Chartering: With and Without Solar Power

August 1, 2019

 

 

We have recently returned from using our Dream Yacht Charter weeks in southern France's Iles D'or, southern Corsica, and the Ionian islands of Greece. We started off our trip on a larger yacht, a Bavaria 50.5 because Lyall's family and some of our friends came aboard. Iles D'or islands are off Toulon and are part of a National Park. There were few, if any cars, beautiful beaches, hikes, and great food and wine. We truly felt on vaction, hearing the bird songs each morning and enjoying uncrowded anchorages. However, this boat did not have solar on board and we ran the engine a couple hours each day for battery charging. Our fuel bill reflected that at over 200 Euros for the two weeks.

 

A goal of this trip was to actually install a SunPower® 170Watt flexible solar panel on our own yacht, Blake a Dufour 382, while we were on a week charter to check in on her. It was so amazing to finally solar power our own boat after helping countless others go solar on theirs! We will certainly reduce the engine hours, and lower the diesel bills of our next guests. It was a whirlwind week to Bonifacio and back, but we were able to retrofit our bimini and complete the install whilst managing to still enjoy the sailing and sights of southern Corsica. Reuniting with Blake was amazing, and we are even more excited to live aboard her in a couple years. She felt more like home than any other boat we have chartered. We polished her stainless, scrubbed her decks, and filled her hull with love, that will hopefully linger until we see her again in 2021.

 

Next, we flew to Athens where we took a brief repose from our life aboard to be on land for a week and show the grils the Acropolis. We made the Novotel Athens our home base, lounging for hours at the posh rooftop pool, washing off the weeks of salt that had seeped into our bodies. We explored the ancient city and indulged in some nights of a non moving bed, and then departed to Corfu for a few more nights on land. We rented a car, and drove for the first time in a month through the middle of the island to the west side and met with our friends, and sailing guests from Sweden. We set off a couple days later, eager to explore the Ionian islands, and check off sailing in Greece from my bucket list.

 

We picked up a Dufour 382, not Blake, at Marina Gouvia, one of the largest marinas in the Mediterranean. It was so hot and huge. We stepped aboard our home for the next two weeks and were absoutly amazed to see two solar panels mounted at the stern! Then we looked down the docks to see almost the whole Dream Yacht fleet had solar panels installed aboard. We could not believe it! Excited to test out a system on the same boat as our own, we cast our lines and sailed out of the hot marina. During our two weeks, we circumnavigated Paxos, and Anti Paxos, two islands south of Corfu. The three are very lush, green, and jungly, similar to our home in Hawaii. It was not the dry, arid Greece I was expecting. We swam and beached every day, feasting on fresh produce and gyros. These islands are true paradise.

 

At the end of the two weeks we spent exactly the same amount as in Corsica, 47 Euros, on fuel before returning to the marina. We barely ran the engine to soley charge the batteries while at anchor, maybe only a few hours the whole two weeks. The difference is that on Blake, we hadn't installed the solar yet, and were only on board for one week, running the engine for roughly 2-3 hours a day to charge the batteries. The battery alarm on Blake was actually going off daily, and in the middle of the night. Whereas we did not hear it once on the same boat in Corfu. Also, we had no fans running on Blake, where solar power ran one in each cabin daily on the same boat in Greece.

 

Not only did having a small solar syetem installed make for a more eco friendly charter, but we were able to enjoy the idyllic anchorages without listening to a noisy engine. You do not truly appreciate this luxury until you have solar and experience it for yourself. To not even have to think about your power consumption because you have 200Watts of solar, is what a sailing holiday should entail. I can only hope the future guests on Blake experience the same quality of silent, sustainable sailing as we did in Greece. When choosing your next charter, or if you own a boat yourself, think about sailing a boat powered by the sun.

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