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Old 06-13-2011
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Sail boat & service concept!

Hi,

I have begun working on a (industrial) design project relating to sail boats and services. I am currently investigating a concept of mine that revolves around making sailing easy to access for people of various backgrounds. Also learning how to sail is a key issue. I have a few thoughts and would like to get feedback from more experienced people. All feedback is welcome and valuable

In a nutshell: my concept currently is a trimaran that is fully automated. A beginner can rent the ship and as his/her skill level increases, user can switch off automation and go for more and more manual sailing. If after some time the user wants to, they could acquire full ownership of the vessel and not just rent it. The ship would be controlled via a detachable steering device so that the user can move around and observe the vessel in various sea/wind conditions.. and thus learn how sailing works. The size of ship could be around 35' to allow for longer voyages as well, with family and/or friends aboard.

What are your initial thoughts? Would you think that a rental service for such automated vessels would be successful? Is such a rental/boat scheme already running somewhere?



Ps. I chose a trimaran after some initial research regarding stability, but feel free to suggest anything else!
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Old 06-13-2011
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There are a lot more waterfront centers opening like
Oakcliff Sailing Center
That keep money from being a big issue

I dont know of many people with and intrest in sailing that do not want to learn how the old fashioned way
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Old 06-13-2011
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My initial impression is that you cannot keep novice sailors safe with automation alone. The actual design of your concept would likely be intensly complex. What is a novice going to do when the eventual system failure occurs? Further, a remotely controlled 35' trimaran being operated from shore by someone who does not know how to sail, much less how to operate a remotely controlled 35' trimaran? That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. And then there's the cost. Likely prohibitive.

You are trying to eliminate the instructor from the sailing education equation. There is no better teacher than someone who is experienced in the subject. Sending a rookie sailor out on his own in a fairly large, automated sailboat is, at best, probably not a good idea. And if you decide that an intructor is needed onboard for safety, why have an automated sailboat?
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Old 06-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fstbttms View Post
My initial impression is that you cannot keep novice sailors safe with automation alone. The actual design of your concept would likely be intensly complex. What is a novice going to do when the eventual system failure occurs? Further, a remotely controlled 35' trimaran being operated from shore by someone who does not know how to sail, much less how to operate a remotely controlled 35' trimaran? That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. And then there's the cost. Likely prohibitive.

You are trying to eliminate the instructor from the sailing education equation. There is no better teacher than someone who is experienced in the subject. Sending a rookie sailor out on his own in a fairly large, automated sailboat is, at best, probably not a good idea. And if you decide that an intructor is needed onboard for safety, why have an automated sailboat?
Man, you are right on target. Conceptually, when you consider the weather, there are so many variables that come together to create any one scenario, that a super computer could not take all into account. If they could, our weather casters could give us an accurate report every day.

That said, if unexpected foul weather hits, and the automated system cannot predict and compensate, your're in trouble if you don't know what to do.
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Old 06-13-2011
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PUT THE DAM COMPUTER DOWN! and go sailing. sailing is about nothing being automatic.
We were out just fun sailing with a group of my sons freinds this weekend and there was one girl that was texting the whole time until my son started to unfurl the spinnaker and the sheet lifted up off the deck and hit her cell phone, the phone, well I don't think davy jones will be using it to text much. problem solved.
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Old 06-13-2011
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Originally Posted by tomperanteau View Post
Man, you are right on target. Conceptually, when you consider the weather, there are so many variables that come together to create any one scenario, that a super computer could not take all into account. If they could, our weather casters could give us an accurate report every day.

That said, if unexpected foul weather hits, and the automated system cannot predict and compensate, your're in trouble if you don't know what to do.
Don't really agree that it can't be automated. Airplanes are much more complicated to manage, yet automation is possible.

The point is, you don't have automated passenger planes without a pilot on board. Although much safer, I wouldn't want to be on a boat, first time out, without somebody who knows what he is doing.

Idea of automation is, in my view, excellent as an aid to learning and safety. It would be damn expensive though (just check the prices of current autopilots, add sensors and controls for the halyards, outhauls, sheets, etc...)
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Given the numerous accidents with powered winches and windlass units and there need to have enough power to cause some pretty serious damage to the boat its not all that simple
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Old 06-13-2011
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Can you think of any other areas where you automate parts of a system and thus, the system as a whole is easier to learn? For example, do you think the best way to ride a bicycle, is to first learn to ride a autopilot-driven motorcycle, and then remove the autopilot, and then add petals? My daughter is currently trying to figure out standing and walking; I doubt it would have been easier for her if I started her off on a Segway.

