As Green As It Gets – Gato Verde Is Only Diesel/Electic Hybrid Sailboat Charter On West Coast

Todd and the Cat I think I found the man who stole my dreams.  Not all of my dreams, but the one where I use more renewable resources and live a good life. The man in questions is Todd Shuster, owner and skipper of Gato Verde Adventure Sailing in Bellingham, Washington.  Even the company name appeals to me.  Adventure.  But what’s up with the Green Cat reference(gato is Spanish for cat and verde is green)?

Todd has been a sailing instructor for over 20 years including time spent teaching at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Mexico.  He has Coast Guard certifications and all that, but that’s not what impressed me.  It’s his boat, an extension of his life philosophies.

A Great Way To Spend The Day Quick backstory: I am royally frustrated at the total lack of a diesel/electric hybrid car in the USA.  While gas/electric are ok, they aren’t as efficient as diesel/electric.  Also, I like the ability to run on biodiesel when it’s made in something resembling a sustainable fashion (I acknowledge there is a long road ahead for biodiesel and making it out of soybeans is a really bad idea, but it works for now).  I’ve looked and looked, but you can’t get one in the USA.

And that’s why I love Todd’s Gato Verde.  Cat is short for catamaran, a twin hulled boat that tends to offer a smoother ride over the water.  Gato Verde can run on either the diesel engine, fired with 100% biodiesel in the summer (20% in the winter due to gelling concerns) or on a bank of batteries, much like World War II era submarines. The Green Cat is the only chartered diesel/electric hybrid on the West Coast and possibly in the whole USA.

I really like that our two hour sail as part of an adventure tour sponsored by Bellingham/Whatcom County Tourism used only electric power and the wind.  The power for the batteries comes from dual shore hookups to the main power grid.  Figuring that power is coming from Puget Sound Energy, that means about 42% of it is produced by renewable resources.  I could get long winded about how the other sources could become more ‘green’ but that’s not my shtick on this blog.  42% is a good starting point.  And during our cruise we used about 2kWh to shove off and return the 42’ catamaran to dock.  That’s $.20 of power.  And with zero pollution from the Cat itself.  Most of our time spent on the water was under wind power.  $.20 for a day of sailing.

Sails up The diesel side of things helps the Gato Verde stay out for tours as long as seven days.  As a certified sailing instructor, Todd often takes clients out for long hauls around the nearby, idyllic San Juan Islands, teaching all skill levels the ancient art of sailing.  Over 200 islands to explore but they don’t all have shore power.  That’s when Todd can switch on the diesel engine to help dock as well as in times of low wind.  While it has less energy per measured unit, biodiesel does have a distinct advantage in producing far fewer smog producing emissions.  You can also look at the whole lifecycle of a carbon atom and point to the fact that it’s better to capture it out of the air (rapeseed, algae, etc…) to make fuel than to pump it out from inside the Earth.  Down from my soapbox, I’ll state that moving towards more biodiesel use is, in general, better for everyone who breathes.

Our tour was short-lived as fog kept us close to the shore that day.  But I found Todd to be a fun guy, quick to smile and quite personable.  His boat is equipped to handle nine passengers on overnight trips (photo of the cabins below) and has a full galley, two heads (with a cool view into the space between the hulls) and, in general, is relaxing.  He also takes folks like us on shorter tours of the bay.   I especially enjoyed the hammock between the hulls on the front of the boat, which made me feel like I was gliding over the water without effort.  Probably because that’s exactly what I was doing thanks to Todd and his Gato Verde.

Watch more Bellingham videos at

Gato Verde Cabin

Caockpit of the Gato Verde

Catamaran Sailing.jpg

Sailing rigging.jpg

Lady Chieftan On Bellingham Bay

Ferry to Alaska leaves from Bellingham

Sun and sail

Abbie and the capstan

Shore power

Calm On The Seas


Gato Verde At Dock In Bellingham

3 Replies to “As Green As It Gets – Gato Verde Is Only Diesel/Electic Hybrid Sailboat Charter On West Coast”

  1. andrea

    We take a boat that is green (SAIL) and ungreen it with a diesel engine and banks of batteries (hybrid).

    I have a sailboat with sails. It has a single cylinder diesel for leaving the dock. It has 2 batteries for running lights at night.

    No wind, no sail. Green and learning to work with mother nature, not dictate to her.

    As green as it gets would have no auxiliary power.


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