Scout 670 LX Preview and Build Process

Scout 670 LX Preview and Build Process

Scout is hard at work on a groundbreaking 67-foot-long super console. Senior Editor Chris Dixon reports on a jaw-dropping build and the tools making it possible.

Scout 67

Scout is hard at work on a groundbreaking 67-foot-long super console. Senior Editor Chris Dixon reports on a jaw-dropping build and the tools making it possible.

Of the hundreds of fairly impressive to positively gobsmacking boats I saw at this year’s Miami boat show, it’s quite possible that the vessel that bowled me over the most also happened to be among the smallest. It wasn’t even three feet long, but man, this cruiser had it all: swooping lines, exotic composites, solid fishing and an ability to get into super skinny water. She even sported five tiny Mercurys.

You may have now surmised it, but that boat was a scale model. Built by San Diego’s SD Modelmakers, it was a tiny rendering of a gorgeous, low-slung Scout sportfisher called the 670LX. I live in Charleston and try to stay at least semi-apprised of developments amongst Carolina’s slew of serious boatbuilders, but this 67-foot-long $5 million groundbreaker, being developed just up the road in Summerville, caught me completely off guard. When launched, Scout’s flagship will not only be the largest outboard-powered production yacht ever built (longer even than HCB’s Estrella 65) but also, according to the builder, one of the fastest.

As Scout’s charismatic Founder and CEO Steve Potts described the 670 in Miami, I was intrigued as hell. Co-designed with British superyacht studio Harrison Eidsgaard, she would come in three models, fishing, sport and coupe, and be Scout’s biggest offering by 14 feet. Bearing 3,000 horsepower at her transom, she should run at least 52 knots. She should also boast an incredibly shallow draft of two feet, seven inches. Were an owner willing to take the risk, they could joystick her right up to a beach, raise her five 600-hp Mercury Verados and step off her fold-down stern platform and wade to shore. The 670 had every appearance of becoming a true tour de force. So when I arrived home, I gently pestered (the hell out of) Scout’s Alan Lang and Carol Anne Henry to let me see how the company had designed the boat, and how they planned to build it.

A couple of months later, a huge deck plug arrived at Scout in two pieces. It was on this massive slab of epoxy and carbon fiber that 670 number one would be laid out. Once it was set up on the factory floor, Scout’s Director of R&D Steve Potts Jr. and Senior Designer Jeff Sommers invited me up for a closer look at a yacht they hope to have ready to sea trial at the end of this year.

Like most boatbuilders here in the Lowcountry, Scout comes from humble beginnings. Steve Potts Sr. launched the company back in the late 80’s on a wing, a prayer and $50,000 that he dutifully scrounged together through daytime work managing American Sails, a Charleston builder known worldwide for its AquaCat sailboats and a night job repairing fiberglass bathtubs. By 1989, Potts and his wife Dianne were hand-laying 14 and 15-foot powerboats out of a brick barn that would be leveled that same year by Hurricane Hugo. Shaken but not stirred, the Potts, including a 12-year-old Steve Jr., literally picked up the pieces and built a Lowcountry boating empire. Today, they run a 400,000 square foot, 400-employee facility where Scout builds its two-dozen-plus model fleet—from its popular 175 Sportfish center console to its 20-ton, 53-foot 530 LXF and soon, the 670.

To hear Steve Potts Jr. tell it, the 670 simply would not have been possible several years ago. Ultimately the decision to tackle such a huge, beachable mini-mega yacht really revolved around engines like Mercury’s 600. You simply couldn’t build a boat with these capabilities and dimensions with an inboard motor. The propeller shaft would have to come in at too steep an angle to allow for a planned low, flat fold-down stern and the engine room would be way too cramped. Having steerable lower units allows for the Mercurys to be spaced closely together too—permitting a reasonably narrow beam (in this case 19 feet). It’s also, Potts pointed out simply a lot easier to service a motor hanging off the back. “It wasn’t that long ago that you the biggest outboard was a 225,” he said. “The 600’s are proven engines. The transom’s only so wide—so you can get them a lot tighter and closer together. You gotta be able to trailer it down the road too.”

