Eiar

Inflatable 25 - 30 footer yachts, anyone?

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Here's a crazy challenge - with inflatable / soft / cross over surf, kite and foiling windsurf boards on the market that come ever closer to matching the performance and durability of traditionally constructed boards, might a 25 - 30 foot inflatable or RHIB style foiling centre board or keeler yacht be doable / practical over time - trailers could be much smaller, marinas could simply have storage lockers and high flow pumps available, furthermore electrical outboards could provide power to get out of the marina - rigging would need to be speedy and simple - and interior and deckgear basic, but could it work in POST COVID times to boost participation if the storage, transportation, and construction costs are cheaper?

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I will bite. My first thought is an absolute no, but I have some second thoughts as well.

Fist the no: Inflatable kayaks are acceptable because they have the obvious advantage of storage and transportation, but if you ever paddled one you know even the top brands do not compare to a rigid kayak, not even close. I have been on a long paddle trip in a really nice one, but they flex and the performance is not there. In flat water it is ok, in chop less so. I have uses inflatable SUPs as well. Same thing. 

Besides the fact that one could not call anything inflatable a "yacht," anything inflatable will be round, it will be flexible, and it will puncture. Even if you would go with a rigid hull with tubes it would not have the kind of advantages you are thinking about and it will be ugly as hell. Also think about the sails, the mast, boom and rigging. It will never fit in a locker. 

I sail my boat on a regular basis and I love hanging out and working on my boat while she is in the water, so I prefer that, but you do have a point about storage since 95% of boats just sit in the harbor. However, boats can be build pretty light and up to 30 feet are easy to put on trailers if you have a crane available. No need to take the mast down, and taking up a footprint of about 33 x 10. So you would have to beat the trailer storage option.

Then some second thoughts. I found the Tiwal inflatable dinghy's and there seems to be some promise there. Perhaps with multiple inflatable compartments? Standing rigging would need to be supported somehow with a rigid structure. Again, it would not be a yacht, but might a keelboat be possible? It would have to be damn strong!

How about origami? Oh wait, let's not go there.

 

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Well it works up to 12 ft...  The Tinker traveller. 

 

Chichester_03_Photo_By_BertHodge.jpg

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The mere thought made me throw up in my mouth a bit...

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Yet I sailed rings around a 10' Tinker with my hard, nesting 12' dinghy...

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Would the higher performance ones be filled with Nitrogen or helium? 

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Put a mast on a Protector. Teak decks and all. 

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12 minutes ago, FixinGit said:

Would the higher performance ones be filled with Nitrogen or helium? 

Hydrogen

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There's this sort of thing that some of the Everglade Challengers are starting to bring.  I'm sure it could be bigger than the 15 footer.

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Cats are probably where this could  work. The frame is already part of the design, it can be broken down easy, weight and loads on the hulls are less than a keelboat. I can see a well designed tent on the tramps to allow light cruising. The problem is set up and take down. I saw a Minicat last weekend and it has a lot of parts. The site lists 10-30 mins to get on the water, that seems pretty optimistic. The hulls are pretty big and clunky, the rotomolded hobies were faster, at least in light air. The advantage is you do not need a trailer, but scaled up it would have so many components that hualing it around and setting it up would be a chore. A mono would be simpler, but once you get past hiking size and add ballast the structural issues would be limiting. 

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7 minutes ago, steele said:

Cats are probably where this could  work. The frame is already part of the design, it can be broken down easy, weight and loads on the hulls are less than a keelboat. I can see a well designed tent on the tramps to allow light cruising. The problem is set up and take down. I saw a Minicat last weekend and it has a lot of parts. The site lists 10-30 mins to get on the water, that seems pretty optimistic. The hulls are pretty big and clunky, the rotomolded hobies were faster, at least in light air. The advantage is you do not need a trailer, but scaled up it would have so many components that hualing it around and setting it up would be a chore. A mono would be simpler, but once you get past hiking size and add ballast the structural issues would be limiting. 

Exactly! 

Also with a cat: how much storage space would you actually save compared to for example a Weta?

 

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Walker bay seems to kinda-sorta not-really get to the inflatable part with their rings around the hull.

A flotation/fender more than a hull though.

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Foiling would get you to the point of not worrying so much about the shape/squishiness of the hulls. The inflatable part would only really be 'launch/recovery' or maybe 'lauch/recovery/light air' use.

I'm predisposed to like the idea (living in a city without a vehicle large enough to tow a keelboat) but....

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3 hours ago, Geff said:

There's this sort of thing that some of the Everglade Challengers are starting to bring.  I'm sure it could be bigger than the 15 footer.

