An 85-footer designed to take the displacement hull deep into uncharted territory.
Earlier this year (2003) I made the chance acquaintance of Hans Staals and his latest project, a Cape Scott 85 called Amnesia IV, all tented over with construction plastic in a marina in Vancouver, British Columbia. Staals is a big, affable Dutchman with a background in building and maintaining commercial fishing boats. The 85 was “almost ready to go,” he told me as we proceeded along a side deck littered with tools and the inevitable detritus that gathers at the feet of boatbuilders.
A mechanic surfaced from the engine room at one point, proffering chunks of a ZF controllable-pitch-prop mechanism. “Broke,” he said, shaking his head. “Oh, don’t worry,” Staals replied, “I’ll just weld it,” pointing with a pen he’d extracted from his blue coveralls.
Assurance suffused the remark. I remember thinking that neither broken parts, gathering detritus, nor any other force of man or nature would likely stand between Staals and the completion of this ABS-classed passagemaker.. I also remember thinking that the 85 appeared to be a veritable hotbed of savvy engineering and well worth a boat test.
So a few months later, with Amnesia IV newly ensconced in her element, I returned to Vancouver for another look. Staals and I immediately repaired to the wheelhouse, where Pat Bray, the 85’s designer, was waiting with several members of his staff and owner Erwin Krieg.
An atmosphere of quiet expectancy prevailed. The fact that the only main, a naturally aspirated, 1,300-hp MAN diesel one deck down, was already idling at 575 rpm was virtually indiscernible—the PMY sound meter registered just 56 dB-A at the helm station (65 is the level of normal conversation). Staals explained that the main deck underfoot was a seven-inch-thick sandwich of Divinycell-cored fiberglass, rock-wool insulation, marine-grade plywood, and various layers of Soundown acoustical material.
I noted none of the tenderness that sometimes characterizes displacement hulls at rest, even as large motoryachts passed by, piling substantial wakes into our slip. According to Staals, this was due to the damping effects of the 85’s two-part stabilizers, each with a fixed, bilge-keel-like “rolling chock” or fin and an articulating surface abaft it.
We hit the trail. Our test boat was outfitted with two Kobelt electronic engine controls, one for propeller pitch and the other for throttle. Getting out of the slip entailed simply separating the boat from a finger pier with two 50-hp hydraulic thrusters, bow and stern, and then, with the throttle holding at 575 rpm, advancing the pitch control to 50 percent. In seconds we were merging with the traffic on False Creek, doing five knots and bound for nearby English Bay.
Open-water performance was wild. First of all, at least in part because of the lobsterboat-like flatness Bray had blended into the after sections, our test boat exceeded theoretical hull speed, an unlikely phenomenon. Instead of topping out at 11.7 knots, we topped out at 14.8 knots. Second, the boat accomplished this feat smoothly. Her wake was efficiently modest, thanks to both the lobsterboat flatness already mentioned and the teeter-totterish effect of oncoming water swooping over the upper surfaces of the bulbous bow—the weight of such water tends to nix stern squat, generate small running angles, and reduce wake, according to Bray. And third, the 85’s bow wave was small, thanks again to low running angles and the wave-cancelling effects Bray says bulbous bows have on bow waves.
I loved driving the 85. Her Jastram hydraulic steering system had both a manual mode for wheel steering only (14 turns lock-to-lock) and a power-assist mode, which cut lock-to-lock turns to four and added both a jog lever and push-button autopilot interface. The jog-lever setup was my preference—it was responsive and fast. The manual mode served as backup in case of a power-steering failure.
When I toured the engine room, the most striking feature was engine placement—the main was installed low enough to reduce shaft angle to zero, thereby boosting the efficiency of the prop, which turns in a semitunnel. This last detail’s important. Most single-screw boats back either to port or starboard due to paddlewheel effect—but not the 85. Barring wind and current, her tunnel nozzles water straight aft instead of allowing it to paddlewheel to the side.
Also striking was how the gensets were mounted: one on a double-insulated raft to port and one unconventionally atop the V-12 main, within a steel frame bolted to the engine bearers. In terms of freeing up extra space, as well as taking maintenance accessibility to new heights, the big Dutchman’s genuinely onto something here.
Near bursting with the pride of ownership, Krieg showed me around the 85’s Honduran mahogany interior. The saloon, just a few steps abaft the wheelhouse, offers the same sort of warm, clubby atmosphere as the wheelhouse. It even boasts an electric fireplace. The dining area, opposite the fully equipped, U-shape, port-side galley, seats eight. Below decks there’s an amidships master that at 20'x23' is huge. A couple of large VIPs lay forward, as well as an office and a laundry room, and there’s a comfy crew quarters all the way aft.
The level of finish I observed throughout the interior was high, the work of a talented British Columbian subcontractor. But as I shifted to the exterior, detailing began to look more workmanlike, with little snafus here and there, like the occasional untidy application of adhesive between deck planks or a bit of raggedness between brightwork and paint.
None of this detracted from the essence of the Cape Scott 85, however. Hints of her builder’s commercial-fishing boat heritage on the outside were merely indicative of innovative, ABS-classed engineering within.
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Waterline length: 76'3", Weight (dry): 210,000 lbs., Steering: Jastram hydraulic/power-assisted, Controls: Kobelt electronic
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 1/1,300-hp MAN D2842LE404 diesel inboards
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF BU 165/3.5:1
- Props: 45" ZF three-blade controllable pitch
- Price as Tested: $4.9 million
This article originally appeared in the November 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.