The purpose of this project is to design and mass-produce kits for a floating tiny house that can sail. It combines high-tech modeling and fabrication and low-tech assembly that can be carried out DIY-style on a riverbank or a beach. This boat is a 3-bedroom with a kitchen, a sauna and a dining room. The deck is big enough to throw dance parties. It can be used as a river boat, a canal boat or even a beach house. Oh, and it's rugged and stable enough to take out on the ocean. Kits will start at around $50k (USD). The design has been tested in simulation and prototype; full-scale production will begin next year.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Cabin

The cabin layout is designed to work with lots of people milling about. A representative scenario is as follows: a bunch of people have shown up and want to party; they have brought children who have to be put to bed at some point. Some people want mingle, others want to sit quietly in a corner and chat. Some people are hungry, and there is food being prepared. Some people don't mind at all that the boat has a sauna/steam room, and wish to avail themselves of it. Some people want to sleep; some other people want to have sex. There is a pole-dancer in the crowd.

Referring to the illustration, the black dot near its center is the mainmast, which can be used for pole-dancing. Directly aft of it is the companionway ladder which leads from the pilothouse and deck (where there is a completely separate keg party going on) down to the cabin. Directly aft of the companionway ladder are the two aft cabins. Between them is the engine well which is well insulated against sound; aft of the engine well, against the transom, is the propane locker holding two 20 lb tanks of propane used for the galley range, and the water heater when shore power is unavailable. Forward of the engine well and between the aft cabins and the rest of the interior are very substantial, soundproof partitions. This takes care of the people who want to sleep, and the other people who want to have sex at the same time; they won't hear each others' snores and moans, or the noise made by the revelers, nor will the revelers have to listen to them.

Directly to starboard of the companionway ladder is the galley, equipped with a sink, a three-burner propane range with a stove (most likely a Camp Chef) outfitted with a fume hood that exhausts outside (I am amazed that most boat designers neglect this key feature!) a refrigerator (most likely a Dometic 3-way) and some lockers and shelves.

Directly to port is the heads, equipped with a sink, a marine toilet and a shower/sauna. Aft of the shower/sauna compartment is a compartment that holds the water heater, the holding tank and various other bits of equipment.

Forward of the mainmast is the main salon. There are two settees, one on each side, with a drop-leaf table between them. This takes care of the people who want to sit down and eat. With one leaf of the drop-leaf table extended, they can sit on that side of it and eat, while people can still get past them on the other.

In the back of each settee is a pilot berth, which is quite generous. The pilot berths take care of the children who need to be put to bed at some point. There are curtains in front of the pilot berths, which are drawn to give them some privacy.

In the bow is a small sitting room, with room enough for 4-6 people. That takes care of the people who need a quiet corner to chat, work on a laptop or watch a movie.

That rounds out the experience. In all, QUIDNON can be used to host an impromptu gathering of 20-30 souls, and they won't particularly interfere with each other unless they all want to do the same thing at the same time (but this is unlikely). If the weather isn't bad, lots more people can hang out on deck, which is flat and can be set up with deck chairs and an awning.

Oh, and it bears mentioning that all of these activities are quite possible with the boat under way. There is just one spot that's reserved for sail handling, steering and navigation, and that's the helmsman's seat in the center of the pilothouse, directly behind the console. I will discuss it in a future post.

The dark grey areas along the sides are various kinds of storage: shelves, lockers, hanging lockers, cabinets and so on. The space under the pilot berths is occupied by the water tanks, but everywhere else the space under the settees and the berths is also used for storage. This adds up to about 500 cubic feet of storage space, most of it close to the waterline. If used to store water (not recommended) it would weigh 30,000 lbs. If used to store a library of books (slightly more reasonable) it would weigh 8,000 lbs. That is, by most standards, plenty of storage space, especially for a boat.

27 comments:

  1. Good Lord, Dmitri! This boat is huge! If you can actually keep the cost of construction under $50K with all of that, I'll eat my hat and send you the video. What is the length overall & beam? If you mentioned that already, I missed it.

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    1. It's 36 LOA = 36 LOD. I specifically dialed in this length because it's a reasonable breakpoint beyond which marina slip fees become a little too much like actually paying rent. That's the huge benefit of a square boat: lots and lots of interior space. The "nothing fancy" principle helps keep the costs down. For instance, not a "marine" galley range (which, for something like 5-10 times the money, includes some thermocouple gas valves that don't cost much and aren't all that reliable) but a virtually identical regular gas stove. Not a "marine" refrigerator, but one designed for RVs (and can run on AC, 12V or propane if electricity becomes scarce). The "furniture" will all be made of AC plywood, painted in light pastel colors (using latex paint) with the countertops and tabletops surfaced with Formica. I'll cover lighting, heat and ventilation in a separate blog post.

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  2. A shower, yes. A sauna? How will it be heated? Any special requirements, because of heat and moisture?

