How would your sailing experience differ if you had to utilize cotton or plastic sheets as your sails? What seems like a strange concept to us is the norm for Haitian fisherman who have had to innovate with the limited sailing resources they have available. Without access to the Dacron sails we know and trust, they resort to hand making sails from plastic or cotton sheets- which often only last weeks before they need to be replaced. As the […]
How would your sailing experience differ if you had to utilize cotton or plastic sheets as your sails? What seems like a strange concept to us is the norm for Haitian fisherman who have had to innovate with the limited sailing resources they have available. Without access to the Dacron sails we know and trust, they resort to hand making sails from plastic or cotton sheets- which often only last weeks before they need to be replaced. As the fish population dwindles in Haiti because of poor reef health, fisherman are going further out to sea to do their job- and due to dangerous vessels with plastic sails, some never make it back.
This is where a Canadian charity, Friends of Ile a Vache comes in. They collect old sails from around the world for these fisherman in need. Cow Island, or Ile a Vache, is one of Haiti’s satellite islands home to just under 16,000 people, and rarely receives aid from humanitarian organizations because of how small, under developed, and isolated it is. However, Friends of Ile a Vache collaborates with North American organizations, businesses, and regular citizens to gather and deliver supplies to this part of Haiti. Bruce Leeming, the founder of this organization, has been travelling to Haiti once a year since 1999 to deliver supplies and aid to the Haitian people.
Friends of Ile a Vache’s slogan on their website simplifies their mission beautifully, “Giving a hand up, not a hand out”. They accept monetary donations, and while those are greatly appreciated, their real mission is to collect supplies and collaborate with locals on humanitarian projects such as building water cisterns and sending children to school. 100% of all donations received goes “directly to a Haitian hand”, none is spent on transportation, marketing, overhead or salaries. In fact, FIAV creates jobs in Haiti by employing locals to run the organization’s efforts year round- the only salaries that are paid. This organization strives to improve the community as a whole, and nothing is more exemplary of this than the provision of Dacron sails to local Haitian fisherman.
Why are sail donations so valuable you might ask? Well for starters, fuel is too expensive for fisherman- fishing by sailboat saves them a lot more money. Alas, in a place with no roads, no electricity, no cars, no airport and no infrastructure in general, there is also no sail manufacturer or even a connection to one. Because of this, donations of old Dacron sails are extremely important and can make a huge difference in Haitian lives.
Haitian fisherman are excellent sailors, withstanding intense sun, salt, and heavy weather sailing in simple vessels that can be quite dangerous. There is a small local boat yard on the beach, where the boat hulls are built for the local fisherman. The sails however, are extremely tough to come by and often cost more than the hull. These fisherman graciously accept old sails from around the world- cutting out the bad parts and sewing together new sails that will last significantly longer than the plastic and cotton alternatives. This makes their vessels a lot safer, allowing the fisherman to focus on their jobs and return home unharmed. Not to mention the benefit of the jobs that have been created around fixing these donated sails.
Donating your old sails to this cause is the best kind of charitable giving- your donation can provide safer working experiences, and as a result more successful fisherman that are able to provide for their families and communities. Friends of Ile a Vache’s efforts are the most enriching way to give back, by investing in a community of hard working people and supporting their determination to improve the standard of living around them- giving a hand up and not a hand out. So if you have been wanting to get more involved in philanthropy, you can easily participate in this effort by directly helping these people and give them what they need most to be successful- your old sails.
