The Millennium Falcon Comes to Foggy.

Not that long ago, in a boatshop not so far away, our former co-workers at Brooklin Boat Yard gave us a plumb gig: Engineer probably the single most complicated boarding system for probably the most unique sloop on the planet: the 74-foot, Frank Gehry/German Frers-designed Foggy II.  After a similar number of design hours that we’d put into the design of an average 40 footer — the Millennium Falcon was born. The Falcon, as we have come to call it, is the central fitting for the do-it-all, transom-mounted articulated boarding stair that could also reach out and dock with a dingy,  tender, or […]

Around the World, Unassisted, and Without Diesel Fuel.

We are as rapt as any sailor with the 2016 Vendee Globe. Who can resist this most serious test of sailing ability? We’re glued to our smartphones and PCs, following the global match racing that every four years brings us bizarre and beautiful footage of the craziest, most daring, mostly French, solo sailors blasting around the globe, unassisted, in high-tech, insanely powerful machines. But we as boat designers have a deeper backstory to explore in this 2016 Vendee Globe. There’s a serious hybrid-engineering angle going on deep in the fleet. Foresight Natural Energy, skippered by 33 year-old Conrad Colman, is trying to lap of the […]

The Spirit of Tradition Calculator

If you’re into the kind of boats we do, you’re probably are into the kind of navigating we do: Global positioning and automatic chart plotters are great. But nothing beats working up a good old-fashioned dead reckoning. Sit down, break out the throw-back paper chart, estimate how far you’ve gone, at what speed, and in roughly what direction. And, after some basic calculations, you know where you probably are. But dead reckonings pose a strange 21st-century challenge: Doing the calculations reliably. In boats, traditional cheap electronic calculators can’t seem to stop dying from the moister and lack of use. Smartphone […]

“Sailbot'” Crash Avoidance Tech Passes 2,500 Miles.

A remarkable tale of sailing grit and cunning has gotten almost no coverage: The University of British Columbia’s Sailbot Team and its Transatlantic Challenge is going on as we speak. The team has developed, designed, and built a roughly 20-foot autonomous sailing catboat, called Ada. This wishbone-rigged, bulb-keeled sailing robot has navigated nearly 2,500 miles in a mostly zag-zag course through the mid-Atlantic. Like most pioneers there have been issues: On August 29th, disaster struck when its rudder froze. Ada has also survived power outages, gear failures and getting crushed by other ships and debris. In spite of her struggles, Ada is making real headway. […]

Bob’s Best Boat Toys: Gocycle.

We’re boat nerds. We can’t resist the crazy gadget overlooked by the rest of landlocked society. Hence, this little beauty that popped up on a recent trip to Newport, Rhode Island: The Gocycle, a mashup between a folding bike and an electric bike. It was a soft-seller when it first came out in 2010. Too bad. Because this is exactly what aerobically challenged sailors need for handy harbor-side transport. At 35 pounds, it is a wisp of a feather for an electric bike. And we love how both wheels do the pushing and the pulling. Meaning, this little wonder can get you, […]

The Zumwalt Class Lobster Boat

An interesting early look at a new “transmission-less” propulsion option crept out of Europe earlier this year. Netherlands-based Hybrid Power Systems announced a variable-speed, saltwater-cooled diesel generator that might open new powering options to smaller craft. The full specs are hazy. But from what we can see, this one motor could power not only batteries, but all the power systems on a small boat. Meaning, that pesky central prop shaft, that runs from the back of the engine through the hull, and to the propeller would be gone. Instead, a quiet, all-electric coil would drive the boat. And that’s a […]