaking that “hull speed” barrier, either through sheer power, or by shaping the hull so it will lift above the water and thus beat the “wave” pattern. That is your standard planing boat (or more rarely, ship). Tank testing has also allowed designers to “fool” the water into thinking the boat is actually longer. That is a combination of hull shape and submerged transom that works a bit like the spoiler of a car. Call it “fast displacement hull” or even more recently “hull vane” (that is actually an underwater spoiler).
The main drawback of these designs is that hey do away with hull efficiency and rely on sheer power. Today, that is becoming less and less acceptable. Several designers out there, very often coming from the sailing yacht scene, have started to draw vessels with more realistic (or shall we say environmentally friendly) length to speed ratios, form lines and coefficients.
Some examples in practice:
The hull speed of a 70m yacht is somewhere between 19 and 20 knots.
Yacht 1 designed in 1920, sea trials at 16 knots on 2600 HP and cruises at 8 knots on half that much. The speed/RPM curve is as good as linear through the whole speed range.
Yacht 2 designed in 1965 has a top speed of 13 knots, achieved with 1500 HP. At 9 knots, she uses less than 100 ltr per hour.
Yacht 3 built in 2001 can reach 14 knots and cruises at 12. Installed propulsion power is 4000HP
Yacht 4 built 2007 has a design speed of 17 knots and cruises at 12. The installed propulsion power is 5000HP
As we pass 2010 and move towards the current decennia, the installed powers tend to go down, or the maximum speeds go up. Still no ship in the 70-80m range today beats 16 knots on 2600 HP.
Note too that many of those yachts have an official maximum speed way above the declared cruising speed, particularly if it approaches 19 knots. As reported in other sources recently, it is not uncommon for a yacht to fail to achieve the design speed while remaining within the IMO design parameters of the engines.
Talitha was built by Krupp among a series of similar looking yachts of which we still have at least four in existence today. During her long life, she has suffered several modernisations, or enjoyed them, depending on how one feels about them. They led to the unique look she sports today.
During her most significant refit, Jon Bannenberg elected to add a second funnel to conceal radars and other aerials as well as modern hardware. This comes as a shocking deviation from her original look. Both funnels were later enlarged to accommodate more equipment.
Albeit not original, the look can be considered acceptable for conoisseurs. The picture above shows Bannenberg’s draft (top) against Rozenkavallier (today Haida 1929, bottom). This last had a second funnel fitted at some point in her life, also to hide antennas. Savarona (below) always had twin funnels (but then again, she is a way larger ship).
There are two arguments at stake:
– One is to have no visible modern appliances and keep a 1920’s look.
– The other is to remain as close as possible to the original yacht.
Several large pre-war steam yachts were refitted in the last 50 years. They usually received diesel engines instead of the original turbines. There are very simple reasons for that: it saves crew, makes maintenance easier and gains a considerable amount of additional comfort space… But the main reason may have been that, after some years in relative abandon, the turbines were simply too wasted away to be reconditioned. The most visible ones were “Savarona”, “Christina O” and “Nahlin”.
Many other yachts that were built in the thirties with diesel propulsion have received more modern engines later in a normal refit process. Just to name a few, “Dannebrog” (below), “Talitha”, “Malahne”…
Then, there is the odd one out: the pride of the yacht “Haida 1929” is that she still has her original engines. The cost of that choice is high. The engine room has to be manned at all times, the engines take about four times the space of the modern equivalent, spare parts have to be manufactured…
How do we make such a choice?
Sometimes, it is dictated by necessity. We need more space in the engine room to put air conditioning, stabilizer hydraulics and all the accessories of modern comfort. Conversion to Diesel electric, or hybrid becomes an attractive option as environmental awareness gains ground. One argues that the original engines are not really museum pieces, their maintenance is expensive, and they are not worth a visit by guests or friends…
A good example is the project “Rossy One”, a near sister to “Haida 1929”. She had been fitted with MAK engines in the seventies, when she was used as a passenger ferry. Definitely, those have no historical significance and must make way for a modern, more sensible and cleaner propulsion. That would free premium space for additional machinery and service spaces.
The example above shows a typical classic yacht with the original engine room (Green + brown), the possible reduction by changing engines (brown only), and in a more ambitious project, the engine room moved aft (yellow) to reclaim the widest part of the boat for guests and services.