A bit pricey but these could make a decent dinghy for a 30ft + boat.

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Along those same lines I’ve always wondered about these 25ft - 30ft Zodiac type powerboats that are “inflatable” with V shaped fiberglass bottoms, wheelhouse, two outboards, etc. What’s the point in making the perimeter of the boat inflatable?

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31 minutes ago, markwbird said:

Along those same lines I’ve always wondered about these 25ft - 30ft Zodiac type powerboats that are “inflatable” with V shaped fiberglass bottoms, wheelhouse, two outboards, etc. What’s the point in making the perimeter of the boat inflatable?

Big floating fender! That's useful if you need often to come alongside others.

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When sailing dinghies and returning to the quay always choose to go between two toppers,  they may not be inflatable but they still make a good fender... 

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for inspiration check out this foil board the Gong Hipe - carbon base and inflatable upper - imagine a rudder and foil / centreboard / keel base in carbon and an inflatable upper structure

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, AnotherSailor said:

Exactly! 

Also with a cat: how much storage space would you actually save compared to for example a Weta?

 

I LOVE the Weta!

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On 8/7/2020 at 9:51 AM, Geff said:

There's this sort of thing that some of the Everglade Challengers are starting to bring.  I'm sure it could be bigger than the 15 footer.

That would make a lot more  sense if trailering was harder. e.g. Tornados requiring a tilt trailer.

The website has people car topping the bags.  If you have to do that, an easily disassembled roto-molded boat is a better solution.

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Most of the replies above do not consider modern 'drop stitch' inflatable technology. The stiffness you can get with a modern drop stitch SUP or kayak is impressive. 

Once the technology evolves and drop stitch can be sewn in compound curves I think it is highly possible you could make a excellent sailing dinghy.

Longevity is the issue, the boat would be expensive and PVC boats fail after a couple of years in the tropics. I have direct experience with a 18m old Razorlite kayak having major seam failure, day one of holiday use in Vanuatu. 

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On 8/7/2020 at 11:06 PM, markwbird said:

I’ve always wondered about these 25ft - 30ft Zodiac type powerboats that are “inflatable” with V shaped fiberglass bottoms, wheelhouse, two outboards, etc. What’s the point in making the perimeter of the boat inflatable?

The tubes deform when you are semi airborne and come down on a wave giving a much more comfortable ride. Fendering against other hulls is just a bonus.

I have always been amused by builders making aluminium tubed rib replicas. The cylinder allows them to use lighter aluminium plate and provides buoyancy but they miss the real effect of tube deformation on ride quality.

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I’ve run a fair amount of miles on a Protector 28 at various air temperatures and sea states and can vouch for the performance difference w how tight the tubes are. They should hold their  air but all things being equal w air temp dif morning/night plus use plus sitting, you have to top them up and find the sweet spot, not just for turning at speed but also for additional stability and maybe even sliding/slipping leeway down or across bigger waves. You could run the rib uninflated, and I believe it’s meant to do so in an emergency, but you’ll notice if and when the tubes are slack in a variety of conditions.

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12 hours ago, nacrajon said:

Most of the replies above do not consider modern 'drop stitch' inflatable technology. The stiffness you can get with a modern drop stitch SUP or kayak is impressive. 

Once the technology evolves and drop stitch can be sewn in compound curves I think it is highly possible you could make a excellent sailing dinghy.

Longevity is the issue, the boat would be expensive and PVC boats fail after a couple of years in the tropics. I have direct experience with a 18m old Razorlite kayak having major seam failure, day one of holiday use in Vanuatu. 

Yeah, impressive... I believe that is why the OP asked the question in the first place. Can be done with dinghies (as has been proven already). The question is whether it can be done with a keelboat. I doubt the practicality and the rigidity. No matter how good the technology, we are dealing with flexible materials full with air.

 

 

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15 hours ago, AnotherSailor said:

Yeah, impressive... I believe that is why the OP asked the question in the first place. Can be done with dinghies (as has been proven already). The question is whether it can be done with a keelboat. I doubt the practicality and the rigidity. No matter how good the technology, we are dealing with flexible materials full with air.

 

 

To get the rigidity you could either increase the air pressure or even include some kind of tensegrity to transfer the righting moment.

trouble is that you still need to carry a keel which needs to weight more than a few kilograms even if you accept a big draft.

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Can we envisage a mini transat with a carbon skeleton swing keel foils and rig fixed to it with the hull only inflatable -the shape and plumb bows remind me of a foiling sup...

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Great, next we will be talking about inflatable airplanes, oh wait...

 

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