Eastport 32: Concept to Creation
March 30, 2012
Tom Weaver and Mick Price were having a beer at the Boatyard Bar and Grill in Annapolis, Maryland, one afternoon in late 2006 when they got to talking about designing their ideal powerboat. Close friends and business partners, they are the principals of Weaver-Price Design, a small, independent firm in Annapolis’s “Maritime Republic of Eastport,” the water-obsessed neighborhood that fronts the Severn River between Spa and Back Creeks.
Weaver and Price are both naval architects and experienced racing sailors who met while working for Bruce Farr’s legendary design office in Annapolis (www.farrdesign.com). Weaver, like Farr a Kiwi from New Zealand, took several years off to manage 2 Italian America’s Cup challenger teams before returning to Annapolis in 2006. There he found Price ready to strike out on his own, so they formed the firm.
These 2 men know how to design, engineer and run super-high-tech, lightweight, go-fast sailboats, but they are also hardcore, all-around water rats who have logged plenty of time in powerboats, especially fishing boats. What they were discussing in the Boatyard was a utility power vessel that suited their lifestyles and those of their friends.
The Eastport 32 is Born:
This ideal boat, they decided, should be large and seaworthy enough to handle large bays, estuaries and open coastal waters, but small enough for easy singlehanded operation and shallow enough for exploring rivers, creeks, and coves. It should have a pilothouse and partial cockpit canopy to protect the crew from sun and rain, with bunks for kids to nap in or grownups to spend a weekend aboard comfortably, and a truly nice head, but it should be laid out primarily as a day boat for an active family or group of friends.
Further, the boat should be fast enough (around 25 mph) to cruise from its slip or mooring for lunch, but efficient enough to do so on a short ration of fuel. It should fish well, and, oh yes, it should be distinctive and pretty—really pretty.
Mick Price, who inherited his artist father’s drawing ability, got out a pencil and began sketching on a Boatyard napkin. He and Tom talked about the Chesapeake Deadrise charterboats aboard which they had fished. The more Mick sketched, the more excited he and Tom grew. Their firm had enough design work to keep food on the table, but they figured they had the time to turn this ideal boat into reality. Thus was born the Eastport 32.
From the outset, the 2 designers settled on twin diesels for 2 reasons. Most important, twins allowed for significantly shallower draft than a single, especially when paired with flat shaft angles and propellers set in tunnels. They also allowed for a straight, flat passage on deck from the pilothouse to an open cockpit. In this configuration, compact diesels could fit under settees along the hull sides. Weaver and Price had seen layouts of this sort work well on Chesapeake charterboats, noting that those boats were adaptable to a wide variety of uses. They wanted the Eastport 32 to have a sort of nautical “open architecture” versatility. The last touch in the concept was a “tailgate” transom that could be lowered and raised hydraulically for swimming, fishing, and launching a dinghy or kayaks.
From Napkin to Reality:
Given these design parameters, the partners figured it would take a semi-V hull somewhere between 30’ and 34’ to realize the concept. Mick Price began drawing. Looking back, what he remembers are the hours of pure “grunt work” it took to get from napkin to boat.
“We call her a modernized Chesapeake Bay boat, but her bottom is really more of a Carolina shape, a modified-V with a little bit of warp and twin engines. She’s the smallest boat we could build and still get everything we had envisioned. The whole design is a balance between length, beam, draft, weight and space between the engines. The twin inboards allow us to keep the sheerline low and pretty without sacrificing seaworthiness or safety.”
Mick started with hard chines and a 12-degree deadrise at the transom, to make the hull lift easily into a semi-planing attitude at low speeds. He extended it forward to provide an efficient running surface, but with the pilothouse forward like traditional Chesapeake workboats, it was important to soften the ride for the skipper and the passenger seated in the port companion chair. Thus he warped the hull to 25 degrees there and then to a wave-cleaving 44 degrees at station 1 in the bow. The plumb bow extended the waterline length and added a traditional look, complemented by graceful flare that flowed back to moderate tumblehome at the transom.