In a different case, I remember our team reflecting on the opportunity to replace the engines of “Legend” with a diesel electric propulsion. “Legend” was a tug conversion, and the removal of the original engines would free a lot of space, but also force the owner to add several hundred tons of ballast to keep the boat in trim. In that case, keeping the engines made sense. While “Legend” is not a “classic”, that theory could be applicable on similar older vessels.
One can only dream about the endless possibilities of additional arrangements (an estimated almost 300 GT of space) that would open if a yacht like “SS Delphine” were to be converted from steam to diesel or hybrid propulsion. That of course would be a crying shame, or would it?
A yacht is a very personal possession. It is therefore natural for a new owner to rename yachts when they change hands. There was a time when what we call a classic today was just another yacht, and so some of them, having had an eventful life, changed names several times.
Some lucky boats kept their original name in their early life, and the name was carried on , firstly because it could be bad form or bad luck to rename a ship, and later without doubt as a tribute to their history. “Savarona”, “Nahlin”, “Puritan”, “Moonbeam”… All well known classic that are known today by their original name.
Some of yachts carried other denominations before reverting to the original, as owners of what was then “classics” wanted to pay tribute to their history and pedigree. “Malahne” and “Blue Bird” are examples.
The case of “Blue Bird” is interesting: while the owners retained the original name for her, they bought another famous classic, originally built as “Reveler”, and decided to baptise her “Talitha G”, in memory of a deceased family member.
Other yachts have been renamed for similar motives and still carry a different name today. “Norge” obviously as a state yacht, “Alicia”, “Adix” and many others are named for reasons that are particular to ownership at some point. Since “Marala” is not an original name, aren’t we all curious to see under which appellation she will emerge from the shed in Pendents?
Some names refer to the original one, but with a twist to insist on the historical value. “Haida 1929” was built as “Haida”. “Christina O” was converted as a yacht and named just “Cristina”; maybe the new owners wanted to confirm the Onassis pedigree by analogy with the nickname and brand “Jackie O”.
The yacht built as “Delphine II”, then renamed “Delphine” is today known as “SS Delphine”, probably to emphasize the fact that she still has steam engines. Since the prefix S/S indicates a steam ship, she is today the S/S SS Delphine.
One of these days, and on a lighter note, we might delve into the requirements and ceremonial for renaming a ship.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
This very famous sentence published in “The wind in the willows” in 1908 summarises all that yachting was in those early days of the 20th century.
A luxury yacht today is mostly a base for all kinds of sports and amusement on the water: Water skiing, riding jet skis, wakeboarding, diving, and more recently several flyboard declinations. The kids are being towed on exotic floating gadgets for a nice speed rush. Tenders are fast and light and used more for enjoyment than just transportation. Very few of those toys have been around for more than a couple of decades.
In the heydays of large private yachting before WW2, and before the generalisation of air travel, large yachts were mostly used closer to home. Very wealthy permanent residents of the Mediterranean or Caribbean were few and far between. Yachts had vast expanses of uncovered decks where the owners and friends could enjoy as much as possible of the low sun that the latitudes of Rhode Island or the Solent would scarcely offer. More to the point in this article, the water was cold.
Yachts guests might want to have a short swim, some dinghy sailing or a bit of rowing. More often though, they would have the yacht conveniently close to country clubs to play tennis or golf. They would have parties on board and explore their cruise destination’s sights ashore, very much in the same way as today’s cruise ship passengers do.
The aft tender and bathing platform that is present on most modern yachts started to appear in the eighties. Even then, it was most often added as an afterthought. Yacht sterns retained substantial freeboard to satisfy seaworthiness and load line regulations.
How do we allow decent modern access to water from a classic yacht?
Most classic yachts have accommodation ladders. Those were the traditional way to embark on a tender and often extend to the water if needed. Parking and holding a tender in place while guests safely embark requires good fittings and skills. Some accommodation ladders have an integrated small platform at the foot to make embarkation safer. The ladder or platform can carry or incorporate a bathing ladder to allow swimming around the yacht.
For more space and sturdier access, a side platform can be used. We know of some ungainly side appendages that ruin the aspect of a vessel. A properly designed platform can be closed flush with the hull and be accessible by the accommodation ladder or through a shell door. It can even be the opening for a side garage. Here again, load line rules come in play and the architects must prove the safety of the design.
The main problem with side access is when there is a swell (which is pretty much all the time in some areas). Swimmers must be careful not to get caught in the ladder or under the platform. Furthermore, waves slamming on the underside of a platform can cause damage. A yacht using side platforms should best have thrusters allowing to create a substantial lee on the vessel, even when anchored.
