by Jeff Gilbert - Canberra, Australia


Yanglo-French MegaProa

click for bio

Yachting monthly reliably informs me European yachts are getting bigger.

Seeing the Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2 moored in Sydney Harbour together inspired me to conceive a project that makes the Concorde look boring. With contributions from Yankeeland, the Poms and the Frogs, we have a potential triumph of international engineering co-operation, not to mention plenty of bucks to be made in the ensuing confusion.

The QE2 in Sydney Harbor - photo courtesy BBC News

Both these ships consume around 3 gallons of fuel per second, so the obvious step is to link the 1100 ft QE to the 980ft QM to form a sailing megaproa. Savings and possibilities are mind-boggling. The 78,000 and 58,000 tons of the Regal Sisters for a start would be pared by not needing 37 tons of fuel each per hour. Of the 15 engines only 3 would be needed for sheets and halyard. Steering units (thrusters) would also be retained

Along with another two motors for generating power and a couple for powering into harbour or through the doldrums. Even keeping these and running everyones’ electric toothbrushes, fuel consumption powering at 30knots would improve from 11 to a whopping 58 feet per gallon. And that’s both boats. Undersail, well, you’d save some 50 tons of fuel per hour.

Obviously the rig presents problems, until you notice that the Eiffel tower provides a suitable aspect ratio. After over 100 years, lets face it, it needs a new lease on life. Besides, if you leave it on Google Earth most people will be quite satisfied. At 1050 feet, and 7300 tons it is a viable mast, and its 400 foot base provides perfect spacing for the hulls. What’s more it’s demountable and could be assembled to incorporate a mast track, say a spillway section from a dam that’s half dried up.

The Houston Astrodome roof might make a handy 10-acre main, but I think its only good one way, despite the possibility of letting gusts through the hole in the middle. Hence I’d opt for 50 by 500 foot long strips of 20 foot wide half-inch plate, hinged on the long side, which could clatter down effectively onto a 20 foot wide boom and stack in under the height of a man. Scandalising could be a disaster but calcs show theres plenty of time to reef. Its true that concertinaing 20 x 500 foot steel sections might deafen a few passengers, but given the music they listen to they’d have trouble proving any permanent deterioration of lifestyle.

Cordage would be a challenge and it might be necessary to take radical steps. I’d suggest steaming through the Golden Gate bridge by accident, then hoisting the trailing wires into suitable position. If you judge it nicely, you may even collect a section of roadway as a forebeam. Of course the citizens of Sausilito would have to be calmed with some of the fuel savings, but if you made your unexpected appearance on Sunday morning you’d only collect the sinners who weren’t in Church, and such folk need to be aware that the Wrath of God can take unusual forms. Consulting with Bush’s advisers on a suitable excuse might be money well spent, but “The Brakes Failed” would certainly delight the Media.

Calculated performance under sail is quite startling, even with the proposed simple low aspect rig of main and blade jib. The beast will beat windspeed in light air, and only needs reefing in a Class 4 Typhoon, by which time its cruising at 43 knots. Although it requires 160 knots on the beam to lift a hull, it would be prudent to take in a few slabs before the windspeed reaches triple figures. A spinnaker is out of the question, but the proa will go nicely downwind. A jet engine attached to the jib clew would help, but the complication is a bit much and I prefer the idea of assisting natural tacks and poling out by firing a few rounds at the clew from a tank parked in the scuppers. This would be hugely entertaining for the VIP guests who as we know need such events lest boredom drive them to something truly disastrous, like reproduction. They could of course run a sweepstake on whose head might be blown off by the ricochet.

Making the beast pay would be a doddle. Not only do you have the usual luxury accommodation for 5000 well-bred Twits, but the 8-acre bridgedeck offers space to build a full Superbowl stadium and still leave room for a couple of D8s to run around organising untidy rope ends. Combined with the opportunity to duck gambling laws, room for light aircraft to land and a lowerable beach, the bridgedeck could house a town within, and host almost any event on top, including a NASCAR race.

Then there is advertising by projecting images on the main. And of course electioneering, and political speechifying. Can you imagine an 800-foot image of Bush’s head delivering a riveting speech through a 100,000 matt PA? With his mouth 300 feet wide and teeth 6 stories high, he could convince the whole of California that it was worth attacking Iran in a single broad reach!

Oops there goes the phone. Someone called Cunard, never heard of him. Wonder what the hell he wants….?

Jeff Gilbert 2007.

Other Articles by Jeff Gilbert:


Privacy Cabana