Check out Friends of Ile a Vache’s website to donate or to learn more on how you can help here:
Images courtesy of Bruce Leeming
by Kate Madden
Fall sailing is absolutely the most enjoyable time of the year to cruise the Chesapeake Bay. After Labor Day, the temperatures start to cool and the wind begins to build. The water is still warm, so even on chilly days the breeze is pleasant. The small towns that sprinkle the bay shoreline revert back to sleepy, picturesque hamlets after the summer tourists clear out. During the week, there are dozens of creeks and rivers which can be explored with […]
Fall sailing is absolutely the most enjoyable time of the year to cruise the Chesapeake Bay. After Labor Day, the temperatures start to cool and the wind begins to build. The water is still warm, so even on chilly days the breeze is pleasant. The small towns that sprinkle the bay shoreline revert back to sleepy, picturesque hamlets after the summer tourists clear out. During the week, there are dozens of creeks and rivers which can be explored with only yourself as company and the weekends are less crowded. When the leaves start to turn, the shore line becomes a mass of oranges, golds and reds accented by the wildlife that still abounds this time of year.
Having been born and raised in Annapolis, I’m often asked the same question, “What are the best places to cruise on the Bay?” All of my favorite locations are within easy reach of boats departing from the Annapolis area. Perhaps another time, we can explore areas further north and south. Here are a few of my favorites. I hope you have the opportunity to explore these areas as well.
Magothy River – Eagle Cove
Don’t let the tricky looking channel dissuade you from this lovely spot. Located just behind Gibson Island, you will pass stately waterfront homes on your way to the entrance. The entrance is well marked and the charts are pretty accurate. Simply stay in the channel and as you pass the sand bar on your right and make your way into the cove. On your left is a beautiful horse farm. Grab a cocktail, sit back and relax while watching the horses graze. See if you can spot the building with the large tree growing out of the center.
Swan Creek in Rockhall
Rockhall is a laid back town that is best enjoyed on the weekdays or in the fall. The town offers a trolley and for a small fee, you can travel to and from the marinas and town. Be sure to check the schedule for days it operates. Most of the marinas on Swan Creek are at the opposite end of town and offer various amenities including bikes. It is a fair hike into town made easier with bikes, especially if you are buying groceries. In town you’ll find numerous shops, cafes, restaurants featuring local fare.
Worton Creek proper doesn’t have tons of anchoring space once you get truly in the creek (past the visible sandbar). However, that’s not where you want to go anyway. As long as the weather will allow, anchor “outside” the creek off the north shore, right before you enter the creek’s channel. Here you will find a lovely spot to drop the hook. Open to winds from the west and south with views down and across the Bay. On the north shoreline, you will likely spot numerous Bald Eagles soaring above the trees. Further out on the north shore where the bluffs are high and the shore juts into the bay, is a really cool driftwood beach. From this beach, you feel like you could see all the way down to Norfolk. Much of what floats north in the bay will land on this beach and makes for fun exploration of the shoreline.
Wye River circles Wye Island which is sparsely populated and part of the Natural Resources Management Areas. If you have a kayak on board, THIS IS THE place for exploration. There are miles and miles of shoreline, small coves only accessible by small craft. Deep water and a well-marked channel make this an easy to reach destination. There are numerous anchorages that provide either open areas on those hot, still evenings or hurricane holes where even 40 knot breezes will cause only a slight stir. Check your charts or cruising guide for access from the water to the numerous hiking trails on the island.
On your way…
Bloody Point Bar Lighthouse – Eastern Bay
Entering Eastern Bay on your way to Wye River or St. Michaels you will pass Bloody Point Bar Lighthouse. Constructed in 1881, it was designed to withstand the ice flows which, at the time, were destroying all the screw pile light houses such as the one still standing: Thomas Point Light House. In the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum photo below, you will see another example of the screw pile light house, Hoopers Straight Light, which was removed from the Bay and restored at the museum. Bloody Point Light was a manned light house until 1960 when an explosion and fire forced the crew to abandon the lighthouse. The lighthouse was sold to a private party who is hoping to restore it. Unfortunately, earlier this year when we passed by we noticed a large hole in the side of the structure that had not been there the previous fall.
As a child, whenever we passed by the bright red lighthouse, my father used to make up stories of pirates and bloodshed in that area.. How could that not be true with a name like Bloody Point!
