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Future Grey Water Cruising Electro-Sailer

Imperial loa 43, lwl 38, bmax 14, draught 2-5, sa 600 & disp 21750



"What’ll one of these mongrels look like in a few years, Mate?" Reg is tying up his 41ft Benetau.

"Got time for a beer?". I nod towards the Club bar. "Come to think of it, this may take a few".

Against this poser a SF writer is more expert than a yacht designer. But I've read books by both …………………….

Because progress in communications and electronics has been so mind boggling in recent years,

people have come to expect it in all areas. In fact its often not happening at all,

people are often simply finding out about changes that have been in place for a while, but weren't previously available for push-button perusal. "Hello Internet, My, My the World is really advancing, isn't it" No, nein, nyet. Advertising has advanced heaps. Its now capable of lying to us with ten times the rapidity. And like machine-gun bullets, eventually one gets through.

So this is my notion of what a cruiser-racer for a few keen cruising sailors might be around the year 2033, and I've named the boat after its year of manufacture. And because my imagination is none too active, we might just find that a so called "Person of Vision" might be able to get started right away. Well, tomorrow anyway….

This isn't a cheap boat, the customer would need considerable means. But neither is this a Sci-Fi fantasy with gizmos that may never be invented shunting craft along at fantastic multiples of windspeed. What develops below is a yacht conceivable in a future soon enough to be recognizable, & have a reasonable chance of arriving!

I've assumed small advances in speed of operation of mechanical devices and a new but entirely possible hull material. Most of the yacht could be built now, but the huge cost of developing its software would require government funding or a mass production run which the current World customer base could not support.

Thirty three years pass……...

EARTH, 2033 AD

Cities are bigger and more polluting. The ozone has taken a fair hammering and Home on the Range, the skies ARE cloudy all day: - skin cancer is endemic amongst careless Yachties. Watermakers are only used well over the horizon. The factor most influential to design is the flukiness of sea conditions and weather, wind shifts are unpredictable and frequent compared with the more stable patterns before Global Warming became significant.

The big issue is speed, people have timetables and Cruising Types have deadlines. Punters who have just spent a small ransom on a new boat have jobs that require the credibility of an occasional corporal appearance, and no longer wish to go pottering off across the horizon with all the urgency of a drunken poet. The old methods of souping up a yacht have hit the wall. Sheer discomfort prevents weights from dropping indefinitely; seas and winds will never cooperate. No one describes a leg of the Whitbread as a relaxing cruise.

Ten knots in a burst is not unusual. Kept up for a few hours it represents a chunk of real progress. Maintained for days it represents spectacular passage times. But ten knot cruising averages are achievable with a good planing hull, by making up the deficit between wallowing and planing with supplementary electric motors, barely noticeable except for the very faint vibration which gives these optimized sailcraft the nickname Buzzbombs. Is the Buzzbomb a yacht? Of course it is. It’s a smart yacht, controlled in all ways by a Central Computer which garners info from both direct measurement and satellite-bounced importation.

It uses sail and power in carefully orchestrated concert, producing a great result without over-stressing either input, i.e. breaking gear or gobbling fuel. The sum is indeed greater than the parts. If in purist terms, its cheating. So be it. No one is being harmed unless some idiot tries to race one, and if it offends Purists they needn't look at it, and anyway will only get a brief look at a shrinking .

In the macro sense 2033 sets course to avoid the worst weather & seeks out helpful currents and winds in following the itinerary you ask. If it cant make a waypoint without severe discomfort, it says so. It may wish to lose a little time on one section of a trip, and make it up elsewhere. It updates the itinerary continuously as more info comes to hand. All the sailor does is input final destination and deadline, place and length of stopovers, and the seasickness ratings of the crew. You may have asked too much of the boat, you sort out your itinerary with the computer like planning a meal with a master chef.

Microprocessors operate micro systems. The Solsail (solid sail) angles are continuously changing, the boat is virtually paddling itself through the winds. Heel angles and rudder settings interplay with sails to gain the best local VMG, and deficits are made up by introduction of enough prop revs (expensive yachts use jets) to make required speed without running overnight battery levels low. If the boat cant make the speed to meet a deadline, either interim or final, it will call for a shortened stopover or maybe a repair, or maybe suggest dropping into a Coast Guard "jackship" for an electric boost (at a price).

Last but not least the central computer talks to and avoids collision with other shipping, handles shore communication and provides entertainment.

Where's the pleasure of sailing? Whenever you want you can take the boat over, shut off the electrical motive top-up, and sail by keyboard, or conventionally by tiller/wheel and sheet, although the average boat will be a sail-by-wire setup. For example the sheet will be liked to a spring loaded sail angle indicator/servo, the tiller looks and feels right but is actually a large scale joystick with adjustable imitation loads. The more expensive boats will have a real tiller linked direct to a rudder for true manual sailing, and not steered by the computers servo-jets imitating rudder action. The low-aspect rudder will of course retract to decrease friction during normal planing.

