I recently had first-hand experience of the vomit-inducing horrors of the fossil-fueled lifestyle of “boaties.”
On a boat trip to an isolated house on Great Barrier Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, I realized for the first time that boat culture is very heavily fossil fueled.
It is not just the fuel needed to make these — apparently so picturesque — motorboats go. But boats are heavy great monsters and so they need an entire fossil-fueled support system to heave them around on land as well.
New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island, 62 miles out from the mainland, is occupied by just 600 humans, and has no mains electricity. But, ironically, its “rugged individualist” culture results in far greater dependence on fossil fuels — even just to get there and back for provisions — despite all of its solar-powered houses.
On the isolated and remote island, just one household, for example, needed a huge, powerful, diesel-powered tractor to push the 20-foot boat loading device into and out of the water so that its complex fossil-fueled combustion machinery could be tended.
Because of the few roads, another squat four-wheeled ATV — also fossil fueled — can be needed to navigate the “unspoiled” tracks to get to town to buy more tanks of fossil fuels to bring back out to the “idyllic homestead on its own valley far from neighbors in the unspoiled wild” to fuel the boat and the tractor.
I don’t think I’ll ever look at isolation as a simple, low-carbon lifestyle again
Here’s the really horrifying part. According to the tourism literature, an astonishing 1 in every 3 New Zealand families owns one of these fossil-fueled monsters.
The country is virtually all coastline and getting around all of its gorgeous bays and islands is how the long summer vacations are traditionally spent (it is summer here at Christmas). And these motor boats really chew up the smelliest and nastiest fossil fuel there is — diesel.
The old renewables — hydroelectric power and geothermal power — power 75% of the small nation’s electric grid. But, although New Zealand is blessed with one of the world’s cleanest electric grids among advanced nations, this fossil-fueled boat culture must surely more than negates the super low-carbon footprint of its electric grid.
Not every seagoing vessel is entirely fossil-fueled like a motor boat, of course, but there are lots of these smelly fossil fuel gobblers. And even sailboats have fossil-fueled motors as well, as can be seen and smelled at every marina.
The only truly fossil-free water transport is some dinghies, and canoes and wakas — and paddleboards, of course.
There is a crying need for a well-marketed campaign to switch to a clean electric drive for all the world’s recreational boats. (And ferries.)
Tesla knows how to make even batteries in the garage look enticing and groundbreaking. And of course the Tesla EVs are the epitome of glamour.
It made me wonder, why doesn’t Elon Musk make a Tesla brand electric motorboat?
Here is what I know of one need, which is the trip from Waiheke Island to Great Barrier Island. The distance is 45 miles, which we did in 2 hours, so we were doing 22 miles an hour, which sounds like a pretty stately ride for a car, but this smelly oil-combusting motorboat was slamming up and down, battling water that felt like concrete.
Clearly it takes a great deal more horsepower to claw your way through water than through air. But Tesla does seem to be building equally high horsepower SUVs. Why not boats?
This particular motorboat, for example, about 20 feet long, had a 250 hp motor, which is less than the combined motors of even a Tesla Model S 70.
Boat marinas could be outfitted with solar shades for charging all these electric motorboats while they are in marinas.
Elon Musk, what the world needs now is electric power for boating!
I’m no expert on boats and motors, but tell me it is possible to now rEVolutionize the motorboat!