Blending & Balancing:
Then serious grunt work began—blending and balancing these themes so they worked together instead of against one another. The bow couldn’t be so fine that it buried when running down-sea, and the forefoot had to be rounded so it wouldn’t trip and cause the boat to broach.
For proper balance against the forward cabin and pilothouse, Price placed the engines as far aft as he could while still retaining a flat, efficient 8-degree angle for the propeller shafts. The moderate flare in the bow added buoyancy and interior space around the V-berth in the cabin. He added full-length reversed chines for lift and spray deflection, but kept their width moderate to prevent them from causing pounding as the hull came down on seas.
He placed the 170-gallon aluminum fuel tank aft, between the propeller pockets, and positioned the batteries just aft of the engines. For designing the propeller tunnels, Price used a method developed by naval architect Donald L. Blount of Virginia (www.dlba-inc.com) that specifies a semi-circular shape that is half-again (1.5:1) the diameter of the propellers.
Then he tackled the meanest grunt work of all: the weight analysis to make sure that everything balanced. Computer design software helped speed this process. It also gave Weaver and Price opportunities to look at the 3-dimensional shape with critical eyes. Experience on the water still counts. The high-tech design tools are immensely valuable, but both men like to quote their former boss, Bruce Farr: “Most times, if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.” Mick calls the approach a sophisticated version of the old-time “rack of eye” that traditional workboat builders have followed for years.
For power, they chose light, smooth, and clean twin 190-hp Volvo D3 5-cylinder, common-rail, electronic diesel inboards swinging 19” x 23” 4-bladed Nibral props through 2.43:1 reductions. Volvo has since tweaked the D3s to 220-hp, and Eastport Yachts offers Volvo D4s, Yanmar 6BYs, and Cummins QSDs to 260-hp as options, but the D3s work very well, as our test boat’s Sea Trial performance demonstrates.
Outfitting a “Fancied-Up Fishing Boat”
Belowdecks, the partners created a compact cabin with a V-berth forward, hanging locker and cabinet to port, and head with shower to starboard (waste tank capacity 35 gals.). Topside, optional roll-down curtains for the E-glass/Corecell cabintop offer weather protection. Subdeck lockers with hydraulic lifts in the large cockpit offer additional storage. The trim Volvos fit completely under settees port and starboard, with aft- and side-facing seats that convert to berths. Navigator UltraLeather swivel seats keep the skipper and companion comfortable and turn to the settees for socializing at anchor. Hydraulic lifts made access to the engines easy.
Weaver and Price fitted space for an optional galley just aft of the helm seat (though day-trip-oriented owners opt simply for a grill), with sink (35-gal. water, 6 hot), cabinet, and optional 12/120v. refrigerator beneath. Owners who want 120v. accessories can order an optional inverter or a compact generator.
Building the Eastport 32:
Even more grunt work ensued: engineering. Both Weaver and Price have experience with carbon fiber, Kevlar, and other exotic boatbuilding materials, but they had to balance cost with light weight and strength. To spec the boat’s materials, they used a software scantling system from the Netherlands called DNV that offers a reasonable approach to loading dynamics, bending forces, and impact strengths for different parts of the hull. They specified a vinylester resin outer skin, multi-axial E-glass laminates, and Divinycell structural foam cores, with thicknesses varying according to projected stress. Thru-hulls got Penske Board high-density cores around them, but the keel and chines were solid. To double-check the engineering, they called in Graham Williams, a semi-retired former colleague from the Farr design office.
For construction quality equal to the design, Weaver and Price chose Brooks Boatworks of Washington, North Carolina (www.brooksboatworks.com). Roger Brooks has broad lifetime experience in boat design, research, development, and construction, from wooden Carolina workboats to production power cruisers, bluewater fishing boats, and prototype go-fast deep-Vs. Established in 2000 in the boatbuilding center of Washington, on North Carolina’s Pamlico River, Brooks Boatworks builds top-quality tooling, limited production parts, and custom yachts.
