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Old 22-01-2008, 06:36   #1
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Best of Both Worlds? Go fly a kite...

I saw this interesting story today. The BBC is reporting on the maiden voyage of a cargo vessel using a hybrid propulsion system. In this case it's a huge container vessel drawing some of it's power from a kite.

Here's the story

The company is called skysails and basically uses a computer controlled tether to allow a kite to pull the vessel. They have a solution listed for superyachts on their site.


The system they use seems simple enough as demo'd in this video, but I am not really sure what the computer is controlling other than the length of the tether.

It's not like you can really steer a kite (at least not one with a single line). But still it is an interesting idea and one that I would think could work well in smaller power yachts. A fairly lightweight classic wooden yacht say 100ft or less should be able to get a decent speed out of something like this if it's effective at pulling these much heavier vessels.

I would think the biggest issue in building such a system (and especially in retrofitting it) would be creating an anchor point that could support the massive (and I would imagine sometimes erratic) pull of the kite.

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Old 22-01-2008, 06:57   #2
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OK,

after reading through the 20 or so page pdf file they have (for cargo vessels), I have to say the system looks really nice. The computer control is actually directing a steering mechanism at the end of the tether which alters the shape and such of the kite (which is basically a paragliding chute).

The biggest issue with a smaller vessel would be currently at least the size of their mounting equipment. Honestly a retrofit kit would probably involve a near rebuild of the bow structurally, but depending on how much extra strength is already build in may not be too bad.

Either way, it does seem like it would give you the advantages of wind power without the massive cost of converting to a traditional sail rig. And, aside from the front deck, you'd maintain all the clear deck space that a power boat allows. Not to mention, no probs with bridges as you could just reel it in an go down to engine power.

This thing shows a speed of between 10-18 kts for large cargo applications. I wonder what that would translate to on a smaller boat.
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