It’s a Wrap: Oil & Water Project Reaches Argentina


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Oil & Water Project Wraps Up in Argentina
Scroll down for exclusive PL Q&A with Seth Warren!

It was filled with surf, waterfalls, flat tires, break-downs, broken hearts and more, but now, more than 45,000 miles since setting off from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in July 2006 to the tip of South America, kayaking adventurers Seth Warren and Tyler Bradt have successfully navigated an overland journey throughout North, Central and South America running a converted Japanese fire truck entirely on Bio-fuels (soy, palm, fish, and pig oil) without a single drop of petroleum while spreading the word of alternative fuels along the way. The shower-seeking duo completed Leg 1 of their tour by arriving in Ushuaia, Argentina (the Southernmost point of South America), March 31.

The tour’s goal is to educate people to reduce their energy dependency, without changing their lifestyles. The project made five presentations at U.S. Embassies (El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina), visited 32 schools with 9,455 students, and held press conferences in 14 major cities. They also appeared on numerous national television outlets.

“Energy consumption is one of the biggest problems in the world,” says a road-weary Warren. “The more we can curb our dependence on fossil fuels, the better off we’ll be. Each kilometer our rig made it down the road, the better proof we had that vegetable oil works.”

Along their route, O+WP encountered success stories of individuals and organizations embodying the switch towards bio-fuels. Guatemala Bio-diesel, for example, uses all the waste oil from Frito-Lay to have large-scale production of Bio-diesel in Guatemala City. In Honduras, locals are using pre-colonial African palm plantations to produce Bio-diesel for public transportation. In Cali, Colombia, the Center for International Agriculture in the Tropics (CIAT) is researching ways to increase the energy potential for Bio-Ethanol by using solar heat to reduce the energy needed for production—it’s conducting this research by using 100 percent waste oil from local coffee plantations to produce Bio-Ethanol. The duo also gave a presentation at La Molina University in Peru to students majoring in Biofuels Production. The largest showing was given to over 2,000 students in El Alto, Bolivia, where the U.S. Ambassador and the Mayor drove the rig with Seth and Tyler waving from the top like rock stars.

Of course, they also kayaked and surfed their brains out, knocking off 37 rivers from Alaska to Chile (including two first descents). Paddling Life’s own Joe Carberry even joined them for the Honduras portion of their journey. “They were pretty ragged looking by then,” he says. “I can only imagine what they looked like by the time they got to the tip.”

With a top speed of 50 miles per hour and capable of traveling 2,000 miles before refueling, the Oil & Water project was sponsored by ClifBar, Kavu, Keen and MSR. The rig features an on-board vegetable oil seed press, a large Plexiglas demonstration window, 180-gallons of fuel storage, and an expandable side tent and rooftop two-room tent. Final odometer reading: 75,000 kilometers.

Special Paddling Life Q&A with Seth Warren!

What was the funniest thing that happened on the trip?
Andy was paying Tyler to eat a live sardine. On his first try he took it down the hatch and it turned in his throat and came launching back out. On the second try, he distracted the kid driving the boat and we crashed into a Mangrove. The third try he got it down and earned 50 bucks.

Most dangerous?
We got caught in a flash flood on the first descent of the Setemprion, Mexico and swept away.

Worst injury?
I was attacked by a pack of rabid dogs and got a nasty bite in El Salvador.

Worst breakdown?
We had problems with the radiator from La Paz, Bolivia, all the way to Valdivia, Chile. We had to stop and fill the radiator every 100 kilometers the whole way. Part by part we replaced every item in the radiator system until it stopped overheating.

Best boating?
Alaska and Patagonia….nothing else compared.

Best party?
New York City….two sisters, it was both their birthdays….need I say more?

Most interesting re-fueling?
Thick orange african palm pulp we found in a crate shipment yard outside of Cartagena, Colombia

Best thing about it?
We didn´t kill each other…..yet.

Where next?
Tyler is going on to start a new kayak company, and I will continue on with the Biofuels Education Coalition. We both have Africa in our sights.

What’ll happen to the rig?
The rig will be following us back home on a freight ship. She will go on to continue educating on the benefits of alternative energy on her way from river to river.

Staff Post
Paddlers writing about all things paddling.


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