Trawler conversion project for sale

Well, all good things come to an end and it now applies to my involvement in this great project.  The current owners have decided to put the ship up for sale as the market conditions didn’t allow them to raise the capital they needed.

A lot of work has been done to make the ship ready for conversion.  It includes removing all insulation in the fishing hold, removing fishing gear, winches and masting, removing the rubbing strakes, eliminating all direct current equipment that was  needed to power the winches,  removing 2 generators to make space for smaller ones (one 5-year Deutz 1005c aux. engine left) and lots of  smaller jobs.

By removing all the insulation it’s obvious the the steelwork on this 132 ft (40 m.) vessel is in excellent condition although obviously it needs a paint job on the outside.  Only the forepeak was used with salt water and ultra sound measurements have shown that the hull there is also well within Lloyds Register limits.

Se vende ex-pesquero holandés.  40 metros de largo, 9 de manga.  Año 1989. Excelente para conversión en barco explorador, carga/transporte, uso scientífico, taller o depósito flotante.  Capacidad de combustible: 120 toneladas; agua: 35 toneladas.  Mucho espacio en cuarto de maquinas para equipo adicional. Acero en excelente estado.  Para mayor información favor usar formulario de contacto.

So the ship is ready to be put to adapted and be put to good use in another capacity.

The vessel has recently passed the Panama Canal and made a round trip to El Salvador.



09 2014

Bridge layout & equipment

We’d like to create a bridge with a smart layout that’s easy to move around and has all the necessary equipment without overdoing it.  Not a bridge designed for the magazines but a bridge that’s great to work on at night passing through the English Channel.

Right below you can see our first effort at creating this “perfect” bridge.  We got good feedback from readers and now moved to a 2nd draft with a few big changes.  For the better we hope and we invite you again to comment.

previous bridge lay-outFor starters, we added the side doors.  This was something I felt was missing for quite some time but I didn’t quite know how to fix it until I got inspired by a bridge lay-out of Lars Modin Design.  Especially when mooring these doors will improve the traffic flow.  We also moved the chart area to the rear of the bridge, combining with with a bigger ‘office’ space that doesn’t interfere with the flow of people and can be used at night as well without blinding anybody using a curtain.  And we added a little “coffee station” which will also have a small fridge.  The toilet is 10 steps away behind the bridge.

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07 2010

Back in Panama

After completing the first stage or our trawler-to-yacht conversion at the Navtech “shipyard”  in Cartagena  - a traumatic experience I can assure you -we’re now back in Panama.  It took us a few days to get the ship ready for departure and we enjoyed great weather along the way. Besides a little main engine fuel problem along the way the  trip was uneventful.

 As you can see, we are now anchored safely in the beautiful Bay of Portobelo.

The ship has been stripped from all fishing-related gear, it’s rubbing strikes, wood on deck  and all the DC equipment which is not needed any more (no more DC-motor powered fishing winches).  

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05 2010

Update yacht conversion Panama

Dear readers,

It’s been some time since my last post.  Been busy with other things like the Balboa Inn ( among others but things are moving. 

The big news is that we are going to move the vessel from Cartagena Colombia to Panama and do the conversion under own management.  The Navtech shipyard in Colombia is being sold and we’re not quiet sure what the new management will bring.  One of the reasons we decided to go to Navtech was their Dutch owners who have been very cooperative with our project.  With them out of the picture, we feel Panama is a better option.  We have learned the logistics of living in Panama and doing the conversion in Cartagena brings its own set of challenges.  

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04 2010

Yacht safety consulting – MCA/SOLAS matters

Occasionally when doing my research and preparation for this project I run into a company or person that really stands out when it comes to helpfulness, speed of reply, in-depth knowledge and last but not least,  an informative website.   Recent examples of such an experience were the people at Palux in Germany (galley equipment), Triton water (sewage treatment plants) and Lift Emotion (elevators and dumb waiters for maritime use). 

My latest  such experience is with Manta Maritime,  a British company headed by Anthony Gradwell.  Anthony is a naval architect, professional engineer, former Lloyds Register surveyor and worked 5 years with he Cayman Islands Shipping registry (the largest registry for commercial yachts)  most of it as lead surveyor. 

Mantamarine offers yacht safety consulting and guidance on regulatory issuesSince 2006 he runs his own company - Mantra Maritime - dedicated to providing “effective yacht safety solutions through innovative and practical guidance”.

When looking for some info on SOLAS and MCA issues I ran into Anthony’s site and spend over an hour reading the information he had available for download on his website.  While I consider myself pretty well informed about the issue his site really brings it all together.   Handy compliance charts and guides clarify many of the issues that have a lot of people confused.

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10 2009

Yacht with jet fuel in bladder tank

Being an expedition yacht able to carry a helicopter you tend to end up in places where jet fuel for your helicopter is not readily available.  So we decided early on we wanted to be able to carry some extra jet fuel to be able to refuel the helicopter.  In an earlier post about this subject, we wrote we had planned to adapt two former diesel fuel tanks for this purpose. Class rules require a cofferdam to surround the jet fuel tank as well as a double hull if the tank is on the outside like in our case.

