Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
MODULAR PLANING MULTI-HULL SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR VESSELS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/093134
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A planing system for a multi-hull watercraft comprising a hull defining a plurality of hulls and at least one channel between at least two of the hull portions comprises a planing surface and an actuator system. The planing surface is supported for movement within the at least one channel between an upper position and a lower position. The actuator system is arranged to displace the planing surface from the upper position to the lower position. The watercraft operates in a first mode when the planing surface is in the upper position and in a second mode when the planing surface is in the lower position. When the watercraft operates in the second mode, the planing surface engages water to cause the vessel to plane.

More Like This:
Inventors:
CASTELLI VOTTORIO (CA)
Application Number:
CA2019/000154
Publication Date:
May 14, 2020
Filing Date:
November 06, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
CASTELLI VOTTORIO MARK (CA)
International Classes:
B63B1/22; B63B1/12; B63B39/06
Foreign References:
US8955452B12015-02-17
US4665853A1987-05-19
US5404830A1995-04-11
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SINGLEHURST, John, C. (CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A planing system for a multi-hull watercraft comprising a hull defining a plurality of hulls and at least one channel between at least two of the hull portions, the planing system comprising:

a planing surface supported for movement within the at least one channel between an upper position and a lower position;

an actuator system arranged to displace the planing surface from the

upper position to the lower position; whereby

the watercraft operates in a first mode when the planing surface is in the upper position;

the watercraft operates in a second mode when the planing surface is in the lower position; and

when the watercraft operates in the second mode, the planing surface engages water to cause the vessel to plane.

2. A planing system as recited in claim 1 , in which the planing surface is defined by a planing plate pivotably connected relative to the watercraft for movement relative to the watercraft.

3. A planing system as recited in claim 2, further comprising a latch for securing the planing plate relative to the watercraft when the watercraft operates in the first mode.

4. A planing system as recited in claim 2, further comprising a return system for applying a return force on the planing plate that displaces the planing plate such that the planing surface moves from the second position to the first position.

5. A planing system as recited in claim 1 , in which the actuator system comprises a compressible fluid that allows movement of the planing surface relative to the watercraft when the watercraft operates in the second mode.

6. A planing system as recited in claim 1 , in which the actuator system comprises:

a fluid bag; and

a control system configured to supply pressurized fluid to the fluid bag; whereby

the control system inflates the fluid bag to cause the watercraft to operate in the second mode.

7. A planing system as recited in claim 1 , in which the actuator system comprises:

an actuator assembly; and

a control system configured to supply pressurized fluid to the actuator assembly; whereby

the control system alters an effective length of the actuator assembly to cause the watercraft to operate in the second mode.

8. A method of facilitating planing of a multi-hull watercraft defining a plurality of hulls and at least one channel between at least two of the hull portions, the method comprising the steps of:

supporting a planing surface for movement within the at least one channel between an upper position and a lower position;

arranging an actuator system to displace the planing surface from the upper position to the lower position;

arranging the planing surface in the upper position to operate the

watercraft in a first mode;

operating the actuator system to arrange the planing surface in the lower position to operate the watercraft in a second mode; and when the watercraft operates in the second mode, engaging the planing surface with water to cause the watercraft to plane.

9. A planing method as recited in claim 8, further comprising the step of pivotably connecting a planing plate defining the planing surface to the watercraft for movement relative to the watercraft.

10. A planing method as recited in claim 9, further comprising the step of latching the planing plate relative to the watercraft when the watercraft operates in the first mode.

1 1. A planing method as recited in claim 9, further comprising the step of applying a return force on the planing plate that displaces the planing plate such that the planing surface moves from the second position to the first position.

12. A planing method as recited in claim 8, further comprising the step of compressing fluid to allow movement of the planing surface relative to the watercraft when the watercraft operates in the second mode.

13. A planing method as recited in claim 8, in which the step of arranging the actuator comprises the steps of:

providing a fluid bag; and

supplying pressurized fluid to the fluid bag to inflate the fluid bag to cause the watercraft to operate in the second mode.

14. A planing method as recited in claim 8, in which the step of arranging the actuator comprises the steps of:

providing an actuator assembly; and

supplying pressurized fluid to the actuator assembly to alter an effective length of the actuator assembly to cause the watercraft to operate in the second mode.

15. A watercraft system comprising:

a catamaran hull defining main deck portion and first and second hull portions;

a deck member secured to the catamaran hull to transfer loads on the deck member to the catamaran hull.

16. A watercraft system as recited in claim 15, further comprising a planing system arranged below the main deck portion and between the first and second hull portions.

17. A watercraft system as recited in claim 16, in which:

slots are formed in one or more of the catamaran hull and the planing system;

projections are formed on one or more of the catamaran hull and the

planing system; and

the slots receive the projections when the planing system is arranged below the main deck portion and between the first and second hull portions.

18. A watercraft system as recited in claim 17, further comprising a lock system configured to inhibit movement of the planing system relative to the catamaran hull when the planing system is arranged below the main deck portion and between the first and second hull portions.

19. A watercraft system as recited in claim 15, in which the load comprises at least one accessory system.

AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 06 April 2020 (06.04.2020)

What is claimed Is:

1. A planing system for a multi-hull watercraft comprising a hull defining a plurality of hulls and at least one channel between at least two of the hull portions, the planing system comprising:

a planing surface supported for movement within the at least ore channel between an upper position and a lower position;

an actuator system comprising a source of pressurized fluid configured to displace the planing surface from the upper position to the lower position; whereby

the watercraft operates In a first mode when the planing surface Is In the upper position; '

the watercraft operates In a second mode when the planing surface Is in the lower position; and

when the watercraft operates In the second mode,

the planing surface engages water to cause the vessel to plane; and

the actuator system is configured to Inhibit transmission of shocks on the planing surface to the watercraft by acting on the pressurized fluid.

