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Old 21-02-2008, 19:25   #1
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Fossil-Fuel-Free

Hi everyone,

I'm a brand new member of the group and have enjoyed reading some of the discussions. What a great asset this forum is!

Within the next year I'll be purchasing a cat, with a goal of making it fossil-fuel-free. Just wondering if anyone else has gone this route and what the experience has been.

Thanks in advance!

Tom
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Old 21-02-2008, 19:45   #2
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The myth of fossel-fuel-free status

The only fossel-fuel-free boats are hand-hewn with essentially none of the amenities that "first-world-born" are used to having. In addition, they have no hardware or high-reliability cordage or anchoring ability that hasn't been made from natural fibers.

This is not to place a negative value-judgement on "low-tech" "going-native" products. It is merely to point out that one CANNOT have high-tech products without pointing out a fossel-fuel basis along the production highway.

How often have you seen magazine articles showing some presentation of an "off-grid" fabulous house that has about $100k worth of photo-voltaic panels, batteries, and inverters to drive their washer/dryers and other amenities bragging that the owners don't need the power grid and are living "green"? What the readers are not told is that there is a HUGE burden in fossel fuel overhead to manufacture such things that dollars have been overspent on in which to make such bragging rights.

Your endeavour is naive in its presentation regarding just what is the ecology of dollars, fossel fuels, the ultimate consequence to the environment and the use of available technology. "Greenies" seem to avoid the big picture in that today's technology to minimize damage to the environment overall still requires the use of fossel fuels.
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Old 21-02-2008, 20:01   #3
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Yes, Rick, you make a good point about the fossil fuels required to bring a product to market. I apologize for not being more specific, as I was thinking of post-production. Meaning electric motors, solar panels, wind turbines, etc. I'm wondering if cruisers can live decently without having to rely on fossil fuels for power and electricity?
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Old 21-02-2008, 20:44   #4
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I think it is possible to minimize the use of fossil fuels but to completely eliminate them would make life very uncomfortable and unnecessarily unsafe.

For example, I would not want to be living in the higher latitudes without heat. Eventually you will need to haul and need petroleum based bottom paint. This would make oil lamps out of the question. The list goes on and on and I dont see the necessity of even attempting to try such a thing. If you think about it, crude oil is a part of nature. Man did not create crude oil. The beaches of Santa Barbara are covered with tar that naturally seeps out of the Earth.

I know where you are going with the idea and it is an honorable idea but I think a bit impractical if you want to take it to an extreme of never using any oil.
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Old 21-02-2008, 23:02   #5
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There's so much crap that goes into making a boat (epoxy resins, transportation costs, plastics, etc) that the idea of making them green seems kind of crazy to me. Even if you did, it's going to get hauled out by a crane running on an engine, and then you're going to slap biocide paint on the bottom.

I'm not saying that being green isn't important, because it absolutely is. And on a whole, I'm putting out a heck of a lot less pollution than my land neighbors, and certainly less than my power boat neighbors.

I mean even a propane stove: you're going to be burning gas.
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Old 21-02-2008, 23:18   #6
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Is this what passes for a warm welcome on cruiser's forum?

Ouch.
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Old 21-02-2008, 23:48   #7
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Yeah, I agree: tough welcome. But we have just had an election with everyone saying they're greener than greenies etc and its just overflow of vomitus politician bulltwaddle.

The only way to lessen your own carbon footprint is to cook less, eat more raw food, cook in pressure cookers, wear more clothes and heat less, and air-condition never.

Saying that a solar panel now allows you to run a computer is, as Rick indicates, a delusion.

Theres white things on the mast. Use them. Theres a big black engine below. Don't use it. And give back all the expensive toys.




Welcome aboard, Tom!

Perhaps to help the planet more than going 'native' we all could cruise to some less fortunate places and spend some cash there and maybe do some volenteer work
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Old 22-02-2008, 00:13   #8
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Hallo Tom Most of the above is true it is impossible to produce a boat ( cat ) without fossil fuel , however contrary to what most sailors think it is possible to run a boat with using very little fossil fuel if at all. Our testing shows that it will be possible to leave dock, run the electric motors for 1 hour and start sailing and while sailing regenerate the batteries , power the Airco and all other electrical consumers on board. With the solomon system that we have installed in the past it worked but the resistance of the props, shafts and P brackets the boat slowed considerably and for that reason we have developed a retractable system of underwater motors that also regenerate while sailing. If you want to sail fast just lift them from the water and all extra resistance is gone. Added advantages are that the prop can be bigger and give more regeneration if necessary and the underwater motor is cooled better without adding heat into the boat.
This system has been under developement for the last 5 years and this year it is coming into production.
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Old 22-02-2008, 00:25   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
There's so much crap that goes into making a boat (epoxy resins, transportation costs, plastics, etc) that the idea of making them green seems kind of crazy to me. Even if you did, it's going to get hauled out by a crane running on an engine, and then you're going to slap biocide paint on the bottom.

