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Falcon Experimental Turbine Vessel

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Falcon at Irvine, 2008, Fox
Falcon at Irvine

The Falcon experimental turbine vessel was originally a Blackwater sloop built in 1962 by Dan Webb, and Freesey of Maldon, Essex:

These small yachts were common day sailing vessels, but this example was but developed into an experimental turbine vessel by Strathclyde University in 1970s. The mast was removed and a fifteen foot wind rotor erected on a stand amidships. This powered a small propeller unit, enabling Falcon to sail in any direction - even directly into the prevailing wind. The yacht also has an auxiliary Stewart Tuner Engine.

Dimensions: Length 18ft overall, breadth 6ft5ins.

Construction: Carvel built, mahogany planking on oak frames.

- A Survey of Vessels in the Collection of the Scottish Maritime Museum.[1]
Falcon at Irvine, 2008, Fox
Falcon at Irvine

The same boat appears to be described as undergoing a similar conversion in 1983, in an illustrated talk given by Fiona Sinclair to the Amateur Yacht Research Society on December 5, 1995:

Then there was Neil Bose's own project at Glasgow University between 1983 & 1986. I visited this one and had a ride on it back in 1986, but unfortunately I did not have a camera with me on that occasion. (Also, it was snowing at the time, so maybe photos would not have come out).

He used a 16' diameter 2-bladed rotor fitted to a helicopter tail rotor hub on a 18' Blackwater sloop named FALCON. He tried a variety of different blades - twisted, straight, cambered, at different pitch angles, and tried them both as autogiros and driving propellers. The boat sailed at all directions to the wind, including directly upwind. It did not go very fast, but then that was not the idea - it was meant for fuel saving on commercial shipping. It did about 5 kn in a 15 kn wind. He also found gyroscopic force coupling effects - e.g. if a boat travelling upwind yawed to port, this made the bow pitch downwards.

Neil Bose is now the Professor of Ocean Engineering at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and can be contacted on [email protected]

Falcon is now in the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine.

- Autogiro Boats - History 1980-1995.[2]

Falcon was not fast, but was easy to sail, and served the object of the project which was to examine the possibility of wind turbine assisted merchant vessels. The project ended in 1986, by which time the boat had become quite well known around the upper Firth of Clyde.

It is not known what happened to the boat immediately after the project ended, but as of 2008, it remains moored at the pontoons to the west Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine.


1 A Survey of Vessels in the Collection of the Scottish Maritime Museum

2 Autogiro Boats - History 1980-1995

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