Saturday, October 25, 2014

Goody: Okinawa to Keelung and Hsinchu Harbors, Taiwan

Departing Ginowan Marina, Okinawa
s/v Goody is a 1990 Tayana Pilot 48 cruising yacht. The vessel was outfitted for comfortable cruising and has upgraded equipment, including in-mast mainsail furling and a bow thruster. The vessel was acquired by Andie and Albert Huang (brothers) in Okinawa and was delivered to Taiwan with the help of Greg Martin as skipper in November 2012.   Departing Ginowan Marina on 2 November, the 330 NM voyage with the owners was completed in about 65 hours, arriving in Keelung on 4 November. 

After a two week pause to make repairs and wait for a better weather opportunity, the vessel and crew departed Keelung on 23 November arrived in Hsinchu Harbor, on the west coast of Taiwan on 25 November.
Underway to Taiwan

Significant details about the voyage: Good wind (18-20 kts) out of the north for the start of the voyage from Okinawa to Keelung. Started sailing with full sails and then partially furled mainsail at night. On the second day we had a problem with the mainsail and had to complete the remainder of the voyage under power. 

Arrival in Keelung
The direct voyage track from Okinawa to Keelung, brought the crew within site of the disputed Senkaku Islands. Closest point of approach (CPA) to the islands was during the day and no significant patrol or vessel activity was noticed. Arriving in Keelung just before sunset on 4 November, the seas were rough but the crew handled the vessel with ease. 

Departing Keelung
After resting and exploring Taiwan on land, the voyage was resumed on 23 November with the owner's family. The voyage was done under power because of the variable winds. Very strong currents were encountered at the northern cape of Taiwan and once passed the vessel dodged numerous fishing traps that seemed to be outside of the charted zone. A problem with the propeller shaft caused a delay but the crew was able to repair underway and enter the narrow channel of Hsinchu harbor at night without incident. 

Yuki Kaze: Okinawa to Keelung and Xinda Harbors, Taiwan

Mimi with her new yacht in Ginowan Marina, Okinawa
s/v Yuki Kaze is a 1976 Van de Stadt 30 racing/ cruising yacht. The vessel was outfitted for cruising and has all conventional gear and equipment. The vessel was acquired by Mimi Huang in Okinawa and was delivered to Taiwan with the help of Greg Martin as skipper in May 2012. Departing Ginowan Marina in the morning of 15 May, the 330 NM voyage was completed in about 70 hours, arriving in Keelung on 18 May. After about a two week pause to wait for a better weather opportunity, the vessel and crew departed Keelung on 20 May, cruised over the north cape and along the west coast of Taiwan for day and half, arriving in Xinda Harbor in the early morning on 22 May.

Captain Greg taking a coffee break
Significant details about the voyage: Practically no wind on the voyage from Okinawa to Keelung, so it was necessary to motor the entire way, consuming about 140 liters of fuel with the Yanmar 3GM30 diesel engine. The direct voyage track from Okinawa to Keelung, brought the crew within site of the disputed Senkaku Islands. Closest point of approach (CPA) to the islands was at night and the vessel was approached and challenged by the Japan Coast Guard, who upon seeing the Japan JCI registration numbers allowed the vessel and crew to proceed.

Gotta always have paper charts
Communication was kept with friends and relatives on land via Iridium satellite phone and the voyage was followed by Greg's former students at Kadena Middle School, who helped solve math problems related to ETA and fuel consumption as a school project. Upon arrival in Keelung the vessel and crew were met by Mimi's friends and family who were the most hospitable hosts to Greg and showed him a great time in the country.
Pink sky sunsets at sea off the west coast of Taiwan
After about a week break, the voyage along the west coast of Taiwan continued without incident, again with no wind and motoring most of the way. Arriving in Xinda Harbor, s/v Yuki Kaze and crew again checked in with Taiwan Coast Guard and docked at Mimi's family's boatyard where the vessel got a complete re-fit in preparation for more adventures in Taiwan.

Voyage Log of the Pirate Ship, m/v Treasure Seeker: San Diego to Hawaii

The Pirate Ship, m/v Treasure Seeker, a started her life as the salmon fishing boat, m/v Pelican in the Pacific Northwest. The vessel at some point was converted into a "pirate ship" to do theme tours in San Diego, California. Business there was good, until it wasn't but caught the attention of Greg Longnecker, of Extreme Watersports in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr. Longnecker knew right away that the pirate ship would be a success, doing pirate tours for families by day and a pirate themed night club on the water for adults at night.

