More Stuff Done Wrong

I might as well be on a grump roll here.
More Stuff Done Wrong.

This pontoon catamaran, now a trimaran, was proudly on display out front at IBEX. Yes they are cheap compared to catamaran hulls. But, not only are they inefficient, they are not stable. And every time a pontoon boat rolls over, the USCG comes after the stable catamarans as well. Us.
First, look at that 175 hp motor. These are not all planing hulls so they will probably not exceed displacement speed of maybe 20 knots. Compare this to my 28’/32’ power cat that Matthew built. It’s about the same size. It has a pair of 15 hp and goes over 20 knots.
The stability is the real danger. When a pontoon boat is loaded past half draft, it gradually, then rapidly loses displacement. A typical cat hull gains displacement right up to the impossible total immersion. Several years ago a pontoon boat back East did just that with loss of life.
This unit has an even more dangerous feature; the middle hull. Clearly it was needed to amp up the displacement. The proper way would have been bigger hulls, but Skeeter uses what he has. The problem is if the center of gravity ever gets between the center of the space between the center hull and lower hull, the high side of the boat will begin to rise. This could happen if all the passengers went to one side to see something. If the center of gravity ever gets outboard of the center of the lower hull, the center hull is assisting overturning. It is much less stable than if it just had two hulls.
So, pontoon boats are already unsafe to carry many passengers due to decreasing displacement, but with the buoyancy kick up from the center hull, the overturning danger is much worse.
Some people might remember the article in this blog last spring ’13 about the narrow cat that rolled over in a beam on wave. A pontoon cat/tri like this unit is so narrow that it will be even more dangerous. Stuff done way wrong.

The Worst Seminar at IBEX 2013

The Worst Seminar at IBEX 2013
Ok, the presenter was good. Aaron Turner seemed very earnest and sincere. And he seemed to think it unremarkable that 5 years was spent doing the small amount of design work that was done.  In one way it was like the Americas Cup.  In both, imagine Rutger Hauer intoning “We can spend money in ways you people could not imagine”.
It was just that it was the story of a slowly moving train wreck of boat design. The only lesson to take from it was relief that I had no involvement in that project. In a way it was like watching Snakes on a Plane. You know it is so bad, but you have to keep watching.
The paper was about the legendary architect Frank Ghery designing a yacht. It could have been a good exercise. I feel that crossing between disciplines can be extremely valuable. This was not that. Actually, virtually everything functional, including the hull, was designed by renowned French yacht designer German Freres. What Frank did was design the cockpit, windows, hatches and interior. That was all. It took 5 years of nearly full time work by the presenter. That was the other thing. It was kind of like a Chuhuly glass sculpture in that the presenter would do all the work, and Frank would merely choose between 8 or 10 options at each stage. But it has his name on it.
And what was with the client who not only tolerated 5 years design just to do the fluff, but his requirement that the boat be fast seems to have been completely ignored? My customers wouldn’t allow 5 days much less 5 years to design that fluff.
One remarkable choice was that every simulation was not done with CADD, but on the band saw. The presenter proudly does not do CADD.
In architecture school, my professor Phil Thiel (Webb Institute) designed an experience quantifying tool called SEEPE. (If I remember the spelling) Only now found online as
It would allow designers to quantify the experience their design production would create. This project really needed SEEPE. One of Prof Thiel’s rules was “compare simultaneous alternatives”. The presenter did that, to extreme. The method was stellar. The result so sucked however. The window and hatch shapes seen from in the boat reminded me of the bamboo prison in Apoclyplse Now. It would never be a pleasant space. Others voiced the same feeling. Five years of simulations on the fluff, and the results are a disaster; as a boat. I have tried to find pictures of it on the internets, but oddly, none exist. You could thus understand me at a glance if you saw them. Imagine a large window with a dozen snakes frozen on it in mid wriggle. Snakes on a boat!
But what do I know. Maybe it will sell at Sotheby’s next year for $50 million.

One other seminar, on the law and ownership of your design, was very valuable. He cracked me up however as every slide with text had at least three misspelled words in it. Wasn’t that one of the ideas in Body Heat? Finding a lawyer who couldn’t spell? He was not typing on the fly. These were digital slides that were surely studied back at the office.

The Best Seminar at IBEX 2013

Ken Lincoln, the boat building whiz at the former Olympic Boat in Port Townsend used to complain that every time I went to a composites seminar, his workload increased. I think he was talking about in the late 80s when I learned at a MACM conference that post curing room temperature epoxy improves it’s properties,  just like it improves those of exotic epoxies. One more job for him to do. Ken would also grumble about the best seminar at the last IBEX. More to do.

The best seminar at IBEX 2013 was the one on bonding to infused parts.  The speakers were, and I think this is a hot link….

Mark Cooper, Tom Cudmore, Jean-Pascal Schroeder, Bret Thomas

It had an armload of information that changed the way I do laminating.  First, infused parts are harder to bond to as the degree of cure is greater.
One change for me was the solvent cleaning of the part. Typically I have used a solvent dampened cloth to remove the sanding dust, and clean at the same time. Two for one.

Bad idea as the solvent can force contaminants into the sanding grooves or even the fibers. Solvent clean before sanding. One more job.
Also, the best solvents don’t flash off immediately as JB Carrell (right spelling? I forgot to get his card) of MAS epoxy reminded me. He has a Green Clean product that cleans better and flashes off much later. I will find that link when I get back to office.

Next, I always assumed that grinding or sanding the part was a one-time thing. You do it and it’s done. I was wrong.
One of the speakers anthropomorphized it something like this. “Imagine the electrons in the part are like kids at a rock concert. If you stir them up, they will raise their hands up. The electrons get excited by recent sanding and bond better, but will lose interest after a few days.” I knew that grinding would give a mechanical bond, but grinding or sanding just before secondary bonding also gives a chemical bond. That is a much better bond. Sorry Ken. That might mean grinding or sanding twice.

Catamarans, Trimarans, and Kurt Hughes