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Old 31-01-2016, 14:46   #1
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Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

I have read lots of threads recently about water makers, big solar installations and hi tech comm's and it got me thinking. Way back when I first got involved in cruising a typical boat was about 28ft. I would have about a 20-25hp engine only used to get out of habour, probably a single battery of about 125 or maybe 200a/hr. Com's was a single VHF radio and a set of flares. Refrigeration was rare, as where things like radar. There was no GPS, no internet paper charts where the norm and anyone doing more than a 48hr trip would rely on a sextant and tables for nav.
Now it seams that no boat, however small is 'fit for cruising' unless it has practically unlimited power and water and a bridge that would put many commercial coasters to shame, engine and tankage to do several hundred miles at cruising speed even in offshore conditions and services that in the 1970's would have been seen a luxurious even in a high end city apartment.
Don't get me wrong I am far from a Luddite I also have, and use such stuff but I also still think in terms of minimizing impact. In these days of oil crisis, global warming and damage to the marine ecosystem are we loosing sight of something? Should we be thinking of how to economize on water rather than fit a larger watermaker, how to live without 24/7 connectivity rather than spending thousands on sat comm's, how to reduce power consumption rather than fit Kw+ output solar installations.
Does it matter? Possibly. Apart from the eco-impact, and the average bot still does way better than the average house, all this sophistication means boats have to be bigger to get it all on board. That means we also need roller furling, possible on the main as well as foresails because we cant work them by hand. It means bigger ground tackle so than has to have power handling. Electronics to run all this stuff become ever more complex. The end result is that boats become ever more expensive and have a level of technology that is beyond most of us to service and maintain (can you fix a GPS?) so we are ever more dependent on advanced shore-side services. Is the whole think is a spiral that makes cruising something for the old and rich not the young and adventurous, sets us up as targets when we do go to less sophisticated places because cruiser are 'rich foreigners to be milked for cash' and keeps us tied to a circuit of fenced off high tech marinas to feel safe and have the services we need.
When you read accounts from the pioneers of cruising in the 50's, 60's and 70's have we lost something along the way? Is sailing still a low stress way of having the freedom to explore or have we brought all the stress and anxiety of shoreside life on board with all this 'stuff'
Answer on a postcard if you fancy it!!!
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Old 31-01-2016, 14:58   #2
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

Each to his own. We have a watermaker, and it greatly simplifies our lives. Now instead of constantly thinking about where we'll get our next tankful from, we don't have to worry.


Solar panels are cheap, silent, clean, and provide us with ample power almost all the time.


Internet connectivity isn't essential, but it again makes life easier. For example - yesterday I paid our boat registration online. Our rego papers are sitting in a PO box a thousand miles away. Without the internet, just staying legal would be a much greater hassle. We can also find nearby amenities online, stay in touch with friends and relatives, arrange to meet when we're in nearby ports...


I'm reminded of a discussion I had with a guy regarding EPIRBs. He said he wouldn't carry one - "a REAL sailor should be self sufficient!". But he said he WOULD carry flares - "of course, any PROPER seaman would carry flares!"


I pointed out that flares and EPIRBs perform exactly the same function - indicate your position and that you are in distress - but that EPIRBs just do it much more effectively.
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Old 31-01-2016, 15:11   #3
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

While I personally like the idea of minimalist cruising...doing that would likely mean doing it single handed....I dont relish that idea. My late wife talked me into a cat and my current GF really enjoys comfortable cat cruising. I like James Wharram's desings, but she is not so excited about them. I expect many have become cat owners for similar reasons.

I have several friends who've owned marinas on the Rio Dulce for decades, they too talk about how the cruising community has changed...I doubt its going to swing back the other way.

That said...a water make sure does make a big difference.
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Old 31-01-2016, 15:17   #4
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

All that "stuff" supports SYSTEMS that each individual has chosen to bring along.

