Making waves in space, and on earth
SCHEVENINGEN _ Astronaut, scientist and passionate environmentalist Wubbo Ockels set sail for Aruba Nov. 5 in Ecolution _ the world’s “most sustainable yacht.” Ockels (March 28, 1946) was news in 1985 when he was an astronaut on a space shuttle. Since coming down to earth he makes waves by promoting a clean environment and durable economy.
His silver-and-white, 25-m, Dutch-built schooner generates hydroelectric power efficiently. In a moderate climate, only 4 days of sailing are required to live comfortably on board for a month. On a beam reach in a Beaufort 4, the steel-hulled Ecolution will do 9.9 knots _ 1.1 knots shy of its hull speed. Its forward motion generates power through two large propellors that render 2×10 kW in power that’s stored in a battery bank in the boat’s bottom. The Ecolution shows how you can sail around the world and live permanently onboard without sacrificing comfort for the sake of durability. Its Aerorig _ 2 stand-alone masts holding 2 mains and self-tacking jibs _ require little handling.
From astronaut to mariner is not a big step. “No sailor would ever think of destroying his ship’s hull. We all live on planet earth. We’re all astronauts. And astronauts take good care of their spaceship.” says Ockels. He sees a growing number of people wanting to sail off for a couple of years “but in comfort and without much risk. That’s what Ecolution gives me. And comfort means above all sufficient, durable electricity and water. I want to generate power on board and, through innovation, achieve energy autonomy. That’s a source of pleasure but also of pride and freedom. It’s a dream come true.”
Why Aruba? The Caribbean island wants to become a 100% durable economy in 10 years. Ockels will promote that by spending 3 months there on Ecolution. He’ll speak on alternative energy use and participate in green programs. Wind power now accounts for 20% of its island’s electricity needs. This will rise to 50% in 2013 when Aruba opens a 2nd wind park. Ahead of his departure, Ockels netted an important sponsor. Delta Lloyd, the financial services group and longtime sponsor of sailing events, threw its support behind his dream.