View from our 1982 Prout Snowgoose sailing catamaran

A New Sailing Office for Greenheart

View from our 1982 Prout Snowgoose sailing catamaran

View of the blue banks of the Bahamas from the cockpit of our 1982 Prout Snowgoose sailing catamaran

A report from Greenheart Director Pat:

In July I left my flat in Tokyo to meet a well-used 1982 Prout Snowgoose sailing catamaran that had been waiting for me in a sandy little harbour in the Bahamas. The 11-meter sailboat was floating quietly in the clear sub-tropical waters, more or less ready to be sailed away by its new master. This was not the start of a vacation or the beginning of a year’s sabbatical, but a return to full-time life aboard a sailboat, a sort of mobile lifestyle that I had left behind about 15 years ago.

This time, the boat will be even more than my home and transport; it will also be the new sailing office of the Greenheart Project. Other members of Greenheart and I will use it to travel to places where sailing ships might benefit societies and economies. We’d like to observe again how sails are used in impoverished and marginalised communities, talk to practitioners and learn more about what future practical sail for development should be.

We will also be experimenting with some of the same principles of clean power that will be used aboard Greenheart ship by replacing the marine diesel the boat now uses with a solar-charged electric drive system. This way, we can practice what we preach and use just renewable energies to travel around and power our office.

Wind generator for our new office-- standing by for wind

Wind generator for our new office– standing by for wind

Another objective of our sailing office concept is to meet with the Ministries of Transport, Development and Environment in the countries along our itinerary, and impress upon policy makers, the very real possibilities available for shaping present-day maritime infrastructures in ways that ensure a better future. We are now trying to arrange our sailing schedule to be able to visit international conferences to influence thought leaders and maritime professionals for maximum effect.

The rough plan for the next year is to spend the rest of the summer replacing the diesel engine, fuel lines, filters, and tanks with a clean quiet set of PV panels, batteries and the electric motor and controls that will make it a ‘green boat’. In the fall and winter, we will be sailing south for Cuba, Haiti, Belize, Nicaragua and other places in the Caribbean Sea where future Greenheart ships might home port. By spring, we will be ready for some long distance travel, so will be sailing north for Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, reaching Iceland in time to spend mid-summer up on the edge of the Arctic circle to give our solar panels a real treat. We intend to stop by the Faeroes, on our way to Norway, Denmark and Netherlands to visit with Greenheart friends and collaborators.

Check back here for details, updates, and latitude/longitude of our new office!!

The moon rising over the Straights of Florida. Overtime in the new office. Between countries.

The moon rising over the Straights of Florida. Overtime in the new office. Between countries.

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!

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Fiji Cyclone & Sail Cargo Relief Project Appeal

Greenheart sends its condolences to those affected by Cyclone Winston, now known as Fiji’s worst recorded cyclone, and hopes for a swift recovery. We will do what we can to support relief AND recovery efforts!

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(Image courtesy of ABC)

An appeal for support via Colin Philp.

In the aftermath of the super cyclone hit on the islands of Fiji, our good friends and IWSA supporters, the Fijian Voyaging Society and Uto ni Yalo Trust will be putting their traditional sailing vessel the SV Uto ni Yalo to work ferrying much needed reconstruction supplies to remote islands throughout the effected region. We hope you can help support these efforts to deliver these goods over the coming months on a sailing vessel designed to service these hard to reach communities in the Pacific.

ABC news reported on 21 March “Cyclone Winston – Fiji’s worst-recorded cyclone —swept across the island nation on February 20 killing more than 40 people and flattening communities. According to the government, an estimated 32,000 homes were left damaged or destroyed and 350,000 people have been affected by the cyclone.” They are currently facing two more cyclones in the next few days.…/fiji-extends-state-of-disas…/7264482

The Uto ni Yalo Trust coordinator, Colin Philp explained the following:

“The past few weeks has been spent on repairs and crew training in preparation to join the relief effort. Initially there has been a huge rush to help those in need in the outer islands. We feel that the Trust can be more useful in the medium to long term when those currently providing valuable assistance return home. By using local knowledge and working closely with strategic partners to target our assistance to areas most in need of attention. We are carrying out our first outer island trip with building materials and supplies next week in conjunction with our National Olympic Committee. Levuka produces some of the best weightlifters in the Pacific and their gym was totally destroyed in the cyclone. This gym is also used as the national training centre and has produced many international standard weight lifters including several Commonwealth Games medalists and even Olympic standard lifters. Next we will be working on visiting other islands in the Lomaiviti Group including Koro, Mokogai, Batiki, Nairai and Moturiki then there is interest in the Uto ni Yalo also going as far as Vanuabalavu to drop off supplies in conjunction with the Methodist Church Headquarters team.