Ships with a high enough freeboard and an overhang, large transom or counter can be fitted with a stern platform. The same can be done for a vessel that has a classic cruiser stern. If the freeboard is lower, a transformer style platform can be designed within the classic shape of the taffrail.
Whenever a platform is fitted, its height is critical. Too low, it will suffer slamming. Too high, it will create problems with tenders and risk for swimmers and toys. Mooring arrangements for tenders and toys should be independent from the platform allowing it to be at least partly raised between uses.
As to beach club arrangements, the ideal solution is probably an inflatable pontoon fastened to the yacht side or even tied to the stern. Some classic inspired yachts, however, have been provided with gorgeous side openings containing a spa and beach club.
Etiquette for yachts, and other boats too for that matter, is a long, complicated and sometimes controversial subject. It affects many parts of the life on board and technical provisions made when building a yacht. We shall regularly come back to the subject as the Conservation Conversation evolves.
the week was quite busy for me, so today’s topic is a short one on technical provisions for showing the proper flags on board.
First, the ensign. It can fly either on a flagstaff at the taffrail, or at a gaff on the aftermost mast (which can be forward of midships if there is no other). If both options exist, tradition requires that the flag is transferred to the gaff as soon as the yacht gets underway (“underway” meaning neither moored, nor anchored, nor aground).
The proper size of the ensign used to be one inch of fly for every foot of waterline length. That could appear excessive for the larger boats.
A yacht should have at least one proper masthead position to fly a club burgee. That position should allow the flag to fly clear above everything else. If there is a triatic stay, or party lights, lines for dressing ship etc. the mast top should still be above and thin enough to allow proper setting. If it is not the case, burgees and “house flags” should be hoisted on a staff above the masthead.
A small hint for all the designers working on concepts for the next UK royal yacht: The royal yacht must have three masthead positions for ceremonial reasons, so basically three masts or smart alternatives.
Some yachts, mainly sailing yachts, have a fixed stick on top of their mast with the burgee permanently hoisted. This could be an issue that we shall illustrate when discussing flag etiquette, as the burgee could not be taken down easily without sending crew aloft (like for racing as required by the rules).
Other locations for flags are less critical. A starboard spreader halyard and a jack staff at the bow can be useful, and several other options too, but it is all depending on the yacht design, use and “ceremonial” requirements. Dressing ship will certainly be a consideration for any yacht that could be engaged in traditional events or ceremonies.
I have started a previous article by pointing out that the use people made of “luxury yachts” in the roaring twenties is fundamentally different from the expectations of the modern owners and guests.
A small yacht in the pre-war years would have one tender, often just a rowing dinghy. The main function of the tender is to bring guests ashore when anchored, or allow crew to bring in fresh provisions.
On larger yachts, the tender could double as a life boat then, maybe, there would be a second boat, more “finished” and possibly fitted with an engine, to be used as a lifeboat and as the shore taxi. They still would be noticeably smaller than a modern Riva. Only very large yachts had big tenders.
The notion of water sports was not an issue, so fast and light crafts were not required. Guest tenders on very large yachts were roomy, heavy and slow. Some yachts may have carried one fast runabout for the owner. A very large yachts such as Delphine originally had a proper racing boat next to her owner’s 35’6” cabin launch, her two 25’ crew tenders and her four life boats.
First order of priority for today’s owner, next to access to shore, is a fast tender for water ski and wakeboarding and some jet skis or wave runners. Obviously, the look and weight of the older type of classic tenders do not fit the bill. Fortunately, most classic yachts have a large foredeck where a crane can be discreetly fitted and tend to light craft. A semi rigid tender, or RHIB, is often used as the crew tender of general service boat, as well as the watersport support craft.
On the smaller classics, there could be room for only one boat on deck. Very often, the modern alternative will be chosen, favouring function over looks. Most larger yachts can still have one or two nice tenders with a period look. Those tenders can be modern builds with more space and more functionality than original period ones.
Over the years, additional enclosed deckhouse space was added to most original classics reducing available deck areas for tender storage. Nero, a modern replica, has a very nice limo tender stored between side decks. Recent technology equipment is used to bring it to the water without sacrificing open deck areas. That tender makes a way more efficient use of volume than actual period craft.
We shall expand this discussion with dedicated articles on storage of tenders as well as the types of boats used.
What tenders would you have on your classic yacht?