    I think Dmitry mentioned a 16' beam, and his provisional numbers were:

    LOD = LOA = 36 ft
    WLL: 34 ft
    Beam: 16 ft
    Headroom: 6 ft Displacement: 15,000 lbs
    Draft (boards up): 2.5 ft Draft (boards down): 7.8 ft Sail Area: 1000 sq. ft. Masthead above DWL: 47 ft Power: inboard outboard, 35hp

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    1. Yes, those numbers are correct. The drawings I published are based on them. Not sure about displacement: the ballast may get adjusted up based on tests I'll perform on a model.

      Yes, a sauna! Every house should have one, and a houseboat is no exception. The shower compartment will be paneled with pine boards over a moisture barrier and there will be an exhaust fan to get the moisture out. The heat will be provided by a smallish wood stove, and the steam by throwing water the pile of rocks sitting on top of the stove (there will be some stainless steel mesh to hold them in place). The wood stove will be used to heat the cabin as well, simply by redirecting the output of the exhaust fan. I've had really good luck with solid fuel stoves aboard HOGFISH. They require getting up in the middle of the night to add charcoal, but they dry out the cabin really nicely (unlike electric or propane). Diesel heaters (Webasto) are a bit better, but they are expensive, and there won't be any diesel aboard QUIDNON.

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  3. What is the hatch distribution above (if any), and their sizes, to get stuff in and out of the boat, and for light and ventilation?

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    1. There will be a single large hatch in the center of the deck, in front of the mainmast, formed as an upside-down box with 1/2-inch lexan plate for a bottom, placed over another box built into the deck, so that there are never any leaks. The opening size will be 6.72 x 2.5 feet (although I might bump up the 2.5 a bit if I find that some piece of equipment, such as the fridge, needs more room). All the other doors and hatches are sized at 2 feet wide by 4 feet tall (starting at about 8-10 inches off the floor), which I have experimentally determined to be sufficient.

      The big deck hatch will provide plenty of light, as will the little round deadlights that will wrap around the entire hull. I'll cover illumination and ventilation in a separate post.

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  4. I claim the hammock between the masts to crash in after the party;-}

    The forepeak looks like the blackjack table at the Sahara Lake Tahoe where I won $500 and the affection of my sweetheart in 1979. Might want to consider a Roulette wheel as the house always cleans up on one of those. It will pay for all your travels.

    Seriously though I would recommend making space for a solid fuel heater like the Dickinson Marine, Newport Solid Fuel Heater, 00-NEWSF.

    Even in warmer climes some of my fondest memories are sitting around the cabin with friends and a cozy fire.

    Plenty of free fuel on the beach just rinse it a bit with fresh water as you bring it aboard.

    Cheers!

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    1. I am thinking of building hammock hooks under the boom gallows. Perfect spot for a hammock.

      I do intend to build in a solid fuel heater, but I expect that I'll have to build my own because Dickinson and wants real money for theirs and all it takes to make one is some plates of mild steel. I welded up a rocket stove once, and it worked great.

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    2. This looks like an interesting stove design that can easily be modified to hold hot rocks on top.

      From my experience the #1 consideration for any wood stove, on sea or on land, is having outside air for combustion. Simply plumb a 1" pipe (larger if it is a large home stove) into a deck vent or into the pilothouse and down into the combustion chamber. Have a valve just before it goes into the stove and you can control combustion. Do not try and control combustion on the exhaust side, your libel to wake up dead.

      This system will ensure you do not deplete the oxygen in the cabin and will allow you to control the heat much better. Warning!!! drill a small hole in the slice valve so even all the way closed there will be some air coming in to the combustion chamber otherwise you can accidentally create dangerous vacuume pressure if you have a rip roaring fire and close it all the way down.

      Very easy to do and very safe I have done it several times.

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    3. Did you mean to paste in a link?

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    4. Heating with wood is something that I know much about, and using an outside air intake is actually counterproductive most of the time. The stove is a heat engine without moving parts, and if the intake air is drawn from the heated space 1) it's warmer, so it's easier to light and keep hot enough for an efficient burn and 2) it dries out the space by encouraging slow moving dry (due to heating) air to move through the cabin. Dave Zeiger of Triloboats.com sells plans for a small charcoal cabin heater that is wonderful for small spaces, but it wouldn't heat this entire cabin. However, it would make a fine sauna heater with modifications (small atmospheric water boiler on one side, no rocks) and one could keep the pilot house toasty.

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    5. Having an effective flue that's as tall and wide as possible is definitely the key feature. I am figuring on a 3-inch flue close to 6 feet tall, and in my experience that works fine for just about any stove. The supply of fresh air tends to happen more or less automatically because the boat is never completely airtight and the flue generates enough suction to draw in air.

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    6. Your mainmast is going to be a hollow metal tube, correct? I wonder if anyone has ever tried using that hollow space as the flue?

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    7. Wonderful ideas for this project. The flue is a big element for sure. Something to keep in mind--if everything is battened down tight and you turn on any sort of exhaust fan, (provided there are no deck vents for make-up air) smoke in the cabin or at least reduced stove performance may ensue.

      The nice thing about Not having combustion air plumbed directly into the stove from outside, is that by using cabin air, you are constantly pulling stale air out of the living space, and the colder outside air that is drawn in has a lower absolute humidity, which I believe accounts for the drying effect you mentioned, as it warms up and takes on more moisture.

