Sailing is a more sustainable way of travel – guess that’s correct when assuming one exclusively use the sails. But we were surprised, or rather gobsmacked, to learn the carbon footprint of our engine use so far. We thought we’d actually been relatively good at minimising our motor sailing (especially recently after we experienced engine failure) and felt that we were often the last ones to cave and turn on the motor when the wind drops. Unfortunately we’ve come to the depressing realisation that despite our good intentions we’ve consumed around 400 litters of diesel during our first 2000nm travelled (including diesel for heating) which is about the equivalent of around 1 tonne CO2 emitted + other pollutants1.
We vow to do better in the future, i.e. minimise the motor sailing as much as possible and hopefully sooner rather than later realise our ambition of turning this our beloved 1986 HR 352 100 pct. electric. We’ve written a few other posts about this, see Engine, Electricity and energy storage and Electric Propulsion . Sometimes we wonder if we should have stayed in Denmark for another year or two, so we could have saved up and installed an electric engine – it would surely have helped our conscience. But for now we will “offset” (for lack of a better term) our carbon footprint to the best of our ability.
Of course carbon offsetting is in many ways a greenwashing mechanism and should not be perceived as a get-out-of-CO2-jail-free-card as it will never truly compensate for the emissions. But what’s done is done and since we’re not perfect the second-best option will sometimes have to suffice. Our name is “A Green Heading” to reflect this exactly – we’re not perfectly green (nobody is, or can be really), but we strive to get a bit closer to a destination of green living every day. Although our budget is tight we perceive this as a sunk cost as there should have been a carbon price included at the outset. Based on the current EU price of carbon (around 50 € for 1t CO2) and our calculated footprint we’ve donated the equivalent amount to Tree Aid.
As we all know, it takes a holistic and collective effort to solve the global challenge of climate change, and on the same time those who have contributed the least to the problem are already paying the highest price. We’ve therefore chosen to donate to Tree Aid as they do not only serve to capture carbon, but their projects also seek to have a direct social impact.
Tree Aid‘s projects are focused in the drylands of Africa, in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, and Ethiopia. It is estimated that the lives over 300 million people living in this areas are severely impacted by climate change and the resulting reduction in fertile land. Tree Aid work with the local communities to grow trees and protect the land in order to ensure that the local people can ” provide nutritious food and incomes today, and protect the environment for tomorrow”. In addition, or in extension of their projects, Tree Aid works to support the Great Green Wall movement (see https://www.greatgreenwall.org/).
Identifying a problem is part of the solution, so is talking about. We know first hand of the limitations, problems and costs connected with with battery driven solutions. But we also know and feel that the problems connected with carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, is by far a larger inconvenience compared to limiting the range on a sailboat, or jetski or perhaps even a speed boat. Sailing and boating might not be the biggest emitter, but its definitely contributing. We need to agree and act on that by example.
Talk about the issues and explore the electric alternatives, be a strong market voice manipulating towards a more sustainable future.
Support existing brands and solutions
Work towards a plan to finance the electrification of your boat, share it with us.
Make use of your political power, raise awareness.
Consider divesting your assets towards emerging companies in the field, supporting innovation and driving prices down.
 1 litre diesel. In order to combust this carbon to CO2, 1920 gram of oxygen is needed. The sum is then 720 + 1920 = 2640 gram of CO2/litre diesel Ecoscore.