Thursday, March 19, 2015

Quiet Revolutionaries ...

Green Turtle Cay's St. Pat's day parade float.
Kintala is back in Nunjack after two days of dock dwelling, and one night on a mooring, in Green Turtle Cay. There we enjoyed an unexpected reunion with some old friends. We met and last saw Ken and Sara back in Oriental, during the WesterBeast fuel injection pump problem that halted our progress just weeks after leaving Oak Harbor. It turned out they were the MCs for the St. Pat's Parade in Green Turtle. In my whole life, before cruising, I had never been to a St. Pat's Parade. Now I've been in two; last year in Marsh Harbor and this year in Green Turtle. Both were a hoot. Ken and Sara summer in the Chesapeake, so we may well cross paths with them again.

We also found Friend John of Nomad on one of Donnie's Docks, tied to just a few feet from where Kintala rested to take on food and water. First and last met at Treasure Cay a year ago, back then John enlightened us as to the ins-and-outs of Power Cruising. This time around we got a tour of his DeFeever 48. It is a nice piece, particularly the walk-in engine room. The engine room of the DeFeever is part Sistine Chapel and part Disneyland; a veritable Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels. Clean, well lit, with head room and accessibility to all systems, and with a TOOL CHEST bolted to the deck! (How cool is that?) I know it is hard to explain to the Women who Love Us but, for men of a certain bent, there is no better living than doing so on one's favorite toy. John, an expert engineer with a serious bend toward physics and electronics, has set a quiet bar that speaks well for all who have come this way.

Those of us whose boat's main motivating power comes from big triangles of cloth, can cover miles without burning an ounce of dinosaur juice, silently slicing through the blue to put distance under the keel. It is one of the aspects of living on a sailboat that I enjoy the most. But power cruising isn't that much different from sailboat cruising. Both types of boats spend far more days sitting, enjoying life, than they do moving. My guess would be (supported by some napkin math) that a full-time power cruiser burns far less fuel than she / he / they did driving when they were dirt dwellers. And though, in the past, many of the power types relied on massive battery banks and generators to keep the lights on and the beer cold, more and more of them sport impressive solar arrays to handle the load when sitting. Without a big stick in the way, they have lots of acreage for mounting panels and wind generators. (Nomad is power independent on her solar panels already, but John is going to add wind capability. Not as much solar available up north; he also summers in the Chesapeake.)

It struck me that people like John, and all of us who have come this way, are hints to the world of what can be. Our homes are very close to the “green ideal” I read about. Small but comfortable, energy independent, and leaving a light mark on the world. Many of our homes also make their own fresh water and treat their own waste products. (Fresh water and waste disposal becoming serious problems in our over-crowded world.) Not only are our boats green and getting greener, they are the definition of being “decentralized”. Attached to no grids – power / communications / water / waste – they have the added benefit of being mobile. When the worst of global climate change looms, the prudent sailor is far, far away. Rising sea levels? A couple of more inches in the waters of the Caribbean will not hurt Kintala's keel any. And if some political type, somewhere, becomes completely unhinged? Move the neighborhood someplace else.

The Powers-that-be often take a dim look of our way of life. Understandable in a way, many of us did walk away from the society that the Powers have built to suit themselves. After all, we are not supposed to be enjoying life. We are supposed to be making a contribution to the Power's bottom line or political party.

Usually we don't make much of an issue of walking out on the Powers. But really, we are quiet revolutionaries looking for, finding, and offering a better way of living for most people in most places. The total Deb and I have in savings, added to that it took to buy, outfit, and head out on Kintala, is less than 0.5% of what the Chairman of Board made in a year – a part time position for him - at the last company where I worked. (My entire department had a yearly budget that was less than 25% of this one person's salary. We were sent packing to – and I am not kidding - to “cut expenses”. And yes, I am still angry about that.)

I hope the revolution catches on, that more and more people walk away and leave the Powers helpless. I would just as soon not all those people take to cruising. Small homes off the grid, but still on land, would suit most people better than this cruising life. Besides, there is only so much room in places like Nunjack. But if, before I die, some of the Powers-that-were end up pushing shopping carts down allies and sleeping under bridges, that would be okay with me. Something that could well happen if, in the next 50 years, the global goal becomes making every home, every apartment and high rise, energy independent and, as much as possible, self contained in water and waste management. The Powers would find their grip much diminished in such a world.

Not always the quiet revolutionary... in my view the The Powers really are pretty helpless, or maybe useless is a better description. Oh, they can go to meetings, move megabits around on spread sheets, and the political ones can talk endlessly. But for the most part they can't design, build, maintain, move, market, create art, teach, or even manage, a thing. They hire underlings, and pay them as little as possible, to do all the work. Like Kings of old, without servants and subjects the Powers are really kind of pitiable. But I still wouldn't mind seeing some of them sleeping under a bridge.

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