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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Awful Fuel Economy Of Cruise Ships

I do not usually generate posts in such rapid succession but my powers are under a cloud.  The healthful spring air of California is full of natural microscopic wonders that spread new life from plant to plant, forest, field and farm, and make a bubble boy of me. So I am indoors, trying to correct errors in my previous post --which was overlong, haphazard and maybe had a baboon in it, or something with too many o's and b's, like bassoon or oboe--so I finally just added "Giant Atomic..." to the title, as one does in such a fix. This left the balance of the afternoon free to discuss maritime history, which --in the tradition of the genre-- one makes up as one goes along.

                                    [file released into public domain by author]

Over this paragraph is a photo of the cruise ship, Illegible. It is typical of modern cruise ships --real long, about a quarter mile, and a gas guzzler, almost as bad as some American SUVs. At top cruising speed, about 25 miles per hour, Illegible gets maybe 10, 20 feet per gallon of gas. That's on flat surfaces. She does a lot better downhill but uphill only around 2 or 3 inches per gallon. This is why you don't see many cruise ships traveling in the mountains. Good thing too.

There is promise for improvement. I direct your attention to the vessel along the port ("port" being a nautical term invented by a vintner) side of the ship. Not the big clotty-looking thing, which is part of New York Harbor that got snagged on Illegible's way out, but the bright streaky bit. That is a special laundry boat on its way to pick up wet sheets. Because its designer, Sir Ralph Woof, insisted all his inventions be pronounceable to his beloved pet dogs, this specialized craft is called a Barque. Here is an illustration of a barque drying bed sheets on its many clothes lines:
It is theorized that such laundry can react to sea winds and cause a ship to easily traverse 20 miles in an hour without burning 10,000 gallons of gas. Maritime travels might someday even be freed from fossil fuels by this innovative discovery. It verges on a new technology that may increase the velocity of cruise ships by, in scientific jargon, "Making them go faster." I don't pretend to understand it, but wonders await!
 


26 comments:

  1. We can but hope.
    Mind you, I dont understand the need for speed. Slow is fine. Sometimes better than fine.

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    1. I'm in agreement entirely, EC. There comes a time when we realize every moment has its beauty and its lesson --its hope.

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  2. Well, that second picture, the three-masted ship. From whence did you get it? Absconded from some local history museum, did you? No, Geo, I know you'd never do that.
    On my current bucket list, the one with the holes in the bottom, is to go out on a three master. Never done that, been out on all manner of one and two, 21' to 67', but not one one of the big ones.
    As you might remember, in Oct. I was one one of the former, the cruise ships, the 'Maritime', from Regency lines. Second cruise ship for me, confirmed it's not my cuppa, even if it does serve good wine and tenderloin with foie gras as a part of the standard menu.
    Hope things are well,
    Mike

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    1. Got it from an old book --and Norma, who photoed the illustration-- of Sherlock Holmes stories. It's from "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" which was a fictitious 3-master. As to 2-masters, they're quite complicated enough. But once one ketches on, are quite manageable --my Oklahoma relatives probably call them "yawls" for obvious reasons. All well here, despite a couple scares these past few days, but ok. Trust you are too.

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  3. All I know is that I have been saving so hard for my cruise to the Continental Divide. I have $4.23 in my fund now. I hope they don't discontinue the cruises before I can go.

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    1. That fine adventure will not disappear. Keep saving toward it! And I expect a full account when it's underway.

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  4. Wind power is a good thing. Unless you're in the middle of the ocean on a still day. I noticed yesterday that it seemed like a very grey and dull day here ... and by dint of hard thought, I finally realized it was because there was no wind at all. We are so used to having breezes, zephyrs, gusts, gales and hurricane force winds that I'd forgotten what it was like to have nothing.

    Geo., I don't see an email address for you, so I hope it's all right to ask you here - do you mind me linking to your blog in an upcoming post? I can put in a direct youtube link instead if you wish (it's for the Laurel & Hardy clip).

