Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New York Minute

There's boat name for you, if you own a fast racing boat. It's slang for real quick, as in "I'll have your order in a New York minute." Johnny Carson once said it's the interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn. I love the name but you can have it. Let me know!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Is Anyone Not Amazed?

Is anyone not amazed by Banque Populaire V's smashing of the Jules Verne record for non-stop circumnavigation, just completed? Here are the stats: 29,002 miles covered, time elapsed 45d 13h 42m 53s,  for an average speed of 26.5kts! (You want to see her going 41 knots?)

She routinely put in noon to noon runs of over 600 miles; the fastest 24 hour run by a clipper ship was 465 miles (Champion of the Seas, designer Donald McKay, in1854. This record stood until 1984.)

"Banque Pop V", or simply "BPV", is a 130 foot trimaran, 75 feet in beam, with enormous sail area and stupendous sail-carrying ability, strong enough and big enough to be able to press on at high speeds even in big southern seas. She is featured in an earlier blog entry, with a video link - great stuff.


She is surely among the greatest yachts ever to sail. Hats off to her and the crew.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Bows, that is. At higher speeds, most of the energy driving a displacement hull is wasted on wave creation, including at the bow. To the extent wave making can be minimized, the efficiency of the hull increases. The addition of a bulbous bow creates a wave ahead of the ship's normal bow wave, and the trough of the bulbous bow's wave coincides with the crest of the ship's bow wave, tending to cancel the wave out. A bulbous bow lends about 5% to the efficiency of the hull, and reduces pitching as well.http://www.uh.edu/engines/maersk-bent.png

Bulbous bows add to the wetted area of the hull. At slow speeds the drag induced by wetted area is the primary impediment to hull efficiency. For this reason bulbous bows are not (apparently) suitable for sailboats, which so often travel at much less than maximum speed.

The concept is said to have been first developed by David Taylor, head of ship design for the U.S. Navy in 1910.  He noticed that the ram commonly incorporated into the bow of large combatants in that era seemed to slow the ships much less than theory predicted. While slow to catch on, bulbous bows are now ubiquitous.

The Baidarka built by Alaska's Aleuts has the unique bow depicted here. While western academics assumed the shape had some totemic significance, perhaps meant to mimic a salmon's maw, some believe it represents a bulbous bow. The efficiency of these boats is remarkable, and it seems entirely possible that thousands of years of inspired design resulted in an advance that long anticipated David Taylor's discovery.

You may think there is a flaw in the logic here - that bulbous bows are efficient only in hulls driven at the higher realm of their potential speeds, and that kayaks are slow. Think it through. A container ship and a kayak both have displacement hulls. Simplifying somewhat, the maximum hull speed of a displacement hull is known to equal 1.34 multiplied by the square root of the waterline length, at which point there is a big bow wave, a big stern wave, and a deep trough amidships - think of a tug powering along. A kayak with a 16 foot waterline length will thus have maximum hull speed of about 5.4 knots. (If you're doing the math, a container ship with a 900 foot waterline length has a maximum hull speed of 40 knots.) A powerful man could and would drive a kayak at speeds approaching 5 knots, suggesting that the bulbous bow would be a useful part of the hull. Bear in mind also that when a hull is driven by muscle, even a small addition to efficiency is normally appreciated and sought after.
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