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  • 8/13/2019 TheNewAgeofSail Onscreen


    The New Age of


    Dmitry Orlov

    dapted to PDF format in The BunkerJanuary 2012

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    1. Introduction

    A sailboat is not the first thing that comes to mind when contemplating therange of useful responses to the set of intractable global problems thatconfront us. Nor the second. But once it does, a bit of further study makes itapparent that few things will possess greater long-term utility in thechanged circumstances we should all be expecting. And it takes just onemore leap of imagination to realize that it makes sense to pursue this long-term utility, rather than continuing to think of temporary measures andhalf-measures, while being mesmerized into paralysis by the unfoldingdeterioration of the status uo, in thrall to uestions of political strategyand process.

    And so, let us purge our minds of the inane buzz-words of today, such as

    !energy security! or !energy independence! and !green! this or that. "!#t$seasy to be green%! says &ermit the frog in an '() commercial* # would begto differ, but then who am # to disagree with a hand-puppet+ et us dropthe conceit that these are !problems,! and that they can be !fixed.! et usinstead try an experiment let us dissociate from human history, and free-associate our way into the next chapter of natural history, which, let us bra/ely assume, a member of our ecologically challenged species will still beon hand to narrate.

    2. The Easter Islanders and ou

    0hen in 1233 a 4uropean ship first anchored off 4aster #sland, thesur/i/ing islanders paddled out to it in their canoes, which the 4uropeansdescribed as fragile, made of many small sticks ingeniously fastenedtogether, not at all seaworthy, and entirely unlike the large ocean-goingcanoes that had carried the ancestors of these 5olynesian settlers to theisland across the /astness of the 5acific around 1366 A7. 8he islanders wanted to trade with the 4uropeans, and timber was high on the list ofitems sought by islanders. By that time, few trees still grew on 4aster

    #sland. #t had once been hea/ily forested with palm trees, but was by thendenuded, the palm nuts ha/ing been gnawed by rats, which wereintroduced by the settlers. 8he islanders sur/i/ed this en/ironmentalcalamity, shifting to grasses for making fire, and their population remainedstable until the arri/al of the 4uropeans. But they found themsel/esmarooned. 8hey had lost their boatbuilding and seafaring skills* moreo/er,they lacked a key boat-building material large, old-growth trees. 0ith no

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    means of escape, they were easy prey for the con uering 4uropeans*thousands of them were ensla/ed and carried off* many others remainedand died of disease. 8hey should ha/e built some boats, while they stillcould, and kept their options open.

    'mall islands such as 4aster #sland, the sudden collapses that befall theirfragile ecosystems, and the subse uent cataclysms experienced by theirpopulations, are considered to be objects worthy of study, because inmicrocosm they represent many of the same problems that are now besetting the planet as a whole. 0e li/e at a time when e/en the mostconcerted attempts at culti/ating an optimistic outlook fail in the face offront-page news about catastrophic climate change, impending energyshortages, military uagmires and fiascos, and degradation of land and water resources, all of which are putting an e/er-greater strain on a global

    population whose precipitous decline will perhaps be no less spectacularthan its recent exponential increase. 8he economic ser/ices on which wedepend are in turn based entirely on ecological ser/ices, whether fromli/ing ecosystems, or from the remains of fossilized ones.

    By most accounts, it is a certainty that at some point during the presentcentury oil and natural gas will no longer be produced in significantuantities anywhere in the world. Attempts to replace these sources ofenergy with other, dirtier sources, such as tar sand, shale oil, uranium, coal, wood, dried sea s uirrels "biomass , or anything else that will burn, willonly accelerate the pace of en/ironmental de/astation and climatedisruption. #t is proceeding apace in any case, drawing the curtain on thelast ten thousand years of unusually stable climate, which allowedagriculture to flourish and human populations to mushroom. #n light ofthese de/elopments, it seems implausible that the technological ci/ilization which currently constitutes our communal life support system will holdtogether.

    5erhaps we should be making some new plans, like the 4aster islanders

    should ha/e done, while there is still time. But there is hardly anythingmore enduring in the world than human folly, and there is no-one to steerthis ship of fools away from the rocks of physical reality. 4/en if there was,this ship is not designed to turn, or e/en to slow down, but only to speedup. 0hat other word is there for people who are working harder and harderin order to be ueath to their children a bankrupt country and a planet-sizeddisaster area9except fools+ 'ome suppose it it our insect-like genetic

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    programming to postpone desperate measures until it is too late for them to be of any use. # doubt that it is we were free spirits once, before amillennium or two of settled, ci/ilized labor of tending fields and ser/ing alandlord "or ser/ing as a landlord bred it out of us.

