Please visit our home site at www.TRILOBOATS.com.

Anke and I are building our next boat, and writing about it at ABargeInTheMaking.blogspot.com. Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.

Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write, and I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirl gmail daughter com

Sunday, March 22, 2020

COVID-19: Why Nobody Likes Math


Double, double, toil and trouble!
-- Shakespeare


COVID-19: Why Nobody Likes Math
(Or at least, Mathematicians)

Um. The majority of people I speak with are busy making business-as-usual plans through summer.

COVID-19's global reach is doubling every 4 to 6 days resulting in explosive exponential growth. There's a lot of finicky issues in calculating these numbers... let's be optimistic and say it's only doubling every 10 days.

That is to say, the total number of people who have been infected with the virus doubles in every 10 day period. Let's roundly say that each month has three 10 day periods, so it will double three times every month. The total at the beginning of any month will grow by a multiple of 2... 4... 8 times by the end of that month.

As I write, today's global total is 300,000 who have been infected.

How many months ahead do you want to plan? Each month, the total grows by a factor of 8. Here's a convenient little planner:

  1. Mid-April ...              8 x 300,000   = 2,400,000
  2. Mid-May ...             64 x 300,000   = 19,000,000
  3. Mid-June ...           512 x 3000,000 = 153,600,000
  4. Mid-July ...         4,096 x 3000,000 = 1,228,800,000
  5. Mid-August ...   32,768 x 300,000   =  OOPS...
                                                              ...  exceeds human population.
  6.  
  7.  
  8.                          >>>  Here there be Monsters  <<<
  9.  
  10.  
  11.  
  12.  As I write, this is the earliest we might hope for a vaccine.

Things not cool today? So many months from now, the first number is how many times worse it will be at the present doubling rate. The math spotlights the urgency

If you can think in terms of doubling time (rather than days, weeks and months) it will help you with vital decisions.

*****

At the rates we used, the spread will peak sometime between four and five months out if it hasn't been flattened. That's the July? August? the President mentioned. 

While the CDC knows all this (their data, after all), they are coy about being specific. They urge, for example, that we have supplies on hand for "a period of time", or occasionally "two weeks". Yet stay-at-home orders implemented today are likely to be in place and tightening for months ahead.

China managed to flatten their curve and are seeing declining numbers of new cases. Whatever we might think of their politics, they moved relatively early and according to accepted epidemiological practice. In two months, they were able to locally flatten and reverse spread. Nevertheless, they may miss a case or two, or be re-infected from the rest of the world which has not taken strident measures to date. Then it's start over with the same 'draconian' measures.

Of course, this presently high doubling rate we're discussing won't sustain.

Social distance and travel restrictions will slow the rate of growth (won't eliminate it without unAmerican resolve). But these flattening measures also prolong the period of pandemic by spreading cases over time. Even if no measures are taken, the spread slows as a higher percentage of the population acquires immunity or dies.

Things won't turn on a dime. We are seeing measures ramp up late in the game, but early in the eventual spread. We hope to avoid the spike. At best, there will be tightening restrictions for months to come. Our best laid plans are all agley.

Meanwhile, the global economy is coming apart at the seams.


So provision up, batten down hatches and take a reef, me Hearties! 
Were in the storm, sure enough!!





The higher the dot, the slower the spread.
From Scientific American article


PS. Among the mitigation and travel restriction measures being implemented, travel by private vessel is being restricted in places around the globe. Even those of us who live aboard need to get where we want to be NOW, before rules and enforcement get around to our stretch of water!

Monday, March 16, 2020

COVID-19: Circle the Wagons

Important, but is it happening in time?
Treatment capacity lines seem optimistic, to me...
assumes healthcare is exceeded vs overwhelmed.

James gave the huffle of a snail in danger,
And nobody heard him at all.

-- A. A. Milne


COVID-19: Circling the Wagons

For those of you who don't know it, I've been huffling since the run up to Y2K about TEOTWAWKI - The End Of The World As We Know It.

Now I believe we're watching it unfold.

The basic factors are these
  • A fragile, Global Industrial Economy (GIE)... our tightly coupled, deeply indebted Complex Adaptive System (CAS).
  • A vast, overshot, human population which depends on a functional GIE for its livelihood.
  • Exponential spread of COVID-19 pandemic which will almost certainly overwhelm the healthcare system.
  • Failed containment and failing mitigation measures.
  • Exponential growth of associated problems.

Exponential growth of anything catches humans by surprise in almost every case. Windows of opportunity for meaningful action / preparation are snapping closed at a rate that's difficult for human beings to grasp intuitively.