Voyage Log of s/v Gemini: San Diego to Hawaii

Tried and true: paper chart plotting
Departing SWYC at mid day, we waved goodbye to our friends and family on the dock. Maybe Shawn and Sylvia, Ralph and Leo and John thought we were going to turn around, but this time we pointed the bow out past Point Loma and didn't stop! Under mostly sunny skies and nice breeze on the beam, Gemini and crew started their 2,262 NM voyage with an escort of dolphins, sea lions and birds.

Greg and Kristle, ready to go!
The boat was full of supplies: about 80 gallons of water, 55 gallons of diesel fuel (it's a sailboat!) and food for at least 30 days, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, a loaf of bread (these items will go bad in a week, so...) and lots and lots of canned tuna, fruits and vegetables, soup, pasta and rice. Oh, and of course trail mix, Cliff and Odwalla bars! This should hold us over if we don't catch any fish. We've got a good trolling rod and a box of lures so as soon as we leave Mexican waters, we'll be trolling. We didn't have time to buy a Mexican fishing license...

Satellite communications
On this trip, we will be in touch with the world with this really great device called InReach, which uses the Iridium satellite system to allow us to send short text messages with a smartphone. We can even post facebook updates with our location, but unfortunately we wont be able to really get online and check facebook or the comments people might put on the posts. The laptop computer is put away for the trip and there's not going to be internet access, so what follows is copied from the written (old fashioned) logbook:

Day 1: March 21, 2013 / Departure from San Diego
Off the coast of Mexico
Sail out of San Diego to Coronado Islands, Mexico was nice with 12 kt breeze from the west. We figure that we need to sail south for a way to catch the trade winds and the favorable current. We want to get south of 30 degrees latitude as soon as possible and then sail west to Hawaii. Sailing south, we passed east of the Coronado islands and saw lots of sea life. Lots of dolphins jumping and playing with sea lions. Even saw a whale off in the distance. Interesting and friendly conversation with the crew as we get to know each other. Equipment: Diesel engine ran for 1 hour @ 2000 rpm to charge the battery. Full sails up and moving along.

Day 2: March 22, 2013 / 31º  42.2' N / 117º  20.0' W 2200Z
On watch, at the helm
Getting our sea legs after first night at sea. No wind but very cold night. This will take some getting used to. Was going to try to prepare real food in the cabin, but we are both still taking Dramamine and were afraid to spend too much time in the cabin. So fresh kale salad and avocado it is. Struggling a lot with the lack of wind and seas out of the west. The boat wants to go back to SD! We can't run the engine for too long since we only have a limited amount of fuel. Equipment: Diesel ran for 3 hrs @ 2200 rpm for range and to charge batteries. Full sails up, switched working jib for full genoa. InReach seems to only want to pair with smartphone, not Nexus 7 tablet. InReach also eats AA batteries, 2/day. Good thing we brought lots and have the Goal Zero solar charger.

Day 3: March 23, 2013 / 31º  22.9' N / 117º  47.6' W 2200Z
Very frustrating day/night of very light wind and big swells. When there is no wind but big swells, the sails bash against the rigging and not only is it very annoying, but it potentially damages the sails. If you drop the sails, then the boat is top heavy with the mast and it is very uncomfortable. Weather report says more of this for the next few days. This sucks... Thinking of going to Ensenada but now we are are about 75 NM out and it is the opposite direction. Going to Ensenada and waiting for better wind is tempting but would be a very bad idea, since we would use fuel going in the opposite direction. The wind can pick up anytime. We have neither the time nor money to divert course from Hawaii, so we must keep the bow pointed WSW and wait/hope for good wind. We must go to Hawaii! Equipment: Diesel ran for 3 hrs @ 2200 rpm for range and to charge the batteries. Autopilot disc broke, but can easily fix later. One lazy jack line also broke with the bashing of the sails and got tangled with the main halyard. Do I need to climb the mast? Can't fix until daylight. Good news is that the SW radio/ Nexus 7 WXfax app works great and we're getting good weather reports.

