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Old 20-03-2015, 23:03   #76
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

Thanks for the detailed reply. We are heading to S.A. later this year and are planning to visit both yards. Your info on this forum is awesome thanks.
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Old 21-03-2015, 03:17   #77
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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Originally Posted by downunder View Post
Not expert but I believe 800ah 12V lithium would be equilivant to 400ah 24V lithium and more than adequate. ( same number and weight of Li batteries). Apart from double cost 800ah at 24V to be an enormous amount of power.

Based on a couple of vessels I know comfortably cruising with only 400ah instead of 800-1000ah lead acids.

TheSaillingChannel.TV is a different person to Paul, the skipper of Sulaire the ST Francis in the videos.

cheers
It would. And it might be overkill. There will be some DC -> DC conversion and some 12V draws, so it won't be truly double the AH in practice, but it'll definitely be twice the installed battery capacity.
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Old 21-03-2015, 03:19   #78
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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Thanks for the detailed reply. We are heading to S.A. later this year and are planning to visit both yards. Your info on this forum is awesome thanks.
Keep in mind that it's all just my opinion. You might have the exact opposite conclusions.

What I realized at the end of a long hunt for the perfect boat is that there are many boats I'd be happy to own. And rather than let this feeling paralyze me, it freed me to make a choice with zero regrets.
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Old 21-03-2015, 04:41   #79
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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......Same for the port side, where crew spent time on our delivery on the last St. Francis 50, and they were equally protected in the rain, and able to see forward through the fixed glass.
Hi Hugh, a couple of times you have mentioned being aboard different St Francis cats during delivery or some other production stage.. you also seem to have a lot of "inside" information about the production of your cat. All well and good but I understood you were a writer and being American had assumed that was where you lived. Is it just that you are lucky enough to spend extended periods of time in SA or have you agreed with St Francis some sort of arrangement regarding writing about it?

The reason I ask is because your closeness to the makers sounds great.. but not something I thought was possible (ie your input into larger windows, squared off seats, redesign of other parts of the boat)... bearing in mind I hope to be where you are in a couple of years.
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Old 21-03-2015, 05:40   #80
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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Hi Hugh, a couple of times you have mentioned being aboard different St Francis cats during delivery or some other production stage.. you also seem to have a lot of "inside" information about the production of your cat. All well and good but I understood you were a writer and being American had assumed that was where you lived. Is it just that you are lucky enough to spend extended periods of time in SA or have you agreed with St Francis some sort of arrangement regarding writing about it?

The reason I ask is because your closeness to the makers sounds great.. but not something I thought was possible (ie your input into larger windows, squared off seats, redesign of other parts of the boat)... bearing in mind I hope to be where you are in a couple of years.
I've only been on completed St. Francis cats thus far. I haven't been to the yard yet. I head there in a few weeks.

The info I'm getting from the yard on my build is what I assumed was normal. I used to work as a fleet captain for a sportfish builder, and I was a delivery and charter captain for years, so I practically lived in boat yards, but I've never gone through the process of a new build for myself before. This is my first new boat. Not sure what's normal, but St. Francis has been tossing photos in a Dropbox folder that I have access to, so I can see how the build is progressing. We email back and forth a lot as well, going over details and options, making sure everything is going according to plan. So that's where I'm getting my info.

(Incidentally, I saw your post while coming here to share a link to my latest build report, which I'll do in a separate comment after this reply).

No matter who I went with for my new boat, my plan was to document the build, the process of moving aboard, and my travels. Not to monetize the process as a professional writer, but because I just enjoy writing. So I was always going to set up a blog. Before I shared the link with my fiction readers, I checked to make sure it was okay with the yard that I was doing this, and they gave me their blessing.

This thread resulted from my derailing another thread here on CF. I've spent some time on FPs, and was interested in an Antares at one time, so when I saw a thread comparing the two, I chimed in on what I liked about both boats. Someone asked why I went with a St. Francis (either I mentioned the boat, or they saw it on my profile), which derailed that thread. But it turned out that a few people were keen on the St. Francis 50, and they asked for me to keep them abreast.

I thought this would be no trouble. I'd just duplicate what I'm posting on my blog over at the-wayfinder.com. Except it's not so easy! My audience over there largely knows nothing about boats (they know me as a science fiction author). And the audience over here knows more about boats than I ever will. So I get to geek out over here and dive into my passion for yachts, and I get to help explain what in the world I'm doing with this boat nonsense to an audience over there that never knew me during my yachting years.

