LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
CRUISING AND EFFICIENCY
I subscribed to PMM for many
years and am a great fan of the
magazine. In my view, it’s the
best boating mag around, and
Steve D’Antonio is a real gem
in your crown.
I’m a boater and sailor who after
nearly a lifetime of pulling strings
and cranking winches turned my
interest to power. Lately I’ve been
spending more time in Tucson,
Arizona, where I’m from and where
waterborne pursuits are somewhat
less practical than they are in my
main dwelling place of Annapolis.
The desert has lured me back to
other fascinations besides boating. I
should add that when I was growing
up, we did spend every summer
either on the coast of Mexico or on
Cape Cod, and boating was always
a part of our lives, even in the desert.
I recently picked up an issue of
PMM to read on an airplane and
discovered that Bill Parlatore had
stepped down as editor-in-chief. I was
amazed. He did a wonderful job all
the way along, and as a now-retired
editor of Smithsonian, I know what
goes into that kind of success.
I hope that you will take up the
fuel-consumption issue that has arisen
with the price of fuel and use your
great influence to try to get your
readers and advertisers to work hard
to reduce fuel consumption in all of
the vessels they use and sell. I think of
the beautifully sleek old Elcos and
other boats of the early days, when
not so much power per pound of
engine was available, and I see in my
mind’s eye boats of 50 feet that ran at
hull speed with almost no wake,
on maybe 100hp. The horsepower
built into boats today may meet the
owners’ requirements of great beam,
lots of interior space, and high
speed, but those requirements are
antithetical to efficiency.
I love those very efficient old boats.
A boat of 35 feet probably didn’t have
full headroom below, it didn’t have a
flybridge, and it didn’t have an 11-
foot beam. But with a modern diesel
engine, it could have operated on a
very little bit of fuel per hour, and as
time goes by, that’s going to become
a very major issue.
Because, I suppose, in the days of
cheap oil not many customers asked
for them, the very efficient boat of
reasonable size (say 30 to 60 feet) has
not, to my knowledge, been explored
much by modern designers. I think
Steve Dashew and his Windhorse,
featured in PMM, are among the
On the other hand, it’s important
to realize what the owner of an
efficient boat has to give up, because
you can’t have it all in a boat of
reasonable length. You can’t have
speed and room, for instance, until
you get into a larger boat, and even
then, the displacement hull is still
best. You can’t have lots of topside,
with its wind resistance and top-heaviness, either. Lightness is a good
thing. Multihulls also come into this
discussion. You really have to think
in terms of the sailboat optimized
for engine power.
Thanks for your thoughts, Alex.
We’ll no doubt see more fuel-efficient
power cruisers hit the market in the
days to come, and we’ll continue to
cover this important topic.
I hope you enjoyed our feature on
motorsailers in the December issue.
While we wait for more efficient
designs to become available, there
are plenty of ways we can get more
mileage from each precious gallon of
fuel in the boats we’re cruising on
right now. An insightful article by
Steve D’Antonio will address this
subject in the next issue.—John W.
LOA: CHANGING THE RULES
I am a PMM subscriber, and I
enjoyed your article on the new GB
41 in the October 2008 issue. In the
third paragraph, in reference to the
Grand Banks 44 Heritage EU, you
mention a change in the naming
and measurement conventions used
in the marine industry.
That’s big news to me, as we are
fairly new to trawlering. Would you
please explain this in more detail?
Perhaps our 1989 Marine Trader
38DC is actually longer or shorter
than we think.
Thank you very much for clarifying
this for me.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Grand Banks Yachts and many
other boatbuilders have revised vessel
lengths in response to standards
for measurement that have been
recommended by the American Boat
& Yacht Council.
The ABYC now recommends that
overall length measurements include
all “integrally formed, molded, or
welded components…such as bow
pulpits, swim platforms, and
attachment structures for the
propulsion systems.” The 44 Grand
Banks in question has a swim
platform that is part of the molded
hull and which therefore is to be
included in the overall length. Thus,
the boat “grew” from 44 to 47 feet.
Other builders have done the
same in response to the ABYC
recommendations: for example,
Nordic Tugs’ 52-footer became a 54,
and its 47 became a 49. The new 49
has a molded anchor pulpit that is
counted in the overall length, while
earlier Nordics had pulpits that were
bolted on and didn’t count toward
Obviously, this issue can be
confusing. Advertised lengths may
be chosen for their market appeal;