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Old 05-03-2008, 06:13   #1
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Is cruising green?

My apologies if I'm posting in the wrong place

What do you think is the carbon footprint of voyaging on an 'average' cruiser? I'm interested in ways of travelling long distances that have a low impact on the environment, and sailing seems to be a good candidate.

Obviously the main power source is as renewable as it gets, but once you factor in motoring when there's no wind, and the carbon footprint of maintaining the boat... what then?

Of course there's a huge amount of variables here, but I'm new to sailing, and I'm sure people have opinions/data/funny stories that would relate to this.


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Old 05-03-2008, 06:15   #2
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What are your alternative choices? Stay in your house or walk?

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Old 05-03-2008, 07:04   #3
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Well, Landshark, It's not really an either/or thing. I just like to know as much about the impacts of my decisions as I can. I'm not trying to have a go at anyone here, I'm just interested in learning.

And by the way, you forgot cycling.
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Old 05-03-2008, 07:25   #4
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I think if you also look at the energy foot print of the construction of all the parts of a boat you'll find a lot of energy is expended in making the boat itself. A huge amount actually. So the voyage itself may not consume much energy but what about all the rest? Even solar panels don't balance out all that great if you include the total process.

If you need to express things as a carbon footprint then I think you will find little joy. Human activity consumes energy and lots of it. There is no balancing of the budget possible or close to possible. You can however cook the accounting as required to suit. So don't include the energy to build the boat or anything else and it looks a whole lot better.

Motoring about with a sail boat consumes less fuel per hour than an automobile. For our boat it's 50% less but we don't go as far in an hour either. In terms of MPG the boat won't beat the car for fuel efficiency. So it's all about how you choose to keep score. By hours it's great but by miles it's not. Which is right? Are miles more important than hours?

As far as energy efficiency the use of electricity aboard a boat is a very serious process. You'll find that your use of electric power aboard is by requirement a much more conscious process than at home on land. Balancing the energy budget is a requirement not just an idea. You are running on batteries and the batteries must be recharged every few days.

The very nature of that situation will make your electrical use much more efficient unless you just remain plugged into the dock all the time and become just like you would be living in a house on land. The fact that you are on a boat may not change how you choose to keep score. The boat itself is not at all green but the people can be greener if they choose to.
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37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 05-03-2008, 07:27   #5
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If you go cruising on a sailboat, run your generator every day, and motor when the wind dies, you will be doing zero harm to the environment.

And, if you really believe all that carbon foot print stuff, what could be more "green" than going sailing? One round trip flight spews more than your sailboat will in years.
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Old 05-03-2008, 08:04   #6
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A 727 crossed the atlantic with 5 paying passengers aboard just last week. 44000 gallons a piece.
It's building cars and boats that really harms the environment, using them considerately isn't a bad thing, replacing them when they're three years old is horrendously bad. On board generator that heats the water, does the cooking, charges the batteries and moves the boat along is no worse than building a thousand miles of cable to bring the electrickery to your house. At least your diesel hasn't been dragged behind a lorry for another thousand miles. ENJOY the World. What better way to learn to appreciate it.
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Old 05-03-2008, 08:06   #7
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Green nonsense

I dismiss this nonsense about carbon footprints. It’s a feel-good concept that has no material impact. There is little one can do to avoid carbon consumption in some manner other than become a recluse in a hovel devoid of any modern conveniences or necessities (e.g., medicine). Now there’s many in the environmental movement who would cheer that lifestyle, but not me, not my family, and apparantly not those in this forum who have been successful enough in life to afford a significant boat.

Even bicycling has significant carbon consumption when one considers the holistic view of manufacturing all the components. So, no, cycling is not an absolute "green" alternative. There is no free lunch so to speak.

As another correspondent to this thread correctly identifies, building a boat also involves significant carbon consumption. And so what! Look around the world, all people depend on a foundation of carbon based resources whether it be direct consumption or indirect manufacturing. It can’t be avoided. And I’m not at all convinced it makes any difference.

Get the boat that makes you happy and go sailing. The world will bre just fine.
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Old 05-03-2008, 08:39   #8
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One word comes to mind: relativity.

A sailboat is relatively greener than a motor boat.
A bicycle is greener than a car, and walking is greener than a bicycle.

