A 70s Sailboat Got a New Lease in Life as a Solar-Powered Floating Home

With 16 330-Watt solar panels.
Irmak Bayrakdar
Simon Stiles standing on Old Dog.finding_simon/Instagram

Do you ever wish that you could leave everything behind to follow your dreams? That is, of course, unless you're already living your dream, and if that's the case, well done.

This is the story of a person who had the courage to do that. Simon Stiles is an adventurer who has built himself an off-the-grid, solar-powered floating home out of a 1976 Wharram Oro 47 Polynesian canoe cat-style boat. You can also find him on YouTube.

The making of a fossil fuel-free floating home

Stiles spent the last 3.5 years building Old Dog, his fossil fuel-free, solar- and wind-powered catamaran in order to set sail from British Columbia, Canada. And before he bought his boat for 5,000 CAD (3,901 USD), he spent two years exploring North America on his van and another year on his motorcycle.

Made entirely out of plywood, fur, and yellow cedar, the 47-foot-long boat had an intact diesel engine when Stiles bought it. Knowing that it's both costly and harmful for the environment, Stiles removed the engine and decided to switch to solar power. He then added an HP EV AC 12 kW engine that is powered by 16 330-Watt solar panels and approximately 20 kW hours of lithium battery engine to the mixture. This way Old Dog is not limited by a tank, and since the boat has 5280 watts of solar power, Stiles is able to run ovens, induction cook plates, a washing machine, and basically anything he might need.

When the boat is on the move, solar panels aren't enough to power it. Stiles needs to rely on his lithium batteries in order to go faster than 3.5-4 knots. However, in the summer, he says that the Old Dog's solar panels generate enough power for him to travel 50 km across the Georgia Strait to Vancouver and arrive before sunset without using the batteries at all. 

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As solar power is weather-dependent, Stiles is now looking to add wind turbines to the catamaran at the same amount of solar panels. Whether it's cloudy or rainy there should still be some wind to power the Old Dog. 

Inside of the boat, there are four berths (rooms), a mechanic room, a bathroom, a washing machine, a large galley (kitchen), and a lounge area. To heat the boat, Stiles says that he has built a stainless steel wood stove that helps in cold weather. For a detailed view of the Old Dog, you can take a look at the video below. 

A self-taught sailor, Stiles is now working to upgrade his boat in order to eventually set sail on his adventures at sea, all thanks to wind and solar power. 

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