The Perils of Fast Foilers

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Chris Ostlind, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    This article just in from the Knight Ridder News Services. It serves to demonstrate the inherent dangers of foiling at speed when underwater objects can dangerously compromise the entire enterprise.

    In this case the boat was quite large, the speeds very high and the resultant potential to human occupants of the craft were decidedly dangerous. The same issues are present for any foiling craft in which the balance of the boat at high speed is being offered-up for grabs to the smallest of waterborne junk.

    With more and more crap in the water everyday, the chances are increasing, not decreasing, that any foiling craft will experience a similar encounter on any given outing. By comparison, a centerboard equipped beach cat can strike obstacles with its foils and continue on without danger for a full day of fun sailing. All at significantly reduced expense from a simpler boat to own and operate.

    I'd gladly trade the enhanced fun factor of the cat for the negligible increase in speed you may experience from a foiler.

    Japanese ferry strikes object, perhaps a whale; 93 aboard hurt
    Knight Ridder News Service

    KAGOSHIMA, Japan - More than 90 people were injured when a hydrofoil hit an unidentified marine object off Cape Sata on Sunday, a Japan Coast Guard spokesman said.
    According to the 10th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Kagoshima, 88 of the 109 passengers and five of the six crew members on the high-speed ferry Toppy 4 were hurt. Of those, 12 were seriously injured. Thirty-six, including some crew members, were hospitalized.
    Coast Guard officials started Monday morning inspecting the water around the accident site and are expected to question Koichi Akase, the ferry's captain, who was hospitalized.
    According to a spokesman at Kagoshima Shosen, which operates the ferry, Toppy was cruising near its maximum speed of 50 mph at the time of the accident.
    ''Something hit the hydrofoil's port stern quarter, and the boat plunged forward,'' Akase was quoted by the spokesman as saying. ''There was no driftwood in sight, so I think it's highly likely that Toppy hit some kind of marine creature like a whale.''
    The coast guard dispatched six patrol vessels and two helicopters after it received an emergency call from a passenger on board Toppy at about 6 p.m. Sunday. The 12 seriously injured people and infants were transferred from the ferry to two patrol boats. The two boats arrived in Ibusuki by 9:50 that evening.
    The patrol ship Sendai towed Toppy, which was unable to continue under its own power, and the remaining 85 passengers on board reached Yamagawa Port in Ibusuki at 11:30 p.m.
    Four Toppy ferries ply the route that connects Kagoshima, Tanegashima island and Yakushima island 13 times daily. Kagoshima Shosen began operating the service in 1989.
    The ferry has a hydrofoil at its bow and stern that lift the boat's hull above the surface of the water. Though the boat is equipped with an underwater speaker that emits a sound whales are supposed to dislike, it is not effective against all kinds of whales.
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  2. marshmat
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    marshmat Senior Member

    This reminds me of problems that many of the newer racing yachts are having with "mola-mola", or giant sunfish. Boat hits sunfish, daggerboard gets ripped off and canting keel gets bent or broken, fish dies. Any time you have high speed, you have the risk of impact with submerged objects. It's not unique to foilers, although they are far more vulnerable due to fragile appendages and high speeds. Bottom line: Be prepared. (And to the container shipping lines: Tie your damn containers to the deck, like you're supposed to, so we don't crash into them at sea!)
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  3. Delane
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    Delane Senior Member

    Floating Junk

    Surprised to read about this in the Forum, but I was eating lunch and saw the converage on a Japanese news channel. Yes, many people were hurt and on streachers. I've noticed and or brought to shore several items over the years. Once saw a large log floating just at the surface and passed by it doing about 15 knots on a Hobie. This thing was about 20 feet long and about 3feet across. A bad day for any craft. Another time pulled in a large stainless steel boat cooler as it was only a mile or so from shore. It probably was a whale they hit based on the report. They are migrating North and would likely be in that area. Anti Whale speakers? Maybe one of those guys didn't care for the disruptive sound anymore and ................... well you get the idea. :)
  4. Vega
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    Vega Senior Member

  5. the_sphincter
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    the_sphincter *

    simple solution: Put a small razor edge on the front of the foils. Cuts the whale in half! Then the fast ferry can go back and cut it into quarters, eighths, debone, and filet it. Then it can pick it up, and sell it on the fish markets. Do this with all of their ferries, and then they can stop their "research" whale hunts, and thus not be criticized by the international community. So what if 200 ferries a year arrive late, it's worth it for the reduced scrutiny from greenpeace!

  6. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Something like this

    Great observation about the containers, Vega. The issue is that for foiling vessels of any kind to be ultimately viable, they need there to be a condition in which less foreign material is in the water and not more. With world populations expanding at amazing rates, the amount of stuff in the sea is not going to be any less tomorrow than it is today. In fact, the opposite is true and it shall ever be until humankind does a huge meltdown in population.

    When that time comes, nobody is going to be in any mood to hook-up with a foiling boat anyway. Things will likely be much different.

    So, when you see that the realities of foilborne vessels have decreasingly limited, pragmatic application, simply because of expanding inherent dangers, you begin to realize that the technology, while very cool in some esoteric ways, has a very limited shelf life for usefulness. Ultimately, it will likely be deemed as enormously irresponsible.

    Picture this if you will...

    In the very near future, Marathon runners discover that the ultimately fastest way to run road races is with wafer thin soles of cellulose that are glued to the feet of the runners before the events. Too late in the cycle of hype surrounding the events for the next year, the organizers discover that more and more shards of glass are being spread on city streets by irresponsible parties who have been picking-up recyclable glass products.

    They decide to run the races anyway, because pure speed, jumping over obstacles and the sexy fluidity of the soles is the most important thing going in the running world. Or so the proponents of the cellulose soles have claimed.

    The outcome, of course, is the grim reality of not paying attention to the pragmatism of being clear headed with ones decisions.
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