Day 4: March 24, 2013 / 30º  44.9' N / 118º  39.6' W 2200Z
Sunset and dolphins off the coast of Mexico
Finally some wind!! At daybreak, was able to fix the main halyard. It was only caught around the lazyjack and was easy to untangle in the daylight- thank goodness! Just in time for a brisk NW wind. With full sails up, we're really flying now on course. Average speed 6 kts with surges over 8 kts. Awesome!  Equipment: Diesel ran for 0 hrs today. Possible issues with InReach, still eating batteries and some messages seem to be getting cut off or lost.

Day 5: March 25, 2013 / 29º  2.4' N / 120º  39.3' W 2200Z
Yes! The winds finally pick up.
Wow, 165 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs! Awesome!! Definitely in the trade winds now. The winds and seas are steady, on our starboard quarter and taking us to Hawaii, full speed on course. This is how you get to Hawaii! :) Dolphins all around the boat and saw them playing and jumping last night in the light of the full moon. Totally magical!  Equipment: Diesel ran for 15 @2500 rpm min to charge the batteries.

Day 6: March 26, 2013 / 28º  6.6' N / 123º  2.5' W 2200Z
Chasing the sun
130 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. Not bad! Winds are about 15 kts on our tail now and sailing on a broad reach/ run with the seas. Still seeing dolphins playing around the boat. This is nice! No other boat traffic. Equipment: Diesel ran for 30 min @ 2500 rpm to charge the batteries.

Day 7: March 27, 2013 / 27º  47.3' N / 124º  8.8' W 2200Z
Can we get this thing to start?
60 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. Winds have died down and are less than 10 kts on our tail. Sailing wing on wing with the whisker pole. Moving along slowly. Saw a small sea turtle flailing around on the surface of the water and bumped into the boat. Had a discussion and made peace with the crew. Equipment: Batteries are dead and can't start the engine! Engine is fine but boat's electrical/ battery charging ability (enigne alternator) is OOC. Battery switches failed to isolate starter battery so house loads drained all batteries. Possible that starter battery was weaker than thought and needed the house bank in parallel, so with dead house bank we can't start the engine. Attempting now to charge starter battery with Goal Zero solar charger or hand crank the engine. However s/v Gemini is a "sail"boat so this is not an emergency, just a major inconvenience. This really sucks! Will try every way imaginable now to try to get the engine started.

Day 8: March 28, 2013 / 27º  47.5' N / 125º  45.0' W 2200Z
Solar powered satellite communications
90 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. Winds have picked up but mostly from the south now, due to a storm system to the north creating a disturbance in the normal trade winds. Still making progress but now on a port tack close reach in 20 kts. Equipment: No progress with the batteries / engine. Goal Zero solar charger is not powerful enough to charge either the starter or house batteries. Trying to make a crank tool for the engine crank shaft pulley, but it is difficult. This model engine does not have decompression levers nor is it made to be hand cranked. Also trying everything to charge the batteries: hand spin the alternator and tried making a hydro generator from a tuna can and spare 12 volt pump/ motor. The former doesn't work at all, and the latter sort of worked but couldn't attach the rope warp to the motor effectively and lost the contraption. Just have to keep sailing!

Day 9: March 29, 2013 / 27º  18.9 ' N / 127º  56.8' W 2200Z
Coffee break
120 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. Made good progress yesterday but today we have headwinds and seas. Sailing close hauled through a frontal system bringing 20 kt winds from the SW. The ocean doesn't want us to go to Hawaii today. Being pushed NW, with 2nd reef in mainsail. This sucks! Equipment: No progress on the diesel, could really use it today. Tried duct taping a string of AA batteries together to make a power source to boost the starter battery. Almost worked, but the AA batteries got too hot and were all almost ruined. We need the AA batteries for other things. SW radio/ WXFax maybe out of range, getting a weak signal. Able to slightly charge Nexus 7 with Goal Zero battery pack. Will only use tablet for WXFax.

Day 10: March 30, 2013 / 27º  44.2' N / 129º  25.0' W 2200Z
Moving along
80 NM traveled in last 24 hrs. Somehow we still managed to make decent progress despite head-on winds and seas. Only lost a little bit of latitude but gained some longitude. Still beating to windward. When will these winds shift?? A little bit worried about ETA, food supplies... Equipment: SW radio/ WXFax is weak and possibly out of range of California stations. Will have to trust reports from InReach.

