I am a sailing club rescue officer and preparing for our annual RYA inspection. The pyrotechnic flares on board our three ribs are almost out of date and need to be safely disposed of and replaced. Pyrotechnic flares seem unnecessary and dangerous to be stored and used on board a RIB, especially within such a small, defined operational sailing area of around 6nm.
The current RYA rules for inspection still indicate that pyrotechnic flares are to be carried in all rescue RIBS. We had, however, hoped to see a change to the much safer and more modern and practical LED flares.
Have there been any recent developments that may lead to the RYA agreeing to accept LED fares in rescue RIBS in the near future? Ron Warwick We contacted the RYA on your behalf and received the following response from its director of training and qualification, Richard Falk: ‘The RYA has for more than five years been lobbying hard and working with a number of different organisations in the UK to urge the MCA to agree to a suitable alternative to pyrotechnics. In this day and age of laser flares, EPIRBS, PLBS and numerous other means of more modern emergency distress signalling options, we agree that requiring vessels to carry pyrotechnics is seriously questionable. With regards to the requirements for safety equipment to be carried by vessels approved for Rya-recognised training centres, this is subject to agreement by the MCA. At present, the MCA will not accept any alternative to pyrotechnics for vessels subject to the Small Commercial Vessel codes of practice or to those that fall within the agreed framework of RYA Training recognition.’
SELL UP OR SPRUCE UP?
I have a 1992 Sunseeker Mustang which I use for day trips around the south coast. It drives well and to my eye, the exterior lines still look as sweet as ever, but the cockpit and interior are getting a bit shabby and definitely date the boat. I can’t decide whether I should sell up and buy a new boat or spend the money on sprucing up my current one. What would you recommend? Alan Craner There’s an argument for both sides of that debate but if the hull and engines are in good nick, I’d be tempted to go for a refit. I’ve always admired the lines of the Mustang and unless you’re thinking of upgrading to a Windy, XO or Axopar, you’ll struggle to find a better hull at that size.
I’ve recently had the cockpit of my 22ft Karnic re-upholstered in Silvertex fabric by Creative Upholstery in Poole (keep an eye out for the full story in a future issue), which has completely transformed both the look and usability of it. The style and texture of the fabric gives it a much more modern appearance, while new closed-cell foam cushions mean no more soggy bums every time you sit down! If you’ve got enough left over for a hull wrap too, it will look and feel like a brand new boat. Hugo
as possible early locations, but Paris is the hot favourite to pioneer the new transport service after Seabubbles received the backing of the mayor.
Like the pods, the docking stations are designed to be as eco friendly as possible, generating their own electrical power from solar canopies overhead and tidal turbines underneath. The Bubbles will automatically start to recharge as soon as they dock, while batteries mounted in the Bubble’s hull store enough energy to power them from dock to dock.
Each Bubble is 13ft 9in long (4.2m) and 8ft 10in wide (2.7m). The current design sees four passengers seated fore and aft facing each other with a solitary helm position up front, but ultimately the idea is to make each Bubble a self-driving autonomous craft. The main hull has an M-shaped cathedral design similar to an old Dell Quay Dory for maximum stability at rest, while the fixed foils form a continuous loop underneath. The rear foil is also the mounting point for the twin electric pods which stick out several inches below on slender legs to keep them submersed at all times.
The foils work like an aeroplane’s wings creating low pressure on the upper surface and high pressure beneath, generating sufficient lift to raise the main hull completely out of the water. This dramatically reduces drag, one of the critical factors limiting the speed and range of electric craft, and allows the craft to ‘fly’ above the surface chop.
In some city locations, the speed will be artificially restricted to around 10 knots for reasons of safety. At the moment, the Bubbles are only suitable for use in relatively calm locations such as rivers and lakes. However, the team is working on a seagoing version with a predicted top speed of 30 knots.
The company has already secured a reported €10 million of backing from MAIF, a French insurance company, enabling it build the first functioning prototype. This was revealed in the South of France at an event in June. Details of the battery and propulsion system have not yet been released but the pod drives on the prototype share some visual similarities with German company Torqeedo’s electric pods and outboards. In an interview with Bloomberg, CEO Anders Bringdal referred to a battery capacity of around 200kwh.
Although the prototype is a fairly basic open craft, the renderings of the production version show a more sophisticated-looking design with opening doors and a fixed canopy that draws its inspiration from luxury cars.
It isn’t yet clear whether Seabubbles will be made available for sale to private individuals but it’s a project we will be watching closely. Even if it remains purely a public transport initiative, it could introduce a whole new generation of people to the joys of motor boats and help accelerate the development of foiling electric craft.
If Alan’s Sunseeker Mustang looks half as good as this one, it’s worth spending money on new cockpit upholstery
The team have already secured a rumoured €10million of funding to help develop the concept
Founders Alain Thébault and Anders Bringdal hope Seabubble will become the eco-friendly Uber of the boat world
A computer rendering of how the production Seabubble may look