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Annapolis Power and Sail Boat Show observations

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Dec 20, 2009
Hunter 466 Bremerton
As Ruth and I represented HAPSat both the Annapolis Power and Sailboat shows this year (in conjunction with my 40th year reunion at USNA and my birthday) I have some observations to share. First the powerboats. The weather was 85 degrees, sunny and no wind. Perfect powerboat conditions. We looked at boats from 26’ to 56’. All the larger powerboats, say 42’ and above, were preowned boats on display. In other words, the manufacturer would build to order and few large “spec” power boats were on display. The Nordhaven 56’ motorsailer was a 95,000lb wonderfully crafted vessel powered by a single 165hp diesel with a 7kt cruising speed. The really ingenious boats were the 26’-31’ Ranger and Cutwater boats built right here in Washington. As travel trailers have pop outs or slide out to increase living space these boats have convertible settees built into the aft cockpit bulwarks. When pierside or during benign anchor conditions the bulwarks port, starboard, and aft fold out to present very comfortable settees thus increasing the usable cockpit space by not crowding that space with deck chairs. The broker said they are building 25 boats a month and are buying all the boat building yards and facilities in Washington that they can get their hands on. Those boats are trailerable. The 31’ Ranger, complete with flybridge will do 22kts with its 270hp diesel. Base price $270k. The Ranger 29 had a boatshow blowout price of $159k. There is also a trend to building midsize boats with the extended transom on which is placed outboard motors. That saves interior space and the necessarily complex engine, shaft, strut, and rudder installation.
The sailboat show had typical sailboat weather…pretty much a monsoon. We looked at boats again from 27’ to 57’. After banging my forehead in the aft cabin of a 57’ sailboat, with a huge asking price, I wondered about the wisdom of buying something that expensive that you couldn’t stand up in. The Dufour 50, three cabins, three heads, had me thinking I was in a swank New York apartment. The galley was unusual in that it was situated forward in the main salon with equal portions port and starboard. The 50’ Dufour claims 10-11 kts with a 76hp diesel and 12-13 under sail. The Hunter 27, base price $72k, with its cherry interior had all the big boat amenities but an inverter. The new Hunter 37 made its debut with a base price of $171k. The sailboats have imitated the successful ocean racers in several ways. These round the world ocean racers frequently exceed 30+ knots and have recorded 600 mile days. Their bows are vertical, the beam is carried all the way aft, the hull is built with chines, twin wheels and rudders abound, and sail drive is now standard. The chines increase form stability enabling more sail area with less heel and the interior volume is also increased. Sail drive (the engine has a vertical shaft with a prop immediately under the engine) does two things. It eliminates the need for a shaft and strut and because the prop is attached to the vertical shaft all propulsive power is exactly horizontal. That increases the efficiency of the drive because there is no 17 degree inclination of the traditional shaft and prop walk is virtually eliminated.
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