Ocean Ark the Margaret Mead

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as well, by their elegance and by the incipient sense of adventure that stirs at the sight of swift moving sails on the horizon. More than anything else, they seem to symbolize the possibilities of rising above rather than being trapped by the exigencies of the post-petroleum era.

We spent quite a long time mulling over ideas of biological restoration, the potential of biotechnology, and the return of commercial sail. In 1981 we founded Ocean Arks International as the vehicle for implementing I these concepts. We had thought at first about the possibility of a sort of sail-powered greenhouse, a "Biological Hope Ship." The idea was that the boat would produce and transport biological materials like seeds, plants, trees, I

nsh to impoverished areas with the hope of reviving the local biological :?:x>n base and thereby improving the means for the human population sustain itself. The naval architect Philip Bolger designed the 210' long ean Ark, the "Margaret Mead" to our specifications, and we built a 50'

long Va scale vessel to test some of his modern rig concepts. After considerable experimentation and thought, however, the costs and the technical innovations predicated by a project on so large a scale led us not to abandon it, but to tack off in a different direction. We decided that it was probably more feasible to start conceptually with smaller vessels and work up. On a visit to Marlon Brando's island off Tahiti, we had been impressed that Marlon's son, on a Hobie Cat, could far outfish the rest of the villagers in outboard motor boats. It seemed to indicate that the future lay in the speed of sail rather than the availability of diesel fuel.

We knew of the naval architect Dick Newick by reputation as the designer of some of the fastest racing yachts in the world. His trimaran racers hold many transoceanic records and in 1980 "MOXIE", his fifty-five foot trimaran, sailed singlehandedly by Phil Weld, who was then sixty-five, won the TransAtlantic OSTAR Race. We learned that Dick Newick had also pioneered a number of new nautical technologies and construction methods. That he might be sympathetic to our kind of thinking was indicated by the fact that he had also designed "SIB", a lightweight but sturdy sailing fishing craft named after E.F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful.

After several meetings and discussions he came up with the right design for the kind of boat we had in mind. Together we agreed upon the plan for what we decided to call the Ocean Pickup, intending it to have the same kind of wide ranging usefulness as its land counterpart. We understood that to have any appreciable impact, the Ocean Pickup could not in any way seem like second-hand technology. It would have to be as fast or faster than a motor-powered boat and just as advanced. Auspiciously, over the last decade there have, in fact, been four related technological developments which, taken together, represent a major breakthrough that could make such a boat, as well as the rebuilding of artisanal fishing fleets, possible. In the main the building material for such boats is intended to be ubiquitous, non-tradi-tional, fast-growing scrub trees.

The first of the innovative technological developments employed by the Ocean Pickup is a wood/epoxy saturation technique or West System developed by the Gougeon Brothers of Bay City, Michigan, which makes it possible to use softer, light woods than have been normally used in boat building. With this technique strips of wood are used as a structural fiber which, when layered together with epoxy resins, forms a composite engineering material that is rot-resistant, light-weight, has a high strength-to-density ratio, and is very resistant to fatigue. Dick Newick has tested one South American softwood, Baromalli (Catostemma commune), from Guyana, iking sample boat panels which proved exremely well suited to wood/ a. boat construction. The epoxies are not expensive and would come to ten percent of the cost of a fishing boat in most Third World countries. The second of the new techniques emerged from an attempt to get ::d the problem that wooden boats are traditionally custom-built and u e expensive. Dick Newick came up with the idea of a master mold <»uld permit "families" of shaped panels to be easily fabricated. Dif-panels from the same mold can be used for a variety of boats, for both reeks and hulls. James Brown, an associate of Dick Newick's, uncovered iinetry necessary to permit compound curved surfaces to be covered •veneer strips so that each of the strips has an identical profile shape, technique is called Constant Camber. It enables the fast and inexpen--. abncation of compound, curved wood panels. Boat hulls can be made : mirror image cold-molded panels which can be mass produced, and '•;<•: elorc be competitive economically with steel, aluminum, and fiber->• The third of the new developments used on the Ocean Pickup was .am bagging. Vacuum bagging is a technology that allows the marriage > -xies and wood over large, compound, curved surfaces so that veneers -•e laminated into hull-shaped panels. Vacuum bagging evacuates the - in between the layers of veneer and permits the thorough penetration .e epoxv. The result is a composite boat-building material that is strong, -ii'jht, rot-resistant, and conservative in the use of epoxv, which is why v. represents such a small percentage of the overall cost of a boat.

As originally developed, cold-molding vacuum technologies were •_ii intensive and industrial. Then an engineer named John Marples - rated with Dick Newick and Jim Brown to convert it to a low-cost ai d" technology. Vacuum bagging now can be done by villages of i communities throughout the world. The vacuum pumps can be built p!\ from old regrigerator units run backwards to create a vacuum. Yet her advantage to vacuum bagging is that there is no need for nails, ,c>. or screws in the hull or decks. As a result, weight and costs of the el overall are less, as is the dependency on imported fastenings.

