a self-sufficient boat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by jkittel, Dec 6, 2006.

  1. jkittel
    Joined: Dec 2006
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    Location: michigan

    jkittel Junior Member

    These days there are many reasons for wanting to 'get away from it all'. Environmentalists and libertarians have increasingly been living off the grid, using renewable energy resources along with private wells, waste treatment and heat saving homes to free themselves from public utilities. Some even go so far as growing their own food, but even then your still part of modern society. What local industry does may affect your air, meanwhile your taxes may pay for things your strongly against.

    Some people have tried to create their own micro-nations by building artificial islands, however none of the attempts could be considered successful. The United Nations doesn't recognize a man made island as a true island, and often the island is taken over by the navy of another country.

    It seems to me that the best way of really being independent would be a self sufficient boat that would never need to dock. The following are necessary aspects for such a ship, however I have no idea what would be the optimal design and look forward to hearing your opinion.

    Necessary Capabilities

    Propulsion would need to come from wind turbines, sails, solar panels or wave power. Excess electricity generated would need to be stored, either with batteries or with hydrolysis/fuel cell.

    Food would need to come either from the sea, or be grown on board for the two adults. Research by NASA has found that 15 square meters of intense hydroponics with 24 hour lighting can support an adult; however the boat may not have the power to provide constant lighting. Fishing should provide most of the calories, particularly if excess fish are frozen for dry spells. Taking all of these factors into account being on the safe side, the boat should have 20 square meters of hydroponics.

    Since the boat needs to avoid territorial waters when possible it would need an extremely high seaworthiness to ride out storms rather then seek the protection of a bay.

    All of these factors demand a lot from a boat, particularly if its going to be comfortable to live in. The cheaper it is to construct, the better. Ideally the whole boat could be built over time by one individual, which may mean a concrete hull may be the best solution.

    What do you think is the best way to design this boat? What kind of hull would you use? What power source or combination would you suggest? What features would you add to improve life on board?
  2. jkittel
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    jkittel Junior Member

    There are 4 recently mentioned alternative energy ships.

    concept for a wind, solar and diesel hybrid ferry.
    made by solar sailor

    Sun21, solar powered ship

    Planet solar, 3 hull trimaran that is designed for speed

    E/S Orcelle, wind, wave power and solar. 820 foot cargo vessel concept.
  3. Poida
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Location: Australia

    Poida Senior Member

    Often when daydreaming, which takes up a vast majority of my time, I'm sure my boss thinks I'm working out a new machine design, I have thought of this concept. A large raft just out of territorial waters. Not as a complete self sufficient unit but more as a holiday resort with a lot of the construction underwater and units having an underwater window.

    The under water construction would be built as an artificial reef to attract reef fish or introduce reef fish. It would be good to wake up in the morning with a large ocy stuck to your window.

    A casino would provide a lot of the funds and you would not be controlled by any laws. A heliport would be on the top to fly guests in and out as well as a dock for boats.

    I think that true self sufficiency is an impossibilty, for a couple to achieve a balanced diet would mean meat eggs vegies pasta and beer. It would have to be a very large boat for cows to be grazing on it.
  4. grumpygrady
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: florida

    grumpygrady landlubber

    it would seem that a couple of barges would do for land
    raising cattle ,food plots and the more underwater you have have the better it would be
  5. Kaa
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: USA

    Kaa Wanderer

    For legal aspects of living "independently" in the international waters, you might want to read up on the history of the Principality of Sealand. Google is your friend.

    As to complete self-sufficiency, two questions. First, can you get a complete diet (that is, with all the needed vitamins, amino acids, etc.) just from limited hydroponics onboard and the sea? And second, what do you do in medical emergencies?

