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Stripping old, accumulated antifouling paint varnish quickly and easily.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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1) developing more ergonomic deck plan layouts focused on the sail control lines needed for shorthanded sailing
2) developing durable line locks that do not slip and do not damage the covers of highly loaded, smaller diameter, modern high modulus control line.
3) reducing the frictional losses on blocks and winches.
4) developing a variable speed winch that automatically and progressively (i.e. constant variable torque- CVT) changes mechanical advantage based on the load on the winch handle. (In other words, most sailors can crank with 20-30 lbs of force on the end of a winch handle on a continuous basis. Initially a 1:1 mechanical advantage would allow a lot of line to be cranked in quickly, but as the sheet loads increase the mechanical advantage would shift to a higher ratio so that allowing the person on the winch handle to operate at a constant sustainable speed and load. This is similar to the reason that 12 to 21 speed bicycles exist.)
 

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4) developing a variable speed winch that automatically and progressively (i.e. constant variable torque- CVT) changes mechanical advantage based on the load on the winch handle. (In other words, most sailors can crank with 20-30 lbs of force on the end of a winch handle on a continuous basis. Initially a 1:1 mechanical advantage would allow a lot of line to be cranked in quickly, but as the sheet loads increase the mechanical advantage would shift to a higher ratio so that allowing the person on the winch handle to operate at a constant sustainable speed and load. This is similar to the reason that 12 to 21 speed bicycles exist.)
Now that would be slick!
 

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1) developing more ergonomic deck plan layouts focused on the sail control lines needed for shorthanded sailing
2) developing durable line locks that do not slip and do not damage the covers of highly loaded, smaller diameter, modern high modulus control line.
3) reducing the frictional losses on blocks and winches.
4) developing a variable speed winch that automatically and progressively (i.e. constant variable torque- CVT) changes mechanical advantage based on the load on the winch handle. (In other words, most sailors can crank with 20-30 lbs of force on the end of a winch handle on a continuous basis. Initially a 1:1 mechanical advantage would allow a lot of line to be cranked in quickly, but as the sheet loads increase the mechanical advantage would shift to a higher ratio so that allowing the person on the winch handle to operate at a constant sustainable speed and load. This is similar to the reason that 12 to 21 speed bicycles exist.)
I think yacht designers are already doing a pretty good job of improving ergonomics already. Our boat was designed in the early 2000's and is very comfortable and easy to sail short handed even compared to the previous generation let alone boats from the '80s. Subsequent models seem to be even more friendly to short handed sailing.

Rope clutches and low friction blocks are also evolving. You just have to be prepared to pay the price!

Now the "automatic transmission" winches are an intriguing idea, and I suspect the idea has been considered, but I would think to produce such a winch would be prohibitively expensive. That being said, one way to achieve that might be to look to the e-bike market. My e-bike has a Bosch CX mid-drive system that has an EMTB (Electric Mountain Bike) mode. It functions very much like an automatic transmission in that it ramps up boost as torque increases on the crank. When pedaling on level surfaces or slight inclines there is very little power used, but as the load increases so does the amount of assist the motor provides. To incorporate that kind of technology into sailboat winches could revolutionize powered winches.

Or not. Maybe people who spend the money on power winches just want to push a button...




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a boat cleat that the center space is large enough to thread the eye loop of the proper sized line through easy.
 

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Auto docking, very much like parking assist in cars.
 

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Stripping old, accumulated antifouling paint varnish quickly and easily.
... Without using chemicals that are bad for you or the gelcoat.
 

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My wife thinks the cockpit should be in the front. And the sails should be called sheets, not the lines. City girl.
Let her ride up on the bow as you beat to weather on a windy wavy day. She will change her mind about the location of the cockpit.
 
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Some ideas as a long-term, single-handing deep-water cruiser: Look to the galley for something that you can radically improve that hasn't already been done.

The deck and rigging has been under constant design improvement for literally centuries. You will, at best, find some small innovation (better cams, more ergonometric cleats, etc.) which can probably be found in an odd chandlery somewhere already. If you can design a more efficient sail plan than has already been done, you might revolutionize sailing. But, it's really unlikely as a successful engineering project in a limited time.

On the other hand, the galley has gotten the short shrift for way too long.

The refrigerator is either front loading, with a poorly sealing door that purges the box of all cold air every time it's opened or top loading with a tiny hatch and a deep box that makes access to cold supplies almost impossible and cleaning impossible. And, with the heat exchange solution typically being a one-off solution (air exchange, seawater loop, keel-cooler), no one has come up with an overwhelmingly practical and efficient way to get rid of the condenser heat to convert us all.

The stove is usually propane powered which is a significant and inherent danger in a vessel where the heavier than air gas will settle into the bilge and engine compartments if it leaks. Otherwise you have alcohol with very limited output control, electric with serious resource management issues, or diesel/kero with serious combustion control issues (though companies such as Wallas do a good job of addressing this already, though still with serious issues such as gimbling). The sink is typically too narrow and deep for practical use or too shallow to allow holding water on a close haul in even moderate seas.

Counter space (including the sink and stove tops) could be radically reimagined to allow better multi-use.

Stowage could be made to inherently secure items against radical maneuvers in heavy weather.

You get the idea. These aren't the sexy things that sailors dream of but they are some of the headaches that we curse every day in one way or another that few people are working on..
 

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One item that needs improvement on most sailboats is the companionway. Hatch boards should have been abandoned decades ago. The companionway needs to have a decent door system that is simple to open, keeps weather out, converts to screens quickly and easily and is robust enough or can be quickly fortified to keep out a big wave coming over the stern.
 

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One item that needs improvement on most sailboats is the companionway. Hatch boards should have been abandoned decades ago. The companionway needs to have a decent door system that is simple to open, keeps weather out, converts to screens quickly and easily and is robust enough or can be quickly fortified to keep out a big wave coming over the stern.
Yes I agree that is something that hasn't evolved much.

I like Hallber Rassy's solution:




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I've thought about using tambour "doors"... like roll top desks... could be one or two which meet (one stores aft of stairs ... the other forward of the companionway (where mine slide when open) material could be wood or plastic or even aluminum.
 

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For my A-level Engineering project I am addressing the problems in sailing that could be addressed through the use of smart design. Any responses would be amazing!
Some large merchant ships have experimented with using kites to reduce fuel costs. Why not design a kite system for use on cruising sailboats? The system should be easier for cruisers to use than a spinnaker; kite-board kites should be adaptable; attaching the kite with a Pardey sea-anchor bridle (one end attached to an anchor windless or bow cleat and the other attached to a midship cleat) should allow the kite to pull the boat at a closer reaching angle than a spinnaker (kite-boards can sail upwind); because the kite flies higher than the boats mast it should be in stronger/steadier winds than normal sails; etc. Who knows, perhaps if the system could be perfected enough it would do away with the need for a mast, standing rigging, etc. I have seen a YouTube video of a dinghy being sailed with a kite and it looks great. Also, kites used by merchant ships are self launching and tending so perhaps some of those features could be incorporated. If you make millions with this idea send me some spare change, I could use it. Or if you need a test bed I volunteer myself and my 50 year old 30 ft boat.
 
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