Stab Magazine | Captain Daly’s Off-The-Grid Eden

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Captain Daly’s Off-The-Grid Eden

Surf you’d punch a dolphin for on an eco-friendly island. 

// Aug 26, 2018
Words by Jake Howard
Reading Time: 4 minutes

“I was going to the Marshalls in the Indies Trader, and we were anchored in front of this island, and started fantasizing about ‘what ifs,” Captain Martin Daly says of his eco surf resort on Beran Island in the Marshalls.

“The island was so pristine. When I decided that I was going to put roots down, and throw out the anchor permanently there, I decided that if we were going to do something to this pristine island, that we had a great responsibility to have as little impact as possible, because it was such a privilege to use it and to have access to it.”

With the island of his dreams squarely in his crosshairs—which is saying a lot considering how many islands the man has seen in his lifetime—Daly and his team endeavored to build the most environmentally responsible surf resort they could.

There are 100 solar panels, which produce 28 kilowatts of power. There are also two 10-kilowatt wind generators. All of which feeds into a battery system capable of holding 80-kilowatt hours. They also have the capacity to store 180,000 liters of water under the main building.

Thanks to the abundance of wind and sun, the island operates almost completely off the grid.

 

1804 Marshall Islands 0993

A combination of wind turbines and solar panels power the Beran Island if Resort.

Photography

Damea Dorsey

“We had a blank canvas,” tells Daly. “So, I just used the Internet, and picked everyone’s brains, and tried to just use my common sense to determine what was possible and what was not possible.

“I don’t think that what we’ve got is perfect, but it works,” he continues. “We’ve got wind turbines and solar. The generators hardly run at all anymore. Almost never. I think we run the generators to exercise the batteries and give them boost charges and stuff, or if we don’t have any wind or it’s raining and there’s no sun for a couple of days. Then the generator runs. But, that’s not a common account. I’m really proud of that, that we’re self-sustainable, and that we don’t burn hardly any fuel anymore.”

Daly’s made his way in life on the sea. First as a salvage diver, then, more glamorously, as the boat captain that brought the surf world the Mentawais. But as Indo got overwhelmed, Daly turned his attention to the Pacific, specifically the Marshall Islands.

His new land operation on Beran may seem like a departure from the exploratory boat trips he’s famous for, but it’s all part of his master plan.

“I’m still doing the same boat trips,” he said. “This is more of a base of operations—to have a workshop, a wharf, a place to base the boats. And, while we’re there, we might as well hangout, and it’s pretty pleasant there. So, it’s kind of multifunction. It’s a lodge, but it’s also where I can base all my boats.”

 

Certainly, Daly still has his secrets in Indo, so why change course so dramatically and look to the Marshalls?

“We did try to do it in Indonesia, and I was never happy with the security of the assets and stuff,” he explains. “I mean, one of the things with boats is that if you get in trouble with a boat, you can always sail to the horizon. And, in Indonesia, I never felt that there was enough security to invest in real estate.”

“And, the Marshalls … I felt that there was the security. Although it’s an independent country, it’s very, very close to the United States. And, they have an American Attorney General and Chief Justice. Not all of the judges are local—to get away from the potential for nepotism. It’s pretty hard in such a small country for someone to convict somebody who’s in their family or their friend’s family. So, yeah. I think it’s got a pretty clean judicial system.”

Finding a clean island and a clean judicial system was just the beginning. Turning a dream into a reality is always considerably harder than it sounds.

 

1804 Marshall Islands 0260

Worth it? Effing A.

Photography

Damea Dorsey

Martin first conceived of Beran Island in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2015 where he felt like he was at a point where he could stay on the island. The remoteness of the area presented obvious challenges, as did finding the right people to help.

“There’s a couple of guys that gave me a lot of help, surfers of course,” says Daly. “We tapped the expertise of Charlie Cowden at Hanalei Solar on Kauai and Roland Shackleford of Renewable Energy Services on Maui for our clean and extremely robust setup.”

“I mean, it was difficult to do the solar because off grid stuff is tough,” continues Daly. “Everybody knows about how to put stuff on houses in the suburbs on the grid, but it’s very few people that can really, really understand what it takes to be completely off the grid without any sort of power available.”

When it comes to other surf resorts following his lead, as far as Daly is concerned, why wouldn’t they?

“I think the sustainable energy thing is something they could all adopt,” he says. “I just came back from Indo and was really blown away to see that none of the surf resorts that had been built in Sumatra had significant amounts of renewable energy. And, for the price of diesel, generators and everything else, I don’t know. I just don’t see it. It seems like a no brainer.”

And as for the surf, Daly says it’s as good as the Mentawais…and that’s about all he’s saying. You’ll just have to stay on Beran Island to find out.

 

1804 Marshall Islands 0795

Could be you!

Photography

Damea Dorsey

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