52 LE — By Capt. Bill Pike — November 2002
|A motoryacht that goes where no yacht’s gone before?|
Bluewater Yacht’s company captain Dick Jaeckel and I were finishing up speed trials on the Bluewater 52 LE (Liberty Edition) when Jaeckel made an oddball suggestion. "Hey Bill," he said, nodding toward a palm-shaded island on the edge of the ICW in Miami, not far from where we were idling along, just south of the bridge over the Julia Tuttle Causeway. "Let’s try a couple of runs in some really shallow water. See if we can get more speed."
I looked at the island. To my knowledge it had no name and just about no water around it, even at high tide, which was obviously not the case at the moment, considering the near-shore shallows were so thin I could see big patches of sandy bottom and weeds poking through. My curiosity was piqued, however. Jaeckel eased out of the ICW channel and steadied up the bow on a course that would whip us straight over one of the worst-looking shoal spots on the island’s shoreline. I aimed my Stalker radar gun at a high-rise in the distance and strove to achieve a detached, scientific state of mind.
Jaeckel cackled. Then he started to seriously lean on the Mathers electronic engine controls, whooshing our matched set of 355-hp Cummins 370B diesels up to top hop with unmistakable relish. The average WOT speed I’d recorded earlier in the ICW, in about 12 feet of water according to our Raymarine ST60 Tridata, had been a respectable 26.5 mph. Would the 52’s flat bottom (transom deadrise is just 7 degrees) actually compress the water and give us more speed as Jaeckel was predicting?
My radar gun gave me the answer almost immediately: The readout peaked at 28.7 mph, more than 2 mph faster than the one I’d recorded earlier, and running a reciprocal course against the tide and wind for the purpose of calculating an average, going back over exactly the same sandy route we’d just transited, produced
precisely the same number. Obviously blasting a stretch of water little more than three feet deep in a motoryacht weighing 16 tons had seriously enhanced performance and parenthetically nixed the effects of wind and current. Would I recommend this sort of thing to others? Lemme use precise language here: Hell, no!
Jaeckel was ecstatic. Not only had his suggestion paid off, but he'd demonstrated with mind-blowing clarity an important but easily underestimated virtue of the 52--or any other Bluewater, for that matter. What the builder calls Guardian Power strategically combines a draft measurement of just 23 inches, props fully protected in recesses or conical hull tunnels, a virtually flat bottom with wide, reversed chines aft, and a keel reinforced with layers of bulletproof Kevlar and filled with structural fiberglass. What results is a hull form with lift galore and shallow-water capabilities dramatically surpassing those of most any other motoryacht I can think of. The 52’s even beachable, believe it or not. Jaeckel just drove `er up on the sand, after he helped me fold the optional bow ladder down, and the two of us stepped ashore to explore the island. And I didn’t even get my deck shoes wet.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.