Integrated Kite-Sailing Fleets (Cloud
Kite sailing is ancient and the modern instances have mostly been classic
in concept. The idea of two boats, as buddies, working a net or kite
between them is old. Similarly, boat towing, singly or in trains, is
ancient and still very common. What next? Emerging Kite Energy concepts
involve the use of many cross-linked kites, to overcome the operational
scaling barrier to individual kites. Kite trains, arches, and even
cloud-like 3D kite lattices can be scaled far beyond any energy technology
ever to take to sea. Its advantageous to spread out kite arch and cloud
multilines across the surface for control, and to spread crosswind sail
area. An entire fleet can be pulled as a flock by such a cloud of sail in
the sky. In lulls, the fleet could tow the eased (depowered) cloud along.
Special deadheading tugs might ferry clouds into place along trade routes.
Tug force could be tensiometrically metered as a commodity that would
directly offset bunker diesel. Bulk barge traffic is an early opportunity,
as the slower the boat, the lower the usable windrange. With time and
steady performance improvements, a new golden age of high-speed sailing
might ensue. Entire floating cites could sail under a cloud.
Amateur yachts-folk are the ideal developers and early adopters of Cloud
Sailing. We understand how to kite sail, and how to find endless practical
solutions from out of our grand sea traditions. We have all the needed
sub-elements available as mature components. Supervised helm automation,
radio-talk, and GPS make this a practical sailing class. Far out to sea,
fleet spacing could easily be a comfortable kilometer or more, with the
kite cloud towering even higher. A cloud "tall rig" could have a nice
station aloft; the best vantage, with no sea-motion. Sailors aloft would
do pretty much what they have always loved to do, sail, but through the
sky. "Drop us a line" would take on a literal meaning as boats joined such
a fleet. A winged pod would reel down from above, to connect to. A cascade
of pulleys in a whipple-tree of line can passively equalize a fleet's
multi-tethers. The sea-motion of all boats would improve. Existing boats
would serve; all that would normally be needed would be a "Y" or tri- line
bridle attached to hull tie-off points. Long-tether towing could draw
along any boat unsuited to a direct cloud connection. Anyone able to round
up a suitable hulk or tub could load up the family and sail off in the
security of the kite fleet.
"KiteLab Ilwaco" tried a session of shared-kite sailing between my kayak
and a rubber raft, with two friends on the Lower Columbia River, in 2009.
We flew one forty square foot sled kite on about 200 ft of line each, in a
stiff breeze, making about 2 knots about 45 degrees off downwind, using
our paddles as leeboards and rudders. It worked just as envisioned and was
good fun. Flying real clouds someday is going to be a total gas.
Kite Fleet and Cloud Sailing experiments are easy to set up. Even
with just two boats, advantages emerge. Its easier and more reliable to
launch a large pilot kite at sea long-lined, with one boat acting as the
upwind anchor and the other acting as a launching platform. This avoids
the awkwardness of launching and landing from one boat, with short-line
harmonics causing strong kite instability. Buddy-boats can also pay-out
out a kite arch between them, for similar operational advantage. The
kite/boat count spectrum extends from a single kites, to multi-kite
trains, kite arches flown from two boats, and finally fleets driven by a
3D kite cloud assembled from multiple crosslinked arches and trains.
~Dave Santos 26Nov2011
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