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31.05.2014 admin
During our family vacation in Sarasota last week, my daughter asked if she and I could go kayaking the day before flying home. My wife was kind enough to let me drag everyone up to the town of Cortez earlier in the week. Anyhow, after looking at the options for kayak rentals, I decided to spend a little bit extra for the rental of a Hobie Mirage Oasis Tandem Kayak.
The Mirage drive enabled us to travel a lot further up and down the little slice of the Intercoastal that was adjacent to the condo we rented. I now understand why some boat designers are including Mirage Drive capability in their plans for self-builders. I’ve no doubt designers of lighter, very small trimarans are going to be asked about the possibility of installing Mirage Drives in them. I truely wanted to buy one of these units and install it on my small trimaran ( Nepau) for trolling purposes while on my lake or closeby at sea where I need only 1.5 to 3 knots speed over a given course when deep trolling for Dentex spp. Propeller based systems have one advantage: you can go in reverse motion whule this Hobie unit I gather cannot. Well … 526 dollars would be probably worth the buy… but here the price is outrageous! Yes… actually the information I found on pedal drives and DIY models with propellers were found in a recumbent bike site.
As for pedaling an hour or so, it is probably much easier than paddling 2 or 3 times that time to cover about the same distance… The pedal unit in a trimaran than can be taken away sounds still very attractive to me .

Even the factory boats designed for these kinds of drives have had issues with hull deformation, cracking and other problems from all that extra power concentrated in one spot , especially with rotomolded poly hulls. It could be something like the Mirage drive split in two or more like two yulohs or similar mechanized paddles whose shafts trailed aft more than the vertical Hobie blades…if they were mounted on the cross arms you could also retract them completely. The idea of yuloh-sculling my little tri sounds very attractive and I should give it a try but probably, as you suggest.. In practice the ability to adjust that angle might come in handy and could work almost like bike gears to allow easy starts (trailed aft) and more efficient cruising (blades vertical) once you overcome inertia and get up to speed…it might let you use blades that would otherwise be too large to get going from a dead stop without tons of effort. Bottom line is that like the Hobie drive this one gives the benefits of sculling but overcomes the biggest drawbacks of the traditional methods- you aren’t limited to one blade and you can really get your legs involved. In actuality the emissions were the same whether the pump was operating or not and the added weight and power consumption of the air pump burned *more* fuel and made extra exhaust, and not just when the pump was doing its thing at idle. Four stroke outboards have been similarly mandated in many waterways and all in all they make sense and will naturally improve with time, but the reality of IC power strokes means they will always use more fuel for the same power output because the crank has to move twice the distance to get the job done…so again you burn more fuel in the name of reducing pollution, and kill major incentives for improvements in all but the mandated approaches.
Prior to that time, the available materials were not strong enough to take the large force that was acted upon them.
Efficiency aside, that setup would probably make shallow water operation easier and safer than the forward sculler and Mirage type drives, which seem like they might be easily damaged in a grounding and susceptible to fouling- the vertical axis rudder-like fin could still use a conventional kick up scheme in the event of a crash. My daggerboard case has survived quite some abuse so I’m confident I can build something that would support this pressure. If you can find any source that shows how to mimick in a DIY mode the two blade submerged sculling fins I would be delighted to give it a try.

I don’t know of anything that is a drop in DIY analog for the Hobie drive and that sculling motion short of just copying it, which might not save a lot of money in the final tally if you built it with the same level of durability and adjustability.
That said I imagine that the adjustability of the Mirage unit probably does represent a significant amount of the design and production costs, so building one that fit one person or size range might be worth the effort. Floating blades could also be used to keep them in an aft-trailing low draft position when not in use, sort of like retractable landing gear on an airplane, assuming that the trunk and other parts would allow that range of motion. This is even truer for stationary pedal power than for road bicycles, because the strain on parts is considerably larger. I’m a little more positive about the capability of structured wells to hold the pression from legs… after all we are speaking one HUP right? The one reason for going pedal and recumbent, is that I’m thinking of something that would push a small trimaran while trolling for fish.
Pedals and cranks are products of the industrial revolution, made possible by the combination of cheap steel (itself a product of fossil fuels) and mass production techniques, resulting in strong yet compact sprockets, chains, ball bearings and other metal parts. Experiments in the 1970s designing pedals, cranks and bearings for stationary pedal power units using pre-industrial materials like wood failed. A friend of mine developed a serious elbow pain from paddling with a carbon two blade paddle and now cannot get rid of it.

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