NOTE: See here (~4 min vid... visceral impact of exponential growth) and here (~9min vid... exponential spread of COVID-19 vs flattening) to get a taste of the challenge.

David Korowicz lays out the general issues in his paper Trade-off (77 pages for the very interested) and specifically, pandemic based analysis in Catastrophic Shocks in Complex Socio-Economic Systems: A Pandemic Perspective (10 pages for the interested). Both are challenging reading, but, I believe, provide a foundation for viewing current events.

CAS's - such as the human body - have a range of stability. Within that range, they can be astoundingly resilient. But if events drive them beyond that range, a tipping point is reached and the whole system settles into a new equilibrium.

In the human body, an infection can lead to the loss of a critical function (breathing, say), and in a rapid cascade it collapses (and without rapid, correct intervention, dies). In a just-in-time economy, supply-chain interruptions block down-chain production and can rapidly paralyze the economy. In finance, disturbing the mountain of debt can bring currencies and institutions crashing down.

All of these are underway. [Or, for a less detailed and challenging glimpse of the problem, try this article.]

This is my long-winded way of saying that this is both serious and moving faster than we imagine.


 My Urgent Advice...

>>>  Get together with those you most love RIGHT NOW. Stay together for the duration.

>>>  Get together provisions RIGHT NOW (food, water, essential medicines, cooking/heating fuel) for a minimum of two weeks (CDC advice). Longer is better.

>>>  Make an isolation / infected plan and put it into action RIGHT NOW.

>>>  Don't panic, but GET MOVING.


Whether I'm right or wrong about larger consequences... even if the GIE manages to function beyond the crisis... even if your area has no known cases...  whether you are riding this out or hunkering down for trouble...

Containment and mitigation measures are shutting down travel and contact for unspecified periods. If flattening the curve is successful (our best chance), lockdowns will be in place for months, not weeks.

I say again, windows of opportunity are snapping closed.

Fair winds, health and happiness to all of us,

Dave and Anke




P.S. Here's some good advice from a guy who's been there.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Ama AHA! Quick and Dirty Approach to a Small Multihull

Insurance for a narrow hull

My escape is to just get in a boat and disappear on the water.

-- Carl Hiaasen


Ama AHA! Quick and Dirty Approach to a Small Multihull

Let's say we can get our hands on a canoe, dory, kayak or other small craft. We enjoy paddling around, but are thinking a sail would really be kinda fun. But we're cheap.

What might we do?

To sail, we'll need some basic things:
  • Stability
  • Sail and rig
  • Lateral Resistance
  • Steering

Stability

I'll presume our little boat is narrow and tippy. We may get some stability from ballast, but that's awkward and complicates everything. So we look for ways to increase form stability.

The arrangement shown above looks quick and dirty to me.
Three features excite me...

A) The simple, bent ama shape... even with blunt ends, most of the time the immersed shape will be hydrodynamic. These look to be PVC which can be momentarily softened and permanently shaped with moderate heat (hot air gun, hair dryer or holding over a heat source). 

Small trees for cross beams and curved drift logs from the base of select trees would work as well, and can be quickly shaped with an axe.

B) The over and under arrangement with the cross beams... the aft strut could easily be eliminated with more curvature or an arced cross beam.

C) The whole affair can be lashed up... all we need is some line and a few holes bored below the sheer rail at mounting points.

This simplifies a scheme Anke and I have been wanting to try with our dory as well sas a planned, half-open beach cruiser, in which we can go into proa or tri mode using beachcombed crossbeams and akas. Using this approach, so long as the hull has xbeam mounting points, the whole thing can be lashed up with minimal carpentry. 
When done with a (windward) sailing stretch, we can disassemble and row/downwind sail off leaving the components in our wake. 

Of course, this works especially well in an area like the Cascadian Passage. Won't be so easy, in a lot of places where the beachcombing is limited.

Sail and Rig

A sail is a simple thing. Any flat fabric of the right size will do. Problem is, flat sails work (if you allow them to twist) but they are not powerful. A little shaping goes a long way. The trick is to get the right amount and proportion of extra fabric toward the middle of the sail.

Q&D fabrics include tarps of most any kind, house-wrap, awning material, sheets and so on.
Q&D solutions for shaping a sail:
  • Cut one or more perimeters with some curvature (curved away from the sail's center). When straightened along a spar or under tension, the extra fabric goes toward the middle.

  • Seize around one or more corners. This pinches the tied corner, tightens the perimeter and radiating cloth from the corner toward the middle.

