Return of the windjammer

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by Bergalia, Sep 14, 2007.

  1. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    A thought, gentlemen/ladies. Perhaps a new use for we ‘ancient mariners’ in this age of ‘global warming.’

    As non-renewable fuels rapidly vanish (a recent ‘peak oil’ report suggests that this is one fuel which will evaporate by 2027), and airline travel becomes prohibitive - if not impossible, might there not be a greater use of sea traffic to transport humans. Already there is growing protest at ‘short-haul’ flights in an effort to stem the gross waste of aviation spirit - no doubt soon it will effect the longer, transatlantic, transpacific schedules for all except emergency flights - air-journeys which are truly critical to national well-being. Unless of course the reason for such a journey can be done as well - and far more cheaply by ‘net-conferencing’ (God I hate hat bloody word, but in this instance it must suffice).

    It follows that movement of humans and bulk cargo between continents must be done by sea. Oil, of course will be ‘out’ - and for the sake of the ozone layer so will coal, leaving, at least temporarily, that tried and true renewable - the wind. (Discount solar-energy until the science is better advanced. Nuclear I discount entirely as it leaves the insoluble problem of waste disposal.)

    So, is it not possible that future shipbuilding, and future careers at sea might be based on the return of the ‘windjammer.’
     
  2. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    You've got a little bit of faith in the goodness of mankind, Max. Commendable.
    Do you mean ships with both wind propulsion and standby hydrogen fuel cells, for example? The wind is inconsistent but could account for at least 50% of a vessel's propulsion.
    The bigger the ship, the more efficient the hull. Those old windjammers could top 20 knots at times. A modern 1000 ft long ten-master could do well over thirty-five knots in average conditions. It is very feasable.
    The Chinese will build the first ones.
     
  3. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Max, we have discussed sail propulsion for cargo ships thoroughly through these forums. Kites seem to be the mosre sensible approach for the time being, rather than clouds of canvas on masts.
     
  4. safewalrus
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    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    Trouble is sail tends to be labour extensive, that costs money, and the first world at least tends to be bloody lazy! But yes it will have to get to that again one day no doubt! But I guess by the feeble efforts being made these days it will be long into the future - and full of bloody yotties!
     
  5. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    All good points. But what I am - not so much suggesting, as pondering is that our whole future of economic 'transworld' travel and haulage will once more depend on the sea, and therefore future generations - and not too far off - will again have to learn 'seamanship'.

    To Guillermo (whose opinions I hold in extremely high regard - and I'm not 'sucking up') I have to disagree that 'kites' will prove most serviceable. From what little I've seen (and that only on a small experimental scale) they prove to be more unweildy to set than conventional sails, and will no doubt cause a great deal of confusion in crowded seaways (English Channel, Saint Lawrence not the least).

    To Alan I say yes to 'additional' power sources - once they have been developed (hydrogen from seawater itself seems a good second after solar).

    And to Walrus, yes all nations (except the Scots of course) are 'idle' when it comes to hard work. But Dr Jim Clark (a well-heeled yottie) and the Royal Huisman yard who gave birth to 'Hyperion' give pointers to the way large sail plans can be 'controlled' by computer, adding an efficiency to sail setting while requiring less manpower - and without the experienced skipper's 'nose' for the wind.

    Even so machines, no matter how sophisticated, can never replace the intuition gained by practical experience.

    To sum up. I'm suggesting that instead of current 'educational institutes' slavishly on churning out 'factory hands', they might look to the immediate future and coach a new breed of commercial 'sailors'.
     
  6. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Maybe there's a point in what concerns to crowded seaways, but I don't see big ships coming closer than 300-400 m from each other when steaming along, which is all what is needed in horizontal projection to fly the kite. Kites are for free running, not tight maneouvres.

    Regarding the launching-retrieving and sailing of kites, a lot of research and development has been done, allowing for almost fully authomated maneouvres nowadays.
    See http://s2.streamingfarm.tv/streamingfarm/skysails_clips/20070823_SkySails_Erklaerfilm_e03_768k.wmv
    For more info on the Skysails system: http://www.skysails.info/fileadmin/user_upload/Pressedownload/Dokumente/SkySailsTechnologie_en.pdf

    Cheers.
     
