Small Boat in cold climates

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by wmonastra, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. wmonastra
    Joined: Jun 2006
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    Location: Auckland New Zealand

    wmonastra Junior Member

    Hi Guys,

    Im planning a trip to the far reaches of north and south pole over the next 5 years. Im wanting to do it in a steel yacht under 30ft (yes you read that right.)Does anybody have any ideas on design/layout etc. At this stage im sailing solo and i want the boat in the water by next xmas. for a shakedown sail round NZ.
    Im keen for your thoughts.(and not the silly ones about small boat sailing cause ive herard them all before, and i have been living on my 27ft yacht very happy for the last 3 years.)

  2. Arvy
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    Arvy Senior Member

    Hi Wayne,

    Nothing about a particular design, just some things that I would want for sure when going to those locations (not my cup of tea as I don't like cold at all). What I would certainly want is a strong build yacht with a thicker than normal bottom that can withstand driftice.

    I wouldn't want much glass in the superstructure and I wouldn't want setboards (as driftsnow tends to blow through the smallest of openings). And the glass is really difficult to insulate properly for those low temperatures.

    It is extremely important to have heating that can be lit like an oldfashioned oil heater with no electric parts whatsoever. And it should be big enough too!

    Keep in mind that communication with the rest of the world is difficult (at least on the northern hemisphere, not sure about the southern).

    I am not sure about if there are maps of the areas with depth information, but I would think a low draft would be nice too.

    I am not sure if there is an english translation of the book by Henk de Velde who tried to take the passage on the north side above russia but I would recommend you to read it as it does contain some things to think of.

    And most important of all, such a trip requires a lot more planning then an "average" ocean crossing ;) but I am sure you will take enough time to think everything through 5 times (or 10).

    Are you going with a sailingyacht or a motoryacht?
  3. safewalrus
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    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    Don't forget plenty of insulation - not this half inch of foam but good old 'Rockwool' minimum of two inches and wood lined (if you double skin it in ply nad tounge and groove it looks pretty and you can burn the T&G if the going gets tough!) Nice little solid fuel heater with a flat top that you can cook on - keep a kettle full of water on it at all times! Does wonders for the old moral, but I guess you know that already! Having said that don't forget a decdent bit of ventilation (don't need fans or anything just a couple of openings in the coach roof) you wouldn't want to die of CO2 poisoning would you!
  4. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    I have heard good things about Armaflex closed-cell insulation for high-latitude hulls. Glass of any sort is going to fog up like crazy and drip condensation on the interior unless it's insulated- it is now possible to get custom insulated glass units (two or three panes, thermally broken, argon filled) in just about any flat shape, I can see spec'ing a heavy tempered outer pane and using them on a boat.
    Heat - you want to be able to work this with the batteries fried and the engine dead.
    Layout, etc - apart from wanting a very good, ventilated deck-gear locker for your survival suit, and probably a vestibule of sorts in the companionway to help separate cold/wet from warm/dry, I see no reason why you wouldn't have the same freedom as with any other boat. Berths near the pitch/roll centre, of course, so you can actually get some rest.
    An HRV (heat recovery ventilator) works wonders for interior ventilation in cold-climate housing. Might be worth looking into them for boats, if you could find one that doesn't rust out in ocean conditions, it would make the cabin a lot more comfortable and save on heating fuel.
    Go way overboard on the scantlings. Remember that an ice floe might weigh several times more than your boat, and you are going to hit lots of them.
    Minimal draught, for sure. The keel, if it has one, should be able to hit something (ie, an ice floe) underway, and either kick up or survive the impact.
    S/Y Seal is somewhat bigger than what you're planning but is designed for the exact same type of service, and has proven her worth. Check that yacht out for ideas from the polar-cruising experts.
  5. ted655
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    ted655 Senior Member

