Just because people are wedded to their cars , we need not assume they cannot be divorced.
- A.Q. Mowbray, Road to Run
" Internet technology can reduce the need to travel. Some people are able to work from home, accessing their office computer system. Instead of going to a meeting, they may hold a video conference. People can also shop online. Rather than travelling to stores, they have goods delivered to their home. In this way, one delivery vehicle can replace many individual journies." - Cath Senker, How Can We Save Our World? Sustainable Transportation
A Sensible Proposal
The Concept: Green Shipping
The Definition: Transportation of goods with little or no redundant carbon emmision. The Green part means environmentally friendly and/or sustainable. The Shipping part means just that: shipping, and not coincidentally, by sailboat.
The Scenario: The development of an alternative to overland and fuel based commodity transfer using sailboat(s).
Wind is a renewable resource. Early tall ships took advantage of that and the natural currents to develop trade and explore the world. They relied on the trade winds to get large heavy wooden ships full of stuff everywhere. They wouldn't sail up wind and they required large crews who were frequently pressed into service (against their will) or absorbed voluntarily as an option to prison. It was tough dangerous work!
The came the industrial revolution and steamships. The sun set on the days of tall ships as working vessels. The second half of the twentieth century brought the advent of fiberglass and the notion of yachting to the working class, with trailer and weekend sailers: small sailboats became affordable and easily handled with the Marconi, or fore and aft sail, configuration. Thousands of sailboats were produced to meet the demand. At one time there were fie Cal 20's made a day!
Flash ahead to the twenty first century. Peak Oil looming. Marinas so full of sailboats they're giving 'em away for cheap of free! People who can no longer afford to support a house mortgage, a car lease, escalating cost of living, and the luxury of a dock ornament - an unused boat - that cost money to slip, insure, maintain, and even destroy (which is what the marina will do to the boat after it is seized by lein and not saleable when they are "too far gone" and exorbitant to destroy). Eventually the boats acquire a negative value; they cost of reclaiming them is beyond their actual value - seaworthy and operational boats can be found for less! That kind of boat is called an upside down boat. They are still good! They can be restored and used by savvy people and reclaimed materials! It can cost thousands to destroy a boat.
What if sailboats, which use almost no fuel, were used to move goods with renewable energy to deliver goods, again? Sailboats are actually solar machines since they rely mostly on wind, which is generated by the sun in the form of shifting air masses of varying temperatures. They have engines called auxilliaries (outboards, inboards) that usually use fuel but there are also electric motors now, and sails that double as solar panels! Even using gas or diesel (or biodiesel), it is said a sailboat gets a thousand miles to the gallon.
As a pilot project it's good to start small. In fact, the whole current business model of success by (large) volume may be over. The Buy Local thing may become not just a zeitgeist but the norm as it no longer makes sense to ship avocados up from Chile to sell in California where they already grow. This is one form of redundant shipping and only occurs because the existing system profits heavily from it (how?) especially in the form (government subsidized) fuel consumption. Some distribution companies send goods back and forth on the sme run as per contract, and a wholesaler can be bound by contract to support such redundancy. That means goods produced ine one region leave and come back to be sold locally!
About seven years ago I started reclaiming unwanted boats as a hobby when I was not on tour as a performing songwriter. The first sloop was a 21 foot boat in Florida. It cost me $700. I gave it away in the end. My next boat cost $200. It sank at the dock while I was working on it but I stuffed a plastic bag in the broken thru-hull and managed to save her. I did my first gig by boat on her, a 24' Islander, and sold her for $1750. Then I got a 28' Islander for $500 and brought her as far back as I could before going back on tour. I gave away her to a friend.
People were surprised when someone gave me a 24' C & C after more touring, especially since it needed no work. I learned to single-handed sail in the snow of wintery Bellingham bay. I sold her and got a bus after waking up locked in ice too many times. Last spring I was given a 42' antique (1940) wooden ketch in San Pedro, Ca. I brought her back as far as possible but the title was not forthcoming and this blocked further superstructure work (and financing). I left her for the owner, much improved, and published my second novel which, documented the process, materials and craftmanship, called Deja Vu. See a photo essay at www.myspace.com/dancarrigan.
I also reclaimed a sailing dory, wooden, and experimented with different handmade sails and pulled sticks from the woods, eventually whittling the right sized mast. I sailed this boat so much, with my akita, that at one point when the ambitious acquisiton of a 32' Tahiti ketch fell through, I lived in and out of it for three weeks!Tthis was an eleven foot open boat. So my experience with boats has been very lively and extensive in a relatively short period of time. I have also worked for cheap or free on myriad other sailboats of legendary and obscure pedigree, mostly free. This is called a labour of love.
Last summer I began harvesting kelp from the bay to supplement the dog food that I was making for my animals. I did this during the morning row, or sail, daily after the dog walks. The dogs came (I'd acquired a shepherd mix too - she LOVED boating!) and I'd snag kelp from the water, throw it in the boat and lay it on rocks to dry once ashore. Then it got chopped up and mixed into their foods. At the health food store it $40 a pound, when available.
The year before I was rowing and sailing to my volunteer job at the food bank and doing the same to get back. I was commuting by boat, and on the return leg transporting food for myself and homeless people I knew that couldn't get there themselves. It was a very rewarding and healthy lifestyle, especially with strong headwinds! I would also boat with my guitars and laundry, etc, The dory proved much better than my bike for moving anything bigger than a bag, plus my bus got 5 m.p.g. less on vegetable oil which was a bear to garner. The oil I mean. That's alot of material! So I preferred to keep it parked and transit across the water. One thing is for sure: it can take longer!
I have sourced many boats since my arrival on the west coast a few years ago. There is no shortage of sailboats and no shortage of unwanted ones. I would like to restore this boat with my own skills, volunteer help, endorsements, sponsorship and funding. It will be used to bioneer the green shipping idea and show that not only is it viable but fun and healthy. It will be a model for future generations to come, and surely they will improve on the ideas! In fact there are all sorts of high tech boat alternatives extant for years now: Huge ships with wings on deck, etc.
Who am I?
Dan Carrigan, singer songwriter and three-time author, boat rescuer and project catalyst, at your service!
Thanks for your time,
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