I recently found this product: The AnchorRescue II which looks like an excellent option for being able to trip your anchor if needed without all the problems of using a traditional trip-line to a buoy (tangles, other people picking it up etc).
It is good that it is a 2nd generation product, there have been others using somewhat similar concepts but this seems to have lasted longer and been improved. I like the fact that once setup you can ignore it until needed. Also that in the latest version it has re-usable velco strips to hold the trip chain to the anchor rather than leaving plastic cable ties at the bottom of the sea.
In a number of my Dyneema rigging posts I’ve referred to using HDPE to reduce friction and chafe where dyneema comes into contact with the mast or the deck.
I’d found a straightforward supply of HDPE as rods and sheets at Direct Plastics. However, we have just discovered a much better option. It turns out that it is relatively straightforward to turn our rubbish into new bits for the boat.
There are a ton of videos on how to turn HDPE waste into new products, even on a tiny scale (see Brothers Make on YouTube).
Therefore, we could potentially collect all our waste on the boat that is marked with this symbol:
into chafe avoiding parts for our rigging as well as lots of other useful boat bits for example:
Cleat boots (stop you hurting your toes on the rope cleats around your deck)
Chafe pads where ropes cross the deck or toerail
gratings for the shower room, for the cockpit
plastic carabiners for hooking light things up around the boat
chocks to hold things in place in lockers
Then we started to go further. Storage and disposal of waste is a real problem for cruisers. Supposing all plastic waste is washed, paper labels removed, sorted by type and colour and then shredded on board. Because with the exception of PET (1 in the recycling symbol) most plastics can be shredded and used to create new things (with varying properties). Suddenly all you have to store is tiny plastic pellets, which at any time can be made into things you can use or sell. You can even melt them into moulds to create dense “bricks” for the most compact storage – which can then be carved or melted to be used in other projects at a suitable time.
Then we went a bit further. While we won’t have the space or energy surplus for machines that have the capacity to run a full-time recycling business that collects and processes rubbish from a whole community, we would have enough capacity to be able to help out other cruisers with their waste.
Beyond that one of the common struggles we see many cruisers having is with the plastic they find on every beach. No cruiser has the capacity to store the plastic waste they can pick up very quickly every time they visit a beach. Plus even if it is collected then the small remote communities have no way of dealing with the waste (and cruisers often have to pay to leave rubbish). Of course, as we know, few large communities anywhere in the world are properly recycling much plastic waste. Too much gets shipped abroad, incinerated or buried rather than recycled.
So the goal becomes to find the right scale machines for the key tasks of shredding and injection moulding. The larger pieces can be created by either melting and pressing into a mould that we can make from wood (or possibly thickened epoxy); or by cutting/shaping as you would a piece of wood.
It looks like the Precious Plastic Universe is a potentially fantastic resource. Although their latest V4 machines are too big for us, there still seems to be a lot of support for their older/smaller machines. And it is all Open Source and Free.
We are loving this idea. Being able to make things to repair/upgrade our boat from our own rubbish is Sustainable heaven 🙂 But far more the chance to reduce the footprint of our cruising as well as that of others – in fact by being able to clear rubbish from beaches we end up with a really positive impact.
I have written a lot on rigging your boat with Dyneema and thought it was about time I provided a overall guide to what I’ve written. So I’m going to try to give a coherent guide to what we have explored so far.
First, the obvious question: Why Dyneema standing rigging?, that is more thought through in relation to specific challenges on our boat, than our first mention back in October 2019 was. That was less than 2 months after buying Vida and I mentioned Dyneema standing rigging as a longer term possibility in Starting to sort out sailing. Of course Covid has changed our perceptions of time in a far too many ways. We also explored the progress on sustainable dyneema.