    #t is our luck as a species that the foregoing applies to most of us, but not toall of us. 'ome far-sighted and courageous souls, whose initiati/e has not been entirely crushed by the forces of ci/ilization, are taking their first,tentati/e steps in a direction away from certain disaster. 8hey are makingconscious choices that reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and ontechnologies that rely on them. 8hey are attempting to form close-knitcommunities, and stri/e for self-sufficiency. 'ome of them are starting toconstruct their own shelter, grow their own food, educate their ownchildren, and pro/ide their own entertainment. 8hese are all /ery sensible

    measures, and # applaud the people who are trying to make them work.

    #n fact, # am one of them. # li/e in a place that is cheap to heat and cool. Afew years ago, # sold my car, and # am now a year-round bicyclist. # limitmyself to one airline trip a year. # ha/e e/en made some tentati/e steps inthe direction of growing my own food "more peas, anyone+ . 'ome mightsay that by taking these steps, # ha/e impro/ed my inclusi/e fitness. :thersmight obser/e that # ha/e only increased my exclusi/e smugness. 'uits meeither way, but really all # ha/e done is take a few steps in the rightdirection, one step at a time, because # could. 'o can you. #t$s simple.

    'uch steps, followed to their logical conclusion, are sometimes groupedunder terms such as powerdown, relocalization, and eco/illages. 8heseapproaches will probably be /iable in some areas, but not others. None ofthem addresses an important uestion What are we to do about all themany places that will no longer have the carrying capacity to sustain a permanent settlement of any size? 0e should expect this to be the norm,not the exception before the recent ten-thousand-year period ofpredictable weather, agriculture was not reliable enough, and people had to

    remain on the mo/e, leading a migratory or nomadic existence, sur/i/ingthrough hunting and gathering food o/er a wide area. ;i/en anen/ironment characterized by droughts, floods, a long and /iolenthurricane season, coastal inundations due to rising sea le/els, soils depleted by a century of mechanized agriculture, and forest ecosystems undermined by the northward spread of diseases and pests, is it not perfectly

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    concei/able that the migratory, nomadic lifestyle will once again become forthe majority of us the only sur/i/able option+

    #n a climate where the tropics are only sur/i/able during the winter, andthe temperate regions only during the summer, we would still stand achance if we establish a lifestyle where we chase good weather by wandering back and forth between the two, and practice 5ermaculture byestablishing edible forest gardens and gathering food as we tra/el up anddown the coasts and inland waterways. #f we establish this lifestyle before we are crippled by the onset of permanent crisis, while bold experimentsare still possible, we would stand a chance. And if we pass this lifestyle onto our children, they would stand a chance as well.

    8his brings us full circle back to the hapless 4aster islanders with their

    leaky canoes made of small sticks we will certainly need better boats thanthat. Because a nomadic life does not ha/e to be particularly hard ordangerous9pro/ided you can take your home with you where/er you go. Asa practical matter, this means that your house has to be a sailboat, and asany one of a whole tribe of li/e-aboard cruising sailors will attest, in some ways this is an arrangement that is superior to the settled existence of alandlubber. 'ince, prior to the onset of reliable weather, we were nomads, we can re/ert, and once we do so, the ensla/ements of settled life willprobably start to seem like an odd bargain. # can testify that # ha/eimpro/ed my life dramatically by becoming car-free.

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    good, the system works, work within the system.! 8he system was good for Al9it made him )ice 5resident, and a lifelong member of that club. 8hegoodness of his system, plus a winning lottery ticket, would be good for youtoo. >or the rest of us, business-as-usual is not helpful, nor are people like Al who try to talk it up. But if we assume that they are rich enough andpowerful enough to get their way, keeping us sold on !clean coal,! hybrids,and hydrogen dreams of their corporate techno-fix utopia, and politelyexcluding us when we refuse to do their bidding, our future may /ery wellend up looking as follows.

    A few decades from now, just off the coast. . .

    #t is nearing sunset when the /egan ship sights land. 8here are two /eganson deck* two more are roused from their hammocks below the deck to help

    with the landing. 8hey lower and furl the sails, take down and secure themasts, then row and scull the boat through the surf. 0hen she finally nosesup onto the beach, they jump down into the water and wade ashore haulinglines, then labor mightily to get her up onto le/el ground, panting in thestuffy air. 8hey thrust pieces of driftwood under the bow, tie lines aroundtrees and rocks, and roll the boat out of the water and well away from it. 8olighten the load, they drain the ballast tanks that kept the boat upright andstable while it was underway. :nce the boat is high and dry, and sittingupright on le/el ground like a giant piece of furniture, they unload theircargo of dried sea s uirrel. >inally, they post a watch, and the other threeretreat below, stretch out in their hammocks, and rock themsel/es to sleep,for once without any assistance from the sea.

