The Future Of Travel: “Solar-powered yachts; Go around the world and never touch a drop of diesel” With Boyd Taylor of Serenity Yachts
No matter how good things are in a moment, or how impactful our company is from an environmental standpoint, it’s always important to step back and see what other good we can do for others and for the world as a whole. We spend a lot of time working on innovative energy technologies. In the future, as the company grows and technology gets better, we would love to build autonomous vessels that could pick up garbage, scavenge for lost fishing nets, or even help respond to an oil spill.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Boyd Taylor. Boyd, executive director of Serenity Yachts, is paving the way for the future of yachting with unique solar-powered vessels. Taylor has always enjoyed boating and being on the water, and has brought the visionary concept of merging solar power and yachting ―a technology/green angle ― to reality.
Taylor has created pure electric and hybrid yachts for the modern sailor. These unique vessels harness the natural energy of the sun to allow the nearly endless range of a sailboat, without sacrificing the space and comfort of a power catamaran. Serenity’s quiet electric motors allow everyone onboard to enjoy the yachting experience, taking in the ocean air and listening to waves lapping against the hull ― not breathing in diesel fumes and listening to the rumble of the engine. Prior to founding Serenity Yachts, Taylor was an account executive/producer with JKC Communications, an operator of radio stations in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Before that, he served as a senior investigator/client relations coordinator with the Mintz Group, an investigative firm in San Francisco, California. He has also worked as a reporter for Alabama Public Radio in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and a BP claims coordinator for Citrin Law Firm in Daphne, Alabama.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts Communication (cum laude) with a major in telecommunication & film, and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish (cum laude), from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Taylor, a resident of Winter Park, Florida, enjoys traveling in his free time.
Thank you for joining us Taylor. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My wife, Elizabeth, and I are both passionate about sustainability and travel, and we’ve always wanted to start an eco-friendly business together. Elizabeth and I started exploring market sectors where sustainability had not made a huge impact, and found tremendous room for improvement in luxury yachting. Thus, we started Serenity Yachts to elevate environmental consciousness in yachting without sacrificing the luxury experience that many consumers demand.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
To preface this story, you should first know that our boats are really quiet — electric motors make virtually no noise compared to your typical diesel engines. One night in Greece, we quietly came into an anchorage off of Antipaxos. In the morning, we walked out on deck and looked into the water to find we were surrounded by schools of fish, sea turtles, all sorts of wildlife in this remote paradise. About an hour later, a few tourist ferries came barreling in with their loud diesel engines, and the wildlife vanished. It’s probably the greatest experience, exploring the beauty of the seas without disturbing it.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Properly navigating different cultural norms is essential to running an international business, and we (two Americans) learned the hard way that there is definitely such a thing as an improper a cup of tea — especially if your captain is English. On the maiden voyage of the first Serenity 64, Elizabeth was boiling water for tea, and our newly-hired captain asked if she would kindly make him a cup as well. He asked for milk and sweetener, which she happily provided. The trouble is that Elizabeth was making green tea and, because she is vegan, she, somewhat puzzled, offered up her almond milk. The captain was appalled! “Proper tea,” as our captain was swift to inform us, is black tea — to him, specifically the brand PG Tips — and is to be consumed with dairy milk or creamer, unless otherwise specified. I won’t go into the proportions and delicate chemistry of combining the ingredients of a cup of tea but, needless to say, we laughed about this for ages after.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
There is nothing like cruising on a Serenity yacht. Whether you buy one to be green or because you hate paying for diesel, nothing beats the quiet electric cruising. There’s no need to sacrifice luxury or comfort. There’s no putting up with the diesel fumes, the rumble of the engine, or the logistical constraints that come with sailing. You get to cruise endlessly, exploring the most beautiful places in the world without damaging or polluting them in the process.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
I’m pretty young, so I’m still receiving more advice than I’m giving. My tip for anyone in any industry is to find the thing in your job that energizes you and use it as a reward to get you through the drudgery. I’m a hands-on person and I love digging into the physical/mechanical parts of my job, so I tend to get bogged down with financial or administrative work. Instead of putting it off, I use the fun part of my job as a reward at the end of the day to get through the boring stuff. Now, instead of hitting a 2:00 slump, I get energized because I finally get to do the work I’m most passionate about.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My wife, Elizabeth — hands down. There would be no Serenity Yachts if it weren’t for her. She has sacrificed so much to help me get this business up and running. She’s an environmental lawyer, so her day-to-day job is literally saving the world but she still takes the time to help me. Every second she gives to Serenity Yachts helps us be a better, more sustainable company.
Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
We build solar-powered yachts. The idea is that you can go around the world and never touch a drop of diesel, if you have good weather and sea conditions — and you can do it in unparalleled comfort and luxury. As humans, we are driven to explore, to see new things, to experience the beautiful world around us but, historically, the earth has paid that price. Serenity Yachts has changed that. Now, you can explore pristine waters and coasts without polluting or damaging them in the process, so that you and future generations can come back time and time again.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
For some people, the “pain point” we are addressing is the cost of diesel fuel and the running cost of a yacht. As a company, we are addressing the unnecessarily large carbon cost of yachting. We want to show the yachting industry that you don’t have to burn diesel to have a luxurious cruise around the Mediterranean or Caribbean.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
We are already seeing huge changes in the market. While not everyone has the capability that we do, we’re seeing other companies introduce green technologies to at least offset some of their emissions.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
My perfect vacation experience necessarily involves nature and the freedom to explore off the beaten path. Taking a Serenity yacht through the islands in the Bahamas epitomized this experience; my wife and I got to explore remote beaches and uninhabited islands. We were able to see sharks, stingrays, and other incredible marine life, which we might have missed out on if we had traveled differently.
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
No matter how good things are in a moment, or how impactful our company is from an environmental standpoint, it’s always important to step back and see what other good we can do for others and for the world as a whole. We spend a lot of time working on innovative energy technologies. In the future, as the company grows and technology gets better, we would love to build autonomous vessels that could pick up garbage, scavenge for lost fishing nets, or even help respond to an oil spill. We are still a relatively new and small company, but we are striving to make a great and lasting positive impact on the world around us.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
My wife and I are already taking part in the environmental movement. If I had to pick another, I would start the Campaign for Human Decency. I would love to see people treat others and think of others more compassionately. I believe that we, as human beings, need to spend more time thinking about how our actions and choices effect other people and weigh our decisions accordingly, regardless of whether or not they are part of the same social group. Everyone has their own individual struggles, but can you imagine how much better it would be to deal with them if you could count on people to behave compassionately?
How can our readers follow you on social media?