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Title:
A VARIABLE BEAM VESSEL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/248012
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Disclosed is a variable beam vessel. The vessel comprises a main hull having a longitudinal axis, a float and a float connection assembly comprising a main support member and actuation system. The main support member is connected to the float and main hull. The actuation system moves the float substantially perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis between an in-use configuration in which the main support member is connected to the main hull and maintains the float a first distance from the main hull, and a stowed configuration in which the main support member maintains the float a second distance from the main hull, the second distance being less than the first distance. The actuation system maintains a common orientation of the float in both the in-use configuration and stowed configuration.

Inventors:
KOCH PAUL WILLIAM (AU)
Application Number:
AU2020/050587
Publication Date:
December 17, 2020
Filing Date:
June 10, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KOCH PAUL WILLIAM (AU)
International Classes:
B63B1/10; B63B1/12; B63B1/14; B63B7/00
Foreign References:
FR2524855A11983-10-14
FR2663899A11992-01-03
US3960102A1976-06-01
FR2502575A11982-10-01
DE3833644A11990-04-05
CN105172994A2015-12-23
US5235925A1993-08-17
CN105314062A2016-02-10
FR2558133A21985-07-19
NL7508090A1977-01-11
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIES COLLISON CAVE PTY LTD (AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A variable beam vessel, comprising :

a main hull having a longitudinal axis;

a float;

a float connection assembly extending between the float and main hull, the float connection assembly comprising:

a main support member comprising :

a float end connected to the float at a float connection; and

a hull end connectable to the main hull; and an actuation system operable to move the float substantially perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis between an in-use configuration in which the main support member is connected to the main hull and maintains the float a first distance from the main hull, and a stowed configuration in which the main support member maintains the float a second distance from the main hull, the second distance being less than the first distance,

wherein the actuation system maintains a common orientation of the float in both the in-use configuration and stowed configuration.

2. A variable beam vessel according to claim 1, wherein the float connection comprises an abutment formed on a first one of the main support member or the float and located to abut a second one of the main support member and float, to restrict longitudinal relative movement between the main support member and float.

3. A variable beam vessel according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the float connection comprises a slot on one of the main support member and float and a pin on the other of the main support member and float, the pin sliding along the slot between a first position corresponding to the in-use configuration and a second position corresponding to the stowed configuration.

4. A variable beam vessel according to claim 3, wherein the first position and second position are at opposite ends of the slot.

5. A variable beam vessel according to claim 3 or 4, wherein the slot is shaped to control relative movement of the float and main support member during movement between the in-use configuration and stowed configuration.

6. A variable beam vessel according to any one of claims 3 to 5, wherein the float connection further comprises a pivot, the float pivoting on the float end of the main support member between the stowed configuration and in-use configuration.

7. A variable beam vessel according to claim 6, wherein the pin is on the float end and the pivot is located distally of the pin. 8. A variable beam vessel according to claim 7, wherein the pin is one of two pins located on the main support member, and the slot is one of two slots disposed on opposite sides of the main support member in a channel in the float. 9. A variable beam vessel according to claim 8, wherein the channel has two opposite end walls and side walls, the end and side walls converging distal ly of the pivot, each end wall defining a position of the float end of the main support beam when in a respective one of the stowed configuration and in-use configuration.

10. A variable beam vessel according to any preceding claim, wherein the actuation system comprises at least two flexible cord lengths each connected at one end to the float and extending from the float to the main hull, and wherein one cord length moves the float connection assembly to the in-use configuration and another cord length moves the float connection assembly to the stowed configuration .

11. A variable beam vessel according to any preceding claim, comprising two said floats and two float connection assemblies each connecting a respective one of the floats to the main hull.

12. A variable beam vessel according to claim 11, wherein the actuation systems are interconnected such that they can be concurrently operated to move the symmetrically between the in-use configuration and stowed configuration.

13. A variable beam vessel according to any preceding claim, wherein the hull end is connected to the main hull in the in-use configuration and is disconnected from the main hull in the stowed configuration.

14. A variable beam vessel according to claim 13, wherein the hull end disconnects from the main hull to facilitate movement to the stowed configuration.

15. A variable beam vessel according to claim 13 or 14, wherein the hull end of the main support beam elevates above the main hull during movement to the stowed configuration, so that it does not obstruct access along the main hull in the stowed configuration.

16. A variable beam vessel according to any preceding claim, wherein the float connection assembly is configured to maintain a common draft of the float when in both the in-use configuration and the stowed configuration.

17. A variable beam vessel according to any preceding claim, further comprising a stabiliser for controlling a position of the main support member relative to the main hull during movement between the in-use configuration and stowed configuration. 18. A variable beam vessel according to claim 17, wherein the stabiliser comprises a frame extending between the main hull and main support member.