I'm not saying that being green isn't important, because it absolutely is. And on a whole, I'm putting out a heck of a lot less pollution than my land neighbors, and certainly less than my power boat neighbors.

I mean even a propane stove: you're going to be burning gas.
Making them green is impossible but making them use less fossil fuel is.!!!!
If we all start our motors without wind and not when we are only sailing with 5 knots of speed that already helps.
Limiting the use of Oil is possible both on our yachts and at home.
I am sure a 50 % reduction of use of diesel on our boats is feasable.
The number of boats that I see moving around with the throttles wide open trying to get them to go over hull speed is enormous. It takes a lot of extra power to get that extra knot out of our boats.
The example on our FastCat 435 is that with 7 knots of speed under power we use 1/2 us gallon per hour and at 8 knots it doubles, with 9 knots , the max speed under power, the consumption doubles again to 2 gallons per hour.Yet we only gain 2 NM in one hour with the consumption of 1.5 gallons extra.( and a lot of extra noise,smoke and sooth)
Try it, it works, we are burdened with fuel prices of well over 6 usd per gallon in Europe so besides putting less co2 into the air it help your wallet.
my 2 cents worth.
Gideon

p.s. with our vacuum infusion method to build yachts we use 40 % less resin.
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Old 22-02-2008, 02:17   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasrichman View Post
Hi everyone,
I'm a brand new member of the group and have enjoyed reading some of the discussions. What a great asset this forum is!
Within the next year I'll be purchasing a cat, with a goal of making it fossil-fuel-free. Just wondering if anyone else has gone this route and what the experience has been.
Thanks in advance!
Tom
WELCOME ABOARD, Tom.

As I’m certain you knew, and others have pointed out, a “fossil-fuel-free” boat is as much an impossibility, as is absolute morality (or pretty much any other inviolably perfect target).

Your commitment to “aim high” is no less commendable, for your recognition that you will not achieve perfection.

As has also been pointed out, reducing the impact human activities have on the environment is a noble, but very complicated endeavour. The optimization of energy efficiency is complicated by the difficulties of accurately calculating the complete Life Cycle impact (Life-Cycle Assessment) of every choice we make.

Notwithstanding, every wise choice we make, should have a positive effect towards our universal goals of reducing our footprint (negative impacts).

I applaud & endorse your objectives.
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Old 22-02-2008, 06:14   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasrichman View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm a brand new member of the group and have enjoyed reading some of the discussions. What a great asset this forum is!

Within the next year I'll be purchasing a cat, with a goal of making it fossil-fuel-free. Just wondering if anyone else has gone this route and what the experience has been.

Thanks in advance!

Tom
Tom

Assuming that you have made the decision to buy a cruising catamaran and ignoring the embedded energy debate, the best options available for fossil-fueless operation are the cats with hybrid diesel/electric propulsion. Lagoon Beneteau were the first manufacturer to put this technology into a production boat and have invested the most in their system. Besides been an exceptionally good cruising catamaran in its own right, the Lagoon 420 Hybrid, of which we own hull number 52, is the highest volume selling diesel-electric boat in the world.

Diesel-electric propulsion systems open the door to all forms of green energy. When sailing as above 5 knots the Lagoon 420 can generate electricity by the action of the propellers spinning in the water and turning the electric motors, which become generators. In this ReGen mode the 420 can generate serious amounts of energy (far more than wind or solar). In theory, it is also easy to bolt on other green energy producers, such as wind turbines and solar panels. It should be easy to fit solar panels to the large rigid bimini. We chose not to install wind generator or solar panels simply because we did not think it would be cost-effective for the sabbatical year that we will own the boat. We wish we had now!

Because the 420 has a large bank of batteries, any electrical energy generated by green sources can be stored and used either to propel the boat or to provide power for lighting, cooking, heating, cooling, watermaking, laundry etc.. Some other diesel-electric solutions do not include a large battery bank, so surplus energy cannot be stored.

Fuel-efficiency of the propulsion system is very important. Often over-sized and inefficient diesel propulsion systems consume huge quantities of fossil-fuels. Diesel-electic propulsion systems can be very efficient because, despite the inefficiencies of additional stage of energy conversion, electric motors are very efficient at converting power into thrust. Other benefits are that they are very quiet and require less maintenance than the conventional twin diesel propulsion systems. The Lagoon 420 Hybrid uses twin 10kW electric motors that equate to a total of 26.8HP, compared with the 80HP of the non-hybrid diesel version, but the motoring speed of the two systems are much the same.

