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Weekly Update - Explorer Yacht Build

Our Explorer Yacht build is starting to reveal its final form. Will it launch when expected? - I doubt it, but it will launch sometime soon. Rather than go into a long monologue, I thought this blog could use some imagery to show how much work is in hand.

At any one time, we have some 20 men on Vanguard working in 4 teams, carpenters, electricians, mechanical fabricators, and engineering fitters. We also have a team in the Netherlands completing the tender, so 25 tradesmen in all. A bit akin to Santa's Grotto on 20th December!


The three lower cabins and laundry are essentially complete. They do not photograph so well; once completed, much of the work is covered to protect the finishes, but regardless, we are at a good point. The installation did reveal some unworkable designs, but these were generally easy on-site fixes. Most work is complete in the saloon, central helm station, and ceilings.


A previous Blog indicated we had 15kM of tinned marine grade cables in Vanguard, from small 24VDC low amperage instrument cables to 15mm OD 600VDC 400 amp power cables and everything in between. Losing the will to live is tempting when we view the full extent of spaghetti hell. However, the diligence of the electrical installation team has now reduced this to a logical, accessible series of junction boxes, comms gateways, and installed equipment. Our best estimate is this is now about 80% completed.

Mechanical Fabricators

This team has concentrated on aluminum fabrication for piping systems and equipment supports. We have had to move a few pipe stubs to better align with the hose runs, but in all other regards, I am pleased with the quality of their work. We have a rework task next week to move the house batteries. What started as a good idea on paper ended as a fire risk as the rear cabin internals began to crowd their placement. We will move them to the engine room, where a suitable location exists. UK MCA guidelines MGN280 state that the maximum charge rate must not exceed 2kW per battery if free standing. These batteries can accept much higher than that. To comply with MGN280, we will limit the charge current to 24VDC 80 amps maximum. We can achieve this in software within the Victron Cerbro controller.

Engineering Fitters

The yard partner with a local subcontractor, Navantec. They both sell equipment and offer an installation service. I am a fan of this one-stop-shop approach as it brings a wealth of knowledge that does not exist in a more generalized shipyard. They have been fitting the drivelines and are slowly making headway, but now that the outer stern tubes and hybrid engine assembly are aligned, we expect work to speed up. We can now complete the skegs and fully weld the outer stern tubes. The last of any hot work on the hull and a significant milestone. I'm sharing a sketch of the drive line below here. What is simple in concept does develop its complications in practice, from engine aft it flows right to the left as:

  • John Deer engine (not shown)

  • Mechanical clutch (not shown)

  • Esco Power hybrid drive (not shown)

  • Twin Disc gearbox (right on drawing)

  • Bruntons CV joint (max 3 degrees misalignment)

  • Bruntons shaft brake (to stall a feathered Autoprop)

  • PSS mechanical shaft seal with silicon bellow backup seal

  • Bruntons propeller shaft assembly

  • Rope Cutter (not shown)

  • Bruntons self pitching Autoprop


Hebbeke has fitted the engine and jet drive. The Factory Acceptance is due in week 32 and will include an in-water trail (that should be fun!).

Chris Leigh-Jones

So there we go. Progress is happening quickly now, and we will blog as it unfolds. Sebrina and I look out daily across the Bay of Antalya from our temporary apartment. Each day we know it's now, one day closer to setting off South, then West, and across the horizon. Not long now.

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