Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Boat

For the past three years on-and-off I have been researching boat designs, systems and technologies – all geared toward the day when I have enough time and money to build "the boat".

I have previously built boats and other complex things and have a lot of experience with wood, epoxy and composites – usually small craft in the 14 to 16 foot range.

Three years ago "the boat" was going to be a catamaran – to a Tim Clissold design but those thoughts and ideas have evolved into a variety of trimarans and other cats and even the odd mono hull.

The final version is a cat by Bernd Kohler and based on his DUO 800 design. You can find the design here.

This is a very light – even minimalist design that can be described as a "pod cat" – because it has two 8 metre long hulls and a central pod supported by aluminium beams. It is demountable and the version that I am building has a neat "biplane" rig – two carbon fibre masts – one in each hull.

But even Bernd’s design wasn’t quite what I wanted – so I have made a few modifications.

As an aside, I ended up going to school and learning the fundamentals of yacht design - including hydrostatics and structures and spent a lot of time exploring alternatives with 3D modeling software. I must have created and tested 30+ designs before this final configuration emerged.

I have enlarged the DUO 800 pod (slightly) and the hulls have been modified – they are now symmetrical – the original was asymmetrical and didn’t use centerboards and a few other things that are evolving as the build progresses. Some very interesting foils are going to serve duty as centreboards.

Progress has been good – my efforts in the first week have produced the hull sections and I am starting on the beam connection sockets - will keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poor Policy dressed up as a Good Idea

Now I don’t want to be a party pooper – but it’s a seriously *stupid* idea for the federal government to prime the real estate market with yet more dollars by way of the "first home owners grant".

Because that was a big contributor to this mess in the first place.

The OECD and others have been warning for a long time that Australian real estate is seriously overvalued – to the tune of 50%. The bubble that started inflating at the beginning of this century has yet to deflate.

There was an opportunity with the current financial crisis to fix this distortion and to allow prices to come back to a reasonable level – albeit one that would mean that punters would have lost some of their gains – and state governments would have had to get smarter with their land release strategies.

This is what I was expecting to happen – but Kevin and Wayne have obviously been convinced that a hit to housing would have a large impact on the broader economy.

This intervention has got Treasury’s fingerprints all over it. And all it will do is defer the moment when the hit to real estate will have to be taken and prices come back into line with what is happening in the US and the UK.

It’s not a very smart approach to keep propping up real estate so that prices stay 50% or so higher than the rest of the world – just to keep the punters on-side.

My sense is that they might be successful in the very short term but eventually the piper will have to be paid and we will see a decline in values – my guess is that Kevin probably won’t want that just prior to the next election.