Last week, the owners of the affordable eco-lodge Callicoma Hill issued a challenge: If you can travel there carbon free, the Australian eco-resort promises to waive its fees. Exactly how would someone living in the U.S. get to Australia without emitting any carbon? I don’t have the perfect answer, but I have a start: charter a sailboat. Yes, the typical sailing catamaran will still emit some carbon but you’ll be running mostly on wind. There are hybrid sailboats available that cut down on carbon emissions even more; unfortunately, the ones I found were only available for charter in Greece and the Virgin Islands.
I did, however, find a charter catamaran that was going from the U.S. to Australia, and taking its own sweet time doing it. You could charter a sailboat to take you on a direct Pacific passage, but it will be more fun (and more expensive) to hitch a leisurely ride to Callicoma Hill on the Piamanzi, a luxury sailing yacht. The yacht’s three cabins all have private bathrooms, and the crew provides three meals a day for sailing guests. It has a round-the-world itinerary that makes the boat available for charter in various global ports.
But first, you’ll have to make your way to San Diego to catch the globe-sailing catamaran. I suggest getting your (or a friend’s) diesel vehicle converted to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO) – a virtually carbon-neutral fuel. Conversion will cost you around $1000 for a kit alone -- more if you want someone to do it for you. So you’re off to an expensive start. (But think of all the money you’ll save filtering your own WVO collected free from friendly restaurants along the way!)
The Piamanzi will sail from San Diego in February of 2009 and cross the Pacific to Hawaii; you can catch a cabin as a crew member. (See the boat's full itinerary.) Wait a month, then get a crew cabin as they sail to French Polynesia in April 2009. You can charter the boat as it island skips around the South Pacific for the next five months, finally landing in the Solomon Islands in September 2009. Crew again during the October trip to New Zealand. Wait a month. By the December 2009 passage to Australia, you’ll be an experienced sailor. They’ll no doubt welcome you to book a crew cabin for the final leg of your trip.
Rates are $4,500 per cabin per week (all inclusive). Let’s say you’re only actually chartering the boat for ten weeks of this long adventure (most of your time is spent adventuring while waiting for the Piamanzi to head to its next destination). You’re looking at $45,000, not counting lodging and meals for when you’re not on the boat (guess another $15,000?).
They don’t designate a harbor in Australia, but for your sake, I hope it’s close to Sydney. That way, you’re only a 185 km or so carbon-free bike ride away from Callicoma Hill. Split that into a leisurely five-day trip, (budget another $500 or so) and you’re all set to claim the carbon-free reward of a free stay at Callicoma Hill. (If the owners will overlook the sailboat’s minimal carbon emissions in honor of your Herculean voyage!)
Total cost: $66,000 (on the low end)
Total time: 11 months and five days
I’ve got another shorter but more circuitous route I’m working on (going east to get west) … look for it in the coming weeks. It’s as silly and low-carbon as this one.---