2. A planing system as recited In claim 1 , In which the planing surface Is defined by a planing plate pivotably connected relative to the watercraft for movement relative to the watercraft

3. A planing system as recited In claim 2, further comprising a latch for securing the planing plate relative to the watercraft when the watercraft operates In the first mode.

4. A planing system as recited In claim 2, further comprising a return system for applying a return force on the planing plate that displaces the planing plate such that the planing surface moves from the second position to the first position.

5. A planing system as recited In claim 1 , In which the the pressurized fluid Is a compressible fluid that allows movement of the planing surface relative to the watercraft when the watercraft operates In the second mode.

6. A planing system as recited In claim 1, In which the actuator system comprises:

a fluid bag: and

a control system configured to supply pressurized fluid to the fluid bag; whereby

the control system Inflates the fluid bag to cause the watercraft to operate In the second mode.

7. A planing system as recited In claim 1, In which the actuator system comprises:

an actuator assembly; and

a control system configured to supply pressurized fluid to the actuator assembly; whereby

the control system alters an effective length of the actuator assembly to cause the watercraft to operate In the second mode.

8. A method of facilitating planing of a multi-hull watercraft defining a plurality of hulls and at least one channel between at least two of the hull portions, the method comprising the steps of.

supporting a planing surface for movement within the at least one channel between an upper position and a lower position;

operatively connecting an actuator system to a source of pressurized fluid; arranging the actuator system to displace the planing surface from the upper position to the tower position;

arranging the planing surface In the upper position to operate toe

watercraft In a first mode;

operating the actuator system to arrange the planing surface In the tower position to operate the watercraft In a second mode; and when the watercraft operates In the second mode,

engaging the planing surface with water to cause the watercraft to plane; and

causing the planing surface to act on toe pressurized fluid to Inhibit transmission of shocks on the planing surface to tire watercraft.

8. A planing method as recited In claim 8, further comprising the stop of pivotably connecting a planing plate defining the planing surface to the watercraft for movement relative to the watercraft

10. A planing method as recited In claim 9, further comprising the stop of latching the planing plate relative to toe watercraft when the watercraft operates In the first mode.

11. A planing method ae recited In claim 9, further comprising the step of applying a return force on the planing plate that displaces the planing plate such that the planing surface moves from the second position to the first position.

12. A planing method as recited In claim 8, In which the step of causing toe planing surface to act on the pressurized fluid to Inhibit transmission of shocks on the planing surface to toe watercraft comprises the stop of

compressing the pressurized fluid. 13. A planing method as recited In claim 8, In which tire step of arranging tire actuator comprises the steps of:

providing a fluid bag; and

supplying pressurized fluid to the fluid bag to inflate tire fluid bag to cause the watercraft to operate In the second mode.

14. A planing method as recited In dalm 8, in which the stop of arranging the actuator comprises the steps oh

providing an actuator assembly; and

supplying pressurized fluid to the actuator assembly to alter an effective length of the actuator assembly to cause the watercraft to operate in the second mode.

15. A watercraft system comprising:

a catamaran hull defining main deck portion and first and second hull portions;

a deck member secured to the catamaran hull to transfer loads on the deck member to the catamaran hull; and

a fluid bag comprising compressible pressurized fluid, where the fluid bag Is arranged to

cause a planing surface to engage water to cause the vessel to plane, and

Inhibit transmission of shod» on the planing surface to the

watercraft by compressing tire compressible pressurized fluid.

16. A watercraft system as recited In claim 15, further comprising a planing system arranged below the main deck portion and between the first and second hull portions.

17. A watercraft system as recited In dalm 16, In which:

state are formed In one or more of the catamaran hull and the planing system;

projections are formed on one or more of foe catamaran hull and the

planing system; and

the stats receive the projections when the planing system Is arranged below the main deck portion and between the first and second hull portions.

18. A watercraft system as recited In dalm 17, further comprising a lock system configured to Inhibit movement of the planing system relative to the catamaran hull when the planing system Is arranged below the main deck portion and between the first and second hull portions.

19. A watercraft system as recited In claim 15, In which the load comprises at least one accessory system.

Description:
MODULAR PLANING MULTI-HULL SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR

VESSELS

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application (Attorney’s Ref. No. P219819pct) claims benefit of

U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 62/756,720 filed November 7, 2018.

[0002] This application (Attorney’s Ref. No. P219819) also claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 62/901 ,902 filed September 18, 2019.

[0003] The contents of all related applications are incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0004] The present invention relates to multi-hull power vessels and, more specifically, to multi-hull power vessels having enhanced planing capabilities.

BACKGROUND

[0005] The interaction of a vessel hull with the water creates friction that reduces the efficiency with which the vessel hull may be moved through the water. In general, a vessel hull that is long and narrow is more efficient than a vessel hull that is short and wide.

[0006] To increase efficiency of a vessel for a given length and width, the hull may be formed of two or more deep-v hull portions joined by a hull platform supporting a cabin area between and above the hull portions. Sailing vessels typically use three hull portions (trimaran), and power vessels typically use two hull portions (catamaran) or sometimes three hull portions. Vessels having two or more hull portions (e.g., catamarans and trimarans) will be referred to herein as multi-hull vessels. The use of two narrow, widely spaced hulls offers excellent stability, comfort, and handling in rough waters.

