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Old 12-04-2011, 09:02   #1
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BA Thesis Ecoyacht

Hello everybody!

I'm a new member here and I'm not sure if this is the right column, but i got loads of questions.
Togehter with a fellow student, I am studying product/industrial design and we are doing our BA thesis right now, on the topic "ECOYACHT".

Unlike a lot of other more or less crazy or blue-sky yacht concepts which you can find on the internet, we want to do a preferably realistic concept of a cruising yacht with an as far as possible serious sustainable attitude.
Therefore we got a lot of questions and thoughts we want to share with you and where we hope to find answers.

The basic specifications are:

- Approx. 50 feet/ 15 metre performance cruising catamaran, suited for day cruises as well as 1-2 week travels, also charter
- the yacht will be powered by sails, since this is obviously still the most ecological way to power a boat
- instead of normal sails, we want to use wing-sails on our ship. It seems to have:
+ better efficiency
+ generates more drive
+ together with an electronic supporting system it could handle pretty "easy"
- a big topic is rigging/ fast unrigging with strong winds or when based in a marina
- we aren't sure how "accepted" wings are within the sailing community/ the customer
First steps towards unriggable wing sails have been made by omer wings sails(Omer wing sail)
- Everthing should be powered without fuel-burning motors


So basically speaking, what would you as a "possbile" buyer of an "ecoyacht" expect or wish ? In general, in what do you set value if you decide to purchase a big sailing yacht and want to spend about 1 Million $ ?

Do you think wing-sail is a reasonable technology for a cruising yacht ? Or should it be combined with the more traditional common sails ?

What are important aspects if you want to go on a 2-3 week trip concerning the boat ?

Which aspects of common Yachts in the 50 feet class do you think are not "eco" or sustainable at all, and which are particularly sustainable ?

You could really help us a lot if you answer those questions or write what ever comes to your mind.

Thanks a lot in advance!

akashara
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:28   #2
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

Hi Akashara and welcome to the forum.

I would be interested in understanding hoe the materials used in the construction of the yacht and its sails could be more environmentally friendly. While sailing would appear to be non-poluting and to not use non-renewable resources, sails and rigging wear out and must be replaced.

Cruisers use some form of "alternative energy" at least when they are making passage but batteries wear out, the manufacture of solar panels and wind generators, and the fuel consumption of generatoring equipment all have impact on the footprint of a vessel. These are all areas of concern if you are going to talk about an eco-friendly boat.

Waste disposal both on land and at sea is an issue.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:41   #3
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

Wow, Akashara - that is a huge undertaking and a great deal of ground to cover. Most sailors consider their boats to be, to some degree, 'eco - yachts', even though they have auxilliary power. A few comments:

1. No fuel burning motors. To date, I am unaware of any production yachts that do not require at least a diesel generator in order to provide sufficient range in all conditions. At that point, what are the advantages (they certainly aren't cost or efficiency)?

2. Wing masts/sails have terrific performance potential, but I question their value on a cruising boat. Problems: cost, complexity, ability to fully reef in heavy conditions, repacement cost for sails/hardware.

I hate to rain on your parade, but IMO the odds of producing a commercially viable, 50 foot yacht with wing masts/sails and no fuel-burning engines at a cost of $1M is completely unrealistic at this point in time.

Brad
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:46   #4
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

I would want a closed fresh water system. All waste water would be recycled back for use in drinking, cooking, and bathing. This would preclude the need for a water maker and/or frequent trips to the marina water hose. It would also preclude the need for space eating blackwater and the coming gray water holding tanks. Also, no more pumpouts.
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Old 12-04-2011, 10:20   #5
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

a cruising yacht needs to be able to spend time at anchor. So ask yourself what you're going to do with that wing sail at anchor. In a storm.

Rule #1 for your project ought to be: if the boat needs a dock, it isn't really a cruiser.
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:06   #6
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

Thanks a lot for your helping replies so far.

Thats the point, in order to make a sailing boat even more sustainable a big part of the design will be about innovative easy or "green" to produce materials (or reuse of materials), about energy on board, how the yacht is used and how it is produced or maintained.

So I really like the idea of a closed fresh water circle! Its both ecological and gives the crew more independence.

At the moment we do a lot of research on how you could gain electrical power, with solar panels, a solar foil on the wings, wind turbines or wave generators.

The wing sails seem to be a big challenge for us, but I love the idea of a high-performance cruising cat. At the moment we think about the possibility to construct a wing similar to the concept of the BMW Gina project () . So to speak a unriggable skeleton with a flexible (but not too flexible of course) material on it.
If you spend time at anchor, the wings could be unrigged.
Or if it is a rotable mast, it would turn its face towards the wind automatically (when released). Then it would have no sail area to be put pressure on.

Since this is a concept, fortunately we don't have a "financial" limit. But all together the yacht shouldn't cost more than 2 mil.

Really looking forward to seeing more helpful comments

akashara
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:20   #7
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

A rotating mast with sail up at anchor sounds like an opportunity for a burial at sea, or rather at anchor; think change of wind direction.

