Transitioning to Low Carbon Sea Transport

As promised in the previous posts we would like to explain in detail what exactly supports in the Marshall Islands:

Under the umbrella of a big Climate Change project called “Transitioning to Low Carbon Sea Transport” (short TLCSeaT, funded by the German Government and implemented by GIZ) we work together with the local NGO “WAM” on a revival of traditional and contemporary sailing canoes in the Pacific outer islands. The island people have a high demand on fossil fuel free transport means (fuel is ridiculous expensive) but rely mostly on outboard engine powered boats. The native sailing and canoe building skills (you can see a traditional sailing canoe in the video of the previous post) were lost in some places due to american colonization.

To change that, we teach selected Marshallese how to build high quality plywood boats with contemporary materials. Henrik is holding a 3 month boat building and sailing course together with Rob Denney from HarryProa.

Within the workshop 2 new designs will be build:

Mini Cargo Proa

The mini cargo proa is a very easy to build design by Rob Denney (HarryProa). It is explained in detail on his marvelous website.

WAM Catamaran

The WAM catamaran is a basic 20ft double canoe with V shaped hulls, build in stitch and glue technic. It was designed in 2018 by Henrik in collaboration with the boys at WAM.

Main requirement is to carry 6 bags of copra (dried coconut meat) in each hull, that’s close to 1000kg payload all together. A nice side effect of that is the spacious interior (for a 20ft cat). 2 adults can easy sleep inside (4 if they like each other) and the cabin offers enough headroom to sit upright. Passenger transport and fishing trips will be a pleasure.

For reasons of simplicity a traditional Marshallese sail is used (in the western world known as “crab claw”). It can be made from anything between polytarp and dacron on a domestic sewing machine, doesn’t require shape (in fact its flat) and offers great performance (better than most cruising sails). On top, the mast design doesn’t put any tension on the cross beams.

The entire catamaran can be build in 3-4 weeks on a budget of approx. 2000 USD. We will come up with a separate information page about the construction and some sailing footage soon!

Traditional outrigger canoe sailing

Henrik and Rob are busy with their trainees at the boat building workshop (details what exactly they do follow soon!) all day.

But after work it’s time for sailing:

The traditional Marshallese canoes are the fastest native boat designs on the planet. Once you get familiar with their unique characteristics (especially the shunting maneuver) its lots of fun!

The canoe in the video was made by students from plywood and local lumber. Everything is lashed, no metal is used. The material to build on cost only 500$

” . . . keep the fossil fuels in the ground where they belong.”

We made it in the local newspaper, the Marshall Island Journal:

Article in the Marshall Island Journal from last week

The Marshall Islands Journal call themselves the worst newspaper in the world. To maintain that spirit they put, to the amusement of their readers, little mistakes in every article. I won’t say more than Rodney from Germany and Henrik from Australia 😉

Aside of that, the message is pretty clear: keep the fossil fuels in the ground and safe these beautiful islands!

Workshop in Majuro started

Rob, Henrik and the trainees of 2020

The boat building workshop in Majuro (Marshall Islands) started 3 weeks ago. In preparation, Waan Aelon in Majel (WAM, Canoes of the Marshall Islands, our partner and source of inspiration) got major facility upgrades such as a beautiful new workshop just on the edge of the lagoon funded by the project “Transitioning to Low Carbon Sea Transport”.

WAM campus in Majuro, RMI. The old canoe house in the center (tall roof), the new slipway in front. The workshop Henrik is working is on the right, just above the sea wall.

WAM took care over the procurement of all necessary materials for boat building and selected 10 Marshallese as trainees for the boat building workshop. Final goal of the entire project is to train future trainers in boat building and by that eventually replace engine powered boats by sailing vessels for transportation, fishing and travelling in the Marshall Islands.

The TLCSeaT team: Rob Denney, Henrik Richter-Alten, Siegfried Wagner, Michael Traut, Suewellynn Johannes-Langrine, Alson Kelen, Sascha Strasser, Raffael Held (left to right)
Some trainees have a hard time at the workshop since WAM is a drug, and especially smoke free place!
How to scarf plywood …
First catamaran hull on the left, proa windward (small) hull on the right. So far so good after 1 week.

The workshop is guided by Rob Denney (famous proa designer from Australia) and Henrik Richter-Alten (engineer and part of the Proasis team from Germany).

Rob and Henrik explaining important stuff

During the next 3 month they will build two different prototype designs and do a refit with their trainees: a traditional based catamaran, the Mini Cargo Proa and an old glass fiber catamaran (Ailuk lagoon bus).

Stay tuned, more details follow soon!