Title:
Device and method for removing kelp/debris from a keel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A kelp removing system is provided. The system may comprise a kelp remover and an access tube. The access tube is pre-installed on the hull of the boat adjacent to and exterior of the keel for providing access to the leading edge of the keel from within the boat. A proximal end of the access tube is located above the water level such that the water does come into the boat through the access tube and flood the boat. The kelp remover is insertable into the access tube with a blade in a retracted position. Once the kelp remover is inserted into the access tube, the blade may be traversed to the extended position exposing a sharp edge. The blade is rotated against the leading edge of the keel by rotating the handle. The handle is lifted up while applying pressure on the keel leading edge with the blade. In this manner, kelp tangled on the keel is cut off of the keel.



Inventors:
Valdes, Vincent A. (Newport Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/325002
Publication Date:
07/05/2007
Filing Date:
01/03/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B59/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
AVILA, STEPHEN P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STETINA BRUNDA GARRED & BRUCKER (ALISO VIEJO, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A device for removing kelp from a keel, the device comprising: a handle sized and configured to be graspable by a human hand; a trigger attached to the handle; a rigid push/pull rod attached to the trigger; a blade attached to the trigger via the rigid push/pull rod, the blade being traversable between a retracted position and an extended position via actuation of the trigger; wherein the blade is disposable adjacent to the keel to remove the kelp off of the keel.

2. The device of claim 1 further comprising a blade linkage system actuatable by the trigger, the blade linkage system having a three pivot point system, and the three point pivot system is undercenter such that the blade is traversable to the extended position from the retracted position.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein the handle is aligned to the blade for indicating an angular position of the blade.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein the blade is pushable in a downward direction against the keel and is pullable in an upward direction against the keel to cut the kelp off of the keel.

5. A boat comprising: a hull; a keel attached to the hull; an access tube defining a proximal end and a distal end, the proximal end being disposable inside the hull and above a water level of the boat, the distal end being disposable adjacent to an exterior of the hull of the boat and the keel, the tube providing a passageway from an interior of the boat to the keel; and a kick plate attachable to the hull of the boat for protecting the boat hull; and a device comprising: a handle sized and configured to be graspable by a human hand; a trigger attached to the handle; and a blade attached to the trigger, the blade being traversable between a retracted position and an extended position via actuation of the trigger; wherein the blade is disposable adjacent to the keel through the access tube to remove the kelp off of the leading edge.

6. (canceled)

7. The system of claim 6 wherein the kick plate circumscribes the distal end of the access tube.

8. A method for removing kelp from a leading edge of a keel of a boat, the method comprising the steps of: a) installing an access tube on the boat adjacent the leading edge of the keel and exteriorly of the keel for providing access to the keel from an interior of the boat; b) inserting a kelp removing device into the access tube; c) extending a blade of the kelp removing device; d) traversing the blade adjacent to the keel leading edge; e) moving the blade up the keel leading edge to cut kelp off of the keel leading edge; f) moving the blade down and against the keel leading edge; g) retracting the blade; and h) removing the kelp removing device from the tube.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein step c) comprises the step of pushing a trigger downward to traverse the blade to an extended position.

10. The method of claim 8 wherein step d) comprises the steps of: i) rotating a handle of the kelp removing device; and ii) stopping rotation of the handle when a contact force between the blade and the keel leading edge is transferred to a trigger through a rigid push/pull rod connecting the blade and the trigger.

11. The device of claim 2 wherein the blade has a distal portion and a proximal portion, a second pivot point positioned between the distal and proximal portions of the blade such that the blade remains in the extended position when kelp is being pushed off of the keel with the blade distal portion.

12. The device of claim 5 wherein the keel is removable from the hull.

13. The device of claim 5 wherein the keel is fixed to the hull.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT RE: FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates generally to a device and a method for removing kelp and debris from a keel of a boat.

The keel of a sail boat is a rigid, relatively flat piece of material attached to the lowest part of the hull and is used to give the sail boat greater directional control and stability. Keels on large sail boats may also behave as foils which use the forward motion of the sail boat to generate lift to counter the lateral force from the sails. Simply put, the keel increases the competitive advantage of the sail boat.

During a race or leisurely ride, a sail boat may cross the path of kelp which typically floats on the surface of the sea water. Kelp will become tangled with the keel which reduces the sail boat's performance. For example, the boat may no longer be able to point, the rudder may flutter or the helm's feel may change. In this instance, a visual inspection of the keel through a keel window may determine whether there is kelp tangled on the keel.