We have owned Octopus, our 420 Hybrid, for six months and sailed more than 5,000 miles. We cannot conceive of a boat that would have served us better in transporting us safely and comfortably across an ocean and delivered us to the paradise of the Caribbean. We can heartily recommend it as an exceptionally good cruising catamaran with excellent green energy potential.

Chris and Beth

L410, Hull 52, Octopus

Admiralty Bay, Bequia
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Old 22-02-2008, 06:49   #12
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For example, I would not want to be living in the higher latitudes without heat.

Wood Stove burning standing deadwood. Fossil fuel heat is for chumps! ha ha (joking about the last part)

I live carbon-neutral when it comes to heating my boat and RV in one of the coldest climates in the USA. Heating with fossil fuels are for the lazy...

Well, I can't say I'm 100% carbron neutral. It takes 2 quarts of bar oil, about half a gallon of gasonline, and a cup or two of 2 stroke engine oil to keep me warm in the winter.

All splitting is done by me, using a maul, which increses the number of pizza slices I have, which then increases the fossil fuels used to make the wheat for the dough, cool the cheese, transport it to stores, etc...

It's unfortunate, but the only way to life 100% green to planet is to die. I think all we can do is take little steps, like how I heat above using the minimum of energy. I know thiis is what the original poster means, and good for him for trying.

I just bought a boat with solar and wind, but on a calm, foggy day, I'll have to run a generator. These days occur more often than you'd think.

Again... just being a jerk here. Not actually saying people who heat with diesel or LPG or lazy or chumps... saying it with a big smile on my face, recalling our old debates on the topic.

Welcome aboard! It's an interesting place with a lot of very intelligent people. Always an interesting point of view on everything.
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Old 22-02-2008, 06:54   #13
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I am sure a 50 % reduction of use of diesel on our boats is feasable.
The number of boats that I see moving around with the throttles wide open trying to get them to go over hull speed is enormous. It takes a lot of extra power to get that extra knot out of our boats.
The example on our FastCat 435 is that with 7 knots of speed under power we use 1/2 us gallon per hour and at 8 knots it doubles, with 9 knots , the max speed under power, the consumption doubles again to 2 gallons per hour.Yet we only gain 2 NM in one hour with the consumption of 1.5 gallons extra.( and a lot of extra noise,smoke and sooth)
This is very important, Gideon. I might venture to say the vast majority of American sailors I see are motoring, and not only motoring, but doing as you say... with Yanmars up in the 3000+ RPM range trying to make the boat go fast. Such as waste of energy and cause for pollution.

Why do Americans do this?

They're only out for the weekend and have to hurry up to get back to work. The pace of life is too quick.

But your point is probably the most important step any of us can take, even if we can't afford solomon "electric wheels" or other fancy technology.
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Old 22-02-2008, 08:46   #14
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Question Diesel Electric

One alternative that I have always wondered about, particularly for a Cat, is why one would not go with simple diesel-electric drive. Two electric motors driven by a single diesel engine which could easily be fueled with peanut oil or the like, the fuel originally used by Rudolph Diesel. Petro-Diesel has greater energy density but given that one rarely ever uses the full energy potential of ones engine anyway, what's the difference?

Frankly, I don't think much of the systems with the elaborate electronics and batteries up the kazoo as we all know that fancy electronics seem to have a limited life-spans, particularly in the marine environment, but diesel electric motors operate hundreds of thousands of hours without fail in very harsh conditions (e.g. train locomotives).

FWIW

s/v HyLyte
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Old 22-02-2008, 10:48   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssullivan View Post
Wood Stove burning standing deadwood. Fossil fuel heat is for chumps! ha ha (joking about the last part)

I live carbon-neutral when it comes to heating my boat and RV in one of the coldest climates in the USA. Heating with fossil fuels are for the lazy...

Well, I can't say I'm 100% carbron neutral. It takes 2 quarts of bar oil, about half a gallon of gasonline, and a cup or two of 2 stroke engine oil to keep me warm in the winter.

All splitting is done by me, using a maul, which increses the number of pizza slices I have, which then increases the fossil fuels used to make the wheat for the dough, cool the cheese, transport it to stores, etc...

It's unfortunate, but the only way to life 100% green to planet is to die. I think all we can do is take little steps, like how I heat above using the minimum of energy. I know thiis is what the original poster means, and good for him for trying.

I just bought a boat with solar and wind, but on a calm, foggy day, I'll have to run a generator. These days occur more often than you'd think.

Again... just being a jerk here. Not actually saying people who heat with diesel or LPG or lazy or chumps... saying it with a big smile on my face, recalling our old debates on the topic.

Welcome aboard! It's an interesting place with a lot of very intelligent people. Always an interesting point of view on everything.
Sullivan...so just how big is that firewood barge that you have to tow behind you? ...just messin with you.
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