Aventura Zero: The Elcano Challenge

In 2010 I sold my Aventura III and, as I was 70, I felt that the time had come to call it quits. That didn’t last long and by 2013, with accelerating climate change increasingly making the news for those who were prepared to listen, I decided to get another boat and attempt to transit the Northwest Passage. Described by scientists as the “canary in the mine” of global climate, the consequences of whatever happens there will eventually affect the rest of the world. I did manage to transit with Aventura IV this once impenetrable waterway, now being open for navigation in late summer due to climate change. I also witnessed the consequences of global warming in the lives of the local population. A concrete proof, if anyone still needed one, that this phenomenon is now an undeniable reality. You can read more about Aventura IV’s Northwest Passage adventures here.

With that mission accomplished, and with no more sailing plans in sight, in 2017 I sold Aventura IV, and certainly believed that that was it. But it didn’t last long as two years later, with climate change surpassing the worst predictions, I decided to put retirement on hold once more and try something completely different. Like sailing around the world on a fully electric boat along the route of the first circumnavigation 500 years previously.

Magellan and Elcano’s circumnavigation

My main reason for this decision was my profound concern for the state of the environment and especially that of the oceans. During my first world voyage between 1975 and 1981 I was fortunate to visit many places where nature was still in the pristine state it had been since before they were settled. In the intervening years I have returned to many of those places and almost everywhere, from Tuvalu to Alaska, was shocked to witness the destructive processes caused by the changes in climate conditions.

My concern for the state of the oceans has been strongly influenced by my own observations during 45 years of roaming the oceans of the world, as well as being regularly reconfirmed by my research into global weather conditions when I am updating my various books. For anyone planning a longer voyage now, the worst changes that have occurred are the increase in the frequency of extra-seasonal cyclones, the tropical storm seasons themselves being less clearly defined, and areas of the world being affected by such storms where they had never occurred before. Climate change is now an ongoing global phenomenon that we must accept and take into account in our day-to-day life. It is even more important when planning a long ocean voyage.

Aventura Zero’s circumnavigation route

The 500th anniversary of the first round the world voyage seemed the perfect opportunity to sail that same route and, in tune with current concerns, to attempt to do it in the most eco-friendly way possible. An electric boat with zero carbon footprint seemed to be the obvious answer. As I started searching for a suitable boat, I found that there were several projects developing electric boats.  But in all cases the project was based either on a hybrid solution (diesel engine or generator) or on having a diesel generator as a backup. Even boats capable of undertaking a world voyage invariably had some kind of a polluting backup.  I had no doubt that the only true solution was to conceive a sailing boat based exclusively on renewable sources of energy and with absolutely no fossil fuel for propulsion and electricity generation.

Read more about Aventura Zero’s Concept & Special Features

 

The EL.CA.NO. project has been sanctioned as an official event of the quincentenary celebrations of the Magellan-Elcano voyage.

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