Royal Passagemaker 52 - PassageMaker

Royal Passagemaker 52

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David and Linda Haywood eased their inflatable tender from a visitor's dock in Friday Harbor-a task made trickier by the small forest of pilings supporting a large pier overhead-and turned out into the harbor where their 52-foot trawler, Shamal, lay at anchor. As a guest aboard, I let them do the work.

Just moments before, I had walked off a Washington State ferry from Anacortes to keep a date for a tour of a Royal Passagemaker yacht built for the Haywoods by Park IsleMarine, based in Sooke, British Columbia, on the south tip of Vancouver Island. PMMwriters do a lot of boat tours in a year, and I think we all agree the best are those that involve owners who have spent many hours under way and have impressions to share and revealing stories to tell. I was looking forward to this one.

The Haywoods took delivery of Shamal in 2005, and she won the People's Choice Award at her debut at Trawler Fest in Poulsbo, Washington, that year. They cruised her to Southeast Alaska in 2006. This would be a quality tour, I thought: a yacht from a highly regarded Canadian builder with her experienced owners aboard.

This was our first face-to-face meeting, and on one level we were getting acquainted, linking names and faces after impersonal electronic communications had arranged my tour of the boat. I also was wondering silently what Ed Monk would have thought about this contemporary cruising yacht built on the hull of a stout, ocean-going fishing vessel he had designed nearly 50 years ago.

Monk, probably the most famous name in Pacific Northwest boating circles, drew the lines, likely in the late 1960s, for a 57-foot full-displacement fishing trawler that became known as the Seamaster. Many working boats soon were built to his design, and it wasn't long before recreational boaters recognized the seakeeping attributes of the Seamaster and began building custom yachts on that hull, some in wood and some in fiberglass.

"Do you see our boat?" David asked. Indeed, I could. Her softly rounded transom, the gentle sweep of her sheerline, and her flared bow clearly marked a Monk classic. A Victoria, B.C., naval architect, Gregory Marshall, designed the deckhouse and the interior and respected Monk's styling in every line he drew. I learned later that many interior design features were suggested by David and Linda and executed by Marshall.

The outboard engine quit as we touched the boarding platform, and we stepped aboard, aided by the stainless steel staple railings on the platform's edge. A transom gate opened into the cockpit. I noticed that the upper deck's extension over the cockpit and side decks made this a perfect boat for the Pacific Northwest.

I had begun to look around when David asked if I planned to return to Anacortes that day. I said yes and he offered, "We'll take you there."

Within minutes, the John Deere was humming deep in the ship and the hydraulic windlass was quietly lifting the anchor from the mud of Friday Harbor. This tour was getting better and better, I decided, as David and Linda got the boat under way: a new but experienced boat, capable and friendly owners with good times to talk about, and the prospect of a three-hour-long cruise on a calm Northwest day.

CANADIAN, YES!

Roy Parkinson, who founded Park Isle Marine Ltd. in 1987, says he began boating with his family in the waters off Victoria when he was 2 years old. After studying boat construction and apprentice shipbuilding work at Canoe Cove Manufacturing, he opened a small firm that restored classic mahogany runabouts and sailboats and then expanded into general boat repair, refit, and construction. In 1994 he acquired the molds for the Monk Seamaster hull and for the Truant 37, a William Garden-designed sailboat.

The first yacht built by Park Isle from the Seamaster molds was the 57-foot Fine Romance. I joined Parkinson and the owners in delivering her from Seattle to Victoria on a foggy winter day and wrote about her in the December 2001 issue of PMM. She was elegantly, skillfully, and thoughtfully finished, a fruit of the owners' planning and the yard workers' craftsmanship. Fine Romance looks like Shamal's big sister.

At 65 feet, Wanderbird is an even larger Royal Passagemaker, launched several years later. Again the result of design work by Monk and Marshall, she is the much larger sister of Fine Romance and Shamal. The woodworking skill of the Park Isle crew is evident in the extensive mahogany cabinetry on Wanderbird.