We are looking for donations to help cover costs for our core crew of 6 (including the skipper) allowances for travel, communications etc plus food for crew and visitors on board that come along from the various NGO’s to help distribute the supplies. Please follow our activities on our Facebook page and do share this with others in your network who might be willing to assist us in helping those in need in the outer islands.”

Vinaka vaka levu

Colin Philp

IWSA is supporting this call for help and we will be forwarding 100% of all donations received through our paypal donation link in a lump sum to the Uto Ni Yalo Trust so we can reduce bank transfer fees. If you would like to make a donation, please click on the link below or use the same link half way down the IWSA home page.…

If you would prefer to make a donation directly to the trust, we can supply you with the bank transfer details or you can contact the trust directly, through Colin Philp or through the FIVS facebook page on the link above.

We will post updates over the coming months and your support is greatly appreciated.

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Visiting the Meiji Maru

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Greenheart Project Members Pat and Seba visited the Meiji Maru, currently serving as a museum in the Tokyo Maritime University, on her re-opening day. Beautifully restored to spec. Let’s see sailing make a beautiful comeback for transport, too.

For more views of the Meiji Maru,  click here.

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Sails are the “only sustainable way to reconnect the Pacific”

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 10.00.59 PMA summary of Al Jazeera’s highly relevant coverage of the ocean transport situation in Fiji and how Greenheart could play a role:

When Suliasi Lau’s gandfather died had to get from Suva do Kadavu (fourth largest island in Fiji), he had to ask friends to take him to the island because there was no other option.

With rising fuel costs, Fiji shipping routes are being cut back, weekly services becoming monthly.
Professor Joeli Veitayaki explained that roll on roll off boats are too big for the little islands → need boats of a smaller scale.
Greenheart is one option to which uses sails and solarp ower on small-scale ship.
Putting sails on vessels is being viewed as the “only sustainable way to reconnect the Pacific.”
To see the whole video (2013) click here
Entrance into Fulaga Harbor

Route Close-up: Southern Lau Group (pt 4)

Visiting the islands was truly rewarding. Kinijoji took me with him on the first two islands – Kabara and Fulaga – to show me how he meets with the village headman as a government representative to ensure an agreement of ship arrival, cargo delivery, and proper service. Just the few hours spent on these islands highlighted the laid-back, tranquil environment of life on a small island. Although, I must admit the difficulties of such a life are apparent as well – lack of access to skilled medical care, no fresh water sources (rainwater collection is the only method of accessing potable water), no electricity – aside from the handful of solar panels for limited light use in the evenings as well as a small number of diesel generators, and just the sense of isolation from the services and conveniences of Suva. Many islanders believe that once-a-month trips are not frequent enough to provide decent goods and services.


Scenery from the only village on Vatoa Island

Scenery from the only village on Vatoa Island

On the island of Vatoa, Sunil and his partner Joji invited me to climb the lighthouse with them as they did a survey. The decrepit, dilapidated lighthouse has been in a state of disrepair for a couple years – but it did afford gorgeous views of Vatoa and the surrounding reef. The flora and fauna were stunning, with an untold number and variety of birds flying about, and clear water that allowed us to spot five large sea turtles and two royal blue fish from quite a distance. The villagers were most welcoming, providing great fish, coconut-based vegetable dishes, and cassava, and the obligatory grog session prior to departure.

View from Vatoa Lighthouse

View from Vatoa Lighthouse

Although I did not go ashore on Ogea or Ono-i-Lau, my time aboard MV Liahona was a rewarding experience that leaves me wanting to return to these stunning islands in the Pacific. The variety of people that were eager to talk with me, share their opinions and views, and discuss their lives was without a doubt the best part of the trip. While I now have engineering and logistical data as well as a survey from a sampling of the passengers to keep me busy as I delve into my master’s thesis, I will always think back on this past week aboard an old, weathered vessel traveling to the remote lower southern Lau islands of Kabara, Fulaga, Ogea, Vatoa, and Ono-i-Lau. The crew – from the salty, regal Captain and jovial, friendly Chief Engineer to Felipe the cook who managed to whip up some meals in an impossibly small galley – were a pleasure to get to know.

Ono-i-Lau Sunset

Ono-i-Lau Sunset

With this experience fresh in my mind, I can easily imagine a Greenheart vessel servicing these islands effectively, answering the urgent call of our planet for implementing zero-emissions solutions to prevent future catastrophe. This route is one of many that Greenheart vessels can service in a clean and safe manner that I imagine all islanders would appreciate. The only way to truly evaluate its effectiveness, however, will be to get this vessel operational as soon as possible and put it through the wringer. I am positive it will be a great success, and I hope that in the not-too-distant future the Lau islanders will be reaping the benefits of Greenheart transport.