    'ea s uirrels are pale, sickly-looking, and, abo/e all, sad. 7ried ones doublyso. 8hey are endowed with flabby bags for a body, some ineffectual spinytendrils, and dangling dark bits of uncertain purpose. :ne might conjecturethat they are mutant shellfish that sur/i/ed ha/ing their shells dissol/ed bythe carbonic acid in the seawater. Being /egans, the /egans would ne/erthink of eating one* nor anything else that washes up on the shores of that

    brownish, carbonated ocean, almost lifeless after that final, desperate bingeof coal-burning that occurred just as oil and gas were running out. 5ickingdead sea s uirrels off the beach with a pointed stick is an unpleasant chore,making it useful for teaching children the subtle difference between workand play. 'ea s uirrels ha/e but two charms they are at times plentiful,and, dried into flat chips, they burn with a clean, yellow flame9not bad for

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    illumination, and con/enient for cooking the food which the /egans bothplant and har/est all along the shore.

    8he )egans$ passion is for spreading seeds and gathering and consumingthe proceeds. 8hey are on an indefinite mission to boldly grow food whereno one grew it before. 8hey are carried forth by their ship, which looks likea long box sharpened into a wedge on one end, but is capable of a full warpfour knots to windward, and double that in anything more fa/orable. 8heirmission is of an indefinite duration because their home port is underse/eral feet of water, and although that water came from pristine, ancientglaciers and icecaps, it is now briny and laced with toxins. And althoughtheir grandparents ne/er tire of telling them how at one time their homeport had not one, but se/eral excellent /egan restaurants, now there ishardly anything there that a /egan would want to eat, and hardly anyone to

    eat it with.

    8he /egans abstain from eating animal flesh not because of their tastes ortheir sense of ethics, but because most animal flesh has become toxic. 8heincreased mining and burning of coal, tar sands, shale, and other dirtyfuels, dust storms blowing in from desertified continental interiors, and the burning and degradation of plastic trash, ha/e released into the biosphereso much arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, dioxins, and numerous othertoxins, that the /ast majority of predatory species, non-/egan humansamong them, ha/e become extinct. 'ince toxin concentrations increase asthey tra/el up the food chain, certain top predators, such as belugas andorcas, went first, followed by most non-/egetarian animals. Along withchemical toxins, the biosphere became inundated with long-li/edradionucleotides from derelict nuclear installations left o/er from the hastyattempts to ramp up nuclear power generation. 8hose built near the coastsare still bubbling away underwater due to rising ocean le/els. And so theonly sur/i/ing humans are those cle/er enough to realize that only theplants remain edible.

    Although the /egans rarely want for food, this is only because of their5ermaculture skills, because growing food has become an uncertainproposition. 7roughts and wildfires alternate with torrential rains that wash away the topsoil, the ocean keeps spreading further and furtherinland, and in better years insects sometimes stage a re/i/al and de/astatemuch of what the /egans ha/e planted. 0ere they to settle in any one place,they would certainly star/e before too long. But because they ha/e boats,

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    and because climate uphea/al is constant but une/en, they can be sure thatsomething of what they ha/e planted is growing and bearing fruitsomewhere. #t is solely by /irtue of being migratory, and, o/er the years,nomadic, that they are able to persist from one generation to the next. 8heycarry what they gather with them, and, carefully conser/ing the seed stockand constantly experimenting with it, manage to renew it. 0hen a period ofde/astation runs its course, they step in and plant a new forest gardenecosystem. 0hen they re/isit it, after a few weeks or a few years, it may bedead, or o/ergrown with weeds, or it may be thri/ing, and yield a har/est of wood, nuts, berries, fruits, tubers, and herbs. And, of course, seeds.

    8he shore is for gathering food, for hauling out, making repairs, and forcongregating. >or e/erything else, there are the boats. 8hey pro/ide shelter,transportation, and a place to store food and other supplies. 8hey carry all

    the tools needed to repair them, and e/en to reproduce them. 8hey pro/idefresh water for drinking and washing, by capturing the rainwater that fallson their decks one good torrential downpour is enough to fill theirfreshwater tanks, which hold se/eral months$ supply. 8hey pro/ide escapefrom wild weather, being fast enough to outsail it. #n open ocean, awayfrom flying and floating debris, they dutifully pound their way up and downtowering wa/es, rattling the bones of the crew hiding in the enclosedcockpit and below the deck, but remaining imper/ious to either wind or water. #t is little wonder, then, that boatbuilding and seafaring skills are atthe top of the /egan home schooling curriculum they are what keeps themafloat.

    $. %uman&ind's (reatest Invention

    #n No/ember 366?, a sur/ey published in the ondon 8imes chose the bicycle as the country$s greatest in/ention of the past 3@6 years, surpassingelectricity and /accination. 8he early history of the modern safety bicycle issomewhat marred by the atrocities committed by 4uropeans to secure asupply of rubber for tires and inner tubes. 7unlop patented the rubber

    bicycle tire in 1 . A mere three years later Belgium$s king eopold ##decreed that residents of the =ongo must either supply the needed rubber,or ha/e their children murdered and their hands cut off. 8he 5alais deaeken, built with the proceeds, is disfiguring Brussels to this day.