[0007] A planing vessel is predominantly supported by hydrodynamic lift (an upward reactionary force) and not hydrostatic lift (buoyancy). In particular, the weight of a vessel at rest is borne entirely the upward force (buoyant force) applied by the water on the vessel hull. As the vessel moves through the water, the moving hull forces the water downward, resulting in an upward reactionary force, or hydrodynamic lift, on the hull of the vessel. The horizontal force on the vessel hull (typically applied by a motor and propeller) is thus converted into upward force on the vessel hull. When the upward force of hydrostatic lift becomes the predominant upward force on the hull, the vessel is planing. When a vessel is planing, the hull is forced up and out of the water such that less of the hull is in contact with the water.

[0008] However, the long, narrow separate hull portions of a multi-hull vessel typically do not exhibit sufficient downward force on the water to create the hydrodynamic lift for planing. Accordingly, while stable, comfortable, and maneuverable in rough waters, multi-hull power vessels typically have difficulty planing and thus are less efficient when moving at higher speeds.

[0009] The need exists for a multi-hull vessel that yields the advantages of several long, narrow hull portions (stability, comfort, and handling) under a first set of operating conditions (e.g., low speeds) and the advantages of a planing vessel (fuel efficiency at high speeds) under a second set of operating conditions (e.g., high speeds). SUMMARY

[0011] The present invention may be embodied as a planing system for a multi-hull watercraft comprising a hull defining a plurality of hulls and at least one channel between at least two of the hull portions. The planing system comprises a planing surface and an actuator system. The planing surface is supported for movement within the at least one channel between an upper position and a lower position. The actuator system is arranged to displace the planing surface from the upper position to the lower position. The watercraft operates in a first mode when the planing surface is in the upper position. The watercraft operates in a second mode when the planing surface is in the lower position. When the watercraft operates in the second mode, the planing surface engages water to cause the vessel to plane.

[0012] The present invention may also be embodied as a method of facilitating planing of a multi-hull watercraft defining a plurality of hulls and at least one channel between at least two of the hull portions. The planing method comprising the following steps. A planing surface is supported for movement within the at least one channel between an upper position and a lower position. An actuator system is arranged to displace the planing surface from the upper position to the lower position. The planing surface is arranged in the upper position to operate the watercraft in a first mode. Operating the actuator system arranges the planing surface in the lower position to operate the watercraft in a second mode. When the watercraft operates in the second mode, the planing surface is engaged with water to cause the watercraft to plane.

[0013] The present invention may also be embodied as a watercraft system comprising a catamaran hull and a deck member. The catamaran hull defining main deck portion and first and second hull portions. The deck member is secured to the catamaran hull to transfer loads on the deck member to the catamaran hull.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] Figure 1 A is a rear elevation view of a first example watercraft with a first example planing system in a first configuration to allow the watercraft to be operated in a first mode;

[0015] Figure 1 B is a rear elevation view of the first example watercraft with the first example planing system in a second configuration to allow the watercraft to be operated in a second mode;

[0018] Figure 2 is a side elevation view of the first example watercraft operating in the first mode;

[0017] Figure 3 is a side elevation view of the first example watercraft operating in a transition mode between the first and second operating modes;

[0018] Figure 4 is a side elevation view of the first example watercraft operating in the second mode;

[0019] Figure 5 is a partial schematic, partial section view of a portion of the first example watercraft illustrating details of the first example planing system when operating in the first mode;

[0020] Figure 6 is a partial schematic, partial section view of a portion of the first example watercraft illustrating details of the first example planing system when operating in the second mode;

[0021] Figure 7 is a partial schematic, partial section view of a portion of a second example watercraft illustrating details of a second example planing system when operating in a first mode;

[0022] Figure 8 is a partial schematic, partial section view of a portion of the second example watercraft illustrating details of the second example planing system when operating in the second mode;

[0023] Figure 9A is a rear elevation view of a third example watercraft with a third example planing system in a first configuration to allow the third example watercraft to be operated in a first mode;

[0024] Figure 9B is a rear elevation view of the third example watercraft with the third example planing system in a second configuration to allow the third example watercraft to be operated in a second mode;

[0025] Figures 10A-10F illustrate perspective, top plan, bottom plan, side elevation, front elevation, and rear elevation view of a first example catamaran watercraft of the present invention;

[0026] Figures 1 1 A-11 F illustrate perspective, side elevation, top plan, bottom plan, front elevation, and rear elevation view of a fourth example planing system of the present invention;

[0027] Figure 12 is a front elevation view of a first example modular watercraft system incorporating the example first example catamaran watercraft and the fourth example planing system;

[0028] Figure 13 is a bottom plan view of the first example modular watercraft system; [0029] Figure 14 is a rear elevation view of the first example modular watercraft system;

[0030] Figure 15 is a side elevation view of the first example modular watercraft system;

[0031] Figure 16 is a section view of the first example modular watercraft system taken along lines 16-16 in Figure 15;

[0032] Figures 17 A and 17B illustrate the first example modular watercraft system with the fourth example planing system removed from the first example catamaran watercraft;

[0033] Figures 18A-18D illustrate perspective, top plan, side elevation, and bottom plan, views of the first example catamaran watercraft of the present invention with an optional deck member;

[0034] Figure 19 is a perspective view of the first example catamaran watercraft and deck member supporting an optional tent structure;

[0035] Figures 20A and 20B are perspective and side elevation views of the first example catamaran watercraft and deck member supporting an optional fishing system;

[0036] Figures 21 A and 21 B are perspective and front elevation views of the first example catamaran watercraft and deck member supporting an optional trailering system;

[0037] Figure 22A is a perspective view of a second example catamaran watercraft of the present invention; [0038] Figures 23A-23F illustrate perspective, side elevation, top plan, bottom plan, front elevation, and rear elevation view of a fifth example planing system of the present invention;