The fourth and last of the innovative elements in the Ocean Pickup is :he most visible: the fact that it is a trimaran-a three-hulled sailing ves-■\> a leading designer of multi-hulls throughout his career, Dick New-vts svnthesized the most advanced aerodynamic and hydro-dynamic epts with the most modern materials. Writh the Pickup, he has then sim-ed them so that they can be readily adaptable to working water craft a jhout the world. Interestingly, Dick sees himself as working in a mil-

len n ia-old tradition of boat design with its roots in the watercraft of the South Pacific and South East Asia. Now his Ocean Pickup has opened up another dimension for multihulls in the form of carrying capacity. It is designed to carry a ton and a half of cargo, plus crew, even though the overall weight of the boat itself is less than a ton. It is intended to sail at working speeds of up to twelve knots, fully loaded. With a light load it is even faster, sixteen knots or more. The Pickup does carry an auxiliary outboard motor for periods of calm but the fuel consumption of the motor is as low as two pints per hour at six knots. Thoroughly modern in design and materials, it is not intended for a career as a racing or leisure craft but as a workboat-a sea-going Pickup.

Extrapolating for a moment from a single Ocean Pickup to a fleet of comparable vessels, the economic prospects for a coastal fishery broaden enormously. Fishing and coastal people could find themselves in possession of a fleet that is largely self-reliant in terms of fuel and equipment. They would be able to re-establish control of most of the building resources, the technology, and the actual construction of their boats, as ideally, the boats will be built locally of fast growing indigenous woods relying minimally on imported items like the epoxy. The construction methods should ensure that the boats will be long-lived and require very little in the way of maintenance. The boats would be easily replaced when necessary.

There have been a number of expressions of interest in the Pickup from such countries as India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and China. From the manager of a fishermen's cooperative in Costa Rica, La Cooperativa de Pescadores del Liroral Atlántico, we received the following letter.

Dear Sir:

We are very much interested in doing sea trial of vour one ton ocean pick up vessel.

Our association is composed of 208 inshore artisanal fishermen (from the coast of Atlantic Lirnon, Costa Rica) with a lot of economical problems.

We think this boat will be great help to resolve some of our critical conditions, such as high costs of fuel and replacement parts for use of our outboard. Owing to these facts, our activity became non profitable.

We sincerely hope that you will give us the opportunity of testing one of these boats.

Also from Costa Rica, from Bill McLarney and his colleagues there, we have had further assurances of interest in a boat such as the Pickup. For

•.e time NAISA has been experimenting with fast-growing trees. Gero--.o Matute, one of the leaders of the Gandoca community, has melina "'i:na arbor ea) trees on his land which after only three years have reached ^riv a foot in diamter. Should the melina not prove the best tree for the ■d epoxy technique, Bill McLarney lists Albiizia, Sesbania, Eucalyptus, i several other fast growing local trees as possible candidates. The intent "j; potential for reforestation will grow with a specific motivation.

It may be apparent that hidden in our agenda of bringing back -king sailing craft for functional transport and transportation is an at-pt at land restoration as well—just as during our early work we concen-cd on the land, knowing that one day we would turn to the sea. Em-:..ed in the plan for using scrub trees as a building material is the hope : :he impulse to plant fast-growing trees which would be ready for use run a foreseeable time-frame, perhaps three to seven years, is more com-..:ns than planting trees that take generations to grow. For most people ;:>n> with consequences beyond the pressing demands of the moment -ftuute an almost gratuitous act. In such circumstances, for land restora-~ or an ethic of stewardship to have any meaning, the results have to be -jeived as achievable within a realizable period of time. Planting even -t-i or scrub trees in a world of deserts on the march is a workable first step, r". more quixotically hopeful, perhaps a few of the remaining giants of the r>i may be spared in favor of smaller trees with shorter generation spans.

The first Ocean Pickup was built by Dick Newick in his shop on nha's Vineyard during the fall of 1982. Like the openings of the Arks Tr.il vears before, the launching in late November of that year was some-r ; of an occasion. We had invited the Very Reverend James Parks Morton The Cathedral Church of St. John The Divine in New York City to bless boat before it was launched. Noon was the time we had chosen because ;-hed to begin with United Nation's Prayer for Peace, a prayer intended r-e »aid at noon every day around the world so that it is continuously cir-

- r ;he Earth. This helped to set the context for the launching of a boat ;h. like the bioshelter, is intended to help create an infrastructure of

-.-exploitative technologies to foster a peaceful world. The boat was ~ed the "EDITH MUMA" for the courageous lady who first saw the rele-

- ;e of New Alchemy's Ark, and with her husband, the late John Muma, xied it. Dean Morton blessed the boat, using biblical references to the a: immeasurable sea and concluded, "Bless, we beseech you, this modern :hat it may be a showing forth of the abiding and friendly power of crea-

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