Blogs

A truckload of plywood

Delivery day is always a good day for someone building a boat.

We picked up the first batch of okoume plywood for our Starwind 860 yesterday- the first real "work trip" for the '05 GMC Yukon XL that'll eventually become this boat's road-going companion. Progress then ground to an immediate halt. (If it's 28 C and mostly sunny, you don't work- you take the boat out to the sandbar to chill out for a while.)

Engine technology to watch for

With the recent release of the final report of Nigel Calder's HyMAR project, marine internal combustion / electric hybrid powertrains are making waves once again- and not necessarily in a good way, as Calder's team found that the benefits of the expensive hybrids were limited to a relatively narrow, low-speed operating regime. We've known for quite a while that the major advantages of gas/electric and diesel/electric hybrid cars- namely, instant start/stop and regenerative braking- don't apply to boats. We've also known for quite a while that hybrid systems only make economic sense aboard ship if the house loads are comparable to, or larger than, the power required for main propulsion.

Tech addicts need not fear, though: There are many other fuel-saving and pollution-reducing technologies waiting in the wings, and hybrids aren't quite out of the running yet.

Towing big things with a small boat

Towing little things with a big boat is pretty straightforward. There are plenty of nuances and details, of course; one sure way to spark a lengthy debate among cruising sailors is to ask about the best way to tow a dinghy. But, ultimately, towing something smaller than your own boat boils down to "tie it up, fiddle with the tow line, then drive normally".

Towing big things with a little boat is somewhat trickier, not to mention riskier. It is, nevertheless, important to be able to do it. You never know when you might have to press the dinghy into service to get a crippled mothership into harbour, or when you might need to help someone out in an emergency.

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