Getting Closer to Kiribati

The proud nation of Kiribati (pronounced kirr-i-bas), whose flag is set to fly on Greenheart’s very first vessel, is home to some of the most remote island dwelling communities on Earth. 

Getting to and away from even the largest of the nation’s islands requires a great deal of patience, time, and money. As might be expected, transportation challenges constitute one of the main obstacles to the nation’s development.

Of course, this is one of the reasons that we at Greenheart believe our ships will suit Kiribati’s needs so well. This is in turn just one of the reasons why we are so proud to have the chance to fly the nation’s distinctive flag.

Kiribati is also among the countries most vulnerable to sea level rise, and is one of the most vocal in calling for concerted and universal action to mitigate the ensuing crisis.

As Greenheart gets closer to building its first vessel, we are also drawing closer to communities like those in Kiribati and striving to learn how best to work together towards common goals.

Speaking of getting closer, director Pat was in Fiji for the recent sustainable shipping Talanoa, a relatively tiny 1200 miles from Kiribati’s territorial waters!  Having never been to that part of the Pacific before, he found both Fiji and its neighborhood to be most welcoming.

While at the Talanoa, the chance to meet and hear from Captain Evi and two of his crew from the Kwai which has been plying the Hawaii – Kiribati – Cook Islands trade for years, was of tremendous value. Their insights provided some practical insights into the conditions that both constrain and support sailing vessels working those waters.

At the Kiribati High Commission in Fiji time was spent in conversation with Her Excellency Sera Butukoro and her Secretary Benny Teuea over coffee and some remarkably sumptuous fruit.   Discussions led to valuable first-hand information being gained about the economic and social conditions that will determine how our first Greenheart vessel and the various Kiribati agencies and departments of government will be able to cooperate to maximize the benefits of our collaboration.

Greenheart sought Kiribati as a flag state not for convenience but rather for the closeness we feel to their plight, and how closely their situation aligns with our mission.

As such we are delighted that they welcomed us into this unique partnership, and are looking forward to the day that we can fly that bright flag and land our ship on their sandy shores.

sustainable sea talanoa

Touching base at Talanoa

Hi all, Greenheart here!

We are very happy to report that a special emissary in the form of director Pat Utley was freighted off to the 2nd International Sustainable Sea Transport in the Pacific Talanoa in Suva, Fiji from July 14-18, 2014.

Talanoa is a  word used in the island communities and nations of the South-Pacific to denote a conference or council. The typical setting is a most convivial one where story-telling (and a lot of listening) goes on over a matter of days.

This particular version proved (like Greenheart’s vision itself) somewhat of a hybrid, fusing academic and industry-style seminar talks and presentations and Q&A’s in lecture halls with those in traditional Pacific style, sitting on big woven mats on the seaside lawn of the Laucala Bay Campus of the University of the South Pacific (USP). There participants were able to relax and discuss, sharing thoughts and impressions of proceedings to that point.

Cadets in crisp white from the maritime school next door mixed with visitors from halfway around the world (with yet others buzzing in on Skype) helping make the event a global meeting of minds.

Uto Ni Yalo and other traditional sailing craft and their crews with their feet on dry land, ready to share insights.  Meanwhile beautiful art and handicrafts, offered proudly by their artisanal creators and those close to them, were finding buyers among those assembled from near and far.

Both a small sailing canoe and a scale model of a large voyaging vessel from the golden age of Pacific sailing were built during the course of the week. Another highlight was a trip to the museum for a soiree hosted by The IUCN to announce their ‘MUA’ voyage (http://www.iucn.org/?uNewsID=17124) in traditional vessels down to Sydney for the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014.

Having been inspired since childhood by the intrepid voyaging traditions of the island peoples of the Pacific, for our director Pat it was uplifting to be around the people and boats keeping that spirit alive.

Some special mentions due to attendees and presenters whose work for which Greenheart is deep respect and gratitude.   Dr Pete Nuttall and Dr Alison Newell shared valuable insights on the present state of affairs of sustainable shipping in the Pacific, especially the several ongoing proposals for projects and funding that include Greenheart-type ships.

It was also a pleasure to reacquaint with Professor John Bythell who has been a strong proponent of Greenheart for the region, and for the USP in particular. Captain John Rounds of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, who has also been a great ally over the years was also there. The chance to chat and look over the newest ship construction drawings and mast proposals was appreciated, as were introductions to other important actors there.

Colin Philip of the Fiji Islands Voyaging Society and Taholo Kami of IUCN were two other faces and handshakes that Greenheart was greatly pleased to be acquainted with. It is always a pleasure to make the personal connection that correspondence through email is unable to provide.

And while it was quite a journey to get there (necessitating adjustments to budget and itinerary to facilitate)  the effort proved well worth it, being among kindred spirits and hard-working advocates working towards the same goal of advancing sustainable shipping

So to hosts and all organizers and attendees (be they presenters, scholars and student participants, artists, activists or caters) goes a very heartfelt vinaka (thank you) from Greenheart!