  • Selectively dart the edges. This is a little fancier, and takes some knowledge or experience. But good in the tool kit.

Masts can be made from small diameter trees (chances are your guess at about right will be about right). If straight ones aren't available, consider a balanced lug rig, which sets well on a crooked mast.

They need at least two points of support - step (or heel stop) and partners with as wide a spread as you can manage (can always add stays). Since we're talking small boats, these needn't be too beefy. U-shaped pipe hangers have worked well for us as partners and stop. If the hull is thin, we'll add a small plate of plywood under the mast heel (bottom end of mast).

If you decide to go bigger, scale up as need be.
You'll need sheets to haul the sail in and let it out. A halyard is optional (sail may be fixed to mast). Some rigs will have their own extras. Consider rigs that keep the extras down (sorry Junk Rig!).

PDRacers are a racing platform with no specified rig. In short, you can see all manner of practical (and impractical) rigs for small boats here.


Lateral Resistance

The harder the chine (angle or radius between sides and bottom), the more lateral resistance from the hull. If we want to sail to windward, we'll need to add more.

Simplest means I know of is an Off-CenterBoard. Most just call them leeboards, but they work on both tacks. Of these, among the simplest is Jim Michalak's pivoting leeboard.


Steering

The simplest solution is no rudder. Balancing sail adjusted with sheets against lateral resistance adjusted by weight shifts (LR moves for and aft with crew weight). This is why sailboards need none.

An oar over the side or stern is next. A well placed pin or stern notch, respectively, help keep it in place and reduce fatigue.

A light kick-up rudder (bearing plate style is simplest of these) can be easily hung on strap hinges, and doesn't require mounting or dis-mounting when leaving or approaching shore.


*****

So there you have it. A bag of Q&D approaches that can have you sailing day after tomorrow! 
Don't forget flotation and life-jackets!






...

Full disclosure: COVID-19 has me on alert. If you may need to travel by water, it's a good time to be getting a boat in hand. Go small, go simple, get ready!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Coronoviral Stitch in Time

Essalunga Supermarket, Milan, Italy
25 February 2020

Prudence prevents panic.

 

A Coronoviral Stitch in Time

Dear Friends,

You have likely been following the spread of COVID-19, which has to date evaded containment. Responsible agencies such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control are publicly urging citizens to prepare for a pandemic.

Standard, official containment measures include voluntary and enforced personal health measures, social distance (isolation) and travel restrictions. Quarantine is currently being enforced in Asia and Europe.

What this means is that, should we find ourselves in an area of contagion, we may be confined or confine ourselves to a limited area, and possibly our homes.

An immediate response to quarantine is panic buying of food and supplies, leading to local short-falls. In pandemic conditions, those short-falls may become widespread. Public utilities may not provide continuous service.

Panic is never helpful, but timely, prudent actions widen our options.

We urge that you strategically arrange essential water, food, supplies and medications ahead of crisis (as soon as possible), to sustain for an extended period without resupply.

A wait-and-see approach is likely to leave us unprepared for official, rapid containment responses in emerging conditions.

Last minute purchases - or at least the attempt amongst the crowd - are then the only remaining option. Goods may rapidly become wildly inflated or unavailable at any price. Panic and desperation are common consequences.

For how long is a good question. US Government sources recommend two weeks for pandemic conditions. COVID-19 quarantines in China handily exceeded this period. This does not appear to take into account possible to probable supply chain, economic or social disruptions which could extend a period of self-reliance.

We recommend three months as a working minimum, with a year preferred. Think of it as affordable, edible insurance.

Death from the virus is not likely for most of us. But reaction, over-reaction and inappropriate reactions by institutions, business and individuals may well create and extend a situation in which supplies are scarce or prices inflated. This is already the case in parts of Eurasia.

We suggest staple foods which don’t require refrigeration.

Whole grains and legumes, pastas, raw nuts, dried fruits, vegetables and spices, dry cheeses and salamis, and canned goods keep well, are (presently) inexpensive and can be used in everyday cooking (even if nothing significant happens).

Eggs keep surprisingly well (several months) if kept cool and turned once a week. Best if unwashed and never refrigerated, but even store-bought last. Consider oiling to block pores. Float and sniff test before adding to other food when getting on. Should NOT float nor smell ‘off’.

A mixture of 2 parts rice (grains) to 1 part lentils (legumes) provides a complete protein, carbohydrate food base which stores well. It can be ‘dressed up’ with spices and various ingredients for a wide range of meals.

We calculate total, dried starchy carbohydrates at ~8 pounds (~1 gallon) per person per month. That's three, four-gallon buckets per person per year.

