The groovy off-grid solar sailboat
Many people dream of leaving the rat race for a nomadic life, but few have the courage to put it into action. Even fewer have the foresight and smarts to do so without consuming one extra drop of fossil fuels. When it does happen, it’s a joy to behold.
Emily Fagan and her husband are two such brilliant adventurers. For the past 6 years, the couple have lived a location-independent life, traveling wherever they’d like in solar-powered RVs, and now, a customized solar-powered sailboat called “Groovy”. If you’ve ever stared out your office window, wishing for a life less tethered, get ready to drool.
Groovy is a Hunter 44DS sailboat equipped with 185 watt/24 volt Kyocera solar panels (555 watts total), wired in parallel so that electricity is still produced even if one of the panels happens to be in the shade (this happens often since the sailboat’s mast is almost always casting a shadow over the boat).
The boat has a DC refrigerator and a DC freezer, stereo with multiple speakers and a large subwoofer, 22″ TV and DVD player, and both Emily and her husband bring along a lapotop. “We also have a water pump, electric flush heads and VHF radio which we use at anchor. Our cabin lighting is a combination of fluorescent and LED, and our anchor light is LED. So our typical daily amperage use at anchor is between 180 and 250 amps,” she explains.
In the summer time, the boat’s solar power collection is more than adequate to meet their needs, although they admit that sometimes in the winter it would be nice to have at least 750 watts of solar power to meet additional demands brought on by colder temps.
The Groovy’s adventures are all recorded in remarkable detail on the couple’s website, Roads Less Traveled. In addition to lots of information about the various destinations they’ve visited, both on land and sea, the site also offers a multi-part Solar Installation Tutorial for would-be off-grid RVers and sailors.