19. A variable beam vessel according to claim 18, the stabiliser comprises an alignment member, the alignment member and frame maintaining a perpendicular alignment between the main support member and longitudinal axis during movement between the stowed configuration and in-use configuration.

20. A variable beam vessel according to any preceding claim, wherein the main support member comprises two spaced support beams each having a respective said float end and respective said hull end.

Description:
A VARIABLE BEAM VESSEL

Technical Field The present invention relates a variable beam vessel. More particularly, the present invention relates to, but is not limited to, a vessel having a main hull and two floats on opposite sides of the main hull, the floats being retractable towards the main hull. Background

Catamarans and trimarans have become popular vessels due to their efficient movement through the water, low draft (the vertical distance between the waterline and bottom of the hull) and a wide beam that provides greater stability than a monohull vessel.

While the wide beam is useful for stability it can also be problematic for multi hulled vessels. This is particularly the case for trimarans, which have a central main hull and two floats disposed symmetrically on opposite sides of the main hull. The increased width increases the cost of berthing and makes road travel difficult.

Some trimarans have been proposed with retractable stabilizing floats. Some such vessels have floats that pivot aft (i.e. towards the stern), which means they need to incorporate a vertical pivot point at the float. The vertical pivot experiences wear, and is generally considerably weaker than a rigidly fixed arrangement, when faced with consistent loading during use and when transporting the vessel. Other embodiments provide a laterally shifting float arrangement, in which floats that are rigidly fixed to the end of support beams are moved laterally in towards the main hull of the vessel. Such arrangements either lose stability or result in parts of the floats being moved under water that, during normal use, are above the draft level of the floats. Those parts are therefore susceptible to marine growth and degradation .

It would be desirable to overcome or alleviate at least one of the above- described problems, or at least to provide a useful alternative.

Summary

The present disclosure provides a variable beam vessel, comprising:

a main hull having a longitudinal axis;

a float;

a float connection assembly extending between the float and main hull, the float connection assembly comprising :

a main support member comprising:

a float end connected to the float at a float connection; and a hull end connectable to the main hull; and

an actuation system operable to move the float substantially perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis between an in-use configuration in which the main support member is connected to the main hull and maintains the float a first distance from the main hull, and a stowed configuration in which the main support member maintains the float a second distance from the main hull, the second distance being less than the first distance,

wherein the actuation system maintains a common orientation of the float in both the in-use configuration and stowed configuration.

Unless context dictates otherwise, the "main support member" may be referred to as a support beam. This is not to be confused with the beam of a vessel referring to the width at its widest point when viewing from the bow or stern. The float connection may comprise an abutment formed on a first one of the main support member or the float and located to abut a second one of the main support member and float, to restrict longitudinal relative movement between the main support member and float.

The float connection may comprise a slot on one of the main support member and float and a pin on the other of the main support member and float, the pin sliding along the slot between a first position corresponding to the in-use configuration and a second position corresponding to the stowed configuration. The first position and second position may be at opposite ends of the slot. The slot may be shaped to control relative movement of the float and main support member during movement between the in-use configuration and stowed configuration.

The float connection may further comprise a pivot, the float pivoting on the float end of the main support member between the stowed configuration and in-use configuration.

The pin may be on the float end and the pivot is located distally of the pin . The pin may be one of two pins located on the main support member, and the slot may be one of two slots disposed on opposite sides of the main support member in a channel in the float. The channel may have two opposite end walls and side walls, the end and side walls converging distally of the pivot, each end wall defining a position of the float end of the main support beam when in a respective one of the stowed configuration and in-use configuration.

The actuation system may comprise at least two flexible cord lengths each connected at one end to the float and extending from the float to the main hull, and wherein one cord length moves the float connection assembly to the in-use configuration and another cord length moves the float connection assembly to the stowed configuration. The flexible cord lengths may comprise part of the same cord - e.g. a rope fixed to the float at some point intermediate the ends of the rope, with a length of rope extending from either side of the fixed point. The vessel may comprise two floats and two float connection assemblies each connecting a respective one of the floats to the main hull. The actuation systems of the two float connection assemblies may be interconnected such that they can be concurrently operated to move the symmetrically between the in-use configuration and stowed configuration.

The hull end of the main support member may be connected to the main hull in the in-use configuration and is disconnected from the main hull in the stowed configuration.

The hull end may disconnect from the main hull to facilitate movement to the stowed configuration. The hull end of the main support beam may elevate above the main hull during movement to the stowed configuration, so that it does not obstruct access along the main hull in the stowed configuration.

