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First Sea Trial Results of our Explorer Yacht Vanguard.

I started writing this blog about steering, but after reflecting, I realized we have just completed our first sea trial, so I'll talk about that instead.

What was the point of this trial? Well, we finally got Vanguard into a seaworthy state, or so it seemed. The intention was to have a quick trial and then continue on the next day to Bodrum, heading West. That was not to be, but we made progress.

Explorer Yacht Helm
Helm ready for sea trials. Left is engineering functions, center a weather check and right, Time Zero charts.

My beautiful wife, Sebrina

Firstly, to set expectations, my wife and I sometime have competing demands. Sebrina likes style and comfort; it's important to her, I'm the annoying engineer sort and gross-out on technicalities. In between the two, we have tried to build a compromise. We would make changes in hindsight, but in the main, we have created a Caddilac that uses little fuel, is tank-rugged but needs less complication. We have a fast tender for the inshore stuff. OK, so that's our intent.

The crew

Sea trials were overseen by a hired captain (Mark), which is a good idea as it frees me to look at everything going wrong or right for once! Mark took the crew through a series of MOB, fire, and docking drills. There was a policy of no surprises and British calm, building a TEAM. We agreed on the test plan, hybrid drives, and single/twin—It's quite a program for a four-hour sprint around the bay.  

The hybrid

Let's start with the electric drive. Two motors at 20kW (our setting) each draw from two 60kW.H battery banks. Vanguard is set to a steady 7kN SOG under these conditions: calm seas, south winds, Force 3. There is very little current in the Med, so she is set on recording SOG rather than STW. 7KN was identical on a reciprocal course. So she has a slippery shape, which is not bad for a 65T yacht, and the silence was something to behold.

Explorer Yacht  Hybrid Drive
Power battery train. PMS 50Hz is drawing power to supply hotel loads. Batteries are 71% charged and drives drawing 22/23kW each to push Vanguard along at a silent 7kN.


Turning was next, very quick with those big twin rudders. At 8.5kN, we were thankful for the stabilizer, righting a tendency to heel outward around the turn. We'd estimate 180 degrees in about 100m. I'll need to look at chart data to confirm, but that's our guess.  

Zig zag course was "Mr. Rollypolly," and I was again thankful for the stabilizers. The MOB (man overboard) drill was interesting, with our bow thruster (power supply capacity) playing up. There is very little windage on the bow but much more on the beam, allowing it to drift down on the target. Varifold props can play up a little but may not engage in reverse, so we must practice that to understand better. A long boat hook is also needed; she is not a low-freeboard yacht.

Trimmed by the stern, full speed was a bit disappointing at 10.5 KN (with near full tanks, water, and fuel). We need to commission the engine fully and experiment with the trim. Steve Parsons (ex-FPB captain) said as much when we last spoke. I expect some improvement here. 10 KN on a single engine would be good, and it's close. Two engines make little additional difference but more wake.

On the way back, we charged our batteries from the hybrid. The 40kW in the hour return trip brought them to 95%, where the charge rate dropped to nothing. The PHT drives need cooling, so I'll reconnect the seawater coolers fitted earlier.  

The DMS Magnusmaster stabiliser will be a subject of its own Blog. Experiences so far are very worthwhile, small response demand, low power, stowes automatically when engines are in neutral.

Tank gauges

Tank gauges were a total PIA and drove us bezerk—all 16 of them! These are ultrasonic BEP gauges, typically rock solid. A little internet sleuthing revealed that the 0-5VDC signal output is unsuitable for digital I/O input, such as C Zone or Praxis. We need a small signal converter. You live, you lean. I look forward to my sleep at night when these arrive.

Connection to the elements

The main helm was divorced from the elements, silence, and reliance on your instruments; the flybridge was much more interactive and pleasant, given the balmy weather. Vanguard moves gracefully; she differs from the experience of sailing 8kN on a beam reach; you could read a book and not notice what's happening. Her slim hull cuts through chop silently, with no slap, at least in the conditions we tested and a slowly rising sea state.

The bad news:

  • An oil leak on a new Port PHT drive now delays us. This turned out to be a simple fix as it was a leaking solenoid but looked like the shaft lip seal had gone. Navantech are a very respectable subcontractror and local CAT dealer, never fail to impress when pushed.

  • The grey water pump won't empty the FWD grey water tank.

  • A nasty leak behind an aft bulkhead revealed itself as a condensation issue around the HVAC lines, which worsened as the insulation became wet. Or is it something else I ask?

The good news:

  • Vanguard's hull is very slippery at lower speeds, but trim affects top speed greatly

  • Steering and stopping are responsive

  • DMS Magnusmaster stabilizers are awesome - more on these in a later Blog.

  • Massive generation capacity and hybrid drives are also awesome but need understanding to maximize advantages.

  • Tank gauges need an easily available fix

  • Furuno Autopilot needs to be commissioned, Time Zero and most Nav instruments worked

  • Got to fix a few things that came to light.

  • Is she more fun than a Hobbycat 16 off Rustington Beach? Well, no, but that's not the point!

Vanguard will need understanding for calm to prevail, but we will get there.  

Now I need to go and fix a Turkish Resident Visa that ran out last week. For anyone in a similar position, good contacts are Miss Eda - Immigration and Visa Lawyer, Customs agent. Her business and lisense covers Bodrum and Antalya. She is always contactable on Whatapp, doesn't sleep much! Capt Fethi Kemal Ozturk, Meis Ferries in Kas (near Antalya). Capt Fethi operates the ferry company between Kas (Turkey) and Kastellorizo (Greece). Visa extensions and overstays involve both Police and Immigration/Customs, local knowledge and understanding goes a long way to smoothing the waters. It also involved leaving the country temporarily. Both contacts have been superb in a difficult situation so are recomended unreservedly.

Miss Eda - +90 543 668 7274 - our primary contact, also introduced Capt Fethi

Capt Fethi - +90 532 331 97 59

Regards to all - Chris

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