Cape Horn 65 Page 2

PMY Boat Test: Cape Horn 65 continued
Cape Horn 65 — By George L. Petrie — December 2000

Horn of Plenty
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I discussed these observations with Cape Horn president Peter Sever, and I was impressed to find him receptive to my criticisms. He candidly acknowledged that he learned some lessons with the first few hulls and has incorporated several design changes into the "second-generation" yachts now in production. (The test results included in this story were for one of those boats.)

Sever noted that the first yachts were built with very little bow flare because it is expensive to form steel into the compound curves required in a flared bow (unlike fiberglass, built in a mold, or aluminum, which is more easily pulled into complex shapes). The second-generation hulls have 18 inches more bow flare, along with bulwarks that are 18 inches higher. Together these two changes should make the foredeck drier, while reducing pitch in head seas. Cape Horn is also considering spray rails forward that could be retrofitted to existing yachts.

What will not change is Cape Horn's commitment to safety and reliability. Start with its decision to use steel. It is stronger, more damage-tolerant, and easier to repair than aluminum or fiberglass. Its main drawback is weight, but in a displacement hull weight becomes an asset, lowering the center of gravity and improving stability. But Cape Horn goes far beyond that, adding some 20,000 pounds of lead ballast to make the yacht self-righting. If she should capsize or breach, she's designed to pop back upright and intact in fewer than five seconds. All exterior doors and windows can withstand hydrostatic pressure.

Steel's other big advantage is fire-resistance. Fiberglass burns at 500°F or less, and aluminum ignites at 1,150°F. By comparison, steel won't burn unless it reaches 2,800°F, highly unlikely even in a major blaze. A severe fire might disable this yacht, but she should stay afloat.

The Cape Horn 65 is also designed to survive more mundane problems like contaminated fuel or pump failures. Recognizing that dirty fuel is the major cause of diesel engine problems, every Cape Horn is fitted with a four-stage fuel-filtration system or "polisher" that removes impurities down to one micron. Fuel passes through this bank of filters when it is taken aboard and every time it is pumped between the yacht's tanks. And if a fuel, water, or sewage pump fails, spare pumps for all critical systems are plumbed into the piping system; just open and close a couple of valves, and a new pump is on line. All pumps, valves, and filters are clearly labeled and easily accessible.

The engine room is well aft, to free up the roomier midbody of the hull for accommodation spaces. Because Integrity has the optional Thrustmaster hydraulic Z-drive, she has no propeller shaft. Driving only a pair of hydraulic pumps, her single 400-hp Volvo Penta diesel is mounted on the port side, at an angle that parallels the side shell plating. One pump powers the Thrustmaster Z-drive, and another powers the bow thruster. The Z-drive itself might be described as an industrial-strength stern drive with an automatic transmission. The propeller is mounted on an assembly that extends straight down below the hull, behind the keel. The assembly can rotate through 360 degrees, allowing full thrust in any direction. The Volvo Penta diesel always runs at the same rpm, at the peak of its torque curve with propeller rpm controlled by varying the hydraulic pressure delivered to the Thrustmaster. With a bow thruster and the fully azimuthing Thrustmaster unit, Integrity can be driven in any direction, at any angle, although coordinating three joysticks (propeller rpm, azimuth, and bow thruster control) and a rudder takes some practice.

The pilothouse is spacious, with good sight lines forward and to the side, but visibility aft is limited. Plentiful handholds, including one overhead in the saloon, allow secure movement throughout. Joinery is flawlessly finished, accented with meticulous inlays that are a signature design element of master cabinetmaker Peter Howard. Headroom is at least 6'4" below decks, and more in the saloon and pilothouse. Especially striking was the roominess of the owner's and guest heads, each with a shower stall big enough for a full-size adult to stand in. The Cape Horn team will work with each owner to develop a scheme for the interior decor.

Despite their flaws, the first-generation 65s were vessels with uncompromising safety and security features and custom-yacht quality interior appointments. Now with the second-generation models, the Cape Horn 65 fulfills its promise to take you anywhere in the world you want to go in safety and comfort.

The Cape Horn Phone: (905) 274-9999. Fax: (905) 274-9998.

George L. Petrie is a professor of naval architecture at the University of New Orleans and provides maritime consulting services. His Web site is

Next page > Cape Horn 65 Specs > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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