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  5. Thank you O Jenny, for that wind-comment. There are times when the wind is so gentle here it stops in your hand. But the world does seem so much more alive when it's blowing around. As to personal messages, remember I have "comment moderation" enabled. So if you have a question you'd rather not share, put it in its own comment and mark it "private"--it will go to my gmail and I will answer, but not post it on the blog. Re, linking my blog to an upcoming post, I have no objection.

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  6. So it is the milage that has kept monstrosities such as the Illegible out of our beloved Sierras? That's fine as the uphill season in Yosemite is short as it is. The falls, flowing with vigor this season, certainly don't need the disembarking of thousands of over fed to get into the photographs.
    Your indoor hours are splendidly spent.

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    1. Thanks Tom. I think, also, the passengers resented having to get out and push sometimes --just like they do on the ocean.

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  7. I would rather be leisurely transported across the Great Pond by billowing bed sheets than by a gas-guzzling floating SUV.

    I'm glad that Jenny O brought up the question of your email address, because I've been wondering about that for a long time. It's reassuring to know that I can mark my missives "Top Secret" and you will handle them with discretion.

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    1. I too would prefer clean laundry flapping overhead, Jon. But some of the older barques would have to install passenger lavatories --instead of those outdated poop decks.

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  8. Now when I (very occasionally) listen to people trying to answer questions about geography on quizzes ("Oh! Geography's not my subject," they proudly announce) I do wonder why cruise ships and airliners bother to go anywhere at all. Why not just go a couple of miles out to sea and drop anchor, or fly upwards a few thousand feet and grab a passing sky hook, wait around a bit, then go home. The travellers will probably be none the wiser, and fuel economy would improve dramatically.

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    1. These are innovative ideas, Tom. But, you know, I can't help this sneaking suspicion that they are already in effect and no one has noticed. Too many dazzled travelers have told me, "we anchored on the Dambovita and toasted Bucharest", when I am pretty sure there are no such places.

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  9. There is so much to be said for wind power. One of my greatest ambitions is to someday cross the Atlantic on one of those historical ships under full sail.
    Ha...a mere pipe dream, I know...but who knows? Maybe one day...:)

    Many thanks for a great post, Geo!

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    1. Most kind Ygraine. One of my favorite Masefield lines is, "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." As freedom and confluence with nature go, it seems to say it all.

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  10. Ha, this was an essay I enjoyed with a vintner's port by my side! Sailors didn't want to have women on board - they believed they bring misfortune - otherwise I would think about applying for a post as laundry maid.

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    1. Perhaps the sailors went to sea because of romantic misfortune to begin with --the female jinx has never been satisfactorily established. And, yes, a glass of port should always be enjoyed from one's left side.

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  11. I'm all for ships propelled by air caught in drying sheets... I was raising on of those sheets (wait, not a sheet, a halyard) when I had my recent accident that resulted in a snapped quad tendon and my recent troubles

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    1. That was a painful injury indeed. I was glad to learn you were recently back on the water even though it wasn't a sailing craft.

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  12. You are correct in that one usually does not see many cruise ships on mountains...I always wondered why that was. Perhaps, if the can improve efficiency, we may see an Alpine cruise someday :)

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    1. Very likely, Keith. I believe there are plans underway to move the Alps to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, to be made navigable by diverting Bridgewater Channel --currently spanned by London Bridge.

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  13. Haha! When we were cruising up the Inside Passage last summer, I admit that I was not thinking about fuel economy. Although I was certainly thinking about momentum in tight spaces. One day I'm going to see one of the beautiful tall ships for real. I'm all for more sailing vessels with spreading, drying sheets. Next summer, maybe finally I'll get to sail on the Bluenose II, which is a lovely two masted schooner sailing out of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Meanwhile perhaps I can catch a ride on a prairie schooner. Tomorrow I hope to catch up on your recent posts. I hope you're feeling better soon. Have a good one.

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    1. Thank you, Blue! I hope all your adventurous plans come true. When I was a kid, my friends and I attached an Army Surplus parachute to a bicycle on a windy day and got delightfully banged up --closest to a prairie schooner we ever got. I feel fine now.

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    2. Lord, I love kids! You can't beat them for creativity and experimentation! Glad you're feeling better.

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