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Rocket Science
Bieker Riptide 55
$325,000 USD
55ft in

Rocket Science is a high-performance blue water cruiser from the drawing board of Paul Bieker. A design well ahead of her time, the Riptide 55 incorporates many features only on more recent designs, both racing and cruising oriented – hard chines and twin rudders, water ballast, dinghy garage, integral bowsprit and anchor roller and a carbon mast with swept spreaders and no permanent backstay. It should be stressed that while Rocket Science is very quick, she was conceived with fast cruising in safety and comfort in mind. Constructed from the lightest and strongest materials, she was engineered and constructed to be as strong as the stoutest cruising boat, using ABS slamming standards for high-speed military craft and Det Norske Veritas standards for high-speed offshore craft. In contrast to other lightweight boats of this type, her design features significant deadrise in a V-shape forward of the keel. First and foremost, these deep sections provide more a more comfortable motion, particularly when sailing to weather. And the end result has not turned away from cruising comfort: a hard dodger, good accommodations, places to gather or curl up and read a good book, a great seagoing galley and plenty of storage space above and below decks for all the necessities.

Over her lifetime, Rocket Science has proven to be a capable cruising platform for her owners, most recently a couple who have logged over 20,000 miles aboard. They report easy 220 mile days reaching in 10 knots of breeze under working sails. Lightweight and easily driven, there is no need for white knuckle sailing to make good miles, just main and jib alone.

Name of vessel Rocket Science
Model Bieker Riptide 55
Year 1996
Builder Shaw Boats
Designer Paul Bieker
Price $325,000 USD
Location Anacortes, WA
Length (feet) 55
Beam (feet) 14'8"
Draft (feet) 9'7"
Displacement (pounds) 24000
Ballast (pounds) 9280
Engine model Isuzu 4JB1
Engine horsepower 70
Engine hours
Fuel tank capacity (gallons) 133
Water tank capacity (gallons) 90
Holding tank capacity (gallons) 54

Interior Accommodations

The three stateroom layout of Rocket Science provides plenty of comfort for owners and guests whether on passage or enjoying a secluded anchorage. Interior furniture is constructed of mahogany veneers over Nomex cores with bulkheads and walls painted with Egg White Awlgrip and trimmed in solid mahogany. The teak and holly cabin sole is a warm contrast to the light interior finishes. The headliner is a durable “leather” vinyl and is also trimmed in mahogany. Ventilation from opening ports, hatches and internally vented dorade is excellent and the load carrying capacity sufficient for long distance cruising. The open airy feeling is increased by the added ceiling height of the mast tabernacle.

The forward owner’s cabin is spacious with a full-size centerline double berth. There is ample storage in lockers around the stateroom and below the berth.

Rocket Science features one generously sized head with a separate shower stall and centerline toilet for ease of use no matter what the conditions. Opposite the head are lockers for additional storage and spares.

Aft of the head is the main salon which serves as a comfortable gathering place. Across from the salon table is a straight settee which provides a great sea berth when combined with a lee cloth.

Aft of the salon is the galley and nav station. The galley is “U” shaped and is secure in all conditions, and the sink is almost on the centerline. There is a 5.7 cubic foot refrigerator and separate 4.5 cubic foot freezer. Each box is cooled by separate Sea Frost 12v water cooled compressors that also function on air cooling. Also in the galley is a three burner Force Ten stove. Over the sink is a special vented dish drying cabinet to store dishes. The locker is designed to place wet dishes in directly after rinsing, allowing them to air dry so that they are ready for the next meal. The counter tops are durable high-pressure laminates. Across from the galley is a pantry for storage of food and staples.

The nav station, designed to serve as the ship’s office and communication center, is next to the pantry. The top opening chart table easily accommodates full sized charts with the vertical area adjacent to the nav table designed to take a full complement of communication and navigation instrumentation. In between the nav station and pantry is the electrical panel which is divided into three DC load groups and a separate AC panel.