Our initial idea was to basically add plating to the inside of the tank  walls and hull to create the cofferdam space (about 20 cm wide)  and make this hull inspectionable with an inspection camera like this one from Ridgid .  Making the cofferdam wider to allow access would mean ending up with almost no fuel storage space and rules require you can inspect a cofferdam but don’t specifically say how big it has to be.  But how to keep corrosion at bay and what about not being able to weld this plating on both sides? 

extremely strong fuel bladder tanks from TurtlepacSo we started looking at other solutions like a tank we could remove.  To store about 3 to 4 m3 of jet fuel (780-1038 gl.), one big tank would not be practical (how to get it in there?)  Several smaller tanks?  To start with, that would clearly violate the KIS principle.  But then we learned about bladder tanks and we came accross the website of Australia’s Turtlepac and thought, if they can do that kind of stuff with a bladder tank – like throwing filled tanks out of helicopters - it will work for us!  The obvious advantage of a bladder tank in our application is that when empty, you can easily remove it through the manhole and inspect the outer tank!

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10 2009

Planned maintenance for yachts

Scheduled maintenance of the machinery and equipment on yachts is not a topic you read very much about.  Ads for crew uniforms outrank those for  yacht maintenance services of software  a factor 100 to 1 it seems.  Given the expenses you will run into if there’s no regular servicing of your equipment on a yacht, this is surprising or maybe  telling about the way maintenance on yacht is planned - or not.

Being a former marine engineer I have no probleem seeing the advantages of scheduled maintenance and you can look at my earlier post on this topic where I discuss several software packages that make managing this process a lot easier.

One of these packages, Idea Yacht from Sprectra – my favorite - just got an new ‘light’ version.  For only Euro 490 (almost USD 750) you now get the basic but essential modules to run a solid planned maintenance software package. See the image below with the main menus of each package, illustrating the differences.

Idea Yacht vessel management software - 'light'

Still, this is a package that needs a lot of planning and a solid engineering background, not something common on many smaller yachts (60-100 ft. range) where often it’s just the skipper doing all the engineering besides running the boat.  For those captains and/or yacht owners that need practical, hands-on advice or a little more hand-holding to get properly schedule maintenance going, I found a very good alternative in Superyacht Support Inc., a Ft. Lauderdale-based company.   

logo Superyacht Support planned maintenanceFounded by John Vergo, a former Royal Navy engineer, an experienced megayacht captain and engineer and a former fleet manager for Camper & Nicholsons, he knows a thing or two about scheduled yacht maintenance.  This firm specializes in helping yacht owners setting up custom planned maintenance schedules, safety training manuals and mini ISM systems.

Check out his website or drop him a line. You’ll find him very helpful, friendly and his in-depth experience can potentially safe you a lot of money, headaches and avoid lost charters.


10 2009

Making Nitrox on a yacht

Since the last Ft. Lauderdale Boat show I’ve “dived” into the question of how to make Nitrox on board.  I visited the stand of Brownie’s at the show where they had the Triton sub on display and we got talking about their Nitrox solution. Logo's of nitrox maker equipment  Getting home I started doing a little more research.

There are basically two ways to make Nitrox: partial pressure blending and using a membrane.  For practical and safety reasons we stick to membrane systems.  And for reliability and maintenance reasons I stick to German-made compressor equipment.

To make Nitrox (officially ‘enhanced air nitrox’, you first use a low presssure compressor to pump air through a membrane which takes out part of the nitrogen and produces an ‘enhanced’ airmix that contains typically 32% or 36% oxigen.

It is then brought up to 4.500 psi (31o bar) with high pressure compresssors and put into the Nitrox storage tanks.  See the schematic drawing below. 

The problem with making Nitrox is that by compressing air with a low pressure compressor to push it through the membrane it gets a lot warmer.  In fact, some membrane filters need you to even heat the air before it enters the membrane.  This mean you can end up with Nitrox that’s warmer than the manufacturer of the high pressure (HP) compressor recommend it to be.  And hot Nitrox also shortens the service life of your filters pretty dramatically.  So how do you keep that Nitrox cool so it won’t ruin your compressor or loosing your warranty on your HP compressor?Nitrox equipment diagram courtesy Brownie's 

Another issue is getting the oil out of the air before it gets into the membrane.  Oil and nitrox membranes are not good friends: the first one shortens the life of the last one considerably.  I’ll be trying to find out how to take the most oil from the air before it reaches the membrane and how many hours I can expect from the membrane with a certain minimum oil content in the air.

Different companies, different solutions.  I’ll ‘dive’ more into that in my next post when I have received feedback from all the different providers.   I’m looking both into after market “yacht” products and adaptations as well as off-the-shelve industrial /commercial solutions.   And I checked into water cooled compressors – both after market like those of ‘Nitrox’ Bob Olson and industrial breathing air compressors.  It’s going to be an interesting comparison.


10 2009