  6. alaskamokaiman
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: Palmer Alaska

    alaskamokaiman Junior Member

    Big Dreams

    Hope you have big pockets as the start up costs will be very large. As to building look into the method that they use to help repair the bridges in the Keys . They use electricity to help patch the cracks in cement I have seen small things made with the same method.
    First build what you want with rebar and chicken wire,then cover it with layers of metal window screen, then sink it in salt water and power up the frame work I belive that it is positive to the frame work and the negitive to a rebar beside it not touching. You will see the it will grow like coral to cover the whole thing . Then you have to raise it and make the finishing touchs.
    Yuo could build a wind generator on a float to power it up.
    Kinda like cement. Very hard stuff you can make hollow places it inject foam.
    I would think that to ride out storms it would be good to make it sink into the water like a sub just below the surface, so every thing would be in side safe from safe spray. Hard to garden in salted soil or hydro.
    Have dreamed this one many times.
    Have the little boats for play and running around check out mokai.com
  7. Poida
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Poida Senior Member

    And second, what do you do in medical emergencies?

    Seriously tho' but not too serious, you could have a medical team on board, being paid for in most part by performing abortions offshore in countries that make it illegal. Too touchy a subject, forget I said that. What about cosmetic surgery, have a holiday with a face lift. What about a breast implant, they use a saline solution, **** loada that cheap out in the middle of the ocean. Just be carefull the plankton trapped in your left tit doesn't grow into a great white shark or your ***** implant doesn't grow into Moby Dick.

    Better go know before I get banned from the Botox Building Forum.
  8. jkittel
    Joined: Dec 2006
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    jkittel Junior Member

    A boat with hydroponics stuffed inside would handle rough weather far better then a barge with a garden on top. So far the only estimate on what the minimal space is need for a vegetarian to be sustained by a intense hydroponics garden is 15 square meters. While sufficient to live on, the food would not be very appetizing. By capturing fish from the sea, a human would be able to live on far less then 15 square meters and have far tastier meals. With two adults on board and the desire to not be too dependent on a steady supply of fish, 25 square meters sounds sufficient. With a greenhouse vertical space isn’t a major limit, however with the boat it is far more important. I’ve been trying to visualize the best way to setup the hydroponics and only yesterday had an idea.

    The garden would be 25 square meters wide and 1.5 meters tall. Above the garden would be a grid of metal trusses, on which floor panels would rest. White LEDs hanging from the metal truss would provide light for the plants. When someone needed to maintain the garden they would remove the necessary floor panels and reach down into the hydroponics crawl space.

    Because the plants would be grown deep at the center of the boat there wouldn’t be any risk of sea spray or wind gusts damaging the crops. A dehumidifier would collect the aspirated moister, proving a source of drinking water. Regarding other food sources, a fermentation plant for making alcohol wouldn’t be very large. Chickens could provide eggs, as well as occasional meat. However keeping livestock in the boat may cause bad odors. Fish chum, vegetable waste, and human waste can be fermented to create biogas, which can be used to heat the ship or generate electricity. The treated waste would then be sterilized and used as nutrients for the hydroponics garden.

    Cost, weather rating, and speed are all intertwined. Ideally this ship would be ‘relatively’ inexpensive for 1 person to construct, be able to ride out major storms, and also move at a suitable pace despite relying on renewable energy.

    The ultimate in weatherability is the submarine, which can simply submerse beneath the weather to ride out a storm. The concrete submarine is a very interesting combination of affordability and strength. Most of the hybrid ships that I’ve mentioned are all built for speed, using trimaran or catamaran setups along with wave cutting bows. One thought I had was a low depth submarine optimized for surface speed, with deployable floats that turn its single hull into a trimaran. However I’m concerned that the submarine would have too deep a draft on the surface to move very quickly.

    Regarding medical emergencies, hopefully you have a good medical kit on board. Video conferencing with a doctor might help the healthy adult stabilize the wounded one while the boat heads to the closest friendly nation.

    An interesting link about a 6 person concrete submarine concept
  9. safewalrus
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Location: Cornwall, England

    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    Piracy! Get some big guns, take what you want, when you want and disappear (see concrete submarine above!) Plan your attacks and then go, careful who you pinch it off and the governments won't be too bothered - don't plan it and take from the wrong ones and your life might get a bit tricky - and short! But the system could(should/would) work!
  10. jkittel
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    jkittel Junior Member

    Update on the idea.

