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Friday, December 27, 2013

Renewable Boating

Renewable Boating
Renewable Boating
At one point or another in a boater's life, there comes a time when a skipper looks out lovingly unto the sea, gazes happily down towards the dancing gauges of the boat, and realizes in horror that the gas or diesel tank is running dangerously low.

To make matters worse, traditional tank gauges like to sway back and forth like a palm frond, driving one from panic to calm and back to panic within a 3-second span.  I've been there.  We all have.

That's when I vowed to search for a new method of enjoying the water: renewable boating.  At this point, Greenline Yachts has succeeded in making diesel-electric models, which is a massive step in the right direction towards sustainable boating.  But although this is certainly advantageous to the cost-sensitive boater, it is still not a perfect solution for the environmentally-conscious one. 

 Enter Independence Green Yachts, which are completely powered by a hydrogen/solar combination.  Very cool.  But I still think we can do better. 

I imagine a time when a yacht has both solar and wind, making it truly environmentally friendly.  No hydrogen on board.  No added complexity.  Just a few vertical wind turbines and solar panels, and lots of batteries. 

Vertical Wind Turbine
Vertical Wind Turbine
For a cruising lifestyle, it would be no problem to wait for the battery banks to recharge, and there is (very most often) either solar energy or wind energy to be found out on the waters.  No sound, no emissions, no refueling- ever.  Just wait for a recharge, and off you go.  

Thanks to Torqeedo, already a captain has navigated a solar/electric boat (pictured above) more than halfway around the Great Loop.  The 45' trimaran only goes 2.5 mph, but what the heck, you get there without paying for a lick of fuel.  That's an estimated savings of over $10,000.  That's enough money to incentivize the most land-based of captains to get out and push if more speed is needed. 

I am anxiously awaiting the day when wind and solar come together to make a 6-10 knot boat for coastal cruising, and even for passagemaking.  I know it's only a matter of time, and when I finally get my hands on one, I'll find out what it really means to 'go where the wind takes you.'

Follow the progress of this amazing vessel, aptly named 'Ra' after the Egyptian sun god, at www.solarboatchronicles.com.




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