I visited Wanderbird while she was under construction and at a boat show but never spent time aboard under way. She clearly was fitted for serious ocean cruising, with paravane stabilizers and auxiliary sails. But I thought her interior, finished according to the owner's wishes, was just too elegant.

Parkinson used traditional fiberglass layup techniques to mold Fine Romance, but he went high tech with the next Royal Passagemaker. Wanderbird was the first boat he built using vacuum infusion for molding fiberglass components.

On one visit to the Victoria-area yard to watch a demonstration of vacuum infusion, then a relatively unknown process in the Northwest, I found Parkinson confident but a little nervous about using the new technique on a grand scale. On a later visit, I saw the perfectly molded hull and deckhouse of the 65-footer. It was a gamble, but Parkinson won, and he successfully used the same process to build Shamal.

The entire hull of the 52 was infused at one time in a female mold with vinyl ester resin. (Hulls built by the traditional handlaid technique often are molded in two pieces that are bonded together.) Shamal's hull below the waterline is solid fiberglass. Above the waterline it is cored with 1-1/4-inch Corecell. The deckhouse and pilothouse were infused in one mold as well. The flybridge and boat deck were infused in one shot, including structural deck beams. Parkinson said a variety of coring and glass combinations were used to meet engineering requirements established by Marshall's staff.

Parkinson built Fine Romance in a small shop near Sooke. Later, he moved his business to a property he leased from the Canadian navy on Esquimalt Harbour at Victoria and constructed a large assembly building. Military requirements forced him to relocate, so he returned to a 29-acre property at Sooke that he is developing as a full-service repair yard and boatbuilding facility.

David and Linda, who live in Grand Ledge, Michigan, and have lots of experience boating on the Great Lakes aboard an Ocean Alexander yacht, are great boat show fans. But, after seeing a Park Isle ad in PMM, they canceled a planned trip to the Miami show and flew to Victoria to meet Parkinson.

Construction took two years, several months longer than what had been predicted when they signed the construction contract. But they got what they wanted: a traditional, truly functional yacht with fairly simple systems. "She is self-contained," David said. "We don't need docks."

David and Linda suggested design features to Marshall, who worked them into the construction plans. They chose a two-stateroom layout and specified that an office go into space normally reserved for a third sleeping area. David grins a little as he completes the story: Marshall's plans continued to show an office, with berths. Finally, David said, "I went to Greg and told him nobody sleeps in my office."

The owners flew to British Columbia every four or five weeks to check building progress and to confer with Parkinson on details. They hired a Seattle surveyor to keep an eye on construction work.

"We got a very fine boat," David said. "We are proud of her." Linda added: "I was impressed with the skill, care, and pride of the [shipyard] crew."

A LOOK AROUND

The Haywoods obviously are concerned about safety on deck. They added the boarding platform staples (stainless steel railings in an inverted "U" form) after delivery of the boat. I grabbed them for an easy step from the tender to the platform. A short ladder with handrails is attached to the lower transom and leads to the gate, which has another grab bar to the right.

The staples also offer security for David and Linda when they are working with mooring lines from the boarding platform.

The saloon door is off center to starboard and the engine room entry is to port, with a large saloon window above it. A stainless steel ladder, with good handgrips, leads to the flybridge from the cockpit. Side decks with protective railings and bulwarks lead all the way forward.

The interior follows a traditional layout for a raised pilothouse yacht. The saloon, featuring beige upholstery and mahogany cabinets and trim treated with a brown stain and a soft finish, leads to the U-shaped galley. One surprise: all wood is solid mahogany, David said. No veneers were used, even on some curving sections of the pilothouse where flexible veneer would have been the easy choice.

In the saloon, an L-shaped settee flanked by cabinets curves from the aft wall forward on the port side. The AC/DC breaker panels are on the port side between a cabinet and the galley counter. To starboard, the Haywoods placed armchairs on either side of a cabinet housing a pop-up TV. The saloon is carpeted, and the galley and pilothouse are finished with teak flooring.

