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Seaworthy cabin boat «Express Cruiser»

«Chris-Craft Industries» — one of the largest companies in the USA for the production of boats and engines for them — is widely known all over the world. The company was founded in 1874, i.e. at a time when the internal combustion engine was still «in diapers» and it hardly occurred to anyone that in 40-50 years a whole branch of shipbuilding would arise — the construction of light and high-speed boats with such engines. Currently, the company's shipyards located in six US states, as well as in Italy and Taiwan, produce about 40 different models of pleasure and fishing boats with a length of 4.8 m and above, including 22-meter motor yachts. Large boats are built of aluminum alloys, small ones (up to 14 m long) are made of fiberglass.

Seaworthy cabin boat «Express Cruiser» The most popular model of the company today remains the seaworthy cabin 25-foot boat «Express Cruiser 25» developed several years ago. In recent years, in terms of the number of ships sold, this boat has consistently ranked first in the company's reports and really belongs to the most common relatively inexpensive cabin boats in the world. It is advertised as a «pure» «Chris-Craft», i.e. the vessel in which the idea of the company's designers is most fully embodied. And the essence of this idea, as a simple comparison of prices and technical data of comparable vessels shows, is that for those who want to get a comfortable and high-speed universal family boat, suitable for both tourist travel and Sunday holidays, this is the most economical option. Indeed, the dimensions were chosen to be minimal, so that it was possible to arrange four berths in the boat and have a comfortable salon, a galley, a toilet with a closed fan system (mandatory now on ships operated in the waters of the USA and a number of European countries), a spacious cockpit and, last but not least, an engine powerful enough to ensure high speed with the simplest and cheapest transmission — a direct reverse gearbox. Of course, when installed with a corner folding column, it would be possible to save a meter of the length of the boat, but the resulting effect would clearly be negated by the higher cost of the corner column. The price of a fully equipped «Express Cruiser» is $11,990.

The general location of the boat «Express Cruiser»

General location of the boat
1 — exhaust ventilation deflector; 2 — drain scupper; 3 — engine compartment hatch cover; 4 — supply ventilation deflector; 5 — toilet; 6 — cupboard for dishes; 7 — sink; 8 — galley tile; 9 — double bunk, lockers at the bottom; 10 — shelf for anchor rope; 11 — sofa, locker at the bottom; 12 — table; 13 — control panel, wardrobe at the bottom; 14 — wardrobe; 15 — refrigerator.

Basic data of the boat «Express Cruiser 25»
Longest length, m 7,72
Maximum width, m 2,97
Draft, m 0,69
Freeboard, m: in the bow/in the stern 0,98/0,76
Empty weight, kg 2087
Engine power, hp 195
Speed at full load, km/h 55
Cruising range, km 250
Fuel capacity, l 189
Fresh water supply, l 38

Its hull has contours typical of modern sea boats with increased keelness of the bottom (about 17° at the transom), with a pair of longitudinal redans and wide zygomatic splash guards. Such contours ensure a smooth ride on the wave and the absence of splashing; due to the considerable width, the boat has good static stability. The three main sections of the plastic boat — the hull itself, the deck with superstructure and the cockpit — are formed by the contact method in matrices. Fiberglass impregnated with a binder is placed in a matrix and compacted manually — rolled with rollers. All the front surfaces are obtained at the same time glossy and painted with a pigment introduced into the decorative layer of the binder. The interior surfaces, on which the fiberglass texture protrudes, are sewn up with panels of decorative plastic in the cabin.

The stern of the boat with a length of 3 m is occupied by the engine room, bounded from the bow by a waterproof and soundproof bulkhead. A gasoline 8-cylinder engine of the «305-KS» type with a direct reverse gearbox (gear ratio 1 : 1.5), controlled by a hydraulic system, is installed here. The engine develops a rated power of 195 hp at 4400 rpm; it weighs 440 kg (specific gravity 2.25 kg/hp) and has dimensions of 1067x743x705 mm. Thanks to the V-shaped arrangement of the cylinders, the height of the engine above the crankshaft axis was reduced to 508 mm, which made it possible to place the power plant under the cockpit platform.

