Living systems maintain a steady state of internal, physical, and chemical conditions such as body temperature, fluid balance, pH of extracellular fluid, the concentrations of sodium, potassium and calcium ions, as well as that of the blood sugar level. These conditions help organisms to functioning optimally.
When I design and build my boats I try do it in such a way that they keep their internal conditions of temperature and humidity in a steady state whatever the outside weather. Into this, for the sake of good seaworthiness, I also include the orderly, methodical and harmonious arrangement of all gear and stuff including myself.
At sea there is this deal between my boat and me. My boat gives me good internal conditions. That way I can be in optimal shape and navigate her to a safe haven. Thanks to this deal I do not have to worry when evil storms are raging, when waves in their terrible fury are battering my boat I am resting snug in my bunk reading a pleasant book.
Sure my boat and I in her will be tossed around by the waves but animals have since dawn of time been used to such quick movements and adapted. Do we get seasick when we are moving quickly when we run in broken terrain or are engaged in a fight on life or death?
We are not because the motion that causes seasickness is different. It is slow and unnatural. Lots of inertia is involved when a big ship moves in bad weather. Our genes have had no time to adapt to such movements that’s why some people get seasick.
Here are some of the qualities I have designed into my boats:
My boats are so strong that no matter how furious the storm is they will suffer no damage, not to their hulls, nor to their deckhouses or riggings.
My boats are waterproof at all angles of heel. Even when they are 180° upside down no water enters. They are as tight as a corked bottle.
There is a place for everything and everything is in its place, even after they have capsized.
The humidity and temperature in cabins is within a comfortable range.
As my boats have the above qualities I am safer in them at sea than on land. I also feel safe out there no matter what.
Not all sailors feel safe at sea. Same sailors are dead scare. When I 1980 cruised the Falkland Islands the islanders told me about a single hander who had stopped there on his way to round Cape Horn. He had kept procrastinating; there had always been one more thing to do. After months of delay the day to cast off had finally come. He was a nice man and his new friends where there to see him off.
He raised his sails and cast off and sailed away but after only half a mile he run into the opposite shore. The men could see no signs of life so after some time they went to investigate. They found the man dead. He had died of fear.
Death by fear is common in scary times. During world war two many lifeboats drifted ashore with plenty of dead sailors aboard despite fine weather and only a day or so in the lifeboat.
Same thing happened with the airplanes crews that parachuted into the North Sea. When the rescue boats found them a few hours later in their inflatable life rafts they were already dead, dead out of fear.
Over the years I have know several sailors that out of fear have refused to leave port, in Madeira and Canary Islands and other places. Of course they did not say so but they always had some ridiculous reason not to leave just then and so they kept delaying until it was to late.
I do not fear fear because I have my trusty boat to which nothing can happen. That is a wonderful thing.
How do I achieve this? It is a complex problem. It has taken me many years to figure it out partly because I had to unlearn much of what the grown ups have been telling me. Here are a few of my rules.
First rule, small size is fundamental to strength and safety. Science has known this since Galileo who lived from 1564 – 1642. His square cube law says that the weight of a structure increases by the cube of its scale while its strength only increases by the square of its scale. Example, if you double the scale of a structure its weight will increase eight times but it will only become four times as strong. This is why bridges and buildings get more and more difficult to build the bigger they become until it is impossible to build them any bigger. To build a small bridge on the other hand is child’s play. If you want something to be strong, keep it small. Do not trust the grown ups. Trust fundamental engineering.
Second rule, I use my sandwich-structured composite. It gives me insulation, therefore the temperature and humidity in my cabin is fine. It gives me buoyancy therefore my boat cannot sink. It gives me strength and that combined with her small size makes my boat unbreakable.
Third rule. I make my boats waterproof. How this is achieved is a bit more complicated to explain. Here are a few details. All my deck hatches have deep gasket’s and are bolted down in heavy weather. That way even when boat is upside down they let in no water.
My ventilation system is also waterproof. Fresh air is ducted from one side to the other then down to the bottom of the boat were a dorado box separates any water from the air. The dorado box drains into the center board case.
Everything remains in its place, nothing brakes, no water enters, and soon my boat is back on even keel, therefore there is no reason to worry when the boat is upside down.
Illustration Pierre Herve
Fourth rule. I have a place for everything and everything is in its place. This includes myself. In my bunk and at my eating place there are safety belts that I use. They keep my fixed in my desired position.
Fifth rule. My boat has a positive stability range up to 180° of heel. It is accomplished by designing her so that the center buoyancy is always to lee of the center of gravity. Before I set out on voyage I do a rollover test.
Video showing roll over test.
If you pay attention to the above simple rules you can have a cheap and safe boat that can take you to most places in the world. The idea of homeostasis is as old as the beginning of time.
Mitochondria are a good example of how an organelle has found a peaceful life. As I understand it, long time ago there was no or little oxygen on earth. Then cyanobacteria started to produce oxygen causing the great oxidation event, which in turn caused many spices to die out. Oxygen is a terrible corrosive poison. However Mitochondria use oxygen to burn fat and carbohydrates and as a byproduct ATP is produced. ATP is concentrated energy.
A cell once swallowed one of these mitochondria. The mitochondria ignored that she had been swallowed and continued to live inside the cell as if nothing had happened.
As she was eating the dangerous oxygen and producing energy the cell that had eaten her was very happy. The cell got rid of the oxygen plus it got energy. And the mitochondria were happy because inside the cell she had a safe place with plenty of food.
Today you and me have hundreds of mitochondria in almost every one of our cells, still the mitochondria is a stranger to us because she has her own genes.
When sailing the oceans it is important to believe in oneself and not to trust the grown ups. It is important to design for safety and logic instead of rules because the rules of production boats as specified and made into law by the EUs Recreational Small Craft Directive severely limits the seaworthiness of boats. Category A Ocean does not require that a boat be engineered to survive any stronger winds than a force eight gale. It is well known that out on the vide ocean it is not rare for the winds to exceeds force eight. Nowadays an alternative for a safe boat is to call for help, but that’s not my strategy.
I have mentioned mitochondria because I used the idea of homeostasis when designing my boats supply so that they can create a safe environment like the cell supply mitochondria with a safe environment. No person can cross an ocean by himself but with the help of a small functional boat we can live in a safe environment and sail between the continents. We humans must do this in a sane sustainable way.
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Somehow I hope to leave Sweden end of June. How depends on Corona but I find a way. Most of the food and equippment are now stowed.
Below photo of raincollector that will supplement the 125 liters on board. I use about a liter a day.