    8he bicycle may be the best thing the British ha/e gi/en to the world, but tomy mind, humankind$s greatest in/ention o/erall, so far, is the sailboat.

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    8he last significant conceptual breakthrough in the area of sailingtechnology arri/ed some two thousand years ago, when Arab sailors in theinland, whose sailing merchant fleet continued to carry cargo up until 0orld 0ar ##. 8he steamships$ one significant ad/antage o/er sailing ships was in their predictable schedules, because they did not depend on the winds to make steady progress on an arbitrary course. 'team engines weresupplanted by diesel and, for smaller craft, gasoline-powered ones, until atpresent time only a small percentage of /essels is built to carry sail, and a /anishingly small percentage of o/erall displacement.

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    next se/eral decades, the majority of our oil-based machines will stopmo/ing, boats and ships among them.

    #n the interest of conser/ing energy, let us not waste any more of itdiscussing the tedious subject of fossil fuel depletion. 8here are peoplemore expert than # who can explain, o/er and o/er again if necessary, howexisting reser/es and new disco/eries are woefully inade uate to maintaincurrent production le/els, and how energy is not the result of technologicalinno/ation, the free market system, or wishing upon a star. 8hey will alsotell you how far along we are along the depletion cur/e* the optimistsamong them will e/en claim that there is nothing to worry about, because we ha/e two or three decades of production left at the current le/el. #t is to be expected that we will run out of fossil fuels before we run out ofoptimists, who are, along with fools and madmen, a renewable resource.

    :nce energy reser/es are exhausted, all that remains are energy flows, all of which, with the exception of atomic decay, originate from sunlight.8echnologies do exist to exploit these flows windmills, waterwheels,forestry, and agriculture ha/e been used for centuries to tap into theseflows, and will be again. Dowe/er, all of these energy flows put together willamount to only a small percentage of the fossil fuel energy we areaccustomed to using today. >urthermore, there will be no uestion of usingthese renewable sources of energy in the same way we are currentlyaccustomed to using fossil fuels we will want to eat the corn, not burn it insto/es or engines. 0indmills will be used to pump water, not illuminateparking lots. 0aterwheels will be used to mill grain, and saw lumber, notheat dwellings. 8he word !fuel! will be largely forgotten, replaced ine/eryday speech by the words !firewood! and !fodder.! :ur boats will onceagain ha/e to mo/e by wind power, or muscle power.

    ). *ee+ing the ,aterways -aved

    0ater-based transportation is just about the only form of transportation

    other than the bicycle that re uires little or no roadway maintenance. 8hereare no surfaces to grade and pa/e, no tracks to true, no bridges or trestles tomaintain. =anals need to be dredged periodically* na/igation channels needto be marked with buoys* locks and lighthouses need to be manned andmaintained. But unlike motorway or railroad maintenance, these acti/itiesdo not re uire a large industrial base, and are far less energy-intensi/e thanany of the alternati/es. 8he CEC-mile-long 4rie =anal system, which links

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    the Atlantic :cean with the ;reat akes, and has been operational since1 3@, was built using manual labor, and can be maintained the same way.8he cost of maintaining it is tiny compared to the cost of maintaining CECmiles of highway. #t and other artificial and natural waterways in the(nited 'tates and =anada comprise the greatest set of transportation assetson the North American continent, and will regain their status as /itallifelines once the railroads and the highways ha/e disappeared or re/ertedto dirt footpaths.

    Nor is an industrial infrastructure re uired for the construction andmaintenance of the boats themsel/es. 8he key ingredients can all be foundin nature. 8he hull can be constructed out of timbers and planks, sawed orsplit from fir, pine, or cedar logs, and sealed with pitch from wood tar. 'ailscan be made of flax can/as or bamboo matting, and rope can be spun from

    hemp. :f the man-made materials that are needed, all are preindustrialforged iron hand tools for working the wood, and some amount of bronzefor fasteners, blocks, cleats, latches, hinges, and other hardware, which can be cast using bronze age technology. A cast iron anchor and a wrought ironanchor chain are helpful as well.

    >or anyone faced with an unpredictable future, but one guaranteed to bedisrupted and resource-poor, and to re uire fre uent relocation in searchof scarce remaining resources, a sailboat designed for the job would be aremarkable asset. #t can pro/ide not only transportation, but housing andstorage. #t is a residence that does not re uire one to own land. #t can ser/eas a floating workshop, kitchen, or clinic. #t can help one flee from danger.#t can make it possible to li/e on land that is prone to floods. #t can bemaintained with the help of basic skills, such as carpentry, spinning, and wea/ing, using materials a/ailable within the en/ironment. #t can carry allthe tools needed to repair it or e/en reproduce it. #n short, it is difficult tothink of anything that would be more useful to ha/e.

