Liveaboard life: Self-sufficient with Solar

In last weeks video series I introduced you to Teresa Carey and her home on her sailboat. This week is a followup on Teresa and how she manages off the grid using solar as her power.

When Teresa Carey is sailing she knows just where all her energy comes from and where it’s going. “My solar panel charges my battery monitor and I have to keep an eye on that battery monitor because when it reaches a certain point I have to start shutting things off.”

She has just a 130 watt solar panel – about 30 times less wattage than the average household- so she keeps electronics to a minimum: a VHF radio (for communication), an icebox (no freezer), a computer, a GPS and a boombox (for sunny days only). Besides solar and her sails, she uses some non-renewable energy: diesel for a small engine and propane for her stove.

She pumps her own water for use (and it’s cold). She takes overboard, or bucket, baths (in the video she washes her hair for the first time in 16 days). She fixes things when they break. But she doesn’t complain, in fact, she prefers it this way. “It’s more authentic.”

In this video, Teresa shows us how she meets her basic needs: water, energy and reading the elements (tides, wind, storms) in order to stay alive and reach her destinations (in this case, the Bahamas).

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Matthew Hofmann - February 23, 2011 Reply

Very, Very cool Teresa. Keep on sailin’

et - February 24, 2011 Reply


mike - February 26, 2011 Reply

I don’t understand how this little girl’s trip to the Bahamas constitutes anything along the lines of admirable conservation.
Leave it to the US to come to global warming awareness late and when it does, this being the kind of drivel it spreads around as insightful.


    Johanna - January 9, 2012 Reply

    Aw, Mike. Teresa’s not proselytizing living aboard as the solution for everyone. She’s saying that this is one way to have a heck of a good life AND have a small impact. I know. I used to be a live-aboard and it’s a very conservative lifestyle. My current home is 84 sq ft of off-grid whimsy, and I won’t criticize Teresa. How big is your house? Are you off grid?

abe - February 27, 2011 Reply

That’s really cool, she’s cute too!

I don’t think its really conservation or even approaching true self sufficiency, but it would be a nice way to spend some time as a young person, so long as they’re making sure to be safe from pirates and stuff.

Teresa - March 16, 2011 Reply

You may be right about the self-sufficiency part. I certainly don’t grow my own food, unless a few jars of sprouts count!

But it is absolutely conservation. I consume a significant less while aboard Daphne. I generate my own power with solar and produce a lot less trash. I get around by bike because I can’t keep a car aboard.

I think my overall ecological “footprint” aboard my boat a lot smaller than when it was before I moved aboard…and that was when I lived on an organic farm! But, its true, there is always a smaller boat and a lighter way to pack it. I’ll keep working on conservation. There is always more to do.


Teresa - March 16, 2011 Reply

I agree with what you are saying, but I doubt that only a week-long sail to the Bahamas is what some are considering “admirable conservation.”

I think its more about giving up a home, car, extra stuff, living off of solar power, etc for several years. It was a significant reduction from an average American’s way of life.

But, I always say, there is opportunity for further care and awareness of the environment and I’ll continue to explore that. Thank you for reminding me.


Holly - September 2, 2011 Reply

Mike, your comment was completely unfounded. Her setup is awesome and her carbon footprint, although not neutral, is not even on the radar compared to the masses. If you think that this isn’t a major improvement on how most of us in the affluent world live, then you must want to go back to the EIGHTEENTH Century, or hell, earlier. Self-sufficiency today doesn’t mean you have to produce EVERYTHING for yourself, that is ridiculous. We need farmers, sailors and software programmers. So mike, unless you are eating beets and tubers all winter, and your wife gives birth via midwifery, don’t go spouting off at this cool dame.

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