Part 2: give it a try with fossil energy…(4-2)

Like all real hard-core sailors, my first choice is always the wind. With the smallest breeze, I love to play with my sails.

I always choose the wind against any other means of water traveling.  Poor motor-boaters. They will never know this quiet and delightful way of traveling the word, riding on the back of the ever blowing winds.  We generally travel far and away in peace and harmony with nature in the trades belt. And I know perfectly that if we want together to “make the planet great again” sooner better than later, we need to reduce and eventually stop using fossil energy. No doubt about that. Just the time to get ride of fossil politicians, to tax carbon emissions and to increase the price of fuel at the pump.  Painful for all, I agree. We need this money to switch subventions from fossil to renewable energies. Like most outdoor enthusiasts, I want to preserve our marvelous playing ground, in the Arctic or anywhere else. 

Preserving the beauty of the world for our kids.

My kids or your grandchildren’s have an hereditary right to enjoy it. I want to leave my world, their world, clean and in great condition. 

Wind, wind generator, water generator, solar panel…

Wind, Wind-generator, water generator and solar panels show to our landlocked friends that they can also switch to “green”, using renewable energy adapted to their environment. Electric cars can become tomorrow your sailboats on the road.

Still, I don’t belong to tribes who live in so tiny spaces that they walk or bicycle around their small little world.  America is a great country.  Here, even poultry have a right to be cage-free. We don’t want, in this big land, to live packed all together, like birds in a chicken coop. With other inspiring projects, with people increasing awareness and sadly with some unavoidable huge climatic tragedies we will, together, make the needed renewable energy transition in time.  I hope.

For now, my own survival depends also on fossil fuel.

Up north, I depend heavily on this aging blue faithful Perkins engine. Sadly, this old beast sips only fossil fuel.

Old faithful blue engine

How many hours I have on it?  Just a few thousands.  Not much for a diesel engine. You sail across the Atlantic with only one fuel tank.  Imagine crossing America on a single fill-up!  Up in the Arctic, travel is much more complicated. The wind is capricious.  Too much wind, and we need a faithful engine to leave in a hurry an unprotected anchorage.  Too light, and we had to motor to our next destination to avoid drifting into some ice filled traps.  I hate those situations.  To escape them, I need a fossil fuel engine in good order. 

The blue beast

And mine, for now, is leaking, badly leaking. To stop the bleeding, a trustful surgeon is requested.  First, I start my inquiry West with my good mechanic friend Walt.  Some reputations in this field cross the continent. Then Bill, from “the Sunrise Coffee”, gives me another reference.  Around the boatyard one name emerges.  An unanimous West and Est Coast recommendation: leave this delicate intervention to Jerry Veist, a local expert.

A few hours later, Jerry shows up.

A well organized engine room.

“Let’s start this old grandpa of an engine first” he suggests with his legendary sense of humor. A quick visual check, some hand probing around and the first leak shows up under the engine. We need an unobstructed working field.  Why not unhook the engine from the stuffing box and the drive-shaft ? Together, we pull up the motor. 

The den of the beast.

Two solid blocks on each the side, a strong support in the middle and with my own personal 3 tons hoisting jack:  up and out in the open went the engine. 


A little later, seals and flanges are out.  Jerry is up to his reputation. Perkins engines work not only on boats but on land in big machinery.  Parts are not that difficult to find.

Next morning, Jerry appears with the necessary parts on hand. Some are new, others rebuild, all carefully washed and ready to use. With a free bonus from our mechanic : lot of jokes!  In my spare time, I clean up the bilge soiled by the combined leaks of the engine and the gear box.  Jerry left for another boat.  Alone, I take my time to align carefully the engine and return every other parts back where they belong. 

Out of the shaft for some out of the water testing

For connecting the shaft and running the engine, we need to be in the water. Still, we can now run the engine independently.

It’s Sunday.  The weather is miserable. My electric «wind-booster” works again.  It was a wonderful working week. Time now to take a break, to chat with family and friends and to share a cup of my preferred Sunrise coffee  with visitors.

Good company, good coffee. Good life!

We will start the engine during the next week.  Jerry checked for oil leaks and pronounced my old faithful Perkins“good again for services”.

Good for service.

I asked quietly for my “invoice”.

Jerry looked at me with a kind of silly smile.

-“Nothing he said.”

I thought I had offended him.

What have I done wrong Jerry?

I formulated again clearly my request for my bill.

How much I owe you?

– “Nothing, as I did nothing” was his reply…

Come on! Jerry I owe you some money…You know it.

He  started talking and joking about something else.

I felt bad and started to thank and thank him again.  For the job done, for the smile, for the jokes, for the precious time shared togethers.  Jerry added:

“Olivier, I have now some REAL work to do.  See you soon”. And he was gone”. They were right.  In the boatyard or on the west coast.  He was the best. And I still owe him a good one.

Time to give you now the name of the fellow making his motivational speech about chasing your dream during my previous post…

Robert Swan.

Robert Swan at a TED conference

Not the expected dream from your used car dealer or your conventional publicity pusher.

This guy talk about a really simple dream :

A first careful step on ice, then straight to the North Pole.

First, start with a very small careful step on the ice-field, enjoy it  and then?

Walk ALONE straight to the North Pole!


With one clear and universal message:

“make the planet great again” if you want to avoid soon swimming to this Pole!

After this incredible adventure, he traveled “green” in a sailboat around the world to hammer this message in all occasions.

Robert Swan traveling “green”

Strange how the sense of the imminent lost of our ice-fields induces people to achieve impossible journeys, and to stimulates others to climb on the shoulder of those giants to reverberate this message around.

Let’s make….

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