Just back from a flying visit to Chittagong, Bangladesh, where Greenheart got an enthusiastic reception. It was my first time meeting the Western Marine Shipyard team in person (Gavin has been there before), and it was a thrill to shake hands, pat backs and put faces to the names and voices of the Internet. You could not ask for a nicer, more professional group of men.
My trip coincided with the start of Ramadan, so there were no cups of tea to distract us as Mr. Badrul Alam and I went over the plans for the ship, sometimes by the millimeter, updating, and making adjustments and outright changes. Both on paper, and in the virtual 3-D world of the office computers, the ship spun around and was meticulously inspected in preparation for the transition from drawings to steel.
Lots of detail was added to the grid of frames and beams that make up the skeleton. A few bits were scrapped, in that very low-carbon way that needs no recycling, leaving the design simpler, safer, and cheaper to maintain. For example, the two centerboards, shown as triangular fins in previous drawings, disappeared. We took the advice of veteran sailing ship’s captain and renowned designer, Jan Dijkstra, and left them out of the picture. (We are now planning on improving the ship’s ‘bite’ on the water, and protecting the keels during beaching operations, by adding wooden planks to the bottoms of the two long keels.)
Another noticeable change to the design came when the erasers hit the smaller of the two deckhouses. The little ‘clubhouse’ forward was supposed to give some protection for sailors using the forward hatch during rough conditions, but after reconsidering the windage and obstruction to the helmsman’s view and deck operations….. We now have a sleeker, cleaner look forward. We also chiseled some of the corners off the wheelhouse to get it closer to Kunikata’s brave new glass look and functionality.
Some other updates to the plans include the two smart anchor pockets on the transom, a new cabin layout on the accommodation deck (now that the centerboard boxes are gone) with roomier cabins and a greater workshop/bosun’s store forward. There is also a hinge in the RORO ramp now, that should make it easier to use for launching boats and fishing operations.
All in all, it was great to share ideas with Badrul and watch the plans get refined and closer to the steel cutting. I also got a tour of the impressive shipyard where s/v Greenheart will be dwarfed by the many fishing and cargo ships under construction.
Mr Arifuzzaman, production manager for WMS, Badrul, and I went over to the offices of Germanischer Lloyd (GL) to meet with two of their managing directors (past & present). We looked over the plans, discussed the Greenheart concept, and as so often happens with this project, brainstormed promising applications for the future. With her network of waterways, chronic flooding, and dire need of development, we all agreed that Bangladesh could use many of this type of ship, as soon as possible.
On Friday, when the office and shipyard closed for the day, I made my way to the riverbank and visited the fleet of 12~15-meter wooden fishing boats that was beached in the mud, waiting for calmer weather to go out and fish. Black flags popping in the wind, all of the boats were swarming with barefoot crew, mending nets, washing down, and painting gear because the wind was too strong for motoring around out on the fishing grounds. I had to think how the prospects would improve once we can add a Greenheart-type ship to their fleet – one with greater range, more capacity, cheaper to operate, and that loves windy days.
On the night before my return to Tokyo, I went along with Mr. Arifuzzaman and some of the office guys to the lavish wedding of one of the Western marine engineers. It was in a sparkling pavilion, extravagant and colorful and musical and full of draperies and ceremony, and happy family and friends. Since it was after dark, I had my first chance during this Ramadan visit, to sit and eat with my hosts,and we feasted like wedding guests should. It was a fitting and auspicious way to end the beginning of our partnership with Western Marine to build the first Greenheart ship.