Power & Tech­nol­ogy

To­day’s dis­ap­pear­ing win­dows and doors are the ideal mélange of ro­bust con­struc­tion and ease of op­er­a­tion.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Jeff Moser

A sim­ple lux­ury—win­dows and doors that dis­ap­pear to bring the out­side in—is any­thing but sim­ple to cre­ate.

Itend to glo­rify the past, re­call­ing only the pure joy of be­ing young with lit­tle re­spon­si­bil­ity, for­get­ting the chal­lenges I faced. It’s in my wake—so why not forge on­ward?

Case in point: those fine sum­mer evenings so long ago aboard my buddy’s sailboat, an­chored in a se­cret gunk­hole. There was plenty of beer, BBQ and swim­ming, and get­ting there was a blast. I tend to over­look sweat­ing like a coal stoker be­lowdecks, the only light and air com­ing from tiny win­dows in the coachroof. Or, the many rounds of fight­ing with that oft-jammed slid­ing hatch. “Let’s bring the out­side in,” was the line of thought, when the com­pan­ion­way was a su­per­high­way of berserk mos­qui­tos hell-bent on keep­ing us alert all night.

Things have changed, but our de­sire to be con­nected to the wa­ter has not. Builders now of­fer a wealth of fea­tures that go far be­yond doors that’ll hinge open and op­er­a­ble hatches and port­holes. Hard- and soft-top sun­roofs led to cock­pit bal­conies and tran­som garages that are as easy to op­er­ate as ring­ing a bell. And those elec­tri­cally re­tractable sun­shades make a world of dif­fer­ence on a blaz­ing af­ter­noon aboard a mid­size cen­ter con­sole—the whole crew can now take a som­bra si­esta well be­yond the shade of the hard­top.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers take full ad­van­tage of these ad­vances—aft gal­leys on larger cruis­ers are pop­u­lar in part due to re­li­able, re­tractable or drop-down win­dows. Some builders ex­e­cute their sys­tems in-house. For oth­ers, nau­ti­cal de­sign out­fits like Opac­mare and Be­sen­zoni pro­vide high-qual­ity so­lu­tions that are stylish, easy to op­er­ate and re­li­able in the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment.

The fea­tures that seem to have made the big­gest im­pact on boat­builders are win­dows and doors that com­pletely dis­ap­pear from view; these rep­re­sent a big step up from fold­ing doors and tiny, man­ual win­dows. One builder, Fair­line, has forged a re­la­tion­ship with Be­sen­zoni for the doors on its ex­press and fly­bridge model lines from 43 to 65 feet. An­drew Pope, Fair­line’s head of de­sign, says the doors do more than sim­ply bring the out­side in. “We in­vest in tech­nol­ogy to com­pletely open up the aft end of the salon, al­low­ing the free flow of so­cial traf­fic around the yacht. Guests are no longer herded be­tween ar­eas through nar­row walk­ways and doors.”

Ease of op­er­a­tion is a crit­i­cal fac­tor for win­dows and doors, and it’s achieved with man­ual and hy­draulic func­tion­al­ity. Take the Targa 63 GTO. Be­sen­zoni worked with Fair­line de­signer Al­berto Mancini to cre­ate a sin­gle door that the user man­u­ally slides to star­board; the en­tire assem­bly then hy­drauli­cally drops be­lowdecks, for­ward of the en­gines, where it’s hid­den within an en­clo­sure in the engine bay. Con­sid­er­ing the boat has a 17-foot, 2-inch beam, it’s a mighty im­pres­sive feat to have a door this size just dis­ap­pear. The com­plete door sys­tem also has its own bilge pump for any wa­ter that may seep in­side.

On the same model—and first ap­pear­ing on its Targa 58—Fair­line added elec­tric, one-touch-con­trol side win­dows to the salon. Nearly 10 feet wide, they em­ploy a belt-drive sys­tem (more re­li­able than con­ven­tional worm drives, ac­cord­ing to Pope) that al­lows them to first fold on a hinge ver­ti­cally, then drop down into the side­board. My wa­ter in­tru­sion night­mares are quickly doused when Pope says, “We also added pneu­matic seals to the win­dow perime­ter to en­sure no leaks can make it in­side.”

These are com­plex sys­tems that are easy to op­er­ate, but they must hold up. As for main­te­nance, Be­sen­zoni and Pope said there’s not much to it. Both men­tioned keep­ing the seals clean and us­ing the inspection hatches to en­sure mo­tors, rams and pul­leys are clean and free mov­ing.

I may still be a bit sen­ti­men­tal for the old days, ones of side plates and scup­pers gone awry, cheap suds and fine friends, but thanks to to­day’s tech­nol­ogy, it’s a fine time to be a yachts­man.

Now you see it, now you don’t. The in­ner work­ings of a dis­ap­pear­ing win­dow can re­ally open up a salon, no magic re­quired.

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