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Mike and Joanne’s two-module PV system and wind generator have significantly reduced their reliance on the boat’s diesel generator.
When Mike Young imagined his dream home, his fantasy included one mast, two sails, a wind turbine, and a solar-electric system.
Fed up with Vermont’s cold, dark winters, Mike fell in love with the idea of escaping to the warm, sunny Caribbean for part of the year. The couple bought Orion—a 37-foot sloop—and upgraded its navigational, steering, and safety systems for ocean cruising. The first trip gave newbie cruisers Mike and Joanne the chance to get a feel for their energy needs. Running the engine a few hours each day to recharge the battery bank burns about 1 gallon of diesel fuel—only about 90 cents on the islands—so it wasn’t the expense that bothered Mike and Joanne. To add insult to injury, the warm Caribbean temperatures doubled the energy requirements of the refrigerator and freezer—two of the largest and most critical demands on the batteries. A group of high-school students used their RE & energy-efficiency education to champion a 385 kW PV system, making their school net-zero-energy. This off-grid intentional community includes its own microgrid to share a PV system among 10 homes. Solar panels can be roof-mounted, wall-mounted or mounted trackers to maximize the solar capture.
The simple and practical, yet elegant design powers out ahead of any of the commercial atmospheric water generators on the market which cost thousands more to build than this.


This is a wonderful water generation idea, that’s inexpensive, and actually beautiful to look at. Everything on the new one is highly electronic and you practically need a degree to do much more than change the oil and spark plugs.
I love how there are so many windows in the front but I hope there’s one more in the back to create a breezeway. The content and information here is for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken as advice. An avid sailor who spent many years sailing on Lake Champlain and crewing on friends’ boats, he had the know-how to pull it off.
They sold the family’s retail propane business and embraced the idea of early retirement at age 52. They left home with a diesel engine set up to charge a 12-volt, 366 amp-hour battery bank that powered the boat’s electrical loads. Because they wanted to avoid paying for electric hookups at marinas, Mike and Joanne found that they needed to run the engine at least twice a day—about an hour during the day and an hour at night—to charge the batteries and meet their electrical loads.
It’s been relatively dependable however, and uses much less propane to do the same job. While we strive to provide accurate and helpful information, we are not professionals so the owner of this website disclaims all warranties expressed or implied regarding the accuracy, timeliness, and completeness of the information provided. Do not wire money in any way without first seeing the home (or other product), checking title, and doing your proper due diligence.


As they have found, you can travel and have all the comforts of home by bringing along your own power company. I saw us enjoying sunrises and sunsets day after day, breathing in the salt air while listening to the ocean and watching the sails fill with wind,” says Mike, a native of Springfield, Vermont. Though the engine worked well for cruising when winds were low and produced more than enough energy for battery-charging, it was less than ideal for generating energy for their day-to-day needs—lighting, refrigeration, and hot water, and for small household appliances, the navigation equipment, and communication radios. A diesel engine likes to be run hard and hot, preferably over long periods with a heavy load. If I were to do it over however, I’d prefer a smaller version of my old J-Series generator. From Shelburne, Vermont, they took Orion south to the Hudson River, which brought them to New York City. But when it’s used as a generator only, the engine doesn’t operate at its optimal temperature and burns inefficiently, producing more pollution per energy output.
From there, they followed the coast south to Virginia, where they departed on the 11-day voyage to Virgin Gorda.



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