    The ship is going to be built mainly out of cargo containers, mainly the 8x8x40 feet variety. Recycled tire rubber and concrete have a high chance of being used as additional construction material.

    3 wind turbines in conjunction with a hull covered with solar cells to recharge lead acid batteries (which are also used for ballast).

    Single Hull Design, possibly X-bow.

    A series of foldable rafts will be deployed in calm weather, containing miles of tubing in which algae is grown. Nutrients for the algae come from human waste, as well as mud obtained from the hybrid anchor/dedger. Algae is converted into bio diesel and ethanol as a means of long term energy storage. Fuels are then burned for heat, or for sterling engine to generate electricity.

    Even if I'm able to address construction costs, fuel costs, and food costs, I still have to deal with docking fees. Assuming your growing your own food and creating your own electricity, how unreasonable is it to try to live aboard WITHOUT being at dock. How difficult will it be to make the ship stable enough to live aboard comfortably? how long can I stay anchored in a harbor before I get chased off by the harbor master?
  11. mydauphin
    Joined: Apr 2007
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    mydauphin Senior Member

    Unless you guys are looking to build a supertanker to convert... A boat is a place of Minimallism and figuring where to stuff things and worrying about weight. And then when a storm comes... better hope everything is tide down.

    Look what a rogue wave has done to a cruise ship (the closest thing to floating city).
  12. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
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    Location: maine

    alan white Senior Member

    Harbor masters should have no right to send a vessel off if it is anchored in a designated anchoring area so long as it isn't preventing visiting boats from finding room. You should think about proper anchoring techniques, using multiple anchors, if you intend to live aboard. I always avoided harbors myself, preferring small coves without competition. The typical patrolled harbor is anathema to privacy and autonomy. If you don't appear to be supporting the local economy by using services, you will eventually become unwelcome in many places. Human nature is such that individualism is considered a threat, and that will manifest in any conceivable manner available to the threatened.
    More power to you, any case.

    1 person likes this.
  13. Bergalia
    Joined: Aug 2005
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    Thanks Poida - been wondering how that happened.....:(

    But to be vaguely serious. Like Poida I spent several years pondering the self-sufficiency problem. That's mainly the reason we moved to Australia some 20 years back. Sunlight - little call for 'heating power' - the biggest drain the in Northern hemisphere.
    We have a small property (10 hectares) and now are self-sufficient in vegetables, fruit, eggs and milk. (I run a couple of sheep, a pig or two and the odd beef steer - which is 'converted' by the local abbatoir - free in exchange for the hides, tallow and bits I don't want). Solar panels provide 90 percent of the electricity and rain-water tanks for human consumption - plus recycled 'grey water' for the crops.
    This apart there are still unavoidable outgoings - rates (thieving bureacratic ********); college fees (educated thieving ********) health contributions (despite being married to a nurse) and small 'luxuries' - which I personally can live without - but the three females in my household assure me are essential...
    However when I work out how to grow 'shampoo', porage and whisky my world should be pretty near complete.
    But that's on land...at sea...well a different matter altogether.:(
  14. Willallison
    Joined: Oct 2001
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    Willallison Senior Member

    Poida you naughty *******.... but damn if that wasn't bloody funny:D

  15. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    I have written extensively about this kind of vessel on the "which boat would you build if the world was blowing up" or something like that.

    Anyway dumb barges was what I thought would do the trick. Tons and tons of sand, not only for ballast but to make beaches for the girls( must take at least 10) and deck chairs (at least 1) and tables etc.

    Im not sure about the problems that would obviously occure on such a vessel, such as finance and supplies, but the girls would be helpfull in keeping your mind away from these horrible thoughts.

    An abslaute must is rum and cocktail sticks with little umburellas on.

    Any other problems not too serious could be easily solved sitting on the beach thinking about them. Yes it could work.
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