There are generally three methods of removing kelp from the keel. The first method involves a long slender stick. The stick method is quick and effective but the operator may not be able to reach the kelp with the stick. The reason is that kelp usually floats. As such, when kelp is tangled onto the keel, the kelp tends to float to the upper most portion of the keel directly under the hull of the boat. For example, it may be difficult to reach the top of the keel because the operator's arms are not sufficiently long such that the stick may be extended out and away from the hull. In use, the operator lays on the deck with the stick in hand. With the operator's arms extended out and away from the boat, the operator lays the stick on the water next to the hull. The water moves the stick under the boat and up against the keel. The operator prys the stick up against the hull of the boat to scrape the kelp down and off of the keel. Hopefully, the stick is positioned above the kelp. If not, then the kelp at the upper most portion of the keel remains on the keel, and thus, unfortunately, the stick method may not be able to remove kelp from the upper most portion of the keel.

The second method involves a rope which may reach the upper most portion of the keel. The rope method may be utilized to remove kelp from the keel when the stick method is ineffective. The rope is tossed out to leeward until the rope is fully extended along and behind the boat. The rope is moved under the knuckle at the bow of the boat to position the rope at the upper most portion of the keel. The operator's hand is raised a foot then lowered while making his/her way to the aft. The rope moves down the keel to remove the kelp from the keel. Unfortunately, this method requires time for the operator to slowly push the kelp off of the keel. Also, this method may require two people to remove the kelp.

The third method involves sailing backwards to release the kelp from the keel. Unfortunately, this maneuver requires a great deal of skill and practice.

In sail boats with fixed keels, a blade may be integrated with the keel. The blade may be located within the leading edge of the keel. The blade may be rotated from a stored positioned to a cutting position. In the stored position, the blade is tucked inside of the keel. In the cutting position, the blade is rotated out and may be traversed along the entire vertical length of the keel to cut the kelp off of the keel. In use, the operator will traverse the blade to the bottom portion of the keel. The blade is traversed to the cutting position. The blade is then traversed up the leading edge of the keel with a pully system integrally built into the keel and the boat. As the blade is traversed up the leading edge of the keel, kelp is cut off of the keel. Unfortunately, prior art movable blades are only used on boats with fixed keels and are not employed on boats with removeable keels or trailable boats.

Accordingly, there is a need in the art for an improved device and method for removing kelp from a boat keel.

BRIEF SUMMARY

The kelp removing system discussed herein addresses the deficiencies in the prior art identified above, discussed below and other deficiencies known in the art.

The kelp removing system discussed herein may have a kelp remover and an access tube. The kelp remover may have a trigger, a handle, a shank, a blade and a blade linkage system. The trigger is operative to traverse the blade between a retracted position and an extended position via the blade linkage system. The blade has a sharp upper leading edge which is operative to cut kelp when the blade is traverse vertically along the keel leading edge. Moreover, the blade is aligned to the handle to indicate the angular location of the blade when the kelp remover is inserted into the access tube and below the boat hull.

The access tube may be attached to the hull of the boat. The access tube provides access to the keel from within the boat. The access tube may define a first distal end and a second distal end. The first distal end may be located above a water level of the boat. In this manner, sea water does not overflow into the boat through the access tube. The second distal end may be located adjacent the keel. The access tube may be positioned adjacent a leading edge of the keel such that the blade edge may be rotated tangentially adjacent the keel leading edge, as shown in FIG. 8. Also, the access tube is vertically aligned to the keel which also has a vertical orientation such that as the kelp remover is slid up and down within the access tube, the blade follows the keel leading edge and cuts kelp off of the keel.

In a method of employing the kelp remover, the access tube is installed on the boat hull adjacent to the leading edge of the keel. While sailing, kelp may become tangled on the keel. To employ the kelp remover to remove the kelp from the keel, an operator traverses the blade to the retracted position. The kelp remover is inserted into the access tube. The operator traverses the blade to the extended position. The operator rotates the blade against the leading edge of the keel by rotating the handle and/or the trigger. The operator lifts the handle traversing the blade's sharp leading edge against the keel leading edge to cut kelp off of the keel. The operator cyclically traverses the blade up and down the vertical leading edge of the keel until all of the kelp is removed from the keel.