    . The Sorry State of Sail

    None of the sailboats currently in commercial production will do at all.'ince the end of the age of sail, sailing has been relegated to a number ofniches, none of them of much practical /alue. :/erall, they ha/e become aluxury item. An important element of this luxury is the freedom from the buzz or throb of the engine, the stench of fuel, and the noxious fumes of theexhaust plume freedom to enjoy nature without assaulting it. An early

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    application of steam power was in powering sailboats out of doldrums, butsteam sailboats were uickly supplanted by steamboats that did not carrysail. A similar fate awaits the many modern sailboats that are designed torely on their diesel or gasoline auxiliaries, but for the exact opposite reasonthey will be trapped in the permanent doldrums of fuel scarcity.

    8he particular applications still reser/ed for sail include recreation, sport,and historical preser/ation, with dollops of luxury thrown in for each one.Fecreational /essels range from small sailing canoes and dinghies todaysailers and small coastal cruisers. 'port encompasses a wide /ariety ofracing boats, which are designed for speed, especially speed to windward.Distorical preser/ation includes /arious old sloops and schooners, as wellas newer boats constructed entirely of wood by master craftsmen. 8herealm of pure luxury gi/es us an assortment of cabin cruisers, which often

    ha/e plenty of teak and mahogany paneling and trim, fancy na/igationalelectronics, on demand hot water, and a sound system. Although they arecapable of crossing oceans, they are mainly used for ostentation, to motoraround the harbor, and to throw dockside parties.

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    shortages will make the construction and e/en the maintenance of afiberglass hull an uncertain and expensi/e proposition.

    8he masts, booms, and other spars of a modern sailboat are usuallyextruded out of aluminum alloys. Although bauxite, which is the primaryfeedstock for aluminum manufacturing, is uite plentiful, making it intoaluminum re uires a great deal of electricity. 8he energy crisis of 3666-3661 in the 0estern (nited 'tates has caused much of the aluminummanufacturing in that region to shut down due to high electricity prices.Fising energy prices and dwindling energy a/ailability will make aluminumspars /ery expensi/e and in e/er shorter supply. 'imilar relentless forces will impact the supply of stainless steel cable, used for the standing rigging"forestays, backstays, and shrouds .

    'ails are made of 7acron "long-strand 5olyester fiber , Nylon, or &e/lar, which are all synthetics, and whose fate will be similar to that of epoxyresin. 8hus, sails will once again ha/e to be made of flax can/as. 8he otherpotential material for wea/ing sailcloth is cotton, but cotton culti/ation isno longer possible without the use of chemical fertilizer, which is deri/edfrom natural gas, and pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides, which are oil- based. About a uarter of all insecticides used globally are la/ished oncotton* without them, the crop is destroyed by wee/ils. "4/en with thesechemicals, the wee/ils seem to be winning the battle, e/ol/ing resistancefaster than new chemicals can be de/eloped. 8hus, the future a/ailability ofcotton is likely to be too low to make it a useful source of sailcloth fiber. :nthe other hand, flax can be culti/ated without the use of fertilizers orpesticides, pro/ided proper crop rotation techni ues are used.

    8hus, most of the ingredients of a modern sailboat will not be a/ailable inan energy-scarce, post-industrial en/ironment. 4/entually, hulls will beonce again made of wood timbers and planking, and sealed with pitch.'pars will be made of wood, and rigged with hemp line. But although it ishighly unlikely that late this century anyone will be able to construct a

    sailboat from fiberglass cloth, epoxy resin, aluminum, stainless steel, and7acron, the transition period is likely to be une/en, with some materialsa/ailable in limited uantities, through small-scale manufacturing orsal/age. 8hus, it seems premature to immediately shift to all post-industrialmaterials. #nstead, a practical sailboat design must be flexible with regardto the choice of materials. 8he current materials of choice for constructing asailboat hull are either fiberglass or polyester cloth and epoxy o/er 7ouglas

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    fir marine plywood, fastened with bronze nails or stainless steel screws. 8hesame hull shape can be executed in steam-bent uarter-sawn timbers andplanking, caulked with hemp and sealed with pitch, but this is only feasibleif you own a large stand of 7ouglas fir and ha/e nothing but time. 'ails can be made of 7acron for as long as it is a/ailable, but of a shape that can bemade from the stretchier and weaker flax can/as, such as the unk rig.

    8he path back to all-wood sailboat construction is complicated by theincreasing shortage of good uality wood. Douses are now often built out ofmany small sticks screwed together, and sheathed using oriented strand board, /inyl, and plasterboard. >urniture is now mostly made ofparticleboard dressed up with faux-wood plastic /eneer. 0ooden boatsha/e to be built of more structurally sound materials, such as boards cutradially from old growth logs. As old growth forests are clear-cut and

    replanted, lumber of such uality is becoming increasingly rare and /eryexpensi/e. 8he new growth trees are planted farther apart, to maximizegrowth rates, resulting in more widely spaced growth rings, and a weaker wood.