Our Chainplate journey
The main learning since those early days been about the problems we face with our chainplates. That continues to evolve (so in my posts be aware that when I write “we plan” those plans may have changed more than once since. Even in the last few days we have learnt of a Rival 38 who had a chainplate (similar to ours except in stainless steel so presumably a replacement set from the original bronze we have) fail during a recent Atlantic crossing. So as we explored these issues I’ve written:
My thinking on chainplates was also affected by thinking about attaching a Jordan Series Drogue in a new simpler way. That reflects my dislike of custom stainless steel solutions. There are the corrosion issues (stainless steel corrodes in the absence of Oxygen – such as where a bolt is sealed as it goes through a deck or hull, and potential electrolytic pitfalls with dissimilar metals). They require someone to build them for you (not always possible in remote places and never free [or even cheap] or immediate). They can have problems that do not show up even with a careful visual inspection.
That has brought me to a new idea for Simpler Dyneema Chainplates. I have even produced a sketch (you can see why my Dad realised when I was very young that I would not follow him into architecture):
As I think about this solution, I realise that it can probably be adapted for most situations with chainplates that are close to the outside edge of the deck. Our bulwark should allow the holes to be drilled between the two sheets of G10, without coming through to the inside of the boat. However, if there is no bulwark the holes could be drilled and then the inside corner of the hull/deck joint could have a large fillet of thickened epoxy and the hole re-drilled through that.
My previous idea should still work where the holes can’t go external as it allows you to waterproof the dyneema loop below the deck.
Using G10 (above decks) or FR4 (below decks as fire resistant) that is bonded to the hull/deck should distribute loads much more effectively than a typical stainless steel chainplate without any corrosion/electrolytic risks.
For us, I realised that our masts make it relatively simple for us to make and fit our own DIY/budget version of a Colligo Cheeky Tang for a fraction of the cost see Dyneema Termination and Chainplate update. Also our latest chainplate idea and conversations with Rigging Doctor mean that we will at least start with Low Friction Rings (sized generously) for both the chainplates and the low ends of the shrouds.
Using HDPE: learning from Free Range Sailing again we are looking at using HDPE to create our tangs for connecting the shrouds to the mast and for reducing friction/chafe on the chainplate connections. We are now looking at recycling and creating these components ourselves: see Transforming waste with DIY Plastic recycling.
The forestay for the main mast will need to remain stainless steel due to our use of a roller reefing genoa. Possibly in the very long term a roller reefing system might be developed that works with a dyneema forestay.
Another option (which is what I understand the Vendee Globe yachts do) is to move from a single genoa that is roller reefed to having multiple genoas/jibs that can be furled. So when the wind speed increases you furl (roll up) your current genoa, lower it to the deck and hoist another smaller job in a furled state.
With enough halyards you can hoist the new sail (and potentially even unfurl it) before furling and lowering your original sail. The headstay that the sail furls around can be dyneema and it can be structural (ie it holds the mast up and you leave the sail up while it is furled). Or you could have a forestay in front of the sail that is used to hold the mast up. I’m not sure how tensioning these works. Presumably you don’t have the forestay so tight and you put a lot of tension in the sails headstay.
It would also be lovely to fit a small, retracting bowsprit to be able to hoist larger sails such as a code zero (for going upwind in light breezes) or an asymmetric spinnaker (for downwind sailing) out in front of the forestay.
However, all these are expensive options. So we will hope to maintain the existing roller reefing setup for a long time with the inner forestay mainly use for the storm jib if needed. These options also require a lot more working on the foredeck which definitely has it’s disadvantages to offset against better performance and reducing the number of single points of failure.
We have some ideas about our lifelines to solve potential leaks, some problems with bent stanchions and even to make mounting our tiltable, removable, side solar panels easier. More on that in the future.
I’ve been thinking about the relationship between these two concepts. Unfortunately, in my view, both concepts have been manipulated by unscrupulous businesses so that they have been undermined. Recently I saw an ad for composting coffee pods that drove that home for me. Coffee Pods have long been marketed as the most convenient way to get real coffee, but sustainable they are not!
The convenience of just dropping a pod into a machine is hard to deny and they have proved popular in homes, offices and conference rooms. However, they demonstrate three really common problems with buying convenience.
Price: A lower purchase price for the machine might seem attractive but just as with Inkjet Printers the real cost (and profit for the manufacturers) is in the consumables. I’ve looked at a number of articles and the cost comparison per “espresso” of buying pods is given as between 2.5 and 10 times more than buying roasted beans. Selling something as “Convenient”, almost without exception, means paying more for it.
