Cantiere delle Marche’s Darwin 86’ presented a particularly interesting challenge from a design perspective: the objective was to synthesise the varied experience acquired by our company in the little Explorer sector over the years. Fortunately, the client, Cantiere delle Marche, is an extremely competent interlocutor, perhaps the most competent in this genre of vessel, and it was only thanks to interaction based on reciprocal experience that it was possible to design and then build a vessel that embodies and exalts all the characteristics typical of the Explorer vessels.
Sergio Cutolo, Darwin Class' designer
It is however evident that the Darwin 86’ is not simply a restyling of prior successful models, but rather a particularly challenging design effort that tackles previous designs that were particularly successful and remain absolute points of reference in the market for this genre of vessel.
The desire to further improve the articulation of the interior spaces and their volumes while maintaining the strong ‘marine’ nature of the boat was the greatest challenge in this project. The results obtained are surprising both in terms of absolute space as well as the distribution of said, enabling different layout solutions without any modification to the structural complex of the vessel. What is more, all this without compromising the sturdiness, reliability, extensive range and sea handling properties that are typical of this genre of vessel.
In order for the project to develop autonomously and independently without altering the distinctive characteristics of the vessels designed by our studio, the initial approach needed to take into consideration all the experience acquired in the past as well as the extensive feedback received both from the shipyard as well as directly from ship-owners.. To this end what was fundamental was the interaction with those men from Cantiere delle Marche who were not afraid to compare and analyse the various solutions proposed, interpreting them in constructive terms with great ability and competence, notwithstanding the decidedly innovative nature of some.
While retaining the proportions and style typical of a work vessel, the external lines of the Darwin 86’ are much softer, but not less masculine than its predecessors, offering more continuity between the surfaces and almost completely excluding the use of sharp edges. The height of the construction is decidedly elevated and it has a beam of almost seven and a half metres. This results in internal volumes, both those dedicated to the guests as well as technical spaces that are undoubtedly unexpected. A perfect example is the ample engine room which allows even the most complex technical interventions to be undertaken in complete safety, and has a height which permits one to remain standing comfortably wherever they be.
The Darwin 86’ has a steel hull and a light alloy superstructure. The sizing of the shell plating and the structure go well beyond the requirements of the naval classification register in order to guarantee the ship-owner better hull robustness and durability, particularly given the intense use that this type of vessel is generally subjected to. From a technical perspective, the hull bottom was developed and optimised so as to guarantee high speed relative to the vessel typology, without penalising performance at low speeds, when maximum range values are reached.
The configuration of the bottom at the stern area allows for the adoption of both single shaft and double shaft thrusters with a single central skeg or double skeg. Similarly it is possible to install azimutual thrusters. The Darwin 86’ ,‘Vitadimare 3’, detailed, has a round displacement hull characterised by rounded forms with a particularly rounded knee and a stern opening that tends to flatten. It is without bulb, with a reverse chine in the fore area to keep it drier even in rough seas. By modifying the use of the central skeg from past studio design experience of a single motor vessel, the, two skegs in correspondence with the shafting have been realised on the twin motor Vitadimare, creating two protective propeller cages which enhance efficiency. The undoubtedly innovative helm was idealised to offer the ship-owner a vessel that could be managed by a small number of crew members, giving this boat exceptional manoeuvrability, notwithstanding its impressive volumes. The same justification also motivated the installation of both a bow and stern thruster and independent rudders. Using a joystick on the bridge each rudder can be manoeuvred independently of the other.
The choice of motors fell on two Caterpillar C12s of less than 400cv each, which is limited power for a vessel of this mass. However the result in a notable reduction in consumption and emissions with respectable cruising performance at around 10 knots. Tank capacity has been further increased in respect of precedent designs to reach a volume usually only found on yachts of 45-50 metres; this factor together with the exceptionally low consumption resulting from the hull efficiency translates into an unconceivable range value for a vessel of this nature (around 7000 nautical miles at 10 knots).
The hull bottom was studied to allow for a pair of stabilisers positioned in the engine room zone. Once again the shipyard demonstrated its vision in the final choice. In fact an innovative system of stabilising fins, patented and produced by CMC Marine of Como, was adopted. This is the only system in the world to function with electric actuators rather than hydraulic ones. Thanks to this electric activation the fins do not suffer pressure drops and can therefore offer maximum efficiency both in navigation and at anchor. Thus optimal functioning is guaranteed in all conditions with reduced power consumption (over 50% less than a traditional hydraulic plant) and above all with unparalleled silence.
The Darwin 86’ is an innovative boat, the fruit of the work of many hands, where the designer and shipyard discussed even the most minute detail and all solutions were adopted following a philosophy based on the search for top product quality. Only thanks to this capacity of integration and the spirit of collaboration was it possible to design and construct a boat as complex as Vitadimare 3 in just one year, with delivery to the ship-owner, who is currently happily navigating the Mediterranean, a mere 15 days after the launch. As final proof of their good understanding and collaboration, the shipyard has assigned the design of their latest range of the Explorer up to 45 metres to Studio Hydro Tec.
About Sergio Cutolo. Engineer Sergio Cutolo is an expert Italian naval designer with a very respectable curriculum as engineer for prestigious Italian and foreign shipyards. In 1995 he founded Hydro Tec, a naval engineering company with registered offices in Varazze (SV). Extensive competences enable his company to face the multiple aspects comprised in the construction of a ship, from hull design to exterior design and construction supervision on behalf of the ship-owner with a single common denominator: creativity.
NOTE: ALL PHOTOS ARE OF SISTERSHIP HULL #1