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Researching Cape Horn Trawlers

Discussion in 'Cape Horn Yacht' started by Cruising4Fun, May 28, 2011.

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  1. Cruising4Fun

    Cruising4Fun New Member

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    I spent some time studying the Cape Horn steel and the Nordhavn fiberglass yachts. I came to the conclusion that a new boat was not in the cards. So, my research settled down to considering the used ones in the range of 50-65 feet. I will briefly summarize my conclusions.

    Over the course of several years I talked to various owners and operators of both manufactures. I prefer steel for it’s safety, reparability and near indestructibility. The Cape Horn boats have only about 15 boats total to consider, whereas the Nordhavn’s total well over 100 and counting. Of the Cape Horn boats about 5 were built with the hydraulic drive. After much consideration, I eliminated those boats with the hydraulic drives. The major factor in that decision was that I felt the drives were a nice feature, but only if the boat was to be cruised in waters near to modern repair facilities. In other words, I was leery of taking one where repairs might be difficult. Some other day I may go into this issue in more detail.

    I was careful to avoid contacting the brokers who have any of the boats for sale. That has it’s advantages and disadvantages. I did not want any sales pitches and the sugar coating that too often goes with talking to brokers.

    More some other day.
  2. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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  3. dan1000

    dan1000 New Member

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    Your location says you are in the Seattle area. I believe there are three in that area: Two 63's and a 55. I did extensive research on the 63 about 5 years ago, but got derailed on the eve of making an offer on one of them, by a family medical issue. Recently, I have been aboard a 65 in the Bahamas.

    Bottom line: They are beautiful, capable, well built boats. Naturally, some have been maintained better than others, but if you find a good one, and if an expedition trawler is what you want, I doubt you'd be disappointed with what you found.

    Not all of them have the same drive system. Some have the hydraulic Z drive, others have the mechanical Z drive (which is more efficient, but which is not as flexible in where it lets you mount the engine). Still others have conventional drives. The drives are very common indeed, but not on yachts. The Z drives are found on tugboats around the world. The greatest advantage of the Z drive is being able to thrust 100% in any direction -- useful for ungrounding. The greatest disadvantage of the hydraulic Z drive is that it consumes about 30% of the engine's available horsepower -- much more than the (I think) 7% that is typical of a transmission.

    Judy Waldman, who is a Florida broker (and from whom I bought my current boat -- a Sea Spirit Passagemaker 60), has written here and elsewhere extensively on the Cape Horns. She is also in touch with most of the owners, and with the designer. If you have particular questions, please post or PM.
  4. Cruising4Fun

    Cruising4Fun New Member

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    I had heard that the efficiency loss was about 30% with the hydraulic drive but was inclined to discount that to about 20%, but your figure may be more accurate.
  5. dan1000

    dan1000 New Member

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    Either way, it's a fair amount of energy to end up as heat instead of thrust. -- Dan

  6. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

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    I asked Peter Sever, creator and owner of The Cape Horn Trawler Corp. and owner of hull # 1 which lead to the birthing of the subsequent 15 hulls, to check in on this thread.

    Judy

    Peter's unedited response:
    FACTS:

    1. Hydraulic efficiency losses (from engine output shaft to final prop shaft) according to manufacturer and our engineers calcs are about 10%. Worst I've heard is 15%. Mechanical is reputably around 3%. So net comparable loss is likely 7%. HOWEVER because prop is at 90 degrees to water with hydraulic (versus at 10˚ angle) we gain quite a bit back. Do we gain 7%? Doubt it but 3-5% would not surprise me. If you are REALLY worried about energy efficiency, drive a Prius instead of a boat.

    2. Break-downs: As far as I've heard, no hydraulic drive system has failed on any of our boats. Nor on any commercial one I've heard about. Mechanical is not break-proof either. Because all the bits are running in super-pure clean hydraulic oil all the time, hydraulic will last loooong time even in many many worldwide commerical applications. If the plumbing is done properly and checked by top professional every couple years, it should be good as long as engine which is 30,000 hr range!

    3. Number of hydraulic CHs: Mine, 2 x 50', 3 x 63' = 6
    My own Hull #1 has done 2 world circumnav equivalents! No failures.
    Don's 50' did Nova Scotia -Seattle as big maiden voyage under an idiot skipper, zero problem with drive train.
    Others did lots of miles, 0 problems reported.

    4. My biggest problem with hydraulics is noise.

    5. Engine placement is big advantage in use of space.

    6. Prop 90 degrees to water is big advantage.

    7. Slow speed control unbeatable advantage. Only electric is as good for this. That has similar energy losses.

    8. Hydraulic costs more.

    9. In 3rd world hydraulic is also fixable, because everyone has some hydraulic mechanics. Such as any country that owns earth moving equipment or fishing boats. In absolute-worst-case you fly an expert from nearby. Which can be said of many boat systems. Its not that complex.

    10. Diesel-electric is directly comparable. But for small boats it was not even available. And has a much greater level of complexity.
  7. lobo

    lobo Senior Member

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    This type of answer, to a serious technical question, would be reason enough for me not to consider buying any goods or services coming from this particular source.
  8. Cruising4Fun

    Cruising4Fun New Member

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    I had several other issues with hydraulics. I have been around a lot boats with them and everyone had leaks. When the boat was in hot water near the equator the leaking was sometimes worse. It seemed to depend on how warm the fluid was. For instance, if the cooling circuit that normally kept the fluid cooler than the recommended temp, then when the outside water used to cool the circuit was warmer the hydraulic fluid would be warmer and there would be more leaking.
    It was a pain to replace fluid while at sea, what with the rolling of the ship and the engine room heat, and the difficulty of adding fluid without getting dust or dirt in along with it.
  9. dan1000

    dan1000 New Member

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    I always enjoy Peter's responses, which are a mix of theory, fact, and conjecture. The 90+ page brochure/booklet for the Cape Horn series makes for good reading, and you should be able to get a PDF of it from the seller, or from Judy or even from Peter.