The walls are covered with a smooth vinyl material called Arbeite "that cleans up easily," Linda said. The Haywoods chose white, but the maker offers about 150 colors. And the overhead is white paneling with Vgrooving, something Ed Monk might have used in his early career. Overhead structural beams are trimmed with mahogany.

Mahogany is a popular choice, but Park Isle also will finish a yacht in teak, cherry, maple, vertical grain fir, or western and yellow cedar.

There are no overhead grabrails for a safe rough-water passage through the saloon, galley, or pilothouse. The stairways, however, have solid handrails.

The galley has enough cabinets for a liveaboard family. One hangs from the overhead above the galley counter but does not seriously affect the chef 's view aft. The galley also is equipped with two sets of drawertype refrigerators/freezers. That means two fridges and two freezers, and plenty of space for perishables on a long cruise.

I counted seven overhead cabinets in the galley, plus storage beneath the sink and in other under-counter spaces. The galley has a full-size electric range (big enough to roast a turkey), a microwave, and a dishwasher. "I wanted traditional, functional things," Linda said. "I didn't want an electric wine cabinet."

Two steps lead from the galley up to the pilothouse. Another stairway on the starboard edge of the saloon takes us to the staterooms below.

David had similar goals for the pilothouse: functional simplicity. "I wanted good navigation, but not a lot of screens," he said. "I can navigate this boat with charts and a compass."

And simple is what he has. On the overhead space traditionally used as an electronics locker are two short rows of switches with labels, two panels reporting system status, and a VHF radio. At the helm is a single monitor that will display all navigational information, including electronic charts and radar images. Engine gauges are front and center, and the autopilot, engine, and thruster controls are close at hand.

Shamal has five windows across the helm. I think David may have pushed simplicity too far in having only one windshield wiper (it's on the center pane).

The pilothouse is much like the one I saw on Fine Romance. A settee bends along the aft wall and turns forward on the port side. A table is centered on the settee. There are port and starboard pilothouse doors; a section of the settee and the table must be swung aside to provide access to the port door.

The table and an area to the right of the wheel provide space for paper charts. David had charts at hand for our run to Anacortes, although he also was running navigational software on his computer.

An interior stairway to starboard connects the pilothouse and flybridge, so we headed topside. The hatch is clear, and a stainless steel grabrail on the right makes the last step effortless. A fixed helm seat provides a good around-the-horizon view; a table and settee to port offer comfort to guests.

Aft and down two steps is the boat deck, where David stores a 13-foot Avon that is launched and recovered with a Steelhead Marine hoist. The Haywoods also installed a "summer kitchen" with a gas grill and a refrigerator/ice maker.

The radar mast is a towering, beefy structure. It is hinged at the base and is raised and lowered hydraulically, a necessity for the owners, who store the boat in a covered moorage.

LOWER DECK TOUR

Eight steps from the saloon lead down to a landing. The office where no one sleeps is on the port side, a head and guest stateroom are forward, and the laundry center is to starboard, with space for storage and for folding clothes. The master stateroom and head are aft and down two steps from the landing.

Both staterooms are spacious, thanks to the Haywoods' decision to have only two sleeping areas and a small office. Guest quarters are in the bow and include a standard double bed with six storage drawers beneath and hanging locker space, all of which are cedar lined.

The office looks perfect for managing boat business and for occasional work-related use by David, a Lansing, Michigan, attorney. An office door leads to the head, which also opens into the guest stateroom through another door.

The cabinetmaking skills of Park Isle Marine are displayed vividly in the master stateroom. The port side is filled with a bank of 15 drawers, all flawlessly finished in mahogany. The wall space above is solid mahogany paneling, and the portlights are obscured with mahogany-trimmed shoji screens that provide light and privacy. All doors on hanging lockers ("closet" is a better term) also are mahogany, with nautical rounded tops.

The master cabin adjoins the forward engine room bulkhead. That wall is insulated, but to provide even better sound reduction, the Haywoods had a row of hanging lockers and cabinetry installed. Double-wall construction and rows of hanging clothing significantly cut machinery noise, David said. "It really is soundproof."

