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 2, 2015

What does it mean?

Quidnon is Latin for “Why not?” As in, “Why not build the boat I want instead of putting up with somebody else's design that doesn't suit my needs?”

And what I happen to need is a houseboat, to live on. But I need it to move around, and not just a little bit, but a lot: over vast distances of open ocean. It doesn't have to be fast, but it does have to be safe, comfortable and, perhaps most importantly, cheap to build and cheap to run.

There are some other things that it must be able to do.

It must go aground well, and dry out upright rather than leaning over. Have you ever tried to live in a house that's leaning? Exactly.

It also should make it relatively easy to drop the masts, to turn it into a canal boat, without using a crane. Cranes cost a lot of money to hire.

It should be easy to haul out, by rolling it over round sticks while using the anchor winch. No Travelift or crane required.

It should make it possible to sail long distances without so much as setting foot on deck. In fact, it should make it possible to sail it across the ocean without changing out of the bathrobe or taking off the fuzzy slippers, or putting down the mug of hot tea. That was Blondie Hassler's ideal, and I share it.

This blog is to share my thoughts on boat design and, I hope, hear yours. I've been discussing it via email with some friends, and it's been incredibly useful already.

31 comments:

  1. Hi Dmitri. Yes! What about lee boards rather than a centreboard (easier to maintain/more room in hull/less structural compromise). The xtra room inside makes cargo carrying easier with a slightly bigger craft. Also pram bow. What function does a pointy bit have?A steel hull is easier to fix anywhere in the world — Ok, aesthetics are against it at a few levels.

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    1. I prefer twin centerboards, neutrally buoyant (almost) that function as depth sounders of last resort. The pram bow.has more of a tendency to be stopped by steep chop. Also, in this design all the curves naturally come to a point. Steel is a poor.insulator. Plywood and fiberglass.can be repaired.anywhere in the world AT LOW TIDE.because epoxy cures under water.

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  2. I am a small boat sailor and a fan of Com-Pac Yachts made in Clearwater, Florida. They have their own "patented" system for raising and lowering the mast. Which brings up, what about a Catboat type of design? One sail, pretty beamy. Not sure if they're any good for open water, since I'm a Great Lakes sailor you don't see a lot of catboats around here.

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    1. Catboats are not.for open water. I have worked out my own technique for.dealing with the masts.which I will present when the time comes.

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    1. Hi Bob. Glad you are a reader. Yes, BOLGER-LAND ho! Actually, more.Chris Morejohn-land. His designs are easier on the eyes (faint praise there) and sail better. I am trying to do in 36 feet what he did in 50 with his Hogfish Maximus. It's for sale, btw. But he wants $1k/ft and I think I have figured out how to build what I want for almost as much.

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    2. Waiting with baited breath...

      I a huge fan of Morejohn and I'll concede they look more like what someone expects a boat to look like...But, Loose Moose 2 and Hogfish would be a close match on performance.

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    3. Chris told me that Hogfish beat a.32 ft Bolger box on every point of sail, and that's with a sprit rig that Chris put together for not a lot of money. But racing is irrelevant to me and passagemaking, while important, is much less so than living aboard at anchor or at a marina. Which is why I am going with a beamy scow rather than a sharpie.

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  4. That's a pretty hard list of features to fill without getting into Bolgerland... That said, our old Loose Mose 2 sure seems to fill most of your needs list.

    Looking forward to see where this goes.

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  5. Hey Dmitry, just read your Quidnon post. Your sketch looks like a junk rigged tabernacle barge, a style I highly admire. If you haven't already definitely check out Dave Zeiger's triloboats, as well as Tad Roberts Harry II design. For your rig, I highly recommend joining the Junk Rig Association. The member's forums are worth the 7 GBP/year membership, they are very active with practicing liveaboard/designer/builders who are interested in many of the same design features as yourself. Membership also gives you access to the quarterly magazine in pdf and 30 years of backissues. Of course The Practical Junk Rig is required reading for your rig design, but also Arne Kverneland's Cambered Panel Junk Rig will take your PJR sail out of the 1980s and into the 2000s with a aerodynamically efficient and powerful sail. As an engineer/tinkerer you might be interested in the work of David Tyler and his hybrid junk-style handling wingsail on Tystie.

