Right before Christmas we went to the beautiful Likiep Atoll. 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.
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!
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. Two of the emission free sailing craft built by WAM under the Low Carbon Sea Transport 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.
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!
The first two weeks 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.
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 Low Carbon Project. Main focus is on climate change.
While winter is hitting the northern hemisphere I (Henrik) are back in the Marshall Islands to continue the work with WAM. The main focus is keeping a track on the boats we built early 2020. Two of them are extensively used on the outer islands while three of them are actually undergoing modifications at the WAM workshop.
So far the weather hasen’t been good enough to take some decent photos but they will follow at time. Maybe already a short preview on some obvious changes compared to 2018 and 2020 I noticed in Majuro:
Coastline erosion is prominent everywhere, trees are washed away