After all of the kelp is removed from the keel, the operator traverses the blade to the retracted position. The operator then removes the kelp remover from the access tube and stores the kelp remover for future use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features and advantages of the various embodiments disclosed herein will be better understood with respect to the following description and drawings, in which like numbers refer to like parts throughout, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a side view of a kelp remover with the blade in a retracted position;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the kelp remover with the blade in an extended position;

FIG. 3 is a front view of the kelp remover of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the blade and blade linkage system of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the blade linkage system illustrating the undercenter relationship of a second pivot point with respect to a travel axis defined by a first pivot point and a third pivot point;

FIG. 6 is a side view of the blade linkage system at an intermediate position as the blade is traversed to either the extended position or the retracted position;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the blade linkage system with the blade at the extended position; and

FIG. 8 is a cross sectional top view of the kelp remover and keel showing the blade rotated into position adjacent the keel to cut the kelp off of the keel.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings which are for the purposes of illustration and not limitation, FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a side view of a kelp remover 10. The kelp remover 10 has a handle 12 attached to a shank portion 14, a trigger 16, a blade 18 and a blade linkage system 20. The trigger 16 is linked to the blade 18 via the blade linkage system 20 and may traverse the blade 18 between a retracted position as shown in FIGS. 1 and 5 and an extended position as shown in FIGS. 2 and 7. The blade 18 is traversed to the extended position when the operator is ready to cut the kelp off of the keel 22. To move the kelp remover 10 into position to cut the kelp off of the keel 22 the distal end 24 of the shank portion 14, while the blade 18 is in the retracted position, is inserted into an access tube 26 which is attached to the hull 28 of the boat. The access tube 26 is positioned adjacent to the keel 22 and provides access to the keel 22. Once the kelp remover 10 is inserted into the tube 26, the trigger 16 is actuated to traverse the blade 18 to the extended position, as shown in FIG. 2. The handle 12 may be rotated to dispose the blade 18 edge tangentially against the leading edge of the keel 22, as shown in FIG. 8. Also, the handle 12 may be raised and lowered to traverse the blade 18 against the length of the keel 22 leading edge, and more importantly, the upper portion of the leading edge of the keel 22 due to kelp floating to the keel upper portion. Kelp tangled on the keel 22 will be cut by the blade 18 and removed therefrom. In this manner, a simple yet effective system/device is shown for removing kelp from a boat keel. No special skill is necessary. The operator merely inserts the kelp remover 10 into the access tube 26 pre-positioned adjacent to the keel 22, traverses the blade 18 to the extended position, rotates the blade 18 adjacent the leading edge of the keel 22, cuts the kelp off of the keel 22, removes the kelp remover 10 from the access tube 26, and stores the kelp remover 10 for future use.

The shank portion 14 of the kelp remover 10 may have a hollow cylindrical configuration which may completely houses the blade 18 and the blade linkage system 20 when the blade 18 is in the retracted position such that insertion of the shank 14 into the access tube 26 is easy, safe and efficient. The operator of the kelp remover 10 does not have to align any other part with the access tube 26 to fully insert the shank portion 14 into the access tube 26. When the shank portion 14 is inserted into the access tube 26, the blade 18 is adjacent to the keel 22. The shank portion 14 is sufficiently long such that the blade 18 may be raised and lowered against the entire vertical length of the keel 22. The diameter of the shank portion 14 may be sized and configured to fit within the access tube 26. In particular, the outer diameter of the shank portion 14 is sufficiently smaller compared to the inner diameter of the access tube 26 such that there is no excessive slack or play between the shank portion 14, and the access tube 26 and the shank portion 14 is allowed to slide within the access tube 26.

The handle 12 may be attached to the proximal end 36 of the shank 14. The handle 12 may have a cylindrical configuration (see FIG. 3) and be attached perpendicularly with respect to the shank 14 (see FIG. 1). Also, the handle 12 may be aligned to the leading edge of the blade 18 when the blade 18 is in the extended position. In this manner, the operator knows the rotational orientation of the blade 18 even though the blade 18 may be out of sight underneath the hull 28. Additionally, a top side of the handle 12 may have indicia 32 to indicate the angular orientation of the blade 18 such that the angular position of the blade 18 is known after the kelp remover 10 is inserted into the access tube 26. The handle 12 may be sized and configured to be graspable by a human hand.

The trigger 16 may be attached to a rigid elongate bar 34. A proximal end 36 of the elongate bar 34 may be attached to the trigger 16 having a bulbous configuration such that the operator may push the trigger 16 down or pull the trigger up without undue stress on the operator's fingers. The trigger 16 is operative to translate the blade 18 between the retracted and extended positions via the blade linkage system 20. When the trigger 16 is in the up position (see FIG. 1), the blade 18 is in the retracted position. Also, when the trigger 16 is in the down position (see FIG. 2), the blade 18 is in the extended position.

