Sunday, 4 October 2009

Dame Ellen, eco-warrior.

Dame Ellen, she of the single handed sailing records, is hanging up her lifejacket. Announcing that a recent visit to the islands of South Georgia was a life changing experience that has persuaded her to concentrate her energies on saving the planet.

This piece in this mornings Sunday Times tells the story.

Her new priority in life is sustainable living. Ironically, it was also looking back at her last voyage round the world which has made her think of what is precious and what we waste.

“When you sail on a boat you take with you the minimum of resources. You don’t waste anything. You don’t leave the light on; you don’t leave a computer screen on. And I realised that on land we take what we want.

“You’d never do that on a boat. If you need some kitchen roll, you tear off a corner, not a whole square. But someone somewhere thought that a perforated line was what everyone needs.”

I must say that I agree with her statement that being on a boat makes you very aware of the amount of power that we consume in our everyday lives. How much 'stuff' people waste. As we spend far more time at anchor we too count every sheet of the kitchen roll, switch off all power use asap and watch every bit of consumption. It becomes a way of life.

It does make you wonder about the newer boats on the market though. The ones that advertise their greatest assets as being TWO flat screen tv's etc...

Me? I'm happy with my form of sustainable living, mostly!

For the first time we have had to resort to running a generator for 2-3 hours when we are both working on computers. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly there is little to no sustained wind here in the Rio Dulce so our wind generator is contributing almost nothing to the batteries, and secondly, we are doing far more work electronically with the development of Yala World. Perhaps we should be investing in some solar cells but to date I haven't found a panel that is flexible enough for our boat. I hate those oversized metal arches that decorate so many vessels and I want a panel that we can stow away when not in use. No doubt I'll find one eventually.

Even though we are using a generator our fuel consumption is still tiny compared to the energy requirements of running our previous landbased lives. Particularly if you were to factor in running a car as well.

So yes I am happy, but not complacent. As my teachers always used to write at the end of a termly report; there is scope for improvement!

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