The Orbiters. The success of the cargo ferry concept has led to a lot of interest and several spin offs: We call them the Orbiters (as in orbiting the globe).
The Orbiter Family share the light weight, easily built and sailed, low draft, low cost philosophy of Harryproas generally and the cargo/ferry in particular, but have different layouts. They also share the novel entry into the windward hull that is used on the cargo/ferry for passenger access. This provides a lot of options not available on boats where the only way aboard is via steps in the stern. Like the cargo ferry the Orbiter is a fast, comfortable sail boat, rather than an over rigged, overweight source of income for repair people at every port of call. The systems are simple and easily repaired. There is as little as possible to go wrong, and easy back ups if it does.
We have gone down a different route with specifying these boats. We want our owners to be involved in the design of their boats. Not only so they get what they want, but so they know what is on board and how to look after it. For example, do you really want 4 heads to maintain?
As well as being far easier to build, harryproa hull shapes have fewer constraints than cats and tris as they do not have to be compromised to tack or to carry most of their weight in the stern. They are also much lower loaded, so apart from the beams and the masts, the rest of the space is available to your imagination. Instead of mandating a pay load and a lay out which dictates what you can put onboard and the size of the rig required, we are going in the other direction. You tell us what you want on the boat and how you want it laid out and we alter the dimensions of the hulls accordingly. The fee for this is deducted from the overall plans fee if you decide to proceed. To simplify the process we have several spread sheets for item weights. Once the weight is known (and an allowance for overload added) we size the rig according to the performance required. The spreadsheet can also be used to establish the cost of the fitout. The downside of this approach is that the cost of the materials is not known until the design is finalised. A ball park number can be deduced from the 8 tonne/ton cargo ferry, for which the composite materials cost $AUS100,000, and the fitout to operating level another $100,000. The work boat finish and minimal fitout on the cargo/ferry means it can be built in ~2,500 hours, which could be doubled for pleasure boat looks and fitout. You decide on the trade-off between cost/time and finish complexity.
These boats are designed for sailors, not diesel mechanics. The KISS design and the large simple deck and cabin shapes provide ample space for solar panels to meet all power needs without requiring a heavy, smelly, high maintenance generator. The performance is good enough that sailing is enjoyable, so 2 big engines are not required. A decent size outboard (probably diesel, although electric is looking better and better) will push the boat at good speed in light air or in port. A small, lowerable and steerable electric motor near the helm provides extra manoeuvrability in tight spaces.
Some examples of what can be achieved with this approach are;
The Ultimate live aboard/world cruiser. The current crop of large luxury performance cats and tris confirm what we have been saying for years. Length is a multihull asset, as important to performance as beam is to stability. What the cats and tris are yet to discover is how to deliver a combination of length, light weight, low cost and easy handling to deliver the performance possible with a harryproa. The Orbital Live Aboard is aimed at cruisers who do not want or need crew to sail their boats or systems that need a full time employee to keep running. Or rigs that require a PhD to set them up, an Olympic medallist to sail them fast and either an electronics whizz or a gorilla to trim them. They know that carbon is stiff and cost effective where required, but don’t want to waste money putting it where it is not, or to spend a fortune clear coating it so everyone knows they have it.
The Orbital Live Aboard has house like accommodation for a couple and up to 2 other couples as guests. Filling every corner with bunks makes sense on a charter boat, not in your home. For those who want to encourage their visitors to stay, or with kids who want their own space it is possible to flare the lee hull to increase the room available in the 2 en suite cabins. Alternatively, this can be a huge workshop or study.
While bunk numbers are sensible, the room to entertain befits a boat which will be the talk of every anchorage it visits. 40 people on board for sundowners will all have somewhere comfortable to sit in the shade, without the feeling of hiding behind a wall in the cockpit of bridgedeck cats or stuck out on the bows in the sun with a long clamber to the fridge.
Cruising live aboards enjoy remote locations, but not enough to spend time stuck in them waiting for expensive parts for complex equiment to arrive, only to discover the local agent not have a clue how to install them. Keep it simple is by far the most common advice given by experienced cruisers and is at the core of harryproa design philosophy.
Shallow draft is a given, but daggerboards waiting to be damaged by debris or grounding are not. The oversize harryproa rudders can be lifted for shallow water and drying out or for helm balance but still kick up in a collision or grounding. With no holes below the waterline, leaks can’t happen. Shallow draft means stepping off into knee depth water and being able to scrub the hull without getting your hair wet. It also offers the ability to dry out on a lee shore above the depth where waves are a problem. This was an important consideration for the cargo proa, which will be operating in cyclone areas.
Shelter from the sun and rain are basic requirements, but tempered with the realisation that enjoying the stars at night, watching the sun rise and set and feeling the wind on your face are equally important. As is keeping the helmsman within easy talking distance of the rest of the crew and within reach of the sail controls and the fridge. All round vision from the helm under sail is non negotiable, as well as being a legal requirement.
While marina costs may not be a big deal for someone who can afford an 80’ter, living in a crowded goldfish bowl where swimming is going to make you ill, certainly is. The Live Aboard is designed for off grid living, able to anchor comfortably away from the masses, with the large, safe, high speed tender to get into the centre of town (or the remote diving, surfing or out of the way spots) when required. Access through the windward hull door makes boarding the tender and access to and from the water safe and easy for swimming, diving, sail and kite boarding, all of which Orbital owners will be doing at every opportunity.
The Orbital University was laid out for a visionary university lecturer who currently takes groups of students on a 20m mono to explore remote islands as part of their studies (and holidays!). The low speed of the mono means time at the islands is limited. The requirement is for speed, dormitory sleeping for 20 people, plenty of room for toys, a large, fast tender and payload for 3 weeks of provisions. The students are looking for fun and excitement, not luxury and complexity. These are all grist to the Orbital mill, apart from the accommodation. The solution is clever fold away sleeping pods; out of the way during the day, opening up into dormitory bunks during the night.
Zero emissions, no smelly fuel and as little maintenance as possible were specific requirements, hence the array of solar panels. The boat sails unless the wind is less than 5 knots when the tender motor runs off the solar panels. The rest of the boat is as simple as it can be. A water maker runs off the solar panels and provides the water for solar heated showers. The galley is simple, the food basic but healthy. Composting toilets eliminate the smells, sewerage disposal, leaks and blockages which can make living with conventional toilets miserable. Plenty of hatches provide ventilation. The sails and anchors are handled using 2 winches and 4 block and tackles. There are no sail tracks, batten cars or extras to go wrong and ruin the trip.
The Medical Services boat is designed for husband and wife doctors or dentists with a social conscience and a yearn to cruise. It is a boat that 2 people can easily handle, with a dedicated space for a surgery to provide a mobile health service to remote villages and islands. If required, it could also provide a rapid response to areas hit by disasters, usually cyclones or earthquakes.
Medical Services are not set up for heart transplants, but do provide all the facilities of a shore based Accident and Emergency department. In the same way the Live Aboard was influenced by all the short comings of the mega cats, the Medical Services boat has been designed to overcome the shortcomings of the (few) boats offering a similar service. A stable platform is critical, so it is a multihull with the abilty to dry out and/or anchor in very shallow water. Also critical is easy access without having to carry injured patients up and down stairways or manoeuvre them through narrow hatches. The full height side doors and shallow draft are the perfect solution. The other important requirement is enough space that the surgery does not have to double as anything else. This makes it easier to keep clean and allows for a no compromise layout. The lee hull can be set up as a 4 bed ward (shown) or as the accommodation for the doctors.