It would be appropriate to dwell on some of the features of installing engines in closed compartments. Our rules concerning pleasure boats are excessively concise in this part (although it is no secret that fires in engine compartments often occur). According to the rules of the American Boat Industry Association BIA, the closed engine compartment must be equipped with effective supply and exhaust ventilation, which would prevent the accumulation of an explosive mixture of fuel vapors with air. The ventilation pipe for fresh air supply should be lowered into the lower part of the compartment (at least below the air intake of the engine carburetor); the exhaust ventilation pipe should be located in the same way. The location of the ventilation heads on the deck should exclude the ingress of gases released from the compartment into the supply head. The cross-sectional area of the ventilation openings is strictly regulated depending on the volume of the engine compartment. For example, with a volume equal to 3m³, the cross-sectional area of the supply and exhaust pipes should be at least 110 cm² (diameter 120 mm). For boats with a significant engine compartment (as on the «Express»), the BIA rules allow determining the required area of holes and depending on the width of the vessel, based on the norm of at least 42.3 cm for every 1 m of width. Two supply and two exhaust deflectors with a cross-sectional area of 125 cm² are installed on the «Express».

In addition to this, the engine compartment must have a fan driven from the on-board power supply that removes gasoline vapors before starting the engine and during its prolonged operation at low or idle speed. The fan performance is selected in such a way that it provides a complete change of air in the compartment in 1.5 minutes. Its air intake is located under the engine (but above the usual bilge water level), where fuel or its vapors accumulate. Most often, the engine ignition system is blocked in such a way that the starter turns on only two minutes after the start of operation of this fan. For engine maintenance, there is a hatch with a «secret» lid in the cockpit platform.

The spacious cockpit has two high folding seats for the helmsman and his partner and a wide sofa along the transom. The entire cockpit can be covered with a light folding awning made of rubberized nylon fabric.

The interior of the boat is divided by low (to the bottom of the windows) half-doors into a forepeak with a double bed and a salon in which there is a dining table, upholstered seats with lockers under them and a galley; a toilet is equipped on the port side. Due to the considerable width of the cabin and the large glazing area, the cabin is quite spacious and bright; in hot weather, the windows in the side walls of the cabin can be opened: they are made sliding, as in a conventional sideboard. When making a bed for the night, the table cover is lowered to the level of the seats, an additional mattress pillow is placed on it and a second double bed is obtained.

Interior of the cabin of the «Express Cruiser»

Interior of the cabin «Express Cruiser»

The galley is equipped with a two-burner stove running on alcohol, a manual pump for supplying fresh water to the faucet above the sink, a refrigerator with dry ice (volume 110 liters) and a locker.

Some features of this boat can be taken into account and used by our amateur shipbuilders when designing similar vessels. It should only be remembered that the Express develops high speed due to a rather significant power-to-weight ratio: for every 1 hp of engine power, there is only 11.2 kg of load! When installing engines with a capacity of 70-90 hp, which are usually used on our boats, contours with a smaller keel angle will be more appropriate; it will also take every possible simplification of the hull structure to bring the boat to the planing mode.

Fishing boat version — «Tornament Fisherman» In conclusion, we note that the same 7.72 m long hull is also used by the company to produce a fishing modification of the Tornament Fisherman boat, widely used for sport fishing on the Great Lakes and in marine conditions. In particular, this option is in great demand in the Mediterranean; here it is being built by the Italian branch of the company «Chris-Kraft». The boat has a traditional «fishing» layout with a spacious self-draining cockpit and a small enclosed shelter with a double berth in the bow. In the cockpit, you can also arrange an overnight stay for two people by laying out sofas in bunks and putting an awning.

Layout of the fishing boat «Tornament Fisherman»

Layout of the fishing boat «Tornament Fisherman»
1 — hatch to the underdeck; 2 — fishing chair; 3 — casing over the engine; 4 — control panel, wardrobe at the bottom; 5 — table, wardrobe at the bottom; 6 — sink; 7 — sofa, locker at the bottom; 8 — door to the cabin; 9 — bow railing.

At the request of the customer, a 3-meter tubular bridge is mounted above the control post for observing fish, and a two-shaft installation can also be used: with a total power of two engines of 260 hp, the speed of the boat increases to 60 km/h.

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