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Old 08-07-2010, 13:08   #1
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Sustainable Sailing

We're browsed the cruisersforum for awhile, what a wealth of information! We've both dreamed of sailing around the world since childhood but up until when we met about a year ago it was a distant dream for both of us. We still have a number of loose ends on land to tie up but are hopeful to be on the water by the end of the year.
We plan to purchase a used catamaran in the 40-45' range within the next year or two. To date we have been most impressed by the Chris White Atlantic 42, although we have also considered going the more minimalistic route of a Wharram. (How's that for topic of discussion?) We are actively looking for crew opportunities (with catamarans being preferred but not required) in an effort to increase our experiance and familiarity with each potential boat before purchasing our own. Charting a 32' boat for two weeks this past year really helped us better clarify the "need" "want" "don't want" lists for our boat.
In addition, the overall sustainability of sailing is very important to us, which will include growing a substantial portion of our food along with using sustainable strategies for energy, obtaining fresh water, and treating waste.

Thanks for having us aboard!
Dave and Kerrie
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Old 08-07-2010, 13:30   #2
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Glad to have you here!
It is always exciting to hear others plans, especially if they are unique. I would love to hear more about some of your sustainable strategies and your food growing.
Spencer
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Old 08-07-2010, 15:18   #3
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Spencer,
Thanks for the welcome and your interest in what we're up to.
On board energy is pretty easy these days with a combo of solar and wind, and since diesel is pretty standard we will be able to use biodiesel and/or waste vegetable as fuel for our auxiliary engines (I'm passionate about the diesel-electric hybrid technologies, but unfortunetly I don't feel the technology has come to age in terms of reliability and performance compared to conventional diesels. Waste vegetable oil running in a diesel engine is a simple matter of adequate filtering and heating the oil to a suitable viscosity to burn cleanly).
Rainwater collection and a solar still combined with strict water conservation measures is our preference for water, although in buying a used boat we may have an RO as well to start. Since I already live off grid in a small straw-bale home which uses a composting toilet our waste treatment is pretty straight forward for me using a marine version of a composting toilet (one company with a good product is airheadtoilet dot com).
Obviously, the big challenge for food production on board is primarily the lack of space on a boat including sunlight, although the weight of growing supplies and media is another constraint we are well aware of. We intend to maximize yields by a combination growing food hydroponically and on terra preta soils. Since I have been a mycologist for the past 8 years I will be able to incorperate fungi as an additional food source without the sunlight requirements of plants. In addition, growing mushrooms will emit CO2 to help increase plant growth and yields.
Still have a long way to go to pull everything together for absolute sustainability but the journey from here to there is worth the effort. Eventually we hope to only go to shore to visit friends/family/make new friends and not out of a need to resupply, but that will take time (and likely a larger boat down the road, but one fun step at a time...)
Dave
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Old 08-07-2010, 15:44   #4
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yeah everything seems really doable (I myself am a composting toilet, straw bale, solar/wind enthusiast) ... except for the growing of all food on board.

Well.. at least on board a 40-50' cat.

Hydroponic is about the only way I can see it happening (without buying a barge and creating a floating greenhouse)... and even then the logistics of crop growth time + storage of food between crops would be tremendously difficult to work out...

Not to mention that hydroponic isn't really any more sustainable than intensive farming... one pump goes out and your crop is done for...

My vote would be to find a few small uninhabited islands out there, dump your compost and some seeds on them... and come back every so often to collect your crops :-)

Also, look into generators that capture wave power and natural gas generators (natural gas is much cleaner and just as plentiful as biodiesel ... could be burned in a greenhouse for co2 as well)
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Old 08-07-2010, 16:27   #5
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Welcome!!
Here is my list of sustainable low hanging fruit

