Sea Mercy

Partnering with Sea Mercy

Exciting News: The Greenheart Project is pleased to announce a budding collaboration with another non-profit organization, Sea Mercy (, that has earned our utmost respect for their track record in delivering health care and disaster relief assistance to island communities in the South Pacific…. and for their successful use of sail technology in their operations.

Sea Mercy’s mission is to be “the most effective preventive, curative, promotional and rehabilitative floating health care, disaster response, and economic development provider and service delivery mechanism to support the remote citizens of the island nations.” They intend to build a vessel that is capable of expanding the reach and volume of their services to a greater number of remote and under-served island communities, in an economical and sustainable way.

Both organizations believe Greenheart’s sail-solar hybrid designs to be perfect for such a vessel. We are delighted and honored to be partnering with an organization with so many overlapping goals, and looking forward to sharing exciting news soon!

new organic

New Greenheart Website!

Welcome to the Greenheart Project’s new website!

What’s new on the site?

Also check out our new design forum (now actually a forum!) to read and discuss further details about the ship design.


Shout out to the folks that made the new site happen

Last year, a friend in our network told us about a contest being held by a professional web design firm called Organic Communications to find Ideas that Matter and provide pro bono web design services to help make an impact where it is most needed.

Long story short, the Organics (sorry, internal nickname) not only thought Greenheart stood out above the rest, but also were patient enough to put up with our not-always-tech-or-copy-savvy crew over the following months as we worked together with them to put up a new site.

Michelle, David, Will – you have no idea how much we appreciate all your hard work on our behalf. Thank you!


Yes, she is facing the wrong way.

Building a scale model GH vessel

Hi! Volunteer Seba here. I want to tell you about a little friend we sometimes bring to conferences to help explain Greenheart: my 1/25th scale model of the ship!

I like to tinker with things. Arduinos, model planes, the lot. I also do scene setting for a variety of theatrical venues and expos. When I joined Greenheart, the thought of getting this Idea into the real world was enticing enough to make me want to spread it. Screenshots and fancy computer graphics are interesting, but do not add any substance to a venue. So, I decided to build a model ship that you could walk around, view at odd angles and play with (mind you, don’t break off any delicate parts).

The model was to show the versatility of the ship and should represent what we are doing – a constantly changing work in progress, a rough sketch becoming finer and finer as our work progresses. I also wanted it to be environmentally friendly, just as the ship will be, so I chose mostly natural materials and scavenged items. I happen to have access to a laser cutter – so starting with the 3D model of the ship, I could just shoot some plywood into shape for the spars and keel. Next step was adding a solid hull – I started with carton, which turned out less than ideal. Back to the lab, then. The only valid option was fibreglass, which I got from a friend’s workshop’s trash can.

Fill, sand, paint – hours went by, but the product is quite sturdy. The paint is acrylic and can be written on with a pencil, so the model becomes a 3d sketchbook for all the little additions and details. The model has a removable wheelhouse which shows the cargo hold, the main back hatch and a few containers made from carton (salvaged from a supermarket, where the sheets separate six-packs of water). The rig is made from old kite rods. Sails are made from real sail cloth, the forestay is wire from a construction site.

Of course, the day I finished it with all its nooks and crannies, Pat told me that there will be a new iteration… sometimes, you just hate progress. Just this month, we received a serious proposal to go back to a simple, 2-mast A-frame rig… maybe I should wait with the upgrade on the model, just in case we switch to a kite or a warp engine, neh? Kidding. The design iterations and steps are done by the real professionals for very real and practical reasons and constant communication with them makes sure we won’t put anything out that will fail. The new masts can be folded for transport, just like the original.

The model has accompanied us on many venues now and and looks like what the real vessel is intended to be: a sturdy workhorse ship that can take a beating. Thanks in part to a loosely stacked crate in an expo parking lot… fortunately, I quickly repaired it before the expo began the next day. A feature it shares with the real ship – easy to maintain and repair! We will see how much the big one will look like the small one – stay tuned and come visit the model on the next fair we will attend!

Kiribati flag

It’s Official: Greenheart to fly the Kiribati flag!

Great news.  We have been talking with Kiribati  (Say Kee-ree-bahss) for a while now about this, and now it’s official:  Our first Greenheart ship will fly the Kiribati flag.

And what a beautiful flag it is.Kiribati flag

That’s a Frigate bird flying over the waves at sunrise- one of the most lovely and inspiring sights I’ve seen at sea..  We are especially happy about this at Greenheart because of what Kiribati is, and what Kiribati does. We had plenty of time to choose a flag to fly under, and since there is no dominant nationality in our Greenheart group of people, we thought about the choice carefully.  For us, Greenheart represents a truly global venture, with universal goals and an egalitarian attitude; it sort of goes against our grain to choose a nationality.

But a flag  for a ship is more than a registration or mere passport, although it is necessary for international travel by sea. Surrounded  by sea for weeks at a time, and often years before returning to a home port, the flag is a reminderkiribati map and an inspiration for the sailors aboard, and our flag will fly and flap with us, day and night, calm and storm, at wharf side and in the middle of the ocean. Especially in the middle of the ocean, which is just what the Kiribati flag portrays- and just where Kiribati is.  The only nation to occupy all four hemispheres, North, South, East and West, it will be  flag that connects us with the whole global community.

More than that, Kiribati is also at the center of the campaign to urge communal action in the face of our recent discovery that our fuel-burning ways have caused our atmosphere to trap more heat, and our ocean to turn more acid.  Kiribati is extraordinarily vulnerable to sea level increase, compounded by increased severity and frequency of tropical storms.

