One of the big reasons I started looking at passive, functional flotation
at the mast head was the complexity factor of anything with moving parts such as
an inflatable system at the mast head. Stuff corrodes, bags get holed, and the
halyards or electronics to perform the triggering task can be compromised in any
of several different ways.
Most importantly, how do you deploy (or is it un-deploy) the air bag once
fired-off and full of air. We're talking another mechanism for deflating the bag
through a one way valve, aren't we? We're also talking potentially of a mast
monkey to ascend the stick in the very serious conditions that caused the
capsize and stuff that sucker back into it's hidey hole so it can be used again
(providing there is an unlimited supply of charges for the sack in the first
place) I wonder what are the physics of a grown-man-moment on the end of the
waving stick in lousy seas?
Clearly, there's way more to this than simply flipping switches for air
Personally and ideally, I'd like to see something like the options
available in a passive/dynamic system with reloadable capacity while
remaining on the deck and out of harm's way, as it were.
I'm not saying the passive endplate system is the do-all, be-all solution.
I find the potential as intriguing, without R&D resources, as I do the air
bag thingy and it's certainly simpler to use over again... and again, if
necessary. If I can muster the cash this summer, I will build something of a
prototype for a simple, beach cat sail and mast and go tip it over to see how it
works. In the meantime, I'd like to see if someone can run some numbers as to
what, if any, performance enhancement there might be from the endplate effect at
the top of the sail.
The whole thing could just be a cool pipe dream that goes nowhere, but for
my money, I'd rather have a passive device with performance potential than
something that will need all sorts of maintenance to make sure it will work when
you need it most. At least that is where I'd like to start. If it turns-out
that a paintball gun cylinder with an air line up the inside of the
mast is the finest solution, it won't bother me in the least as I'd much rather
see a nice product that can be used by all my fellow, multihull sailors for
a little extra piece of mind.
Lastly, it would flat piss-off about a dozen of my friends who are monohull
drivers when I can toss my boat back on its feet before they can sludge their
way past me on the ocean. That would be sublime in its purest sense.
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