Planning continues for VSFP

The rice harvest is nearly complete on my farm, and considering the dryness of the year and other challenges I think we did pretty well. We had 10 Bhutanese refugees take the bus down to the farm from Winooski and work a 9-hour day, harvesting some thousands of pounds of rice. I worked alongside them, along with two other white guys. I think it was something of a surprise to the Bhutanese to see a white person wielding a sickle and harvesting rice by hand!

Now a year into planning the sail freight project, we are pretty clear about our objectives and what design we will pursue. We’re still working out the people aspect of the project, as an effort like this can only succeed with the support of many and some measure of talent, too. It’s also possible that some of the research and possibly construction effort as well could be shared with a school. This project entails aspects of physics, economics, history, industrial arts, and geography, so it really invites the participation and intellectual engagement of students. There are a few local schools with which I’ve been parlaying, but no working partnership has yet solidified.

Triloboat guru Dave Zeiger and his partner Anke came to visit us here at the farm a week ago and we really enjoyed their company. Dave’s support and guidance of this project has been invaluable.

We discussed modifying the barge hull by bringing the sides in at the bow and stern. this complicates construction a little but having worked as a builder for some 10 years I think I can handle it. Below you can see the latest revisions. I’ve reduced the footprint of the deckhouses to make deck work easier–in previous drafts a person would have had to pass through the aft cabin to go from the main deck to the tiller. The smaller deckhouse with a walkway around it is more typical of 19th century workboats. The aft cabin is also lower, and the decks are more shear, with just a slight rise in the poop deck to ensure a sightline forward. In profile, now, this sailing barge hull more closely resembles a Thames barge or American scow schooner.

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