Yachting monthly reliably informs me European
yachts are getting bigger.
Seeing the Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2 moored
in Sydney Harbour together inspired me to conceive
a project that makes the Concorde look boring. With
contributions from Yankeeland, the Poms and the Frogs,
we have a potential triumph of international engineering
co-operation, not to mention plenty of bucks to be
made in the ensuing confusion.
The QE2 in Sydney Harbor - photo
Both these ships consume around 3 gallons of fuel
per second, so the obvious step is to link the 1100
ft QE to the 980ft QM to form a sailing megaproa.
Savings and possibilities are mind-boggling. The 78,000
and 58,000 tons of the Regal Sisters for a start would
be pared by not needing 37 tons of fuel each per hour.
Of the 15 engines only 3 would be needed for sheets
and halyard. Steering units (thrusters) would also
Along with another two motors for generating power
and a couple for powering into harbour or through
the doldrums. Even keeping these and running everyones’
electric toothbrushes, fuel consumption powering at
30knots would improve from 11 to a whopping 58 feet
per gallon. And that’s both boats. Undersail,
well, you’d save some 50 tons of fuel per hour.
Obviously the rig presents problems, until you notice
that the Eiffel tower provides a suitable aspect ratio.
After over 100 years, lets face it, it needs a new
lease on life. Besides, if you leave it on Google
Earth most people will be quite satisfied. At 1050
feet, and 7300 tons it is a viable mast, and its 400
foot base provides perfect spacing for the hulls.
What’s more it’s demountable and could
be assembled to incorporate a mast track, say a spillway
section from a dam that’s half dried up.
The Houston Astrodome roof might make a handy 10-acre
main, but I think its only good one way, despite the
possibility of letting gusts through the hole in the
middle. Hence I’d opt for 50 by 500 foot long
strips of 20 foot wide half-inch plate, hinged on
the long side, which could clatter down effectively
onto a 20 foot wide boom and stack in under the height
of a man. Scandalising could be a disaster but calcs
show theres plenty of time to reef. Its true that
concertinaing 20 x 500 foot steel sections might deafen
a few passengers, but given the music they listen
to they’d have trouble proving any permanent
deterioration of lifestyle.
Cordage would be a challenge and it might be necessary
to take radical steps. I’d suggest steaming
through the Golden Gate bridge by accident, then hoisting
the trailing wires into suitable position. If you
judge it nicely, you may even collect a section of
roadway as a forebeam. Of course the citizens of Sausilito
would have to be calmed with some of the fuel savings,
but if you made your unexpected appearance on Sunday
morning you’d only collect the sinners who weren’t
in Church, and such folk need to be aware that the
Wrath of God can take unusual forms. Consulting with
Bush’s advisers on a suitable excuse might be
money well spent, but “The Brakes Failed”
would certainly delight the Media.
Calculated performance under sail is quite startling,
even with the proposed simple low aspect rig of main
and blade jib. The beast will beat windspeed in light
air, and only needs reefing in a Class 4 Typhoon,
by which time its cruising at 43 knots. Although it
requires 160 knots on the beam to lift a hull, it
would be prudent to take in a few slabs before the
windspeed reaches triple figures. A spinnaker is out
of the question, but the proa will go nicely downwind.
A jet engine attached to the jib clew would help,
but the complication is a bit much and I prefer the
idea of assisting natural tacks and poling out by
firing a few rounds at the clew from a tank parked
in the scuppers. This would be hugely entertaining
for the VIP guests who as we know need such events
lest boredom drive them to something truly disastrous,
like reproduction. They could of course run a sweepstake
on whose head might be blown off by the ricochet.
Making the beast pay would be a doddle. Not only
do you have the usual luxury accommodation for 5000
well-bred Twits, but the 8-acre bridgedeck offers
space to build a full Superbowl stadium and still
leave room for a couple of D8s to run around organising
untidy rope ends. Combined with the opportunity to
duck gambling laws, room for light aircraft to land
and a lowerable beach, the bridgedeck could house
a town within, and host almost any event on top, including
a NASCAR race.
Then there is advertising by projecting images on
the main. And of course electioneering, and political
speechifying. Can you imagine an 800-foot image of
Bush’s head delivering a riveting speech through
a 100,000 matt PA? With his mouth 300 feet wide and
teeth 6 stories high, he could convince the whole
of California that it was worth attacking Iran in
a single broad reach!
Oops there goes the phone. Someone called Cunard,
never heard of him. Wonder what the hell he wants….?
Jeff Gilbert 2007.
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