Part 3: “He’s like the Wizard of Oz at his control panel.”
By Diane M. Byrne — September 2002
Being a toddler with a healthy sense of curiosity, Harrison loves switches and knobs--and the A.C. panel, forward to starboard in the saloon, is coincidentally at his eye level, making for another huge temptation. “He’s like the Wizard of Oz at his control panel,” says Koeppel, “it’s worse than Andrew [Giuliani] at the controls.” Davison’s to the rescue: Not only are there sliding covers over the switches, but now every system that operates off the panel also requires two switches to be thrown before it will work. The idea is to present too many things for Harrison to do, slowing him down enough to prevent trouble if he escapes his parents' watchful eyes. There's also a cover for the halon system.
Two modifications in the cockpit were also designed to slow him down. When Hatteras launched this boat in 1971, it naturally designed the transom door to open easily, a potential hazard for Harrison. Davison’s rerigged it with additional latches that look like they were there from the beginning. The yard also created a dedicated stowage space for the swim ladder, which is hung over the side of the cockpit when Sahara is anchored. Even though Harrison always has his PFD on when he’s aboard, Koeppel and his wife don’t want to risk that he’ll decide to climb overboard on his own.
Some of the other babyproofing measures involved swapping one type of system for another, like replacing the shower heads with nonscalding units from a company called FM Mattson. According to Koeppel, these maintain the temperature even if the toilet is flushed. Another system switch--and one that actually preceeded Harrison's arrival--involved changing the original Detroit Diesels that were present during the Andrew Giuliani incident to DDECs. The DDEC system has electronic lockout buttons, so when Koeppel engages the lockout while driving at one station, nothing will happen if Harrison is somehow able to grab ahold of the controls at the other station.
What would Koeppel say to Giuliani, now a teenager, if he boarded Sahara today? He’d probably point out the DDEC controls and thank him. And maybe one day, so will Harrison.
This article originally appeared in the November 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.