S/V SN-E

So here’s a story… A couple of people go to sea for a couple of decades and discover a world dominated by the infernal combustion of one single industry. From construction to motivation, the entire marine industry is designed to consume massive amounts of products mined from a single source: petroleum. Everything. I’m talking epoxy, varnish, paint, foam for the settee cushions, gas for the outboards and the gensets, and ultimately millions upon millions of gallons of fuel to shift millions of vessels over the world’s ocean and all the waterways of every country around the globe. And that shit’s finite, as is our breathable atmosphere. What if those two aforementioned people wandering the sea (yeah us, James and Dena) discovered along the way that it didn’t have to be all that? Maybe we could curb that usage for ourselves and show people that there is a way to discover an entire planet without using a single drop of fuel. Oh, sorry, that’s already been done thousands of times throughout history! But what hasn’t been done, as far as I (James) can tell, is two people and a very cool gato circumnavigating the Earth in a 29.7 foot/9.05 meter electric sailboat. We’re going to give it a shot! So there we were in Key West, right about my birthday, dedicating ourselves to getting rid of the diesel motor and all its related toxicity. We decided to try a local media blitz by putting it all up for sale in every market we sailed to until we sold it. By the time we made landfall back in Marathon and changed the location on all the ads, we’d had a couple bites that got us excited. The next few weeks, we rolled though a disappointing gauntlet of flakes like the ones that[…]

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Our last year at sea

On May 22, 2022, we (Dena and I, James) went sailing. We left the City of Sin, Mass, and pointed the boat at Gloucester with our eyes on the Azores. S/V S.N. Cetacea wasn’t ready for an epic adventure yet but we sure were. After two whole winters in New England we were more than ready…we were running away. No one in the North Shore area was willing to pull our mast, and we had some real repair work to do on the yankee furler foil. A general inspection was also in order before heading out to sea plus we had a tricolor and windex to install. We weren’t going to wait for the local marinas to finish launching their winter customers, but it seemed realistic that we’d find some willing shipyard between Buzzard’s Bay and the Narraganset. We had a good list of completed projects that made a shakedown coastal cruise totally possible. The primary energies tower was installed and we were taking on so much power that we couldn’t even come close to using it all with what draw we had. The watermaker was ready to run, and we thought that the main project left was pulling the mast for some repairs and installations. While we finished readying the boat for a cross Atlantic run for São Jorge, we’d get some cruising in and find a few little things to fix here and there…If only it had gone like that! Instead, we ran into engine trouble almost immediately. We were getting a lot of oil out of the port side and broke a timing gear case bolt trying to tighten down that seam. Then the watermaker motor started popping the breaker and had to be deep-cleaned by a pro. James got deeply ill (the electric motor pro was[…]

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The Smallest

…the slowest, the best and absolute finest spaceship on Earth has just added way-too-much power for our immediate needs. …A funny thing about needs and humans. Humans need so fucking much! We try to be exceptions, not bringing some great big life down to the water and wedging it awkwardly into a sailboat. Instead, we consider what we really need versus what makes things easier versus what is decadent in an enjoyable way versus those decadent touches that don’t ever pay off in pleasure… Strength and independence require so many tools and supplies that we can’t make for ourselves. I (Dena) don’t know how to mine copper or make strands of it. I don’t know how to tin those strands and twist them into marine-grade electrical cable. But I’m really really good at repurposing cable that already exists instead of buying new stuff and…yeah. Whenever possible. The old 12v system is different now. The 500 watt wind generator is still up and generating, but we had three sets of solar panels…one on each side of the tower and a third made up of two panels flat on top of the tower. We moved the two panels from the top of the tower to the lifelines and hooked them to the tower-side panels to make two 24v systems of what used to be 3 12v systems. So far, our power production has increased, not decreased. The top of the tower has been given over to two 24v panels that are wired to the terminal block in the previous picture to form a 48v solar array. We also installed the 48v Rutland 1200 wind generator that looks identical to our 12v Rutland 1200. It’s a pleasing symmetry. And yet…here we are…four boxes of LiFePO4 cells and a big box of electric motor[…]

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