09/05/2011 12:01 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2011

Pacific Voyagers Expedition: A Solar-Powered Journey, Part Two (PHOTOS)

From the Pacific Voyagers:

In April, seven traditional Polynesian ocean-going vessels called vakas, and their 16 member crews, set sail on a 15,000 nautical mile journey across the Pacific. Powered only by solar energy, guided solely by celestial navigation, these seafarers are on an expedition to reconnect with their ancestors and raise awareness for the environmental issues threatening the Pacific.

The vakas are equipped with a solar electrified motor that can drive the canoe 30 nautical miles. The solar-powered engine runs off of 2000 watts of electricity, which is about the same amount of power it takes to run a microwave. The engine gets its power from a solar panel that is built onto the aft of the canoe. The solar-powered motor is located under the deck of the canoe and there is a panel that opens which provides access to the motor from the deck.

The vakas have sailed over a hundred thousand nautical miles with only one major maintenance fix. During their sail into Monterey, the mast on the Hine Moana snapped, but it was quickly fixed and all of the vaka sailed down to Los Angeles. The canoes are incredibly durable and have gone through severe weather on the Pacific.

From the head Captain of the Pacific Voyagers, Magnus Danbolt:

The solar powered electrified motors are one of a kind. They were designed by David Czap’s Dutch company called Cveers which is no longer in existence. They are custom made for the vaka. Each vaka has 8 solar panels that peak out on the aft of the vaka. They have a battery bank of 31 kilowatts and they drive 2 electrical pods. The propellers on the engines can be used as generators when there is no sun. They are powered by lithium batteries that are self-regulated and self-controlled. The engines are retractable and can be taken out of the water when the vakas sail onto a beach.

There is one nautical control for the engines. It has an on and off switch along with a LED display that shows the state of the charge, how much has been used, and how much power is coming in from the sun. [Text continues below photos.]

Pacific Voyagers

From Pacific Voyagers Dunc and Haunui:

Like bejewelled galleons of another age frozen on the dark sea, the drilling platforms are beautiful. They twinkle like constellations in the night. Beautiful, but toxic.

The stink of oil has just washed over the deck. After running on clean solar power for months, it’s a pretty filthy wake up call. It’s everywhere, in the whare, in the hulls, all around us. As I sit here I can taste ‘civilisation’ and it’s not pretty. I’ve been told that every one of these platforms, and there are about 20 in a 40 mile stretch of coast, that every one of them has had some sort of spill. Not a great surprise, but when you consider that the true cost of your fuel has never been included in the price, it’s a travesty.

Not only do our fossil fuel vehicles and manufacturing techniques pour CO2 into the air and therefore the sea, but they support companies who have little interest in the environment other that what they can get out of it. The move to clean fuel sources is fundamental to what we’re doing. We’re in a transition period, so start transitioning. Reduce the use of your vehicle, write to your local councils and encourage them to change to clean machines, walk, get a bike, ride a horse (I know horses fart, but I think cars fart worse).

What we’re looking at is a change of pace. Life will happen a little slower, but you know what? I think that’d be fantastic for us, for our families, for society as a whole. We’re so hell-bent on screaming around like lunatics, racing thru the traffic of Life that half of us die young(ish) from stress. We’ve been sold a dream that isn’t real. The consumer dream of bigger houses, faster cars, more ‘stuff’ and it’s just nonsense. What makes most of us happy is good connections with others and the world around us. That will only come by allowing yourself a little more time to breath and relax.

Congratulations and a Pacific Voyagers Gold Star of Commitment to Madeline who sent us this message:
“…I find myself asking smaller to-go (takeaway) food establishments if I could bring my own cup and plate/utensils to serve their food/bev for myself. Many say yes! It's a conscious start and maybe more people will catch on.”

Madeline you are our hero. People like you give us hope that all this is worth doing. I’m sure there are others stepping out as community leaders (because that’s what you are), but it’s really nice for us to hear about it. If you're doing it and/or have already told us, give yourself a Gold Star. Thanks, kia kaha, keep it up.

Life is not a race, you don’t win if you get to the finish first.

Read another post from the Pacific Voyagers here, and learn more about them here.