Where is YOLO?

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Green Cruising on a Budget

This new cruising lifestyle of ours has proved to have made very little negative impact on the environment, when compared to our previous lives as landlubbers.  The main goal of our trip is just to have a great time traveling via sailboat to tropical islands.  Recently we realized one huge positive effect of having this much fun is reducing carbon emissions and our drain on the earth’s resources.
Our 30 foot sailboat is the perfect vehicle for green traveling, although slow and limited to water, it can get us to 70% of the planet using only the wind.  In reality we do use the engine, especially when motoring down all the rivers from Chicago to Mobile, AL.  YOLO has a small inboard diesel engine that is very efficient.  It burns less than half a gallon of diesel per hour.  Since leaving Bayfield, WI we have covered 3000 nautical miles and have used under 100 gallons of diesel fuel.  That’s less than I would have pumped into my car at home, and now that we’re in the islands our consumption had gone down drastically.  We rarely use the engine now, and prefer the quiet freedom of sailing anyway.
Many sailors have diesel generators onboard to power all of their electrical equipment.  They are loud, burn lots of fuel, and are constantly breaking giving sailor’s nightmares.  The key to not needing one is to reduce your electrical needs.  The biggest draw on a boat’s batteries is its refrigeration system; we solved that problem by installing a very small efficient refrigerator made by Engel.  We installed 200 watt solar panels and LED light bulbs which use next to zero electricity, and have manual pumps for sinks and the head instead of pressure water pumps.  With these modifications YOLO is off the grid.  We never have to plug in at a marina, and rarely have to run our engine to charge the batteries.  Wind generators are also very common on sailboats, and they produce lots of power.  They are expensive but worth it for the free energy, hopefully we will get one soon. 
Living on a 30 foot sailboat is almost like camping; we spend most of our time outdoors and appreciate the environment around us more than ever.  The Exuma island chain in the Bahamas is so beautiful that everyday we are impressed by a new island or underwater reef, and we want to do all we can to keep it the way it is.  Most of these islands are nearly deserted and leaving any garbage on them would be a travesty.  Growing up I was part of the Environmental Learning Program in Red Wing, MN and one of their big mottos was “leave no trace.” Disposing of garbage from the boat in these places is difficult so some people just dump it in the water and it ends up on the beaches.  It is legal to dump trash in the sea if you are 6 miles from shore, but we always carry ours until we can find a town with a dump.  It’s amazing how much less garbage we produce that we did during our land lives, and so far it hasn’t been a problem for us.  A positive side effect of living on a boat is that there is always another use for something, we save containers bags and anything else we can reuse. 
Fishing and spearfishing is one of our favorite activities lately.  There’s nothing like the thrill of fighting in a 20 pound tuna or Mahi-Mahi, or hunting underwater for lobster and grouper with a spear.  Basically the only meat we eat now is what we catch from the sea.  Another motto we had growing up in ELC was “you kill it you eat it” and we have the same philosophy onboard YOLO.  If we catch too much fish we can usually find some other cruisers happy to take it, or we catch and release if it’s not an edible variety.  Seafood is healthy and diving after it is a great workout, so that is another hidden benefit to this lifestyle.  Food in the Bahamas is very expensive so we stocked up on non-perishables in Florida which we are still using to compliment our daily catch.  Mostly the only food we buy here are fresh fruits and vegetables, if we could only grow those on the boat we would be completely self-sufficient and environmentally neutral. 
The biggest hidden benefit of being so conscious of our surrounding environment is the fact that it saves us a boatload of money, and we are on a tight budget.  Marinas are expensive and so is eating at restaurants.  So most often you can find us anchored in a beautiful bay catching fish while making free solar energy and planning our next days sail by wind power.  All of which are good for our planet and for our wallets! 

1 comment:

  1. perhaps check out the book sail the farm by Kenneth Neumeyer its free on PDF if u google it