Testing of a fully restored 47-foot Apache V-bottom, the former INXS offshore race boat, could begin as early as tomorrow morning if all goes to plan. That’s the word from Gary Stray of AMF Offshore Rigging in West Palm Beach, Fla. Stray handled all the rigging for the twin Lycoming T-53 gas-turbine engines—each making approximately 1,500 hp—with Arneson ASD-8 drives, as well as the restoration and refitting for the entire boat.
“I imagine it will run 115 to 120 mph,” said Stray, who will test the boat with Scott Begovich, the throttleman for the Miss GEICO offshore racing catamaran. “We’re hoping to go out tomorrow, but if not the day after tomorrow.”
In the AMF Offshore Rigging shop for about a year, the 47-footer is owned by a private party who prefers to keep his name out of the media. But even for a client who Stray describes as owning “a lot of boats,” the turbine-powered vintage V-bottom with a pair of five-blade forged propellers from Hering Propellers is an extraordinary project.
“He wanted something different, something that could be reliable in the open ocean and running around the islands,” Stray said.
Among the unique features of the boat is its carbon-fiber engine hatch. Using an in-house-designed configuration of hydraulic rams, the hatch “levitates” straight above its opening for access to the turbine motors, which are housed in their own carbon-fiber tub—an engine compartment addition Stray called a “modern twist on an older boat.” But that’s just the beginning. With the push of a button, the hatch also slides forward and above the cockpit to provide shade for the occupants. It is, for all intents and purposes, an engine hatch that converts to a T-top.
To help protect the turbine engines from the saltwater environment, the team tapped technology employed on the former turbine-powered, 50-foot Miss GEICO Mystic catamaran, which was destroyed in June 2012. (Read the story.) The 47-footer’s engines have been set up with an intake plenum system that incorporates a water separator filter system to help ensure that no saltwater reaches the turbine blades.
To make the boat more manageable around the docks, the shop installed bow thrusters.
Under Stray’s direction, AMF Offshore Rigging also handled the complete reconstruction of the boat’s cabin. In what Stray also calls “a modern twist on an older boat,” the air-conditioned cabin—the boat has its own generator—has been decked out with a gray suede headliner with carbon-fiber trim, as well as a complete blue LED system that not only lights the cabin but illuminates the Apache logo on the forward bulkhead.
The boat’s cockpit has been thoroughly modernized as well with a fully electronic dash that includes digital data logging and shock-absorbing suspended seats. According to Stray, the driver’s controls are one of a kind.
“The carbon-fiber trim handle controls a number of functions,” he explained. “The shifters and throttles are custom made for the turbine application, and the braking system for shifting is different than anything that’s been done before.
“We have done some pretty wild stuff on this boat,” he added. “It’s definitely one of a kind.”
Editor’s Note: Speedonthewater.com will report on the boat’s first sea-trial test results this week as they become available.