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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 10-28-2009
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Floating Doctors

There is an article over on CNN this morning about Floating Doctors, an organization that plans to deliver health care services and supplies to under developed countries. They plan to visit the Carribean basin and South America, then transit the canal and cross the South Pacific.

The group has posted here on Sailnet in the past (member name: FloatingDoctors).

I find the mission laudable.

However, I have reservations about their vessel, a 76-foot "eco-friendly" sailboat. The article claims "The Southern Wind can travel 250 miles a day and requires little fuel, depending on wind conditions." There are a few photos and a video over with the article at CNN.

Has anyone seen this boat up-close, in person?

Also, does anyone else have concerns about the donated medical supplies, which remain stacked below in their carboard box packaging.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-28-2009
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Quite the project... the boat, I mean. (the mission is indeed admirable)

They do seem to be of the belief that that foc's'le is going to be totally watertight, don't they? And all those meds sitting there already in what looks like a pretty hot climate.

The deck looks like glass over ply - wonder what the hull is? And the rig looks very minimal for a boat that big and that heavy (almost like someone picked up a marginal rig off a 30 footer and dropped it in place)

I wish them luck in their mission and truly hope the boat's up to it.
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Last edited by Faster; 10-28-2009 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 10-28-2009
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Well, as both an MD and a Yachtmaster...I hope he knows more about medicine than he does boats...

Good luck to them...somebody has to have 'impossible dreams'
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Old 10-28-2009
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Did you see how short the mast is? It's like it's from a different boat (maybe it is). I understand a conservative rig, but I wonder about them making any way in less than 20 knots.

Still think it's a great project, and wish them well.
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Southern Wind is a 76-foot sailboat donated to the Floating Doctors by Dennis and Jeannette in Palm Coast, Florida.

SV: The Southern Wind

Length Overall (LOA): 76’
Beam: 18’6”
Draft: 7 feet
Weight: 140,000 lbs
Hull: Triple marine plywood with triple fiberglass
layers and a keel with a full keel steel plate
.
Southern Wind was built in 1981 in Ventura, CA on the design of a commercial fishing double-ended sailboat. With an enormous cargo capacity (she can carry 20,000 pounds without sinking more than two inches deeper in the water!), she accommodates up to 20 people working on-board. Her sturdy construction and shallow draft make her the ideal vessel to navigate safely through shallow, treacherous waters to reach the people onshore Floating Doctors are there to help. After she was built, Southern Wind was sailed from California down through the Panama Canal and up to Florida, and currently she is undergoing extensive renovation by the Floating Doctors crew. She will eventually return to CA via our 20,000 mile voyage of health!

http://floatingdoctors.com/


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Old 10-28-2009
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Interestingly enough the concerns you have voiced here , I also share. I have been aboard the vessel on two different occasions.
In my opinion , I do not see how it can possibly be catagorized as an "Eco-friendly" mode of transportation as it has 2 gigantic older technology deisels and as some her have noted the "rig" has been shortened. I initially visited the craft in response to a craigslist ad requesting a canvas/sail modification/repair. upon arrival I was greeted and shown around the vessel and even took a few pictures. Initially there was a roller main system that was in dis-repair that they eventually abandonded and they wanted to cut the main down to fit the shortened mast. It is my understanding that the mast was shortened by the previous owner/builder to allow passage under the ICW 65' bridges.
I also was sceptical of the sailplan/sail area in respect to the vessel size. when I mentioned this they informed me that they intended to motor more tham sail .
This was in the spring of 09 or early summer if memory serves me.
My second visit was enroute to St. Augustine in the beginning of August I stopped by to see how things were progressing, as originally they indicated they were departing in a few months (when they first told me that I laughed and I think they were a bit put off by it) They had made progress on the boat .
I am not a naval designer or builder but what I saw was . . . . well, interesting.
I also wondered about the effect of the florida heat and humidity on the medical supplies. I did meet the Doctor and some of his crew, a seemingly devoted and hard working bunch, I just question as to when/if the ship will ever set sail. When I pressed them for a departure date they eluded to the "a matter of funding" As I sailed away on my little 32' boat I wished I could find a 76' sailboat ! what a great ICW lurker it could be ! but as far as a platform to sail south america ? I think I would stay coastal.
Incidentaly the hull is also plywood and glass about 2-4" thick. I mentioned to the doctor that plywood covered by glass has a comparatively short life-span and he indicated that he felt it would last plenty long enough for the task at hand.
Also , among them they didn't seem to posess a great degree of offshore experience. but, I suppose starting out, who does ?
I wished them luck.
sure would like to have a sailboat that big someday !
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That boat might have a 60 foot waterline. Theoretically it could maybe hit 10-10.5 knots.

Running at 95% hull speed for 24 hours would get them at most 240 n. miles.

Looking at that mini-rig, and now better understanding the hull form and construction, I'd suppose they will need to run both engines up to full cruise to make hull speed in most conditions. I don't know what engines those are, but between the two of them let's guess 5 gph (could easily be 7-10 gph). That would be 120 gal/day. Eco friendly?

They might be alright on the short coastal hops in decent weather. I doubt they have the fuel tankage to give them the sort of range they need to make a Pacific passage. Not to mention the wallets to replenish those tanks fairly regularly.

I was also surprised to see folks in the video grinding fibreglass and plywood without so much as a dust mask, much less a respirator. Preventative health measures begin at home!

I cannot imagine the mess they'll have on their hands if all that cardboard gets wet in the cargo hold. I sincerely hope it doesn't.
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I hesitate to be too critical of the building methods they employ, but . ..
If you have spent any time on this sight you know I have some pretty "different" ideas as well. That being said, I don't see them completing the intended Pacific ocean route as they indicated. They might get to haiti, with a good weather window. But I don't see them taking that vessel into the Pacific based on what little I know about those waters.
Also , I believe the engines are 670 detroits, not renowned for their fuel efficency ! the 5-7 GPH would be about right. I can't recall what they said they had for fuel tankage. but with there intended crew food and water would be a bigger concern. Of course if they are just going to short hop around the carribean , it might work.
I also wonder who is paying for the fuel,food,supplies,etc. I'm sure the medical supplies are all donated as he indicated the expiration date was approaching on some of them and that is part of the reason they chose to go to haiti to distribute alot of the meds nearing expiration.
Initially the organization had a 30-40' vessel on the west coast they had planned on using, but the storage/cargo issues became a reality and they found the present vessel.
I'm actually suprised that they are setting off on Nov. 1st.
I'm also a bit concerned as I doubt they have had aany opportunity to do any type of a shake-down cruise. Something I would highly suggest. Not to mention the apparently limited sailing experience of the crew, as I previously mentioned.
Many other questions arise as well. -what about passports,visas, entry fees, dealing w/ foreign authorities etc. aside from all the purely vessel related concerns.
I hope they found a donor to supply them with some good off-shore survival suits and liferafts.
At least if someone gets injured or sick aboard they have a Doctor at hand !
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I know I can be a bit cynical at times, but it looks to me that the stops were chosen as nice places to visit rather than where the need is.

Joe - if you want a boat [very much] like that, maybe you can buy one in Tonga in a year or so, if they make it that far.
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Any medical student who goes off to Africa and practices medicine independently has an inflated ego and no judgment...It appears to apply to his sailing ides too. Hopefully he has now developed good medical judgment.
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