Note: This amount of starchy carbs provides about 1/3 of the daily calories recommended for a sedentary male. Other calories would be supplied by supplemental foodstuffs, especially oils. If they are your only source of calories, consider tripling this amount.

Consider a camping stove and fuel in case deliveries are interrupted. Retained heat cookers conserve fuel. Wood / biomass burning stoves use fuel on hand.

We urge you to lay in supplies now, ahead of the arrival of COVID-19 in your area.

Wishing health and happiness to you and yourn,

Dave and Anke



*****

In the picture of the Milanese shelves leading this post, we see that only certain shelves have been denuded, while others remain stocked. This is not yet total panic buying.

Some runs have been selective and others less so. Runs are occurring across the globe; common in outbreak areas and increasingly in advance.

What's clear is that the window for measured preparation is closing.



Sunday, February 23, 2020

Captain's Crunch: Seven Tensions of Leadership

Barbossa vs. Cap'n Jack Sparrow
from
Pirates of the Caribbean

Every virtue is a mean between two extremes,
Each of which is a vice.
-- Aristotle


Captain's Crunch: Seven Tensions of Leadership

In their recent article, Every Leader Needs to Navigate These 7 Tensions, Jennifer Jordan, Michael Wade and Elizabeth Teracino contrast old- versus new-school (business) leadership paradigms They propose that a superior balance may be achieved between the opposing tenets of their respective approaches, rather than adhering rigidly to either one.

In sailing terms, we might (very loosely, I admit) think in terms of Cap'n Barbossa vs. Cap'n Jack Sparrow.

Balancing opposing values is something I think a lot about in boat design and sailing, so I perked up when I came across the article.

Let's take a gander:


Tension 1: The Expert vs. the Learner

We who captain presumably have been gathering experience, skills and, hopefully, wisdom along the way. But no matter how much we know, our crew bring their own knowledge and perspective which can benefit the ship. The sea has its own lessons.

Zen calls this balance beginner's mind.


Tension 2: The Constant vs. the Adaptor

The value of a good plan is indisputable. They put us in sync with wind and tides, making the most of them in a traverse. But they can also lead to dangerous, wishful thinking and denial of warning signs.

Make the best plan possible, but stand by for evolving situations.


Tension 3: The Tactician vs. the Visionary

Sailing is tactics in service of vision. No tactics in the world will tell you where you want to sail. No wanting will get us there without tactics.

May our spirit be willing, and our flesh be strong!


Tension 4: The Teller vs. the Listener

The captain has the final word; s/he must tell the crew what to do. But listening is vital as well, from the call-out of the lookout to the wishes of the most junior aboard. At least if we want a happy ship.

Knowledge speaks; wisdom listens. -- Jimi Hendrix


Tension 5: The Power Holder vs. the Power Sharer

Captains must command; a ship cannot be safely run by committee. Yet crews may be empowered through training, consultation and even turns as captain (in which case we become hearty crew for the duration). Note that captains are often not the best sailor on board.

One at a time and a clear order of succession!


Tension 6: The Intuitionist vs. the Analyst

Intuition is a powerful force, honed by four billion years of evolution. But analysis is a powerful tool. Intuition guided by reason is what makes human beings so formidable.

All gut, no glory.


Tension 7: The Perfectionist vs. the Accelerator

Do we wait until everything is perfect? Or wing it? On the one hand, perfection will be attained never. On the other, look what happened to Icarus. We need a solid vessel under us; not the perfect one. We need to know enough; not everything.

Go small, go simple, go now!


*****

They follow up with some how-to nuggets which pretty much speak for themselves:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Learn, Adapt, Practice
  • Contextual Awareness

Suffice it to say that, all of these represent a balancing act. It's hard work in a dynamic environment.

Don't beat yourself up over mistakes... they happen. Don't go it alone if you've got friends and crew to help. Do strike a balance between in-control Cap'n Barbossa and slippery Cap'n Jack Sparrow.

It'll be worth the effort!






Friday, February 14, 2020

The Subject of Love

Love is friendship afire.
-- Paraphrased from many Lovers

Give yourself to love if love is what you're after.
-- Kate Wolf

My love for you doesn't begin with me.

The Subject of Love

Growing up in the days of father knows best, one heard much of love's object. The object of desire. The objectification of women. The objectification of men. Of the world and all who dwell within it.

We were putting a man on the moon. Fusing hydrogen. Discovering the joy of plastic. A TV in every house and a car in every garage. Conquering nature.

Objectivity was a virtue; subjectivity an embarrassment.

