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.

Towing a Nutshell

While towing the Nutshell 26 is possible behind an SUV it is not an exercise to be taken lightly. Experienced drivers won’t have problems (it’s the same as towing a similar size centre console boat). Height is an issue but the weight is similar.

The complexity is with narrowing the boat. The trailer is designed to take care of this, but the boat has to be prepared before-hand. I suggest that this may not be an ‘every weekend’ exercise.

The height may be an issue when towing

If you want to day-sail the boat, and leave off all the liveaboard kit, then the boat becomes a great water-sport base. You can load canoes, SUPs etc into the back of the boat and, once launched, you have a big aft deck, fridge and storage, plus a day-bed.

All the toys…

There will be two types of trailer. The standard one will tow the boat in the wider position. The split-back will additionally enable the narrowing of the hulls. This would be particularly useful for a yard managing multiple boats – that needs to access public roads to launch or recover. Or any business that stores the boats undercover – the space-saving for narrow boats is considerable.