Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
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26 Proceedings Summer 2015 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Boat Design Looking into the future, we see boat design changing in an evolutionary manner. Going forward, effciency will be king. While today's scientists, researchers, and entrepre- neurs make great strides in the felds of alternative energy, we do not see electric, hybrid, or fuel cell-powered boats becoming prevalent 20 years out. Part of this opinion stems from current technological limita- tions, such as storage batteries. Another reason for this posi- tion is our opinion that recreational boaters are not willing to settle for the limited range or limited speeds that alter- native fuels and propulsive technologies (as far as we can see them now, at any rate) can offer. After all, horizons are limitless on many waterways. Short, "practical" ranges and speeds are akin to putting up fences in the boater's mind. And even if those fences actually restrict them to no fewer square miles of open sea than they had before, we feel most boaters would not want it. So when we consider the projected advance of technology and overlay it with the psychology of the recreational boater, we conclude that the internal-combustion engine will still power most boats in the future. But as oil resources are depleted, hull forms and construction methods aimed at enabling the same speeds and range recreational boaters expect will become more prevalent. We believe that 20 years out, most recreational powerboats will still be planing craft. However, they will be designed with hull forms that optimize fuel effciency. We see stepped V-hulls becoming more common in the future. Indeed, these are already becoming the norm in some recreational boating categories such as large center-console boats and, naturally, high-performance boats, the so-called "go-fasts." Effcient underwater shapes will not be enough to drive the demand for speed and range, however. Boats will need to be built lighter and lighter. The future will see boats that have horsepower-to-weight ratios that will increase in synchron- icity with the rising cost (and possible decreasing availabil- ity) of fossil fuels. Build techniques currently relegated to the rarifed sects of expensive boats, such as resin-infusion and post-curing, will become more common. Materials, too, will change, as builders move from the norms of fberglass reinforcement set in polyester resin to a world in which carbon fber and Kevlar are saturated with vinyles- ter resins to create a lighter, stiffer, stronger hull — one that can go farther on the same gallon of gas, or make the same speed with less horsepower than is currently possible. Certainly, these methods are in limited use today, but in the future, the majority of boats will be built using these allow the skipper to control the throttle, rudders, and auto- pilot. Jog the stick to avoid an unexpected obstacle, and then return to course with another jog of the stick. Navigation "red zones" (user-programmable danger areas) interface with the GPS and autopilot to stop navigation at those zone boundaries. More recently, the Automatic Identifcation System reports and receives traffc information from other vessels on the waterway and is further tasked to report virtual aids to nav- igation (ATONs) for the skipper's safety. With the prospect of virtual ATONs, there is no reason why that data would not be automatically transferred to GPS charts, so it leaves a permanent digital track on the vessel's system — especially important if the aid has moved since the last chart down- load. For example, ATONs near no-wake zones could direct the boat's electronic engine controls, which are interfaced to the navigation suite, to maintain the appropriate speed. This would still allow manual throttle input to override the system, should an emergency situation develop — much the way an autopilot's "jog" function currently operates. Similarly, radar input could create a virtual fence around a fxed or oncoming object that crew may not notice. Jog a joystick to overrule it or allow it, as the user preference demands. Sonar should likewise be integrated to reduce speed when entering a shallow zone or detecting an unex- pected rise in bottom contour. What is remarkable about the current state of marine navi- gation and propulsion electronics is that most of these capa- bilities are not only conceivable and achievable, but most components are now used singly in various pieces of equip- ment. Seamless integration is only a heartbeat away. Once found only on high-performance boats, stepped hulls will increasingly be found on recre- ational craft as one way to maintain speeds while using less fuel. S T E P P E D