One of the questions in Saturday’s podcast Q&A has got me
reflecting on how my boat really is a perfect little unit of
self-sufficiency. The solar panels provide more than enough electricity
for my needs, if my watermaker was working I would have an endless
supply of water, and if I decided to fish I would have an endless supply
of food.

Even as it is, if I absolutely stuffed the boat to the gunwales, I could
easily pack enough food for a couple of years – I’ve got two completely
empty hatches, several others that have plenty of room to spare, and the
fore cabin is nowhere near full.

And by sprouting my own beans (see photo) I can produce enough fresh
vegetables to ward off scurvy, for very little overhead in terms of
space, time and water.

If I wanted to I could stay out here almost indefinitely – but it
wouldn’t be much of a life.

But the take-home message from this, literally, is just how viable
energy self-sufficiency and low-impact living are becoming. As I
mentioned in the podcast on Saturday, solar panels have come a long way,
so the payback period is now sufficiently short to make them an
attractive proposition. A couple of examples:

– Mike Klayko, CEO of my title sponsors Brocade, is fitting solar
panels to his new house – not out of environmental concern (although
that helps) but mostly because it makes financial sense
– Even in supposedly rainy old England, my mother has solar panels
on the roof of her house in Yorkshire – not the kind that generate
electricity, but the kind that heat water – and they work a treat and
save her a substantial amount on her utility bills.

I’ve had surprisingly little sunshine out here on the Pacific, but even
on dull days, and even with the limited amount of space I have available
for mounting solar panels, I’ve got oodles of electricity. (For the
detail-minded, I’ve got 4 x 60W semi-flexible panels on the aft cabin,
and 2 x 30W flexible panels on the fore cabin.)

If I had a home, I would seriously be looking at solar power. And if I
had a home in a sunny place, I could even sell back my surplus
electricity to the power companies and make a profit.

Definitely there’s good financial sense in self-sufficiency!

Other stuff:

Position at 2145 28th July Pacific Time, 0445 29th July UTC: 24
08.209’N, 138 25.306’W.

A different perspective – here
is a blog
written by one of the researchers I met as I rowed past
the Farralone Islands back in May..

And now (as they say on the TV) for some messages:

Robert – good luck! Be sure to check out the section on my website
(under Adventure) on How To Row An Ocean.

Markus – great to hear from you at last. I’d been wondering! Love to you
and Eleanor.

Oops, laptop battery about to go flat. Will sign off now so I can plug
in to recharge using all that lovely free electricity!

Click here to view Day 65 of the Atlantic Crossing 3 February 2006: Ocean Rowing and What it Does to a Girl’s Looks – about weight and suntan.

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