Sustainable Design Challenge

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by MRC Design, Sep 28, 2004.

  1. MRC Design
    Joined: Sep 2004
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: UK

    MRC Design Junior Member

    Hi there
    I'm new to the forum but not to design or sailing.

    I'm sure everybody likes to think that sailboats are very environmentally clean but this is not really the case. Use of complex modern materials and highly industrialised components is not very sustainable. (Lots of energy and nasty chemicals used in construction, not good for disposal etc)

    I wondered if I could prompt some interest in this direction.

    So, who can meet the design challenge of a truly sustainable yacht?

    I would start the ball rolling with the suggestion that a development of the junk rig has most potential to be sustainable.

    For the hull, maybe steel, unless eco-composites make any headway.
     
  2. SeaDrive
    Joined: Feb 2004
    Posts: 223
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 15
    Location: Connecticut

    SeaDrive Senior Member

    I can see where a Viking Longboat would work for you. Wood construction, tied together with hide. Simple textiles for sails. No fossil fuel power.

    My point is that it's easy enough to conjure up a "sustainable" vessel (once you define sustainable), but that you are not going to make much progress until you define the objectives of the design: size, use, etc. Do you expect to make it competitive in some marketplace?

    I don't see that the juck rig uses much different material than a gaff or lug rig, except perhaps that the sail cloth has to be stronger for the latter. I don't see this as a factor since modern ideas of seaworthiness preclude going to sea with rotten sails.
     
  3. MRC Design
    Joined: Sep 2004
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: UK

    MRC Design Junior Member

    Depends how the wood was grown and how the hides were tanned.

    I was trying to start an open minded discussion but the first response is particularly narrow minded. The fact is my friend, these issues whether you like it or not are going to continue to become more important.

    Here's a simple definition.
    Using renewable resources and construction methods which are low energy and non-polluting or at a level and type of pollution that can be dissipated, how about that?

    For arguments sake, lets say a cruising yacht for four people. With an emphasis on seaworthiness.

    The junk rig allows much lower rig stresses so your materials choices widen considerably, no? Or how about a development of the junk which wraps around the mast to form an aerofoil section? Oooh look it might be more efficient than the highly stressed bermudian rig which destroys it's own sails.

    you might not want to go to sea with rotten sails oh king of sarcasm, neither would I. But a rig that can continue to function with torn sails is more seaworthy.
     
  4. SeaDrive
    Joined: Feb 2004
    Posts: 223
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 15
    Location: Connecticut

    SeaDrive Senior Member

    As specifications go, it's thin, but it's a start. Shall we take it that you want a design that's a reasonable alternative to a Bristol Channel Cutter, Pacific Seacraft 32, or Tanton Green Peace?

    http://www.samlmorse.com/
    http://www.pacificseacraft.com/cgi-bin/sitenav.php?3101,sailboats
    http://www.tantonyachts.com/895designreview.htm

    Can you make the case that a novel design is actually needed? Is it not possible to build your sustainable boat using one or another well-established method with due consideration to the sourcing of materials and to work methods?
     
  5. SailDesign
    Joined: Jan 2003
    Posts: 1,948
    Likes: 35, Points: 58, Legacy Rep: 650
    Location: Jamestown, RI, USA

    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    Without wishing to appear sarcastic, how is steel sustainable? The amount of energy and non-renewable resources that go into making enough steel for a boat is amazing. Even recycling it takes far more energy than cutting down a tree, dragging it home with oxen, converting it and making a boat. Plus, you can eat the oxen (barely) when they are too old to work anymore :)
    It is hard to take that last line as being un-humourous, I know, but it is true.
    As far as rigs go, the junk rig has various advantages, but in terms of resource use, it needs a LOT more string to control it. Alan Boswell and Sunbird Yachts tried a rig based on the junk, but wrapped around foil-shaped "battens" back in the late 70's but abandoned the project.
    Steve
     
  6. SeaDrive
    Joined: Feb 2004
    Posts: 223
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 15
    Location: Connecticut

    SeaDrive Senior Member

    Wharram does use a gaff with a pocket luff, but I can't say the idea has caught on with the general boating public.

    http://www.wharram.com/

    What's an example of an "eco-composite"?
     
  7. MRC Design
    Joined: Sep 2004
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: UK

    MRC Design Junior Member

    Nothing wrong with a bit of humour. You are right wood has a lot of potential. It's a question of measuring how long a material will last. Wood takes a lot more protecting than say stainless steel, hence nasty chemicals, paints and varnishes and things.

    Steel is much more energy efficient than aluminium and most fibre reinforced materials are pretty environmentally bad.

    Steel is good from the perspective of repair - hence extended lifespan. But even so, If we were all to live much simpler lives (No I'm not suggesting we go back to the dark ages.) wood would be very hard to beat.

    It is far less resource-hungry than say the typical burmudian rig though, with who knows how many winches high-tension standing rigging etc. And that string can be pretty much anything.
     
  8. MRC Design
    Joined: Sep 2004
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: UK

    MRC Design Junior Member

    I've been a fan of Wharram for a while. The rig is a clever alternative and has much to recommend it. I've seen many pictures of built examples and Wharram claims good performance. Don't know what materials you can get away with.

    The general public buy what is marketed to them as the best thing. Personally I don't see highly stressed bermudian rigs with inefficient triangular sails as the best thing. I know some people on these forums are proponents of alternative rigs and I do appreciate the design philosophy but they tend to require energy-intensive materials.