The float connection assembly may be configured to maintain a common draft of the float when in both the in-use configuration and the stowed configuration.

The variable beam vessel may further comprise a stabiliser for controlling a position of the main support member relative to the main hull during movement between the in-use configuration and stowed configuration. The stabiliser may comprise a frame extending between the main hull and main support member. The stabiliser may also comprise an alignment member. In such cases, the alignment member and frame maintain a perpendicular alignment between the main support member and longitudinal axis during movement between the stowed configuration and in-use configuration.

The main support member may comprise two spaced support beams each having a respective said float end and respective said hull end.

Brief description of the drawings

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of non limiting example, by reference to the drawings, in which : Figure 1 is a simplified illustration of a variable beam vessel in accordance with present teachings; Figure 2 is a front perspective view of a vessel in accordance with present teachings;

Figure 3 is a partial close-up view of a float connection assembly, float and main hull of the vessel of Figure 2, in in-use and stowed configurations;

Figure 4 is a close-up cross-sectional view through the float of Figure 3;

Figure 5 is a partial top perspective view of a float connection used to connect the float to the support beam of the vessel of Figure 2;

Figure 6 is a schematic illustration of a float and float connection assembly in accordance with present teachings;

Figure 7 is an example of a mechanism for concurrently operating two float actuation systems;

Figure 8 is a simplified alternative embodiment of a float connection assembly, in which the support beam has an elbow joint; and Figure 9 illustrates an alternative float connection.

Detailed description

Vessels described herein have a variable beam insofar as the overall width of the vessel can be reduced for docking, or increased for stable travel over water. While the description is given generally in the context of trimarans, it will be understood the present teachings can apply similarly to particular configurations of catamaran, and to multi-hulled vessels in general.

The term "main hull" is used to identify the hull or buoyant body from which a user operates the floats. The term "float" may therefore refer to a buoyant stabilising body such as an outrigger, but may also refer to a hull that is separate from the main hull.

Figure 1 shows a variable beam vessel 100. The vessel 100 includes a main hull 102 and two floats 104, 106. Each float 104, 106 is spaced from the main hull 102 by a float connection assembly 108, 110. The floats 104, 106 thereby provide stability to the main hull 102 against roll.

The vessel 100 has an in-use configuration as shown in Figure 1, and a stowed configuration as shown in Figure 2. In the stowed configuration, the floats 104, 106 are brought toward the main hull 102. This narrows the beam of the vessel 100, making it easier and cheaper to berth. Thus, in the in-use configuration the floats 104, 106 are spaced a first distance from the main hull and, in the stowed configuration, are spaced a second distance from the main hull that is less than the first distance. The narrower beam makes navigation through tight marinas easier, and catamarans and trimarans that do not have a variable beam will often take up two berths thereby increasing the cost of berthing.

Figure 3 is a close-up view of a float connection assembly 108 in isolation of the main hull 102. The float connection assembly extends between the float 104 and main hull 102 (shown in part). The float connection assembly is shown in solid lines in the in-use configuration 114, and in broken lines in the stowed configuration 116.

The float connection assembly includes a main support member (presently support beam 118), and an actuation system 120 as best seen in Figure 6. Operation of the actuation system 120 moves the float 104 between the in-use configuration and stowed configuration. Relative to the longitudinal axis of the main hull (see axis 112 extending directly into Figure 1), the float 104 moves substantially perpendicularly between the two configurations. The support beam 118 is embodied by a substantially rigid, unbendable member. In the present context, "substantially rigid", "unbendable" and other terms refer to the support beam and other components being sufficiently rigid or unbendable to achieve the desired function. The support beam 118 has a hull end 120 that is connectable to the main hull, and a float end 122 that is connected to the float 104 at a float connection 124 as shown in Figures 4 and 5. The float connection 124 includes components of both the float 104 and float end 128 that facilitate controlled relative movement between the float 130 and support beam 126.

The float connection 124, as shown in Figure 5, includes an abutment 130. The abutment 130 can take many forms and is presently in the form of a sleeve clamp that attaches to pin 132 and bears against an internal wall 134 of slotted plate 136. The abutment 130 thereby restricts longitudinal relative movement, in direction X, between the support beam 118 and float 104. To improve stability of the float 104 on the support beam 118 an opposing sleeve clamp 138 and 140 are provided, that abut against slotted plate 142 to restrict longitudinal movement of the float 104 relative to the support beam 118 in direction Y. It will be appreciated that where an abutment is provided, various arrangements are possible - e.g. the abutment may be on the support beam 118 rather than the float 104.