If you have never been to the quaint town of St. Michaels,you need to put this on your cruising agenda. My favorite time of the year is in the fall. Check St. Michael’s town calendar for events including the Fall Festival in October. The pumpkin carving is amazing. The scarecrow contest runs for two weeks. The scarecrows are attached to light poles throughout the town for you to vote on your favorite. The town features a number or restored historic houses. For about $10, the town museum offers a guided walking tour and it includes access to the St. Michaels Museum. There are 3 large marinas as well as anchoring outside of the entrance, which is served by a water taxi. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has exhibits and activities all year long for young and old. This museum truly captures the history and spirit of the towns and people of the Bay area and is definitely not to be missed. There are plenty of restaurants and cafés to get a meal and quench your thirst.
Written by Vicky Lohman, Fufillment Manager at APS.
This year Annapolis Performance Sailing, well known as APS, celebrates its 25th year of serving sailors around the world. APS was founded in 1991, by our company president Kyle Gross, the year he graduated from college. After competing on the St Mary’s College Sailing team and working at the college’s sailing center, he recognized the need for a business that would supply dinghy racers with everything they needed, from foul weather gear to obscure boat parts that seemed impossible to […]
This year Annapolis Performance Sailing, well known as APS, celebrates its 25th year of serving sailors around the world. APS was founded in 1991, by our company president Kyle Gross, the year he graduated from college. After competing on the St Mary’s College Sailing team and working at the college’s sailing center, he recognized the need for a business that would supply dinghy racers with everything they needed, from foul weather gear to obscure boat parts that seemed impossible to find.
With a clear strategy, lots of slog, a small bank loan, and help from his employer and friends, he opened the first location in Eastport, an area adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay, in the historic city of Annapolis, Maryland.
The first collection of hardware, line and apparel here at APS was limited. With no employees, Kyle worked seven days a week, and sailed in the evenings building the business, and relationships within the sailing community. He was quick to realize that the only way his business would grow would be if he had a direct relationship with his key vendors. So he bought a plane ticket, jumped the pond, and rented a car in England. Driving around, getting lost on narrow back roads, he managed to locate and introduce himself to the primaries of companies who were making equipment and gear for dinghy racing. Visits to many chandleries provided much insight. It didn’t take long for him to realize, there’s a big difference between the US and England in terms of the geographical spread of sailing.
With the US being much larger, the sport on this side of the Atlantic is divided into sailing pockets: Annapolis being only one of many. In 1992, Kyle decided to produce a mail order catalog to bridge the gap between sailing locations and connect with customers nationwide. Technology being far from what it is today, product photos were taken, trips to a photo shop to turn film into half tones were made, and actual cutting and pasting was the method for creating the catalog. Friends helped by modeling for apparel photos and were enticed with beers and pizza to stick address labels on finished catalogs. The initial circulation was around 3000.
After a few years of growth, and with gained knowledge of the national retail market, Kyle moved APS to a larger location and greatly expanded the product offering into outfitting larger keelboats and their crews. The APS catalog grew in size and distribution year after year establishing APS as a serious mail order company. The addition of a dedicated and knowledgeable call center team increased customer service, further helping the company grow into an international presence.
During the next years, the APS catalogs were expanded to over 100 pages, full color with a distribution in excess of 100,000. The retail space increased in size twice, the APS website was launched, the rigging department was created and the product offering became much larger.
In 2003, Kyle designed and built the current 6000 square foot APS storefront and fulfillment center. Since then, our product offering has been expanded beyond 15,000 items, staff size increased and the Crugear department for decorating team gear was added. Three years later, the second APS website was launched to provide for the expanded product offering and improve the customer buying experience.
Throughout these years, APS became known as the first-to-market sailing retailer by developing relationships with innovative vendors outside of the US and exclusively introduced new brands including: Zhik gear, Optimum Time Watches, Holmotro tools, Polilite rope, Rooster clothing and hardware, Sea Australia gear, and others.