    Eco-composites are pretty theoretical at the moment. The simplest example would be a fibre-reinforced material using something like hemp or jute with a plant based resin. So they come from renewable sources. Unfortunetly they have a long way to go but that's R&D for ya.

    I've been looking for information on Pina (Pinapple Fibre) which is supposed to have a higher tensile strenght than nylon but haven't had much luck finding anything.
     
  9. MRC Design
    Joined: Sep 2004
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: UK

    MRC Design Junior Member

    All nice boats. Leaving the specification open allows people to come up with different solutions. I'm not pro or anti multihulls. Some people might think large cabins and full bathrooms are essential. I would place sea-keeping ability at the top of the list. Should be good for rough whether.

    If that's the case, why aren't we already doing it? :) No, you are right. Novel form design is not completely necessary, there's been some very good hull designs over the past couple thousand years. Attention to sourcing of materials and work methods would certainly play a big part. So what materials to use? Where and how would it be assembled?

    I think the rig could not be bermudian, too much tension. If the purpose is to sail well at various points of sail rather than to race and have the best pointing ability then who needs it anyway. Question is, what to use instead?

    I like the idea of a soft, battened unstayed wing sail. Strength and efficiency can both come from the form, rather than the materials and potentially it could be very easy to handle.

    If the boat were guaranteed to last 500 years, Titanium might pay for itself as a hull material ;)
     
  10. MRC Design
    Joined: Sep 2004
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: UK

    MRC Design Junior Member

    While I remember

    I've heard stories of fishermen in developing coutries mixing chilli-powder in with ordinary paint to use as anti-fouling. Reputedly works very well. Probably kinder to the environment than many "traditional" or newer anti-foul treatments.
     
  11. SeaDrive
    Joined: Feb 2004
    Posts: 223
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 15
    Location: Connecticut

    SeaDrive Senior Member

    A lot of things have been tried, including tetracycline, I think.

    The fact that steel vessel can't use copper paint is a downside.
     
  12. nero
    Joined: Aug 2003
    Posts: 624
    Likes: 13, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 112
    Location: Marseille, France / Illinois, US

    nero Senior Member

    Eazy-Rig possibility

    What about an Eazy-Rig for your eco boat. They are more smaller, self-supporting, could be made with wood stripping in them. No stays, wires etc.

    Rob Denney seems to make an excellent argument for them.
     
  13. sunyata
    Joined: Oct 2004
    Posts: 2
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: US

    sunyata New Member

    I agree that the search for sustainable building materials is of vital importance. However, I could never be convinced that the processing of iron ore to steel is more eco-friendly than using wood from replenishable stocks with epoxy to create a long-lived seaworthy boat.
    I imagine you can tell I am a Wharram owner. The Soft Wing Sail is efficient and safer with its low aspect ratio. I have heard of using Cayenne pepper for anti-fouling, although I can't remember results. I think the original question in this thread is excellent: we should all be striving to create beautiful boats that tread lightly on the earth (and seas). All ideas should be vetted....
    My two cents worth.
     
  14. Tad
    Joined: Mar 2002
    Posts: 2,274
    Likes: 160, Points: 73, Legacy Rep: 2281
    Location: Flattop Islands

    Tad Boat Designer

    I would suggest that this discussion is really two separate problems.

    Sustainable construction is one problem involving the sourcing or manufacture of suitable sustainable materials. Wood or plant fiber is, (IMO) the ultimate sustainable material. All you need do is stand back, and stuff grows, at least as long as there is some rain. I don't see plywood as a sustainable material, there is too much manufacturing effort involved.

    Sustainable design is a different problem. Of course it has to take into account the available (sustainable) materials, just as non-sustainable design does. But I think the largest single factor in creating sustainable designs will be to "do with less". Smaller and lighter boats to perform the same function are possible. This guy Microcruising has the right idea. You can go small and light, and still go! Microcruising might be a bit extreme for some, but why do we not see thousands of little cruisers like this? Perhaps because there are no huge profits to be made from them?

    The Bristol Channel Cutter is a nice boat, but you can build a boat with the same interior volume and the same capability, that will take half as much construction material. I really believe that the first step in sustainability is to go smaller and lighter, multihulls are one direction. Instead of a 40' Wharram, build a 30', the boat will take half the material, and be finished in half the time. And it will still take you anywhere you want to go.

    All the best, Tad
     

  15. sunyata
    Joined: Oct 2004
    Posts: 2
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: US

    sunyata New Member

    Agreed Tad.
    I have a Wharram Tiki 30 and it fulfills many of the 'ideal' boat requirements we have been discussing. It is small (but not 'micro'), it is light, fast, and stable with a shoal draft. It is efficiently rigged and easily reefed even in a substantial blow. Of course, with an open bridgedeck, one could wish for more shelter from the weather under way, but it's only wind and rain, and the deck space, which is enormous for a 30 foot boat, is nice to have in harbor. I agree that the 'do with less' approach is half the battle. My Tiki 30 has a basic solar power plant; I use a lead line for depth soundings and minimal electrical nav equipment. As Wharram once said to a prospective builder, "... the boat will take you safely wherever you wish to go, but make no mistake, it is not yachting - it is camping on a boat"
     
Loading...
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.