In this age of ‘flags of convenience’, when ships’ registries are chosen according to how much money they can save the ship owners in lax regulations and indifferent enforcement practices, we are proud to have the support of a country that will be much more than just a necessary administrative requirement.

Photo courtesy of   MediaMatters.orgt

Photo courtesy of MediaMatters.orgt

We are lucky to be able to cooperate with Kiribati, a country that shares many of the same goals and perspectives with Greenheart.  A seafaring nation that is the cultural repository of long-range sailing expertise, navigation, and other skills integral to our project, Kiribati is a very welcome collaborator.

Kiribati canoes

“Building a Kiribati canoe is only done by people who have the know-how and skills that have been handed down to them and who have assisted them to gain the required experience and skill…” via Kiribati Stories

We expect to be visiting the equatorial Pacific twice during our maiden voyage, so look forward to contributing to the research into best practices and sustainable technologies in the areas of fishery, cargo carriage, and eco-tourism.   We will also be consulting with our new flag state about using our ship as a high-profile campaign platform for common causes. We really are looking forward to a long and exciting relationship.


Pat in Chittagong

Laying Plans with the Shipyard

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.

Pat in Chittagong 2

Germanischer Lloyd

GL working with Greenheart

We are delighted to announce that Hamburg-based Germanischer Lloyd (GL), has recently joined our growing list of supporters and sponsors. GL will be working closely with our design team and Western Marine Shipyard in Chittagong to ensure that our Greenheart ships are built to a high standard and with low environmental impact.

We also look forward to the warm Hamburg welcome when we bring our first Greenheart vessel into GL’s home port in the next year or so.



Germanischer Lloyd (GL) is dedicated to ensuring the safety of life and property at sea, and the prevention of pollution of the marine environment.
As an independent third party, GL develops state of the art rules, procedures and guidance for ship owners, shipyards and the maritime supply industry in order to offer commercially sound answers in times of economic challenges and tight regulatory regimes. GL performs inspections on over 7,300 ships-in-service, representing more than 110 million gross tons, on a regular basis. With expertise in all aspects of shipping, GL maritime experts are advisors to governments, the IMO, flag states and port states.

Beach Docking with CG Ship (v5 - single mast)

Greenheart Project for Sustainable Shipping – The 2013 Organic Ideas That Matter Giveaway Winner

Greenheart Ship

“Our first ship build is now underway and our project to provide affordable, low impact and flexible sea transport to millions is blossoming – now … we will be able to deliver that message much more effectively around the world.”

New York, NY June 27, 2013

The Organic Ideas that Matter Giveaway ( launched on January 1, 2013. Participants from across the globe were invited to participate and share their ideas that matter, big or small, about a product, service, offering, work of art, concept, solution, cause, revolution, movement or mission that they wanted to take from passion to action in 2013. What is an Idea That Matters? This video explains it all:

After a very thorough, challenging and emotional deliberation process, the Greenheart Project was declared the unanimous winner due to the significant social, environmental and economical impact this idea could have on the world. Greenheart is a completely fuel-free, sail- and solar-powered small ship specially designed to provide marginalized coastal communities around the world with an affordable means of sustainable marine transport. The ship can also serve as a mobile solar power station when in port. Originally based in Tokyo, Japan, and now also with offices in Europe, the Greenheart Project is currently building its first ship in Bangladesh.

“While we received many submissions that moved, motivated, touched, educated and amused us, and that demonstrated a significant potential for making a meaningful, positive impact on the world, the entire project team agreed that this was the idea that we wanted to dedicate our time to,” said Michelle Molin, Ideas That Matter Partner. She continued, “We are all incredibly excited about this collaboration and feel truly honored for the chance to help get such an amazing idea the attention that it deserves.”

Greenheart’s prize for their winning idea submission is the creation of a new custom video, website and mobile site that will live at to be developed by Organic Communications, the creators of Ideas that Matter giveaway.

“Our first ship build is now underway and our project to provide affordable, low impact and flexible sea transport to millions is blossoming – now with Michelle and the help of her Organic Communications team, we will be able to deliver that message much more effectively around the world,” said Greenheart’s Commercial Director Gavin Allwright.

“The new web and mobile sites and the motion graphic video will be designed to help Greenheart build an engaging and interactive online presence that is a direct extension of what the organization stands for,” Michelle continued. “Our goal is to create a powerful partnership between The Greenheart Project and Organic Communications that will ultimately result in more powerful partnerships between Greenheart and all of their current and prospective project recipients, contributors, sponsors and supporters.”

Director of Greenheart Project, Pat Utley said, “We always knew that we had an idea that mattered. What really matters to us now is getting that idea out to people who care about solutions so we can convert our idea into reality. The kudos, prize, and now the expertise of the Organic Communications people are heartening and timely. We’re proud to be working with them.”


Ideas that Matter (ITM) was created by a bunch of creative storytellers at Organic Communications with a shared drive to inspire using strategy, content, design and technology. Organic Communications is a strategic integrated marketing boutique founded in 2007, dedicated to helping clients build relationships through the development of distinctive and engaging communications strategies that ignite emotions, enhance connections and encourage growth, delivered via traditional and interactive marketing tactics. Areas of specialization include strategic planning, branding, logo design, interactive marketing, print advertising, collateral development, content development and biscotti baking.

To learn more about Ideas That Matter visit: 
To learn more about Organic Communications visit:
Contact: Michelle Molin, Organic Communications Director
P: +1-347-561-7686


Greenheart Project, an international non-profit organization founded in Tokyo, Japan, is building the world’s first fuel-free, container-ready commercial vessel. The small sail-solar ship is specially designed for use by communities in marginalized coastal communities and can serve as a mobile solar power station. It will be built in Chittagong, Bangladesh and launched as early as next year.

To learn more about Greenheart Project visit: