17 April 2023
Following her delivery last year and a recent period of shakedown sailing in Palma de Mallorca, the latest Baltic 67PC Freedom has been putting her iPhone app and handheld remote-control systems to the test, demonstrating that they are real assets for easy, fast, shorthanded sailing.
Freedom is the third Baltic 67PC to launch and illustrates the level of customisation possible in a yacht from the same hull mould.
Although their judel/vrolijk-designed hulls are identical, all three 67s have completely different interior layouts and, in the case of Freedom, her distinctive Targa-style protective hardtop, with its extensive glazing, large sliding hatch, solar panels and safety-first mainsheet track, has taken the 67’s deck design literally to a new level.
Baltic Yachts’ Service and Refit team in Palma, who are managing Freedom in their guardianage scheme, report that the yacht’s hardtop has been a resounding success, providing protection in any weather conditions and panoramic views for those relaxing in the large covered cockpit.
There’s a growing trend for yachts to have more permanent sun and weather protection, with Freedom’s owner opting for it at the design stage.
Careful planning by Baltic Yachts ensured that any concerns about the advanced composite, lightweight hardtop restricting the helmsman’s view or affecting performance in any way were eliminated from the outset.
Freedom’s owner wanted a yacht which he could sail easily by himself or with his partner. He chose the yacht’s name to reflect the freedom sailing still provides in a world increasingly hindered by restriction.
He was looking for a great sailing performance and the ability to handle the sailplan and perform other tasks using press button electro-hydraulics and remote-control systems.
For instance, he can manoeuvre the 3-metre tender in and out of its stern garage stowage entirely by phone. More generally, by using his iPhone app, he wanted to monitor Freedom and enjoy a level of remote surveillance which would provide him with peace of mind.
Lars Gripenberg, who project managed this innovative yacht for Baltic during her two-year build period in Jakobstad, said that with a few minor updates to the owner’s iPhone app the system is proving to be a great success. It allows the owner to use a CZone control system with Sentinell surveillance integration which can access all the yacht’s onboard electronic monitoring including four strategically positioned cameras.
“With a little fine tuning the app is working well so that the owner can check on anything from the wind speed and camera surveillance to tank levels and battery state – in a way it’s guardianage by iPhone!” said Lars.
As he approaches Freedom aboard his electric-powered tender, the owner can use his iPhone to open the stern garage, so that the boarding platform is deployed on his arrival. Also, by using his phone, he can operate the stern pasarelle which incorporates an electric crane to lift the tender onto the boarding platform and then slide it into its stern garage stowage.
The tender itself is equally innovative. The New Zealand-produced 3-metre Zero-Jet uses a powerful, electrically-powered waterjet propulsion system. The boat is capable of at least 25 knots and its 80kg battery pack gives about three hours’ use at speed and considerably more when throttled back.
A ‘bucket’ is used to direct the powerful flow of water from the jet and its designers have come up with a clever tiller steering system which by-passes the inherently awkward handling characteristics of some water jet propulsion units.
The advantage of the electric tender is that no fuel stowage or special ventilation are required aboard Freedom and when the Zero-Jet is retrieved it can be plugged into the yacht’s large electrical system for re-charging. Its emission-free status is an attractive selling point and the fact that the there is no exposed propeller makes it safe and enables it to run in extremely shallow water.
Freedom’s handheld radio remote controllers are used for onboard tasks like unfurling and furling the North in-boom mainsail, controlling the hybrid diesel electric propulsion system, and deploying and weighing the 45kg Ultramarine anchor.
A Dockmate joystick is used for close quarters manoeuvring using the yacht’s 50kW Molabo electric motor, meaning there’s no need to resort to an internal combustion engine in marinas or alongside.
Freedom’s genuine diesel/electric hybrid powertrain comprises a Volvo D3 150hp main engine and the Molabo unit driving a controllable pitch propeller. Lars Gripenberg, described how the diesel engine provides the yacht’s principal means of propulsion, but for marina work and in other scenarios, where reduced emissions and noise levels are preferable, the electric motor can be selected.
