Celebrating the 1%: The truth about luxury yachts and their owners

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The so-called 1% or “one percenters” who can afford luxury yachts and superyachts have been vilified by Occupy Wall Street along some politicians but US Congressman Allen West from Florida has recently written an article in Politico to defend the one percent who own superyachts or can afford yachts in general. In the article, Rep. West pointed out the following facts:

  • South Florida’s marine industry alone supports more than 200,000 workers.
  • Each superyacht built will require more than 1,000 workers to complete.
  • Ten percent of the purchase price for each yacht will go towards maintenance each and every year – work that is performed by mechanics, dock hands, cleaners and other service staff who are members of the so-called 99%.

The point? Rep. West does not want you to feel guilty about owning any type of luxury yacht or superyacht because you will be helping to employ hundreds of thousands of employees or thousands of small, often family owned businesses (that also happen to be located in his Florida congressional district….)

Moreover, Rep. West pointed out that soon Florida will have one of the best superyacht facilities in the world. Specifically, the Rybovich Superyacht Marina in Riviera Beach will have a 2,500-ton-capacity lift that will enable the facility to haul yachts to 90 meters or 300 feet and service ones up to 120 meters or 400 feet dockside – work that tends to be done overseas right now. Rybovich also estimates that their Riviera Beach superyacht marina project will cost $45.5 million and create 1,000 jobs on site plus generate $630 million for Palm Beach county with $111 million of that going to the town of Riviera Beach.

In other words, there is no need to feel guilty about owning a having a superyacht or luxury yacht of any kind – especially if your boat is also a green eco-friendly one!

Eco-boat. Eco-paint. An overview of environmentally-friendly paints

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Stringent government regulations are increasingly being imposed on the toxic substances allowed in boat bottom coatings, forcing yacht owners to change the way they both paint and maintain boat bottoms. On the other hand, boat bottom coatings need to have some level of “toxicity” (specifically, they create a zone of toxicity around the hull) in order to keep marine organisms at bay. After all, if barnacles, seaweed and algae are allowed to gain a foothold on the bottom of a boat, the resulting drag can decrease a boat’s ability to manoeuvre and its speed while increasing fuel consumption by as much as 30%. Worst, they will eventually penetrate and damage the hull.

Hence, a lengthy article about eco-friendly boat coatings and paint in WindCheck is well worth reading as the representatives of leading eco-friendly boat coating products were asked about their paint products. Specifically, the WindCheck article covered the following products intended for boats kept in the waters of the North-eastern USA:

  • Interlux. Interlux has paint products and paint system choices for most boaters and boatyards with its newest product being Pacifica Plus – a copper-free antifouling that uses a biocide called Econea to control barnacles and zinc pyrithione to control slime. Pacifica Plus pain will wear down with use. Hence, the longevity of the coating will depend upon the amount applied.

  • Pettit. Hydrocoat and Vivid are two popular eco-friendly boat bottom paints used by Pettit. Hydrocoat’s water-dispersion formula means that it comes with the lowest VOC (volatile organic compound) levels available – making it an attractive paint for boatyards and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). Moreover, Hydrocoat’s low solvent content allows the paint to be applied inside without the accompanied harsh paint fumes. Meanwhile, Pettit Vivid contains only 25% Copper Thiocyanate and its small environmental footprint is a major reason why the company has been promoting it heavily for several years now and its considered to be fastest growing eco-friendly boat bottom paint on the market.
  • Coppercoat. Coppercat is compliant with current International Maritime Organization (IMO) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. However and like other good antifouling products, it cannot be applied over existing bottom coatings.
  • EPaint. The ePaint Company is currently the only firm solely focused on developing and marketing environmentally preferred copper-free marine bottom paints which use a proprietary photo-active technology to keep boat hulls clean using sunlight. Moreover, ePaint’s products can be applied directly over existing boat coatings.
  • Aquaguard. Aquaguard’s paints still use cuprous oxide as its biocide but its paints also require less copper, contain no harsh solvents and can be applied indoors. Hence, Aquaguard’s water-based paint reduces the risk of toxic solvent exposure plus its approved by both the US and Canadian EPA.

Given that antifouling hull coatings with large amounts of oxide have been illegal for recreational boats in some northern European countries for several years while the USA’s EPA is recommending that boatyards and boat owners use non-toxic boat bottom paints, its definitely time to consider eco-friendly boat bottom coatings and paint. Hence, the entire (and very lengthy) article about eco-friendly boat coatings in WindCheck magazine is well worth reading.

Shining a light on GreenCat’s LEDs

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For GreenCat customers who opt for the Green Tech Yacht Automation Option, a complete lighting system with dimmers and LED lights will be installed in their catamaran while customers who opt for the Green Tech Navigation & Multimedia Option will have a multimedia system with large LED full HD screens installed throughout their catamaran. This will ensure that GreenCat customers achieve the maximum benefits that LED lighting on boats has to offer.