Quality: I have limited experience of pod coffee. A few friends have had them and several places I’ve been for meetings. I’ve tended to prefer the “Mocha” pods as I’ve generally found the plain coffee pods rather bitter to drink black. They seem to attract opinions at both extremes from brilliant to terrible which makes it hard evaluate. Generally it seems to be accepted that the quality is lower than a reasonable automated espresso machine and considerably lower than a crafted espresso. However, it also seems that many people are completely satisfied with the quality.
Sustainability: It is very, very hard to say anything positive about using a disposable pod, even if it is compostable. Packaging such a small quantity is always going to be wasteful at every stage of the journey.
Other attempts are being made to improve the sustainability of pods including reusable metal pods. These do impact the taste (a metal filter changes the taste) and they are a lot less convenient (so even worse coffee that isn’t convenient).
This very negative view of convenience works over many different products that have been developed as and sold as “convenient”. However, I want to suggest that it does not need to be true of all moves towards convenience.
My thinking is that for something to be both convenient and sustainable it will need to be developed in a different way. This will affect
the leadership: doing more thinking and planning for yourself so the convenience is very customised to your situation
the community: solutions developed by and for a community are likely to be more sustainable (not motivated by profit) and more convenient (because they scratch an itch the community finds).
the lifespan: something that lasts and can be adapted overtime tends to increase sustainability. By adapting to circumstances it remains convenient.
So sustainable convenience (for me) implies creative work as a community over an extended period of time. An area that I have experience this in over the last couple of decades is Free Software, particularly everything related to Linux. My first encounters and work in free software communities dates back to the late 1980’s (tools for a software development package called Dataflex). Within 6 months of starting our own software business in 1998 we moved all our servers and development computers to Linux. I’ve used Linux exclusively on servers, desktops and laptops ever since. In that time I have contributed (in small ways) to a dozen or so projects and released our own software as free software. Successful free software can be widely used for decades and in that time can make money for multiple individuals and companies while also being great value and game changing for users. As the code never gets lost it can resurface and be repurposed in new ways throughout it’s life.
Applying this in other areas is tougher.
However, there have been many communities supporting each other over the years and more forming around YouTube channels, social media and blogs. We see sharing of ideas, tools and loads of practical help.
Otherwise, I think there is a lot that can be done to subvert the “system”. As one example we think our ideas on Laundry subvert the selling of electric washing machines for boats as essential conveniences while avoiding the issue of microplastics with handwashing. We hope that we can share many other experiences of practices that really make life more convenient without them being sold as “convenient” (Multi-Cookers on boats for stews etc as a safe, quick and energy efficient are one for us). We can find new conveniences (not needing to buy or carry diesel or petrol or gas) that are missed by the profit seeking companies.
To end. We suggest that the quality of life that is possible sustainably is far greater than the quality of life provided by the conveniences needed to allow you to burn up yourself and the planet unsustainably.
Amidst the dark days of the catastrophic response by the UK government to the Covid pandemic, the disaster that Brexit was always going to be, continues to unfold.
Unsurprisingly, given the dire impact on so many industries, communities and individuals, little attention is being given for the implications for what is a relatively small number live aboard cruisers.
The loss of freedom of movement was always going to be a huge price to pay. Sure enough, 90 days in the EU within each 180 day period will make cruising the Mediterranean very difficult. It will also make transiting to or from the Mediterranean via the French canals almost impossible. There are several British cruisers who have been spending the winter in places like the marina and boatyard at Almerimar in Spain
It seems that the UK government chose to not agree to the right to work in the EU. This is probably going to impact many cruisers who earn money while cruising. At the moment the impact on musicians touring is in the news but there are potentially huge implications for those earning money while cruising by picking up work, doing remote working, selling or from YouTube etc. Part of the problem is going to be the uncertainty, there will be differences between countries but also between different offices and officials. I suspect that this is going to take years to find clarity.
Another area where there is potential for significant disruption is about what is taken into Europe. In the last week Lorry drivers have had sandwiches confiscated (BBC News).
Under EU rules, travellers from outside the bloc are banned from bringing in meat and dairy products.
