Whio II

Welcome back to another blog post!

Today I want to be a little bit aspirational and talk about our new boat and a little bit about our old one. I have always wanted to travel the world by boat. It has been a dream of mine I was very young. In 2002, my wife Kathrin and I launched our canal barge ‘Whio’.

Kathrin told me she was happy to live aboard the boat so long as she could always see land out the window. Our canal trip was a life-changing experience, touring Europe and its waterways, and it sowed the seeds for more exploration.

The original Whio. What an amazing adventure we had with her!

We both really enjoy experiencing culture through food, markets, history, and of course the people that make every place so special. This requires a vessel which can comfortably anchor for two or three weeks without external inputs and no requirements for fuel. When you arrive somewhere, you want to be able to stay there and experience it without much pressure to move on. To give you the time you need to appreciate the local lifestyle.

Therefore, the vessel we are designing needs to be a comfortable place to live. Picture a modern apartment; a spacious living room, big kitchen area, and long hot showers. That doesn’t fit in a traditional yacht, so we’re attracted to a multihull design to give us the space we need.

When Kathrin and I are sailing along we will predominantly be alone together and therefore, safety is a top priority. The boat should be easy to sail single-handedly, and the off-watch person should be very close by at all times. We want to absolutely minimize the excuses to go outside alone at night. This is why an internal forward helm station with sail controls is our preference and we’ve accepted the compromise it will occupy in the primary living area. This boat however, derives it’s energy from the action of sailing, which will be a primary activity on board, so its integration into the living space also makes sense in that regard.

This vessel is built to demonstrate new technology and therefore includes several luxurious items that would not normally be found onboard a yacht. We have a desire to demonstrate how much energy is available, and how energy is used on board is at the heart of this entire project.

A true home at sea. That means not worrying about your water usage too!

This will be expressed in the seemingly small things which make this sailing vessel a lot more pleasurable. We will have a fully air-conditioned wet-locker so that on cold and miserable nights, your jacket is warm and dry again at the start of your next watch. Berths will have electric blankets so that you never get into a cold and clammy bed. There will be a forced-air ventilation system throughout providing dry and clean airflow. The boat will travel from the tropics to high latitudes, so the boat must be able to manage every range of temperature and climate. This will need large amounts of energy, and we will utilise a Smart Energy Systems approach to enable this.

In our next blog, I’ll discuss how I take the thinking about passive houses and low-energy buildings into this project and make it truly comfortable and integrated.