The Crusoe Modular 18ft Adventure Trimaran
By Mike Hanlon
September 20, 2010
South African Guy Joubert has been adventuring into every corner of Africa since before the age of ten, and in his adult years his pursuit of fishing, sailing, surfing, diving and exploration has enabled him to try first-hand the traditional native watercraft of numerous countries. So when Joubert decided to design a modern day, high tech, expedition quality, multi-purpose adventure sailing craft, it’s not surprising that the design should have DNA recognizable from outrigger sailing craft that evolved over thousands of years … made of modern materials, and with ingenious use of space and propulsion methods. The Crusoe craft is your fully adaptable go anywhere, do anything mobile home and equipment locker.
The practical nature of the lightweight Crusoe 18ft Trimaran, with its multiple sealed stowage hatches and huge deck area is impressive. The whole picture is even more so. The modular design allows the Crusoe to be adapted to specifically suit any particular purpose, and the ingenious use of three motive forces sail-diesel-electric, make this modern interpretation of an ancient design the four-wheel-drive of adventure watercraft. It’s aptly named except for one thing – if Robinson Crusoe had one of these, he’d never have been stuck anywhere in the first place.
Joubert’s design borrows heavily from dozens of traditional craft. “When one considers the number of coastal and inland waterway cultures that have existed across the globe over the millennia, one common denominator has emerged,” says Joubert. “The presence of small mono-hull or outrigger sailing craft.
“These hard working vessels were, and still are, in use across the globe: from the Eskimos and North American Indians; to the Hawaiians and Indonesians; to the tribes of East Africa and more. These communities rely heavily on the most practical modes of transport for hunting, fishing and exploration in- and off-shore.”
The Crusoe’s shape is accordingly very efficient in a host of different ways. The combination of fine bow entry, wide beam and flat hull profile means that the boat will travel with little or no wake when under sail or power – a very good indication of the Crusoe’s fuel efficiency when under 4-stroke petrol, diesel or electric power.
One of the key design parameters of the Crusoe was that it had to have an extremely shallow draft. This was achieved at just 23cm unloaded and 28cm fully loaded. Ask yourself how many 18-foot boats can you know that can sail in less than half a meter of water. What’s more, the hull of the Crusoe Tri is fitted with profiled 38mm x 38mm Teflon rubbing strips on the mid-ships and pontoons ensuring that the hull will not be compromised in the event of a brush with a coral reef, hidden obstacle or a highly abrasive slipway or launching surface.
Guy’s Crusoe has also been designed with a range of unconventional and practical power sources. Having seen myriad set-ups used by indigenous populations in many different countries, Guy designed the Crusoe to be as adaptable as possible for all of them. Given the craft’s aft guiding platform, the boat is ideal for poling and there’s also the option of an aft paddle system, which works on a single oversized blade much like the Gondolas of Venice.
Power optionsThough the Crusoe can handle an outboard of up to 15HP, Guy points out that a 9.9HP four-stroke motor enables it to outrun a wave in surf. His most economical configuration for pure internal combustion engine power is a 4HP four stroke Yamaha engine which enables the Crusoe to move quickly, but with a miniscule fuel consumption, making it an ideal configuration for longer trips where petrol is not freely available.
The most economical set-up in terms of fuel consumed and noxious gases emitted is an electric hybrid combination Paguro diesel genset outboard combined with a Torqeedo electric outboard to push out the equivalent of a 6-8HP outboard-motor.
“We are very lucky to have found a good working association between these two specialized pieces of hardware,” says Guy. “The most impressive feature is the near silent running and diesel fuel efficiency she delivers in that mode.”
“It can be set up with either two or four deep cycle batteries and then linked to our intelligent battery management system. The batteries can be recharged from any power outlet, or using a selection of solar, wind, or even tide-driven trickle chargers. The Paguro 3000 diesel generator is the best in its class in that it’s water-cooled, small, silent, low emission and fuel-efficient.
The diesel engine charges the batteries and the intelligent battery management system switches the diesel on automatically when the batteries dip below 75% capacity. “The Paguro diesel exhaust is water-cooled and silent and if low sulphur diesel fuel is used the emissions are up to 2/3 less than traditional outboards, only this set-up offers no noise. The Torqeedo Diesel electric configuration promises to push the tri at between 6-8 knots depending on conditions and loading.
The Crusoe was inspired and designed around the concept of exploration according to Joubert, the most important aspect is reliability and safety. Crusoe Craft & Marine can equip a craft to meet spec with coast-guard and safety requirements the world over – just name the country.