The master head is to starboard. The portlight can be opened, with a sliding shoji providing privacy. Pull on another slider, and a mirror covers the portlight. "That was Linda's idea," David said.

The area beneath any stairway is difficult to use because of its awkward shape and often simply is enclosed and forgotten. The Haywoods, however, called for a short door (about 4 feet high) in the stateroom wall to open into that space for storage of items needed only occasionally.

The Haywood-Marshall design of the lower spaces should make cruising with guests an enjoyable experience. The office separates sleeping spaces and the guest/day head from the master stateroom and upper deck activity, assuring privacy.

DOWN A LADDER

The transparent engine room entry door swung open easily on gas struts, and we headed below. I took my first trip down the ladder's six steps cautiously, but subsequent visits should be easier.

With a single engine positioned in the center of the compartment, the space is so large that two could work there without getting in each other's way. There's more than 6 feet of headroom and clear space on three sides of the engine. The front of the engine sits near the bulkhead, but there is still good clearance for servicing and reaching gear mounted in that spot.

All machinery and related gear is in the open and readily available for maintenance and repair, but there's no sense of clutter because of thoughtful design. Air conditioning equipment and a 16kW Northern Lights generator are perched on a shelf on the port side. Leadacid batteries for the 24-volt house system, pumps, and other gear are stored beneath.

Battery switches are mounted flush on the shelf above the port battery storage area. This is convenient for routine maintenance, but we at PMM believe disconnecting switches should be located outside the engine room, where they can be reached easily and safely in the event of an engine room fire.

Parkinson said Shamal was designed prior to current discussions about placement of battery disconnect switches outside engine rooms, adding, however, that he can't argue with that theory. Because American Boat & Yacht Council voluntary standards are met-fusing within 7 inches of the battery bank and a main breaker on a panel about 7 feet from the battery and breakers for each circuit-Parkinson said he believes "all bases are covered."

"The entire electrical system in the 52-footer was designed and installed by an ABYC-certified electrician," he added.

Fuel polishing and handling gear is on the forward bulkhead. A 20-gallon water heater, more batteries (with disconnect switches on a panel above), an 8gph watermaker, and a workbench space are on the starboard side.

The 330hp John Deere PowerTech 8.1 diesel is keel cooled; the keel-cooling system's seacock is in sight and is easily reached.

Mounted on a stringer forward of the engine is a stainless steel box that serves as a manifold for distribution of sea water to the watermaker and for cooling the main engine and generator exhausts and the air conditioning compressors. The obvious advantage: only one through-hull valve is needed to meet multiple needs. The disadvantage is that stainless steel that's immersed in sea water (and denied oxygen) may suffer from crevice corrosion, which can lead to leaks-not now, but perhaps in several years. The ABYC recommends that all materials used in through-hull systems resist degradation by salt water.

The manifold is manufactured of 3/8-inch 316 stainless steel and is connected to the boat's bonding system; the material was specified by the owner. Parkinson said he does not believe corrosion is a serious issue with the manifold, although he said that if it had been his boat, he would have built it of glass and vinyl ester resin.

Shamal carries about 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel in her main tanks and 150 gallons in a day tank. Fuel is filtered as it flows from the main tank to the day tank, and again as it moves to the engine.

Two hydraulic pumps are mounted on the John Deere. One powers the anchor windlass, the Wesmar stabilizers, the dinghy crane, and the mast. The second serves the boat's hydraulic steering system.

On the aft bulkhead is an automatic Fireboy fire extinguishing system. It opens when the engine room temperature reaches a dangerous level, stopping the engine and ventilation fans. Engine room cooling air is pulled in through a ventilator high above the port side deck and through a box duct running to the engine room. Deck drain lines also are run through the duct to an overboard discharge. There is no way to close the ventilation duct in the event of a fire.

Also on the aft bulkhead is an Auto Shore energy management system. Its job is simple: maintain the proper voltage for the boat system, regardless of source.