[0039] Figure 24 is a front elevation view of a second example modular watercraft system incorporating the second example catamaran watercraft and two of the fifth example planing systems;

[0040] Figure 25 is a bottom plan view of the second example modular watercraft system;

[0041] Figure 26 is a rear elevation view of the second example modular watercraft system;

[0042] Figure 27 is a side elevation view of the second example modular watercraft system;

[0043] Figure 28 is a section view of the second example modular watercraft system taken along lines 28-28 in Figure 27;

[0044] Figure 29 is a side elevation view of the second example modular watercraft system supporting a platform;

[0045] Figure 30 is a section view taken along lines 30-30 in Figure 29;

[0046] Figure 30A illustrates a detail of Figure 30 with the first and second fifth example planing systems prior to full insertion;

[0047] Figure 30B illustrates a detail similar to Figure 30A with the first and second fifth example planing systems in their fully inserted configurations;

[0048] Figure 31 is a perspective view of an example modular watercraft of the invention in a barge configuration;

[0049] Figure 32 is a top plan view of the example modular watercraft of the invention in the barge configuration;

[0050] Figure 33 is a side elevation view of an example modular watercraft of the invention in the barge configuration and with a planing system detachably attached thereto; and

[0051] Figure 34 is a perspective view of an example modular watercraft of the invention in the barge configuration and with a planing system detachably attached thereto.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0052] Several examples of the present invention will be discussed separately below.

I. First Example Vessel Planing System

[0053] Referring initially to Figures 1A, 1 B, and 2-6 of the drawing, depicted therein is a first example vessel 20 comprising a first example planing system 22. The vessel 20 is illustrated in Figures 1 A, 1 B, and 2-4 as floating in water at a level 24.

[0054] The first example vessel 20 comprises a catamaran hull having a first hull portion 30 and a second hull portion 32 supporting a hull platform 34. A motor 36 (only shown in Figures 2-4 for purposes of clarity, is conventionally supported by the hull platform 34 to create horizontal displacement forces that cause the vessel 20 to move along the water surface. Above the hull platform is a cabin area 40 within which a cabin (not shown) is typically supported. Below the hull platform 34 and between the first and second hull portions 30 and 32 is a channel 42. The hull platform 34 defines a hull platform underside surface 44 facing the channel 42.

[0055] The first example planing system 22 comprises a planing assembly 50 and a control system 52. The example planing assembly 50 defines a planing surface 54 adapted to engage the water 24 as will be described in detail below.

[0056] The example planing assembly 50 comprises a planing plate 60, an actuator 62, a planing plate pivot connector 64, and, optionally, a return member

66 and a latch member 68. In the example planing assembly 50, the planing plate 60 defines the planing surface 54. The example planing plate pivot connector 64 pivotably connects the example planing plate 60 to the underside surface 44 of the hull platform 34 for movement between an upper position (Figures 1 A, 2, 3, and 5) and a lower position (Figures 1 B, 4, and 6). In particular, the planing plate 60 rotates from a position in which the planing plate 60 is substantially parallel to a hull plane H defined by the hull platform 34 (Fig. 5) and a position in which the planing plate 60 is angled with respect to the hull plane H (Fig. 6).

[005h If used, the example return member 66 is arranged and configured to bias the planing plate 60 into the upper position. If used, the example latch member 68 is configured to hold the planing plate 60 in the upper position but may be displaced to allow the planing plate 60 to be moved into the lower position.

[0058] Figure 2 illustrates that, during low speed operation, the actuator 62 is operated such that the planing plate 60 is arranged in the upper position. The vessel 20 operates as a conventional multi-hull boat when the planing plate 60 is in the upper position. After the vessel 20 begins to accelerate as shown in Figure 3, the actuator 62 is operated such that the planing plate 60 is arranged in the lower position as shown in Figure 4. The planing plate 60 then engages the water 24 to create the upward reactionary forces that cause the vessel 22 to plane as depicted in Figure 4.

[0059] The example actuator 62 is a fluid bag 70 defining a fore end portion 72 and an aft end portion 74. The fluid bag 70 defines a sealed bag chamber 76. The fluid bag 70 is placed in a deflated configuration when the planing plate 60 is in the upper position and in an inflated configuration to force the planing plate 60 into the lower position. If the return member 66 is used, the fluid bag 70 expands to force the planing plate 60 downward into the lower position against the force of the return member 66. [0060] The example fluid bag 70 generally takes the shape of a bellows configured to fit between the underside surface 44 of the hull platform 34 and the planing plate. In particular, When the fluid bag 70 is not inflated, the cross- sectional area of the fore end portion 72 is substantially the same as the cross- sectional area of the aft end portion 74, and the planing plate 60 is substantially parallel to the underside surface 44 of the platform 34 (upper position) and spaced from the water 24. When the fluid bag 70 is inflated, the fore end portion 72 of the example fluid bag 70 defines a vertical cross-sectional area that is smaller than the aft end portion 74, and the planing plate 60 is angled with respect to the underside surface 44 of the platform 34 (lower position) and engages the water 24.

[0061] The example fluid bag 70 comprises an upper wall portion 80, a lower wall portion 82, a first side wall portion 84, a second side wall portion 86, and a rear wall portion 88. In the example fluid bag 70, the first and second side wall portions 84 and 86 are generally triangular in shape such that the upper wall portion 80 and the lower wall portion 82 intersect at the fore end portion 72. The first and second side wall portions 84 and 86 and the rear wall portion 88 are flexible and are typically configured to fold in a controlled manner when the planing plate 60 is in the upper position.