When in full touring mode, the Crusoe has 21 separate stowage compartments , all sealed and some are lockable, which makes for the easy storage of fuel, water, food, sporting equipment, camera gear and whatever else you might need.The seating can be rotated or moved onto the deck area or removed altogether for use ashore.
The Deck TentThe adaptable design comes to the fore when you see the number of sailing platforms into which the Crusoe readily adapts. The massive stowage capacity caters for carrying just about everything you might need.
Quite spacious living quarters are provided courtesy of a seam-sealed deck tent which Guy says is “hardy enough to take a battering on any outdoor adventure.” It can be quickly hoisted from either the mast or a vertical tent pole, has a built-in ground sheet, waterproof zippers and two options for mosquito and no-seeum netting. Alternatively a 3.5m2 waterproof and seam sealed Bedouin-style stretch tent can be hoisted above the main tent (or used independently) for additional shelter from sun, wind or rain.
Fishing platformIf you're a fisherman, the Crusoe's large non-slip deck-space is suitable for fly, spinning or sight fishing and the boat will can take you wherever the fish are biting, there are quite a few of the fishing options you'll wish to order. Such as the large (40L) live bait well, the removable insulated hatch for preserving bait or catch (a fridge unit fits neatly into the hatch area), and the sealed screw end rod tubes mounted beneath the pontoons.
Surfing and divingThe Crusoe Trimaran has a spacious 4m wide “walk-on” deck area that spans the mid-ship’s area. Fishing, kite boarding, surfing, diving or other sporting equipment is easily stowed, courtesy of the sturdy racks and numerous sealed hatches. The racks can rotate inwards or outwards to free up deck space and afford easy access to the mid-ship’s or outrigger’s pontoon hatches.
The 18ft Tri is also an ideal and stable platform for water based photography. It affords the photographer waterproof sealed hatches as well as a 24V battery source plug-in terminal which is perfect for charging power cells and laptops.
The unique Crusoe TrailerWhen combined with the right trailer, the Crusoe can stay packed, ready for the next undertaking.
The first thing to recognize about the Crusoe trailer, is that it is very much a part of the entire Crusoe system, and as such, each trailer is equally as well designed and constructed as the boat itself.
The Crusoe is offered with a range of trailers. There are effectively four base flatbed units: an all-aluminum 1500kg unit, galvanized steel 750 kg and 1600kg units and a 4x4 spec heavy-duty, leaf-spring, long-range camping 2500 kg model. Beyond that, the trailers have quite an array of options and Crusoe can configure each one to suit any need or requirement.
Given that the target buyer is likely to push the limits of what can be expected of the craft, Crusoe set out to deliver several top end trailer options that fulfill the extreme expectations of an adventure sailor, and the equally extreme launching places such hardy animals are likely to seek out.
“Almost every other trailer sailor on the market in any country is designed with a trailer that carries a boat in fully packed-up condition,” says Joubert. “Who wants to drive countless hours getting there and then spend a number of additional hours unpacking the truck and stowing gear into a boat’s storage spaces and readying the craft for water.
“From the outset my aim was to have the Crusoe ready to go when you got there – back it into the water and sail it away – it’s not quite that simple but close – the idea is to have packed all the storage spaces at home when you have time to plan for a long trip and everything is easily at hand – not when you’re standing on a boat ramp or beach or estuary bank a long way from anywhere.
The most recent addition to the Crusoe trailer range is the all-aluminum 1500kg unit, built to ISO 9001 standards and with a superior high-end build and finish. It takes either a 5 or 6-stud wheel hub, enabling easy adaptation from high-speed asphalt, to rugged 15-inch off-road rims and tyres. The entire electrical and mechanical system is sealed, the LED lights are maintenance-free, reliable and high-performance and added reliability. The trailer has independent suspension which increases ride height and can be delivered compliant with current trailer legislation requirements in any of the jurisdictions in the American, European and Australian markets. It can be configured with knot auto reverse mechanical brakes or Dexter Electro Magnetic braking systems.
The Crusoe platform and the trailer which enables it to be transported ready-to-go, make a formidable duo. It’s all still a work-in-progress though according to Guy. “The Crusoe Tri can be used for many different purposes – as a champagne sipping platform, a photography and bird-watching or game-viewing hide, or a long-range surf, dive and fishing vessel”, says Joubert.
“If people have thoughts on other configurations and uses, we’re really pleased to hear from them. We’re interested in creating useful optional extras for the existing craft and over time, we’ll be using feedback from customers to build smarter, lighter, stronger, faster Tris.”
Check out the Crusoe site to learn more.