It’s sometimes a pity that the Italians can build such pretty yachts! Unfortunately, practicality often takes second place as I discovered this week whilst doing some temporary work on board Clan VI, an aging Perini Navi sailing yacht.
In the World of sailing superyachts Perini Navi is probably the best known builder, and certainly the most prolific, having recently launched their 50th boat. The original yard is in the Tuscan town of Viareggio, but the company has expanded with yards in La Spezia and also Yildiz in Turkey. Clan VI was originally named Felicita and was the first yacht built by the yard in 1983.. so she is an old lady now.
Clan VI is 40m in length, small compared with the latest 56m yachts produced here. She has a staysail ketch rig, with an semi-automated sail handling system. This system was the real breakthrough that Perini Navi brought to the yachting scene. Before Felicita, sailing yachts required so many crew to handle the sails, that there was little room for the comforts required by luxury yacht owners. With the use of captive winches and hydraulic furlers , all coupled to joystick controls on the bridge, it became possible to sail a large sailing yacht with only a single person on deck… and this revolutionized the sailing yacht sector of the business.
Since then, several builders have been turning out larger and larger sailing yacht using the same basic idea for sail controls… The materials used have developed towards todays all carbon fibre masts and booms, and even kevlar rigging on some race yachts.
The reason for this post though is different from singing the praises of modern yacht design. Instead I am choosing to marvel and the ignorance of some fitters when they put a boat together… normally, changing a generator alternator belt should be a routine and simple task… but not when your generator has been fitted backwards (yes really) so that all the service components are squeezed up against the hull, and also obstructed by a huge ventilation fan assembly at the front! Result, instead of half an hour to change the drive belt, it took a whole day of standing on my head, wedged between the generator and the hull wrestling to undo nuts one flat at a time, and having to dismantle half the cooling system of the machine to get to the vital areas… Grrrr… if only I could get the guy who put the thing where it is to come back and do the job….