Another reminder of the old days will be an auxiliary sail, such as the upper lateen drawn on "2033". Deployment of this sail will be very much a gung-ho operation, but the telescoping rear mast can close the jaws which spread it, getting you out of a possible knockdown in seconds. While being sailed manually the boat continues monitoring, ready to take over should the helmsperson wander or nod off. After you’ve worn yourself out the boat gives you a printout of your performance against what it would have done in the circumstances. For beginners the boat can be sailed in "computer advice" mode with

its background of electronic nagging.



Encompasses the following design features…....



The hull is optimized to plane at as low a speed as possible. Thus the additional power required to put the craft on a plane is minimal and renewable by solar cells. The fine hull entry gives way to a harsher turn of bilge; the rear half of the hull sports an uncompromised planing section with a shallow Vee underbody and hard chine. This does not look unusual as the chine gradually dissolves forrd till the hull is a full semicircular underbody five ft behind the wave-climbing curved stem.

The hull is a one piece monocoque of 12mm molded cyclemince, a mixture of shaved recycled aluminum cans and plastic bottles set in a cheap epoxy magma base. This mixture sets like concrete and can be drilled and sanded fair for painting. Fairing is by robotics before the hull sets to full strength, long belt sanders wrapping across the whole width of the hull. Fittings are the same, or timber if you can afford it, and berths are variable density temperfoam which molds to your body with a slow erase memory, holding you firmly in your bunk without restraint, and "temperature reads’ your body, maintaining a comfortable level without covers. The centrally mounted 17 ft accommodation pod features damped gimballing around a longitudinal axis, while microprocessors operate trim tabs to damp fore /aft hull pitching. The remaining hull sections, 8 feet fore and 18 aft of the accpod are ungimballed and make up a total of 43 ft overall for this 2-4 person inter-continental "twenny thirty three".

Bow windage is greatly reduced by the thru-hull wind generator which channels the offending blast straight thru the hull at its narrowest point , spinning a genny on the way. The turbine blades are set to the direction of spin produced by a splash from the bow-wave.

Solar cells have become efficient enough and mass produced enough to be affordable, and are tough enough to be walked on. The yacht has solid sails, and so "2033" sports the deck area (minus windows) plus the Solsail area as solar cells. Internal ballast under the floor is all gel storage Batteries. These can be charged from a pier, by a lighting strike thru the telescoping mast (most of the charge is dumped thru the keel skeg), or by a Coast Guard "Jackship" if you are willing to pay to get home faster.



Because of their efficiency and combination with the electric drive only 300 sq. foot of rigid working sail is needed, with a further "soft’ lateen topsail added as a sort of cross-wind spinnaker and fun sail. As this boat is constantly sailing at close to multihull speeds, apparent wind is off the forr’d quarter and the boat is nearly always planing cross wind. Tacking downwind is common but triangular staysails with the base from the rail to the ship CL can be raised for a direct downwind sleigh ride.

About 20 solid 15x2ft NACA lower "door" sails are balance mounted on vertical axes between two fixed rails each roughly a quarter ellipse, the lower running over the accpod coachhouse roof. Solsail or Dorsails as they are often called adjust on servos to constantly optimize the row of slots. The top runner is the fixed lower of the lateen jaw, with the upper identically shaped swiveling at the bow in the vertical plane, its height (& thus its belly) trimmed by the telescoping rear mast which can swing across the boat beam on a pivoted base. The mast is stayed by adjustable length tensioning shrouds from its tip to each rail. These govern the mast angle and can spill gusts which would put a lesser beast on its ear. As mentioned they can support downwind sails with the mast static.

The Dorsails have flip out lips which can be deployed manually at anchor. Releasing the Dorsail angle control servos converts the entire lower sail plan to a generator.



Twin Stub Keels have ballasted bulbs and can swing down to form a 5 ft draught, be angled out to form (with the rear fin) a beaching/ bottom scrub base, or up parallel to the water surface to a minimum 2ft gunkholing draught. Water ballasting is an optional extra and can be raided for fresh water showers and positioned to improve fore-aft trim



The 5-foot rear


BOARDING DECK is just above the waterline and is used to launch the 10 x 4 RIB which is lashed there in a permanent state of readiness with its electric OB in a watertight locker on board. RIB is part tucked into a garage behind whose watertight rear wall is the


