Underwater Kites (Paravanes)


I curated the “Underwater Kite Museum” at the World Kite Museum during my resident scholar period (2007-2017), collecting a couple of dozen paravanes from commercial and sport fishing of many types, plus a few novel working prototypes.

Winch-tow is a key paravane mode, just as a fisherman reels in paravane tackle to send the hook-end diving.

The physics of towing are two-way, under time-symmetric Galilean Relativity. So do two kites tethered together essentially tow each other.

Ben Franklin discovered this paravane concept-space two and a half centuries ago (as republished in 1806)-

This Wikipedia page was started by Joe. A quick Google Scholar search for “paravane” in no way suggests they are referred to as “underwater kites.”

So calling a paravane an underwater kite is original research, which has no place on Wikipedia.

The article is also extremely poorly referenced. I has 4 references.

Pioneer parafoil developer Domina Jalbert considered water kites hardly different from air kites.[1]

This first reference links back to a blog post:

With little more than a few words of formalities—he must have sized me up in an instant, knowing I would be up for novelty, out of the ordinary run of things—Jalbert leaned forward closer to my head, looking over his shoulder to see if anyone was listening in, and said in one long breath in a kind of conspiratorial whisper, “A kite in the water’s currents behaves just the same as it does in the atmosphere’s air currents. A waterkite powering boats in the Gulf Stream from the Gulf of Mexico north up along the East Coast to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, how about that? An airfoil bridled to rise and fall in a spiraling path. Perpetual motion?” He concluded with a wink, looking around again to see if anyone had overheard.

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Here’s a rare old photo of the early Under Water Kite Collection-



The Franklin paravane/waterkite shows JoeF is not at fault for “original research” on that point. Lets add references to the WP article. Doing the homework, seeing vintage references, thanks for patience by those seeking more.

Joe has always been the most expert on patented kite art. A little patience will allow vast supporting references to provided anyone new to the topic. Paravanes will be shown to be known as water kites before JoeF took up the subject.

Sample reference of hundreds-


More patient study will support the opposite conclusion, that paravanes are well known as kites in water, not just by JoeF.

Those who cannot do the homework themselves should always give time for busy people to provide supporting documentation, before concluding no such background exists. A quick search on Google Scholar is obviously very limited for old historic kite sources that someone like JoeF can has better access to.

Paravanes referred to as water kites is not my original matter nor nomenclature. I simply brought prior art and usage to the energy kite systems AWE space for some attention. Recognition of such paravane-water-kite matters were in military, commercial fishing, fishing, seismic studies, kiting …
all prior to my happening.
Paravanes (water kites) mechanically can be viewed upon viewing the mooring of huge ocean ships; and such space is a potential garden for thinking about making electricity with such large paravanes.




Improvements in lifting devices or kites for trawling gear



Underwater kite
Military use is exampled.
Paravane is used in patent under the title “Underwater kite”

Otter-kite is also in the works.

Notice too the notion of generating power from the device
in the 1955 item showing up in Google Scholar:
"### [PDF] A study and development of paravanes of the high lift-drag ratio type and the high-lift type

RA Dodge, HJ Smith, G Sonnemann - 1955 - deepblue.lib.umich.edu

… This condition can be counteracted by proper handling of the cable during launching, As an added
task, it was required to design a very compact para - vane having high lift. The lift-drag ratio could
be fairly low, if necessary. This paravane was to operate in connection with a …"

In 1965 book about earlier era:

From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: Volume II: To The Eve of Jutland 1914-1916

See page 324 for author’s comment.

In 1919 scene:

We see that from the birth of “paravane” = “ocean kite” awareness and use.


I agree that paravanes and kites are a very good analogy and great place for AWES to be inspired from.

Can’t find the video from around 5 years back, there was a kitesurfer riding along in mid air, he had a paravane in the water attached with a line to the back of his harness. Was very cool. He was basically like the the control pod at the bridle point of a paravane kite boat.

Also a lot of rev flyers (4 line) practice flying their kite into, around in and back out of water.