      My most recent Quadrafire home stove is a vast improvement on the simple old mild steel plate stove it replaced. You might eyeball one at a dealer for some design ideas. It's so much more efficient that I burn about half the wood, and at a low setting with good dry and dense wood only have to stoke it twice a day.

      Some of the key design elements are: insulated fire box to keep temperatures high and help facilitate more complete combustion (fire brick lined, with ceramic fiberboard on top). Lengthen the combustion gas pathway--direct it foward underneath the ceramic toward the door, then back to the flue between the ceramic and the top of the stove. Secondary air injection under the ceramic.

      Might even be worth designing a water heating feature for it, in case you want to save on propane.

      Norm

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    8. The way the masts are mounted in their tabernacles would preclude their use as chimneys. I like the idea for its sheer craziness, though.

      I'll be looking around for stove ideas, to be sure.

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    9. Sorry link here;

      http://www.faymarine.com/plansite/fire_design.htm

      You are all incorrect about outside air for combustion. I have read the studies done many years ago. The facts are that the flue is essentially an evacuation fan. The better the draft the more air is being sucked out of the cabin. It is actually possible to pull in enough cold air form outside to offset the heat of the stove. You will feel a cold draft if sitting next to an open port. Also it is possible to seriously deplete the oxygen in the cabin unless ports are open wide. If you have it in an enclosed sauna you will wake up dead. Ask Lynn and Larry Pardey about their near death experience.

      Stoves with fresh, highly oxygenated, outside air systems earn the highest efficiency ratings in the industry. Zero Clearance fireplaces, the metal prefabricated ones must be installed with outside air kits by law in most of the country as they can suck the air out of the room in a matter of minutes through their 10" or 12" flue.

      On a boat without outside air for combustion it is also possible to have a build up of carbon monoxide if the fire is starved of oxygen even a little bit and a gust of wind or a counter draft allows the gas to come into the cabin through the combustion intake vents.

      Bottom line check into it and do the outside air system.

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    10. Phil Bolger (of course) used a hollow, aluminum mast as a smokestack on his Alaska Motorsailing Cargo Boat. Corresponded with an owner, who said it worked out great!

      One more trick for the bag...

      Dave

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    11. I have read those studies as well, and consider the test conditions to be contrived. We'll just have to disagree on this one. I'm sure Dmitri knows how to not get himself killed in his sleep either way. I'd say using a propane refrigerator inside a boat hull is a greater long term risk than backdrafting from a properly made & managed woodstove.

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    12. If a combustion chamber with a flue is operated in an airtight space, the flue won't vent gases for very long, the fire will go out, and the space will fill with CO2 and CO, killing everybody. But I am yet to see a sufficiently airtight boat to produce this effect.

      The trick I like to use is jacketing the flue with a wider-diameter pipe that lets cool air flow in from above deck. It gets warmed up on its way down, and this way the air circulation circuit is short, and there are no cold drafts. Also, people don't get burned on the hot flue pipe because it's jacketed.

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    13. Your double pipe system it tried and true and generally referred to as coaxial pipe. Problem is it only works when connected to the combustion chamber as that is the only way to over come the inconvenient fact that heat rises. Connected to the combustion chamber you suck in exactly what is vented out through the flue. Other wise the double pipe just becomes another pathway for heat to escape unless the air is forced down. I do think that a perforated flue shield is a very good idea on a boat

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    14. Moonshadow - I have participated in some of those studies and designed fireplace systems and stoves for years (industrial designer for 25 years). The main thing I learned through that experience in to never argue with anyone about their beliefs on burning stuff, there is some primal element there and it never goes well. So we will agree to disagree.

      With propane I would absolutely recommend a "closed loop" solid fuel stove as I have seen with my own eyes a non- combustion air fireplace suck the pilot lights out on a near by cook stove.

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  5. Have you looked at the various composting toilets? I built a 2-bucket one for less than $50, lots of plans out there. Biggest advantage is no blackwater, so no pump outs and simplified (cheaper) plumbing

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    1. I had an Airhead composting toilet for a few years. It never quite worked right, but then it was a single-bucket system. I always ended up just emptying it into a contractor-grade garbage bag and dumping it in the marina dumpster. My wife hated it. But I hate marine toilets. So we'll see...

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    2. Look into the humaure four bucket system for your toilet head. I'd wager it would appeal to your wife more than an airhead. Certainly smells a hell of a lot better.

      http://humanurehandbook.com/

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    3. I know all about that. I think that a 3-bucket system would work, in terms of allowing the composting to run its course. But people tend to have strong feelings about toilets on boats, and so I prefer to offer different options, including your standard manual fresh-water flush marine toilet with a holding tank.

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  6. Love the layout... hmm, wonder if that forward sitting area could be fitted out as a interior greenhouse ala "Sailing the Farm"... might mean another hatch or at least a porthole for light.. but you *are* looking for multiple uses of space, right? :)

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    1. I think the pilothouse would make a much better greenhouse. Big windows all around, plenty of room for window boxes. I'll get to discussing the pilothouse in one of next week's posts.

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