Cruising boats have a different set of needs from racing boats and included amongst them is the ability to quickly reduce sail area. You would be better to let go of that idea early I suspect.
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:25   #8
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You need a systems approach!

It seems that you are going into the project by selecting "cool" or fad technologies without justification. You have already made several significant decisions based on what criteria? Is a wing sail requiring electronics and associated support subsystems more eco friendly than a sloop rig? Do two hulls use more resources (epoxy, glass) than one?

What is the definition of eco friendly? For example, I may give off hydrocarbons in production but if I can capture them and reuse them does it count against ecofriendlyness? Are you looking at a life cycle energy budget on each material and subsystem, from production to recycle?

IMO it seems like you need to treat the yacht as a system where you make your decisions based on trade-studies that account for "eco factors", utility, cost, reliability, etc. Then your resulting design is balanced it's as eco friendly as it can be and still serve it's function. For example, if a winged sail is more eco friendly but costs $100,000 more and requires expensive servicing every year then you may have a boat that no one wants to buy. What eco premium are people will to pay?
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:14   #9
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

It sounds to me like you are trying to reinvent a less ecofriendly wheel and get credit for it. The polynesians invented your catamaran over 3000 years ago and called it a voyaging canoe. People used them for long sea voyages for thousands of years. It was built with 100% natural and recyclable materials, even the sails were made of 100% natural fiber. The whole thing was completely carbon neutral and required no electronics of any kind. The crew recycled everything. Eating from the sea they returned all nutrients to it. Remember in nature all nutrients are recycled, only when using mined nutrients is it neccesary or even advisable to attempt to remove the nutrients from the various nutrient cycles. Fresh water was obtained using solar distillation (collected rain water).
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:30   #10
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

To be honest the thing with the wing sails concept is our favorite at the moment because it is "cool" and has a good performance. And we still got the ambition and good will to create a not too expensive and rigable solution. ( maybe thats a designers disease; trying to find innovative solutions which seem to be -and often are- impossible). But we don't have to make final decisions yet and are still in the research phase, so still everything could be changed.

Most of the other decisions are based on research (4 weeks now) and what we think is suited best for our concept. Since there is a big chance that the yacht becomes a charter yacht, the bigger space of a multi compared to a mono would be perfect for us.
But I totally agree about the yacht as a system- until we don't have analyzed every single part we can't really make that many valid and reasonable decisions.

-akashara
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:51   #11
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

@ Captain Bill:
Yes you are totally right, probably that concept as such is as ecofriendly as it could probably get. But imagine: You owned a yacht with similar specs like the one we want to create, you are accustomed to a certain level of luxury, your yacht is a status symbol for you. Now you want to buy a new one, and you don't want to miss all these attitudes. I guess you won't take a cat similar to the polynesian cat into your consideration and probably again buy a classic not so ecofriendly one. But if there is a "classical" yacht which is built far more ecofriendly than others, that is maybe more sustainable than doing a radical concept nobody would buy instead of a old unsustainable yacht.

But there is a fine line between the classical and the radical approach; e.g. a new kind of composite material using natural fibers for reinforcement. Or using e.g. "liquid wood" (made out of waste/cut-off wood) for the interior parts.

So we want our boat to combine classical luxury and "designy" feeling with an sustainable attitude.
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Old 12-04-2011, 13:46   #12
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

Hi, akshara.

There've been a few discussions here in the past about wing sails. Do a custom CF-specific Google search on "wing sail" using the link in my sig line, and you'll see a few relevant threads.

Don't be put off by the naysayers. They may very well prove to be right, but the point of your project is to brainstorm some new concepts, and negativism puts a damper on creativity, so ignore the negatives and just keep throwing out your ideas to see what sticks.
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Old 12-04-2011, 16:04   #13
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

If it is just a concept, it doesn't have to be feasible. You just have to pretend that it is. It doesn't have to be really ecofriendly, you just have to greenwash it, just like you began to do. Modern luxury isn't ecofriendly: just think of the jetfuel burned by the plane between home and the cruising area.

Then, you don't have to compute real performance values (displacement, speed, pointing ability, endurance,etc). Just imagine what you would like to have. You don't have to compute an accurate carbon budget, just imagine one. You don't have to estimate a cost. Just say it's $1M and build the sum from that.

I'm sorry, it's again the old conflict between designers and engineers (I am one).

Alain
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Old 12-04-2011, 18:12   #14
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

Probably of wood construction. You can grow the wood and then it will not litter the planet for too long. But I am not sure a boat to your specs can be built in wood.

Also, to be ECO (ecological ?) the boat has to use very little electrical energy, engine energy and has a closed-circuit fresh water / sewage system.

b.
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Old 13-04-2011, 12:33   #15
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Re: BA Thesis Ecoyacht

Maybe it's too obvious to note, but isn't the best way to make a 50' yacht more environmentally friendly to chop it down to say a 32' boat?

or....

refurbish and recondition older yachts... there is a ton of energy, toxicity and freshwater being used to build a new boat... save that cost by simply taking older boats and making them new.

I'd definitely go for a very nicely redone older yacht...bet they're far cheaper too...
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