I flew my Peter Lyn SSSL kite submerged in a river at a few occasions. It flies well under water and pulls like a truck

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Yeah but try transitioning a Peter Lyn SSSL from water back into the air… No chance.
Which begs the question…
Which kites will be best for fluid regime transition?
Can we have a kite which stores on top or inside of a lake? (it’s called a loch but I’ll let you off)
When ready to deploy it floats, tensions the line, aligns with wind, fills and then lifts…

My favourite deployment farm idea is having a stretched hex net anchoring form so we can have nodes locked in place
Kinda like… if we had a stretched net like this but underwater as anchor

or floating

And flew a similar hex net lift kite on top above the water from the sub-surface/surface nodes

Windy Skies: “(WP Paravane Article) reference links back to a blog post”.

Untrue. Joe Faust did not found Wikipedia Paravane page on a “blog post”. The reference is instead Drachen Foundation’s 2002Journal reprinting a section of a classic kite book by eminent kite historian, Tal Streeter. There is no higher reference or named authority possible in kite literature.

Joe has also been shown innocent of “original research” for simply using “paravane” and “water kite” interchangeably, as multiple quite old US patents prove. AWE heroes like JoeF do not deserve wildly unfair and untrue accusations, before checking facts.

Here is Tal in the same reference, really inspired-

“(Kites are) wonderfully mysterious things which were able by some unknown alchemy to transform themselves from rumpled scraps of cloth into power and strength, pure energy beyond belief, and pure beauty beyond belief, things which sailed above in the breezes of the sky, and below in the currents of water.”

This is the true spirit of AWE, at the highest level of skill and insight.

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From Ben Franklin in sky or sea, fast-forward to Prof. Dave Olinger of WPI, whose current (haha) kite energy research is similarly Protean-

“My research group (including graduate and undergraduate project students) works on emerging renewable energy technologies including airborne energy systems and tethered underwater kites. Here, large tethered kites or gliders (in air or water) are used to extract energy from the wind or ocean currents. We conduct physical experiments and develop computer simulations to better design these systems. Recently we have developed a low-cost, kite-powered water pump for future use in underdeveloped nations.”


| https://efoil.builders/t/unrelated-has-anyone-heard-about-seaglider-c-glider/2603

| https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpPyWx7JoQ

| https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uNWkd8nYHY

Design and Testing of a Scale-Model Surface Undersea Kite

I think good search terms might be hydrokinetic energy harvesting and tethered undersea kites (TUSK)

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Paravanes are a subset of underwater kites.
Underwater kites are not a subset of paravanes.
Paravanes are towed underwater kites…
Not all underwater kites are towed.
Some, like Minesto, instead have a stationary base, rather than being towed.
So, the terms “paravane” and “underwater kite” are not synonymous.
The two terms have related and sometimes overlapping meanings, but are not synonyms.
Siince Joe Faust has a math degree, please refer to a “Venn Diagram” which we learned in 6th grade math.
Even in 6th grade, I thought "this is math? This is too simple for 6th grade math. This is like second-grade material - this belongs on “Sesame Street:”
They even put it to music:
“One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.
Can you guess which thing is not like the other, before I finish my song?”

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Doug is free to define paravane in a restricted way, but fishermen and AWE scholars will also define paravane more freely to include the same devices anchored in flow.

If Minesto’s water kite is towed, it does not suddenly become a paravane to most users of the term, it already was a paravane.

The broader definition is more sophisticated, under Galilean Relativity, where a kite anchored in flow can also be said to towed by the anchoring media.

Let engineering terms-of-art be used however engineers wish in context. We understand that some paravane users will have a hard time accepting that any sky kite towed in water by a boat is only a paravane during towing, but not if anchored in flow.

Here is a nice page on reaction ferry power harvesting, which is a paravane class to those who so define-

Here is typical sport-fishing expert usage of “paravane” in anchored-in-current mode-

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“Did use [paravanes] in river mouth currents as a kid…A paravane probably works better with a steady continuous pull like in the current…”

Had a fun idea of storing large rigid kites for ship traction underwater during rough seas.
They would let water in to balance the buoyancy.
Brings a heap of problems with it though.

Ahhh I already figured that out years ago, for any offshore wind system including airborne. Flood it, sink it, protect it from the wind and 50-foot rogue waves. Let it get encrusted with barnacles, then tangled up in abandoned commercial fishing tackle, attacked by giant squids, run over by an ocean-liner, festooned with floating kelp, broken by a submarine collision, then bring it back up for refurbishing. Maybe get a big oil company to help.

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Would an anchored sailboat constitute a paravane?