[0062] The example control system 52 comprises a fluid source 90, a control valve 92, a pressure release valve 94, and a control member 96. The example fluid source 90 is connected to the bag chamber 76 through the control valve 92, the pressure release valve 94, and a fluid port 98 extending through the upper wall portion 80 of the fluid bag 70.

[0063] In the example control system, the control member 96 is moved from a first position as shown in Figure 5 and into a second position as shown in Figure 6 to cause the control valve 92 to open and allow pressurized fluid to flow from the fluid source 90 and into the bag chamber 76 to place the fluid bag 70 in the inflated configuration. Movement of the control member 96 from the second position and into the first position causes the control valve 92 to allow

pressurized fluid to flow out of the bag chamber 76 to place the fluid bag 70 into the deflated configuration. After the fluid has been evacuated from the fluid bag 70, the control valve 92 resets and is prepared for the cycle to begin again.

[0064] The example control system 52 may be configured to apply a vacuum within the bag chamber 76 to cause the fluid bag 70 to raise the planing plate 60.

[0066] If used, the return member 66 may be configured to exert a return force on the planing plate 60 that raises the planing plate 60 when the fluid bag 70 is depressurized. The example return member 66 is a helical spring configured to engage both the underside surface 44 and the planing plate 60 as necessary to apply a return force onto the planing plate 60 that biases the planing plate 60 towards the upper position. Any resiliently deformable material capable of applying the return force on the planing plate 60 may be used.

[0066] The return member 66 may be used instead of or in conjunction with the application of a vacuum within the bag chamber 76 to raise the planing plate 60 from the lower position to the upper position. In any event, the return biasing force applied by the return member 66 should be less than force applied by pressurized fluid within the bag chamber 76 to hold the planing plate 60 in the lower position. If the return member 66 is solely responsible for displacing the planing plate 60 from the lower position to the upper position, the return member 66 should apply a biasing return force sufficient to overcome the effects of gravity on the planing plate 60 and mechanical resistance of the fluid bag 70. [0067] If used, the latch member 68 is displaced into an unlatched position to allow the planing plate to be moved from the upper position to the lower position. The latch member 68 may be positively displaced (e.g., mechanically, electromechanically, hydraulically, pneumatically) from the latched position and into the unlatched position to allow the planing plate 60 to be moved from the lower position to the upper position and then moved back into the latched position to engage and hold the planing plate 60 in the upper position. In addition or instead, the latch member 68 may be configured such that the planing plate 60 engages the latch member 68 while moving from the lower position to the upper position such that the latch member 68 is displaced from the latched position and into the unlatched position until the planing plate 60 is in the upper position. When the planing plate 60 is in the upper position, the latch member 68 may be displaced by gravity or by biasing means such as a spring to move back into the latched position to hold the planing plate 60 in the upper position.

[0068] The fluid used by the first example planing system 22 is typically air. The pressure release valve 94 is set to open at an overpressure limit to reduce the likelihood of damage to the planing system 22 when the planing plate 60 is subjected to impact loads beyond a predetermined limit. If the pressure release valve 94 is activated to reduce pressure, the control valve 92 may be operated to re-inflate the fluid bag 70 after the impact load. Below the

overpressure limit, the air used as the inflation fluid will compress to absorb impact loads below the predetermined limit.

[0069] The example control member 96 is a lever located in the cabin area 40 but may also take the form of a button, computer controller, or the like capable of opening and closing the control valve 92 as generally described herein using any one or more of mechanical, electromechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic displacement systems. [0070] In the foregoing example, a separate planing plate 60 is pivotably attached to the underside surface 44 of the platform 34 to define the planing surface 54. The planing surface 54 defined by the planing plate 60 engages the water 24 to create the hydrodynamic lift that allows the vessel 20 to plane.

Alternatively, the planing plate 60 and the planing plate pivot connector 64 may be omitted, and the underside of the fluid bag 70 may form the planing surface 54 that engages the water 24 to create the hydrodynamic lift that allows the vessel 20 to plane. Alternatively, the planing plate 60 may be adhered directly to the underside of the fluid bag 70 to reinforce the fluid bag 70, in which case the planing plate pivot connector 64 may be omitted.

II. Second Example Vessel Planing System

[0071] Referring now to Figures 7 and 8 of the drawing, depicted therein is a second example vessel 120 comprising a second example planing system 122. The vessel 20 is conventionally configured to float in water (not shown).

[0072] The second example vessel 120 comprises a catamaran hull having a first hull portion (not visible) and a second hull portion 132 supporting a hull platform 134. A motor (not visible) is conventionally supported by the hull platform 134 to create horizontal displacement forces that cause the vessel 120 to move along the water surface. Above the hull platform is a cabin area 140 within which a cabin (not shown) is typically supported. Below the hull platform 134 and between the first and second hull portions is a channel 142. The hull platform 134 defines a hull platform underside surface 144 facing the channel

142.

[0073] The second example planing system 122 comprises a planing assembly 150 and a control system 152. The example planing assembly 150 defines a planing surface 154 adapted to engage the water as will be described in detail below.

[0074] The example planing assembly 150 comprises a planing plate 160, an actuator 162, a planing plate pivot connector 164, and, optionally, a return member 166 and a latch member 168. In the example planing assembly 150, the planing plate 160 defines the planing surface 154.

[0075] The example planing plate pivot connector 164 pivotably connects the example planing plate 160 to the underside surface 144 of the hull platform 134 for movement between an upper position (Figure 7) and a lower position (Figure 8). If used, the example return member 166 is arranged and configured to bias the planing plate 160 into the upper position. If used, the example latch member 168 is configured to hold the planing plate 160 in the upper position but may be displaced to allow the planing plate 160 to be moved into the lower position.