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    1. Dave Zeiger and I have been emailing back and forth on this, and I have been refining the design with his help. I have looked at Tad Roberts, but his is not exactly a houseboat and looks expensive to build. I know about JRA and have been reading their stuff. Arne's stuff is interesting, and I am incorporating his overall concept, but will try a different implementation. Certainly camber in the lower panels is a good thing, and almost free to add, but not in the higher panels, and not forward of the mast.

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  6. Cool project, Dmitry. Are there any hybrid steel/wood designs?

    On a related side note - curious what you thought of the Ceres (The Vermont Sail Freight Project) http://vermontsailfreightproject.com/ It is a canal boat of course, and not open water; any lessons that they have learned that could apply here? Say, to the mast issue (although you have your own solution), or building techniques?

    Is anyone else in Boston interested in building such a boat?

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    1. I don't know of any steel-wood hybrids, except for some very old, now probably extinct boats that built a wooden superstructure on a steel hull (riveted). I know the Ceres guys, and their plan is great for shipping half-pallets of produce down the Hudson, which is what it's optimized for. I think there the know-how all flowed the other way—from ocean-going flat-bottom cruisers like HOGFISH or Dave's TRILOBOAT to CERES.

      About a place to build... I think it would take longer in Boston because of the short boatbuilding season. An indoor heated hangar in Boston is super-expensive, whereas a parking lot with an awning somewhere near the ICW in the Carolinas or in Florida wouldn't cost much at all.

      About all that's happening in Boston is Boston Boat Works building million dollar shiny toys for the very rich.

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  7. I think you have taken a sub-optimal route, to sail in a wooden boat, to your otherwise, brilliant idea to sail and become fully independent.

    Point 1 - have you thought about a catamaran instead of a monohull boat? There are many advantages of a cat when it comes to living space, low displacement (no heavy keels), superb comfort anchored or crossing the oceans.

    Point 2 - although many will tell you that building in wood or epoxy is the most popular / easiest / fastest / lowest cost, after extensive study of all popular methodologies, I've found that aluminium construction is superior to all - visit http://www.bruceroberts.com for extensive, albeit messy structured info.

    Point 3 - good luck with your project, I will be following it eagerly, 'cause we are mostly on the same page, when it comes to worldview...

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    1. 1. Catamarans are more stable floating upside-down than right-side-up. They are basically designed for a maximum wave height, and there is no such thing. They lack the interior space of a scow. I find their motion much less comfortable than a square boat.

      2. Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor, while plywood is a fairly good insulator. Few people choose to live in an aluminum shack. Aluminum is already expensive, plus an aluminum boat has to be expensively insulated before it can be made liveable in a cold climate. I am a welder, and I absolutely hate welding aluminum: it's hot as hell, and requires AC welding, which is noisy. But I like wood working with wood, and I don't mind fiberglass. Plus, with aluminum, if the super-expensive paint ever gets scraped, the stuff basically dissolves in salt water. Ugh! No thanks. Bruce Roberts can build his Spray replicas any way he likes; they don't go aground worth a damn no matter what.

      3. Good. I think there's lots to learn here for everyone.

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    3. 1. Fair enough; But then again, when I am afraid of something (like pitch-polling) then I would focus on designing around it, preventing that from happening...

      2. Every metal boat I know of is designed to be well insulated, not only thermally, but also acoustically; EP foam is as cheap as it gets and delivers superb R rating at lowest possible cost - combined with double-glazing in the superstructure will ensure superb interior comfort at any latitude. I am also a welder, using off the shelf professional MIG push-pull system makes welding aluminium plates the at any position the easiest thing in the world. I immensely dislike fibreglass, it is environmentally disastrous, expensive, the fumes of some of the binding agents are toxic / potentially carcinogenic. Marine 5xxx series aluminium is inherently inert to salt water, no fatigue, no paining required. How strong - 25mm (or 1" if you prefer) stem-bar will turn your boat into an ice-breaker. Check www.setsail.com, Steve Dashew shares his achievements in this field nicely and generously.

