Gimme Some Air!

 intake openings

Engines, like people, need to breathe.

The human body is an amazing machine, running continuously for decades, requiring nothing more than water, air and fuel —the latter in the form of food. Gasoline and diesel engines require the same three ingredients to function. In both cases, air is a critical element in the mix, because a reduction in the amount of air below the ideal level can cripple a motorperformance.

Providing the necessary amount of air to marine engines, installed within as small a space as is practicable, isneasy. The engine room needs as much air as possible, meaning big openings, but we want to keep out as much salt water as we can, meaning small openings. These requirements demand a careful balance of the two extremes. Read more »

McConaghy MC2 60

bridge deck

This 60-foot cat reinforces the notion that a roomy cruising yacht doesn t have to be ugly —or slow.

McConaghy Boats summed up its brief to the designer with the following words: speed, luxury and elegance. Simple, right? Not exactly, because these characteristics arenentirely compatible. Yet Renaud Banuls, the designer of the MC2 60, found a way to make them get along.

You must understand that a truly fast catamaran has to be light. Her hulls will have fine waterlines forward and enough bearing in the after sections to give her some lift. Pure racing cats can afford to have a very high fineness ratio-quite narrow for the overall length of each hull —because accommodations within those hulls are secondary to speed. Filling the hulls with comfortable and relatively spacious staterooms and heads compromises speed, but careful distribution of volume below the waterline can minimize this compromise. Read more »

Saving Grace

The famous commuter yacht Thunderbird, designed in 1939, isnin danger from a chain saw or likely to be abandoned to rot on a secluded section of Lake Tahoeshoreline. Shemerely in danger of being "lost" to die nonprofit Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society if  it defaults on the $1.1 million purchase note due at the end of 2012.

George Whittell, die original owner of die well-known lodge, commissioned this 55-foot mahogany yacht to transport his guests, a service still provided for fundraisers and special occasions. Thunderbirds sparkling superstructure, clad in stainless steel, and the intimidating exhaust note of her Allison V-12 aircraft engines have been a part of Lake Tahoescene for about 70 years. Read more »

On the Level

Spruce Goose

Maintenance is key to ensuring your stabilizers  reliability.

MurphyLaw —whatever can go wrong will, at the worst possible moment —isn t true science. Or is it? Murphy dictates, for example, that stabilizers will fail in rough seas, but this is also when they are working the hardest. Fortunately, hydraulic, pneumatic and active gyrostabilizers are robust and reliable. Just a little routine maintenance should keep Murphy at bay.

Hydraulic systems work for many years with minimal maintenance. an eye on oil level, check the temperature, and periodically inspect the system,”says David Yish, customer service manager for Naiad Dynamics.

Hydraulic oil is cooled to below 165 degrees Fahrenheit by a heat exchanger at the stabilizer unit, typically fed by a main engineraw-water circuit. These coolers donrequire regular cleaning like engine-cooling systems. Just check the zinc every few months. Read more »



A Coast Guard rescue swimmer tells you how to keep your head (and boat) above water.

Youbeen planning this voyage for months. The galley is stocked; slips are reserved at the best marinas along the route; the weather is shaping up; and the boat has been checked and rechecked. Youalways made it back just fine before, so your personal boating experience is about success. My boating experience, however, has often been about one failure after another.

As a helicopter rescue swimmer for the U.S. Coast Guard, itmy job to fly out with my crew and bring boaters home from adventures that didngo as planned. Ibeen on hundreds of search-and-rescue missions and Iheard stories about hundreds more. Experience has taught me that, with rare exception, two things are true almost any time a boaterplan falls apart: First, the captain was certain he and his boat were ready when he left the dock. Second, his vesselissue was almost entirely due to something he forgot to do (or think about) before leaving the marina. Read more »


Spruce Goose

Conceived to transport troops to Europetheatre of action, the H-4 Hercules aeroplane-nicknamed the Spruce Goose-was so complex to construct that by the time it had been completed, World War II was over. Indeed, despite its astonishing craftsmanship, this pet project of the obsessive magnate Howard Hughes became the ultimate white elephant (albeit one with wings).

Above: in the cockpit, the pipe by the pilot s seat brought up fresh air to Howard Hughes s face. Left: the hatch (so called because the craft was designed as a giant flying beat} allows boarding via the nose-either from a boat or a pier. Note the cleat for mooring and a plumbline to test the depths. Below: the top deck, behind the captain s seat. The big tank at the rear holds 287 gallons of oil, which engines would guzzle dangerously-spills were common. Opposi: because of the complexity of the eight engines, two flight engineers were employed to oversee this panel, whose many gauges monitor RPM, manifold pressure, oil quantity, fuel, pneumatic and hydraulic systems, and so on Read more »