The blade linkage system 20 may be defined by three links having three pivot points. The first link is the elongate bar 34 that extends from the trigger 16. The second link is the blade 18. The elongate bar 34 and the blade 18 is attached to each other at the first pivot point 38. The third link 40 is pivotally attached to the blade 18 at the second pivot point 42. Also, the third link is pivotally attached to the distal end 24 of the shank 14 defining the third pivot point 44.

More particularly, the distal end 46 of the elongate member 34 may have a slot 48 (see FIG. 4) which is pivotally pinned to the blade 18. The blade 18 may have a flat configuration with a sharp blade edge 50 which is oriented in the upward direction when the blade 18 is traversed to the extended position. Each time 52 of the third link may be disposed on opposite sides of the blade 18. Also, first distal ends of the third link may be pivotally pinned to a middle portion of the blade 18 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 6. Second distal ends of the times 52 may be attached to a base 54. The base 54 which is fixedly attached to the shank portion 14 distal end may have two slots for receiving each of the times 52 of the third link.

The operator may push down on the bulbous portion of the trigger 16 to traverse the blade 18 from the retracted position to the extended position. In particular, the first and third pivot points 38, 44 may define a travel axis 56 (see FIG. 5) of the elongate member 34 when the trigger 16 is pushed down or pulled up by the operator. When the operator pushes down on the trigger 16, the first pivot point 38 is moved closer to the third pivot point 44. Also, the second pivot point 42 is moved laterally outward from the travel axis 56 to traverse the blade 18 to the extended position, as shown in FIGS. 5-7. The downward force pushes the second pivot point 42 outward because the second pivot point 42 is undercenter with respect to the first and second pivot points 38, 42. When the operator pulls up on the trigger 16, the first pivot point 38 is drawn away from the third pivot point 44. Also, the second pivot point 42 is moved laterally toward the travel axis 56. The undercentered relationship of the second pivot point 42 with respect to the travel axis 56 is maintained when the blade 18 is in the retracted position because a back surface 58 of the blade 18 is in contact with an inner surface 60 of the shank 14, as shown in FIG. 5. The inner surface 60 of the shank 14 limits the pivotal range of the blade 18 to pivot such that the second pivot point 42 is not aligned to or inwardly offset with respect to the travel axis 56 which would possibly lock the blade 18 in the shank portion 14.

As best shown in FIG. 5, the second pivot point 42 is outwardly offset with respect to the travel axis 56 defined by the first and third pivot points 38, 44. With slight downward pressure on the trigger 16, the blade 18 may be traversed to the extended position as shown in FIG. 7. The blade 18 is fully traversed to the extended position when the distal end 62 of the elongate bar 34 contacts or is adjacent to the base 54. At this point, the trigger 16 and the elongate bar 34 cannot be traversed downward any further. Also, the blade leading edge 50 is preferably perpendicular to the travel axis 56. In the extended position, the blade 18 cannot be or it is difficult to retract the blade 18 back into the shank 14 via a downward force applied to the distal end 62 of the blade 18. Rather, the weight of the elongate bar 34 and the downward pressure applied to the trigger 16 maintains the blade 18 in the extended position as the kelp remover 10 and more particularly the blade 18 is traversed upward along the keel 22 leading edge to cut the kelp off of the keel leading edge.

At the upper most stroke of the blade 18, the blade 18 may contact the bottom of the hull 28 thereby possibly cutting or damaging the boat hull 28. To prevent any such damage, the hull 28 bottom may have a kickplate 64 fabricated from non-corrosive material to prevent the blade 18 from damaging the boat hull 28 while the blade 18 is being traversed upward to cut the kelp off of the keel 22. More particularly, the kickplate 64 may extend about the periphery of the access tube 26 such that the blade 18 does not damage the boat hull 28. Also, the kickplate 64 may extend in front of the leading edge of the keel 22.

The access tube 26, as discussed above, provides access to the keel 22. The access tube 26 may be preinstalled through the hull 28 of the boat. More particularly, the access tube 26 may have a straight cylindrical configuration with a hollow center. The bottom end 66 of the access tube 26 may be attached to the hull 28 of the boat near the front leading edge of the keel 22. In this manner, when the kelp remover 10 is inserted into the access tube 26 and the blade 18 traversed to the extended position, the blade 18 may be rotated tangentially against the leading edge of the keel 22. The access tube 26 may be sufficiently long such that the upper end 68 of the access tube 26 is clearly above the water level 70 when the boat is in water. This prevents water from entering the boat interior via the access tube 26.

In use, the kelp remover 10 may be operative to remove kelp from a leading edge of the keel 22 without significant disruption from the operations of the boat. For example, the kelp remover 10 may be employed while the boat is in full forward motion. Also, the kelp remover 10 may be operated by a single person.

