Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Spinnaker's Dream

You call that a spinnaker ? This, THIS is a spinnaker !
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Amidships the luxury cruise-liner a group of passengers gather to board the gondola that will waft them up to an aerostat trailing behind and far above the ship, said craft resembling nothing so much as a gaudy airborn pufferfish.

After a few minutes scenic travel in the comfortable pod, amidst oohs and ahhs and squeals of delighted children, once disembarked at the top of the cable, they are greeted by the Junior Sails Officer whose duties include introducing passengers to the lounge, bar and restaurant facilities. As he nonchalantly mentions the airborn Very-First-Class Cabins and Honeymoon Suites, his smooth delivery is interrupted by the First Officer poking his head out of the Flying Wheel Room long enough to tell the junior officer to "Report to Spar 17, there's a tacking wind coming in at 30deg relative". The junior officer's eyes light up and, as the passengers look on with askance, he hurries belowdecks after waving them in the direction of the Observation Lounge: "You don't want to miss this!".

As the hushed guests crowd to the windows there starts the sound of canvas being unfurled in a breeze. The heretofore mysterious poles attached to the craft at odd angles sprout huge sails one-by-one as 'The Spinnaker's Dream' LTA section smoothly arcs across a mile of open water into it's new tethered position far afront the luxury liner.

Or, for those of you who read the last paragraph first: a very large, crewed lighter-than-air sail assembly which not only tows its ocean liner around (or vice versa) but functions as one of its major passenger decks and attractions.

FlyingToaster, Mar 05 2009

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       [21Q] good call, in zero-wind conditions.it would need engines to keep the tether taut enough to be used as a gondola cable.   

       Realistically of course it would be an LTA craft designed specifically to be used as a sail-carrier/observation deck... not really suitable to be a separate vehicle: for one thing the engines would only be for maneuvering, ie: underpowered compared to a Zeppelin.   

       Shipside requirements would be for a structurally attached ring at the longitudinal CG (amidships) which the tether could be attached to at a continuously variable point to keep a constant lateral CG... probably be a pretty ugly retrofit, but a newly designed liner would look quite elegant.
FlyingToaster, Mar 05 2009
  

       for freighters we could put the whole ship's crew complement and wheelhouse upstairs with the sails and devote the ship proper to just cargo and engines/fuel.... hmm....   

       [post edit] changed the Title from something boring to this because I thought a spinnaker was a sailmaker... turns out the craft itself would be termed a spinnaker. § x1
FlyingToaster, Mar 05 2009
  

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