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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Fossil Fuel-Free Water Sports

An Elco catamaran. (Elco)

George Harvey

When you imagine water sports, what comes to mind? Riding on a speedboat? Perhaps, water skiing? Or are you more inclined toward things that are relaxing, like fishing or sailing? Or possibly, are you inclined to be active, doing such things as rowing in races? Or maybe you go for whitewater rafting or kayaking? One thing we can tell you is that you can do just about any of the above noted activities without fossil fuels, so there is no need to pollute the air, pollute the water, and make uncontrolled noise.

The list of fossil fuel-free water sports seems endless. Possibly it is, because new ones keep appearing. Some are old; swimming, sailing, paddling, rowing, rafting and racing, are all known to have existed in ancient times. In fact, it is easy to imagine that the first human swimmers were the first human beings. Newer, environmentally-friendly water sports include snorkeling, scuba diving, water skiing, and kite foil boarding. Some have a practical value, such as fishing.

Some water sports are things we could do alone or in groups, like watching the birds that live on and around the water. There are highly competitive sports, like water polo. And others can be entirely non-competitive, such as underwater photography. Some can be relaxing or competitive as you choose, like sailing. Some are intentionally goofy, like bathtub racing and the beer can regattas that use repurposed cans or bottles to build boats. And some we might think are intentionally bizarre, such as underwater ice hockey, which is played upside down under the ice (no kidding!), though with flippers instead of skates.

And then there are sports that use power boats. For these, avoiding fossil fuels is really important. When oil drips from an engine, it contaminates about a million times its own volume of water. A single drop of oil can contaminate 20,000 liters (5,283 gallons) of water. Combustion engines are equally bad for the atmosphere, adding to the problem of global warming. Concerning the times we are in, we might say, “This is no drill.”

There are many kinds of electric boats. Since some of them are rather large and some are very fast, we can safely say that the desire for power boats can probably be satisfied for many people without fossil fuels.

We checked into what electric boats are available. We found an article at plugboat.com that said the fastest production e-boat is the SAY 29E, which set a record at 50 knots (57.5 mph) (www.bit.ly/e-boat-record). And for those who have more money than 99.9% of us, marineinsight.com ran an article in 2019 about the personal submarines it thought were the coolest (www.bit.ly/coolest-submarines).

One company, however, stands out as especially interesting. For one thing, it makes electric outboard and inboard motors that could convert the great majority of power boats to electric. Another thing about it is its history. That company is Elco (elcomotoryachts.com).

Some readers may be scratching their heads, wondering where they had come across the name Elco before. The company was mentioned in the Green Energy Times article, “Craftsbury Sculling Program Enlists Electric Boats,” published in September of 2020 (www.bit.ly/e-boats-for-skulling).

Elco is one of the oldest boat makers in the United States. It was founded in 1893. But many people know it because of one particular boat it manufactured, possibly the most famous boat in history, PT 109. PT 109 has been the subject of books and one famous movie, which starred Cliff Robertson. It was commanded by Lt. (jg) John Kennedy, who eventually became President of the United States. The story it told was about his history on that boat, which was destroyed when it was rammed by a Japanese destroyer, and his subsequent actions saving his crew. We may have an article on Elco in an upcoming issue.

We human beings really need to have some fun from time to time, so we can be fresh enough to deal with our problems effectively. In an age of pandemic and climate emergency, we at G.E.T. want you to feel good about getting some joy out of life that can be safe for human beings and the environment. Water sports are one way to do that.

We have a few other links for those who are interested. The Electric Boat Association of America was formed in 1992 (electricboats.org). The Duffy Electric Boat Company in California has been making electric pleasure boats for groups of people since 1968 (duffyboats.com). A retailer in the Northeast is New Hampshire Electric Boats. (nhelectricboats.com).

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