Jonathan Cooper

Passage Maker - - Contents - Jonathan Cooper Edi­tor-In-Chief edi­tor@pas­sage­maker.com

The year was 1978. My par­ents had just re­lo­cated us—my brother, 7, and me, 4—to Bainbridge Is­land, Washington, from Eu­gene, Ore­gon. They were both from the is­land orig­i­nally, but we kids were born three hours from any self-re­spect­ing body of wa­ter. Prior to mov­ing, the only wa­ter known to us was in the bath­tub where plas­tic boats could reach su­per­sonic speeds one minute only to suc­cumb to a gi­ant rub­ber squid the next.

Per­haps buoyed by our new sur­round­ings, per­haps in­spired by our new is­land neigh­bors, we hood­winked our par­ents into buy­ing us our first boat. We will retroac­tively re­fer to her as SS Min­now, for her stay on earth was about as short-lived.

Min­now was an in­flat­able ca­noe with the ex­act LOA of our bath­tub. Once in­flated, she was buoy­ant enough de­spite a no­tice­able sag amid­ships, but con­fined to the tub, she lacked a cer­tain spirit of ad­ven­ture. Where she ex­celled was dis­plac­ing wa­ter from tub to floor.

Now might be a good time to men­tion that our par­ents sub­scribed to the 1970s “hear no evil, see no evil” school of par­ent­ing. As we would find out on Min­now’s maiden voy­age, even that phi­los­o­phy had lim­its.

One day af­ter a strong rain, my friend Matthew came over to play. Even at five years old, he was the sort to stretch the bound­aries of parental reg­u­la­tions, and I was happy to oblige. Af­ter telling him about Min­now’s first sea tri­als, he sug­gested that we find a deep mud pud­dle, and see if that would sat­isfy. It wasn’t deep or sat­is­fy­ing.

A plan hatched to carry the ca­noe down to Eagle Har­bor to launch her next to the ferry land­ing. Be­ing quite young, we never con­sid­ered the flaws in the plan. For one, it was low tide, and the bar­na­cles would have torn Min­now to rib­bons be­fore she ever had a chance. Luck­ily for every­one, it never came to that. Half­way down the hill, one of my par­ents foiled the mis­sion, and turned us back home.

Nearly 40 years later, that same Matthew, who has never lost his pas­sion for mess­ing about in boats, will be a Trawler Fest pre­sen­ter with one of his busi­ness part­ners. Their com­pany, Re­vi­sion Marine (www.re­vi­sion­ma­rine.com), is proof that the marine in­dus­try needs for­ward-thinkers who are keen on seek­ing re­new­able en­ergy ap­pli­ca­tions, even if con­sumers will need to rad­i­cally reassess con­ven­tional wis­dom to get there. The com­pany name stands for “Re­new­able En­ergy Vi­sion for Mariners” and true to the motto, the own­ers are build­ing and in­stalling lithium fer­rous phos­phate bat­tery banks to re­place tra­di­tional lead-acid bat­ter­ies, and in some in­stances, enough house bat­tery and electric propul­sion to ob­vi­ate the need for a gen­er­a­tor en­tirely.

On a sea trial in Port Townsend, Washington, Matthew showed off his 68-foot sail­boat that he has equipped with al­l­elec­tric sail drive propul­sion, loads of re­li­able house bat­tery stor­age, and al­though he has a gen­er­a­tor in­stalled, he runs it as in­fre­quently as pos­si­ble. Slic­ing through the wa­ter at seven knots along the wa­ter­front, the sound of the mo­tor is barely a whir—a mere 54 deci­bels at the helm, and just 63 in the saloon, stand­ing di­rectly above the mo­tor. Matt said he can cruise six knots on bat­ter­ies alone for three hours at a time be­fore need­ing to kick on the gen­er­a­tor. “If we do ex­haust the bat­tery at an­chor due to cloud cover and thus a lack of so­lar en­ergy,” he ex­plains, “the gen­er­a­tor will re­store 10 days of house power in as lit­tle as an hour.”

Not ex­actly an in­flat­able ca­noe, but the spirit for dis­cov­ery hasn’t changed.


With a full com­ple­ment of Re­vi­sion Marine house bat­ter­ies, this Diesel Duck will at­tend TrawlerFest in Bre­mer­ton, WA, May 18-20.

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