Of course, it would also be prohibitively expensive to trial and error a hull of this scale, so Scout relied on fluid dynamics modeling to land on an optimally efficient two-step, three-strake configuration. The V-hullshould have required at least the center engine to be stepped down and set lower than the others, but Scout wanted the deck of engines to be flat at the stern. The fluid modeling tested planing efficiency with a small, flat upward notch laid into the hull to permit water to flow across the center propeller. “We do a similar thing with the 53,” said Potts. “This one we notched a bit more, simulated it and it ran exactly the same simulated as it did with a V-hull.”

Another challenge was making the hull strong enough to allow for enormous fold-down gunwales to starboard and port. Scout worked with composites specialist Vectorply in designing a stringer and hullshape up to the task. Potts compared it to the hidden strengthening that has to go into convertible cars that can’t rely on roof reinforcement for frame strength. “The stringer’s pretty elaborate,” he chuckled.

Not surprisingly, during the nearly yearlong design phase, Scout relied on massive CAD files developed using every in-person and virtual tool in the trade—along with plenty of occasionally heated discussions. In their R&D office, I’m shown the fantastically detailed 3D renderings that Sommers, Potts and the rest of Scout’s design team poured over to get the layout and hull design just right. Sommers peels back layers and walks us through the interior, showing how the four-cabin layout evolved. Various salon and stern seating configurations are even occupied by rendered humans—and it all can be changed on the fly. The idea, Potts says, was to get to a point where they could walk completely through the boat by strapping on virtual reality goggles. The VR software itself is down on the day of my visit, but the CAD rendering still shows some of the surprises that the VR revealed.

“We put the VR goggles on and walk down into the cabin,” said Sommers. “The cabin kind of opens to a big sunroof on top of the console. So, when you sit down on the couch, you can look all the way up to the sky—which is something that you wouldn’t notice unless you’re physically building the boat and sitting in it or putting the VR on.”

The 67-foot-long deck plug was built by a North Carolina composite design specialist called Symmetrix. It occupies a significant chunk of floorspace in the R&D facility alongside a huge, five-axis router that’s busily sculpting a life-sized stern seat setup out of EPS foam. When it’s finished, the team can easily lift it into place—and sit on it.

Sommers described his amazement at how the mold was set in place atop adjustable supports. To begin with, he said, the plug had to be absolutely, positively level, but Scout’s cement floor was imperfect and not level at all. So Symmetrix brought in a sci-fi worthy machine that rolled a small steel ball all across the floor and scanned its passage over imperfections. “And this huge machine is taking pictures of it the whole time,” said Sommers. “It’s taking thousands of measurements and to see how far things are off. Once they bolted the plug in and leveled it, we’re within, like thousandths of an inch.”

Scout 67 layout diagram

Currently, the upper cabin is mockup cast in pink foam, plywood and 2×4’s. When finished, it will be a fiberglass mini palace—air conditioned, fully enclosable, accessed via huge glass doors and opened to the world with giant, automotive-style power windows. With the router and an ability to create rapid fiberglass layups for smaller pieces, the design crew can experiment on the fly—testing whether configurations that looked good on CAD or in VR are real-world serviceable. Drawn on top of the high-tech countertops and rear seats are old-school pencil marks showing optimal placement for phone chargers and rod or cup holders. There’s even a simple, cut out barstool. On the factory floor next to the hull form, are life-size printouts not only of the stern deck, but in-place renderings of the components that will go beneath it—Seakeeper, pumps, tanks, hoses, wiring and genset. Again—allowing designers to tweak everything on the fly.

“That’s the reason why we’re designing it all on computer with VR in simulation and then basically mocking it up and walking through it and making sure it all works,” says Potts. “And that’s certainly been a challenge as far as the functionality. You can’t look at another boat and see what somebody else did in a certain situation. There’s not another boat like this. You just kind of figure it all out on your own.”

Scout 67

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