I suppose if you really want to get back to basics, you'd be concerned with the recyclability of the materials you use, ie you'd build a wooden boat because wood is a renewable resource.
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:34   #9
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I don’t think green thoughts – although intentionally messing up the planet makes no more sense to me than throwing my house-trash in a public ditch, I am not entertained by something that may have had a good beginning, but has become a politically charged issue for the… well I’ll stick to the rules and draw the line there, except to say, I figure that my energy consumption is probably roughly comparable to my environmental impact – which is to say; wind, and very intermittent use of the kicker to get into the dock as well as a smattering of solar so I can pay less for shore power… occasionally bicycle to the marina (not for low carbon foot-print, but to keep from buying bigger pants), and usually motorcycle to work (not for a lower carbon foot print, but so I can use the HOV lanes my tax dollars already paid for…).

Worry: misuse of imagination…
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Old 05-03-2008, 09:55   #10
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I would think:
- Maintaining an older boat is greener than buying a new one
- Living on board is probably greener than not
- Smaller boats will tend to be greener than larger boats
- Repairing and maintaining is greener than replacing
- Wood may be a renewable resource but many of our hardwood forests are not treated in a renewable manner
- Dumping nasty chemicals overboard through your head and sink is not green
- Sinking and leaving a hulk of plastic in the ocean is also not green. Try not to sink

Whether or not you consider global warming to be an issue there are plenty of arguments about minimising use of finite resources and not making a mess of the planet by dumping oil/plastic/soap/trash.

Given the sensitivity of this thread I think I might now duck and run....
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Old 05-03-2008, 10:19   #11
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Firstly, my meandering to follow, is not aimed at anyone that has replied nor the author of this thread. It is just meandering thought.

Carbon Neutral...It's a non-sensible question. How do you measure true carbon footprint? You may save on one hand and take on the other. If you truely want to be carbon neutral, you'd have to walk naked. Oh wait, you need food, so you'd have to walk naked and hungry. Oh wait, you breath out Co2. So you would have to stop breathing. So you would die and then be totaly carbon free....Oh wait, our bodies are made of Carbon and now that goes into the air or ground depending on which way you want to be disposed of. Hmmm, seems we can't ever be totaly carbon Neutral.
What I do have a real beef about is theis idea of carbon credits. It doesn't stop pollution. It gives someone/company the ability to continue to Polute by "buying a licence"(carbon credits) to do so. The end result is that cost is past on to the consumer and the manufacturer continues to Polute. A major electricity supplier with a wind farm here in NZ has just sold Carbon Credits to a major Japanese Industry that is a large Poluter. They continue to do so and someone here in NZ has got richer supplying the "licence".

For God so loved the world..........He didn't send a committee.
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Old 05-03-2008, 11:15   #12
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I like this quote, but I can't remember who said it.

"There is no pollution, only misplaced resources"

Steve B.
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Old 05-03-2008, 12:06   #13
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Carbon footprint or political footprint? The real issue is how environmentally friendly is cruising. That is an issue that is specific to each cruiser, and whose responsibility lies in the hands of that cruiser. Regardless of whether you are on a sail or power vessel, you can take steps to leave less of an environmental impact than the average person living on land. By it's very nature, cruising lends itself to environmentally friendly self sufficiency. Power is generated on board, often by renewable resources, waste of all types is carefully regulated in how it is disposed of, and the amount that is generated. Emissions from the use of engines are going to be far less than a land based lifestyle driving to the store, and to work or play in an average car. The use of resources is far less due to the fact that all of your needs must be met within the confines of your boat.
So, yes, boats are green.
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Old 05-03-2008, 14:37   #14
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Volcano trumps carbon footprints

Has anyone considered the carbon foot print of a volcano eruption? One decent sized volcano eruption negates all the carbon credits and other carbon foot print limiting ideas. And rest assured there will be some hum dinger volcanic eruptions in the future. This earth will do what it wants, be that warm-up or cool down. It's done it many times before and it will do it again and again.

So, get the boat you want and enjoy life without worrying about carbon footprints.
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Old 05-03-2008, 18:11   #15
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Sailing is more about being self sufficient then being green. It's more of a necessity.

But one does travel a farther distance per gallon of fuel then any other source of powered transportation.

Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend, but the Kisses of the Enemy are Deceitful!
A nation of sheep breeds a government of wolves!

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints!
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