Whether those systems were even invented back in your 28 foot days is immaterial.
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Old 31-01-2016, 15:46   #5
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

Yes I agree that many of these things bring great improvements in both safety and comfort, I was not proposing we go back to a world without them. I have and epirp, transponder, SSB, radar and computer nav. I also have H&C pressure water, fridge, good lighting etc. I don't have some of the 'high power' stuff like a water maker (have a hand one for emergencies) and A/C. I was more thinking in terms of scale. For example using an internet cafe/ marina wifi/ mobile phone for internet rather than on board satellite connection. Solar, yes but keeping consumption down so a couple of small panels is fine. I met a guy last year who proudly showed me his amazing cat set up that was producing 100+ amps into a 1000a/h lithium battery pack. Wow but it cost more than my first boat!!! I am reminded of a quote, I forget where from. "a boat teaches you what you DON'T need". I wonder if it is still true.
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Old 31-01-2016, 16:04   #6
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

Cruising -- even with all the latest stuff -- is still a more ecologically conscious way of living than with 2000 square feet of house and 2 cars in the garage.
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Old 31-01-2016, 16:10   #7
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

It really all depends. I have a cheap old 5" chartploter, depth sounder and windex, plus led lights, a 120v fridge run from inverter and an autopilot, but I single hand so the autopilot is a given. I also have a backup lead line and oil lamp. Water is heated on the stove or on deck with a solar shower. Big boats will need a windlass, but at 34' the Rose's 44# anchor is hoisted by the crazy blonde.

Some folks like all the bells and whistles, others less so. Solar just makes sense as it pretty darn cheap. Which means more power for lights, radio, fridge.

As to being eco friendly to liveaboard. I've lived about the Rose for 9 years now, enjoying all 150 SF (including storage) of living space. I think a tiny house of 250 sf is huge. I use maybe 10 gallons of potable water a week and have had no utilities bills in a long time.

I think even a large 50' - 60 ' sailboat with all the bells will still be very Eco-friendly compared to the typical homeowner. The home owner will use 30-45kw a day and 100 gallons a day of water (per person). I use 1.5 ish gallons a day and have solar for power. .
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Old 31-01-2016, 16:19   #8
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

Roland, I for one like the way your mind works. Our current boat has some systems we've never had before and when we bought the boat we agreed that anything that didn't work, beyond the simple systems we've always used, would just be removed. So far the hot and cold pressure water is staying, but the refrigeration is gone. We bought a new GPS but it is a handheld unit just a bit more sophisticated than the Garmin we've been using for 15 years (which still works). I do have iNavX on my iPhone and iPad but since we already use these devices for so many other things and the technology is available at such a low price it makes no sense not to use it.

The one area where we are finally giving in to modern technology is roller furling for the headsail. We've never had or wanted it but at 62 and 66 years, and me with MS, we are going to give up the trips foreword onto a pitching foredeck to change headsails.

We still will cook with a simple non-pressurized alcohol stove and we have a couple of kerosene cabin lamps and a kerosene anchor light as backups. Even though we have a shower in the boat I doubt we'll ever use it. We're obviously not total Luddites either, we have always believed in "the simpler the better" and I doubt we'll change that much.
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Old 31-01-2016, 16:38   #9
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

I like where you're driving at Roland, but I think you're mixing up two overlapping, but slightly different aspects or issues. Your title asks about being eco-friendly, but your discussions seems more aimed at the rising affluence demand for the "typical" cruiser. Those two are related, but at least in my mind, I see them as two separate questions.

From my limited perspective (I'm slowly transitioning to full-timer), I think sailboat cruising lends itself to being a low-impact lifestyle, but it doesn't have to. It's certainly possible to live a high consumptive, high impact lifestyle on a boat. It depends on the choices one makes.

I actually think a lot of the modern tools can make green living more viable. Being self-sufficient in electricity means smaller ongoing impact on the global environment. A watermaker means you can have a reduced impact on land-based water systems -- and in water-distressed areas of the world this is probably a very good thing. It's certainly true there is a real environmental cost to producing solar panels, wind generators and water makers, but it seems to me these tend to produce a net positive environmental impact.

As for the apparent rising material standard and equipment "needs" of the typical cruising boat, I fully agree. The trajectory is steeply up ... but this is no different than in the rest of our affluent society. Everything is bigger, faster, with more electronic and labour-saving doodads. Our homes, both on land and at sea, are full more of everything, including a plethora of electric tools and labour-saving devices. It's a trend with an ever-increasing environmental, financial and complexity impact.

Personally, I've tried to live a simpler lifestyle. In part this is b/c I value living lightly on this planet, but it helps that I'm poorer than most . My homes (both on land and now on the water) lean toward the simple and minimal. I try and focus on actual needs, not wants. This is why some accuse me (and others like me) as "camping" while cruising. I see it as living simply and easily. But to each his/her own.