-Taylor Searcy

Unloading MV Liahona at first stop - Kabara Island

Route Close-up: Southern Lau Group (pt 3)

Once underway, my sea legs came back to me and I was loving the ocean breeze and gentle waves. However, as soon as we made it past the reef and reached the open seas, the motion proved too rough for most passengers. On the first leg of the trip, nearly all passengers were sick, lying down on whatever deck space they could find. As it turns out, deck space was a first-come commodity. The ship is not equipped with cabins, bunks, or even seats for the passengers – just two open spaces with decks to roll out mats and blankets for the duration of the journey. The 11-member crew, however, had two berthing compartments, and the grey bearded, quiet, and stern-looking Captain had his own cabin.

Entrance into Fulaga Harbor

Entrance into Fulaga Harbor

Without going into any of the specifics, I’ll briefly mention the cargo, passengers, and operations of MV Liahona.

The cargo from Suva consisted of everything a small community would possibly need: 44 gal oil drums (for the small boats that were the ONLY means of transportation), kerosene containers, 50kg sacks of flour, sugar, and rice, and various personal belongings and construction material – such as children’s bikes, chain saws, water tanks, and PVC piping. The cargo onloaded from the islands consisted of empty 44 gal oil drums, a variety of woodwork (the specialty handicrafts of Kabara, Fulaga, and Ogea), pigs, copra (the only real export from Vatoa) and a variety of seafood (Ono-i-Lau has an amazing assortment of crabs and fish, not to mention the sea cucumbers that fetch a high price for the Chinese community back in the Suva market).

Passengers ranged from teachers, Methodist ministers, farmers, and fishermen to old men, mothers and newborns. A large number of passengers from Suva went to either see their children off at secondary school or visit the hospital for medical attention. The final leg of the voyage from Ono-i-Lau back to Suva, however, felt more like a refugee ship as an entire team of Cricket players embarked, bringing the total number of passengers to 84. Although the ship is nominally rated for 150 passengers and crew, the lack of accommodation and abundance of personal belongings made deck space a luxury. Many passengers slept on the weather decks or passageways – any horizontal space they could find.

Offloading cargo to locals coming to meet the Liahona on small boats

Offloading cargo to locals coming to meet the Liahona on small boats

As for the operation, the deck crew was highly effective at making do with the available resources – namely, one crane, one small boat, and a lot of physical labor. The onload and offload of cargo occurred simultaneously – loading and unloading small boats that they transferred passengers and cargo past the reef to the beaches nearest the villages. On all five islands, the ship could only come to a safe distance outside the reef, so the boats were essential in connecting the ship with the islands themselves.

Several tons of cargo passed through these boats, with the Chief Mate doing his best to track the receipts and cargo (nonetheless, at each islands disputes on the onload/offload arose). When the steel cable of the crane broke, the crew quickly rigged a line around the pulley system to create a makeshift, functional lifting device. The Greenheart Project is most suitable for this route and the operations it demands, provided that both a cargo hold and appropriate passenger accommodations are included.

View from Vatoa Lighthouse

Route Close-up: Southern Lau Group (pt 2)

Around 1400 on Sunday, March 22nd, I arrived at Narayan Jetty in Suva to embark on MV Liahona for the scheduled 1500 underway time. The lack of activity did not alarm me, as I figured not a lot of cargo and passengers travel to these islands. As true as that might be, the wharf was essentially a ghost town. A man on the ship moseyed his way to the quarterdeck and, no doubt wondering who I was coming to such a place, greeted me with the friendly Fijian “bula.” I reciprocated the greeting, then introduced myself and began to grab my belongings to embark. He slowly told me, “the ship is getting underway tomorrow morning at 1000.” At first I thought, “All this way for that!?” But then we chatted a bit, and I took note of the first challenge in any shipping operation – weather. They had decided to delay the underway for one day to allow a slight tropical depression to pass. Understandable, albeit frustrating. Well, another night with my hospitable host family was not a bad thing.

The next morning, Narayan Jetty was as busy as a beehive. Cargo being manually hauled on board, families saying good-byes, passengers paying for their fares. A swarm of activity that made this trip more exciting. I quickly made friends with Sunil, a 54-year old Indo-Fijian man who was on his way to Vatoa to survey the sole lighthouse in the southern Lau group. He proved to be a generous companion on the journey, often serving as my translator and promoting agent (he seemed to enjoy talking to the other passengers about my life and my purpose on this journey). The 1000 departure turned into a 1220 departure. No worries. After all, as many passengers pointed out to me – this is Fijian time.

Passenger payments and cargo onload prior to departure in Suva, Fiji

Passenger payments and cargo onload prior to departure in Suva, Fiji

Once the cargo was loaded, a quick safety brief was conducted with an official from the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji and another official from the Transport Planning Unit. The latter, Kinijoji, was the most important ally for my entire trip, as he was a mentor and gatekeeper of sorts to the research information I was seeking. He helped me conduct interviews with the passengers, gather data from the Chief Engineer, and taught me a whole lot about the reality of shipping within Fiji.