Aft are two guest cabins each with a double berth and their own sink and vanity. At sea the aft cabins provide comfortable and secure berths for the off-watch crew.

Provisions, water and fuel storage are all located in the center of the boat.


Electronics and Navigation

Rocket Science is equipped with a NKE primary autopilot system and a spare Simrad Robertson system, both use the Whitlock direct drive.

NKE Gyropilot primary autopilot control head

Simrad Robertson AP20 secondary autopilot control head

Whitlock direct drive autopilot

B&G Hydra FFD Display in cockpit and at nav station including wind, knot meter, depth sounder and fluxgate compass (6 B&G displays)

B&G Zeus Touch 12” radar/chartplotter
B&G radar antenna on self leveling mount on arch

Vesper AIS receiver/transceiver with independent display

Garmin 120 GPS

ICOM 322 VHF with remote Command Mic

(2) Ritchie compasses mounted at dual helms

Weems & Plath barometer

Fleet Broadband FB150 maritime internet terminal with grandfathered SIM card, Wifi firewall/optimizer


Electrical Systems

M & I custom electrical panels for 120V & 240V AC and 12V DC distribution

(3) 8D gel cell house battery bank for 660AH (2010)

Group 27 gel cell start battery (2010)

Group 27 gel cell electronics battery (2010)

Heart Interface 2500 watt inverter/30 amp charger for 110v shore power input

Victron Energy 12/80 80 amp battery charger for 220v shore power input

Link 2000 battery monitor

(2) Siemens 75 watt marine solar panels mounted on hard dodger

Balmar 220 amp high output alternator for house bank

Balmar Max Charge MC 512 external alternator regulator (2010)

Secondary 35 amp alternator for start battery and electronics batteries

120v/30 amp shore power inlet

220v/50 amp shore power inlet

(3) 50′ power cords


Mechanical Systems

Isuzu 4JB1 70hp diesel engine with Hurth HBW 250 transmission

Aquamet 1 3/8″ shaft

Cast bronze strut

Max Prop two blade feathering propeller

Propeller line cutter

Webasto DBW90 30,000BTU diesel hydronic heater with four radiator fans

5.7 cubic foot refrigeration box with Sea Frost 12v water cooled compressor

4.5 cubic foot freezer box with Sea Frost 12v water cooled compressor

Force 10 three burner propane stove with oven and broiler

(2) 10lb aluminum propane tanks

Spectra Santa Cruz watermaker (14-17 gph)

Levac head

Torrid 11 gallon hot water tank

Pressure hot/cold water system

On demand pressure salt water system accessed in anchor locker, stern deck and galley

Tank Tender tank monitoring system

Holding tanks: 54 gallon black water, 20 gallon grey water tank (not plumbed and never used)

Fuel tanks: two integral 60 gallon tanks, one 13 gallon SS day tank

Water tanks: two integral 45 gallon tanks, one 20 gallon tank below port quarterberth (not in service) with distribution manifold system


Deck and Hull

Rocket Science was built by Shaw Boats in Aberdeen, Washington. Her hull is painted “Bieker blue” with white boot stripe and gold sheer stripe. Her decks are white with tan nonskid. The hull and deck are constructed of carbon fiber, Kevlar and honeycomb cores (Durocore below the waterline, Baltec core above the waterline and the deck construction of Nomex composite) for ultra light displacement ratios and the strength and integrity of the stoutest cruising boat.


The keel is a deep fin and bulb arrangement. The fin is of galvanized mild steel, coated in epoxy with a lead bulb. It is mounted in a crash box bolted into the hull’s carbon fiber structural grid, and is held in place by three pins, one being a “fuse” designed to deform or break in a grounding exceeding 12 knots. In this case, the keel will rotate aft, its’ motion absorbed and controlled by the lower pin which is bushed in a UHMW race. In this condition the keel has pivoted approximately 20 degrees but the boat can be sailed or motored in this condition and is structurally sound. This is a very robust attachment system and also allows the keel to be easily removed. Additional ballast is provided by starboard and port water ballast tanks of 200 gallons each. The water ballast system is currently manually controlled, though it was designed to be automatically controlled via a control panel in the cockpit. Water transfer is powered by a 12 volt ½ horsepower Leeson motor driving a centrifugal 60 GPM pump.


