off grid for 20 years on a island in Thailand


Self-reliance is a necessary way of life as a sailor.   The longer we plan to be at sea, or on a remote uninhabited island, the more self-sustainable we need to be.  Which is why we always say, Self-Reliance + Sustainability = Freedom.

Naturally, we’re always on the hunt for new ideas on how to better manage our floating home and limited resources.

And if there is one thing we have learned over the years, it’s that most of us will commit to almost anything if it saves us time or money.  But it can’t come at the cost of comfort or convivence.  In other words, the world isn’t going to move to foot pumps for water to save money on electricity.

But, if you can guarantee some solar panels will pay for themselves and then provide years of free electricity, then who wouldn’t want that!?

So, when a long-time viewer and patron reached out about a remote island in Thailand with luxurious villas that have been off grid for over 20 years…we knew we had to check it out.

And wow, it really is the most impressive and inspiring off grid systems we have ever seen.  We’re talking about a serious little slice of paradise completely designed and engineered to work with nature from the ground up.

I really love their mantra, If you take care of nature, nature will take care of you.  

Our minds are now reeling with ideas for our boat and hopefully you found a little inspiration too.

If anyone happens to know of a small version of the grey water treatment to remove soap, we would love to know about it.  Or a small, boat friendly hydroponic system, we’re all about that too.  While we can make sprouts (easy to do) and we have grown herbs in the past…most countries do NOT want us brining in any soil or seeds.  So we always have to give them away before we sail away.  So the idea of having a simple hydroponic system that we could use for fast growing plants like lettuce, would be very cool and eliminate at least the soil issue.

🌴More about The Racha’s Environmental Efforts



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Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (14)

  • Gail Florence

    Wondering who owns The Racha ?

  • Alan Solomon

    Thanks Nikki. Initially, that engineer had a great imagination there on Koh Racha Yai and that person was able to keep it and get it on paper. I could really enjoy living in a place like this and I know a lot of people that would totally embrace it too. BTW, I forgot to mention that I really love the fact that they have their own water bottling facility on the island. Great thinking, reduces stress and worry, creates jobs, provides clean, great tasting water for everyone on the island. Just like you, there are many things I love about this island.
    Thanks again,

  • Robert P Thompson

    This video on Racha and its systems is one of the best and most important videos you have ever done. I was so impressed as to write you about it. I am going to promote watching it. At least my friends should. This is mostly just a mindset and planning with some ingenuity. Poof, you have an almost perfect set-up. And then a near perfect island. Maybe you should do a short second vid on stuff you missed. Thanks for doing it.

    Keep smiling

  • Marc Borowski

    Zac Efron had a Netflix (down to earth?) show a couple of years back, some episodes also focused on sustainable off the grid living. Great episode featuring a home digester system
    the digester bag should float just fine, you could pull it behind your new cat and don’t have to give up precious locker space 🙂

  • JEss

    This is beautiful in its simplicity and amazing in its function. We’re currently trying to figure out how to go off-grid on 2 acres. We’re on an island as well and resources are precious. We’ve also become acutely aware of needing to figure something out in regard to wildfires. With the recent fires in Maui, it’s a sobering realization that we are in a similar position. We have one road out and it’s narrow and winding. If a fire occurs we could be in serious trouble; I don’t doubt our little island would run into the same issues the residents in Hawaii found themselves in. Thankfully we’re still in the building phase and are able to do everything possible to prevent our place from going up in flames; being off the grid is actually a vital part of surviving a fire for us. – The best we can anyway. But back to your island – I am absolutely in love! I really wish more places thought the same way, but I know finances and bureaucracy play a large part in why more places aren’t self-sufficient. Living with nature instead of taking everything and leaving a wasteland seems to be the goal these days. It’s nice to see some people have gotten it right. – We’re going to have to visit this place!