The following discussion is given with respect to plate 136 and pin 132, but applies equally to plate 142 and pin 140. The float connection 124, particularly slotted plate 136, comprises a slot 144 on the float 104 and a pin 132 on the support beam 118. The pin 132 slides along the slot 144 between a first position 146 corresponding to the in-use configuration and a second position 148 corresponding to the stowed configuration. The first position 146 and second position 148 are at opposite ends of the slot 144. The trajectory of relative movement between the float 104 and float end 128 of the support beam 118 is controlled by the shape of the slot 144.

To improve stability, the float connection 124 also includes a pivot 150. The pivot 150 is provided at the float end 128 of the support beam 118, such that relative movement between the float 104 and support beam 118 is limited to rotational or pivotal movement of the float 104 on the float end 128 of the support beam 118. The pivot 150 is located distally of the pin 132. The slot 144 is arc-shaped corresponding to a trajectory of the pin 132 about a radius of curvature centred at the pivot 150. The pivot 150 therefore is a fixed point at which relative movement is purely rotational whereas, at the pin, relative movement comprises a translation movement.

The pins 132, 140 and respective slots 144, 152 are disposed on opposite sides of the float end 128 of the support beam 118. Therefore, the float connection 124 comprising the pins 132, 140 and slots 144, 152 both controls relative movement between the float 104 and support beam 118 and inhibits undesirable movements between the two.

The float end 128 is located in a channel 154 of the float 104. As shown in Figures 4 and 5, the channel 154 comprises two opposite end walls 156, 158 and two side walls 160. The side walls 160 of the present embodiment are formed by slotted plates 136, 142. The end walls 156, 158 and side walls 160 converge distally of the pivot 150. The region at which the walls 156, 158, 160 converge is rounded and the float end 128 of the support beam 118 fits snugly within the rounded region.

Each end wall 156, 158 defines a position of the float end 128 of the support beam 118 when in a respective one of the stowed configuration and in-use configuration. End wall 156 defines the location of the float end 128 when in the in-use configuration as shown in Figure 4, and end wall 158 defines the location of the float end 128 when in the stowed configuration. Presently, the float end 128 has a slight curve and thus end wall 156 is slightly convex tightly cooperate (i.e. abut) the concave side 162 of the float end 128, and end wall 158 is slightly concave to cooperate with the convex side 164 of the float end 128.

The float connection may take other forms. For example, the float connection 200 in Figure 9 may connect float 202 to support beam 204, in which the same pin and slotted plate configuration is provided, with the slotted plates 206, 208 being provided on internal sides of a channel 210 in the support beam 204, and the pins on the float. All such variations are intended to fall within the scope of the present disclosure.

Controlling relative movement ensures the float is consistently positioned in the in-use configuration which, when similarly performed for the opposite float 106, ensures proper balancing of the vessel 100. Similarly, inhibiting undesirable movements reduces the potential for damage resulting from repeated impact loads of swells and water movements during use.

The float connection 124 described above helps to ensure that the float 104 maintains a common orientation in both the in-use configuration and stowed configuration. This means that if the float 104 is vertical in the in-use configuration, it will have the same orientation, and thus be vertical, in the stowed configuration. Moreover, by controlling a height of the support beam 118 as described below, the float connection assembly 108 maintains a common draft of the float 104 when in both the in-use configuration and the stowed configuration.

By maintaining a common draft, the portion of the float 104 that is below the waterline in use is substantially the same as the portion of the float 104 below the waterline when stowed. Anti-fouling paint need only be applied up to the height of the draft of the float 104 in the in-use configuration, yet that is sufficient to substantially inhibit marine growth over the float 104 when in the stowed configuration, since the same portion of the float 104 is submerged in each case.

The actuation system 120 similarly ensures the float 104 is maintained in a consistent orientation in both the in-use and stowed configurations. It does so by controlling relative movement, or rotation, of the float 104 relative to the support beam 118. With reference to Figure 6, the actuation system 120 comprises two flexible cord lengths (presently embodied by ropes 162, 164) (though in some embodiments there may be more than two) each of which is connected at one end to the float 104. The ropes 162, 164 extend from the float 104 to the main hull 102.

One rope 162 moves the float connection assembly 108 to the in-use configuration and the other rope 164 moves the float connection assembly 108 to the stowed configuration. The rope 162, 164 are operated by applying tension to one rope 162 at a time 164. For example, pulling rope 162 will result in contraction of the float connection assembly 108, and rotation of the float 104 on the support beam 118, to the stowed configuration. Conversely, pulling rope 164 will result in extension of the float connection assembly 108, and rotation of the float 104 on the support beam 118, to the in-use configuration.