LED lighting should be an important consideration for boat owners, especially those who intend to live aboard their boats for long periods of time and want to keep their energy costs reasonable. In fact, LED lights can be incredibly energy efficient with Julius’ Renewable Boating Blog citing claims of 70% to 90% energy savings. Likewise, elementalLED.com has pointed out that LED lighting is ideal for locations (like boats) that may have limited access to constant electricity.

Other advantages of LED lighting on boats (as noted by Julius’ Renewable Boating Blog) include the following:

  • LED lighting has a very long life span. In fact, LED lights for navigation can last up to 50,000 hours.
  • LED lights are shock resistant – an important consideration if you intend to sail in the open ocean or in locations with rough weather.

On the other hand, LED lighting also has some disadvantages that must also be considered. The major disadvantages of LED lighting on boats include the following:

  • LED lights come with significant up-front costs, as they are expensive to purchase.
  • LED lights can be more sensitive to the electrical power supplied.
  • LED lighting is not well suited to provide area lighting.

Nevertheless, the benefits of LED lighting on boats will tend to far outweigh the disadvantages for most boat owners.

Solar panels for boats: myths and facts

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Adding solar panels to your boat or yacht is one of the best ways to ensure greener and more eco-friendly cruises. More importantly, solar panels will help you to conserve energy usage, meaning you will be able to stay out at sea for longer periods of time, plus they can help you save money over the long-term by reducing the amount of fuel your boat consumes. However, the following are some myths about solar panels for boats that need to first be addressed:

  • Myth #1: Solar panels are big and heavy. Complete solar panel systems for boats come in all sizes with most being small enough to fit inside a duffel bag and the solar panels themselves are made of lightweight and ultra-thin material.
  • Myth #2: Solar panels are too delicate for boats. Solar panels specially designed for boats are waterproof and rugged enough for you to step on. More importantly, solar panel wires do not protrude and hence, you do not have to worry about them catching on your sails or sheets.
  • Myth #3: Solar panel systems are expensive. As with boats themselves, solar panels for boats have a considerable range in price – from just a few hundred dollars for a small simple system for a small boat to thousands of dollars for a much bigger system for a much bigger boat.
  • Myth #4: Solar panels need constant sunny weather. Complete solar panel systems will come batteries to store any electricity generated. Hence and if you want to take an evening or night cruise, you will still have the energy you need stored up in the solar panel system’s battery.

In reality, your most important consideration before deciding on a solar panel system for your boat is to consider the amount of time you will be spending on your boat and how many people will usually be aboard. In other words and if you only go boating for a few hours on the weekend with just your spouse, installing a big or expensive solar panel system may not be worth it.

On the other hand and if you and your family intend to live aboard a boat for weeks or months at a time, you will need to consider just how much energy you will be needing and pick a solar panel system based upon those needs.

At Greenboats, we offer a Green Tech Power Option where we will select and install the best and most energy efficient solar panel system specifically suited to meet your needs onto your Nautitech 54 catamaran. In that way, you will not only save money over the long term on your fuel bills, you will also be helping the environment by making your boat a truly eco-friendly green boat.

Commonsense green and eco-friendly tips for living aboard a boat

Foradada Point MajorcaLiving aboard a boat in and of itself can be a very green and eco-friendly decision to make. After all and unless you are living aboard a superyacht, your boat is probably going to be much smaller and consume far fewer resources than the house you have on land. That in and of itself will make living aboard a boat an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Nevertheless, here are a few common sense tips for making living aboard your boat a much greener experience:

  • Avoid wasting anything. As Jen Brett (who lives aboard the Lyra) wrote in a recent article for Cruising World, living aboard a boat means NOT wasting anything – especially when you are not tethered to a dock at a marina and you must make a trip across the harbour to get both water and diesel. Jen pointed out that her boat will hold about 200 gallons of water and this can last a family of four for two to three weeks for just about everything, including drinking, showers, cooking and cleaning (but not for laundry).
  • Use alternative or renewable energy. The price of diesel alone is enough to make you want to conserve as much of it as possible by not using the engine any more than you need to. Moreover, the price of diesel will likely continue to rise while the cost of solar panels will continue to fall as their quality is rising. Likewise, wind generators are also a viable alternative to power your power hungry gadgets – especially if you are living or cruising in an area that may lack sun but has plenty of wind. However, using renewable energy aboard a boat can go beyond just installing solar panels or wind energy generators. For example: Solar cookers can be a viable way to cook at least some of your meals on those hot and sunny summer days.
  • Learn how to improvise with natural products. As Brittany and Scott (who live on-board the s/v Rasmus) mentioned in a Cruising World article, living aboard a boat and cruising to exotic ports of call will probably mean that you will not have access to large supermarkets or the same kinds of products that you are accustomed to using. However, Brittany and Scott have discovered a diverse range of substitute and natural products that will work just as well. Some of the greener substitutes they mention included vinegar which can do anything, ammonia which can be used for laundry and essential oils like citronella which can be used as a natural bug repellent.

Keeping the above tips in mind will make living aboard your boat a much greener and eco-friendly experience.