To remove kelp from the keel 22, the operator may check to ensure that the blade 18 is in the retracted position. With the blade 18 in the retracted position and blade 18 and blade linkage system 20 fully disposed within the shank 14, the outer diameter of the shank 14 is slightly smaller than the inner diameter of the access tube 26 such that the kelp remover 10 shank may be inserted into the access tube 26. The operator may insert the distal end of the kelp remover 10 shank into the access tube 26. The top side of the handle 12 may have an arrow 32 and the handle 12 may be aligned to the blade 18 to indicate the angular location of the blade 18 when the blade 18 is in the extended position under the hull 28. The user knows whether the blade 18 is in the retracted position or the extended position based on the height of the bulbous portion of the trigger 16 with respect to the handle 12. If the bulbous portion of the trigger 16 is up, then the blade 19 is in the retracted position. Alternatively, if the bulbous portion of the trigger 16 is down, then the blade 18 is in the extended position. With the bulbous portion still in the up position, the operator may press down on the trigger 16 to traverse the blade 18 to the extended position.

As the blade 18 is traversed to the extended position, the blade 18 and the third link folds out of the shank 14 through an aperture 72 formed at the distal portion of the shank 14, as shown in FIG. 4. The second pivot point 42 is undercenter with respect to the first and third pivot points 38, 44 (i.e., the travel axis 56) to buckle the blade 18 outward of the shank 14 due to the downward pressure applied to the trigger 16, as shown in FIG. 5. When the blade 18 is fully extended, the leading edge of the blade 18 is preferably perpendicular to the travel axis 56, as shown in FIG. 2. The operator rotates the handle 12 until the arrow 32 indicates that the blade 18 is adjacent the leading edge of the keel 22 (see FIG. 8) and until the operator confirms the same based on the feel of the blade 22 contacting the keel 22 leading edge.

The operator then cyclically lifts the handle 12 up and pushes the handle 12 down while applying rotational pressure to handle 12 to maintain the blade 18 against the keel 22 leading edge to cut the kelp off of the keel 22 leading edge. The operator continues to cut the kelp off of the leading edge until all of the kelp is removed from the leading edge of the keel 22. Thereafter, the operator lifts the trigger 16 to the up position to traverse the blade 18 back to the retracted position. When the blade 18 is in the retracted position, the blade 18 and the blade linkage system 20 are confined within the shank 14 such that the shank 14 may be removed from the access tube 26 in an easy, safe and efficient manner.

In an aspect of the kelp remover 10, the trigger 15, shank 14, handle 12 and blade 18 do not rotate with respect to each other about the travel axis 56. In particular, as discussed above, the base 54 is fixedly engaged to the distal end 24 of the shank 14. For example, the base 54 may be swaged or welded to the distal end 24 of the shank 14. The base 54 provides two slots 48 which receive and are pivotally pinned to the times 52 of the third link. The times 52 of the third link are disposed on opposed sides of the blade 18 and pivotally pinned thereto. The blade 18 is then received into and pivotally pinned to the slot 48 formed in the distal end 46 of the rigid elongate member 34. Accordingly, the slots 48 and pins fix the rotation movement about the travel axis 56 between the trigger 16, shank 14, handle 12, and blade 18.

In another aspect of the kelp remover 10, the same is independent of the keel 22. In the prior art, the blade 18 was made integral with the keel 22. However, only fixed keels or large sail boats had keels with integral blades. Smaller boats or trailable boats could not incorporate the integral blades in the keel because the keel had to be removed when being trailered. Smaller boats had to rely on the stick, the rope or backward sailing methods discussed in the background to remove kelp from the keel. The kelp remover 10 discussed herein permits smaller boats with removable keels to efficiently cut kelp off of the keel 22 with the kelp remover 10.

The kelp remover and/or the access tube may be fabricated from stainless steel or other suitable material.

Optionally, it is contemplated that the blade 18 may be biased to the retracted position. For example, a torsion spring may be attached to the third link and the base 54. If the blade 18 is biased to the retracted position, then the blade 18 does not become exposed during storage creating a hazardous sharp object.

The above description is given by way of example, and not limitation. Given the above disclosure, one skilled in the art could devise variations that are within the scope and spirit of the invention disclosed herein. Further, the various features of the embodiments disclosed herein can be used alone, or in varying combinations with each other and are not intended to be limited to the specific combination described herein. For example, the kelp remover may be employed in powerboats with stabilizers. Thus, the scope of the claims is not to be limited by the illustrated embodiments.