From the beginning, I was explicit about the absurdity of embarking on board a sailboat of barely ten meters in length, with the vast list of items I want to have on board during my voyage around the world, as well as the profound contradiction that this implies in terms of austerity and eco-responsibility (my carbon footprint will be around 7,920 grams of CO2 per day, a calculation made under sail, using all the possible electrical consumption on board).
However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the amount of my retirement will be meager and that I will have to offer, during my stopovers, my services to those who will need them to improve my daily life. That is why I am taking my tools on board, both manual and electric, although, of the approximately 8 kilos of CO2 that I will be leaving in the atmosphere every day, these tools will represent a tiny percentage. The most significant part of that carbon footprint, perhaps thirty percent, will be produced by the communication aspect of the project, precisely this Web page.
For the rest, I estimate that forty-five percent of my total emissions are related to the operation of the boat, including everything that has to do with my comfort (interior lights, fridge consumption, autopilot, fresh water pump, music), as well as the consumption of the various electronic navigation aids, which are also energy guzzlers (VHF, SSB, AIS, GPS, RADAR, Plotter, etc.), some of which I could have put on the list related to my comfort (the Plotter and the GPS, for example, could be easily replaced by classic paper cartography, a watch, a dry-point compass, a good sextant and the corresponding volumes of astronomical ephemerides for position calculations at sea).
But why do I relate the electrical consumptions I will have on board my boat to the CO2 emissions?
For a straightforward reason: of classic design, with a length of ten meters and a maximum beam of two meters and eighty-nine centimeters, Kif Kif does not have enough surface to install solar panels capable of effectively feeding the greedy consumptions I have foreseen for it. I also considered installing a couple of wind generators at the stern of the boat, but their efficiency is not up to my needs. For all these reasons, I ended up opting for a small 3.5 kW diesel generator, which consumes less than one liter of fuel per hour of operation, i.e., it leaves a footprint of 2,640 grams of CO2/hour. I will assume this contradiction in the same way I assume it’s 58 kilograms of dead weight on board. And therefore, even if it does not amuse me, I will also assume the presence of six or eight twenty-liter jerrycans of diesel stowed on deck.
Planisphere made by Rumold Mercator, 1587. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Gerardus Mercator in an engraving by Frans Hogenberg from 1574. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Sextant. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Power distribution plan from the generator.
24 volt distribution panel.
From the beginning, it was clear to me that I wanted to have a 240 V circuit to be able to work autonomously with some of my power tools, plus a 24 V circuit for onboard servicing (LED lights, water and bilge pumps, refrigerator, desalination plant) and the essential 12 V circuits required by the electronics. But I’m getting ahead of myself! For all this to happen, I would have to count on friends, mutual support, I would have to keep working, saving, asking for credits, repaying them, paying in installments…, what do I know! All that in addition to the unconditional support of my partner, who, despite herself, always lent me a helping hand.
That said, none of the above is essential to set sail in a zero-cost nutshell and circumnavigate the world once, twice, three times if necessary. Just take a look at Yann Quenet from Brittany and his little boat Baluchon, which has just completed its first round-the-world trip. He built it himself in the garage of his house and it cost him, in total, about four thousand euros. He is my hero. Salut Yann !