[0076] During low speed operation, the actuator 162 is operated such that the planing plate 160 is arranged in the upper position. The vessel 120 operates as a conventional multi-hull boat when the planing plate 160 is in the upper position. As the vessel 120 accelerates, the actuator 162 is operated such that the planing plate 160 is arranged in the lower position. The planing plate 160 then engages the water to create the upward reactionary forces that cause the vessel 120 to plane.

[0077] The example actuator 162 is a hydraulic or pneumatic actuator comprising a cylinder portion 170, a rod portion 172, a hull actuator pivot portion 174, and a plate actuator pivot portion 176. The rod portion 172 forms a part of a piston assembly (not shown) that is supported by the cylinder portion 170 such that the rod portion 172 moves between a retracted position (Figure 7) and an extended position (Figure 8) relative to the cylinder portion 170. An effective length of the actuator 162 is greater when the rod portion 172 is extended than when the rod portion 172 is retracted.

[0078] The example cylinder portion 170 is pivotably connected to the underside surface 144 by the hull actuator pivot connecting portion 174, and the example rod portion 172 is pivotably connected to the planing plate 160 by the plate actuator connecting portion 176. The pivot axes defined by the pivot connecting portions 174 and 176 are arranged and configured such that, when the rod portion 172 is retracted, the pivot plate 160 is in the upper position and, when the rod portion 172 is extended, the pivot plate 170 is in the lower position.

[0079] The example control system 152 comprises a fluid source 190, a control valve 192, an optional pressure release valve 194, and a control member 196. The example fluid source 190 is connected to the cylinder portion 170 through the control valve 192 and the pressure release valve 194. Opening of the control valve allows pressurized fluid to flow from the fluid source 190 and into the cylinder portion 170 such that the pressurized fluid acts on the piston assembly to displace the rod portion 172 from the retracted position to the extended position. The rod portion 172 may be displaced from the extended position to the retracted position by relieving the pressure on the fluid within the cylinder portion 170 and applying an upward force on the planing plate 160. If used, the biasing return force applied by the return member 166 may move the planing plate from the lower position to the upper position. Alternatively, the actuator 162 may be configured as a double acting cylinder, in which case pressurized fluid may be introduced into the cylinder portion 170 to drive the rod portion 172 from the extended position and into the retracted position.

[0080] In the example control system, the control member 196 is moved from a first position as shown in Figure 7 and into a second position as shown in Figure 8 to cause the control valve 192 to open and allow pressurized fluid to flow from the fluid source 190 and into the cylinder portion 170 to place the rod portion 172 in the extended position. Movement of the control member 196 from the second position and into the first position causes the control valve 192 to allow pressurized fluid to flow out of the cylinder portion 170 allow the rod portion 172 to be retracted by external forces or to also allow pressurized fluid to flow into the cylinder portion 170 to drive the rod portion 172 into the retracted position.

[0081] if used, the return member 166 may be configured to exert a return force on the planing plate 160 that raises the planing plate 160 when the cylinder portion 170 is no longer pressurized. The example return member 166 is a helical spring configured to engage both the underside surface 144 and the planing plate 160 as necessary to apply a return force onto the planing plate 160 that biases the planing plate 160 towards the upper position. Any resiliently deformable material capable of applying the return force on the planing plate 160 may be used. In any event, the return biasing force applied by the return member 166 should be less than force applied by pressurized fluid within cylinder portion 170 to hold the planing plate 160 in the lower position. If the return member 166 is solely responsible for displacing the planing plate 160 from the lower position to the upper position, the return member 166 should apply a biasing return force sufficient to overcome the effects of gravity on the planing plate 160 and the resistance of the actuator 162.

[0082] If used, the latch member 168 is displaced into an unlatched position to allow the planing plate 160 to be moved from the upper position to the lower position. The latch member 168 may be positively displaced (e.g., mechanically, electromechanically, hydraulically, pneumatically) from the latched position and into the unlatched position to allow the planing plate 160 to be moved from the lower position to the upper position and then moved back into the latched position to engage and hold the planing plate 160 in the upper position. In addition or instead, the latch member 168 may be configured such that the planing plate 160 engages the latch member 168 while moving from the lower position to the upper position such that the latch member 168 is displaced from the latched position and into the unlatched position until the planing plate 60 is in the upper position. When the planing plate 160 is in the upper position, the latch member 168 may be displaced by gravity or by biasing means such as a spring to move back into the latched position to hold the planing plate 160 in the upper position.

[0083] The fluid used by the second example planing system 122 is typically air or hydraulic fluid. The pressure release valve 194 is set to open at an overpressure limit to reduce the likelihood of damage to the planing system 122 when the planing plate 160 is subjected to impact loads beyond a

predetermined limit. If the pressure release valve 194 is activated to reduce pressure, the control valve 192 may be operated to re-inflate the fluid bag 170 after the impact load. Below the overpressure limit, the air used as the inflation fluid will compress to absorb impact loads below the predetermined limit.

[0084] The example control member 196 is a lever located in the cabin area 140 but may also take the form of a button, computer controller, or the like capable of opening and closing the control valve 192 as generally described herein using any one or more of mechanical, electromechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic displacement systems.

