Meet the Nomads – Seth and Tyler Kayaking the Americas with BioFuel

This week I’m excited to introduce you to Seth and Tyler – two kayakers who mixed their love of the sport wit h their love for the environment. If you wanted to kayak waters from Alaska to Argentina but didn’t want to pollute the world in the process, what could you do? Seth and Tyler figured it out. By rigging a used Japanese fire engine to run on biofuel they were able to drive 16,000 miles through both continents enjoying kayaking along the way. Not only that, but they created the Oil and Water Project in the process. As part of this project Seth and Tyler educated communities along their journey about biofuels and possible energy uses for local waste products. Read on to see how they brought this idea into reality and got it funded

Tell us a bit about your project.

Oil and Water Project was the first project conducted by the Biofuels Education Coalition. The idea was to drive from the North Point of Alaska to the South point of Argentina utilizing oils from plants and animals that exist on the side of the road. Following the endless summer from the mountains to rivers to ocean, we made use of our kayaks, surfboards and skateboards. On our way through we did presentations to public and youth on the benefits of Alternative Energy.

How did you receive the inspiration to do this?

I´ve traveled a lot in my life, and the inspiration came from the pristine wilderness and free flowing rivers I´ve encountered and the need to help protect them for future generations. I´ve also witnessed some of the poorest cultures in the world and realized that educated people living in the first world have a responsibility to do something more. If we don´t who will?

What type of knowledge/preparation do you have to have in order to get started on something like this?

Well, invent a car that can run on any type of oil and build it, learn spanish, become a mechanic, write curriculums, distribute them. Oh yeah…get the funding.

How did you fund this project?

We made a high school science fair style poster that illustrated all the facets of our journey and took it around to a tradeshow for the outdoor industry and did presentaions to about 20 potential sponsors. 4 were smart enough to get on board. KAVU, Keen, Clifbar and MSR. Check out their stuff on line.

When did you begin? What was the length of preparation? Length of your journey?

We conceived the idea in November of 2004 to drive from Alaska to Argentina, first learned about Biofuels in June of 2005. After over a year of getting ready, we set off from Dead Horse, Alaska on July 1, 2006 for a 9 month journey of the Americas.

Where did your journey take you?

USA, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina.

Of all the places you passed through, which would you say were the most accomodating to your efforts? Were there any that were not?

Everyone we encountered were accomodating to the effort. We were showing them how to take waste from restaurants and make it into money. For farmers we taught them how take the plants grown in their farm and make it into fuel to run their tractors. Energy independence is on everyones mind these days, and when two people came through in a crazy truck teaching people how to do that it was just a snowball.

Now that you’ve completed this journey, we hear you have plans to go across the U.S. on algae. What new challenges might this pose?

Well, again no one has done this. Like the Alaska to Argentina trip….we used many fuels that had never before been tested. Doing a long trip using Algae for fuel will definitely help the scientists that are sitting around studying it get some new info on it. The challenges we will pose will definitely be, as always in getting the funding.

Is there any special equipment or infrastructure you must travel with in order to run your project? (ie laptop, telephony, fax)

We have a sattellite phone sponsored by Global Star, a laptop etc to update our website, but we don´t use any special technology.

If so ? what brand/models do you choose and why?

I use a Macintosh computer.

Are there any services you use while you travel in order to run your business? (ie Skype, supportsoft, online appointment services, wifi

We use the internet…..sometimes dial-up.

What kind of reaction have you had from others about your traveling lifestyle?

A lot of jealousy.

What would you say are the pros/cons of the nunomadic business and lifestyle?

It takes a certain character to pull it off. The world is at your fingertips through all the wonderful people you will meet, mutual connections you will make and life altering situations you will encounter.
I can´t imagine doing this kind of thing and having a family…..even a girl friends have been super difficult to maintain so for some, that would be a major con.

Do you have any advice for those people wanting to set up their own mobile business?

Make sure you have a sweet rig.

Are you a Nu Nomad or do you know someone who is? We’d love to interview you! Contact Carmen by emailing info at or by inserting a comment in this blog.

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