As for time spent on the St. Francis in particular, I wasn't going to spend this kind of money just by walking through boats at boat shows. I worked with quite a few brokers, some of whom have written bibles on catamarans and own companies building some of the latest designs. I went to the Gunboat yard and crawled through the new 55s. I jumped aboard every cat I could that needed to be somewhere, and volunteered my services in exchange for crawling through bilges. At boat shows, I made a point of spending time with owners (not just of St. Francis yachts, but every boat owner I could find), where hours melted away as we delved into all the pros and cons. I hung out with the delivery crews that brought the boats in and queried them. I pulled more panels open than cupboards, checking wiring, chainplates, access to systems.

As I narrowed down on the St. Francis at last year's Annapolis show, I asked if I could jump on a delivery. For me, this was better than a sea trial, where you get one set of conditions in a harbor or near-shore. I had a week on the boat, living on it and working on it. Cooking on it. Using it. And I wasn't sitting around. I was drilling the delivery skipper on the crossing. He owns a SF 50 hull that he's fitting out, so I drilled him on that, and on the yard, and the builders.

While underway, I crawled around with a flashlight and a tape measure. I made a list of 100+ tweaks I would make if it were my boat. At the show, I became friends with the gentleman who would go on to own hull #18. When he asked if I wanted to come spend a week on the boat in the Bahamas, going through the systems together, I booked a flight right then and there. Another week of living on and using the boat, fixing little things here and there, going through the boat and the owner's manual with one of the builders and his son. In the same anchorage, there were three other St. Francis cats, and I got to check them out as well.

Despite all this, I've only scratched the surface. If it sounds like I know a ton about these boats, I don't. Not like someone who has owned one for years and done thousands of miles on them. I bring into this what little I've learned as a professional yacht captain of 10 years, someone who lived on a small monohull for 5 years, and someone who has been looking for my next boat for the last 5 years, with a lot of boat shows, deliveries, sea trials, yard visits, etc.

So I'm stumbling through this. A few CF members asked me to start a thread. Here I am.


Edited to add: Forgot to touch on your question about modifications. I'll tell you what has really made me happy with my decision, beyond the build quality of these boats, it's the fact that they LOVE to customize them. Duncan, the builder and founder of these boats, is a tinkerer. He started the company by accident, first building a boat for himself, which a friend insisted on buying, and then building another, and another, all of them snatched up by friends. He doesn't have to build these boats -- he loves building them. And honestly, what he does is my dream job. I'd love to design and build iterations of cats like this.

So when we walked around hull 18 at the show, and he saw that I was serious about 19, we really geeked out. I told him things I would love to see (the extra porthole, the paddleboard compartments), and he would critically analyze the ideas, really skeptical at first, which I loved. He had a reason for doing things the existing way. But then he would mull over anything I pointed out, and if it was a decent idea, he'd come back and say he really liked that idea, and he'd probably incorporate it into future boats. If he saw a critical flaw with the idea, he'd let me know that as well. It's a very cool balance of just enough ego to be confident, but not too much ego to be closed off to new ideas.

A few examples: The Harken split track for lowering the stack pack. He saw the benefit of this after we discussed it. We looked at the Gunboat, which had the system. I wouldn't be surprised to see this become standard on future SF50s. Or the second fixed porthole, which he wasn't a fan of at first, because it loses some storage, but he considered it, and now I think you'll see it become part of the mold. He spends a lot of time going through other builders' boats, adopting any idea that works. So I don't think the tinkering is unusual. I think that's how they like to do things at St. Francis. Every boat is their best boat yet. In fact, I think hull #20 might have a vaccum infused deck, as well as hull, so it'll be stronger and lighter than my boat. But you can't keep waiting because each boat is getting better. You have to go when you can go. (sorry for the long post)
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Old 21-03-2015, 05:46   #81
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

Here's part three of the build process. A member here at CF asked if I would video the vacuum infusion process, something I would've loved to have done, but I won't be at the yard until the hull and deck are joined. So the photos will have to suffice.

Wayfinder | Wayfinder Build: Part 3 – Infusion

I also have pics of the new hatches for the paddleboard compartments. I'll share those in another update. It's pretty cool what they've done.
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Old 21-03-2015, 07:40   #82
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

Great posts and great info Hugh. Well done. I particularly liked your comment

'What I realized at the end of a long hunt for the perfect boat is that there are many boats I'd be happy to own. And rather than let this feeling paralyze me, it freed me to make a choice with zero regrets.'

