Part one : give it a try with renewable green energy. (4-1)

  1. Even before «giving it a try», I have to try …to fix a few things. Going to sleep, dreams come easily in my cozy bunk.  Awaking next morning, reality catches on.  Want to make our planet great again?  Want to promote clean energy? Start first with your own cleaning captain! In this field, we sailors lead the “greening” of our planet.  Just take a look for yourselves about our achievements:

Our oldest green associate: the wind powering our boats!

Long before renewable energies became fashionable and made headlines in newspapers or Internet, my ancestors sailing the world used it.  It still moves our boats today. It’s free, plentiful and for grab for any sea-wanderers.

Full sail with “green power” and an happy captain…

Sailors had made good use of it for centuries without any polluting effects. We were “green” by obligation even before this concept emerge.  Some modern improvements came later.  This strange white box on “Breskell” bow ?

“Breskell” turbo booster

My wind “turbo-booster”. More speed is needed?  I engage my turbo with the flip of single little switch. No noise, no smoke, no pollution.  Just a little hiss.  More sails come out, more wind gets in, more speed I get.  Reducing speed now?  A flip on another switch. Front sail roll in, less wind pushing, speed falls.  It’s as close to braking as I can get.  Sadly today, Breskell “turbo” is out and dead. Don’t forget the switch “on” for too long! 

Blown up…

With two boatyard’s handymen, we bring back the whole mast close to the boat.

Close for an easy access

My “burn-out” booster lays just in front.  I can now work easily on my front drive wind engine with the help of “super Jerry”. 

Here came super Jerry..

Soon the furling system was again functional with its new electric motor.

Turbo repairs done

My work goes surprisingly well.  Just a little bit a persuasive strength, some added lubricant and it all comes apart.

All was easy..

Too easy in fact.  I soon discover  two different end fittings.

For one end, I need just basic tools to screw it in place.  Easy for everyone. American made I would guess.  Quite simple but really expansive. One of the reason for my second fitting: a cheaper alternative based on some good old traditional french philosophy. If you can keep it that simple, why not try hard to complicate it.

Different fittings

“Well, don’t be too cynical Olivier. You have done both of those connection !”

Sadly, for my second fitting, I need a professional rigger and a special tool to compress the sleeve holding it together. I know the trick by now.  Run around the yard and ask for some name. No luck.  This one name lives in Halifax, miles away, in another Canadian province.  Hard to believe, but there is no rigger in Newfoundland.  Around any marina in Europe, lot of them are constantly working up and down the mast.  In town, a big company can make the “crimping”, squeezing the sleeve upon the halyard with some powerful hydraulic tool.  Still, I need this special sleeve not found at the next Walmart. 

Small fitting, big troubles

My last rigging was done years ago, in France.  Our offshore sailing community is a special one.  Close knitted and very helpful, still scattered all around the world. I contacted my good friend “Ludo” in France.  He quickly understood my special inquiry done in the foreign language spoken only by serious sail boaters.  Some more specific details given on “FaceTime” and my part will be in the mail coming from a French company.  I even spoke to the manager to confirm the specifics of my treads. The alternative would have been a nightmare: sending this long heavy stainless cable with its needed terminal to some professional in a distant port. Thanks again “Ludo”, I appreciate.  

Wind generator:

After the front “wind-turbo” pushing my boat, wind made another important green contribution in our mariner community.  Wind-generator produce the bigger part of our energy.  They greatly facilitate our on-board life.

After a long and productive life

My “windmill” is almost as old as my boat.  Ocean crossings, long days and nights in steady trades winds, all that spinning took its toll. Today’s my wind generator shows its age.  With its blades rusting and its worn-out bearings, it’s on my “to do” list before starting my long journey back home. 

A green hardworking wind machine…

As with all “natural” forces, if gentle winds are our best allies, storm winds could ruin your boat and, even more easily, your wind generator.  In the good old time, we stopped it manually during an unexpected wind blow before it self-destructed itself, spilling blades and bearings all over our deck.  Large blades of some ancient “wind bugger” can even chop your head off!  New generations are much smaller, more efficient and much quieter.  Even better, they brake alone in high winds, without any risk to your fingers.

Water generator.

I had one.  Few sailors use them today. They are cumbersome, take space in cramped engine room and are useful only for long distance sailing.  Mine was bolted on the shaft of my diesel motor. You go on neutral, disconnecting the gear box.  When sailing, the propeller spinning freely through the water, moves only the shaft and activate the connected generator.  Offshore, with good speed, electricity production is plentiful.  As old as my boat, my water generator was out of production long ago.  Hardcore sailors don’t waste much.  Money is scarce in the community.  We recycle a lot.

Can you believe this?  I contacted a dear old friend of mine, Jacques Fetis, owner and founder with her wife Marie Paule of the SECODI corporation in Nantes (France).  When I was just a dreaming kid, head full and pockets empty, they sponsored me.  It was 33 years ago.  They probably thought:

“Give this hard-working kid and his 50 feet (15.24 m) hand made epoxy boat a chance…”.

And they offered me my faithful blue Perkins engine and all the trimmings going around it. I would never forget that.  If I can push through the North West Passage and give it a try today with my yellow boat, it’s in a large part thanks to those two nice peoples.

And I plan to underline that again and again: thanks to both of you, Jacques and Marie Paule.

Back to my story:

“By chance do you know about an old water generator laying somewhere around Jacques? “.  And again this old friend of mine found an out of production, out of age but still working water generator. Recycling again my friends: I enjoy that!  And that’s not bad for the planet altogether.  To use again my old generator base would have been too easy.

Recycling and adapting the water generator base..

I need to adapt it for its new task. A tricky job ensuring that the belt will not jump out of the flange and that the alternator will align with the motor pulley …

If it looks cramped with a water generator it’s because it is…

Other “green” sailors troll their water-proof generator behind their boat. A more problematic option. If algae don’t tangle it, sharks or big pelagic fishes could try to swallow or taste this attractive and vibrating bait.

A shaft water generator in the engine room.

Solar panels.

Another big part of my renewable energy comes from my solar panels resting on the rear arch of Breskell.  This new source of renewable energy is another modern sailor delight. 

Solar panels

Reaped away by Newfoundland winter winds, my panels are gone now.  I searched around the boatyard.  They rested, face down and in a pretty bad shape, far-away from Breskell.  I need to assess the damages. Cosmetics scratches and dents are not an issue.  A damaged solar cell is another story. It could impair the whole system.

Sadly my two solar panels are beyond recycling.

  My panels are beyond any careful testing before sailing north. I don’t expect my favorite dump in Article Bay to keep solar components on its permanent inventory.  I was just lucky last year with my quest for boat parts in this northern “eco-center”. Luck is important only when every other eventualities are taking care off! And some new good solar panels are a must for my next journey.

Time to take a break.

Time now to take a break, chat with family and friends. Time to meditate about some other fellows’s dreams…

Take this guy for example…

  • It’s all about the Arctic.
More later in part 2 of «give it a try »

I have to return to work!