At normal cruising speeds of almost seven knots, the electric option provides a range of between three and four hours depending on conditions. Freedom is equipped with two sets of Mastervolt lithium-ion batteries.
Baltic Yachts’ guardianage team in Palma also report that Freedom is notably quick under sail and very easy to handle.
With her Marström swept spreader rig there is no need for runners, with a split backstay providing the necessary rig support. Displacing around 26 tons, Freedom is easily driven and should fulfil her promise of a good downwind performance in moderate breezes.
“The owner says she’s fingertip light on the helm and a joy to sail – he’s very happy and believes we have matched his expectations,” said Lars Gripenberg.
Freedom is equipped with twin rudders, which not only provide excellent control, especially when reaching hard, but also allow full advantage to be taken of the telescopic lifting keel comprising a stainless-steel fin and lead bulb. Draught can be reduced from 3.9 to 2.5-metres.
If Freedom’s control systems and hardtop are regarded as impressive, wait until you get below. Her covered cockpit leads directly into the yacht’s stunning and unusually open accommodation.
Design Unlimited, also responsible for designing the hardtop, has taken full advantage of the space saved by the provision of only three sleeping cabins, a large owner’s double suite forward and two cabins aft. In between, everything is open plan with the saloon, large galley and navigation-cum-office merging into one.
With an immense amount of light provided by deckhead skylights and two enormous hull-side ports, the effect on the contemporary styling is spectacular, creating a refreshingly modern, airy ambience.
There’s an unusual amount of space. This is achieved partly by the main bulkhead separating the main living space and the forward sleeping accommodation being further forward than on previous 67s. And although Freedom is equipped with a lifting keel, its telescopic design means there is very little intrusion into the accommodation.
The designers have selected light oak bulkhead panels, contrasting natural oak sole boards, leather finished grab handles, contemporary lighting and clear-coated carbon elements of the yacht’s internal structure to complete an extremely stylish and effective living space.
Freedom will continue cruising in and around the Balearics this summer and make her way to Sardinia where she is planning to attend the Baltic Yachts’ 50th Anniversary Rendezvous in Porto Rotondo which runs from 14 to 17 September.
Two of our principle aims for the Baltic 67 Performance Cruiser were to produce a yacht capable of making transocean passages under sail in light to moderate downwind conditions without having to resort to motoring and to offer options in accommodation and deck layout while using the same hull mould for economy.
Keeping the boat light was crucial, something Baltic Yachts is renowned for, so we were able to draw on our long history of engineering lightweight advanced composite structures to produce an easily driven, but good loading carrying hull.
Together with naval architects judel/vrolijk we could virtually guarantee a great sailing performance, particularly downwind.
With a standard hull mould, savings in tooling and consequently build time could be made for subsequent yachts.
But depending on a client’s requirements, we can still make modifications such as a twin rudder option, different keel configurations and varying numbers of hull ports. Rig options can be offered including the easy-to-use Marström swept spreader design which negates the use of runners, making it ideal for shorthanded crews.
While Freedom demonstrates just how different the a 67’s deck can be, it’s her accommodation which varies so much from previous boats. By providing only three sleeping cabins a large amount of space has been dedicated to the main living area merging the saloon, large galley area and navigation space into one.
Design Unlimited’s modern approach to décor and finish – the company also designed the hardtop for Freedom – creates an ultra-light and airy ambience with a great feeling of space.
There are three accommodation lay-outs available for the Baltic 67 Performance Cruiser. Key differences include the size and layout of the owner’s accommodation forward and the orientation of the tender stowage.
Freedom’s layout comprises three sleeping cabins and her large combined saloon, galley and navigation area.
Baltic 67PC-01 Manyeleti had a completely different layout with more sleeping cabins, a starboard-hand linear galley and was finished in darker hardwoods to create a more traditional feel.
The yacht’s owner aimed to compete in the World ARC circumnavigation. Baltic 67PC-02 Lurigna was different too, optimised for offshore cruising and racing including the Rolex Fastnet Race in which she competed in 2019, not long after being launched.
So, the choices are many and varied, but with the common advantage of developing options from a one design hull, which saves time and cost.