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Old 23-06-2009, 22:40   #1
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For Sale: Microship (Pedal/Solar/Sail Micro-Trimaran)

The Microship is looking for a new pilot.

The infamous amphibian pedal/solar/sail micro-trimaran created by Nomadic Research Labs (with the help of 160 corporate sponsors, hired consultants, and dozens of volunteers) has been lying idle in the lab for a few years, while I have turned my attention to ships big enough to support open-ended global voyaging (now preparing to move aboard an Amazon 44 after a brief flirtation with a Corsair 36). As I have come to slowly accept that I will never launch the planned expedition that drove the Microship project from 1993 through 2003, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that she should find a new skipper.

This is not a normal yacht, and finding a new home through traditional brokerage is absurd to contemplate (for a lot of reasons). The new owner of this engineering-intensive boatlet should be someone with motivations similar to my own... I pedaled 17,000 miles around the US on a computerized recumbent bicycle while writing books and appearing steadily in the media, and this was conceived as a way to propel a full-time technomadic life into the aquatic domain.

The Microship needs to find a pilot who is mediagenic, geeky, and insanely adventurous. I would expect to spend a week or two with the new owner here in my lab, sharing all aspects of the design as well as the infrastructure it represents for an overlay of systems, and I'll also stay available for brainstorming and consultation as the new project develops. The boat sails like a dream (heavy-hitter marine architecture consultants were on the design team), and is the resultant of over a dozen man-years of focused engineering work. This is a powerful substrate for a high-profile expedition, and my test loop around Puget Sound was just a teaser... she's barely broken in, as they say.

This boat won't be cheap compared to "beach tris" of this scale, and she's certainly not for everyone. But for the right person, she could represent a huge shortcut in time and money compared to the project that would be required to replicate this range of capabilities: pedal, electric, and sail propulsion; amphibian mode including folding akas and retractable landing gear; 480-watt solar integration; hydraulic controls; and much more.

For more information....

Photo album

Article about the substrate (not including rig, thrusters, hydraulics, solar array, electronics, or landing gear)

Project home page (including development status reports)

The boat is located on Camano Island, Washington (in my lab). She only has about 200 miles under her keel, and needs to get back on the water.

I can help you brainstorm the "business model" of a Microship expedition to see if it might benefit from sponsorship, publishing deals, or other spin-offs (I wrote a book on this subject called Reaching Escape Velocity, findable on Amazon, which may be a useful resource if you're into this sort of thing). Of course, she could instead just be a high-tech nautical toy for one with deep pockets and a yen for engineering. But personally, I would prefer to see the boat achieve her originally intended destiny of an extended public journey, and for the right person there is a good probability of corporate and media support (given the continuity of my work over the past 25 years).

This is kind of a long shot in this faltering economy - an expensive one-person amphibian pedal/solar/sail micro-trimaran has a rather limited market. But I bet I have a next-generation kindred spirit somewhere out there who would love to shortcut the process of building such a machine...

I'm not posting a price publicly because there are a number of variables such as solar-array inclusion, the level of my involvement in bringing her back online, and the soft-dollar value of "expedition continuity" that would continue to benefit me (versus getting stripped of geeky bits and used as a beach-cruiser, for example). It won't be cheap in any case, but should come in at about 25% of the development cost. If you're seriously interested, please contact me and we'll see if there's a fit.

A perfect shakedown cruise would be the Watertribe challenge... followed by a multi-year adventure through coastal and inland waterways. After consuming a decade of my life, it's going to be awfully hard to watch her have all that fun without me.

Cheers,
Steve

(the multi-pane photo below is a page from Make Magazine)
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Old 23-06-2009, 23:21   #2
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I'm both sorry, and excited, to read of your decision to sell Microship, Steve. Sorry, because I know what you've invested in her - not in terms of money, so much, as your creative imagination, innovative risk-taking and determination to see your dream through to completion. For lack of a better single-word description, your soul.

But at the same time, I'm excited to think about Microship performing in her natural element and proving her capabilities. In the hands of the right "techno-geek" (I mean no offense, Steve ) she can fulfill her promise.

In my view, Microship is a work of art, deserving of a place of honor in the Smithsonian. Best of luck to you in finding the right person to take her to the next level.

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Old 24-06-2009, 00:23   #3
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TaoJones...

I'm touched by your words; thank you. This really is hard, and for years I've been stepping past the boat with a distinct *pang*, many times a day, as I wander to and from my office. Somehow the implacable effects of Time changed everything before I even realized it, and for a while there I pushed on with esoteric landing-gear refinements even as I was starting to sense that she might never again roll out of the lab.

This is of course an old story with boatbuilding, though my own foray into that realm was compounded by the geeky intensity of the project along with the attendant publicity.

Meanwhile, the athletic nature of life in a tiny amphibian boatlet became less and less compatible with my ever-creakier back...

Much good came of the project, though. Learning curves I would have never imagined, brilliant co-conspirators, and an understanding that our human hulls get just as fouled as those of our ships from idling too long at the dock. It happens so slowly that you hardly notice, until your intake is blocked, your prop is encrusted with barnacles, and a million tendrils keep you rooted to the spot.

I'm applying that lesson to the new project, and although I am naturally still afflicted with gizmological obsessions that make everything considerably more complex than it needs to be, I am keeping things moving as fast as possible this time.

Thank you again for the kind words. I thought of the museum, but she doesn't really have a story yet (unlike my old BEHEMOTH bicycle, which is in the Computer History Museum, still filthy with ancient road grime and scarred by a decade of adventures). It would be cool, perhaps, to partner with someone who hops aboard the Microship and boldly goes... another reason for not quoting a price or being too enthusiastic about brokerage is that some non-traditional arrangements like that are possible (given the right person). This seems like a great place to launch the quest for my successor.

Fair winds from Nomadness,
Steve
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Old 24-06-2009, 00:39   #4
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Seems like Steve has just worked out how much it will cost him to keep his '44 going, and is now downsizing his collection as a result..

Jokes aside, I've read your websites/ventures with much delight, and I'd be interested to find out who follows up on this particular mission!

Best wishes,

Max
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Old 24-06-2009, 00:49   #5
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Max...

*grin* - Yah, this is an expensive hobby. Washington State taxes and insurance are the worst part; got a pretty good deal on moorage, but it's a daunting 3-hour round trip from home. So another distraction is building a mobile lab in a 24-foot trailer, which should also speed the tonnage reduction once all the "good stuff" is portable. EBaying at the moon, night after night...

Recovering some cash would definitely be nice, but I'm also motivated by the desire to see the little ship fulfill her intended destiny... in whatever form. Somebody is out there who is just right for her.

(I know, we shouldn't anthropomorphize boats. They hate that.)

Cheers and thanks!
Steve (currently aboard Nomadness)
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Old 24-06-2009, 02:13   #6
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I sure hope you find a worthy beneficiary...she’s a most unique craft with the potential of some great adventures not to mention further development...like oh...I don’t know…. detach some section and get it airborne..........submerse?
All the best with this.....I too will be following with great interest.
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Old 24-06-2009, 15:33   #7
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I should add, after last night's maudlin ramblings, that the prospect of seeing the Microship venture again into the sunlight is only sad on one level. On another, it's incredibly exciting... like watching one's brilliant child leave the nest after a turbulent and complex youth. I'll be glued to the resultant blog and twitterfeed, I'm sure! This baby is ready for some adventure.

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 03-07-2009, 00:05   #8
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I wish I was the guy but I'm not. Too wounded and too accustomed to comfort now. When I was 20something...
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