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Green beneath the skin- Baby Boomers Part 2

Conventional looks disguise a smart design and best practices in a yacht that inspires greener cruising

Cruising the blue while being green is the topic du jour. It is an idea that spawns innovative ideas and exotic-looking craft that point toward a brighter and cleaner future.

But what about technology that is readily available? You know, the stuff anyone can pull off the shelves of marine retailers or order online. Is there a way to think it all through and apply good products and best practices to turn a fossil-fueled motoryacht into a nautical version of the ultra-low emission vehicle?

Sparkman & Stephens, the venerable New York design firm, thinks such an idea is more than merely a vision. Safira, one of the company’s most recent designs, is a 129-foot expedition yacht that doesn’t betray its green ambitions with exotic looks and

gee-whiz gadgetry. The design brief called for a small carbon footprint to be achieved with subtle and incremental improvements across the board, from furniture and cabin layout to the treatment of waste water and exhaust fumes.

“My wife and I believe climate change is happening through global warming, [which is] caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activity,” says Safira’s owner, Anthony Bakker, founder and CEO of software company Blackbaud. “We want to reduce, recycle and reuse whenever possible and live in a more sustainable, environmentally sensitive way.”

So far so good, but how can a vessel be called “green” when it doesn’t use renewable energy for propulsion? Bakker says he considers an expedition yacht the right vessel for his cruising needs, but admits omitting wind power may sound “hypocritical” to some. He doesn’t rule out the use of a kite system or some sort of auxiliary headsail on the forward mast to help with propulsion and reduce fuel consumption. But in his opinion, Safira should be seen as a showcase for the application of best practices and smart technology, thus setting an example for sensible design.

As relative newcomers to boating, Bakker and his wife, Linda, grew fond of the luxury of superyachts through chartering. Then they owned Mosaique, a 164-foot motoryacht by Turkish builder Proteksan Turquoise, and Muse, a 123-foot Palmer Johnson. Next up is Safira, which is under construction at Newcastle Shipyards, of Palm Coast, Fla. Delivery is expected in the summer of 2010. Cost had yet to be determined.

Safira’s hull is steel and superstructure aluminum. The vessel is powered by twin 1,800-hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels and Schottel STP 330 pod drives for a cruising speed of around 11 knots and a top speed of 13.5 knots. S&S says this propulsion system, although fully dependent on fossil fuel, is still more efficient than hybrid diesel-electric propulsion because pod drives reduce drag by eliminating rudders, struts and shafts while improving maneuverability.

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