Day 11: March 31, 2013 / 26º  55' N / 129º  28.2' W 2200Z
Glass calm seas
50 NM traveled due south in last 24 hrs. Still encountering head-on winds and seas. The front has appeared to pass but now the winds are light and still from SW, if at all. Glass calm seas and very slow and demoralizing progress. The clouds look like maybe another front is coming. More of this s@#$? FML... Equipment: SW radio/ WXFax is weak and Nexus 7 tablet is hard to keep charged. Need very sunny skies to effectively use Goal Zero to charge the tablet.

Day 12: April 1, 2013 / 26º  26.9' N / 130º  30.2' W 2200Z
Caught a mahi mahi!
65 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. Finally the winds have picked up a bit. After another very frustrating night and early morning of light winds, the wind is steady, 15 kts out of SSE. Moving along on course at 6 kts. Spirits are up again. WX report from Gil and getting better signal from SW radio/ WxFax. Looks OK for the next few days. Are the trade winds back? Equipment: NSTR

Day 13: April 2, 2013 / 25º  44.2' N / 132º  46.2' W 2200Z
Mahi mahi is best cooked, not raw
135 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. Awesome day, great progress with perfect winds out of SSE. Sailing with full sails and max speed. Caught a nice mahi mahi! The Rapala lure proved itself and now we have fresh fish for the next few meals. Tasted great sauteed w/ olive oil, onions and garlic. Equipment: NSTR

Day 14: April 3, 2013 / 25º  39.9' N / 134º  02.2' W 2200Z
Enjoying a fresh fish dinner
80 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. Great progress, despite being in the doldrums again. Winds have died down and we're struggling to make 3 kts going down wind after several hours of no wind and gloomy clouds and rain. Mahi mahi tasted great 2nd day sauteed with coconut oil and soy sauce... WTF is up with these light SW winds??? Extremely frustrating trying not to sail backwards or have the sails beat to shreds. Where are the trade winds??? Equipment: NSTR

Day 15: April 4, 2013 / 25º  40.6' N / 135º  00.3' W 2200Z
Vada abordo catsuo! :) 
50 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. Last night was extremely frustrating and demoralizing w/ no wind except very light on the nose. Starting to pick up though and the forecast is looking promising... Caught a nice catsuo! Yes, fresh sashimi for dinner!! Equipment: NSTR

Day 16: April 5, 2013 / 25º  37.3' N / 136º  38.5' W 2200Z
Fresh sashimi!
95 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. 1/2 way point provisions:
     Water: 15 gal in main tanks (estimated)
  6 x 5 gal jerry tanks (30 gal)
  5 x 1 gal drinking bottles (5 gal) ... 50 gallons total (62.5%)
     Food:   All bread, fruit and vegetables consumed
     Used approx. 1/5 of dry/ canned provisions
     1/2 yesterday's fish catch on hand
     Batteries: Used approx 1/4 of AA batteries
     Fuel:     95% of diesel on hand!! :/
Seared tataki, oishii yo! :)
Making much slower progress than planned, due to the loss of the engine, so the water supply is lower than desired. We want to arrive with plenty of extra water so we can take a shower before we get into port! Now flying along with a 15 kt tail wind, wing on wing in the trade winds. Forecast says we should have good tail winds for the next few days. Equipment: NSTR

Day 17: April 6, 2013 / 25º  10.0' N / 138º  29.0' W 2200Z
Full sails down wind
110 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. Moving really good with 15- 20 kt tail winds from NNE, wing on wing with full main, genoa and whisker pole. The seas and swells are picking up too though so its hard to steer and maintain wing on wing. Tried running/ broad reach with sails on one side but too unstable. Will try to keep wing on wing until the wind or seas get to be too much. Equipment: NSTR

Day 18: April 7, 2013 / 24º  42.0' N / 141º  2.0' W 2200Z
Moving along down wind
160 NM traveled in last 24 hrs!! :) making incredible progress with these awesome winds and seas from behind. Now going wing on wing with 2nd reef, furled genoa and whisker pole. Pushing hull speed. Equipment: Wind vane is holding us steady. just have to balance the sail trim and tie off the helm and the wind vane can hold wing on wing no problem. Nice!

Day 19: April 8, 2013 / 24º  3.0' N / 143º  28.0' W 2200Z
At the helm
140 NM traveled in last 24 hrs. Still plowing through and making up lost time with these great 15-20 kt tail winds and seas. A bit worried about the sails/ rig being wing on wing w/ 2nd reef but so far so good. Sighted the lights of a ship passing a few miles away last night. Equipment: wind vane is performing like a superstar!