Sprouts are great food to think about.
Fish (if you eat it).
Baking your own bread. (carry the grain not grow it)
solar
wind
composting toilet
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Old 09-07-2010, 17:16   #6
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Wow!
You certainly have put a lot of thought into this. It gives me some ideas as well. As things continue to progress for you two, keep us posted.
Spencer
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Old 09-07-2010, 17:26   #7
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You might want to check out this guy and his blog (Jay Fitzgerald)...Sensible Simplicity

He has a couple sailing books out on engine-less sailing and sustainability. Last I heard he was thinking of building a big Wharram for himself.
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Old 09-07-2010, 17:43   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doodles View Post
You might want to check out this guy and his blog (Jay Fitzgerald)...Sensible Simplicity

He has a couple sailing books out on engine-less sailing and sustainability. Last I heard he was thinking of building a big Wharram for himself.
Jay Fitzgerald must be the same author as Jerome Fitzgerald.
If so, I highly recommend any book by him. I have "Sea-Steading" by Jerome Fitzgerald and it is excellent. It is also about engine-less sailing, so most likely the same author.

"Sailing the Farm" by Ken Neumeyer is another excellent book about sustainable cruising that I recommend.

I wish you the best
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Old 14-07-2010, 10:32   #9
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The "low hanging fruit" is a great point, and starting somewhere and taking steps from there is key.
Sailing the Farm is a great book we're both read inside and out, and I'm glad to hear about "Sea-Steading" will definitely have to pick that one up :-)
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Old 14-07-2010, 13:42   #10
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If you want a lower cost alternative to the Airhead (and its very similar competitor, the Natureís Head), you can build your own composting toilet out of an Ecotiva Privy Kit, some plywood, a 5 gallon bucket, and a large plastic jug such as those for cat litter. This can be accomplished for under $200 and you end up with a toilet that has basically the same functionality as one of the premanufactured units. It may not be as sleek, but you do have the advantage of being able to customize it to fit your space. Another advantage is that if you fill a bucket or jug you can have plenty of extra buckets and jugs with lids on hand. Also, if one fails they can be replaced for a few dollars and found anywhere. Knothead on this forum has done this and has posted pictures on other threads and Iím planning on doing the same this winter.
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Old 14-07-2010, 15:09   #11
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Airhead and natures head are grossly over priced ,given what's in them. You can build your own for under $100. I built my own. Instead of the complex trap door, just use a stainless pot lid from the thrift store and lift it out when you want to give birth to a conservative. A raised lip around the big hole keeps liquids out of the compost. Urethane foam can be sanded and resined to make the mold for the separator seat.
Sailing in itself is a far more sustainable lifestyle, environmentally, than life ashore, with a fraction the environmental footprint.
As your personal environmental footprint is measured by how much money you spend , one can drastically reduce ones personal environmental footprint, by buying mainly used equipment, or building your own , only buying new when you have absolutely no option.
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Old 14-07-2010, 15:29   #12
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Fascinating...good luck!

We manage most of the time with wind power, indeed in some areas it is even sufficient to power our small water maker.

I have grown a variety of crops aboard, from herbs to salad and even tomatoes. I cannot imagine how you could sail and grow sufficient for self sufficiency. Not only a problem of space, although no doubt a catamaran would be better than our monohull, but the problem of a salty atmosphere. And entering different countries will be a BIG problem for you. The importation of any fresh or growing crops is a no-no in a lot of places.

Do you intend to cruise widely or stay in home waters?

I am a big fan of Wharrams. Look forward to hearing more of your progress.
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Old 14-07-2010, 16:08   #13
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Would it be consistent with your aims to grow the food on land and can it for use at sea? Salt spray would kill most outside plants quickly. I could see the sprouts working but it would concern me that one big wave could make a mess out of your cabin if it was set up for hydroponics.
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Old 16-07-2010, 13:49   #14
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Aloha and welcome aboard!
Good to have you and your ideas here. You'll find lots of like minded folks on this forum.
regards,
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Old 17-07-2010, 16:37   #15
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Learn to do your own canning , and drying, and stop paying others to put your bulk food in cans.
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