III. Third Example Vessel Planing System

[0085] Referring now to Figures 9A and 9B of the drawing, depicted therein is a third example vessel 220 comprising a third example planing system 222. The vessel 220 is illustrated in Figures 9A and 9B is floating in water at a level 224. [0086] The third example vessel 220 comprises a trimaran hull having a first hull portion 230, a second hull portion 232, and a third hull portion 234 supporting a hull platform 236. A motor (not shown) is conventionally supported by the hull platform 236 to create horizontal displacement forces that cause the vessel 220 to move along the water surface 224. Above the hull platform 236 is a cabin area 240 within which a cabin (not shown) is typically supported. Below the hull platform 234, a first channel 242 is located between the first and second hull portions 230 and 232 and a second channel 244 is located between the second and third hull portions 232 and 234. The hull platform 236 defines a hull platform underside surface 246 facing the first and second channels 242 and 244.

[0087] The first example planing system 222 comprises first and second planing assemblies 250 and 252 and a control system 254. The first and second planing assemblies 250 and 252 define first and second planing surfaces 256 and 258, respectively.

[0088] The example first planing assembly 250 comprises a first planing plate 260, a first actuator 262, a first planing plate pivot connector 264, and, optionally, a first return member 266 and a first latch member 268. The example second planing assembly 250 comprises a second planing plate 270, a second actuator 272, a second planing plate pivot connector 274, and, optionally, a second return member 276 and a second latch member 278. The first and second planing plates 260 and 270 define the first and second planing surfaces 256 and 258, respectively.

[0089] The example planing plate pivot connectors 264 and 274 pivotably connect the example planing plates 260 and 270 to the underside surface 246 of the hull platform 236 for movement between an upper position (Figure 9A) and a lower position (Figure 9B). If used, the example return members 266 and 276 are arranged and configured to bias the first and second planing plates 260 and 270, respectively, into the upper positions. If used, the example latch members 268 and 278 are configured to hold the first and second planing plates 260 and 270, respectively, in the upper positions but may be displaced to allow the planing plates 260 and 270 to be moved into the lower position.

[0090] During low speed operation, the first and second actuators 262 and 272 are operated in tandem such that the planing plates 260 and 270 are arranged in the upper positions. The vessel 220 operates as a conventional multi-hull boat when the planing plates 260 and 270 are in the upper position as shown in Figure 9 A As the vessel 220 begins to accelerate, the actuators 262 and 272 are operated such that the planing plates 260 and 270 is arranged in the lower positions as shown in Figure 9B. The planing plates 260 and 270 then engage the water 224 to create the upward reactionary forces that cause the vessel 220 to plane as shown by a comparison of Figures 9A and 9B.

[0091] The example actuators 262 and 272 are fluid bags like the fluid bag 70 described above. Alternatively, the example actuators 262 and 272 may be formed using piston actuators such as the actuator 162 described above.

[0092] The example control system 254 comprises a fluid source 280, a control member 282, first and second control valves 290 and 292, and first and second pressure release valves 294 and 296. The example fluid source 280 is connected to the first and second actuators 262 and 272 through the first and second control valves 290 and 292 and the first and second pressure release valves 294 and 296, respectively.

[0093] In the example control system, the control member 282 is moved from a first position and into a second position to cause the control valves 290 and 292 to open and allow pressurized fluid to flow from the fluid source 280 and into the actuators 290 and 292. Movement of the control member 282 from the second position and into the first position causes the control valves 290 and 292 to allow pressurized fluid to flow out of the actuators 262 and 272. After the fluid has been evacuated from the actuators 262 and 272, the control valves 290 and 292 reset and are prepared for the cycle to begin again. The example control system 254 may also be configured to raise the planing plates 260 and 270 by appropriate application of fluid as generally described above.

[0094] If used, the return members 266 and 276 may be configured to exert return forces on the planing plates 260 and 270 that raise the planing plates 260 and 270 when the actuators 262 and 272 are depressurized. The example return members 266 and 276 are helical springs configured to engage both the underside surface 246 and the planing plates 260 and 270 as necessary to apply a return force onto the planing plates 260 and 270 that biases the planing plates 260 and 270 towards the upper positions. Any resiliently deformable material capable of applying the return force on the planing plates 260 and 270 may be used.

[0095] The return members 266 and 276 may be used instead of or in conjunction with the application of a vacuum or pressurized fluid to raise the planing plates 260 and 270 from the lower position to the upper position. In any event, the return biasing forces applied by the return members 266 and 276 should be less than force applied by pressurized fluid applied to the actuators 262 and 272 to hold the planing plates 260 and 270 in the lower position. If the return members 266 and 276 are solely responsible for displacing the planing plates 260 and 270 from the lower position to the upper position, the return members 266 and 276 should apply a biasing return force sufficient to overcome the effects of gravity on the planing plates 260 and 270 and any associated mechanical resistance. [0096] If used, the latch members 268 and 278 are displaced into an unlatched position to allow the planing plates 260 and 270 to be moved from the upper positions to the lower positions. The latch members 268 and 278 may be positively displaced (e.g., mechanically, electromechanically, hydraulically, pneumatically) from the latched position and into the unlatched position to allow the planing plates 260 and 270 to be moved from the lower position to the upper position and then moved back into the latched position to engage and hold the planing plates 260 and 270 in the upper position. In addition or instead, the latch members 268 and 278 may be configured such that the planing plates 260 and 270 engage the latch members 268 and 278 while moving from the lower position to the upper position such that the latch members 268 and 278 are displaced from the latched positions and into the unlatched positions until the planing plates 260 and 270 are in the upper positions. When the planing plates 260 and 270 are in the upper positions, the latch members 268 and 278 may be displaced by gravity or by biasing means such as a spring to move back into the latched positions to hold the planing plates 260 and 270 in the upper position.