“Since Brexit, you are no longer allowed to bring certain foods to Europe, like meat, fruit, vegetables, fish, that kind of stuff,” a Dutch border official told the driver in footage broadcast by TV network NPO 1.
This has obvious implications for cruisers, if officials check yachts for fresh food every time they enter the EU.
Beyond these issues, in terms of Sustainable Sailing, Brexit has other impacts such as reduced value of pensions, reduced value of UK currency. There are also issues related to health cover, insurance, mobile phone charges and more.
Over the next decades Brexit is probably going to have the biggest impact on the Sustainability of Live Aboard Cruising for UK citizens, that impact is almost entirely negative. It may well also cause an increase in the number of seeking to leave for a live aboard cruising future. Increasing demand while also reducing possibility is a pretty fair summary.
Planning for live aboard cruising on a sailing boat presents particular challenges for one of the highlights of the day – especially if you are aiming for a sustainable life. Almost everything about the environment of sailing makes coffee a challenge, particularly: Availability, Space, Power, and Safety. Clearly we need to get this sorted because otherwise I’m not fit to be around anyone else 😉
As for our expectations. I love coffee and drink a lot, Jane much less. Although we have both worked in a Café which did include barista work we are by no means coffee snobs, so we don’t have the highest standards or expertise 🙂
At home we do have a big commercial grinder (thanks to some lovely friends). We buy our coffee in bulk from TankCoffee, so get away with keeping longer than ideal to benefit from bulk buying prices by starting with great quality beans. We mostly use a Melitta Look IV Therm Timer Filter Coffee Machine. I guess that illustrates what we look for, so no hotplate (spoils the coffee) but also no manual control of temperature and no sophisticated brew cycle that includes a bloom phase.
At the moment we use a very simple plastic holder for filter paper on the boat (we take coffee we have ground at home). When camping I’ve typically used an AeroPress with a cheap Porlex hand grinder (oh look there is now an improved version II and much higher prices).
If we were to want to make Espresso coffee we would really need to have rather fresher beans than we get away with at the moment.
This video from the amazing James Hoffmann: Coffee, Climate Change & Extinction: A conversation with Dr Aaron Davis at Kew was interesting and highlights some of the challenges to coffee for the long term, meanwhile all we do, so far, is try to buy the most ethical coffee with the least big corporations involved as we can.
Availability: Getting hold of coffee and keeping it presents challenges when you are crossing oceans or cruising in remote areas.
Space: A 38 foot boat, particularly an older design has very limited storage which of course challenges high coffee standards in two key ways: a) shortage of dry places that keep a nice even temperature for storing the coffee b) a very small galley without much counter or cupboard space. So that rules out a lot of coffee appliances.
Power: By sailing yacht standards we do have lots of mains electric power but the capacity is limited. That again puts constraints on the number of electric appliances.
Safety: In this video from Ryan and Sophie the dangers of making coffee on a boat were dramatically illustrated.
Our Coffee Plan
Everyone needs a coffee plan! Running out of coffee would be a very serious situation, and I don’t think the RNLI are ready to help us in this kind of emergency. So this is where we are at.
Initially we plan to stick to buying roasted beans in bulk and grinding them as needed. We should be able to carry enough for 6 months at a time without too much difficulty (we currently use between 1 and 1.5kg a month). For us that is a reasonable sweet spot between long storage between shops, quality and price. Hopefully we can buy in beans in decent quantities in most cities – one city every 6 months sounds reasonable 😉 I admit I’m interested in exploring roasting our own beans in the future. Green Beans potentially last a lot longer (up to a year). Maybe we can fund our retirement by roasting coffee to order for the cruising community 😉
When sailing I’m concerned that we avoid any of the (many) ways of making coffee that involve pouring boiling water or unsealed containers with boiling water in them, or free standing stacks of items that hot liquids are moving though. So that rules out all manual forms of coffee filtering, the AeroPress, French Presses and lots of others.
So it looks like a simple filter coffee machine, like we already have, where you add cold water and it puts the hot coffee straight into a non spill, unbreakable thermos flask. Our plan is to have a gimbled tray which can be used for any appliance (induction hob, coffee machine, multi-cooker) so it should be safe to make coffee when heeled or in waves.