The decks are wide, allowing for secure passage forward. There is large forward sail and storage locker with a separate anchor at the bow. The cockpit is protected by a hard dodger with seats that are long enough to use as berths. Dual helm controls were designed to accommodate shorthanded cruising allowing the helmsman to easily drive the boat from the separate helm area. An arch over the aft end of the cockpit houses antennas and the radar anteanna and allows a connection point for the bimini top for good sun and rain protection. A dinghy garage in the transom efficiently stows the dinghy when on passage and provides an excellent teak swimstep when retracted.


For more information on her construction, see Bill Lee’s comments on the owner’s blog at

9 1/2′ bulb keel with trim tab

1600 lbs water ballast tanks to port and starboard, 12 volt ½ horsepower Leeson motor driving a centrifugal 60 GPM pump, manually controlled

Dual asymmetrical rudders by Advanced Composites with 3.5″ outside diameter shaft with autoclaved carbon wall thickness of .875″

Whitlock Cobra rack and pinion steering system with twin wheels

(2) 36″ destroyer type wheels

(7) 10″ SS cleats

28″ high custom lifeline stanchions with boarding gates

Custom bow pulpit and stern pushpit

73lb Rocna Vulcan anchor with 275’ 5/16 G4 chain (2016)

Fortress FX55 anchor

Fortress FX22 anchor

Spare anchor rode of 50’ chain and 250’ line

Lewmar electric anchor windlass with handheld control

Dinghy garage at transom

Teak swim step off dinghy garage

(4) Lewmar Coastline 040 18″x18″ deck hatches

(4) Lewmar low profile 010 10″ x10″ ports

(6) Lewmar Coastline 020 16 1/2″ x 7″ ports

(4) Lewmar Atlantic 010 14″x6″ ports

(1) Custom stainless sail locker hatch


Sails and Rigging

Hall Spars carbon fiber mast stepped on tabernacle, double spreaders with 25 degree sweep and composite chainplates

Navtec discontinuous rod rigging (replaced in 2015 with full mast down inspection of spar and standing rigging in September, 2021)

Kevlar running backstays

Carbon fiber boom with foam core reinforced with plywood in high stress areas

(2) main halyards, (1) staysail halyard, (2) spinnaker halyards, (2) genoa halyards

(7) Spinlock halyard clutches on mast

Antal low friction mainsail mast track system

Harken blocks throughout

Carbon fiber retractable bowsprit

Lazy jacks

(2) Harken 56 wide drum 3-speed primary winches

(2) Harken 56 STA secondary winches

(1) Harken 53 STA main sheet winch

(1) Harken 45 STA traveler winch

(1) Harken 45 STA halyard winch

(1) Harken electric 48 STA halyard winch

Sail repair kit

Sail inventory:

Full batten, heavily roached mainsail – Quantum Sails carbon load path 70/30 carbon/technora

Roller furling jib – Quantum Sails carbon load path 70/30 carbon/technora

Heavy air dacron staysail – North Sails
Storm jib – Quantum

Storm trysail on separate track

Code Zero on a continuous line Selden furler – Sanders UK Stormlite 210

1.5oz asymmetrical spinnaker

1.5oz asymmetrical spinnaker

2.2oz ‘heavy air’ asymmetrical spinnaker


Miscellaneous and Safety

Zodiac Compact Cadet 300 dinghy (2017)

Mercury 6hp outboard engine (2017)

Survitec 6 man liferaft in hard case

Auto inflating Dan Buoy

Lifesling MOB recovery device

Custom designed Jordan series drogue

Emergency rudder

Edson manual high capacity emergency bilge pump

(4) Coast Guard approved life jackets

Brass ships bell

150′ 3 strand polypropylene floating line

Extensive collection of spare parts for engine and systems including spare pumps


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