APS continues to change, adapt and thrive as a sailing retailer in the digital age. In 2015 a new enterprise website was launched to further improve the customer shopping experience and the APS Advisor was introduced as the source for sailors to access the knowledge and information that is the hallmark of APS. The Advisor houses the hundreds of videos, articles and photographs developed by the APS team in-house.
Nothing quite represents our metamorphosis over these past 25 years than the catalog covers. They clearly show the evolution of a company that started out in dinghies, moved to keelboats, was an early adopter of online retail and one that grew the market it served to that of all sailors.
The core values we held close have been to stock a wide selection of products and their accessories, to have stock of hard to find items, and have a staff of active sailors who are able to help customers solve problems and make purchases with confidence. A team of up to 32 members in season, call APS home today and enjoy being able to walk out the door at the end of the day and be on the water sailing not too long thereafter.
APS has remained true to its mission of serving sailors and focusing effort exclusively on sailing rather than boating and water activities in general, and will continue to provide the widest selection of quality sailing specific products and services for apparel, line, hardware, and rigging at competitive prices. The unique value APS provides is not found at “big box” marine retailers nor via online only stores, nor anywhere else in the world.
APS is located at 104 Severn Avenue in Annapolis, MD. We can be reached at 800.729.9767 during business hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm US EST, Monday – Friday. Our Sales & Customer Service Center is closed on Saturday and Sunday – you can reach us by email by clicking here. Our storefront is open on the weekends from 8:00am – 5:00pm EST for walk in customers.
Many of us in the sailing community were lucky enough to foster a love of the water and boating from a young age, while plenty of others have picked up the sport in adulthood. No matter the age of the sailor, there is a wealth of knowledge that comes from learning how to sail. US Sailing has found a way to not only grow the sport and make sailing more accessible, but to help teach core subjects using sailing […]
Many of us in the sailing community were lucky enough to foster a love of the water and boating from a young age, while plenty of others have picked up the sport in adulthood. No matter the age of the sailor, there is a wealth of knowledge that comes from learning how to sail. US Sailing has found a way to not only grow the sport and make sailing more accessible, but to help teach core subjects using sailing as a platform. Launched in 2012, the Reach initiative uses sailing as an extension of classroom lessons to educate children as well as foster a passion for the ocean and an appreciation for a variety of maritime disciplines.
Reach is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program that creates a baseline for education using sailing as a cornerstone to teach students more about the physical and marine world that surrounds us. The STEM program offers educators a library of modules that can be used in connection with existing classroom lessons to further enhance students’ understanding of concepts. US Sailing also offers training for professional development for both professionals and volunteers to make their summer sailing programs more immersive in the sciences. Reach programs for students can be found nationwide using the map below:
For educators looking to incorporate their local sailing center into their education plan, the Reach Program is a fantastic way to get your students excited about science and technology in a tangible way. The principals of sailboat physics are an extension of flight, while other core mechanics such as buoyancy and meteorology teach important STEM concepts. Many communities have facilities and locations that are available to tour and offer both exposure to trades (sail making, boat building) as well as facilities such as Marina’s and Yacht Clubs that will allow students to appreciate some of the economy that surrounds one of the earliest forms of transportation.
One of the most important parts of the Reach program is the opportunity that it brings to children who would have otherwise never learned about sailing. By making boats and information accessible to youth, Reach has the ability to foster a love and understanding of the sport. 90% of all children who participate in the program are first time sailors, making this an exciting threshold into the boating community.
US Sailing’s Reach Initiative participated in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event last month in New York City. By collaborating with the AC Endeavour Program, Harken, and 11th Hour Racing, US Sailing was able to provide three days of engaging and educational activities to children and their families at the event. Displays of simple machines, pulleys, and environmental impact activities brought a well-rounded STEM experience to the young sailors.