ENGINE ROOM contains the main electrical drive(s) which operate thru sail drive legs and feathering props. Some stolid purists fork out for a diesel on one side and electric the other, and burden themselves with the weight of by now extremely expensive stinking diesel tanks. Many of these gently smiling elders claim they cant sleep without the reassuring thump that accompanies the wastage of fossil fuels.. Id be smiling too if I could afford fossil fuel in the stringent 2030’s. The engine rooms are accessible by huge watertight clamping doors just above the recreation deck sole which also can be part lifted. The engines whine and hum quietly as they respond to constant rev changes as the central computer holds the boat speed steady thru gusty winds. Below the engines the bilge is bone dry and clean unless you are one of the terminal gas-heads. The hull material doesn’t leak and the pumps work. Above the engineroom lies the


GREENHOUSE , aft of the deck . The garden recycles toilet wastes producing high yield & bonsai vegies and herbs for the table. Accordingly the


HEAD with shower is adjacent, positioned according to the layout of the equally ungimballed


DECK which acts as a manual sailing cockpit and generous (12 x 9) outdoor recreation area. Light pours thru a clear roof which blocks UV rays and the occasional high-spirited nuclear blast. Sails are visible above. Mosquito netted side screens can be deployed as can Plexiglas windows…these slide up from the hull (as in an automobile) after raising a watertight cover. A sitting plinth with a tinted bubble above can be used for manual steering , and a split level provides seating, a dining table plus a double sleeping out platform. And of course a solar BBQ for cooking the fish you catch and store live in a seawater viewing tank set in the cockpit side wall. A centrally located companionway lets you into the



The Accommodation pod is able to revolve (in a restricted range with comfortably damped motion) about a central axis which itself can pivot fore and aft to keep the whole 16 x 12 feet level. The sole can be up to six feet wide due to the flat planing hull form. Full headroom to owners requirement is available over the full sole area. Accpods clip into the ballasted hull and can be quick released.. One can inspect enclosed or open plan factory fit-outs, or take a pod home to test living in or to fit out yourself. On return to the factory your finished pod is carefully weighed and the hull ballast redeployed to balance the entire craft against your fit out.

The pod contains all food storage, galley, display screens, watermaker, berths, galley ,and comfortable seating. Safeties are included as well as backup electronics, if disaster strikes the pod is designed with viable boat sections, and becomes in a single Walter Mitty-like leap of belief, an


ESCAPE POD , equipped with its own sail drive under the companionway steps. It is fully watertight but light and polystyrene packed to float even if swamped. In an emergency the long sail track above has pre-breaks in it, the lateen is dragged to one side by the mast and the stub axles pivoting the pod withdrawn, these activities achieved by solenoid/servo or manually. The ballasted section of the stricken craft can be left to sink away from beneath the pod. With any luck the RIB will be afloat nearby. Escape pod starts sending Maydays and activates Satellite beacons the moment it gets its bottom wet. Forr’d of the pod lies the


ELECTRONICS CENTER, the heart of the ship, despite its position where the absence of aircon allows the sea to keep the computers advantageously cool. (Aircon is restricted to the Accpod, the remainder of the ship remind one that is actually out in the elements, the reason you are sailing in the first place). Miniaturization means ample space for a voyeur Navigator to sit in but such a person would probably prefer to chat to his ship by voice while mixing a drink in the warmth of the pod. Weather maps and a mind boggling array of data can be displayed and analyzed on the main saloon or cockpit consoles at a vocal command. Security includes voice recognition and Lockdowns at a spoken command. In 2033 such systems are a part of life. Automatic overrides beat unlikely shorts as all cabling is shock/ waterproof and doubled. Last-resort manual systems include a gabbling suitcase of motherboards, and for the hopelessly nostalgic, a cedar bucket.

Input/Outputs are many and varied including laser sonar & survey., GPS, and all satellite communications, weather and entertainment. Electronic spray and rain shielding are standard as is magnetic shielding and SHIPVIZ which by law lets the world know exactly where you are, as if they care. Scrambling is available for business calls. Holoradar can be projected into the 3D holobox or 2D screens.

NEW YORK, 2043.

An old man sits smoking a pipe and casting a line carefully into the spaces between a row of aging charter electrocruisers plugged to the pier. An agitated executive type is attempting to engage him in conversation.

"Said he’d meet me here"


"An hour ago…I need a break see. I've got three weeks.""


"Do you reckon that old blue one would make Florida ‘n back?? What is it, oh yeah an old 20-33. He couldn’t want much. Hell, look at the paint. But I cant be late back. Jar reckon the electronics are Ok?

Sails look new. Registration’s there too. What's that thing on deck, a bucket? Those old Microsoft systems are supposed to be reliable. Whaddyya think.? Whassup?"

The old man climbs laboriously to his feet, taps the mobile phone in the younger mans top pocket, then waves his hand vaguely at the 9 digits painted neatly across on the old boats stern.

"Son, she’s plugged in. Ask someone who knows. Ask her."

Jeff Gilbert

Nov 2000

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