Saturday, 23 April 2016

Steve's big Adventure

Its like Pee Wee's but without a bicycle. Also it includes my wife and the only theatre is a home one.

The sense of adventure cultivated by being a voracious reader as child and permanently ingrained in my being by travelling the world burns wickedly. This is our common DNA. A subject poorly tackled but visually satisfied in the remake of Point Break.

The set piece of my dream is a 58 foot, 11 inch floating cocoon generically called a 575 Oyster. If I was to pick from the litter today I would be on cloud 9, the 11th hull delivered, in cherry. USD $1.4 million ex works Spain Vat Excluded. All in by the time I arrived at Hawaii your looking at a $2 million dollar bill.

I first read about Oysters in the Economist decades ago. They used the sailboats design as a metaphor for good economic decision making. Allegedly a Oyster sailed through the perfect storm like grey pupon sitting on the tray in a Rolls Royce. If an Oyster was a car it would be a Volvo built by Jaguar. If my dreams were on a budget I would ride a Bavaria. Half price by the foot new. As they say the sea is a harsh mistress and my due diligence tells me if I want to go blue she is the pearl of the fleet.

Never go into blue water with less than 50 feet in your hand, Its a math thing having to do with the amplitude of the waves. Essentially if your boat is shorter than the wave height, the ride is expontentaily worse as the disparity increases. (Ed note, most blue water sailor's ride between 35 and 42 ft). The most important part of any ocean voyage is not ending up in Davey Jones locker.

This invention looks like the key to survival should you find yourself in the middle of the perfect storm. Its a variation of the sea anchor which is designed to slow down your boat and essentially increase displacement.  Sydney to Hobart 1998 was the 911 of sail boating. An interesting footnote is this race was won by tech God Larry Ellison. The post mortom shows that a Jordan Series Drogue might have saved most boats. Secondly although many sailors swear the waves were coming from all directions,  physics does not support this conclusion. A good auto sailor may have kept boats going in the right direction. Its unlikely I would ever get caught in this kind of maelstrom, but its an event I must prepare for.

Avoiding bad weather is the best idea.  Even without high speed Internet every sailor today can get the big picture and avoid the eye of the storm. High speed Internet is possible in most of the world. Like everything involved with sailing its expensive. A couple of thousand US a month, plus $35,000 up front for the equipment. All this for a mere 3Mbps.

Internet, Radar, Sonar, GPS, Thermal Cameras, Auto pilot, refrigeration, watermaker, big screen tv's. audio systems, marine audio, computers, let alone aircondition, and you have a big power challenge. Considering some passages take 30 to 40 days at best, there is no way to bring enough diesel to rely on a generator to make your way around the planet.

Fortunately green energy has really arrived for the well heeled. The biggest leap forward is storage. Lithium batteries are 70% lighter than any of the alternatives. They also take up way way less space. They can be cycled thousands of times more than lead. The charge characteristics make using a generator way more efficient. In fact without lithium I would not be able to live my dream.
Keeping with the program for 720 Amp hours which should power everything except air con for 24 hours the cost for batteries alone is about $14,000 US,

There are amazing solar options, and I would literally cover most of the deck, the bimi and the davits to have up to 3000 watts capacity. Solibian makes flexible panels that you can walk on.

Solara makes 22% efficient panels engineered for decades at sea. It costs roughly $10 a watt, so another $30,000 for panels. As an aside never wire your panels in parrall, its perilous. If one panel fails the whole system crashes,

Hydro generation has been a staple of the blue water cruiser but WattandSea have this much refined. They claim its no parasitic?  At $4000 for a 600 Watts @ six knots, its a steady reliable bargain.

Cant forget about the wind. When sailing maybe not a great option, but when moored good for 1000 watts in a good breeze.

Fuel cells redundancy. Cool tech without flammable gases.

A lighting strike is like terrorism to the sailor. Very unlikely to be touched by it but if it happens. your not in a good place. At a minimum all your electronics could be fried. Therefore I would keep critical backups in a Faraday cage. Once again prevention is the best medicine. fascinating tech. Emp claims the first advance in 260 years.

Next to a lighting strike the biggest killer problem is loosing your rudder. Even if you have a replacement plan, if it cant be auto piloted you may die of fatigue.

Given the robust nature of an Oyster I cant see abandoning ship except for striking a submerged container.  The Portland pudgy tender is an interesting option but I will stick with the traditional life raft.

Tenders are essential for off the beaten track rendezvous. If you want to visit Easter Island your going to need a good tender. At 68lbs for 9 feet we have a winner,

The last major choice is what kind of anti fouling paint to apply. Before you can visit the Galapagos Islands your hull will be checked by a diver. So its critical that you leave Panama in great shape. My research points in one direction. A 60 ft boat will likely need $20,000 worth of work.

I would like to now patent a small gas barby made for sailboats. Its on a gymbal system and has clamps for attaching to the back rail. Weber make it so.

The final destination for the first leg is Florida. Due to the Zika virus any crew still planning on childbirth would have to have a good supply of frozen eggs or it may be a journey they regret.  In Florida the boat would be pimped up, new Yammar, and all the goodies installed.

Second leg would be through Panama, to Galapagos, Pitcairn, Easter Island, Tahiti and finally Hawaii.


  1. ...i also have a pipe dream of sailing around the world...did you catch my post about Joshua Slocum ?

    1. no but I have now great post, a must see
      for all pipe dreamers