Rope 162 passes around or through guide pulleys 166, 170 and can be accessible from the main hull 102. In an embodiment, the rope 162 is connected to the halyard (not shown) on the mast. In other embodiments, the rope 162 is independent of the halyard (e.g. is a dedicated rope or line) - the independent rope 162 may be connected to the mast or at another appropriate position. Rope 164 passes around pulleys 172, 166, 170 to also be accessible from the main hull 102 for operation. In an embodiment, the rope 164 is connected to the reacher winch (not shown). In another embodiment, the rope is independent of the reacher. The operation of the ropes will be understood from Figure 6. In some embodiments, the ropes or cord lengths are a single length fixed at to the float at a common point - e.g. at point C and passing through eyelets 174, 176 shown in broken lines, but otherwise having the same path as rope 164.

While the present teachings can be used on a vessel having a single float, or a dual-hull vessel, the present vessel 100 comprises two floats 104, 106. The actuation systems of the two corresponding float assemblies 108, 110 may be interconnected - e.g. form a common length of rope - so that operation of the actuation system of one float assembly concurrently actuates the actuation system of the other float assembly. For example, as shown in Figure 7, operation of winch 178 will result in both ropes 180, 182 either being wound around the winch drum or wound off the winch drum. Concurrent actuation of both float assemblies assists in maintaining balance of the vessel 100 during movement between the in-use and stowed configurations.

In some embodiments, the float 184 may be connected to the main hull 186 by an elbow beam 188. This would allow both the float end of the elbow beam 188 to remain connected to the float and the hull end to remain connected to the hull, during movement between configurations. However, this can produce a point of weakness in the middle of the support beam, and makes the use of trampolines more difficult.

In the embodiment shown in Figures 1 to 6, the hull end 120 is connected to the main hull 102 in the in-use configuration and is disconnected from the main hull 102 when stowed. If the hull end 120 remains attached to the main hull 102, the support beam 118 cannot move to allow the vessel to attain the stowed configuration. When in the in-use configuration, an angle section 194 at the hull end 120 is seated on a plate 196 on the main hull 102 as shown in Figure 3. The hull end 120 may be fixed in position against the plate using any appropriate mechanism - e.g. the angle section 194 may be bolted to the plate 196 in the in-use configuration.

As shown in Figures 2 and 3, the hull ends 120 of the support beams 118 elevate above the main hull 102 during movement to the stowed configuration. This avoids the support beams 118 extending across the deck of the main hull 102, which would otherwise obstruct access along the main hull 102 when in the stowed configuration. To ensure the trajectory of the support beam 118 is controlled and consistent, the float connection assembly also includes a stabiliser (see Figure 3) for controlling the position of the support beam 118 relative to the main hull 102 during movement between the in-use configuration and stowed configuration. The stabiliser can take many forms. Presently, the stabiliser includes a frame 184 extending between the main hull 102 and support beam 118. The frame

184 is a rigid member of fixed length, pivotally connected at its opposite ends to the support beam 118 and main hull 102. The frame has two lateral struts 186 as shown in Figure 2, attached on opposite sides to the support beam 118. To reduce pivoting of the support beam 118 about the longitudinal axis of the frame 184, the stabiliser also includes an alignment member 188. The alignment member 188 and frame 184 fixed the direction of a length of the support beam 118 and thereby the support beam 118 as a whole, owing to its rigidity. The alignment member 188 and frame 184 thereby maintain a perpendicular alignment between the support beam 118 and longitudinal axis 112 - i.e. the support beam 118 moves in a plane for which the axis 112 is a normal - during movement between the stowed configuration and in-use configuration.

When in the in-use configuration, the alignment member 188 is received in a slot 192 in the support beam 118. To further improve stability, the main support member comprises two spaced support beams 118, 190 as shown in Figure 2. Each support beam 188, 190 has a respective float end and hull end that operates as described above. Again, the actuation system may concurrently operate both support beams, or all four support beams for a trimaran vessel, to maintain stability during transition between in-use and stowed configurations.

It will be appreciated that many further modifications and permutations of various aspects of the described embodiments are possible. Accordingly, the described aspects are intended to embrace all such alterations, modifications, and variations that fall within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

Throughout this specification and the claims which follow, unless the context requires otherwise, the word "comprise", and variations such as "comprises" and "comprising", will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or step or group of integers or steps but not the exclusion of any other integer or step or group of integers or steps.

The reference in this specification to any prior publication (or information derived from it), or to any matter which is known, is not, and should not be taken as an acknowledgment or admission or any form of suggestion that that prior publication (or information derived from it) or known matter forms part of the common general knowledge in the field of endeavour to which this specification relates.




 
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