If you’re a parent looking to keep your child stimulated this summer, programs utilizing STEM under the Reach initiative are available nationwide (it’s worth looking up your local center as it may be offering the STEM program but might not be registered on the US Sailing website). What better way to harbor a child’s passion for the sea than to experience the science of sailing firsthand.
Photo: Megan McNeilly A lot can change in a hundred years. The America’s Cup returned to the waters off the island of Manhattan after a 96 year hiatus this past weekend. Much has changed in the sailing world since that last race. New boat designs, construction materials, and sails have evolved from monohulls made from wood with canvas sails to full carbon fiber, foiling catamarans with winged sails that can propel these boats upwards of 50 miles per hour. These […]
Photo: Megan McNeilly
A lot can change in a hundred years. The America’s Cup returned to the waters off the island of Manhattan after a 96 year hiatus this past weekend. Much has changed in the sailing world since that last race. New boat designs, construction materials, and sails have evolved from monohulls made from wood with canvas sails to full carbon fiber, foiling catamarans with winged sails that can propel these boats upwards of 50 miles per hour. These are not the boats your grandfather used to sail.
In addition to these new designs, the entire sport of sailing has also evolved. What was once a sport dominated by only a select few, sailing is adapting to become an activity that is able to be enjoyed by anyone. It’s not necessary to be a boat owner to get out and participate. There are community sailing programs on waterways all around the world. This is especially advantageous if you don’t live in a town named Annapolis, Newport, or San Francisco.
Additionally, what better way to expose sailing to people who wouldn’t normally be around it than bring it to a venue that can accommodate a large number of spectators and put them up close and personal to the action. As was seen this weekend, the crowds along the Hudson River numbered up to 175,000 in total. Most of these people had never even seen a sailing regatta up close. Many had probably never even been that close to a sailboat before. That’s what is so great about having events like these in cities like New York and Chicago.
Whether you are a cruising sailor, racing sailor, or a couch sailor, sailing is a fantastic way to build character and encourage teamwork among those involved. A group called “Rocking the Boat” out of the south Bronx was on hand at Brookfield Place showcasing how they are using sailing and boat building to do just that. They are bringing teenagers from one of the most impoverished areas in the U.S. and using boat building as a catalyst to build leaders in their community. And they are doing it in a successful way that is being modeled around the country in under-served areas.
Granted, many will argue that the sailing was pretty abysmal this past weekend with the Hudson’s insanely strong currents and the winds as unpredictable as New York City traffic. Saturday’s winds were virtually non-existent. Sunday, the winds were gusting in the upper 20’s with sustained winds around 15. That is, 15 knots sustained where the buildings along the shore didn’t block the wind completely. While these obstacles proved to be challenging and gave the skippers and their crews a run for their money, the spectators on shore really got a feeling for how tough sailing can be and how the leader board can change at any time.
So with the ever expanding availability of sailing all around the world and even more events happening like the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race, there is no reason why we all can’t take advantage of this amazing sport. Sailing can be a sport for everyone – no matter what your background or locale. We can only dream as to what will happen to the sport of sailing in the next hundred years. Could we possibly see foiling monohulls in the next America’s Cup? Why not?
Hopefully we won’t have to wait another hundred years to get the AC back to New York.
Check out more organizations striving to improve Community Sailing:
Try Googling your area for other community sailing organizations.
Use this map from US Sailing to find centers in your community:
If you’ve ever watched a skimmer on the pool and witnessed the current created by water’s surface tension flowing over a lip close to the surface then this innovation by The Seabin Project might have you saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?” The Seabin is the brainchild of Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton and aims to tackle marine pollution starting on the very docks that you launch your boat from. Every sailor has looked down as they are […]
If you’ve ever watched a skimmer on the pool and witnessed the current created by water’s surface tension flowing over a lip close to the surface then this innovation by The Seabin Project might have you saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
The Seabin is the brainchild of Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton and aims to tackle marine pollution starting on the very docks that you launch your boat from. Every sailor has looked down as they are pulling into their slip and noticed the accumulation of small debris and rubbish that has often been trapped there from the surrounding rivers and road runoff. Since Marinas and Yacht clubs are often naturally sheltered from current and wind, this debris often builds into small masses of plastics and other pollutants that could be skimmed from the top of the water; enter Seabin.