[0097] The fluid used by the third example planing system 222 is typically air or hydraulic fluid. The pressure release valves 294 and 296 are set to open at an overpressure limit to reduce the likelihood of damage to the planing system 222 when the planing plates 260 and 270 are subjected to impact loads beyond a predetermined limit. If one or both of the pressure release valves 294 and 296 are activated to reduce pressure, the control valve 290 and 292 may be operated to cause one or both of the actuators 262 and 264 to move planing plates 260 and 270 into the lowered position after the impact load. Below the overpressure limit, compressible fluids such as air will compress to absorb impact loads below the predetermined limit. [0098] The example control member 282 is a lever located in the cabin area 240 but may also take the form of a button, computer controller, or the like capable of opening and closing the control valves 290 and 292 as generally described herein using any one or more of mechanical, electromechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic displacement systems.

[0099] In the foregoing example, separate planing plates 260 and 270 are pivotably attached to the underside surface 246 of the hull platform 236. The planing surfaces 256 and 258 defined by the planing plates 260 and 270 engage the water 224 to create the hydrodynamic lift that allows the vessel 220 to plane. In addition, the example planing plates 260 and 270 may be operated differently to accommodate different loads and conditions.

[0100] In the case that the actuators 262 and 272 are formed by fluid bags, the planing plates 260 and 270 and the planing plate pivot connectors 264 and 274 may be omitted, and the underside of the fluid bags forming the actuators 262 and 272 may form the planing surfaces 256 and 258, respectively, that engage the water 224 to create the hydrodynamic lift that allows the vessel 220 to plane. Alternatively, the planing plates 260 and 270 may be adhered directly to the underside of the fluid bags to reinforce the fluid bags, in which case the planing plate pivot connectors 264 and 274 may be omitted.

IV. First Example Modular Watercraft System

[0101] Figures 12-17B illustrate a first example modular watercraft system 320 comprising a first example modular catamaran 322 (Figures 10A-F) and a fourth example planing system 324 (Figures 11A-F). The first example modular catamaran 322 is a hollow structure comprising a deck portion 322a and first and second hull portions 322b and 322c. The first example modular catamaran 322 is made of molded plastic material. The fourth example planing system 324 is a hollow structure made of molded plastic material that is sized and dimensioned to be arranged within a hull cavity 322d below the deck portion 322a and between the first and second hull portions 322b and 322c.

[0102] A lock system comprising one or more lock pins 326 secures the fourth example planing system 224 to the first example modular catamaran 322 to form the modular watercraft system 320. A stop surface 328 formed in the first example watercraft 322 prevents aft ward movement of the fourth example planing system 324 relative to the first example modular catamaran 322, while the lock system prevents fore ward movement of the fourth example planing system 324 relative to the first example modular catamaran 322. Rail projections 330 on the fourth example planing system 324 engage slots 332 on the first example modular catamaran 322 to limit lateral movement of the fourth example planing system 324 relative to the first example modular catamaran 322.

[0103] To convert the non-planing catamaran watercraft 322 into the planing first example modular watercraft system 320, the fourth example planing system 324 is displaced aft ward relative to the first example modular catamaran 322 into a fixed position in which the stop surface 328 prevents aft ward movement and the lock system prevents forward movement. Removing the lock pins 326 allows the fourth example planing system 324 to be displaced fore ward relative to the first example modular catamaran 322 to remove the fourth example planing system 324 from the modular catamaran 322 if desired.

[0104] Figures 18A-18D illustrate the first example modular catamaran

322 supporting a deck member 340. Screws, pins, adhesive, or the like (not shown) may be used to secure the deck member 340 relative to the watercraft system 320. The fourth example planing system 324 may be combined with the modular catamaran 322 such that the first example modular watercraft system 320 supports the deck member 340. [0105] Figure 19 illustrates that a tent structure 350 may be supported by the deck member 340 supported by the first example modular catamaran 322.

[0106] Figures 20A and 20B illustrate that a fishing system 360 comprising chairs 362 and a fishing pole holder 364 may be supported by the deck member

340.

[0107] Figures 21 A and 21 B illustrate that wheel structures 370 may be supported by the deck member 340 and/or modular catamaran 322 to form a trailer that facilitates transportation of the modular catamaran 322.

V. Second Example Modular Watercraft System

[0108] Figures 24-28 illustrate a second example modular watercraft system 420 comprising a second example modular catamaran 422 (Figure 22A) and first and second fifth example planing systems 424a and 424b (Figure 23A). First and second lock systems comprising one or more lock pins 426 secures the first and second fifth example planing systems 424a and 424b, respectively, to the second example modular catamaran 422 to form the modular watercraft system 420.

[0109] A stop surface 428 formed in the first example watercraft 322 prevents aft ward movement of the first fifth example planing system 424a relative to the first example modular catamaran 422, while the first lock system prevents fore ward movement of the first fifth example planing system 424a relative to the second example modular catamaran 422. The first fifth example planing system 424a prevents fore ward movement of the second fifth example planing system 424b relative to the first example modular catamaran 322, while the second lock system prevents aft ward movement of the second fifth example planing system 424b relative to the second example modular catamaran 422. The first and second fifth example planing systems 424a and 424b are used to provide additional displacement so that the second example modular watercraft system 420 can function as a barge for moving materials and equipment.

[0110] Rail projections 430 on the first and second fifth example planing system 424 engage slots 432 on the second example modular catamaran 422 to limit lateral movement of the fifth example planing systems 424 relative to the second example modular catamaran 422. The example slots 432 are arranged in two offset pairs. A bow of the first fifth example planing system 424a is arranged fore ward, while a bow of the second fifth example planing system 424b is arranged aft ward. A deck member 440 may be supported by the second example modular watercraft system 420.




 
Previous Patent: CRYO-CARRIER

Next Patent: HEARING TEST METHOD AND DEVICE