Mi’s “Flying Saucer” Cruiser (Apr, 1956)
Mi’s “Flying Saucer” Cruiser
This 21 “foot dream boat cruises at 50 mph with its triple 25-hp outboard motors and will carry four people comfortably on a sea-going vacation.
By David Lockhart
HAVE the biological processes of mating and multiplying forced you to give up that fast* outboard hydroplane of your palmier days for a slow family cruiser? Well, the Flying Saucer is one cruiser that can trim the pants off your old hydroplane—even loaded up to here with a wife and two youngsters—and bring back the thrills of your misspent youth.
This 21-foot Saucer cruises at 50 mph, accommodates four people and includes galley and restroom facilities. She can rack up a better average speed on a day’s run than the family car—weather permitting—and take you from New York to Florida, for instance, in three days.
As the primary purpose in developing the Saucer was to come up with a really fast, good-looking outboard cruiser, triple 25-hp outboard motors and hydrofoils seemed like the answer.
However, it is practically impossible to design a craft with the usual foil equipment that doesn’t look like something you’d beat to death with a stick. Instead, longitudinal foils or skis of the type used successfully under the new jet seaplanes were chosen, being simpler, stronger and easier to build into the hull.
The Saucer is of molded construction and the central bridge portion of the hull is somewhat reminiscent of the sea sled. The bow is blunt and tunnels down and back to a flat bottom. As she gains speed, her central portion leaves the water and her bow, acting as a funnel, forces the airstream under the hull with the resulting venturi effect, helping to raise the craft higher on her skis. The outer edges of the ski pontoons are beveled into non-trip chines and both skis are equipped with fins.
Although she is a hydrofoil craft, you might call her a catamaran—and so she is. But then, you might also call any planing catamaran a hydrofoil. However, she is no more catamaran than any of the current “three point” racing hulls that plane on twin sponsons at high speed.
A boat as fast as the Flying Saucer should look fast too, so by moving the galley unit into the cockpit, it was possible to keep the silhouette low and rakish. Most outboard cruisers look like seagoing greenhouses in their determination to give you worlds of cabin headroom only necessary because of the galley.
This anti-social arrangement that banishes the little woman from the sun and air to get you up a meal, is also inhumane, especially if she is subject to that queasy feeling at sea. Beside that, there is a sporty element of risk involved in sending anyone into a space somewhat smaller than a piano crate to build a fire with little or no escape faculties behind her—unless, of course, you prefer your wife well-done.
Flying Saucer’s styling is simple and streamlined. Her rounded foredeck is uncluttered except for a bow chock, grab rails and a streamlined air scoop unit.
This chrome unit is a grille, screening a sexed-up version of a waterproof ventilator. A ring in the grille design leads the anchor hawser into the rope locker below. Running lights flank the grille and the streamlined fairing behind the air scoop unit is actually a hatch cover with a deadlight to brighten up things below.
Although you can get forward through the forehatch, you can get there more readily along the rubbing strake that runs the length of the boat and encircles the bow. Since the rounded contours of the foredeck make walking impossible—especially when wet—the chrome rubbing strake has a rubberized top surface wide enough for you to walk forward on, with grab rails to steady you along the way. The unusual width of the strake is also necessary to protect the chines, because of the excessive tumble-home of the top sides.
Under the foredeck are twin berths lying athwartship with hanging lockers beside them on the starboard side. Forward is the rope locker and plenty of room for general stowage in the round bow. The after portion of the Saucer is divided into fore and aft cockpits with a connecting passage way. The forward cockpit is sheltered by a wraparound windshield and a rigid top. The helmsman’s seat, wheel, controls and compass are on the port side. The seat on the starboard side has a toilet under it and a canvas curtain is provided for intro- verts. On the bulkhead in front of the seat is a dropleaf table.
The divider between the cockpits contains a refrigerator on one side of the passageway and a galley unit on the other, with a locker door hinged to swing down and form a working surface. The seat runs the width of the rear cockpit and converts into two thwartship berths.
The afterdeck, or engine hood, not only carries out the modern sweep of the Saucer’s styling, but also bounces engine noise back away from the boat. The hood hinges at the back for access from the cockpit. The center engine is equipped with a generator and a davit can be slipped into sockets to lift any engine into the cockpit or onto the dock.
A canvas canopy covers the after cockpit and with side curtains she can be completely enclosed.
A short mast is stepped on the rigid roof over the foreward cockpit. It is equipped with a masthead light and a flag halyard. With no one sitting in the rear seat, the roof can be undamped from the windshield and swung aft and down to become a rear cockpit cover, the mast becoming a stern staff. The practical reasons for this are rather obscure although it might be an ideal way to smother a squabble among mutinous small fry. In any case, it looks very sporty indeed and would enable the helmsman and friend “to get some sunshine.
There are many small fast boats on the Florida run these winters, with minimum cruising facilities, whose crews depend on sleeping ashore as often as possible en route, as though they were driving instead of boating. They spend nights in any of Florida’s many bayside motels and rubberneck or fish by day. The Saucer should be ideally suited to this form of North-South cruising. The longer day’s run, resulting from her high speed, gives a wider choice of ports that afford good accommodations convenient to the waterfront. And her sturdily molded construction assures a safe voyage wherever you want to travel with your good-looking Flying Saucer cruiser. •