Draco Volans 48
DEVLIN 48 / DRACO VOLANS REASONING BEHIND THIS DESIGN
By Ed Schulman, Owner
Don’t expect this design to pop up at the next boat show in a row of production power boat clones. This boat is well off the main stream and is only likely to appear as a one-off satisfying the priorities and opinions of a dedicated builder and one crazy client. While the design is off the main track, it is not without good reason. Many of the reasons and compromises behind this boat don’t fit well into the formula used to design build and sell at volume to the general boating public. First, this is stitch and glue construction, not very common or popular in this size boat. The long standing and ongoing arguments about the various construction methods and materials has been of interest to me for many years. My conclusion regarding this is that steel-aluminum-glass-carbon-composite-wood or wood composite are all acceptable when done right and properly applied to the intended purpose. I have been following Sam Devlin’s boats for some time and by my standards, they look right, ride right and hold up well. This boat will not appeal to the ‘yachtsy’ crowd; no teak decks and little bright work, more in line with a work boat than a piece of dock furniture. I do not get any pleasure out of varnishing and cleaning a boat so a low maintenance exterior was specified. If I want to see bright work, I will walk the docks, enjoy the bright work and congratulate myself on not having to maintain that piece of dock furniture. It is hard to define what type or class of boat this design fits into. Functionally, I think a protected water efficient express cruiser. The topsides are modern Lake Union Dream Boat and the underwater hull is a shallow down east twin motor semi displacement lobster type. Our first attempt to design this boat included births for eight and very generous interior spaces. The more we added to the boat, the bigger and heavier it got. When we got to 52 feet and 50,000 lbs, it became apparent that the motors would have to increase in weight and double in output in order to maintain the higher cruising speeds. Efficiency would go down and fuel burn would go way up. Tanks would need expanding, all contributing to a general upward spiral. At that point, we took a hard look at the most important issue – our use priorities. We came to the conclusion that for us, sea keeping, efficiency, and ease of use were more important than the extra berths and room for the guests we almost never have. This resulted in a new design with a boat 47’8’ foot long, four feet shorter but almost half the weight having trimmed 23,000+ lbs off the original design. At 48 ft this still sounds like a sizable boat. The typical first mate at a boat show would probably be disappointed with the interior spaces as compared to the common three story white clones at 38ft. So where did all the room go and why? The why is function and art. The where is (1) very long cockpit with twin motors in boxes. (2) Relatively low freeboard and center of gravity. (3) Sharp entry and shoal draft with low wetted surface. (4) Low air height. (5) Wide side decks.
So what is this boat all about? First, this design is about a piece of functional art. I just like the way Sam Devlin does a boat. Second, it is about meeting my boating standards and the specific needs of the way my wife and I use a power boat at this stage in our lives. We have had many boats and many years experience with summer coastal cruising in sail, trawler and express types on both the east and northwest coasts. I am at heart a sailor and spend much more time with a tiller rather than a stink pot wheel in my hands. When I sail, I want a boat that looks right and really sails well – yes that does include fast but not as a first priority. When I power, I want the same type of performance but in the power boat format. What we want now is a boat easily handled by an older couple or single handed. We need full protection from wind, rain and sun with some control over the ambient temperature in pilot house. We need good 360 degree visibility with plenty of natural light. Underway, we don’t want to have to climb up and down steps in the main piloting and living area. We want twin motors with good access easy to maintain with good soundproofing and located away from living spaces. We want motors and mechanical systems that are not out of date or too close to the cutting edge of technical development. IPS and Zeus may be the next great thing in boat propulsion or not. Twin Cummins QSB 5.9 L motors 355MHP rated at 2800rpm using ZF 301-A, 2:1 gear ratio transmissions with direct drive to four blade 22X25 props are specified. We want to cruise in a speed range of 7-16knots with reasonable fuel burn and better than average sea keeping abilities for the waters we ply. In the North West Gulf Islands and many other North West areas, 8 knots is fine for island and anchorage hopping. When crossing the straits and dealing with our occasional North West rapids, we like the option of 15+ knots where we can get up on top of it and get it over with fast. The extra speed also allows for better timing of passage at slack or crossing in early morning calm. With a fast semi displacement hull and a waterline length of 45’8” and relatively narrow waterline beam with a sharp entry, we expect a good ride and 3-4nm/gallon just below and at hull speed of 9 knots. At 15-16 knots, we are looking for good riding characteristics and one NM/gallon of fuel burn. Downeast hulls will usually maintain a nice ride through the entire speed range. We do not typically do long range open water trips so tank size is modest but not skimpy. Large tanks would hurt performance and be out of place since this design is really not meant for that purpose. The twin motors and variable speed bow thruster should make this a highly maneuverable boat in marinas. While this may not be able to put on the show boat maneuvers of IPS, it should be more than adequate for a skipper who used to dock a trawler with a single motor. The electronic package will be a little on the overkill side and will include a 14” touchscreen chart plotter-radar unit with AIS and weather input. An integrated autopilot along with depth and speed units will be part of the package along with Satellite TV and cell phone booster units. Heat, hot water and electrify will be augmented with a Whispergen (Sterling Motor) unit with battery banks and 50 amp shore power and charger-inverter units and a few AC heaters. We will start out without a standard generator and see how that goes. Propane will be used for the stove and oven. An Isotherm 190 double draw reefer and an underseat double top loading freezer will round out the built-in galley. Countertop microwave and toaster oven will complete the appliance list.
The interior spaces need to support a couple for up to six weeks of cruise time with the occasional guests. The finish will be a combination of painted wood and bright work somewhat in the Hereshoff tradition with ease of maintenance and a bright light feel. The dinette in close proximity to the galley has to be up in the area with large windows and close to the helm. Comfortable helm and copilot seats with a good 360 degree view and easy access to the cockpit are part of the equation. The anchor, a large Ronca, can be lowered from the helm avoiding the need to scamper up on fore deck until there is a set. Two heads and two sleeping cabins were specified. We carry a double Hobie pedal-paddle kayak and therefore, we need a long flat roof area for storage. We need easy access to a stable dinghy stowed on a substantial swim platform with no need to manhandle a dinghy or heavy motor. A bullfrog dinghy with a Weaver lift system for both motor and boat will be employed. I think this design will work well for us but won’t know how close we have come to the bull’s eye until the boat is built and we get a few weeks of cruising under our hull.
See plans, specs and a description of this boat in the Design Catalog & Store.
Size: 10 items
(80 items total)