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    • CommentAuthorarthur
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2010
     
    While air transport is obviously unsustainable, it's less recognised that ocean transport is a huge problem too. Before cars and lorries and steam ships appeared, trade between nations - sometimes over great distances - was often quicker and cheaper than relatively short overland transportation. Railways and surfaced roads make overland transport much more efficient no doubt but it seems surprising that journeys across the seas should present such a problem for the future. Would a return to sailing ships (with the improvements made possible by todays engineering knowledge) be completely implausible for slow transportation of goods? I know there is research going into using kites to help pull large ships but what about old fashioned sails?
  1.  
  2.  
    although, helpful as I've been this really should be for the 'green living' forum.

    J

    :wink:
    • CommentAuthorBowman
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    A ships ability to carry sail tends to compromise it's ability to carry cargo. There's not been a great deal of technological advance that would make an early 21st century vessel any more efficient than an early 20th century vessel.

    Kites may have some small impact, but not I fear very much.
    • CommentAuthorcookie
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    Agree... sailing the atlantic with the trade winds once a year and taking 3 weeks with a fast sail boat or 2 months with a slow one is not really practical. However on the brink of world disaster we may have no choice one day.... "The Day the Earth Stood Still" type of situation :p

    Although I like the idea!
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010 edited
     
    Posted By: James Nortonthis really should be for the 'green living' forum
    No, we can afford diversions like this, as building has to be within the broad context, and because such 'off topics' can emerge as key to mainsteam 'on topics' e.g. electric cars as a national battery bank enabling much greater grid tolerance of interruptible/renewable generation.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010 edited
     
    Posted By: arthurRailways and surfaced roads make overland transport much more efficient no doubt
    In fact canals always remained much cheaper than rail, for slow bulk transport, and only demised because the railway cos bought them up and shut them down. Railways made their profits from passengers, perishables and parcels. Slow bulk goods was always the poor relation that caused more the railways more costs and traffic-obstruction than they were worth - it's a restraint-of-trade scandal that the canals weren't developed in parallel - how would that have served us if still in operation nowadays?
    • CommentAuthormarktime
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    For an excellent overview of sailing conditions and the delays involved with sail, I can heartily recommend Charles Darwin's "Beagle diary". You will quickly see why steam had such a warm reception. :bigsmile:

    The rest is fascinating and shines a light upon Darwin's later thinking.

    Cambridge University Press
    Edited by R.D. Keynes.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    What about photovoltaic-electric powered ships - in the tropics anyway, a ship presents a vast area of what cd be a photovoltaic 'canopy' to the sky. Same for Austraiian wagon-trains!
  3.  
    was only being cheeky, and having said that of course if you look at Kieth's partner forum the 'green living forum' you'll find its full of stuff about solar panels and woodburning stoves... !


    J
    • CommentAuthorRobinB
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    Didn't you want to be a pirate James?

    Canals more than sail, I would like to see brought back in to more use. I'm sure I read Sainsbury or Tesco were planning to move goods into central London by canal but I never heard that it actually happened or was any more than a publicity stunt. Nice idea though. It should be part of the Slow Movement*, I guess they dont get around to sorting thing out very quickly.

    *"The Slow Movement began with a protest against the opening of a McDonald's restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome that sparked the creation of the Slow Food organization. Over time, this developed into a subculture in other areas, such as Slow Travel, Slow Shopping, and Slow Design.

    Geir Berthelsen and his creation of The World Institute of Slowness[1] presented a vision in 1999 for an entire 'Slow Planet' and a need to teach the world the way of Slow." quote from WIkipedia
  4.  
    Posted By: RobinBDidn't you want to be a pirate James?


    good point....

    ...keep all the sailing threads up everyone, all very relevant...

    J
    • CommentAuthorBowman
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    There's nothing intrinsically wrong with slow movement of goods, except the vast quantity of stock tied up in floating warehouses.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010 edited
     
    Just as onshore or near-shore windmills are complementary to PV solar i.e. each tends to do best when the other's doing least, so modern rotating-mast vertical-turbine-like sails (producing both direct propulsive force and generated electricity) wd be complementary to PV-generated electricity on ships, which could then operate both in the tropical doldrums and towards the windy poles.
    • CommentAuthorBowman
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    Tom, the losses (principally drag) are too high - like orders of magnitude.
  5.  
    what's wrong with sailing ships?

    They cant sail head to wind . ??
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    What, the drag associated with sails?