If we add one of the higher quality, higher capacity hand grinders (needs less space, less power), then we should be good to go. These can grind to suit Espresso as well as filter machines.
We already have a number of basic thermos style travel mugs which are definitely more suited to a moving boat and drinking outside.
When it comes to making fancier coffees for use at anchor we can look at one of the manual Espresso machines such as a Flair (no power needs and they fold away for storage). There are also an increasing number of ways to froth milk without the steam wand from an Espresso machine.
I’m sure we will also carry an AeroPress as a reliable backup if the filter machine breaks, just a lot of caveats about safety if using at sea.
I’m not interested in a any of the Pod machines (Nespresso etc), while re-usable pods are now available I’ve not heard good things about the drinks they make. Anyway as I prefer a longer drink (such as a long black) you would have to add hot water to the drink.
So we have been found by Clean Sailors “Sailors who love the sea, mobilising the global sailing community in conservation of our oceans.” #sailmightytreadlightly
A not for profit organisation who are based in one of our favourite places: Falmouth (Cornwall). We look forward to being able to sail there and meet up.
Well worth reading their pages and supporting them. We think their aims are great.
For us the issues around plastic in our Oceans are a significant set of issues within the big picture of the Climate Emergency and acting for Climate Justice.
So many of our changes to Vida, in the name of Sustainability, work towards this:
Shampoo, soap, washing up liquid etc We have been using Soap bars, Shampoo bars, Toothpaste Tablets and Bamboo toothbrushes for over a year now. Also I’ve been using a “Crystal Deodorant Stick” for months, which has been great. I’m still using up old stocks of shaving stuff, but have a traditional safety razor, blades and a shaving foam bar ready to go. All plastic free (packaging as well as contents). Been shopping mostly from Anything But Plastic and Ecovibe
Removing waste water seacocks and grey water plans. We are now going to explore adding filters to catch any microplastics before they get into the tanks. So wherever our grey water gets pumped out (ideally into a shore based sewage system), or on ocean crossings into the ocean it should be free of harmful products.
Toilets: I’d like to see as bit more focus on toilets on the Clean Sailors agenda. We should never be putting raw sewage into the sea and composting toilets are, in our firm opinion, the very best option. They are just about the simplest, they don’t require any plumbing, they don’t use any chemicals, they don’t require you to work with sewage pipes or tanks etc etc. I have been thinking about how we might be able to empty our solids into reusable boxes rather than plastic bags. That would enable us to store aboard until fully composted for safe use on any ground.
Antifouling paint. So we think we have a good solution for removal and at least one option for what to put on that shouldn’t be toxic (effectiveness is unclear though).
Zero fossil fuels so no diesel or petrol pollution (from the dinghy outboard, main boat engine, boat heating, water heating, watermaker)
Clothing and Laundry
Reading the Clean Sailors got me thinking further about clothes and washing them. We have mentioned Laundry before and we have been careful to move to clothes with far fewer plastics. However, I think we need to do more. In hot climates Rash tops are clearly really practical for sun protection and are easy to wash/dry. However, they are essentially plastic (more and more of them are using recycled plastic, some are made from plastic recovered from the sea) and when washed they will shed microplastics. We haven’t seen any live-aboard cruisers with any form of filtration system and many people are (very understandably) doing their washing in buckets with rainwater and then tipping it into the sea.
We will be looking for a microplastic filter that can be used with a high capacity funnel. This can then be put into a cockpit drain and all water from washing clothes filtered on it’s way into the sea (recommendations for a suitable filter are needed please). Our preference is still to combine a “WonderWash” style hand powered washing machine with an electric spin dryer (needed to stand a chance of drying warm clothes in a British winter). The water from both these can go through the filter.
I was reading that most microplastics are shed in the first 8 washes. Would seem sensible not to wear a new garment for swimming until you have washed it a few times and caught those microplastics before they get into the sea.
Using a public laundry service isn’t going to help in places that do not have efficient microplastic filtration systems in their waste water processing (does anywhere?)
I’d like to see a bit more emphasis on improving the facilities and standards for boat users. A few examples:
Rather than just putting pressure on consumers to avoid single-use plastics we should be stopping suppliers and shops using them in the first place.
