Tuesday, 23 March 2010

To hybrid or not to hybrid?

Not long ago we all sat down around Jeremy and Fiona's kitchen table and did a good job of convincing ourselves that we didn't want a hybrid engine. There would be constant drag with the prop spinning we thought, and anyway, the brief was to keep things simple. Then Graeme Hawksley from Hybrid Marine came into the yard and quietly but very convincingly explained why we definitely do want a hybrid engine. He allayed our fears about a constantly spinning prop (we can feather it when it's not needed which won't affect performance when racing) and we can integrate it with the solar and wind systems, helping to keep things simple. The truth is, electric is way things are going in the car industry and it's going to be true of boating too, so we might as well lead the way!

Sunday, 21 March 2010


Breaking Calypso out of the mould was a bit like a fairly long and painful birthing process. The mould groaned and creaked as it was prized from the hull. We looked on anxiously. Would it all go ok? Would she emerge unscathed? Would she be perfect? Finally, after a morning of coaxing, the mould came away and there she was, the ugly duckling transformed into a beautiful swan.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Sealing the keel

When Jeremy first started building boats the keel was made by carrying molten lead in ladles up into the boat and pouring it into the keel cavity, a highly skilled and quite dangerous job. Nowadays the keel is cast at the Henry Irons factory down in Cornwall and sent up ready made. I find it hugely reassuring to see two tonnes of lead being lowered into Calypso, knowing that this (together with a great design) will keep us upright! During the disastrous Fastnet race of 1979 when so many boats and lives were lost the Contessa 32 stood out as an exceptionally seaworthy boat - since then she has been used as the benchmark for stability. There is, of course, a compromise when it comes to space down below, but for me there's no question which is more important.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Greening the Blue

The image of yachting has changed a lot over the years and it seems the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) has been keeping up with the times. Last week we had a visit from the RYA's very own green team The Green Blue who had got wind of the embryonic Calypso and wanted to know more. The Green Blue team donned the hard hats and looked around the yard while Jeremy quietly and very persuasively outlined the green advantages of building the Contessa 32 out of fibreglass. (Jeremy argues that because the Contessa 32 is built to last - potentially forever if maintained properly - it's actually quite a green option). OK it can't be recycled but no one seems to be trying to recycle their Contessa 32s, unlike many of the cheaper GRP boats out there. By the end of the visit there were plans afoot to take Calypso to the Southampton Boat Show to use her as a showcase for green technology and products. This would have a rather dramatic effect on the build timetable, but could provide a great opportunity to make Calypso something very special. Watch this space!