Day 20: April 9, 2013 / 23º  34.0' N / 145º  45.0' W 2200Z
Captain's view
130 NM traveled in last 24 hrs. So lucky these 15-20 kt winds have been keeping steady and we continue to make great progress. Revised ETA to Hawaii: less than 5 days if this wind keeps up. Today the sky is clouded over and we are surrounded by squalls though we only got rained on a bit. Curry rice for dinner- yum! Equipment: Able to still get SW radio / WXfax reports. It helps to press the antenna against the stainless steel rail on the pedestal for better reception.

Day 21: April 10, 2013 / 22º  55.0' N / 147º  59.0' W 2200Z
Wing on wing with whisker pole
130 NM traveled in last 24 hrs. The seas are getting rough and the squalls keep up. Still making good progress though with 15-20 kt tail winds and seas but starting to get uncomfortable, with 10 ft seas. Finally made pasta for dinner. Was a challenge with these seas but successful and good. Equipment: The wind vane is awesome!

Day 22: April 11, 2013 / 22º  21.0' N / 150º  14.0' W 2200Z
Broke in half
130 NM traveled in last 24 hrs. Broke whisker pole! Winds and seas have picked up and the furled genoa back winded, causing the WP to bend and break. Sailing now with just 2nd reef mainsail. 25+ kt tail wind and 10+ ft following seas make it hard to balance the wind vane. Had to hand steer in the dark, very difficult and scary with big following seas and no moon or star light. Finally able to balance the sails going broad reach with a small bit of jib. Despite this, still making good progress on course. Equipment: will try to salvage and make a brace for WP. This sucks.

Day 23: April 12, 2013 / 22º  4.0' N / 152º  23.0' W 2200Z
Getting closer to Hawaii
120 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs.  Winds were supposed to die down according to the forecast, but still going strong and pushing us along. Some big 15- 20? ft seas have built up but Gemini is sail surfing like a freaking superstar. Equipment: tried to go wing on wing with furled genoa without WP but the genoa tore. Took down and replaced with working jib. Had some difficulty taking down torn genoa (about 2 ft at the top, can be fixed). A bit of a pain in the ass getting the jib halyard to not wrap around when hoisting the jib up the furler foil in big seas. Got wrapped at the top anyway and spent a few hours trying to unwrap. Finally fixed. In these wind/sea conditions, the boat doesn't seem to need a headsail. Just 2nd reefed mainsail and we are still sail/surfing at full hull speed. This is awesome!

Day 24: April 13, 2013 / 21º  48.0' N / 154º  30.0' W 2200Z
Working the mast
120 NM traveled in the last 24 hrs. Officially on the Hawaii chart now!! :) Yeah!! Sailing really good with 15-20 kt winds on our port quarter, with 1st reef and working jib. Blue skies and fair weather as we approach Hawaii. All smiles, totally happy. Should be able to visually sight Hawaii soon. Equipment: NSTR

Day 25: April 14, 2013 / 21º  19.8' N / 157º  16.0' W 2200Z
Land ho! Molokai behind the haze
Land ho! Visually sighted Molokai at 10am local time today. Unfortunately, soon afterwards, the winds completely died. Struggling to make way and waiting for the winds to pick up. Sighted two ships, only the 2nd and 3rd in 3 weeks! If the winds pick up, we should be in position to enter port this evening or early tomorrow morning. Timing of passing Kaiwi channel and entry in Ala Wai is concern now. Want to approach during daylight but at this rate it will be at night. Equipment: Loss of battery power now a problem, since can't use running lights or VHF. VHF handheld radio OOC as well, since the switch got accidentally turned on in the ditch bag- d'oh! Need another VHF AA battery pack. In lieu of running lights, will keep the spot light handy to illuminate the sails if another vessel is sighted. Need to start keeping a good watch again.

Day 26: April 15, 2013 / 21º  9.0' N / 157º  48.5' W 2200Z
Getting closer to Hawaii: spirits are up! 
Winds are still very light and on the nose, making very poor progress... in the rain! Drifting in the Kaiwi channel between Molokai and Oahu, obviously we didn't get into position to enter Ala Wai. Should be able to enter port tomorrow. Good news is that we are in cellphone range and finally able to check email/ facebook with smartphone... Wow!!! :) :) :) That is soooo awesome that InReach facebook app worked so well and everyone was able to see our location and comment. This is my first look and THANK YOU SOOOO much everyone for all the love and support!!!!! That is seriously the most awesome thing about this trip, is that I was able to tell everyone about it in real time. Highly recommend InReach and I'm looking forward to spending a few days at Starbucks on the computer reading/ replying to everyone's comments. THANK YOU SOO much!! This is really motivating! :) Equipment: InReach is awesome!