A central air conditioning unit circulates cool air through the boat. The air movement system is shared by a Webasto oil-fired furnace.

Shamal has a great engine room, and despite more than 900 hours of cruising since launch, it still looks new. Most boaters would applaud it. And it complies with the Haywoods' goals of simplicity and easy functioning. "I can keep this one running," David said. "All I have to do is get fuel and air to it."

AT SEA

With David at the helm, we motored out of Friday Harbor and set an easterly course across San Juan Channel for Upright Channel. The dinghy was under tow; once we were inside Flat Point, Linda and I would use it as a photo boat.

Shamal was running at 7.3 knots, with the John Deere turning 1500 rpm. "This is my fuel-saving mode," David said, reporting that the engine burned a bit less than 3gph at that speed.

Normal cruising speed is 8.5 knots, with a fuel burn of 4.5gph. Slowing to 7 knots cuts fuel consumption to 2.5gph, he said.

Park Isle Marine's engine room insulation also proved effective. At 7.3 knots, in the pilothouse I measured 62/63 decibels on the A scale of my sound level meter. That makes cruising comfortable.

David and Linda live far from Northwest waters, but they manage frequent trips west for serious cruising. My tour of the boat came as they ended a three-week voyage in Puget Sound and adjoining waters. They were planning to return for a summer cruise to the Broughton Archipelago in north-central British Columbia.

A long trip to Southeast Alaska in 2006 is remembered as "a trip of a lifetime." In Petersburg, a major commercial fishing center, fishermen instantly identified Shamal's Seamaster hull because of its wide use in Alaska waters.

As the world continued to be rocked by soaring fuel prices, it occurred to me that Shamal is a big boat designed to travel at modest speeds with good fuel efficiency. The Haywoods don't have to worry about throttling back a pair of monster engines in a yacht intended to cruise in the teens or faster while burning scores of gallons of fuel every hour.

Shamal may not be able to outrun a storm, but with her displacement (about 60 tons), beam (16 feet 4 inches), draft (6 feet 4 inches), and stabilizers, she'll be able to ride it out safely. For the Haywoods, the trip is a big reward, and 3gph makes that reward even sweeter.

We turned toward shore in Upright Channel to clear the little traffic that was out that day, and Linda and I boarded the Avon. Sitting in that dinghy at water level and watching Shamal turn and run with a nice bow wave was exhilarating. We also learned that big boats leave big wakes, and we had to hang on tight when David, at my request, buzzed closed to us.

Photo work done, David and Linda hoisted the dinghy aboard, and we turned toward Anacortes. The favored route out of the San Juan Islands is via Thatcher Pass, but because it is used by ferries and many recreational boaters, I usually turn north, exiting the islands via Peavine Pass.

With a favorable, fuel-saving current, our speed in the pass reached 10.9 knots. The current opposed us in Rosario Strait, however, and whatever advantage we had gained quickly disappeared.

It was a calm day and Shamal motored along quietly and easily. I never wish for sloppy seas, but it would have been rewarding to see that classic respond to currentagainst- the-wind conditions in the strait.

David said the boat developed a vibration after delivery. The problem was traced to the large rudder and was solved by installing a bearing at the top of the rudder shaft. "She runs nice now," he said.

To make handling easier and safer, the Haywoods added the boarding platform staples and put sail tracks along the bow to allow quick placement of fenders. David is thinking about installing a hydraulic get-home drive, just in case.

Their original plan was to cruise the Northwest awhile and then take the yacht home to the Great Lakes. That seems to be in question now. "The more time I spend here, the more I like it," David said. "I like cruising here."

After three years of ownership and more than 900 hours of cruising time, David and Linda know their boat well. I asked David what would be different if he were building a new boat today.

He grinned a little. "A brighter anchor light...maybe."

Postscript: Roy Parkinson's company now is working on a pair of new boats, neither based on the Seamaster hull, while developing its new repair and construction site. Another 52 is being considered by a customer, with launch expected in 2010.

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