      3. Great minds are always ready to learn, they constantly learn from tradition but challenge the established, experiment with diverse ideas. There is a lot of this mentality I see in your ClubOrlov blog, I hope this carries over to the Quidnon blog - otherwise it will be pity...

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    4. Even revolutionaries come from a tradition, and I am only willing to work with what I know and like. I have spent a few years living aboard a flat-bottom boat and sailing it around on the open ocean. It was build out of plywood and fiberglass. I am friends with other people who have done the same. There is a culture that has formed.

      I am also a welder, and I don't like welding aluminum. It also doesn't fit the budget, which is important. If the boat can't be built under budget, it will not be built at all, and this turns into an exercise in futility.

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    5. Hello Iliyan Dobrev!

      I bet you will like the "Paraty" Models ( 1 and specially 2), made to/by Amyr Klink.

      Don't forget to check Klink's website when you have time
      It's in portugues but google translate will do a good job since it's content is mostly technical specs ;)

      http://www.amyrklink.com.br/pt/barcos/

      Even though I am a big aluminum fan, I'm not necessarily advocating for it's use on QuidNon, that's just my two cents for the interesting discussion going on here. :)

      Yours,

      Ortiz

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  8. Regarding Point 2 - aluminium is great stuff, but joining aluminium (welding) requires special equipment, and lots of electricity, does it not? There's also the issue of durability; one bicyclist I know calls aluminium the 'false metal', due to fatigue issues. I think the wood option was for ease of repair, anywhere in the world...

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    1. Correct. Aluminum is basically a powder temporarily coerced into being a solid by the application of electricity. It's great for some things, though:

      1. Stanchions - 1-inch aluminum rods with holes drilled for the lifelines work great

      2. Masts - extruded flagpoles, is what this design calls for

      3. Deck surfacing - nonskid aluminum diamond hatch, not blindingly bright like stainless, and quite hard-wearing.

      4. Radar brackets and other hardware for up the mast, where low weight is important.

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  9. How about making the mast/masts telescopic ?

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    1. I'll have an entire day's post devoted to masts. For now, the best, most cost effective choice I've found is to use aluminum flagpoles. There is a trick to finding them: some percentage of them get damaged in shipping, where some bit of the bottom portion gets "dinged" and is no longer useful as a whole. It is possible to get these "dinged" ones for a fraction of the normal price, cut off the damaged portion and use the top piece.

      A telescoping mast is unnecessary, would be heavier, not as strong, and much more expensive. Still, you may be onto something: I am considering mounting the mast by sliding it onto a tubular plug, or mandrel.

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  10. An idea for your mast. I am getting ready to build one of Dave Ziegers Triloboats, mostly a copy of his present build, with some modifications to make it easier to trailer. To raise the mast, have a spare yard as a gin pole. put a total of 3 halyards on the mast. Have a block on the end of the yard, and tie off points directly outboard of the tabernacle pivot point. Connect a halyard to each pivot point, so they form triangles, and the third halyard goes to the far end of the gin pole. the other end of the gin pole is lashed to the mast as close as possible to the pivot point. A 4th line is lead up the gin pole to the block, and back to the deck as far forward as possible. I am planning on putting an extension on the bow to hold the anchor, so will use the same point. Adjust the lines such that the gin pole is about 90 degrees to the mast, and then winch in the 4th line until the mast is vertical.I intend to position a winch at the bow for this purpose and to bring in the anchor line. Once it is in the correct position, a bar can be placed across the front of the base of the tabernacle and wedges inserted to lock the mast in position. If you see this being frequent, install a screw on the tabernacle bar salvaged from a vice so that a few turns will secure the mast in position instead of the wedges.Remove the gin pole and replace the halyards to their normal positions. The gin pole in this configuration also makes a handy crane to lift cargo or tenders on board.
    I have not installed this on a boat yet, but it is the same system I currently use to lift my 50' wind generator masts at home, so the mechanics are proven. As a side note, the side halyards are to prevent the mast from going sideways while half raised, a similar pair of light lines may be required to keep the gin pole steady as well. If the hinge on your tabernacle is sturdy enough, the lines may be redundant, but I like redundancy, so will install them regardless.