Day 27: April 16, 2013 / 3 NM off the coast of Waikiki 2200Z
Becalmed just a few miles from port
Was hoping to enter port today but the winds are completely dead. We are just drifting off the coast of Waikiki and waiting for the winds to pick up so we can enter port. We can see the lights of Ala Wai harbor and can almost sail right up to the harbor buoys, but the winds are too light to safely sail in and definitely don't want to do it at night. We can hear the parties on Waikiki and can swim to shore at this point. Called Vessel Assist (1-800-391-4869) and they are on standby to give us a tow into port tomorrow if needed. Definitely want to sail in though if at all possible to save $250. Just need wind from any direction except the north. Equipment: F@#$ing engine...

Day 28: April 17, 2013 / In port Ala Wai Harbor, Honolulu 1200 Local
Whales all around the boat off Waikiki
Hove to last night about 3 NM from Ala Wai. At first light this morning had a slight breeze from the west and then east, which was enough to get us into position to enter port. Then the wind died again and so drifted for a few more hours. Would be extremely frustrated except a small pod of humpback whales swam right up to the boat! Three whales (including a calf?) swimming right under the boat, wow what a cool welcoming party! The seas are so glass calm and with no wind, we take this chance to get snorkel gear and swim ladder ready, what the heck, I'm going to swim with the whales! But just before I'm about to jump in the water the winds pick up. I guess you're not supposed to swim with the whales, huh? Now we have about 5- 10 kt winds out of the south east, perfect for entering the harbor. Let's hope this keeps up... let's go!!

Approaching Honolulu
As we approach the harbor, the winds start to die down... and switch directions!! Oh no, there's reefs on either side of the channel and I've never entered Ala Wai before. Best to make an emergency call now to Vessel Assist and have them really on standby in case they need to pull us off the reef. So while frantically sculling the rudder and flapping the sails to maintain headway with the occasional powerboat wake to deal with, I'm also on the phone with Vessel Assist, who also notified the USCG of our predicament. Is this an emergency?

Finally on land: Ala Wai fuel dock
We have just... barely... enough wind now and are just barely making headway to just... barely... get to the fuel dock. We made it!! Crisis averted and s/v Gemini is officially moored at the now abandoned former fuel dock at Ala Wai. What a convenient spot. Too bad access to shore is gated off with barbed wire. But we've come this far and we have bolt cutters! Just kidding, we can climb the fence and/or use the dinghy now to access the rest of the harbor and check in with the harbormaster. Made friends right away with Dave, Gary, ...(and a few other people) who have boats here. Now to get checked in to a proper spot here with the added challenge of moving the boat in the harbor without an engine and/or charging the batteries to get the diesel started... Aloha Hawaii, it's so great to be here!!

Sailing in Okinawa

Diving in Okinawa

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sailors Keep Our Waters Blue by Learning to Boat Green

Featured in the American Sailing Journal, Summer 2011

Intrepid motoring clean and quiet under electric power
            Is it safe to say that we became boaters because we love being out on the water? We don’t have to be reminded about how wonderful it is to go sailing, fishing or diving from our boats in a healthy marine environment, or how sad it is to see trash on the beach or oil on the water. The idea of Green Boating stems from our natural instinct to protect what we cherish. It is not a new fad, but an attitude that translates into behaviors that reflect our values.

            Green Boating doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. In fact, what I’ve discovered on my boat is that going green has made my overall boating experience safer, more comfortable and immeasurably more rewarding. We all know there is a right way and a wrong way of doing things. But even more interesting, I’ve also learned on my boat that there is a right way and a better way of doing things. Early on I learned that you have to sand the hull before applying bottom paint. But after a few times I realized that the job is a lot less messy (and less unhealthy) if you use a dustless sander. The job gets done, your work clothes are less soiled and you notice the birds aren’t scared away for as long. Same thing with cleaning supplies, you could get that nasty stain off quickly with acetone, but then you notice that it also eats the paint and burns your skin. An appropriate amount of non toxic cleaner (brand name withheld- but it comes in a green package) will do the job just as well with a little bit of elbow grease- and it smells better, too! These are just a few of the many basic things that we come to learn as boaters that make practical sense and are also easier on the environment.