    IF.... your boat has not been built yet, then pay attention to the grade of steel and the welding process that is used!
    There is a different way to build when operating in cold water.
    Get down in the steel construction part of this forum & try to contact some Canadian steel boat builders, or in addition to this forum, join "Metal Boat Society"
    You gotta have different grade of steel to cruise with iceburgs!
    1 person likes this.
  6. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    Good point about the steel, Ted.
    The more brittle, higher-carbon steels do not fare so well in the Arctic. More ductile varieties, that will distort or stretch instead of cracking in the event of a catastrophic collision, seem to be preferred for ice use.
    In Canada, for such a project, one would be looking for a welder who is intimately familiar with CSA standards W47 and W59. You may have equivalent standards down there; these are detailed technical standards describing exactly what constitutes acceptable welding under different use scenarios.
  7. Gilbert
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    Gilbert Senior Member

    David Lewis had a steel boat that he used in Antarctica. I think it was somewhat bigger than 30 feet. I remember reading about it in the National Geographic maybe 25 years ago. Perhaps he wrote a book about it???
  8. masalai
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    masalai masalai

    google "ice-cat" or Robin Chamberlin, he and a friend went to the southern ice shelf in a glass cat of his design a couple of years back.
  9. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    You might consider reading the book, "North into the Night". About a couple who allowed themselves to be frozen in through an arctic winter. Small steel sailboat a bit over thirty feet. Gripping story.

  10. safewalrus
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    safewalrus Ancient Marriner

    Came back to mention the need for oversized scantlings but note that Marshmat has already covered that, I can but endorse his wise words, remember that if your steel boat is built to 'normal' small boat practices at that size you won't have much in the way of scantlings!
  11. ted655
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    ted655 Senior Member

    If I remember, there is a particular shape of hull that "rides up" and is more crush resistant in case of ice entrapment..
    Much to learn to do this safely.
  12. erik818
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    erik818 Senior Member

    I admit to staying away from open water in wintertime when I can, and haven't been in the arctic sea. I guess you'll be trying to time your trips to the arctic/antartic summers, but summers at high lattitudes can resemble winters elsewhere if you are unlucky with the weather.

    Some years ago I had to take a look at the special environmental requirements that the Swedish Navy had compared to the army. My conclusion was that you won't experience really low temperatures at sea; open water is not compatible with really low temperatures for any stretch of time. If you just can stay dry you should be OK. (Maybe easier said than done). To keep dry you need some heating in the (insulated) cabin to avoid condensation. It doesn't have to be comfortably warm inside, but it must be less cold than the outside. From what I understood, the navy also use de-humidifiers in some compartments.

    The navy asked for "clean" and robust outside surfaces that would withstand removal of ice with an axe. They did not want delicate protruding parts. I think you should consider how to de-ice your boat. If you don't remove the ice (in extreme cases by taking down the rig) you will get top-heavy and capsize.

    As I said, I've never been in the arctic sea, but the idea is thrilling. I would choose a motor sailer with a long and shallow keel. It should have an inboard diesel that can propel the boat with good fuel economy at a knot or so below hull speed when wind is not favourable for sailing. I would use diesel for heating because diesel will be simpler and more weight efficient than coal, wood, propane or anything else.

    Take my opinions for what they are worth. I'm no naval expert, just an engineer in a cold country who once had to consider naval requirements.

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  13. Hans Friedel
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    Hans Friedel Senior Member

  14. Ausiwik
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    Ausiwik Junior Member

    Steel boat to cold places

    Hi Wayne
    if your living in Littelton Harbour Youve already experianced cold I recon . Anyhow look up a boat called "Fine tolerance" It may appear under Bruce Roberts .
    The couple live here in Queensland and took there steel Roberts Marisus through the North West passage (after the Melbourne Osaka Race)
    They did a lot of hard yards on there journey They wrote a lot about it and it gives a terrific in site into that kind of endeavor.
    You may be able to contact them They live in Bunderberg Qld Aus now

    I took my own 42ft aluminium cutter "Foreigner" from here to Alaska SE (Glacier bay ) a couple of times and and that was an experiance It sort of rained inside over the bunks but we loved it and are planning again
    Good luck with your plans
    Steve M

  15. wmonastra
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    wmonastra Junior Member

    Hi Everybody

    I ahve been reading some of the things you have been saying and im going to take bits of what was said to help build the boat that i think will be most suitable for the trip im plaaning. thank you for your feedback and please keep it coming as im eager to learn more.
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