If only more boat buyers would realise and practice that philosophy...
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Old 21-03-2015, 09:06   #83
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

Crazy idea #101:

Something I'm thinking about way down the road: I don't think electric propulsion is quite there yet, but it's very close. I was tempted to install one of these systems if I went with a composite boat, like the TAG 50 or GB 55. I ended up going more conventional with the SF 50, but I haven't stopped thinking about where marine propulsion is heading.

One of the reasons I'm eager to go with Lithium Ion batteries, and a 24V bank with plenty of capacity, is that I have a crazy plan in mind 5 years down the road with this boat. I like the reliability of the diesel Yanmars for my circumnavigation, but when I get back to the states in 5 years, I think there will be a ton of electric propulsion options. Even the existing motors are designed to fit standard saildrive cutouts, so what I would do is remove the starboard Yanmar, sell it for whatever I could get for it, and drop an electric motor in its place.

Most of the time spent cruising in a cat, you only run one motor. By leaving the Yanmar diesel in the port side (away from the owner's suite, for smell/noise), you still have the reliability of a diesel and the immense power locked up in hydrocarbons, but now you have a silent motor as well, which is always on, and always ready to go.

In my monohull, I used to sail on and off the hook all the time. (There's no better way to meet people than to sail into an anchorage. Everyone rows over to see if they can help with your motor. Next thing you know, you're having drinks in a crowded cockpit.) Of course, I could back my boom with one hand on that boat. Not sure how sailing on or off the hook will go on a 50' cat by myself (I'm guessing not well. Not at first.)

So you use the electric motor for getting on and off the hook and raising the main. No noise. No need to check oil. No heating it up or exhaust. No waking guests. Etc.

You also get to test the technology without fully committing to it. See how you like it. And you still have twin props for maneuverability, and the one engine would be charging the batteries for the second engine.

What I'd probably do is only fill one of the fuel tanks up. Or switch the starboard diesel tank over to feed the genset. And I would possibly add another three solar panels to an extension off the aft end of the coachroof, bringing the solar up to 1,260W of power. If sailing on a sunny day, I'd get in the habit of kicking the electric motor forward to move the wind toward the bow. Why not? Use the free juice and get an extra knot or two. All depending on the state of the batteries.

Seems like a risk-free way to get to know the technology, with an old-school backup in the other hull. If you get comfortable with it, or the tech matures further, you replace the other Yanmar with another electric motor and use your fuel for the genset.
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Old 21-03-2015, 10:22   #84
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

That's a really good idea, go for it with the new build though!
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Old 21-03-2015, 10:30   #85
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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That's a really good idea, go for it with the new build though!
Eh . . . I'm hesitant. I feel like the hp for the individual motors needs to get higher. Right now, you almost need to run both electric motors to cruise at appreciable speeds. In 5 years, they should be more powerful and even more reliable.
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Old 21-03-2015, 10:33   #86
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

One more post on the build today over at my blog. This is a long post with a ton of pictures, and it might seem crazy to spend this much time thinking about and arranging for paddleboard storage, but I truly believe that this is a problem in need of a good solution. And I think we're finding that solution with this build. In fact, I think of all the great things about the SF50, the ability to pull this off might be near the top of my list.

Yeah, packing away two paddleboards feels like that big of an accomplishment to me. That's a lot of unattractive windage we strap to our rails. And this design will ensure that we use the boards more often (any time we even think about it), while keeping the boards in great shape, out of the elements, and out of the way.

I'll be really proud of the build team if they pull this off. They're already on their way. Check it out at my blog.

Wayfinder | Wayfinder Build: Part 4 – Paddleboards
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Old 21-03-2015, 12:23   #87
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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.... I jumped aboard every cat I could that needed to be somewhere, and volunteered my services in exchange for crawling through bilges. At boat shows, I made a point of spending time with owners (not just of St. Francis yachts, but every boat owner I could find), where hours melted away as we delved into all the pros and cons. I hung out with the delivery crews that brought the boats in and queried them. I pulled more panels open than cupboards, checking wiring, chainplates, access to systems.