Instead of asking boat owners not to put waste water with microplastics into the sea we should be providing legislation on grey water tanks and filters, on more places to pump out, on restrictions on where we can empty tanks (as Turkey have)
We need more legislation on recycling at every level. On the materials used, on the places to put waste for recycling and on making sure it really does get recycled. It is pointless to put pressure on consumers if there are no plastic free items to buy, few places to put stuff for recycling and if at the end of the day it is shipped abroad into waste piles without being actually recycled.
Plus we still need to make the connections. Plastic waste is one aspect (that does need dealing with) of unsustainable living. There are many more, they all need to be tackled if there is to be any chance of a Sustainable future with Climate Justice for all people. The big picture is needed to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the need to work for Clean Oceans as well as Zero Fossil fuels as well as Healthy Soil as well as eliminating Poverty, stopping wars, protecting eco-systems etc etc. They are all important, most are highly interconnected (eg poverty, war, fossil fuels) and we do not have time to tackle them one at a time.
What isn’t quite so clear is which companies are using this and in which products. Marlow ropes announced that they were using Bio-based dyneema in July 2020. Liros also have an announcement but I can’t find product detail. Given it is so new it might take a while to work through the supply chain.
There are also initiatives to accept “retired” ropes back for recycling, it looks like we can be fairly confident that any ropes we buy now for standing and running rigging as well as dock lines etc will all be recyclable (and some companies like Marlow are already making some ropes from recycled plastic).
I confess I’m pleasantly surprised by what I have found. Looks like this is much better than I expected. The only issue will be the microfibres of plastic that get shred into the water during the lifetime of the ropes. Not sure what can be done about that, but at least compared to other forms of plastic pollution this is a significant improvement.
[Update] thanks to twitter there is another option for Bio-based Dyneema: Gleistein
Gleistein is adopting the world’s leading role among textile rope manufacturers – being the first to switch its entire production of products made with Dyneema® to bio-based fibres. Read our factsheet: https://bit.ly/2UKFrKA
During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been plenty of YouTube Sailing channels talking about living Off-Grid and talking about their Sustainable lifestyles.
However, the two are not the same. Sustainable living is well suited to being able to live off-grid but not all off-grid living is Sustainable.
Off-Grid, for sailing cruisers tends to mean living away from harbours and amenities for extended periods. Usually time is spent mostly at anchor.
However, if that extended time is achieved by large tanks of fossil fuels then it isn’t sustainable, instead it is simply bulk buying. Some versions of off-grid living will actually be less sustainable than living in a marina or harbour. For example most economies are de-carbonising their electricity supplies. So being in a marina might be more sustainable than being at anchor in a remote location if:
you are using a town water supply rather than fossil fuels to power a water maker
you are using a marina electricity supply that is at least partially provided by renewable sources rather than burning propane for cooking and/or diesel for heating & electricity generation
you are using shoreside toilets connected to a sewage plant rather than discharging raw sewage
By not using fossil fuels Sustainable Sailing helps reduce key limitations for living off-grid . In fact it will allow you to live off-grid for far longer, as essentially food becomes the only limiting factor (assuming you have what is needed for hygiene etc and boat maintenance).
With preparation and care (and throttling your activities to the renewable energy you store) it is going to be possible to be self sufficient for energy and water (at least in climates where enough solar power is available). By combining long life foods with standard ways of adding fresh food such as baking bread, sprouting seeds&beans, making yoghurt and catching fish it is possible to be comfortable for long periods. If you add local provisioning of fresh vegetables and fruit rather than going back to the full grid then indefinite off-grid living becomes straightforward and attractive.
Sadly, few of the YouTube channels have risen to the Sustainable version of Off-grid living. Yes, a few solar panels are now the norm but so is running diesel engines, generators, and petrol outboard motors.
If a pandemic that has encouraged many cruising sailors to go off-grid, hasn’t cured them of their dependence on fossil fuels then you have to wonder what will. Clearly their complaining about the amount of time and money they spend fixing and maintaining their engines and the money they spend on fuel hasn’t reached the tipping point towards change yet.