The fact is - Autarkia is just about ready for sea trials - sans a sailing rig.
But I have been thinking crazy thoughts.
Consider the following:
1) . Autarkia has a very reliable and pretty much brand new engine, that is quite fuel efficient (Evinrude Etec 30hp).
2). Autarkia also has large, uncluttered and unencumbered decks, that we are very fond of.
3). She is low, stealthy, and sleek looking in her present state.
Given the above, you may think that we are considering abandoning wind power altogether and simply using Autarkia strictly as a power boat. But that is not the case.
But we have long considered how we would actually SAIL Autarkia given who and what we are, our skill-sets at this stage of life, and how much effort and bother we want to put in to powering the boat with the wind. And I have always said - probably in the blog previously, that most of our SAILING would be downwind in ideal conditions.
If that's the case (and getting closer to being sure of it) then a rethink of how we might harness the wind is in order.
Firstly, since we would sail only with the wind say - 30 degrees either side of aft - then the lateral resistance of that honkingly big and heavy off-center board I built is not required. What IS required would be a a couple of smaller skegs (say about 2 sq.ft. each below the waterline) that I could make up with 3/4 inch engineered plastic sheet held in place against her sides with a through bolt and large wingnut to allow them to give way upon striking the bottom. Also, a smaller rudder could be made up from the same material and of course be designed to kick up as well. I could make all three items in very short order.
And what then would be capturing the wind in these ideal conditions?
Why THIS of course!
Or Something Like It
A pilot-lifter kite, appropriately sized, is very stable in a range of wind conditions, has a LOT of pull, and is inflatable without any solid spars. In other words, it packs in to a little bag when not in use. They can be readily purchased ready-made, or can be sewn up by yours truly from many proven plans that are free online.
Those of you who are so inclined, can do some research on kite-powered sailing, but in a nutshell you will find that most efforts so far employ parafoil designs that are very powerful, but are very unstable as well and must be controlled constantly. The surfboard crowd who use them for example, fly across the water with these kites way out in front of them at a low angle - not high up - so that the force is in the direction they want to go. Forward as oppose to up, although there are many examples of people flying up in the air with them. But to get that forward pull, they must constantly weave the foil in a figure eight pattern ahead of them.
There are also efforts being made by a German company to use kites on cargo ships to reduce fuel consumption. But again, these are parafoil designs that in this case are controlled with servos and computers.
Which brings us to our very stable and hands-off pilot lifter kite. It pulls, but as the name implies, it is lifting more than pulling. The force applied is in most cases at an angle greater than 45 degrees straight up. A waste of effort in that direction.
But there is a low tech solution I have come up with, though I do not claim to have thought of it first, though as of yet I have not found an example.
It is best explained with this horrible schematic sketch:
I would also have a short mast - say ten feet or so - that could be used in some way to assist in inflating the kite (the mast could also accommodate the anchor and steaming lights). Three inch aluminum pipe would be more than adequate, and it would be low enough that it could be fixed in place.
Let the controversy begin!