Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Back to Work

I start work on the Wilderness Explorer, a boat from Un-Cruise Adventures, this coming Monday.  I'll be working as a Licensed Deckhand again, but not on the same boat as last year.  The boat is in Shipyard for the first two months, so I'll be doing all sorts of projects to prepare for the season, but will not sail out until May. 
This means I'll move off Altair, and head to Seattle.  Its been a long time since last I lived in Seattle.  Nearly 5 years!
My plan is to work over the summer, make a small pile of funds and then when the boat finishes in September, take Altair out for a spin and then down the coast.  I figure I will make it to the Channel Islands, spend a little time, and then continue on through to Mexico.  The last trip down to Tumbleweed really made me miss the place and I'd like to bring Altair there again.
I've got a few projects to work out the kinks, however... 
Lindsay is keen on going along, (as am I on bringing her) but the boat is a bit small for two.  I've been trying to figure out a way of making the boat bigger, and come up with a few solutions.

1)   Cut the walls down:
I decided to make the main berth bigger, and decided to see how much room I got when I remove the wall between the liner and the hull.  I found about 8 inches of dead space!  I first cut into this zone when Altair went on the rocks in Alaska in 2009 , where the hull was breached but the liner was not.  I had to get to the inside of the hull and so I tore into the liner in one spot and found a large amount of unused space.  I hid my untidy hole once the repair was done by replacing the seat back, but it is high time I used it for something useful.  Here is another shot, but closer to the gap.  I put some of my 4 inch foam cushion up against the wall as insulation, but I'll find a more elegant solution soon, something that adds insulation and a little softness against the wall. 
I also need to finish the edge of the fiberglass so it isn't sharp anymore.
In the photos you can also see that I added shelves over the berth for plastic boxes.  I'm working on more of those shelves, so I can have a bunch of plastic boxes full of clothes and stuff. 

2) make the boat wider!
I made a rack on the side of the boat for the kayak, and this brought about the intriguing idea of making "wings" for Altair.  Small skiffs and catamarans have wings that you can sit on while operating the boat, mostly to get your weight out for ballast, and some mega-yachts have them too.  Imagine a trimaran that has only one hull!  So I might make some strong wing arms that stick out on either side of the boat and can hold things or maybe have a trampoline mesh that I can lie on while sailing. 
Right now with the kayak on the wing, I have both sides of the boat free for walking down, which is a nice thing.  I won't leave the kayak on this spot for oceanic voyages, but for short trips in places with small waves, it seems to work out well.  Here is a shot where I was testing it out, going upwind with the kayak on the lee side.  It remains about two feet above the water even when the boat heels fairly far over.  I find that it doesn't even interfere with the operation of the jib sheets, once I added a spacer to keep the kayak out a bit, and when the kayak is on the upwind side it blocks the breeze nicely.  The only problem is while on the upwind side it makes it hard to see, and I have to stand up to see over it.

3) Make the boat into a Trimaran!
What if Altair was a trimaran?  In a not so extensive study of the lines of the boat, I concluded that I could lift her out of the water, cut off the bottom about a foot below the waterline, and then make a new hull that glues on to the existing structure.  I would make it longer, skinny, and since I am removing 2900 lbs of lead, I could make the entire boat weigh about 5000 lbs, which my thin trimaran hull would float.  (I have a few different ideas with the bow, you can see)  Supposing I could cut the keel off Altair (would she still be Altair without her keel?)  and replace it with a different soul (I mean keel), and have that one stick and be strong enough, I would still need to make a new rudder, and a daggerboard, and I would also lose the use of my engine.  I'd have to throw the inboard out and maybe stick an outboard on.  (say that ten times fast). 
Without a keel, I would also need to make wings and two extra small hulls (or amas, as they are called) and attach those to strong points.  I can imagine the work on this would be quite an undertaking, but at least I wouldn't have to install an interior!  I'd gain extra room on deck for toys and some extra room in the hull down below the waterline, and also in the amas.
What kind of performance could I expect?  Since the keel and rudder are already terribly designed as is, I think the balance of the boat might actually improve, depending my my design skill.  I would be nearly tripling my wetted surface area, so I probably would go slower in light air, but since I normally sail the boat overpowered, I could possibly up my top speeds to near 10 knots when sailing with lots of wind, possibly more than that. 
I am also raising the boat's center of gravity substantially, so the possibility of pitch-poling is significant, and I probably should make the nose of the boat longer than it shows in the drawing, and maybe much longer.  Pitch-poling is where you stick the nose in and flip the boat head over tail, and usually destroy the craft completely.

Quite possibly it is impossible to get high performance out of this idea because the connection point to the boat is too wide, so either the hull has to be far down (and have a super strong lever arm) or when sailing in waves, the old hull section will hit the water and slow the craft down a lot, but I love Altair and I also want a trimaran.  

I am not planning on any radical changes just yet, but who knows what might happen in a few years...  I do plan on reporting on my travels on this blog, so stay tuned!