Nov 02

The Goal

Tag: Uncategorizedmattholmes @ 5:36 pm


A sailboat’s transportation is clean by design: we move by harnessing the wind. But modern life – even sailboat life – demands energy for lights, computers, fans, a refrigerator, and a stereo, as well as a watermaker, which turns saltwater into drinkable fresh water. And the sailboat requires still additional energy to run a GPS, RADAR, and radio, among a dozen other instruments. Typical of modern life, the list of convenience items that consume energy is distressingly, shamefully long.

Our daily challenge — beyond figuring out life at sea — will be to collect more energy from nature than we consume. We’ll be using solar panels and a wind generator, which epitomize renewable energy. If, on the balance sheet of natural energy, we come out in the black, we will live clean, quiet, inexpensive lives. If we use too much energy and our balance sheet comes out red, then we will be forced to run our diesel engine to recharge our batteries and make up the deficit.

The cost of running the engine is manifold: we pay in the form of excessive noise and heat, we pay in dollars to buy diesel, and we pay indirectly by polluting our immediate world — we do, after all, live right above and beside the engine, and on top of the sea. It is the power source of last resort – and, in a sense, an alarm indicating our failure to live within our energy means.

To succeed on our journey, we will need to change the way we live. We’ll need to maximize energy capture and minimize energy consumption, and our journey around the world aboard Syzygy is as much about documenting this effort as it is about adventure and travel and sailing. In that way, our tiny energy challenge is no different than modern society’s enormous energy challenge.

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