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  11. Sounds about right. I did this drill a bunch of times on HOGFISH. It has a whisker pole that clips onto a ring in the mast. My optimizations were as follows:

    1. It's enough to have just one line keeping the gin pole pointing up, provided it's leaning slightly in the opposite direciton.

    2. It's enough to have just one halyard clipped to a padeye or cleat on the bow, provided you keep enough tension on it as the mast goes up to keep it from swaying enough to snap the gin pole the other way, which brings the whole assembly crashing down (which would be bad).

    3. A regular hardware store wire rope come-along makes the whole adventure a breeze.

    There is another procedure, which is even simpler.

    1. Raft up with two other sailboats, one on each side.

    2. Clip their halyards together, under your mast, with a line on their ends so you can retrieve them.

    3. Lead your halyward forward to the bow.

    4. Have the two boats haul in their halyards until your mast and halyard form enough of a triangle.

    5. Take up slack on your halyard

    6. Retrieve, unclip, and gratefully hand back their halyards.

    7. Winch in your halyard until the mast is up straight.

    This way is actually *way* easier.

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  12. That makes sense. I expect to be raising my masts in the parking lot while getting ready to launch from a trailer, so need a stand alone solution. Having a spare yard and extra halyards on board just seems to make sense in case of emergency as well.

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    1. In the parking lot you can just prop the halyard up with a 2x4 A-frame and.pull on it with the truck. Easy as iit gets.

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  13. I must have misread your intention, for some reason I missed the "...perhaps most importantly, cheap to build and cheap to run." statement - it was right there in your article, and I missed it completely. Bummer!

    Now I should acknowledge humbly that building the comfortable yet safest ocean going boat to survive in any conditions fate can through at you, at optimal cost is not you intention; lowest cost indeed is.

    But then again, flat bottomed boat is sub-optimal even from my newly discovered perspective, as the 3D structures are more expensive to build and maintain that the simplicity of a boat-house (in effect a pontoon boat with superstructure).

    I have seen very nice house-boats, in the Volga you can see 3-storey house boats with every amenity you can think of, dream "dacha" that are safe, comfortable, extremely low or no cost to maintain and land-ownership issues to deal with.

    Also, the ICW and the rivers in the US are full of them - I spent a week tied up to a one in the lower Suwannee, the lovely couple were extatic about their 25 years live on it, and all the expeditions they had done up the river.

    These house-boats are not ocean-going at all (but so are the flat bottomed boats), but hey, when you prioritise the cost as a supreme factor, what do you expect!?

    I would imagine a raft with sails, Kon-Tiki comes to mind, will be more safe and ocean going than a flat bottomed boat, but then that will inevitably bring the catamaran into the discussion again, and to someone who knows what he wants, that would be a bad idea, with feathers ruffled and all...

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    1. I believe you are at a disadvantage because you are unfamiliar with the work of Phil Bolger, Chris Morejohn, Matt Leyden and a few others. What I am doing is taking a proven way of building ocean-going vessels and turning it into a houseboat, not the other way around. There is always a lot to learn for all of us.

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    2. Point taken, with respect I've never heard of those, but I have (believe it or not) browsed through the entire blog (all 500+ pages!) of http://www.thebigsailboatproject.com/sail1fr.htm , two phenomenal ladies with ability to imagine and the skills to execute second to none - this is what I would say the lowest cost ocean going vessel should look like.

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    3. But they are not building a houseboat... that also sails.

      The record for the cheapest boat ever to make a transatlantic crossing has been set, and will never been beaten: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_Town_Hall

      Also, the Bruce Roberts design wouldn't work for me, because it doesn't go aground well, and that is in my short list of must-have requirements. Nor does it have sufficient cabin space.

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