Hi. I'm John Noble. I used to own Noble Electrical Supply out of Schenectady, New York. I'd expanded what my father left me until the banks and the economy combined to make me realize that my days of running a quiet little profitable business were numbered. I'd expanded to six shops, employing quite a few people. I sold the whole thing to one of my competitors, Beard's Electric out of Albany for a very nice figure--more than what I'd expected, quite frankly. I was well-educated. I had my degree in electrical engineering as well as my union certs as master electrician. I learned Russian and German in college and had picked up enough 'contractors Spanish' to get along on a multi-lingual job site. I wished that I'd picked up some Asian languages back down the road but it never happened. I had a couple Polish foremen that used to go out drinking with me. They taught me how to really flame someone in Polish. They were good guys.
At thirty seven I was too young to retire. Besides, I'd spent my entire life working and I'd go nuts with nothing to do. I'd thought long and hard about what to do with myself. I'd always wanted to try on a barkeep's apron. However I'd always liked being on the ocean as well, or least on the water. I thought about how to integrate the two desires.
At first, the idea seemed simple--a floating bar! The trouble was, I wanted to scoot about as well, so a floating scow just wouldn't do it for me. I wanted something with a little flair, that would attract customers who wouldn't set foot into a 'dive'. I used the Internet to look at newer offerings from all over the world. There was a shipyard out of New Zealand that was building huge catamarans. I mean, really big catamarans. That got me on the track. Then I spotted the news about a Taiwan Navy jet boat that was a screamer. Hmm. Two hulls, two jets, two engines. That was settled in my mind, I headed down to Boston. There was an antiques dealer there that specialized in old bars from all over the world. There I found a quarter sawn oak 1880's bar and back-bar that had made it around the cape to California before being set up in a resort town. It had been stripped and re-finished. I purchased both parts and had a new bar surface installed, made of thick end-grain joined maple stock and surfaced with a very tough synthetic varnish that poured on like honey.
I'd been on vacation to England and Ireland. I visited a few pubs that had used foot pumps to tap their beer. It didn't super-carbonate the brew like American beers seemed to demand. Their beer was slightly flat in comparison but the flavor came through nicely. I thought that it was a more pleasant drink. I thought about all those hoses that wouldn't need cleaning and the beer wasted from purging the hoses every morning. I was convinced that a foot pump was the way to go.
Altogether the bar weighed about twenty two hundred pounds. Whoof! I'd have to find an architect that could figure out how to counterbalance that load. Perhaps move the water tank? At seven pounds per gallon we'd need a three hundred and fifteen gallon water tank! The bar was a static load, so that was only a partial answer.
The more traditional British and Irish pubs that I'd liked only had the 'telly' on during games, and juke boxes were unheard of. Oh, a live player was seen occasionally. The newer pubs had all the noise you could ask for and more. Darts were dead out, though.
I found a Chelsea Ship's Bell Chronometer to sit in a cut-out above the bar and ring out the watches. I contacted a local millwright that had loads of oak paneling available. My interior was taking shape. I yet had to get the paneling and the bar itself treated to make them as fireproof as possible.
I found a designing ship's architect, paid him a retainer and contracted for his services. We started with the model of a car ferry. I liked that a lot, so we then started scaling things. I liked the idea of a sixty to sixty-five foot long ship with a beam of twenty five feet or so. Those proportions would allow me access to most harbors and moorings. My design called for eight foot overheads. I wanted a low maintenance hull so he suggested rustproof stainless steel topped by an aluminum superstructure and stainless steel decks. The original plan looked pretty boxy so I suggested a covered walkway around the ship. That brought our beam to thirty three feet with four foot wide passageways. I thought that it looked better with a four foot tall bulwark as a deck rail, with oval scuppers at the level of the deck to allow for drainage.
