Prototype launch

Launching day for boat #0. Now it’s testing testing testing.

The Nutshell 26 prototype (as yet unnamed) was launched yesterday at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town, South Africa.

The prototype has twin 14hp diesels instead of the standard electric pods. We are still looking for a suitable electric drive partner. The diesel option will include twin 9HP Yanmars in future, but these had a 4-month lead time.

The twin-cylinder 14HPs are too powerful (and heavy) for the boat but make for some great drag-racing.

A better option would be a 9HP diesel to starboard and a 10KW pod motor to port. This obviates solar and big batteries. What’s missing is a fly-by-wire control so that we don’t mix mechanical and electrical engine controls – which feel completely different in use.

Twin electric is still first choice but has the overhead of solar panels (5 x 400W on the roof) and sufficient battery reserve, to counter ‘range-anxiety’. The philosophy is to oversize the motors and use full-power sparingly. I can see sailing this simple rig to be such a pleasure motors will only be needed for calm days and mooring at a dock.

Sail trials start Monday but she is extremely responsive under power and manoeuvres easily. Good visibility all round. The passarel system works a treat – extending the aft deck enormously when stowed. The sail went up easily. Once up, the halyard is removed and the heads’l remains furled. This involves popping up in a bosuns chair but this is a breeze on the spare halyard.

The walking-around space is crazy-big. The size of an average 40’ cat. Enclosed by clear, side-awnings that deploy easily and look great (thanks North Sails) the 3.5 x 3.5m space had 7 people wandering around and chatting and didn’t feel even slightly crowded.

I’ll upload a video of the launch if anyone is interested.

Pics from before the intro

The Nutshell prototype is nearing completion. The hulls, deck, bridgedeck and coachroof are from female moulds. Also hatches, transoms, liner, space-frame and ceiling beams.

Looking good.

Happy 2022! Hulls are complete

The hulls of the prototype are now complete and ready to receive the bridge-deck. They’re looking good in pure white.

Further finishing is required and the moulds will be polished for the first production hull. In the meantime we will start installing systems and testing the de-mounting system.

No transom as yet
Fair and accurate. Looking good!

Canvas enclosures

Tents! Well you either love em or you’ve actually been camping.

But marine awnings? A whole different thing. They are so good nowadays they’re pretty much a standard on any boat. Strung between a coachroof-lid and a bulwark, they stop wind and rain from ruining your evening, while still giving you that terrific view of the cute bay or harbour that you chose to stop the night in.

So given the option of enclosing a space for the times when the weather’s a bit dodgy or living within three walls when every cell in your body screams “I wanna be outside on this perfect evening”!What do you do?

Well I overstated it a wee bit, but you get the picture? Having a nice wide aft deck, on a boat designed for barmy weather, I’d rather have it open and close it up when needed.

A boat with the mast at the back will always face into the wind
Close up the sides, the back and the doors separately to get the right combination of protection, ventilation and view.
The roof panel also slides away opening up one side completely, independently of the other – ta-dahh! A verandah..

Flexible layout

Good use of space is essential in compact cats. Yachts offer probably the most efficient use of space. Vast experience in designing charter catamarans – where you get 6 double en-suite cabins in less than half the size of a tennis court – allows extreme efficiency without compromising the feeling of roominess.

  1. The galley counter converts to a dining table by sliding it inboard. In the centre position it hides the sink and cooker.
  2. The queen-size berth is also a comfy couch for watching the scenery slide by
  3. The loose seating converts to single upright chairs, a couch and an occasional extra berth
  4. The shower unit is behind a door that, when opened, expands the cubicle into a full size, private shower. Steam escapes outside and the drain goes straight into a holding tank. Using this to wash off with fresh water after a swim, the waste water can run overboard.
  5. The heads do not open into the cabin, keeping all smells outside. If you’re away from people you can enjoy a ‘loo with a view’
  6. The 12V fridge is top-opening and slides out from under the cooker. A deep cool box in the hull adds extra capacity.
  7. The tillers lift up when not in use allowing the entire aft deck to be enclosed. When manoeuvring under engines alone they drop-down to lock the rudders
  8. The large, flat windscreen in front opens to give proper ventilation in mild weather
  9. Access to the sea is down one transom. Garbage stowage is in the other. Folding bikes and other toys go forward
  10. Suitcases and large items go under the berth. A hanging locker and shelves takes the rest of your stuff.
  11. Tablet / phone / camera / drone charging in a dedicated station at the inside helm
Living area – bigger than you’d think