Wooden Boats: Our Most Sustainable (and Efficient) Transport?


Photo: Leatherwood

Okay, so we're rather fond of saying that the bicycle is the Most Energy-Efficient Form of Travel Ever Devised. But maybe we should add the qualifier, " ... on Terra Firma." For a good wind-powered sailcraft has to be exceedingly efficient over water, given appropriate weather conditions. And a wooden sailcraft has the added bonus of being handmade from a renewable resource, and ultimately compostable, following a long, useful life. Wooden Boat Festivals
Hobart, capital of the Australian state of Tasmania, spent last weekend hosting the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. A celebration of maritime culture and craftsmanship. More than 500 wooden boats were expected to participate. Hobart is no stranger to prestige watercraft, as it is the terminus of that classic bluewater sailing race, the 63 year old 'Sydney to Hobart.' But this festival is an occasion to ferment interest in maritime skills that were practised long before the advent of carbon fibre and mylar.


Photo: The Wooden Boat Centre

Surrounded by water, on what might be considered the world's largest island. it is no accident that Australians have an affinity for the craft that feature so prominently in the country's white history. And with the Hobart festival over attention now turns to the 2009 South Australia Wooden Boat and Music Festival in Goolwa 7-9 March 2009. It's theme this year will be smaller boats, such as putt-putts, riverboats, sabres, dinghies, firebugs, rowing boats, kayaks and canoes.

And if our North America readers ca'tn afford the carbon credits to attend that event, they can visit their own 33rd Annual Wooden Boat Festival on 11-13 September, 2009 at Port Townsend, Washington. In keeping with the tenor of that festival, we're pleased to see they are promoting greener transport for those folk not sailing in.

Across the US continent is the earlier event coming up on on 26 April to 2 May 2009, which is North Carolina Maritime Museum's 35th Annual Wooden Boat Show.

Mucking About with (Wooden) Boats
Also on the US East Coast we were thrilled to learn about Rocking The Boat. This brilliant program has, for the past decade, been a powerful tool for building self-confidence and life skills with underserved youth of the Bronx. Over 400 kids have been involved in building 22 traditional wooden boats from the ground up, right through to launching them in the Bronx River. As they put it: 'kids don't just build boats, boats build kids.'


Photo: Rocking The Boat
Sailing the Web
We're pleased to observe that interest in wooden boats appears well nurtured, and we offer these related links for those similarly intrigued:

The Center for Wooden Boats
WoodenBoat Publications
The Wooden Boat Rescue Foundation
The Wooden Boat Association
School of Wooden Boat Building
Classic Boat UK

And no doubt there are galleys more, but before we get too carried away, here is a very useful PDF that does much of the work for us: Wooden Boat Organisations: Preservation and Promotion of Maritime Culture

NB: In an upcoming post, we'll look at exactly how fast and far a sailcraft can go.

Tags: Boats | Energy Efficiency | Renewable Energy | Wind Power

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