  • Wendy Weaver

    Re: Grey Water

    There is a company that developed a grey water recycling system for use in van builds. Unfortunately, I cannot remember either the name of the company or the name of the vanlifer’s YouTube channel. I viewed the video (perhaps there were two) 2-4 years ago. I also do not remember whether a house system was being adapted to a van or was developed solely for vans. I think the grey water system may have been limited to the recovery and reuse of water from the shower.

    Kirsten Dirksen’s channel has visited two (at least) off-grid homestead that did recycle grey water (videos from 2-4+ years ago). Most of the recycled grey water was for greenhouse and outdoor gardens. My memory may not be accurate, but I believe one homestead used some of the recycled water for indoor use, too.

  • Alan Solomon

    Thank you so much for this video. I really enjoyed it. I have never heard of Koh Racha Yai? I am ready to go and buy a cabana there as a second home if it is available. I bet you homes there are not very expensive, I hope, I hope, I hope.
    I liked Mary’s comment about the self-sustaining place in Taos. I think I know the name of that but is there any way you can forward the name of that place on to me?
    Jason spoke about what cannot be recycled is burned. Where do the emissions go, from what is burned?
    Also, Jason spoke about biogas and/or methane. What are those used for in the staff kitchen?
    Regarding the Hybrid Solar Diesel Generator. Why can’t the solar just power the generator?
    Thanks again, Standing by for your reply.

  • Colin Cohen

    Extraordinary video, thank you. This place is on the leading edge and demonstrates the scale issues quite clearly. While solar, heat exchangers and fresh water reuse have been around since early Etruscan times (solar was used to heat bricks and water), effluent treatment of all varieties is still dependent on scale to be effective. It uses more “real estate” than most applications without real estate can afford. Its barely become payable or useable on cruise ships and is still not used on most commercial marine applications. Taking all of that chemistry down to anything that can be classified as a yacht is challenging. Bezos had it on his wish list when he built his “Koru” but no one could make it work and it was dropped early in the build.

  • Mary Van

    That is such a very cool island! Wouldn’t it be great if all the small islands could be organized to be self-sufficient as this one?

    Do you remember the place in Taos, New Mexico that was self-sustaining? Such an amazing place? To think that was about 20 years ago. I was there this past week, and it still amazes me.

    Loved the video!

  • Michael

    You just need a swinging table for the plants so as to handle rough seas. Grow lights would be a necessity. Hydroponics still need liquid fertilizer. However, fish can be made into fertilizer, and so can sea weed. The water must be kept running, of course.

    The fertilizer would be a side process of your composting system. There is, or can be, a process of a liquid output if handled correctly. At least a ground up fish or two can have the grounds soaking in water for liquid fertilizer. And of course the gas; although I cannot think of what to do with it. (You cannot use “humanure” for two years, so your current composting toilet waste will probably stay as bags to dispose of on land.)

    Interestingly, that island is the first place I’ve heard of anyone doing what I have always thought of as a necessity for composting, and that is to grind waste up first. Chippers do not work, but fine enough particles speed up the compost process a huge amount. You just must keep it warm (hot) and turned frequently, and you’ll probably need worms.(?)

    So the energy needed will be for grinding, pumping, filtering and lighting as I see it.

    Further, I have always suggested that you use geothermal processes for heating and cooling. You have a wonderful heat sink all around you all the time. Again, you need a little energy for the heat pump, but that is very minimal. And of course hot water is a free side benefit. Almost everything you saw on the island is just a matter of scale for anyone else.

    Most solar farms are now starting to see the benefits of maybe catching the rain runoff, but certainly of using grassy areas under the panels for grazing animals.

    There are few gardeners who worry about natural soaps causing harm to the ground. Grey water is just something to pour out onto the ground. Something appears wrong in the consideration of that issue.

    By the way, I cannot imagine you wishing to bring seeds into a country, so I cannot see the problem. If they are worried about pollution in their air, just having tourists is a problem to them. Who knows what they may bring in on their clothing. What is on your boat should not affect them in any way as long as you are not dumping into their waters.

    PS: Please stop saying hot water heater when you mean water heater, or motor when you mean engine. They are different and for a reason. 😉

    And thank you for another great vid. It was super!


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