    #n the near future, as e/en wood pulp becomes scarce due to increaseddemand for cellulose-based fuels, we will no doubt remain supplied withfurniture made of rammed earth, with an attracti/e faux-plastic adobe /eneer, that is designed to fall apart when you first try to install it, ratherthan when you first try to mo/e it. #t would be used to furnish suburbanmansions made of !housing bubbles,! which also sounds like a weakmaterial. But boats built in this manner would not stay afloat for /ery long.

    A re/i/al of wooden boatbuilding could be used to breathe life into forestconser/ation. #t can pro/ide a market for a high /alue added forestryproduct that re uires forests to be managed sustainably, s ueezing out thepulp and firewood farmers. #f the boat hulls are constructed close to wherethe timber is grown and har/ested, this can ser/e as the basis of a thri/inglocal economy, allowing it to di/ersify from logging and sawmills. 'uch

    efforts cannot begin soon enough, because forests are under great stressthroughout the planet, from the encroachment of agriculture, from logging,and from insects that are spreading further and further north due to global warming.

    Fegardless of one$s choice of materials, it is possible to do uite a lot betterthan the majority of production sailboats by building one$s own, backyard-

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    style. 5roduction boats are typically designed with recreation in mind, to beused during relati/ely warm weather, not for year-round on-board li/ing ina cold climate.

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    8he boat must pro/ide accommodation, storage, and transportation for afamily. 'he must be seaworthy enough to cross oceans, with generous fresh water tanks and plentiful storage space. 'he should ha/e shallow draft, tofloat o/er flooded lands and shoals, into estuaries, and up and down ri/ersand canals, and a flat bottom, to settle upright. 8he masts should bestepped in tabernacles and rigged for easy lowering to pass under bridgesand other obstructions. 'he must be designed to be beached and dragged orrolled ashore without suffering hull damage. 'he must be cheap to build, tomaintain, and to operate. 'he must not re uire the use of ad/ancedmetallurgy or synthetics.

    'he must be designed not just for fair weather sailing, but also to sur/i/ethe typical set of worst case scenarios. 8he increased fre uency of extreme weather e/ents will not add to the list of worst case scenarios with which

    sailboats must be designed to cope. Dowe/er, since they will become morefre uent, it will be e/en more important that all boats be designed tohandle them well. #f the boat has an open cockpit, causing the crew toswallow salt spray, which causes dehydration, hallucinations, and kidneyfailure, or has a keel that trips on water and causes a capsize, or has a tallmast and hea/y standing rigging that catches enough wind to causepitchpoling when running under bare poles, or insufficient internal ballast,causing wild motion that breaks crew$s ribs as they are tossed about thecabin, then the design must be considered unacceptable, regardless of itsother ad/antages.

    'he must be both well-insulated and well-/entilated, to protect her crewfrom the weather in any climate and season, both hot and cold. 8he cockpitmust be enclosed and all control lines must lead inside the cockpit through baffles, protecting the crew from hypothermia, heat stroke, being washedo/erboard, or swallowing seawater. 'ince we expect there to be few rescueships and helicopters a/ailable, our boat must be able to ser/e as its ownlifeboat, containing enough flotation along the sides and the deck, andenough solid ballast along the bottom, to be unsinkable and self-righting

    e/en when holed and swamped.'he must look like a proper yacht, and not a shanty boat or a barge, becauseshe must gi/e coastal property owners no reason to complain to theharbormaster about the ugly thing spoiling their precious /iew. 'he may bestacked to the gunwales with dried sea s uirrel, but to outward appearances"at least from a distance she should gi/e the impression that she is sailed

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    by people of ob/ious uality and distinction, of the sort that snooty coastalproperty owners might want to in/ite o/er for gin and tonics, to catch up onthe goings-on in 'an 8ropez. 'he must ha/e clean lines, a proper na/alpaint scheme, a modicum of shiny fittings and /arnished wood, and berigged to fly the appropriate flags in the customary way. #n the future, #expect coastal property owners to get downright excited when they sightany sailboat, whether it looks fashionable or not, paddle out their leakycanoes, and try to barter jewelry, sil/er cutlery or pretty seashells for thethings they desperately need. But until that happens, it is important toappease their sense of sailboat aesthetics.

    'he should also look sufficiently con/entional and shipshape to gi/e the(.'. =oast ;uard no excuse to declare her !manifestly unsafe,! pull thecrew off the boat unceremoniously, and lea/e her foundering, which they

    ha/e the right to do. But she should look sufficiently unmarketable to a/oidgi/ing state and federal authorities the impression that they could raisesome money by seizing her through forfeiture, for some made-uptransgression, and auctioning her off, which they also, unfortunately, ha/ethe right to do, and may start doing out of desperation.