Working from the Weaver-Price design, Brooks and his skilled crew built the plug for the Eastport 32, then from it the mold. Brooks also talked Tom and Mick into altering the shape of each tunnel, flattening it at the forward end and shaping it gradually into a semi-circular cross-section so it rises to the height that clears the propeller and extends parallel to the waterline all the way back to the transom. The tunnels are 6’ long, and the shape “makes the water want to go into them,” as Mick says. Roger and Mick worked out the placement of the bottom lifting strakes by eye. Once laid up, the hull got four longitudinal composite stringers, reinforced by four composite cross-members in the cockpit plus the cabin bulkhead and a cross-member under the V-berth.
For the deck and hardtop molds, Weaver and Price went to Donald Blount’s DLBA Robotics subsidiary to have them machined into a resin/foam plug on a steel frame by the firm’s five-axis router, working from their design computer’s 3-D model. These are complicated shapes with lots of details like gutters, so they require the router-cut plug to replicate faithfully. Brooks Boatworks then built the tooling precisely from the machined foam. In all, the Eastport 32 requires molds for some 35 parts, ranging from the hull down to specific hatches.
One of those parts is the tailgate, which is hollow but reinforced with internal fiberglass girders. Riding on stout stainless steel hinges, it pivots down and back up at the will of a pair of heavy duty trim tab actuators.
By the way, how a boat performs is nearly as dependent on the tooling that produces it as on its design. Thus the partnership with Brooks Boatworks is crucial to the success of the Eastport Yacht Company. Brooks craftsmen make sure that all layup and lamination follows the molds accurately, but they also maintain the molds scrupulously, doing a full restoration of each after every ten boats. To get a sense of the boat’s painstaking construction process, visit the Eastport Yachts home page and click on the “Eastport Yacht Company News” tab. Scroll down to the bottom of the 2007 page and read up for details. Weaver has maintained a blog on the fleet’s activities since then right up to the present.
Meeting the Demanding Performance Standards:
|Sea Trial Performance*|
|No. of people on board||3|
|Water capacity||35 gal.|
Tom Weaver and Mick Price dreamed big for their “Fancied-Up Fishing Boat,” but thanks to their painstaking attention to design, engineering, and construction, the Eastport 32 delivers virtually everything they scribbled on that Boatyard Bar and Grill napkin. In our sea trial, the test boat glided along efficiently at every speed, even wide open throttle (33.6 @ 4,100 rpm then, a tad faster now with 220-hp D3s). Low cruise was 17.2 mph@ 2400 rpm at about 60% engine load and over 3 mpg, and high 24.3 mph @ 3,000 at 80% load and 2.4 mpg. Such a wide range of efficient speeds gives a skipper the opportunity to adjust the throttles for comfortable running in all sorts of sea conditions.
Read Tom’s blog on the company web site and you’ll find our test boat’s sisters scattered from Annapolis to Florida, the Mediterranean, and Australia, working as sunset cruisers, river explorers, regatta committee boats, highly successful fishing boats, and even coastal cruisers with kayak and bicycle racks on the pilothouses. The “open architecture” of the design and the long list of options allow owners to adapt the Eastport 32 to an outrageously broad range of water activities. Meanwhile, the boats’ classic good looks make them great sources of pride for their owners.
- LOA: 32’ 6”
- LWL: 31’
- Beam: 11’ 6”
- Draft: : 22”
- Weight: : 9,500 lbs. (half-load)
- Deadrise: 12 degrees (transom), 25 degrees (helm), 44 degrees (Station I @ bow)
- Standard power: T-220 diesel IB
- Fuel C: 170 gals.
- Water: 35 gals. (6 hot)
- Waste: 35 gals.
- Base price with twin D3s: $320,000
The boat sea-trialed by the author was a 2008 model with twin 190-hp Volvo D3s. With the now-standard 220-hp D3s, the Eastport 32 is a step faster at top speed with minimal increase in fuel consumption.