Green Shipping Conference Hamburg

Had the opportunity to present a research paper covering the effort under the GIZ funded Low Carbon Sea Transport Project (LCST) in the Marshall Islands at an academic conference hosted by KLU University Hamburg. Was great to meet the colleagues from Hochschule Emden-Leer, GIZ and all the other folks from the green shipping family.

Climate Change as it Happens

The Marshall Islands are a very low-lying country. Most of the land is less than two meter above sea level. Therefore every single cm of sea level rise is felt immediately – because the feet get wet!

Yesterday we had one of the high new moon tides and a strong north-eastern tradewind. Nothing special in general but enough to push lots of water in the WAM workshop.

Field Trip to Likiep Atoll

Right before Christmas we went to the beautiful Likiep Atoll as part of the assignment for the GIZ implemented Low Carbon Sea Transport project (LCST). The community currently operates the WAM Catamaran Mk I, the very first prototype of this design. After testing for 2 years in Majuro by WAM, Likiep launched the Cat a year ago and has used it quite a lot since then. Now 3 years after launch it was time for an assessment of design, use and impact.

During the field trip the Cat was extensively used for fishing and transportation to gain a better understanding for the needs of the people of Likiep. In addition performance data was collected and the WAM trainer showed local people how to use wood from the island (driftwood and coconut) to replace some parts of the deck and the rudder.

The WAM Catamaran performed very well in the lagoon conditions and was a pleasure to sail in the 20-25 kn of trade wind. It seems that the program is on a good track and that the WAM Cat is very suitable for the transport and fishing tasks in the Marshallese outer islands.

Plastic Ocean #2

Managed to do a second ocean litter survey during the stay in Tobal (Aur atoll). Tobal only imports a very limited amount of stuff and only 200 people living there at the lagoon side so the litter from the ocean side (windward direction) is entirely from abroad.

The results of this beach sample are interesting because they allow to identify the amount of domestic litter found during the previous survey on Bok En, Majuro atoll. Assuming both places get hit by the same amount of ocean litter from abroad (both places have the same orientation to the main wind direction and are not covered by other islands), the litter that was found in Majuro even more or in addition compared to Aur can be assumed to be domestic.

The survey on Aur has a few interesting aspects. For example there is one type of plastic bottle that was found 36 times on this 20 m stretch of beach. Almost 2 per meter! These bottles were found all over the shorelines of the islands of Aur! Eventually I could find one of these bottles with a label on somewhere else and trace it back to a Taiwanese brand mainly selling in China. I suspect the Chinese tuna fishing ships use them and just toss them over board.

There will be another survey like this on Likiep atoll and eventually a proper report about the results so stay tuned!

Field Trip to Aur Atoll

Went on a 1 week field trip with a team from WAM to Tobal, the northern settlement of Aur atoll some 60 nm north of the Marshal Islands capitol Majuro as part of the assignment for the Low Carbon Sea Transport Project (LCST). Two of the emission free sailing craft built by WAM under the LCST Project (implemented by GIZ) are stationed there: a traditional korkor canoe and a HarryProa prototype (designed by Rob Denney). The HarryProa is actually a close relative to our Proasis! Both vessels offer transport service for the community without burning fuel.

Main purpose of the field trip was to check on both boats, carry out minor repairs and train locals. On this occasion the korkor was launched for the first time. This was actually a true historic moment: it was the first time a traditional Marshallese canoe has been launched in Tobal for 30 some years. Aur atoll unfortunately lost all canoes and the know how to build new ones long ago and solely relies on motorboats today.

Hopefully this project helps to revitalize the former marine capabilities of the village over the long term.

Plastic Ocean

As already reported we took the canoes for a trial and sailed to the uninhabited island Bok. It is only 50 m in diameter and nobody is living there. As part of an international cooperation I (Henrik) will collect litter on various places throughout the Marshall Islands. The litter is not just collected but sorted, counted and weight. In addition it is tried to figure out where the individual items come from, mainly by looking at the labels. This kind of survey is usually done on a 100 m long sample of the coastline. For Bok island I had to shorten it to 20 m. There was just to much trash to collect it all in time. The 20 m already resulted in 4 h work and a huge pile (about 1 cubic meter!). That said I couldn’t even pick all of it because it is pushed deep into the shoreline vegetation by waves. Its just crazy how much trash you can find on these uninhabited islands. But the most crazy thing is that after picking it all up I had to put it back on the beach because there is no place in the entire country to get rid of it!

Sea Trial with WAM Cat #3

The first two weeks of the assignment for the GIZ implemented Low Carbon Sea Transport project (LCST) in Majuro passed by quickly! Boatbuilding training at WAM has already started and we took the WAM Cat no. 3 out for a sea trial to uninhabited Bok island. This tiny island of about 50 m in diameter is located approx. 25 nm from the WAM campus. Its not an easy sail because its downwind first and upwind to get back home. It was very interesting to see the third version of the WAM cat performing since this model got a different transom shape.

Next week is going to be even more exiting because be go with a WAM team to Aur atoll to check on the Proa design sailing there.

Podcast Online!

We came together with Christian Weigand from Blue Awareness and made an episode of the podcast “Helden der Meere”. You can stream it either on the Blue Awareness website, on spotify or multiple other streaming services of your choice. It’s unfortunately in german only. In summary we talk about our experience in the Marshall Islands, especially with WAM and the GIZ implemented Low Carbon Sea Transport Project. Main focus is on climate change.