Cloud Kayaks

We have invented so many ways to fly; some are far more practical than we would have thought flight they could be (I refer to the airplane).  But think of it.  We have reached upwards with balloons, hang gliders, rockets, jet packs, air ships (of course) and more.  And yet, despite the wealth of invention, and despite how useful and interesting each of these solutions are in their own way, none of these is really like when we fly in our dreams.
Flying in dreams, my dreams at least, is a bit like swimming, although usually without the exertion.  I was thinking about that one day, how air is and isn’t like water, even in dreams, when it occurred to me that I would like to row my way across the sky.  And then I started having ideas.  Sky rowing could be a sport.  I was looking for a way to make a business with airships as travel entertainment, but an entertainment sport is far better!
Instead of dreaming about big airships that compete with cruise lines, I could be thinking small.  How small could a single person airship be?  How maneuverable?  The answers just take a bit of math.  A rowable hard-bodied airship would be like a kayak in the sky.  I wouldn’t want it to be like a blow up raft that flexes with each stroke, with a clumsy look and feel.  We don’t use hot air, helium, or (forbid the mention of it) hydrogen to displace air in our ships.  In a recent feat of mad engineering, we now use nearly pure vacuums which we control with powerful, light, efficient pumps.  Since we have fixed volume, and control our mass with pumps, it means that our ships are really much more like submarines than most blimps or balloons.  This same principle could be used with my small craft.
In order for people to row air efficiently adequate force must be generated with each stroke.  So the oars must be broad enough to capture a large cross section of air – they could be giant hoops of bright material with light handles.  How beautiful they would be.  I can see a fleet of colorful ships rowing through the air at dawn with the flowing colorful cloth of the oars trailing behind.


Gold Ballast Charters

Upside down and inside out is not good for an airship business.  They had no clue what they were doing.  Not only did my predecessors not have the business sense to disembark with good chances of success, when their crazy idea worked anyway, they didn’t understand why.  They saw the airships as a transportation business.  We could be cheaper.  “Just ride the jet streams.  Easy to scale to any desired size without worrying about infrastructure.”  Cheaper?  They should have gone bankrupt before they started.  We have a case here of absolutely crazy, completely wrong, and unfathomably lucky.  A travel business!?
Consider the clipper ship.  Like an airship, a clipper ship has no fuel costs, and there aren’t many clipper ships out there, because like our airships, they make not a whit of practical sense.  But there are some.  They are the epitome of “the voyage is the destination,” and so should we be.
Didn’t our previous nutty captains notice that all of our customers can use gold for ballast?  Our business is firmly entertainment – not transportation. It needs a marketing do-over as such.  Hopefully I can attract more than a few super-rich eccentrics.  I certainly enjoy flying, as do our customers, and I think a much broader lot of people would, given the opportunity.
I’m re-orienting the business to something that comes closer to competing with cruise ships.  We don’t have a ship today that can carry hundreds of passengers on a pleasure tour for a weekend, but we’ll get there.  The shipyard is already looking into it.
And what have I been doing to put us on an even keel?  Studying the modern clipper ship tour business, trying to figure out Google Adwords, and, of course, writing about it all for you in a blog.
And then I had another idea.  Instead of thinking big, I started thinking small. I’ll tell you about it soon.