My thinking is that automation disconnects the learner from the system and makes the system more mysterious and harder to learn. Instead, it seems that the best way to learn a system is (1) select the system to be within the capabilities of the learner as much as possible, and (2) carefully choose the scenarios in which it's used, but otherwise immerse the learning as much as possible in the system. In other words, small boat, simple controls, cooperative weather.

With such a setup you can go from completely oblivious about sailing to having a pretty good idea what to with halyards, sheets, and the tiller, in one day. Three days and you should be comfortable sailing a small boat on your own in light winds and protected waters. Learning to sail is not actually hard.

Do you think learning on an automated boat can improve on that? Which of those components -- halyard, sheets, tiller -- do you recommend automating on a 25-foot sailboat and thus make it easier for the student to learn about the other components?

I don't think that the difficulty of helmsmanship or sail trim is the thing that makes sailing inaccessible. It's the expense and the time required. If you want to make sailing more accessible in your area, start a sail-training co-op. If you're looking for a business that you can develop and then sell, I don't think you'll find it here.

Of course there's only one way to find out for sure... far be it for me to be the nay-sayer that prevents you from trying out your business idea.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamLein View Post
Can you think of any other areas where you automate parts of a system and thus, the system as a whole is easier to learn? For example, do you think the best way to ride a bicycle, is to first learn to ride a autopilot-driven motorcycle, and then remove the autopilot, and then add petals? My daughter is currently trying to figure out standing and walking; I doubt it would have been easier for her if I started her off on a Segway.

My thinking is that automation disconnects the learner from the system and makes the system more mysterious and harder to learn. Instead, it seems that the best way to learn a system is (1) select the system to be within the capabilities of the learner as much as possible, and (2) carefully choose the scenarios in which it's used, but otherwise immerse the learning as much as possible in the system. In other words, small boat, simple controls, cooperative weather.

With such a setup you can go from completely oblivious about sailing to having a pretty good idea what to with halyards, sheets, and the tiller, in one day. Three days and you should be comfortable sailing a small boat on your own in light winds and protected waters. Learning to sail is not actually hard.

Do you think learning on an automated boat can improve on that? Which of those components -- halyard, sheets, tiller -- do you recommend automating on a 25-foot sailboat and thus make it easier for the student to learn about the other components?

I don't think that the difficulty of helmsmanship or sail trim is the thing that makes sailing inaccessible. It's the expense and the time required. If you want to make sailing more accessible in your area, start a sail-training co-op. If you're looking for a business that you can develop and then sell, I don't think you'll find it here.

Of course there's only one way to find out for sure... far be it for me to be the nay-sayer that prevents you from trying out your business idea.
I can think of many systems where automation or elimination of some parts to begin with helps. As for your bicycle example, I didn't start on a 2 wheeler where I had to learn how to pedal, balance and steer all at once. First I learned how to steer and then to pedal and then to balance. Automatic cars are so much easier to learn how to drive than the stick shifts. There are many many examples where you start off learning with some kind of assistance.

In any case, sailing equivalent of this is perhaps to start with smaller boats, even sailing dinghies. And automated 35' foot trimaran doesn't seem like a feasible solution although I would love to have such a system on my boat as an aid, not to replace an experienced sailor to help me.
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Old 06-13-2011
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Don't really agree that it can't be automated. Airplanes are much more complicated to manage, yet automation is possible.

The point is, you don't have automated passenger planes without a pilot on board. Although much safer, I wouldn't want to be on a boat, first time out, without somebody who knows what he is doing.

Idea of automation is, in my view, excellent as an aid to learning and safety. It would be damn expensive though (just check the prices of current autopilots, add sensors and controls for the halyards, outhauls, sheets, etc...)
People learn to fly in small planes, not commercial jets. At larger scales, automation is necessary as control surfaces (sails, flaps, etc... ) become to large to control with human power alone.

Automation of a small boat? Radio controlled sailing. One great learning tool that has disappeared is something like the old board game "Regatta" by 3M... taught points of sail, relative speed on different points of sail, windshifts, puffs, etc... Very retro, but as a kid, I learned a ton of 'basics' from this game. When we went dingy sailing, or on the family Rhodes 19, it was a quick step to figure the gross basics of sail trim.

To the OP, simplicity and low cost is the key. Sailing is experiential and tactile. Taking a 'hands off' approach will be hugely complex and worthy of the Rube Goldberg award for exellence. That said, there's still much room for improvement of sailing hardware, safety gear, integrated pfd/clothing, sail handling devices, etc... that will keep an industrial designer busy for a lifetime.

As has been mentioned, you need to do a little sailing to understand the implications of your ideas for your class project.

Last edited by puddinlegs; 06-13-2011 at 02:40 PM.
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