            Out on the water I also learned that the best and safest way also tends to be the most environmentally conscious way. Nobody wants to go swimming in a toilet. That’s why we’ve established NDZs (No Discharge Zones) to keep our waters clean of sewage. Some locales have gone as far as limiting the discharge of gray water by establishing ZLDs (Zero Liquid Discharge zones) because not everyone cleans their boat with the stuff that comes in the green package. Anchoring is another thing to consider. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of losing an anchor on a reef, you know that it can be a scary and expensive mistake. Not to mention, if you’re a diver you know that the damage isn’t only to the boat’s gear inventory. Green boating also considers such things as this.

Think about the environment when doing boat work

            There are many more basic everyday things we can all do out on the water and at the dock to make our boating lives easier and more comfortable while at the same time protecting the environment that we are there to enjoy. Some of these things are easy and you can do them right now without a significant change to your lifestyle. However, there are also other steps you can take that might be considered a step beyond the basics, but if you’re willing to make the leap of faith, I think you’ll understand what I mean when I say green boating is immeasurably more rewarding.

            A few years ago I got tired of the sound and smell of the diesel engine aboard my boat, Intrepid and replaced it with an electric propulsion system. At the time it seemed like a crazy idea, but I can honestly say it was the best thing I ever did. The advantages of an electric propulsion system are: 1.) they are cleaner, with no exhaust fumes to make you seasick, 2.) quieter, allowing for a more tranquil experience on the water, 3.) reliable, since electric motors are simpler than a conventional combustion/ diesel engine they are easier to maintain and fix yourself if necessary 4.) higher torque at low RPMs makes docking much easier, 5.) don’t use fossil fuels. However, these selling points don’t fully express the true advantage of “going electric” with your sailboat.

Crystal clear waters of Tokashiki jima worth protecting

            The one major drawback to having an electric propulsion system is the reduced range under power. This one drawback is undoubtedly the major reason why electric propulsion hasn’t been universally accepted by sailors yet. However, I have learned that this drawback, believe it or not is actually one of the biggest benefits of going electric on a sailboat. Intrepid’s electric propulsion system can push the boat along at hull speed at full throttle for a short period of time and at slower speeds we can motor somewhat longer. The electric motor truly acts as an “auxiliary” propulsion system- as it is defined, and is there when I need it for docking, getting in and out of the marina and for occasionally gliding between lulls out on the open water.
            Since my electric powered sailboat has limited range under power, I have had to completely re-think my philosophy about what it means to be sailing. Since I can’t use the motor if I don’t like the direction of the wind, I have to sail as much as possible. Having no choice but to sail has drastically increased my confidence and improved my sailing abilities. I have also discovered how to get the most sailing performance from my boat and found that she was actually designed to sail- imagine that! Of course, it should also be said that certain instincts and skills that all sailors should develop, like sail trim, trip planning and interpreting the weather forecast become very important and you must develop these skills even further when you go electric. For me, this personal transformation has led me to enjoy the sport of sailing so much more.
            In the future we can expect pressure on the environment to inevitably increase, while we continue to be drawn to the water. The responsible and prudent sailor keeping a weather eye on the state of the world would be smart to think of “green boating” as just “normal boating.” With this change in mindset, you’ll discover that boating is just as much fun and can be rewarding on a much higher level.

Five things you can do right now to go green on your boat:

1.) Follow the laws regarding discharge of solid and liquid waste and the spilling of oil and other hazardous materials. Recycle your garbage, like you do on land.

2.) Wherever available, choose non-toxic paints, solvents and other environmentally friendly cleaning and maintenance methods. Do your boat maintenance on land if possible.

3.) Do something about your engine- keep it well tuned, prevent oil leaks, be careful when you re-fuel and minimize idle time. Combustion engines on a boat are probably the biggest environmental concern.

4.) Improve your sailing skills- the more you sail, the less you motor. You’ll enjoy being out on the water, you’ll go faster so less algae will grow on your hull, reducing the need to scrape toxic bottom paint into the water.

5.) Check out lots of other great green boating tips from these references:

Boat Green: 50 Steps Boaters Can Take to Save Our Waters, Clyde W. Ford, New Society Publishers 2008

Sustainable Sailing: Go Green When You Cast Off, Dieter Loibner, Sheridan House, 2009

On the Internet: