The Shape of Things to Come


Soundings - - Con­tents - By John Wooldridge

As I was walk­ing the crowded docks of the Fort Laud­erdale In­ter­na­tional Boat Show, a friend from colder climes called to ha­rass me about be­ing some­where warm in late Oc­to­ber. Like most of us, he’s a boat nut, and he was cu­ri­ous about what I was see­ing. While there was plenty of buzz about aes­thet­ics and style, tech­nol­ogy was driv­ing some of the most in­ter­est­ing changes in boat con­struc­tion and de­sign. Here’s how I ex­plained the lead­ing trends to my friend.


My first ex­pe­ri­ence aboard a boat that trans­formed to in­crease com­fort and util­ity was sev­eral years ago when my wife, Peggy, and I were cruis­ing in the Pa­cific North­west on a Ranger Tugs R-31. Seat­ing in the cock­pit ex­panded when we de­ployed two bench seats, port and star­board, by lift­ing them up from stowage un­der the gun­wales and push­ing them out­board. Th­ese clever seats locked in place, can­tilevered out over the wa­ter, and not only in­creased cock­pit seat­ing from four to eight peo­ple, but also added room to walk around when the re­mov­able ta­ble was erected. We heard many com­ments from dock-walk­ing boat own­ers, won­der­ing why some­one hadn’t cre­ated that so­lu­tion be­fore.

Newer trans­form­ing boats add style as well as util­ity. Ocean Alexan­der’s 45 Di­ver­gence is sched­uled for in­tro­duc­tion at Fe­bru­ary’s Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional Boat Show. The builder’s first lux­ury out­board-pow­ered open/cen­ter con­solestyle yacht, it will have fold­ing seg­ments in the hull­sides that drop to cre­ate bal­conies sus­pended over the wa­ter, to port and star­board. They will ex­pand space in the cock­pit and be used as plat­forms for wa­ter­sports.

Brazil­ian boat­builder Okean, un­der the aus­pices of HMY Yacht Sales, de­buted its 55 Sport at the Fort Laud­erdale show. She has hy­drauli­cally ac­tu­ated, fold-down hull­side sec­tions that trans­form the area abaft the air­con­di­tioned car­bon-fiber hard­top and helm con­sole into an en­ter­tain­ment mecca, with sev­eral sun­pads and lounges, a cook­ing and din­ing area, and in­fin­ity views. Twin Volvo Penta D8-IPS800s pro­vide enough power to muster cruise speeds of 33 knots and a top-end speed of 41 knots. Belowdecks are a master state­room with a queen berth, head and sep­a­rate shower, and a sa­lon with seat­ing ad­ja­cent to a galley.

Ga­leon Yachts, based in Poland and rep­re­sented by MarineMax here in the U.S., de­buted two trans­former mod­els at Fort Laud­erdale. In ad­di­tion to hav­ing fold-down hull-side pan­els that cre­ate cock­pit bal­conies, the 470 Sky­deck and 650 Sky­deck also have a trans­for­ma­tive el­e­ment on the fly­bridge. That open area can be closed by press­ing a but­ton. Two sec­tions of an elec­tri­cally ac­tu­ated com­pos­ite car­bon-fiber top slide out of com­part­ments for­ward and aft, and meet in the mid­dle of the bridge. With the pan­els closed, the bridge is pro­tected, and be­cause the pan­els are low, the boat re­tains ex­te­rior lines that are much sportier than they would be with a can­vas en­clo­sure set up.

The Ga­leon 650 Sky­deck takes the trans­form­ing con­cept to the next level.

Ocean Alexan­der’s 45 Di­ver­gence

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