Anyway, interesting thread. Hope it has legs.
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Old 31-01-2016, 16:50   #10
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

For some of us the choice is determined by budget. I would love a 14 cft refrigerator but that would require another 8 ft of boat and thousands of dollars in power generation. I would love an integrated electronics system but... I would love a water maker...

But I own a sweet 33' Out Island that is paid for. I can sail, I enjoy what I have. I can't afford all that other stuff and don't really need it.
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Old 01-02-2016, 01:21   #11
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Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
Yes I agree that many of these things bring great improvements in both safety and comfort, I was not proposing we go back to a world without them. I have and epirp, transponder, SSB, radar and computer nav. I also have H&C pressure water, fridge, good lighting etc. I don't have some of the 'high power' stuff like a water maker (have a hand one for emergencies) and A/C. I was more thinking in terms of scale. For example using an internet cafe/ marina wifi/ mobile phone for internet rather than on board satellite connection. Solar, yes but keeping consumption down so a couple of small panels is fine. I met a guy last year who proudly showed me his amazing cat set up that was producing 100+ amps into a 1000a/h lithium battery pack. Wow but it cost more than my first boat!!! I am reminded of a quote, I forget where from. "a boat teaches you what you DON'T need". I wonder if it is still true.

I like the reference about what a boat teaches you, makes me think of the reference sorry don't remember who originated it that your best boat owner day is the day you sell it. My take on reality is that liveaboard in marinas or on the hook are very different. I am now 8 years on the hook without entering a marina and I think only the living on the hook liveaboards can really manage eco-friendly their yacht life, activities. In marina, you plug into main marina electricity, the boat will be your house with unlimited power, water... why would you act as different than in a house. Many house owners are trying to live eco responsible as well! So back to on the hook. Watermakers are simply nonsense if you will live on the hook which obviously will be close to the coast where you can get water to top up your fresh water tanks, yes physical work! If you shy from physical work dont go live on the hook. Back to my watermaker comment, who can use his watermaker close to the coast, where water has ots of polluants. A watermaker to me is usefull for serious passagemaking like in the pacific, you have tonbe out in open non-polluted water to operate it. The power needed to operate watermaker, along refrigeration, electronics, autopilot.... will force you to get larger capacity battery banks,higher charging capacity, not mentioning the pickling the intensive maintenance. To me larger water tanks for fresh water are the answer and sensible use of the water. Solar set up for charging very nice but until today the technology is simply not worth the expense and effort, I have three panels but struggke to support lights only as slightest shade, and I gave a cat, lowers output for charging. Anyone claiming to live of solar only won't have solar charged years for all our hungry yacht systems! I use a manual windlass for my 34 foot cat and a rocna anchor as primary, I use lots of items that charge via inverter making 220V, led table lights, ipad, simpke Kindle e-book reader, cell phones, blue tooth speakers, ...... shaver, when running engine to charge batteries, 1. hour a day is enough, I use 50 liter camping fridge on 12V and if needed have microwave and 50 liter bar fridge on 220V. I do have flat sÁreen lcd TV which uses less power than plasma, and dvd player but their use not every day. I keep separate battery in 3th bank to start engine, and I don't ever allow my housebanks below 70% checked on battery monitor. I have three battery banks, 6 batteries of sealed type semi-leisure car which simply last about 4. years typically becayse of regulsted charging. Running the diesel marine engine in neutral doesnt harm whiten the cylindes as the high ouput alternator needs horsepower from the engine to charge. My solar panels help keep batteries topped up when I am away but don't contribute much when fully using power. Other eco action possible, I use my outboard powered dinghy only when lots of wind, waves, current or when have to travel long distance and carry loads. In all other cases I use a double or dingle sit-on-top kayak which I can alone if needed carry up to house or protection close to waterline without having to worry about anchor, tide, security.
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Old 01-02-2016, 05:38   #12
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
When you read accounts from the pioneers of cruising in the 50's, 60's and 70's have we lost something along the way? Is sailing still a low stress way of having the freedom to explore or have we brought all the stress and anxiety of shoreside life on board with all this 'stuff'
I don't know who this "we" are that are bringing the stress with us. I think modern tools have reduced stress and if you are stressing over them now days you would have been stressing over the available tools back in the 50's-70's etc., that's just whop you are.

