“2041: Voyage for Cleaner Energy,” sounds like an upcoming sequel to a sci-fi feature film franchise. Maybe Brad Pitt or George Clooney on a spaceship bound for an oil and mineral rich planet, a few aliens, a finicky computer, and maybe a Bond Girl or two along for the ride. Think of all the plot possibilities!
The fact is, this is much more than a fictional storyline. It is a real world effort by explorer Robert Swans’ “2041 Foundation” to get the message out that sustainable renewable energy is out there and we can all do something to make this planet a little greener. All this by sponsoring a sailboat voyage around the world over the next five years, stopping along the way to teach young and old how and why we can all make a difference.
I stumbled across this whole project Sunday afternoon at the United States Sailboat show in Annapolis, Maryland. In the warm sun amidst a sea of sailboats much nicer than my own, I caught a glimpse of what looked like shamrocks. Being the good quarter of an Irishman I am, I exclaimed, “Let’s go see the Shamrock Boat!” As I approached, I saw the “Voyage for Cleaner Energy” along its length, the number ‘2041’ emblazoned on the bow, and a childish looking drawing featuring the sun and flowers. I thought to myself, “There is something much more to this than another glitzy expensive showboat for sale, this one must have a purpose!”
Upon walking down the dock to the cockpit of the boat were a few printouts stapled to the dock posts explaining what this was all about, and one very intriguing sign at the last, exclaiming, “Crew needed for our next leg to Jacksonville, FL, pay commensurate with experience.’ Wow, what an opportunity, too bad I have to work for a living, and my sailing experience would warrant below minimum wage.
I boarded the boat, took a look around, and talked with who I assumed was the captain, who according to the website is Mark Kocina, and a woman whose name I didn’t catch, but I later came to believe was the cook, Hanna Huntley. They were friendly and spent time to explain some of the mission, and point me towards the media materials they had available, and DVD and pamphlet. They also encouraged me to go below and have a look around.
The sailing vessel, ‘2041’ is a “67-foot steel-frame pleasure craft built in 1990 to race the wrong way around the world as part of the Global Challenge. She’s registered in Castletown, England, but her home port for the Voyage for Cleaner Energy is San Francisco, California, USA. She is incredibly sea-worthy and maintains a cruising speed of 7.5 knots.” That information is taken from the website http://voyage.2041.com/the-yacht/.
Down below you can tell that this is a working vessel, from the electronics in the chart room and radio room, to the bunks and cabins on either side in the fashion of old submarine movies, and the offshore safety equipment not typically on display at inter coastal boat shows. The other examples of how this is not your average sailboat, are the first ever sails made entirely from recycled plastics, the solar panels sewn into the furling sail and atop the cockpit covering, and the jugs of B100 biodiesel and cooking oil, and they tell me that even the generators usually associated with a diesel engine to replenish batteries have been removed, leaving all electrical needs to the wind turbines and solar panels. All fully renewable energy to power a true 21st century globe trotting sailing expedition.
In a way this was a historic moment for Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay, being a part of this long journey. From San Francisco, down the west coast, past Central America, through the Panama Canal, around the Caribbean, then up and down the east coast to Nantucket, to Annapolis. A few more stops until Hurricane Season ends, and then back to the UK to prepare for the next legs across the world. I ask how many crew members it takes to cross the Atlantic. They say 6-8, however they are still a bit short, with only three signed on currently. It’s another amazing opportunity for some intrepid soul to take advantage of
The foundation ‘2041” of which the boat represents, was formed by renowned explorer Robert Swan, OBE, who was the first person to walk to both the North and South Poles. Their mission is to work towards the protection of the last great wilderness in the world, Antarctica, by spreading the word that recycling, renewable energy, and sustainability, can combat the effects of climate change and dependence on oil and other finite resources. The treaty that protects Antarctica from oil and gas drilling and mining exploitation expires in the year 2041, hence the name of the foundation and the hopes that the treaty will continue on forever.
Part of its UN mandated mission is to lead annual expeditions to Antarctica, with one of the featured stops being the former Russian outpost Bellinghausen Station. In the late nineties, Swan led an expedition to remove 1,500 tons of rubbish from the base, and let the natural environment reclaim the land. Part of it was saved though, one scientist station was left intact, and redubbed “E-Base,” for Educational Base, a place to be returned to over and over again on these annual expeditions. In march of this year Swan and a small team lived in the “E-base” for two weeks, broadcasting to the outside world via the internet, and all done relying soley on renewable energy, proving the missions value.
For more information, visit www.2041.com and for information more specific to the voyage, visit http://voyage.2041.com/. – Also check out the boat shows at www.usboat.com – Jeffrey S. Wettig – October, 16, 2008
The United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, MD brings us a new way of thinking about Clean Energy.