December 2017 | Down East Yachting

Why Swimming in Your Marina is a Bad Idea

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Imagine: it’s a beautiful hot, sunny afternoon. You’re at your favorite marina getting your boat provisioned and equipped for a fun-filled weekend with your family. The sun’s shimmering on the water enticing you to dive in for a refreshing swim.

Don’t do it.

In the water of even the most pristine marina, there could lurk a silent and invisible killer – stray AC electrical current. Boats plugged into a shore power service at any given marina may have an electrical “leak” that could prove lethal.

It can happen more easily than you think, here’s how:

Electricity flows along the path of least resistance to complete a roundtrip loop called a circuit. Every time a boat is connected to shore power an electrical circuit is formed, flowing from shore to vessel and back again. Similar to hydraulics, this current puts “pressure” (called voltage) on the boat’s AC electrical devices and appliances. Any number of scenarios can cause a leak where some portion of this electricity may escape from its intended circuitry.

At best, the device’s safety ground (typically a green wire) will carry the leaking electricity back to the source and safely complete the circuit. However, because the AC ground circuitry is also connected to the boat’s bonding/grounding system (including underwater hardware), sometimes the path of lesser resistance is through the water.

When electricity is leaking through the water and flowing towards shore, a swimmer may become a better conductor than the water itself. This is especially true in fresh or brackish waters where the human body is inherently a better electrolyte solution, and therefore a better conductor than the surrounding water.

As little as 50 to 100 milliamps of electricity conducted through the heart can be deadly.

There are no visible signs to indicate stray electrical current, and therefore no way to know when one may be present. So, don’t take the risk; don’t swim in or near marinas.

– Glenn Campbell, Head of Engineering, Sabre Yachts

Downeast Origin: 800 Back Cove Yachts

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Back Cove Production Team and Associates gather with the 800th Back Cove yacht.

In the autumn of 2017 Back Cove launched our 800th yacht. It’s an impressive milestone that becomes even more significant when you consider all that it implies: 800 Downeast-style yachts, crafted by more than 200 of Maine’s best boatbuilders, championed by a network of more than 20 dealerships, in locations around the globe. Suddenly, our founding question of whether a simple and nautically sensible design could capture the heart of the boating public had a clear answer.

It was 2003, and the popularity of Downeast style was growing rapidly. Designs that had once only been popular in New England quickly were becoming the boats of choice all over the USA and in many export markets. Sabre dealers were selling all of the production that we could build and they wanted more. They asked Sabre to come up with a smaller less complicated Downeast style boat that could be made in larger volumes to satisfy the growing demand.

That spring, the Sabre Design Team met with six dealerships in Manchester, NH ( a common airport location for Southwest Airlines) to unveil the first ever Back Cove yacht. Differentiating Sabre and Back Cove would be reasonably simple; Back Cove was to be smaller, with a single diesel engine and a bow thruster, and interior fiberglass liners to simplify assembly. Sabre would remain larger, with twin-engine propulsion, stick built interiors, and their sizes would range from 38 to (eventually) 66 feet in length.The dealers fell in love with the concept, and the Back Cove 29 was born.

Then the issue of location. The company had previously purchased the assets and facilities of North End Composites, in Rockland, Maine, but the custom fiberglass and tooling business was on a bumpy road. The shop needed something to build on a consistent production-oriented basis that would smooth bumps in the road and support a strong workforce. The Back Cove range suited the facilities perfectly, and the plan was off and running.

Building upon the success of the Back Cove 29, seven additional models were introduced over the next 14 years. The Back Cove 26 debuted in 2004, and the 33 followed two years later. In 2009 the Back Cove 37 expanded the lineup over the 35′ range, and we knew things were really cooking. By the time Back Cove celebrated our 10th birthday the 33 had evolved to become the 34, and our design team had introduced two more models coming in at 30 and 41 feet in length. Since then Back Cove has introduced the Downeast 37, a second version of the original Back Cove 37, and most recently we introduced the new Back Cove 32. Back Cove yachts can be found in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Central America, Bermuda, the Bahamas, the UK, France, Italy, Greece, and Norway.

Today, as hull 800 left our facilities, we resolved the question of whether a Downeast boat with a simple but consistent trade dress, built in the Maine tradition, could succeed in a market full of white plastic cruisers.

The answer is a resounding “yes.”