In the end you can chose to cruise in any method you want to. But don't blame others for your choices.
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Old 01-02-2016, 05:58   #13
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

Even in the 20's and I am sure much further back than that, the Rich had their Yachts, and even back then they had every Luxury there was.

Mainstream cruising is a relatively recent phenomenon, only the last 50 yrs or so?

Then I think there is a perception of I live on a boat, therefore I am a cruiser?
While I do not want to get into a description on what is a cruiser, it's sort of like the what is a blue water boat, but I would think at min a Cruiser is one who travels.

But bottom line, run what ya brung, some people are happy with a canoe, some don't see how they could get by without at least a 50' Cat, where would they put their exercise equipment?
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Old 01-02-2016, 06:02   #14
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Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

But having said all of that I am still at a loss in understanding why some people who chose to live "off the grid" haven't discovered a boat.
Near as I can tell off grid living was in the design of a modern cruising vessel, they do it better than most any off grid house I've ever seen, for less money and fewer "Science Projects"


But lets look at my life aground now. Wife drives close to 100 mi a day to work, so figure in environmental costs of doing that, she has to have work clothes, cost of that.
I too drive to work, and I have to have work clothes. Since we both work, we eat out more (lots of paper and plastic trash).
Lord knows how much electrical power I use, we just moved into a rental house, but it is orders of magnitude higher than the boat, water consumption? 50 - 100X the boat? Just a guess really, but the toilets each take a gallon?

Fuel, depending on what I'm doing, but fuel consumption will vary between maybe 5 gl to 50+ a month on the boat, probably at least 100 gl on land.
Rental house has a propane fireplace and water heater, it looks like winter months I will use 100 gl of propane a month. Maybe a gl or so on the boat?

And this is one of those boats that will have unlimited water and power, and lots of electronic "toys" Since I installed it all, I believe I can maintain it all as well as if not better than available services.

Your free of course to cruise in whatever boat you chose, but it is the 21 st Century, and you don't have to drive a 1950's car with no AC, no power anything, traction control, seat belts, anti-lock brakes with horrible fuel mileage.
You don't have to cruise a 1950's boat either, but are free to do so if you chose.

Thing is, your not more "honorable" if you do, and your not a "better" person if you have a new luxury Yacht either. Either way, your just a Cruiser, something that I aspire to be one day soon.
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Old 01-02-2016, 06:29   #15
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pirate Re: Tread Lightly - Is cruising still an alternative eco-freindly lifestyle?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
But having said all of that I am still at a loss in understanding why some people who chose to live "off the grid" haven't discovered a boat.
Near as I can tell off grid living was in the design of a modern cruising vessel, they do it better than most any off grid house I've ever seen, for less money and fewer "Science Projects"


But lets look at my life aground now. Wife drives close to 100 mi a day to work, so figure in environmental costs of doing that, she has to have work clothes, cost of that.
I too drive to work, and I have to have work clothes. Since we both work, we eat out more (lots of paper and plastic trash).
Lord knows how much electrical power I use, we just moved into a rental house, but it is orders of magnitude higher than the boat, water consumption? 50 - 100X the boat? Just a guess really, but the toilets each take a gallon?

Fuel, depending on what I'm doing, but fuel consumption will vary between maybe 5 gl to 50+ a month on the boat, probably at least 100 gl on land.
Rental house has a propane fireplace and water heater, it looks like winter months I will use 100 gl of propane a month. Maybe a gl or so on the boat?

And this is one of those boats that will have unlimited water and power, and lots of electronic "toys" Since I installed it all, I believe I can maintain it all as well as if not better than available services.

Your free of course to cruise in whatever boat you chose, but it is the 21 st Century, and you don't have to drive a 1950's car with no AC, no power anything, traction control, seat belts, anti-lock brakes with horrible fuel mileage.
You don't have to cruise a 1950's boat either, but are free to do so if you chose.

Thing is, your not more "honorable" if you do, and your not a "better" person if you have a new luxury Yacht either. Either way, your just a Cruiser, something that I aspire to be one day soon.
Thus giving birth to the next Yachting Craze...
The Fold Away Multi-Gym..
For the Skipper with All the Toy's..!!

Old style sailors are usually whipcord thin and fit.. its all the exercise..
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