..... (sorry for the long post)
As you can see I shortened your quote... it was getting a bit Wool-y

To be honest I'm convinced I live on the wrong continent... I'd love to do some of the things you talk about here.. I've offered my slender experience and skills to anyone who has a cat to do exactly the same... but so far with no results .. I started out loving the Sunreef.. then moved on to the Antares but much prefer a 50 due to the size.. the SF50 is probably a favourite so far and the only things I dislike about it are the steps off the back of the hulls do not naturally lead onto the decks (you seem to have to side-step due to the rear portholes).. and the second was the finish of the woodwork... a lot of the SF50s I've seen seem to have this "band" effect round all the doors etc.. I think these look old fashioned (traditional??)

However, I could live with the access and I'm sure from what you've said that SF would be happy to talk about cabin/woodwork finishes... so far its getting my vote.. I'm staying posted
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Old 21-03-2015, 13:40   #88
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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As you can see I shortened your quote... it was I started out loving the Sunreef.. then moved on to the Antares but much prefer a 50 due to the size.. the SF50 is probably a favourite so far and the only things I dislike about it are the steps off the back of the hulls do not naturally lead onto the decks (you seem to have to side-step due to the rear portholes).. and the second was the finish of the woodwork... a lot of the SF50s I've seen seem to have this "band" effect round all the doors etc.. I think these look old fashioned (traditional??)

However, I could live with the access and I'm sure from what you've said that SF would be happy to talk about cabin/woodwork finishes... so far its getting my vote.. I'm staying posted
You can get any finish you like. When the founder of St. Francis Marine built his own SF50, he did all the paneling in bamboo, which was very light and had a very modern feel. I almost went with that option for my boat.

I'm sure they will square the door frames for you as well. It would actually be easier than what they do, as the frames consist of a lot more parts in order to curve them. The reason they do this is so the doors and drawers that open have rounded edges, but I'm sure they'd do whatever you wanted. Check out the blog post I link to above to see all the crazy things they're reshaping for me.

Good luck in your hunt. Narrow it down to a handful you'd be happy with, and then go with the one that, when you step onboard, feels like "your" boat.
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Old 21-03-2015, 14:56   #89
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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You can get any finish you like. When the founder of St. Francis Marine built his own SF50, he did all the paneling in bamboo, which was very light and had a very modern feel. I almost went with that option for my boat.

I'm sure they will square the door frames for you as well. It would actually be easier than what they do, as the frames consist of a lot more parts in order to curve them. The reason they do this is so the doors and drawers that open have rounded edges, but I'm sure they'd do whatever you wanted. Check out the blog post I link to above to see all the crazy things they're reshaping for me.

Good luck in your hunt. Narrow it down to a handful you'd be happy with, and then go with the one that, when you step onboard, feels like "your" boat.
I noticed the raised port holes in the decks.. some manufacturers have managed to make these flush with the decking (so you don't stub your toe).. which are you going with and why?
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Old 21-03-2015, 17:07   #90
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Re: St. Francis 50: "Wayfinder"

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I noticed the raised port holes in the decks.. some manufacturers have managed to make these flush with the decking (so you don't stub your toe).. which are you going with and why?
The hatches on my SF50 will be raised. I'm glad I don't have the choice, to be honest. Because I'm not sure which way I'd go. I'm really torn on flush deck hatches.

In order to incorporate these into the SF50, St. Francis would have to retool their deck mold. Otherwise, the modifications to the existing deck would be quite expensive. In order to do flush hatches, you need some sort of draining system to get the water out of the hatch jam and clear of the deck. The Balance 451 is a great boat to walk around and see how they handled this. A narrow channel built into the deck allows water in the hatch jamb to flow overboard.

Without this, you would open the hatch after a rain or a passage, and get water down below. The overlapping seal occurs below the deck level, rather than above deck level, as in the raised hatch design. Quite a few monohulls have done this now, and I believe the Gunboats are built this way.

The only drawback to flush hatches -- and it's a minor one until it isn't -- is the temptation to step on them while underway. And there's no nonskid on them. They are like patches of ice on the road, and you don't want to go in the ditch, because you'll probably never come out.

Maybe that shouldn't be a concern. Maybe the chances are slim. Flush deck hatches are certainly sexy. And I honestly couldn't tell you which way I'd go if I was given the choice, if the conversion didn't cost a penny. I'd be torn over the 100% chance that I will eventually stub my toe over the 1% chance that I'll go heels-over-ass on a wet hatch.

I'm guessing I would take the flush hatches. Luckily, I don't have to decide.
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