It recently occurred to me that we are, in some ways, time travelers. Beyond the fact that the Sea Shanti was built in 1974, making it around the same age as Autumn and I, the way we live seems split between three eras. It’s a really fascinating way to look at it.
Some of our daily life has more in common with the past than the present. For example, we have very little electricity on the boat (specifically, we do everything with two 15amp outlets). This feature puts us around 1925 when roughly half of households had electricity. We get by and this suits me just fine other than a little paranoia about the extension cords. More inconvenient is the lack of running water. The water pump runs on batteries that we don’t have yet. So, this means using the bathhouse to do laundry and have surprisingly nice bathrooms with plenty of hot water. It’s about 100 yards up the dock and through the parking lot. The only really inconvenient part is carrying the dishes back and forth but it’s worth it to have home cooking. The lack of running water puts us around 1940 when about half of all households had hot piped water. I’m being generous here cause in truth it’s somewhere between 1940 and walking to get water from a spring in the woods while keeping an eye out for sabertooth tigers.
Since you’re reading this blog you know we’re online, if you read it regularly you know that we don’t post often which is partly due to not actually having internet on the boat. Except our cell phones. And there is Internet at the Pavilion which is about 230 yards from the boat (in the opposite direction of the bathhouse). We also have a television. And we’re aware of the world as it exists right now. It just felt like I should assure people of that fact for some reason.
This is possibly the most counterintuitive thing, but it is true. To start with, we no longer own a car. 95% of American households own a car, but that number is in decline. There’s very good evidence that car ownership is both a terrible investment and completely unsustainable. We are likely witnessing the start of the end of personal car ownership. This article by the U.S. Embassy states:
Car ownership has declined since it peaked at 1.1 cars per licensed driver in 2001. By 2008, the average number of miles driven in the United States fell for the first time in history, declining 3.6 percent from 2007. At the same time, the number of trips by public transportation rose to a 50-year high.
When the electrical and plumbing systems are up and running on the Shanti they will reflect a more likely future that a the present. The electrical system will be based almost entirely on renewable energy with wind turbines and solar panels charging a battery bank. The only exception would be the use of the engine. But even that has the seemingly futuristic attribute of mixing the exhaust with raw water from outside the boat and pumping it back out – sequestering a very large majority of the emissions. The water system will involve a number of filters and we’re hoping a huge percentage of the water we use will be derived from rain water collection, a solar still, and possibly a water maker. This ability to control our own infrastructure, so that we know the impact of our resource usage and the quality of those resources, may become the norm in the not-too-distant future sans a sincere investment in America’s failing infrastructure. Something not seen since (ironically) the first part of the last century.
Spin the wheel
At different times during the day, week, month, year… its anyone’s guess what time the Sea Shanti and her krewe are living in. This allows us to appreciate the past, the present, and look forward to the future in ways not available to most people.
I lived on a 30 foot sailboat for six years in the eighty’s with very few luxuries. Foot pump water – no hot water – ice box – no shower – no solar panels – took it to the Caribbean for two years. We lived well and it has taught me to be a minimalist in my everyday life today. I have little tolerance for peoples’ excesses today. Do not understand it. Best of luck in your new life – you will love it!