    Or you mean, when PV powered and not in use? Even if feathered, furled (wrapped tight around the mast) or even un-stepped (lowered) - essential in storm, presumably, with modern tall, shallow-draft hulls?
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    Posted By: jamesingramThey cant sail head to wind
    That's the point of vertical-turbine-type sails - they don't care which direction the wind's coming.
  6.  
    Ever tried steering a sailing ship in a storm/hurricane?
  7.  
    Posted By: arthurit's less recognised that ocean transport is a huge problem too.
    In what way is it a problem? Didn't I read somewhere that it's often cheaper (in all terms) to ship certain things from China to "the West" than source them locally? Largely in part because bulk ocean transport is so efficient?

    Paul in Montreal.
    • CommentAuthorarthur
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    Well shipping emissions are pretty enormous I thought. I was looking into cross-ocean passenger travel and was shocked that passage on a container ship costs more than flying. Ok so that may be largely because there's no mass market but it made me think that there's no reason really why going by boat should be cheap or low in energy use. Water has a lot more resistance than air after all.

    I'm not sure why speed is such an objection to sail boats - cookie, you say three weeks is too long to cross the Atlantic but we import nearly everything from China and it must take at least three weeks to get stuff from there even now. Time just isn't really much of an isssue for some stuff.
    Obviously ships could still have engines if they needed them or for going against the wind but if fuel became expensive enough would sails still not be worth it?

    Surely modern materials would offer some improvements for modern sailships . Racing yachts use them. (Biff might not approve though!)

    (sorry if this in the wrong section or wrong forum but thanks for the interest - you're all obviously bored with building!)
  8.  
    Posted By: arthurWell shipping emissions are pretty enormous I thought. I was looking into cross-ocean passenger travel and was shocked that passage on a container ship costs more than flying. Ok so that may be largely because there's no mass market but it made me think that there's no reason really why going by boat should be cheap or low in energy use. Water has a lot more resistance than air after all.
    Travel on container boats is like going on a super-high class cruise. Price is not related to energy cost at all. It costs more than air because it takes longer (more food to provide etc.). Water has more resistance, but the cross sectional area of a cargo ship is very small compared to its net cargo weight so the energy cost is relatively low.

    Paul in Montreal.
  9.  
    Health risks of shipping pollution have been 'underestimated'

    One giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50m cars, study finds

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution


    REPORT: Pollution from 15 of world's biggest ships equal that of world's 760m cars

    by Jeremy Korzeniewski (RSS feed) on Jun 2nd 2009 at 1:57PM

    http://www.autoblog.com/2009/06/02/report-pollution-from-15-of-worlds-biggest-ships-equal-that-o/
    • CommentAuthorBowman
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    Arthur,

    Shipping emissions are tiny compared to most other forms of transport.
    Speed is an issue because lack of it ties up a huge amount of stock doing nothing. Time is always an issue.
    Sails would rarely be worth it, they wear out quickly, they are hugely expensive, and handling them takes a great deal of effort and machinery. (With the possible exception of kites.)
    Modern materials are great but not that great. Racing yacht are fast, but many of the Clipper records have only just fallen in the last ten years or so.

    Even if oil runs out ships could run quite happily on coal.

    A great deal could and should be done to improve particulate emissions in particular but shipping really isn't something we should worry too much about. There are much bigger fish to fry.
  10.  
    Posted By: fostertomNo, we can afford diversions like this, as building has to be within the broad context,


    Indeed, I was only thinking the other day about how much today's eco-builders could learn from the amazing caulking techniques that allow a butt jointed wooden ship's deck to resist the ingress of waves and rain, using relatively natural and sustainable materials (hemp fibre and stockholm tar, I believe).
    • CommentAuthorBowman
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    Henry, it's the water that keeps the water out! Wood swells as it gets damp, many old boats can't be kept out of the water for very long.

    (Though I think the caulk might help too.)
  11.  
    Posted By: BowmanHenry, it's the water that keeps the water out! Wood swells as it gets damp, many old boats can't be kept out of the water for very long.

    (Though I think the caulk might help too.)


    Absolutely true, I have owned wooden boats my self! But the deck is not constantly wet like the hull, is it?
    • CommentAuthorBowman
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    Quite true, but I'm pretty sure it's cotton, might have been hemp once though?
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    Posted By: Henry Searsthe deck is not constantly wet like the hull, is it
    Often enough, surely - not like anything on dry land
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
     
    Posted By: bot de pailleOne giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50m cars
    Posted By: bot de paillePollution from 15 of world's biggest ships equal that of world's 760m cars
    This has absolutely nothing to do with ships versus cars (or trucks or trains) - it's solely about burning low-grade suphurous fuel. another issue altogether.

    "The problem isn't necessarily with the ships' 109,000-horsepower engines that endlessly spin away 24 hours a day, 280 days a year. In fact, these powerplants are some of the most fuel efficient units in the world. The real issue lies with the heavy fuel oil the ships run on and the almost complete lack of regulations applied to the giant exhaust stacks of these container ships."
   
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