    I got my loss numbers from one of the engineers at Thrustmaster in 2006, but much more interestingly, I spoke to 3 owners about their boats and systems.

    Universally, they loved the Thrustmaster drive (whether mechanical or hydraulic). They seem trouble free. However, they all acknowledged the efficiency issue. Still, when traveling at 7 1/2 to 8 knots, the efficiency issue is a small price to pay. In return, you get to put the engine in a convenient spot, which makes for more interior room.

    Dan
  10. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Hi,

    This type of response seems to show a lack of humour which is what I am sure the OP was adding at the end of his well written piece.
    Bruce Didier likes this.
  11. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Hi,

    Can you imagine being a piece of pipe or a fitting that has to provide sterling service in a wide range of temps and pressures?

    Where was this Hydraulic System leaking from? Threaded Connections? Valves?Rams?
  12. Cruising4Fun

    Cruising4Fun New Member

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    The leaks were of a variety. On one boat it was due to the use of mixed fittings 37 and 45 degree. Of course that should not happen, but it's hard to get the right fittings in some foreign countries. I spent my summers during high school, many years ago, working on commercial fishing boats in the NW and also way out in the S. Pacific.
  13. Cruising4Fun

    Cruising4Fun New Member

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    Dan, I have had a copy of the CH brochure to look at. As I said I avoid the sellers, brokers since I want realistic answers. I have several years before retirement and intend spending it doing further research. If you are buying a boat you are entitled to an accurate, complete analysis of hull, construction, engine(s), wiring, etc., whether the builder has complied with the component manufacturer's installation requirements and the state of any deficiencies. The only way I know to get that is thorough research and a meticulous survey. Boats that have been built in small numbers need an even more careful going over. Even the most meticulous sellers have issues that they are unaware of.
  14. dan1000

    dan1000 New Member

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    Agreed -- too many people look to brokers and sellers for answers. However, I see nothing wrong with looking to them for input. But answers come from within.

    One thing about a good broker (very rare): They will say "no, that's not a good fit for you" much more often than "yes, you should go look at that."

    Dan
  15. Cruising4Fun

    Cruising4Fun New Member

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    The efficiency may not be much of an issue when making short passages. But, a boat carrying 4000 gallons of fuel is losing somewhere around 1000 gallons of effective range, if the lose is only 25%. And at today's fuel prices that's about $3500. I see the day coming when boats are longer, narrower, with larger, slower turning props and bigger reduction gears. Especially if they are going to make long passages. A lot of boats that have already been built may be obsolete at $10 a gallon for fuel. Yikes. I met some nice young fellows somewhere in the NW, can't recall where, with a 80' converted tug. They needed about 8000 gallons to fuel the boat. That was a couple years ago, when it was about $2.25.
  16. dan1000

    dan1000 New Member

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    Agreed. This boat and this one carry your ideas further. However, it must be said that living space suffers as a result.

    I recently spent a wonderful 3 months aboard my trawler with my family. We went 60nm at about 9 knots, and used about 350usg. There aren't many steel trawlers that can do that! But we worked out that had we been on an 80 foot motor yacht, and had we kept to the same speed, we would have used about 1200usg, a difference of 850usg. Our fuel cost at a round $5/usg on our own boat was $1,750. On the 80 footer it would have been $6k. Difference: $4,250, or about $1,450 per month. Is this a lot? Yes and no. It would have been dwarfed by the marina costs if we had stayed in marinas every night. If we had crew aboard, it would have been dwarfed by that. But if we were 12-months-per-year liveaboards who anchored out a lot, that extra fuel cost would indeed be a lot. My point: fuel is not the greatest cost, even on a motoryacht that is driven at hull speeds.



    Dan
  17. Cruising4Fun

    Cruising4Fun New Member

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    350 us gallons to go 60 miles at 9 knots is a hell of a lot of fuel for that small a vessel (60ft). If you carry 4000 gallons that's only a range of 1000 miles. The range issue would seem to me to be the major issue. I assume that at 7 knots you can get range out to a gallon a mile??
  18. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Hi,

    I am assuming there was a mistake made with the numbers quoted for that journey.

    In the meantime according to my calculator 350 US Gals for 60 NM Travelled at 9 kts makes an average consumption of 5.83 US Gal per mile, this can be expanded further to take the whole capacity and divide by 5.83.

    4000 /5.83 =686 NM .

    This seems to be a very small range for a 60ft Trawler Yacht.

    The following info comes from the Sea Spirit Owners Blog which is linked to in his signature.

    6) When we're trying to cover a larger distance in a shorter time, we often choose to cruise at 9.5 knots, burning around 9.5GPH. I can see from my chart that if I slowed down only 0.3 knots from 9.5 to 9.2 knots, I would lower my fuel usage from 9.5 to 7.5 GPH or 1.2 NMPG. While I don't usually think too hard about fuel prices, if range were an issue, this would be worth doing. It seems that this is right around the point where fuel usage goes through the roof without much improvement in speed.
  19. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Only really big ones!

    At 53 gallons per hour that little Lugger must have been spewing fuel all over the place, that is about 3 times what it can burn at full rated power output.
  20. dan1000

    dan1000 New Member

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    Terribly sorry about that! It was 600nm, not 60nm!

    By the way, we used an additional roughly 350usg on the generators during that time. Not relevant to fuel efficiency, but relevant to figuring out the overall role of fuel efficiency in the costs of running a boat.

    Dan