Seabin works by being fastened to a floating dock and remaining at the surface of the water as the tides shift. This allows the Seabin to skim the waterway 24/7 and only requires that the catch be lifted and cleaned for the device to remain effective. A small pump running on shore power allows the Seabin to move substantial amounts of water through its catch. The result is a very cost effective solution to keeping a Marina or Yacht Club’s waters clean and free of debris that ultimately would make its way out of the protected waters and into the ocean where it can endanger all kinds of marine life.
With its small form factor and low operating cost the Seabin provides an alternative to traditional Marina cleaning services that are often labor intensive and time consuming. Emptying a Seabin takes a few minutes and can be easily accomplished by existing staff as part of daily tasks. The Seabin’s small form factor does not take up space on the dock that might otherwise be used for dockage, which is a key differentiator from some existing product offerings. The team at The Seabin Project also offers the addition of an oil separator to the pump mechanism to further enhance the cleaning properties of the Seabin. Their manufacturing goal also includes using recycled Polyethylene to further reduce environmental impact and produce a product that is even more sustainable and hits their own benchmarks for ethnical production.
The Seabin Project has recently announced a partnership with Poralu Marine to produce the product to meet their expected ship date at the end of 2016. Their Indiegogo Campaign raised over a quarter of a million dollars to make the Seabin a reality and provide supply for the overwhelming demand. When The Huffington Post covered this in December they were still in their funding phase (But check out their great video here), but with their recent press release they are on target to fill orders and make the Seabin commercially available.
With distribution coming soon, you may just start noticing the Seabin cleaning the water around your boat on your next cruise or even at your home Yacht Club. The Seabin will mean less refuse and less plastic wherever it is deployed and, who knows, it just might make cleaning the bottom of your boat more pleasant next season.
On December 28th 2015 President Obama signed, into law, H.R.1321 – Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. This act was in response to over a decade of products containing plastic microbeads and the acknowledgement that the majority of these 10mm plastic particles were bypassing water treatment facilities and ending up directly into our nations waterways. While these plastics are filtered during the process to purify tap water before it reaches homes they are increasingly being identified in seafood being caught commercially. […]
On December 28th 2015 President Obama signed, into law, H.R.1321 – Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. This act was in response to over a decade of products containing plastic microbeads and the acknowledgement that the majority of these 10mm plastic particles were bypassing water treatment facilities and ending up directly into our nations waterways. While these plastics are filtered during the process to purify tap water before it reaches homes they are increasingly being identified in seafood being caught commercially. Essentially the water you drink is plastic free but the seafood on your table may be contaminated. And that’s just a start. Non- Profit 5 Gyres suggests that mankind only recovers 5-10% of plastics we produce, and with only 50% making its way to landfills, well, the math doesn’t look good for the ocean.
In our previous article we touched on the importance of minimizing plastic waste and recycling in an effort to keep larger plastics from breaking down and becoming dangerous to marine life. Microbeads essentially are those plastics, right out of your personal care products and are readily ingested by marine life in all links of the food chain. According to 5Gyres, “A single plastic micro bead is 1 million times more toxic than the water around it.” Big fish eat little fish and little fish are often ingesting these tiny plastics confusing them for organic food sources.
The Microbead-Free Waters Act is a great start and it addresses many of our personal care products that may contain these dangerous plastics here in the United States. However, it gives companies several years to comply with the ban in order to phase out plastic microbeads and introduce products with biodegradable alternatives. Since the ban doesn’t immediately go into effect there are steps you can take to do your part in keeping these micro plastics out of your own local waterways and oceans.
