The sailing channels are full of amazing boats. What used to be the sailing magazines that my Dad would buy have been replaced by YouTube channels like Yachting World.
Consistently they present, as if it were normal a world view that everyone will be buying a brand new boat and that these days nobody would consider anything smaller than 40 feet (and that only if it is a “modern” shape which gives about 50% more accommodation than a more traditional design).
So the boats they show off start at about £ 1/2 million (over 20x more than we paid for Vida and nearly 10x what we will have spent by the time we retire to live on her).
So they are far, far beyond our dreams, expectations and none of them have much focus on sustainability in any form.
To be honest not many of them are very attractive to us either. We absolutely do not need or want so much space, we absolutely do not want our sailing to be totally dependent on electrical power for sail control (especially as they all require fossil fuel electric generation).
Yes, nearly all of them will be much faster than Vida (so what, we are not planning to race). Their huge, flat wide sterns and twin rudders will be give more control downwind. Yet the costs of these benefits are huge (mooring/haulout/storage/repairs/complexity etc etc). With our experience a 38 foot boat still seems huge and daunting, we don’t want more 🙂
Yet, I admit that I have just watched a video of one boat that if you happen to give me would be awesome (even if I’d want you to give me the money to make her fossil fuel free).
Actually, I think you would need to give me about £5M. I could buy a 5 year old Garcia Exploration 45 for about £1/2M, keep another £1/2M to keep her and ourselves in luxury for the rest of our lives and then give the £4M away to assuage my guilt at such indulgance 😉
However, there is a lot we can learn from such experienced sailors as Pete Goss and Jimmy Cornell that we can and are putting into practice with our work on Vida. Plus others that we feel they and the rest of the sailing world need to learn about sustainable sailing in the light of the Climate Emergency and connected issues such as plastic pollution.
So what are we trying to learn and implement?
- Redundancy: For example by adding a Hydrovane wind vane self steering we have 2 rudders, 3 self steering options, 3 hand steering options. Similarly with two battery banks, multiple solar panel circuits, two inverters, two electric hobs etc we have few single points of failure. See my post “The problems of interconnected systems“
- Insulation. Very clearly the levels of insulation make the Garcia Exploration 45 very quite and comfortable. We can’t get anything like as much but we are replacing the traditional ply plus foam backed vinyl with a minimum of 10mm closed cell foam and we already see it making a significant difference.
- Understanding. Garcia do a week of training for new owners and provide lots of documentation. We are building up complete hands on experience of just about every single part of the boat.
- Maintenance. A boat you don’t have to keep fixing things on. Our route to a similar goal is quite different. We are doing it through simplicity. eg changing from 3 fossil fuels + electricity to renewable electricity only, removing every seacock (apart from cockpit drains), composting toilets, no refueling or concerns with fuel quality.
What can’t we do?
- An Aluminium hull and watertight bulkheads making the boat pretty worry free where there is ice in the water (but we can’t see a fossil fuel free heating system that would cope with such climates anyway)
- A swim platform at the stern. Going to “make do” by sorting the best possible boarding system on the side of the boat.
- A full deck saloon. We will be making sure we can enclose our wheelhouse for full water protection if not as warm as being “indoors”.
- Have as much storage space. But we are creating more by getting rid of the diesel engine and tanks, the gas cylinders and the paraffin tank. Also by having less space for long term guests.
What they can’t do?
- A brand new boat can’t have the same low carbon footprint as a 42 year old boat. We are keeping a cost the planet has already paid from being thrown away rather than using new resources (I’m guessing that everything we put onto Vida in new resources will be dwarfed by the fossil fuel impact of a few tonnes of diesel used each year).
- Make a brand new 45 luxury boat as unattractive to thieves as a 42 year old 38 foot boat.
- Reduce the cost to get to ocean crossing by a factor of 10
Maybe it is just self-delusion but we really don’t watch these video’s of new or larger boats and feel we wish we could have one. Well maybe except occasionally a Garcia Exploration 45 with an electric motor 😉