He reserved a place for the life boat on top of the main cabin on rotating davits, but easy access was stumping us. He hit on long ramps from the stern to the bow. They were narrower at the bottom so a person could still access the bow of the ship using the peripheral passageways without using the ship's central run. I thought that was acceptable. Then we put the model through some dynamic tests. The wheelhouse windshields were constantly awash. That would make visibility hence manual navigation nearly impossible. He suggested raising the wheelhouse to the second story, which would also add more space to the salon. Brilliant! A set of stairs were installed along the port side of the salon, giving access to the wheel house and a hatch leading out onto the upper deck. Between the rear of the wheel house and the life raft lay a space that we made use of by installing an electrically operated bimini that anchored off the rear of the wheel house. Supports were installed to carry a half dozen hammocks. A locker was installed to hold the hammocks immediately off the wheelhouse. Instant patio. The ramps and upper deck were protected by stainless steel railings. He said we'd never get the thing warped into a port without bow thrusters so those were added as well. Hamilton Pump out of New Zealand had a wide range of water jet thrusters that would accommodate our main propulsion requirements no matter where we came in on the curve.
Now the question came as to how the interior was to be broken up. We started with a central passageway from the bow to the stern. I told the architect about the oak sheeting that I'd signed for. The interior bulkheads and hatches had to be fire stops, so wood sheathing was the best we could do. The bar was twenty-two feet long. It was positioned in a centerline recess to drop the center of gravity. Since the bow no longer was blocked by the wheel house we laid in a hatch on the ship's center line to give the place an emergency exit. (This is necessary for any public place by U.S. law) At the rear of the salon sat a U-shaped galley area, 10' wide by 8' deep. Astern from that lay a storage, laundry and prep compartment which was across the passageway from the head. Astern from those two lay the owner's stateroom mirrored by two smaller staterooms for the crew. The passageway led out to the rear deck and the gangway to the dock. Between the staterooms and the rear bulkhead lay the engine rooms at roughly fourteen feet across and eight feet long. I demanded that the designer soundproof the piss out of them.
The hulls were designed to carry tanks, transfer pipes and wiring harnesses, period. Each hull was insulated with a good quality spray-on foam before anything went into the raw structure. The ship was wired in both 12 volts and 110 volts. The port engine room held the water maker and spares while the starboard engine room held the genset, spare genset and battery farm. Cat diesels were selected to be the main engines. We had to have a spare genset. If we lost electricity we'd lose the helm. The battery farms were divided into helm control, engine start and passenger space domains.
Accessible from the rear deck were two lockers, one was vented and designed to hold the propane tanks while the other was used for cleaning supplies, including a power washer. On the other side was a small head, much like a porta-san for the bar patrons. It was heated and cooled, so it wasn't that much of a hardship.
At the heel of the stern deck I had a rather large propane grill mounted to one side. There was room enough for an eight-foot-long synthetic picnic table too. This gave me three entertainment areas--one inside and two outside.
The architect began pumping the specifications into Autocad and designing the runs for power, signal and the various pipe runs. The hulls had to be made taller to accommodate crawl spaces with all the runs involved. The proportions we were looking at seemed a bit squashed, so we changed the footprint to seventy feet long. This was the time that we locked down the locations for the dishwasher, glass washer, sink, ice maker and cold box behind the bar. He designed the power runs to give us access points behind a prep table in the stores compartment, and the same for the washer and dryer in the same area.
We talked about swapping the head with the stores room so that the head's black water feed was fed directly into the tank, removing the need for a macerator pump. That skewed the weight budget all to hell. We finalized the layout of the head, with a six-foot square tub that had a shower head above it. All the power plugs and switches had to be placed and runs to operate them planned as well. The galley received a big propane-fed wolf stove with six burners and a grill. The model I selected had two ovens at knee level. A medium-sized refrigerator in the galley was backed up by a larger refrigerator and a freezer in the stores compartment. I had an electric chiller plate installed in the top of a counter area to use as a pastry table. It made working with cold doughs such as pie crusts, scones and biscuits a dream. For mixing I bought a Bakemax 20 quart floor mount mixer, also to be kept in the stores cabin. That gave us all we needed to work as a hot shop with a full prep area.
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