Taking it slowly

Why are we always in such a rush?

I am trying to think of the last time I saw a good old-fashioned displacement hull powerboat at a boat show. I honestly can't think of one. Even the pontoon boats are packing 100+ hp these days.

But you sacrifice a lot to go fast in a small powerboat. Hull shapes that are conducive to planing speeds usually end up with a snappy roll and poor tracking when the seas pick up and you're forced to slow down. There are excellent compromise hulls- the various Sea Bright skiffs, for example- that offer a more comfortable low-speed ride while maintaining some speed potential, but even they have to call it quits when the weather gets really rough. And if you want that speed potential, you'll need relatively light hull construction, light loads, and an engine that's good for upward of 20 kW/tonne.

So I'm going to toss something different into the fray: a double-ended, pure displacement hull powerboat that can handle far more than her crew would ever want to tolerate.

She'll be heavy- just a crewman short of three tonnes at her design load, which includes over half a tonne of fuel, water, provisions and crew. She won't even notice an additional half a tonne of payload.

She'll be efficient- her 12 kW (16 hp) diesel will give about eight nautical miles to the litre at three knots, and 3 NM/L at 4.5 knots. She can be passed by just about anything in calm water, but she'll carry on at her usual speed in conditions that send planing hulls running for shelter.

She'll be comfortable, with a smooth, soft roll and much slower motions than most boats of similar dimensions.

And at 5.7 m (18'7") long, she'll fit in a 20' shipping container, and she can be towed cross-country by any common pickup truck.

The Bonaventure 570, as I'm calling her, is the little boat in what will become a series of three- the others being 7.9 m and 11.8 m long, both of which will also fit in standard intermodal shipping containers. They'll be faster, heavier, longer range and more expensive.

Will it sell? Darned if I know. It's certainly not the boat for everyone, and previous attempts at this genre (the Allweather 8 Metre, for example) have met with rave reviews but limited sales. But I suspect there are at least a few folks out there who would like to cruise along the coast a few miles at a time, without worrying too much about the weather or the fuel bill. And besides, wouldn't you like to be able to boast that you can out-drink your powerboat?



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