  7. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    Couple of good links Guillermo. Again thanks...but I remain unconvinced. Much I suppose like your 'John Perry's' mentor Billie Thomson (Lord Kelvin). If you remember - for all his apprent worldiness, in 1892 he dismissed the thought of 'aircraft': "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible," he said.
    I've had little success in researching Perry, by the way. Sorry, but I'm sure something will turn up. But back to Kelvin - you'll know the tale about his meeting with 'Their Lords of the Admiralty'.

    His interest in sailing came about with the death of his wife Margaret in June 1870. Three months after her death Thomson bought a 126 ton sailing boat, 'Lalla Rookh'. This provided a diversion from his bereavement and he would spend much time aboard in following his research.

    Time aboard Lalla Rookh prompted Thomson's interest in navigation. He designed and patented a new compass that was more stable than existing ones and compensated for the effect of the iron hull of modern ships. Initially the Admiralty Lords were sceptical, with one committee concluding that it was "too flimsy and sure to be fragile". Thomson's response was to throw his compass across the committee room; it remained intact. A probably apocryphal addition to this story claims that Thomson then threw the Admiralty's standard-issue compass across the room. It, so the story goes, did not survive the impact.
    The Navy was finally convinced of the soundness of the new compass and by 1888 had adopted it as standard on all Admiralty ships. Thomson also invented a mechanical tide predictor, and developed a new sounding machine that allowed depths to be determined quickly and, more importantly, without having to stop the ship.
     
  8. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

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  9. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    I loved (didn't know about Kelvin's seafarer side, Max, thanks) this tale from W. Thompson:
    "In June 1873, Thomson and Jenkin were onboard the Hooper, bound for Lisbon with 2,500 miles of cable when the cable developed a fault. An unscheduled 16-day stop-over in Madeira followed and Thomson became good friends with Charles R. Blandy and his three daughters. On 2 May 1874 he set sail for Madeira on the Lalla Rookh. As he approached the harbour, he signalled to the Blandy residence "Will you marry me?" and Fanny signalled back "Yes". Thomson married Fanny, 13 years his junior, on 24 June 1874." (Taken form Wikipedia)
    One wrongly has in mind only his scientific achievements and 'old bird' appearance (As Ernest Rutherford used to call him), this hiding other human interesting facets of his life.
     

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  10. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    Ah ha, Guillermo - your picture of the Lalla Rookh raises an interesting thought on motive power - why not a dozen Scots lifting their kilts against the wind...:)
     
  11. safewalrus
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    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    Bergalia we wont to use the wind to propel our vessels not scare the hell out of it!

    Most of what you say is still going on in small island nations, Carib and Med especially so, no doubt we will eventually go back (?) to it but at the moment (?) still not comercially viable! Take the Atlantic Clipper experiment - small (?) sailing vessel running across the the Atlantic to the windward Islands - worked for a short length of time and the venture sank without trace! Wind assisted cargo carrying on a small scale, the concept was good but......

    give it a few more years and no doubt another venture will take off etc etc. Until it finally sticks - when it gets comercially viable! Until then.... and no I don't think kites etc will work - the motive force is to far away and uncontrollable - gimmicky yes but practical, for me, No!
     
  12. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    Bide your time Walrus...It's coming...and it's 'Old hands' like you that will be in demand....:)
     
  13. safewalrus
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    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    Aye Bergalia, but by then I'll be too old! so will you my friend!;) unfortunately
     
  14. Bergalia
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    Bergalia Senior Member

    No no Walrus old mate...I see us sitting on a pile of old lobster pots pointing out to sea....
     

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  15. safewalrus
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    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    Been there done that! Who do you think was wearing the red trousers? That's why I had me back to the camera, so no ody could recognise me! Telling the boys in Raleigh to get some sea time in! (sorry people 'in' joke between Max and I)
     
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