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  #1  
Old 04-12-2011
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BA Thesis Ecoyacht

Hello everybody!

I'm a new member here and I am not sure if this is the right column, but I got loads of questions
Together with a fellow student, I am studying product/industrial design and we are doing our BA thesis right now, and the topic is "ECOYACHT".

Unlike a lot of other more or less crazy or blue-sky yacht concepts which you can find on the internet, we want to do a preferably realistic concept of a cruising yacht with an as far as possible serious sustainable attitude.
Therefore we got a lot of questions and thoughts we want to share with you and where we hope to find answers.

The basic specifications are:

- Approx. 50 feet/ 15 metre performance cruising catamaran, suited for day cruises as well as 1-2 week travels, also charter
- the yacht will be powered by sails, since this is obviously still the most ecological way to power a boat
- instead of normal sails, we want to use wing-sails on our ship. It seems to have:
+ better efficiency
+ generates more drive
+ together with an electronic supporting system it could handle pretty
"easy"
- a big topic is rigging/ fast unrigging with strong winds or when based in
a marina
- we aren't sure how "accepted" wings are within the sailing community/
the customer
First steps towards unriggable wing sails have been made by omer wings
sails
- Everthing should be powered without fuel-burning motors


So basically speaking, what would you as a "possbile" buyer of an "ecoyacht" expect or wish ? In general, in what do you set value if you decide to purchase a big sailing yacht and want to spend about 1 Million $ ?

Do you think wing-sail is a reasonable technology for a cruising yacht ? Or should it be combined with the more traditional common sails ?

What are important aspects if you want to go on a 2-3 week trip concerning the boat ?

Which aspects of common Yachts in the 50 feet class do you think are not "eco" or sustainable at all, and which are particularly sustainable ?


You could really help us a lot if you answer those questions or write what ever comes to your mind.

Thanks a lot in advance!

akashara
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Old 04-12-2011
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The wing sail as it exists is really only good in high end racing boats

The solar thing is being done BUT again as the sole means of power the boat needs to be all solar panel and a massive amount of battery's
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Old 04-12-2011
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I feel like your goal will strike a chord with the sailing community. Many sailors venture to sea with little resources and need to be as sustainable as possible. However, their goals and requirements are a bit different from yours. For example, many sailors are willing to burn gasoline to generate power. Still, I think it's a good plan.

Some thoughts:

Do you consider plastic sustainable? If not, what will your boat be made out of? Wood is probably the most sustainable material for boat construction, as it is biodegradable and easily produced and worked without the use of toxic chemicals. On the other hand, frequently toxic chemicals are involved with its maintenance (toxic chemicals are also involved in the maintenance of fiberglass, or, well, just about everything on a boat).

The wing sail thing also does not set well with the idea of sustainability. The whole idea seems to be, with a significant increase in cost, we can acquire a relatively small increase in performance. Do you really need that increase in performance? How much will it cost to maintain and operate? You're talking about fancy electronics to operate it, but the production of electronics involves toxic chemicals, and of course your need more energy to run them. I'm assuming that the electronics will be hooked up to some sort of motor or hydraulic actuators to actually control the wing sail, and this of course requires power as well, probably a lot. It is probably not sustainable to operate such systems on "green" energy alone.

Multihulls. I'm not very familiar with them, but I understand they are more expensive to buy and maintain than monohulls. To me, more expensive basically means less sustainable.

Personally I think you need to reconsider your goals. If you goal is to build a product that you can sell to a wealthy person who wants to appear "green", then you're probably on the right track. If your goal is to produce a system that can support one or more humans for an extended period of time while minimizing consumption on a repeating basis, you need to radically alter your approach.
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Old 04-12-2011
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Old 04-12-2011
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Probably the biggest problem with the plan is that sailors tend to go with traditional over modern when they can. New sail idea's are particularly hard to sell. A dacron fore and aft rigged boat is what most sailors are used to and are uncomfortable even thinking about anything else. If anything they would want to go with something even more traditional even if it is less practical. Although if anyone buyer would be willing to experiment it would be a catamaran sailor.

I do agree that there could be a niche market for certain buyer's out there.
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Old 04-12-2011
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I would argue that most boat hulls do not have a significant environmental/ecological impact. Compared to cars, kitchen appliances, etc. a fiberglass boat hull may last for many decades before it must be replaced. Fuel burning motors could possibly be replaced with more sustainable energy. However, compared to the average speed boat, a typical sailor will use a fraction of the fuel in a season.

Maybe the largest ecological impact one could have in the marine industry is to convince more motor boaters to change to sailing.
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Old 04-12-2011
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Rather than wing sails, check out kites. A google search will bring lot's of info back. Kites have advantages in that the don't require a mast and a boat can easily carry many kites for different conditions. Also since the kites fly much higher than sails, they can reach cleaner and often stronger wind. The disadvantages are that there aren't many control mechanisms available and they don't typically point as high as traditional sails.
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Old 04-12-2011
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I agree with the statement that fiberglass hulls themselves are pretty ecologically friendly. To a certain extent I was playing devil's advocate; I think the whole project is not really sustainable and so I'm picking on certain aspects.

I get a little bit up in arms when people propose ideas promoting "sustainability" without really addressing what sustainable means. Pouring thousands of dollars every year (plus a million dollar initial cost!) into a toy is not a sustainable use of resources. Unless the OPs come up with some sort of economically viable use for their 50-foot wing-sailed multihull yacht, I think it's borderline immoral to call it sustainable.
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Old 04-12-2011
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In other news, batteries are bad for the environment. Not very often, for the average sailor, I admit, but once in a while you have to dispose of some toxic waste. Instead, I propose flywheels! You put a flywheel in a vacuum, suspend it with electromagnets, and spin it up. Much more efficient energy storage than batteries, much lower maintenance, and less harmful waste. For a small sailboat, I suspect some sort of gimbaling system would be in order, otherwise you'd lose a lot of energy to gyroscopic precession. Also not sure what sort of weight we're talking about.

Still, that would be a sustainable yacht project I'd like to see.
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Old 04-12-2011
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The original post reminds me of Steve Martin's bit on how to never pay taxes again... "First you get a Million Dollars!"
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