She's a redhead or blonde. He drives a jag. She's svelte or sturdy. He's a hunk or reliable. She'll shine at parties. He'll go far. Good mother. Good father.

So many of those relationships based on objective virtues - whatever they may be - seem formal. Going shopping, dressed up in cinematic trappings of swelling music, clever banter and soft lighting... hiding what's missing. I think there was love there at its best, but only of a sorts. I believe we have a better chance today. At least we're talking.

But we're not so very far down the road from all that.

A more subtle form of object love: many come to believe that love originates in the lover. That love must be earned. That one must be worthy before one can be truly loved.

But love is a reaction, I believe, to whom we love. It is the loved one who ignites us. It's personal.

We can open ourselves to love. Work to remove obstacles to it. Cultivate the ground for it. Even pursue it when it finds us. It can only find us through some special one who ignites love within us.

Myself, I'm no great reservoir of love, waiting to spill upon the worthy. On the contrary, I'm just this guy, see? On my own it's just a plod along the slow passage from cradle to grave.

But when the living subject of love comes into our lives - a particular person - we are kindled in love despite all objection. My god, we are set afire! We awaken and feel it in every burning ember of our souls. It is who they are - not what they are - that enflames us.

Subjective as hell. Subjective as heaven.





Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Boat as Sculpture



Scuplture is the art of the hole and the lump.
-- August Rodin

Architecture is inhabited sculpture.
-- Constantin Branscusi


Boat as Sculpture

I prefer boat as sculpture, as opposed to an assemblage of parts and pieces.

Both ways have advantages. An assemblage can be fully or partially disassembled for repair or extension. Each piece is a small bite, easily chewed. Maybe rebedding is all that's called for. Then again, maybe you're removing it because the bedding has worked and failed?

A sculpture, on the other hand, is all of a piece, bonded together as one.

Should some area go amiss - rot set in, say, or blunt trauma damage - the affected region is destructively excised. Maybe cut, chiseled or planed away. Then a repair is fit and bonded in, resculpting the boat.

A big advantage is that water intrusion behind mounted pieces (as opposed to bonded pieces) is much reduced. 

Another is that boat bonded as sculpture is essentially monocoque, like the shell of an egg. Forces are distributed far and wide, and the whole structure works together to provide strength.

In contrast, boat as assemblage is multicoque, like a picket fence. In a carvel hull (plank on frame construction), relatively heavy, criss-crossed grids are fastened at their intersections (relatively fragile) and corked (relatively fragile) along their edges. The nearest weak point is only half a plank away.

Modern resins, glues and sheet materials make the sculptural approach more attractive.

A sheet of plywood is so large, there's little advantage in treating it like a traditional plank. Fillets and tape 'n' glue joins are not easily to take apart. Removal destroys piece or damages it to the point that repair is more work than replacement.

So... once started, why stop?

Corner posts, rub rails, tabernacles and the like take a few minutes to cut away if, when and where necessary, with that certain schadenfreude of demolition. We get a little taste of the ecstasy of Kali, Hindu goddess of destruction/transformation/creation.

Most times a partial repair (graving or patch) is all that's necessary, and even full replacement of a bonded component is usually a minor project, limited in scope. We're aided by not having to dismount much before beginning a repair... just whack on and replace what you carved away.

To be sure, we still mount plenty of pieces onto our sculpture. Handrails, hatch coamings, cleats, pad eyes, mounts, deck flanges and a slew of other items get bedded down and fastened to our boat. These can be removed and moved without destruction.

Hmm... boat as Mr. Potato Head?

Doesn't ring the same, somehow.


Stanley FUBAR
My favorite sculpting tool...
Not bad for zombies, either.

*****

Tips and Tricks for Removal / Resculpting
  • When cutting away, it often helps to carefully delimit the perimeter of the affected area with full depth cuts. Then go hog wild with the rest, splitting away in long strokes. Longitudinally splitting material stops at your cuts.
  • Be aware of grain run-out which can dive deeper than you intend. Remove material working from the deep end of the grain (splits don't dive below control depth).
  • Full strength, glued scarf joints should taper at about 12:1. Consider that full strength is only necessary here and there... check the context. Much easier alternatives include butt plates, straps and variations on Payson Butt Joints.
  • Consider sealing the components of the sculpture before bonding together, and then again as a whole, both initially and in repair.
     
  • A arrival on the scene is the oscillating multi-tool. This is most useful as a plunge cutter in limited space (for example, the back cut of a notch). Also tight radius curve cutting. It's very useful for surgery in repair.
 
You can just SEE the possibilities!