    3. The Sim+lest Solution that ,or&s

    'ince almost all contemporary sailboats are designed for either sport orluxury, we can start with a blank slate, and dispense with most of thepreconcei/ed notions of what a sailboat must be like. Dowe/er, there is anestablished style of boat that is so close to what we want that there seems to be no reason not to start with it. #t is called the s uare boat, or the BolgerBox, after 5hil Bolger, a na/al architect from ;loucester,

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    who would rather lose than allow themsel/es to be seen sailing anything soob/iously working class.

    8hat such simple shapes can be so effecti/e seemed paradoxical e/en toBolger himself, who once wrote "of a boat of his, a perfectly ser/iceabledinghy called !8he Brick,! which really is just a box !#t$s disconcertingthat these box boats do e/erything better than elaborately modeled boats ofthe same o/erall dimensions...! 8here are few legitimate complaints abouthull shape of the sharpie* among them is the annoyance caused by theslapping, or, in hea/ier weather, the pounding of the flat bottom against the water. Although this problem can be remedied by gi/ing the bottom a slight /-shape, called !deadrise,! at the bow and the stern, a much simpler ande ually effecti/e solution is to extend the bottom of the bow a few inches below the waterline.

    'ince a s uare boat is basically just four flat pieces cur/ed around andfastened to se/eral bulkheads and a transom, building one does not re uiremolds or lofting "the painstaking task of transferring dimensions from ascaled drawing to a loft floor , and is well-suited to backyard construction.Bulkheads and the transom are cut out according to measurements andaligned upside-down along two straight pieces of dimensioned lumber, which is placed on two or more sawhorses. 8he sides are glued up fromplywood panels, then fastened and glued to the stem and around the bulkheads, followed by the bottom. 8he hull is then flipped, and interiorstructures are installed, followed by the deck. #n the process, flat pieces takeup the right cur/es, and the structure remains symmetrical by /irtue ofstarting with a stiff triangular box at the front. An outer layer of fiberglasscloth and epoxy makes for a longer-lasting, harder-wearing boat.

    A ?6-foot s are boat cabin cruiser built using the best modern materialsand methods a/ailable "plywood, fiberglass, and epoxy re uiresapproximately half a year of near-full-time effort by one person before sheis ready for launch. 8he design is economical, and can be realized for a fifth

    or less of the cost of a production sailboat of similar size, putting it withinreach of those whose means are uite limited. 0ith proper care, theresulting hull will last three decades or more.

    And then there are some shortcuts. 0ith some up-front computer workusing a =A7 program, all the shapes can be pre-cut and pre-drilled using a=N= machine to fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. (sing such a pre-

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    cut kit, the hull can be assembled by a team, using a few hand tools mixers,rollers, and spatulas for epoxy, drills for screws, and hammers for nails.

    8his type of construction is common and practical using modern materialsand construction techni ues. But e/en in their absence, the same hull shapecan be built using traditional techni ues9the way it was once done byfishermen from

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    sideways by a few inches past the /ertical sides, allowing the sides to actlike keels.

    4arly experiments used chine runners to supplement a centerboard*howe/er, it was soon disco/ered that small boats can sail uite passably to windward with the centerboard retracted. =hine runners are structurally /ery simple, their cost is low, and they suffer from none of the detractionsof fixed keels, centerboards, or leeboards. 8hey are less effecti/e for larger boats, because in order for them to be effecti/e the boat has to heel o/eruite far, presenting a large /ertical surface to the water, and it is easier tomake a small boat heel o/er than a large one, especially in light winds.

    8he best combination seems to be a sharpie with both chine runners and acenterboard, that goes well to windward with the centerboard down, and

    can still sail passably to windward o/er shallows, with the centerboardretracted. :n a larger sharpie, windward performance with the centerboardup is about @@-E6 degrees to the wind, no better than four knots, andsluggish tacking.

    #t is by no means certain, but uite concei/able that sharpies with chinerunners in addition to a centerboard will follow the same path as othergreat in/entions. 8hey will initially be met with widespreadincomprehension and outright dismissal. :nce their many ad/antages become apparent, they will come to be ridiculed. 8his may seem strange butit is in fact uite typical. >or instance, the modern safety bicycle wasinitially greeted with derision by ca/alry officers, because bicyclists couldnot effecti/ely fire weapons or wield sabers while riding. 0hen ridicule failsto check its spread, the new in/ention comes to be accepted, albeitgrudgingly. 8he last stage of acceptance is reached when those who initiallyopposed the idea begin to claim that they ha/e been in fa/or of it all along.

    16. One "oat7 8any 9ses

    By far the simplest thing to do with a s uare boat once it is finished is tomo/e in and li/e aboard without e/er launching it. #ts /ertical sides and flat bottom make its interior more like that of a trailer home than a typicalcruising sailboat. 8his may be a sensible thing to do in an area prone tofloods the boat can be tethered between two posts, floating up and settlingas needed. 0hen the land is dry, one bicycles to get around* when flooded,

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    one rows a canoe, or a dinghy. 8his approach a/oids real estate taxes, butmay still re uire one to own or lease land.

