A guest post by Derek Escher, resident blogger for Multihulls Quarterly.
One of my favorite causes to stir up is the whole notion of “going green” on sailboats. I will spend considerable time on this topic in the future when allowed. I have argued this one a lot, compared notes forever with Dave Tether (E Motion) and Nigel Calder (recently). I am wide open to being corrected, so bring it on if you are a fan of these “green” systems!
Here is the thing. The idea of a catamaran that has an elaborate system of diesel generators, powering separate electric motors, with gadgets and gizmos attached to make it charge the huge battery bank, and with redundancy, to assure safety in the high seas is kind of goofy. Catamarans have the chance to be really great sailboats. So my answer to all this is, you don’t burn any fuel if you sail, and your fridge and stereo work just as well when charged by solar panels. It is a very simple concept, but in our sometimes frantic rush to get our engines and fossil fuel driven transportation mentality greener, maybe we are missing the really obvious, right? We are talking sailboats. Cats work really well when they are kept light, have proper bridgedeck clearance, have a nice rig, and daggerboards help a lot too. I know this isn’t for everyone, but if your idea of cruising is to own more machines, more electricity, more engines, more toys, and be continuously buying more fuel, that is all fine. But you aren’t getting “green” there mate!
And then, maybe one day these electric boats make all sorts of sense. What they really are good for is power boats. That is a totally different discussion. Being green on a sailboat is a very simple concept. Make a better sailboat. Power it with the smallest, simplest engines you can, and keep it light. Use those engines to get off the dock, and once in a while when you are in trouble. Generate electricity as much as possible with solar panels, wind gens, etc. Really, isn’t that what “green” is supposed to mean? Have a look at this. Great strides. I get it for power boats. Not sure about sailboats, but I am listening.
For more from Derek, check out the Multihulls Quarterly blog.