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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Wind Horse
“Everyone Thinks We're Navy”
August 10, 2011

The trouble was, Steve and Linda couldn’t find a long range powerboat that suited their primary interest – voyaging offshore in safety and comfort. So, just as they’d overcome the challenge of finding a suitable sailboat, Steve says they “designed a boat to our own purposes.”

The hardest part, Steve says “was getting my head around it that I was designing a powerboat.” Once he managed that, he says, he could move ahead. The new vessel had to “combine heavy weather ability with a comfort function.” And therein lies the answer to Wind Horse’s non standard look. On the outside she’s pure function. Inside, comfort gets the nod. The result is an unconventional appearance not often associated with pleasure boats. Wind Horse is the type of boat that leaves some people wondering if they’re looking at a flush deck, homebuilt minesweeper.

Wind Horse as viewed from aft
Long and narrow, Wind Horse is 83 feet long and 19 feet wide. This maximizes speed potential and minimizes fuel consumption. Cruising at 11 knots, she can easily cover 250 miles per day.
Wind Horse viewed from the bow

Steve built Wind Horse of aluminum. Though strong and light, it’s a hard material for paint to adhere to. So Steve left all exterior surfaces bare, preferring to let the raw aluminum oxidize to a flat, cinderblock -shade of gray. Considered unsightly by some boaters, he soon warmed to the “functionality of non-paint aluminum”, saying he “got used to the bare finish in a day or two.”

The hull features a double bottom and watertight bulkheads. The double bottom serves as tankage and flotation. Should the hull be punctured, chances are good a second layer of “hull”, in the form of a tank, would prevent flooding. If Wind Horse were to puncture a single hulled section of her plating, the watertight bulkheads should limit flooding to individual compartments that can be sealed off.

Step lively: one of the few drawbacks of a bare aluminum finish is heat. Though heavily insulated, Wind Horse’s decks get hot. That means, on sunny summer days, Linda says “you better walk fast” – or put on shoes.
While Wind Horse has air conditioning, Steve and Linda have taken steps to minimize its use. Here, stowable fabric awning shade the pilot house and keep the decks cool.

So how has Wind Horse worked out for them? Both agree she’s allowed them to do things they couldn’t have done aboard their previous sailboats.

Like visit Greens Creek in Oriental.

The sailboats Steve and Linda voyaged aboard for so many years relied on tall masts and deep drafts for stability and speed. Their 78-foot long Beowulf drew almost 8 feet of water and sported a spar that posed challenges at bridges. That meant while she could cross oceans in record time, cruising much of Intracoastal Waterway’s shoal waters was off limits for draft and clearance reasons.

The mastless Wind Horse, by comparison, can slip under most bridges and explore relatively skinny waters. She draws only 5 feet. This allowed Steve and Linda, who were on their way to Norfolk, to steam under the Oriental bridge and drop their anchor at the mouth of Greens Creek.

Not that Wind Horse is limited to coastal motoring. With two diesel engines and a range of over 5,000 miles, Wind Horse could theoretically, if motored conservatively, travel a quarter of the way around the world without refueling. A few years ago, Steve and Linda traveled up the East Coast without ever coming near Oriental. They sailed from the Bahamas straight to Greenland. Another time, Linda says they traveled “farther north than we ever went in a sailboat – to Svalbard.” Svalbard lies North of the Arctic Circle, about halfway between the North Pole and mainland Norway.

Posted Wednesday August 10, 2011 by Bernie Harberts

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