For starters you can check the ingredient list on your exfoliating face cleanser or other cosmetics product for ingredients like Polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, and nylon. The prefix ‘Poly’ indicates a synthetic polymer that is a good indication of a plastic additive. These are generally marketed as body wash and face scrubs but these products can also be found in toothpaste and face masques as well.
So you have identified products you already own in the home but more importantly in order to get these products off the shelves faster, its paramount to not buy them in the first place. Beat the Microbead is a campaign initiated by the Plastic Soup Foundation and the North Sea Foundation to eliminate microbeads in cosmetics products found in stores. They have a handy app that allows you to scan UPC codes in store and compare it to their ever-growing database of products that contain microbeads.
To use the App simply scan the barcode of the product in question. If the item has already been registered the app will return a confirmation of microbeads (or not) in the product. If it hasn’t yet been scanned the app will ask you to take a photo of the front and the back so the team at Beat the Microbead can review and add it to the database.
The premise is simple; if these products aren’t selling in stores they will be discontinued long before the ban takes effect. Companies like Unilever and Proctor & Gamble simply won’t produce products that aren’t selling so this is an important step in taking action long before the official ban.
Don’t fret, even though this initiative started in 2012 and your local retailor is still full of products that contain microbeads it is also full of products that don’t. It’s important to keep these contaminants out of your grey water discharge, and holding tanks onboard since they are not readily filtered during wastewater treatment. So go green by going Poly-Free in your boating and household products, and keep your local ecosystem and dinner plate microbead safe.
Images and video courtesy of The 5 Gyres Institute
If you’re glad you kept your collection of 1980’s ski suits only to find that neon is the new black then you’ll be blown away by SkySails, a German based company producing wind powered propulsion for boats over 100 feet in length. Operating on principals similar to kite boarding, this system utilizes a high altitude “tow kite” to generate power for the vessel. Boasting up to a 35% reduction in fuel consumption in ideal conditions, these power generation systems […]
If you’re glad you kept your collection of 1980’s ski suits only to find that neon is the new black then you’ll be blown away by SkySails, a German based company producing wind powered propulsion for boats over 100 feet in length. Operating on principals similar to kite boarding, this system utilizes a high altitude “tow kite” to generate power for the vessel.
Boasting up to a 35% reduction in fuel consumption in ideal conditions, these power generation systems launched (literally) in 2008 during the height of fuel costs providing cargo ships some reprieve in operating costs downwind. While fuel pricing has reduced in the past several years, one thing remains constant: green initiatives that save greenbacks are here to stay.
Technological advances such as the Dyneema line, that tethers the kite to the vessel, allows the nearly 1800 square foot kite (which produces the thrust of an Airbus A318 turbine engine) to carry the cargo across open ocean. Sounds like science fiction, but thanks to advanced fiber technologies and physics this sustainable energy can be utilized to reduce carbon emissions for global transport.
For sailors the effect Wind Shear is often discussed as you deal with varying wind over the height of th
e sail. Taller masts can produce more power by catching air that may be passing over boats with less sail area above the deck. SkySails takes this atmospheric effect to the extreme by launching their football field sized kites (manufactured by North Sails NZ) thousands of feet in the air to catch oceanic breeze that is more substantial and more consistent. Utilizing their integrated mast system to launch and retrieve this mammoth kite has made SkySails a viable solution for merchant vessels looking to the future of shipping.
This innovation has earned SkySails a Sustainable Shipping Award and I am sure has caused more than one Captain to scratch their head and wonder what that UFO is flying ahead of that cargo vessel. Fuel savings means less greenhouse gas, less oceanic pollution, lower cost of transport (that means lower cost of goods) providing benefits that you can see. Now to try and convince your bowman to douse one of these:
– Jason Tomchik
Images ©SkySails 2016