It’s one thing to build a new boat, quite another to design a genuinely new feature that solves a problem on board. Graham Snook picks his favourite new ideas from Southampton Boat Show
Winches in reach
The concept of putting primary winches next to the companionway is by no means a new idea, but it’s nice to see it on a modern boat like this RM 1260. The cockpit is safe, so why do many designs entail stepping out of it to gain the purchase necessary to grind the winch? Solo sailors might want winches further aft, but for everyone else, winching from the safety of the companionway has obvious benefits. The winches are higher, so the mechanics of winching are easier, and it’s safer for your crew.
Banish the bulkheads for open plan living
Bulkheads supporting the hull can get in the way and compartmentalise the interior. Can’t we get rid of them? Beneteau has! We first saw this on the Oceanis 38, but Beneteau have made the bulkheads in the new Oceanis 35 removable as well. If there are just two of you, why not make it possible to see all the space you’ve paid for? When you have guests, you can add them back in for some privacy.
Optical illusion for a well-lit cabin
Mirrors are nothing new. Position them by a portlight, however, and when looking at them from fore or aft they extend the visual length of the portlight – and the view obtained from it. The Hanse 455 has many opening and fixed windows to brighten the interior, and these mirrors are the icing on the cake. It’s a simple solution that avoids cutting big holes out of the hull. It’s also cheap and effective.
Night light mode
If you’re lucky enough to have red night-lights on board, it’s only a matter of time until your crew go below and switch on the bright white lights while you’re on the helm, blinding you in the process. GT Yachts has eliminated that possibility on their 35 by having a special switch at the chart table that only allows night lights to be switched on. The boat is effectively in night mode and only flicking the switch again will return it to normal mode.
Fresh food to hand
Nobody likes finding a liquid lettuce or a rogue potato that has taken on a life of its own in the bottom of a locker. On Rustler’s new 37, the racked pantry in the work surface of the galley is a neat storage idea that may avoid this. The cube-shaped racks stack on top of each other and allow air to circulate between the foodstuffs stored within. Because it’s part of the galley it means the cook doesn’t have to uproot guests to access ingredients.
Miraculous retractable galley
How do you fit a galley with a stove, a refrigerated coolbox, twin sinks and pot stowage on a 25-footer that already has a full-sized chart table, separate heads and a charcoal stove? Make it all retractable. Swallow Boats has come up with an ingenious solution on the new Bay Cruiser 25. Press a button and pull the galley unit out from under the starboard side of the cockpit. The refrigerated coolbox stows on runners under the cockpit sole and a vegetable rack pops up from behind it.
When the sun shines, it’s nice to take time to enjoy it, but lying on a narrow cockpit seat is no fun while motor boats try to rock you off with their wake. It’s also not very social when your partner is 6ft away on the other side of the cockpit. Azuree’s solution is simple – lift up the cockpit seat, unfold an extension, pull out a support, then add cushions. It might get more use in parts of the world warmer than, say, Scotland, but it’s social relaxation at its best.
Table locker to keep the cockpit clear
Arcona has a variety of innovative solutions to avoid fitting a fixed cockpit table. On the new 380 it’s a simple but practical idea. The table stows under a hatch in the cockpit sole and the leg poles fit into a recess in the lid. Open the hatch, remove the table and legs, close the hatch, insert the legs and lower the table on to them. When not in use you wouldn’t know it was there.
Return of the pilothouse
Fancy a place to take five and shelter from the elements? There is nothing new about the pilothouse, but it’s becoming such a rarity nowadays that when it comes along one wonders why it ever disappeared. Being able to stand watch under cover, with the chart and instruments in front of you, makes great sense, as on the Bestewind 50. Add the connection to the helm, both visual and in proximity, and it’s a wonder that the aesthetics of a flush deck outgrew the practicality of a pilothouse.
Expanding saloon table
The Sirius 40DS could fill these pages with innovative features, or ‘Wows’ as one viewer at the show called them. I felt the saloon table best personifies this yacht. It can be operated single-handed by pulling a short lever beneath the table top. Pulling the leaf forward allows the opposing leaf to slide aft, revealing a central panel that rises up. Finally, push the leaf back. The mechanism is so smooth that wine and dinner can be left on it during transition.
Sit back and relax with a flip-up backrest
A problem with centre-cockpit boats is the low cockpit coaming. Out of the reach of waves above the deck, there is no need for a high, protective coaming, until you want to sit back and relax. C-Yachts got around this solution a few years ago by making a flip-up backrest. With rope clutches forward, it folds flat out of harm’s way when it’s not in use. A simple stainless steel support clips into a notched plastic block, supporting the rest and your back.
Secure racked storage
On the Exploration 45 I tested recently, the starboard aft area was a cabin with two single berths. However, the showboat had a technical area with a workbench. Beneath this bench was shelved stowage, but rather than a fiddle to hold the boxes in place they were secured by removable stainless steel retaining bars. It’s a simple system that will keep the boxes firmly in position regardless of the sea conditions.
Face me, face you chart table seats
Whether you’re playing cards, chess or Kerplunk there are many times when it’s nice to face your partner on board, but sadly there are few boats where it’s possible. It is on the Allures 39.9. Lift the starboard aft saloon seat, rotate it 90 degrees and put it down at its new height. It also means that the chart table is usable facing forward or aft, although lid access is from aft. When the seat is not being used for the chart table, it can be lowered and become part of the saloon seating once more.