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Weekly Update Behind the Scenes - Explorer Yacht Vanguard

Vanguard is slowly coming alive at the dock in Antalya. Each day brings its minor successes, beginning to coalesce around a bigger story. We are away for a while now, seeing family and setting our businesses on course for the coming year. In the meantime, what has been happening with our build over the last week?


Engineers from Praxis Automation attended Vanguard to begin activating our hybrid drives and DC power battery. Quite a nest of Ethernet and signal cables to first verify. Starting with the control and instrumentation systems, they powered up all 5 MFD displays so we could see how they responded. We have one screen at the helm dedicated to engineering functions and two for Navigation. The flybridge is one each.

These MIMIC diagrams represent quite a lot of design work undertaken over a year ago. Our focus was more on reporting than control, with the latter remaining mostly manual to limit system complexity. A,"Get out of your seat and go have a look" sort of strategy.


Three-phase shore power systems became life, then the navigation and deck light control systems. Tank sensors followed, and finally, we connected the DC power batteries and Energy Management systems to the hybrid drives. All remain incomplete, but we found time for hybrid drives to make their first few tentative turns in near silence!


Two John Deere 4045 engines were next. Both started using the local engine room control systems independent of the main helm. Duplicate everything is our mantra. Just a quick start to ensure systems were operable and leak-fee. Integration with the data (J1939 CAN) and hard-wired drive line systems is now receiving focus that should have been applied sometime back but was lost between personal changes at the Yard. Better late than never, perhaps. The engine exhaust installation was also completed late this week and is now ready for sea trials.

Wills Ridley and the emergency helm steering system were connected. The next stage is to fill the hydraulic tanks, bleed the system of remaining air, and then connect to the Wills Ridley and Praxis steering control system. That's a job for the upcoming week.


The tender finally arrived from Hebbeke Shipyard in The Netherlands. She had already undergone local tests before shipping (see blog below), and the only remaining job is to install the Furuno TZ Touch navigation, GPS, and AIS instruments.


3000l of diesel fuel has been ordered from the bunker station in Antalya Free Trade Zone, sufficient for the initial sea trails and represents around 30% of her total capacity. Naval Yachts have also ordered the permanent ballast lead, which should arrive in a few weeks. See last week's Blog on Understanding Longitudinal Stability, which discusses the necessity for permanent lead ballast to improve stability under lightship arrival conditions, the proverbial cork in a barrel.


Starlink and WIFI communications are now installed and working. Starlink still needs to be tested as it does not function in Turkey. As soon as we depart, it will come live. We recently also commissioned our Victron 220VAC and 24VDC electrical systems, including the remote monitoring portal, so that we can view system performance.

I've mentioned previously getting our hands on a MIL Spec Visible and Infra-Red Wavelength Camera that we installed on the cabin roof. I'm not sure anyone is bothered about things behind us, but in front, definitely. A software driver was missing; it took some effort to track it down before the device burst into life. So far, testing has been limited to visible light conditions, and we have quickly investigated optical magnification and image stabilization. I'm sending a video of the results here; sorry about the quality. Optical magnification in the visible spectrum is an astounding 40X, so no more missing those bridge heights or Navigation Mark. This device is amazing for a paltry price relative to an excellent high-spec FLIR 400 or 500 series. That's the military for you.

Two by 100m Kevlar shoreline reels were fixed to the rear stations. Flat rope will probably strum like hell in the wind (I've been warned), but that's a worry for another day.


Our name, "Vanguard," was attached to the stern along with Jersey as the Port of Registry. HIN and maker plate were also fixed to the hull, and we have now officially registered under the Red Ensign; Vanguard is a real yacht!


So that's it for this week. More to come as we approach our final weeks in Turkey and think about preparations to head West!


Chris Leigh-Jones


Out in the real world, our son, Jeff, has been busy delivering yachts around the NW European coast (more on this in a later Blog). Enclosed is a snapshot of his crew entering the Mersey shipping channel off the coast of North Wales en route to Liverpool. Winter sailing through a wind farm in a hail storm, no complaints, but probably not happy either!



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