The Shape of Things to Come
THESE TECH TRENDS ARE DRIVING EXCITING CHANGES IN BOAT DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
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