    8he second simplest thing is to ha/e your new waterproof home launchedand towed out to a mooring, which, since the boat only draws a couple offeet, does not ha/e to be in deep water, and can e/en dry out at low tide. >ormore money, one can rent a slip at a marina, gaining access to such moderncon/eniences as pumped water, electricity, on-shore showers and laundry,sewage pump-out ser/ices, and wireless #nternet access, a/ailable whileglobal supplies last. A mooring may work well during the warm months, when marinas are crowded and cost more, while the ser/ices pro/ided by amarina matter more during the cold months.

    8he next, but by no means final step, is to outfit the boat for inland and

    coastal sailing and motoring, with a small four-stroke outboard motor, anda wardrobe of sails. A lot of other sundry sailing gear is needed as well,some of it re uired by the =oast ;uard, some just useful boat hooks, swimladders, fenders, life jackets, anchors, flares, and so on.

    8he motor can be omitted if there are two or more strong-backed crewmembers, by e uipping them with long oars, and the boat with oarlocksand sculling notches in the bow and transom. 0ithout an engine, electricityfor mooring lights "which are re uired and cabin lights can to be supplied by a solar panel and a wind turbine. An inboard diesel is a/ailable as anoption for those who enjoy unnecessary expense, water and oil in the bilge,dragging a propeller when under sail, and soot.

    'ails need not cost thousands of dollars for making short trips in decent weather, a unk sail can be rigged using lumberyard supplies andconstruction tarp. >or purely aesthetic reasons, white tarp works bettersocially than the more common blue tarp. #f the boat only needs to mo/e ashort distance, at a time of your choosing, in order to comply with localregulations for how long you may remain anchored in any one place, this is

    all you would need. At the other extreme, ocean passages re uire uite a lot more e uipmentand preparation. 8here are, howe/er, no technical problems with a s uare boat taking to the open ocean, pro/ided she is well-built, e uipped, andsailed with sufficient attention and skill. #t has been done many times bymany people, in s uare boats big and small.

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    11. 5iving A oard

    A small cottage in the woods can be fitted out in a number of ways. At oneextreme is the self-sufficient rustic cabin, with a uaint outhouse, a woodsto/e, and firewood stacked neatly under the ea/es. At the other extreme isa posh computer-controlled techno-pod with e/ery concei/able gadget builtin, and a fat umbilical chord that connects it to technological ci/ilization, which supplies it with a steady stream of high-tech replacement parts.'imilarly, a boat can be fitted out in any number of ways, from shantyboat-style to luxury yacht-style.

    8he shantyboat may feature a sto/e that can burn charcoal, wood, or driedsea s uirrels. 8he heads "the nautical term for latrine can consist of a bucket with a tight-fitting lid and a toilet seat. 0ater can be pro/ided by a

    foot pump and some hoses connecting it to the sink and the water tank.Fefrigeration can be pro/ided by an icebox, illumination by flashlights, akerosene lamp, or candles.

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    take naturally to it, are sometimes much impro/ed by it, and in the endcome resemble a well-oiled machine, with set roles and sure, almostchoreographed mo/ements.

    8he transition to li/ing aboard can be uite tricky. >irstly, one$s earthlypossessions must be pared down to the bare essentials, which are all that will fit on a boat. 8hen one must get used to the constant motion, thesounds, the smells, and the lack of pri/acy. 4/eryone, including cats anddogs, initially gets seasick, but e/entually adjusts, although a stormy nightin an unprotected anchorage ne/er becomes pleasant.

    i/ing aboard is just fine for infants, a bit tricky for toddlers, and just finefor preadolescent children. Adolescents are, of course, difficult, sometimesto the point of re uiring a boat of their own, which can be towed when

    underway, in case they become too preoccupied with being adolescents tosteer a course. :ld people range from salty dogs who ha/e trouble fallingasleep !on the hard! to landlubbers who get ueasy just looking at sailboats bobbing about while toying with their food at the marina restaurant.

    A good marina can pro/ide a community of a uality that is not often foundon land, with the pro/iso that one likes uite a lot of company and does notmind spending a lot of time in close uarters with other people.

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    "i liogra+hy

    Bolger, 5hilip =. 1HH?, Boats with an :pen itzpatrick, im 1HH , 8he Bicycle in 0artime, Brassey$s.

    Dunt, 8erry . 366E, Fethinking the >all of 4aster #sland, American'cientist.

    ind /ist, '/en 1HH2, 4xterminate All the Brutes, ondon ;ranta.

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    ,eclaiming technolog y- tactic!- and thoug ht!"

    From The Bunker