Treating Our Oceans Right: The Splash Project
Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii! I’m Tim Friend.
My wife Susanne and I, and our four children Victor, Jack, Lucky, and Rose, are building sailing fishing boats that will change the world and clean up our oceans. We’re calling the first of these boats Splash, and this is The Splash Project. Here’s what these boats will do:
1. These boats catch fish but don’t need diesel fuel to operate; they don’t pollute our planet, and they don’t increase global warming the way current factory-fishing methods do. The wind that they use is not only CLEAN, it’s FREE!
2. The fishing methods they use eliminate the tragic waste of “bycatch”, where as much as 6 pounds of fish and other marine life is killed by fishing boats for each pound that lands on your table. Seals, dolphins, turtles, and non-targeted species of fish are routinely caught, killed, then dumped over the side.
(Below) This turtle is “bycatch”, it’s dead and is going to get shoveled over the side soon; OUR BOATS DON’T DO THIS:
3. The fishing methods we use also eliminate the destruction of marine habitat and life wrought by net-fishing, especially factory trawling, which drags huge nets with steel cables and steel plates directly over the ocean floor, killing and wasting even more fish and marine animals. Both bycatch and factory fishing are a total waste of marine life that is currently considered “business as usual” in the commercial fishing industry.
4. Our boats run on wind, not diesel; and when the cost of fuel is taken out of the cost of fish, your local ocean fish prices could go down to half what they are now. You could afford to eat more fish!
Proa Sailing Video: “Faster Than A Motor Boat!”
(Below) Although we eat lots of vegetables, we love our ocean fish! This is a happy fisherman with an Omilu (a jack that is commonly found near shore in Hawaii).
Our favorite is mahi-burgers, but they cost 4-1/2 times as much as organic hamburger! We have mahi-burgers for birthdays and anniversaries, kind of like some people buy caviar or champagne. We like eating ocean fish, only we can’t afford to, and neither can our friends and neighbors. And this bothers us.
Why is ocean fish so expensive? Because it’s caught by motorboats that spend half their income just paying for their fuel (see “The State Of World Fisheries And Aquaculture 2006”). It’s as much “let’s support the oil companies” as it is fishing! And we feel it’s ultimately wrong and unsustainable, when there are better alternatives.
(Below) Lots of small commercial fishing boats have simply been parked because of the high cost of fuel; and some of them for a long time. This isn’t something that just happened overnight; it’s been sneaking up on us for years.
So we’re doing something about it, not just for our family, but for everyone on the planet. We’re building sailing fishing boats that subtract the punishing cost of fuel from the price you pay for fish. No longer will the small fisherman have to devote one-half of his total income just to paying his fuel costs.
It’s not going to happen overnight. We figure we’ll begin see large-scale results. But hey, it’s going to be fun, and we’re going to get to eat a lot of fish in the process. And we LOVE eating ocean fish!
And it’s not going to happen unless you pitch in and help. We’re committing the next ten years of our lives, and, as our Declaration Of Independence originally stated best, our fortunes and our sacred honor to this project. Our biggest hurdle is that we don’t have any “fortune” to speak of. We can build boats easy as A-B-C, but we need help with the funding side of the equation.
(Below) We can build these easily: a cute little 24-foot sailing fishing boat we built in the Marshall Islands; she had a 500-lb capacity insulated fish box in the main hull.
Great idea! How Do We Get There From Here?
They say it takes a village to raise a child; well, in Polynesia where we live, it takes a village to build a boat. Everyone’s involved, from the smallest child who fetches coconut fronds to shade the canoe from the sun, to the master canoe builder who prays among the trees in the forest for days before selecting the one to become the canoe.
We’re the same. We may be experienced boat builders and blue water sailors, but we still need our village. Especially for this project; because it’s the most ambitious one we’ve ever undertaken. It’s truly the start of a blue-green revolution in the way we do things on the ocean! We’re not just making a pretty picture or a new iPhone app; we’re building a BOAT! That’s why we need your help.
The boat design we’re using is perfect for “artisanal fisheries”; non-mechanized fisheries involving small boats with small crews, which produce maximum benefits for their local communities. We’ll compare other benefits sailing artisanal fisheries have over “normal” corporate factory fishing, but for now, take a look at one of these boats:
We’re starting with a boat design like this one by master sailor and marine designer Russell Brown (son of Jim Brown, the renowned multihull designer and builder):
This boat of Russell’s design is set up for cruising: extended voyaging across the ocean, with stops at islands and countries along the way.
With our experience in commercial fishing in tropical waters, we’ve adapted this type of design specifically for those fisheries; our first boat has a 2,000-pound capacity refrigerated fish hold, basic crew bunks and cooking area, fishing areas, and live bait wells. It will look similar to the one in the following video:
The boats we’re building are faster than most motorboats but don’t use any gas; don’t pound in a choppy sea, and the motion is far, far less than that of a motorboat at the same speed. This translates into less crew fatigue and more energy for fishing when you get to the fishing grounds, a better-rested crew when they hit the dock back at their home port to unload fish, and a boat that’s safer for the crew during the whole fishing trip.
It is perfect for any areas with artisanal fisheries; it will make these fisheries more profitable for the fisherman while conserving the fishing stocks at the same time. These boats are also perfect for small cargo and passenger carriers in lengths up to 150 feet or so. That sounds like a tall order, so let us explain why we know we’ll pull it off:
I’ve been there before.
Our current situation was coming a long time before it hit: I designed, built and launched my 56-foot sailing fishing vessel Tropic Bird in Hawaii in 1978 as a solution to the fuel rationing and crazy gas price hikes I’d experienced while living on the mainland in 1974, after the Arab oil embargo doubled gas prices at the pump.
I figured the time would come when I couldn’t afford fuel for a conventional motor-powered fishing boat, so I built a sailing fish boat instead, and fished her successfully for 17 years in the open ocean off Hawaii.
The concept of the 56-foot Tropic Bird was a fishing vessel that “lived off the wind”, and it worked. An important factor in her financial success was that Tropic Bird had her own refrigeration system, which meant I never had to purchase or haul ice. I never had to watch helplessly while my ice melted during those times it took me longer than expected to find the fish (you see, if it was guaranteed, they’d call it “catching” instead of “fishing”!). When I found the fish and boated the first ones, I just turned on the Big Fridge to keep them cold.
(Below) My 56-foot sailing fishing boat Tropic Bird, at the dock in Kawaihae, Hawaii, sometime in 1980. Sailing fish boats were profitable then, and even more so now.
The operating cost of a sailing fishing boat such as Tropic Bird, or the new ones we’re building, is one-quarter what the operating cost of an equivalent motor-powered vessel using ice is. As a result, if the Hawaiian fisherman using this boat brings in even half as much fish, he still makes the same amount of money after expenses as if he was doing it with a motorboat. Ask any fisherman if this would be a good idea, and he’ll say “of course!”.
Another way to look at this is the amount of fish such a boat can conserve. If our Hawaiian fisherman makes the same amount of money catching half as much fish, he can leave the other half in the ocean and still fund a decent lifestyle for his family. This is completely in line with the ancient Hawaiian values of conservation and sustainable management of our ocean resources.
(Below) My 56-foot sailing fishing boat Tropic Bird, trolling on the way to the fishing grounds off the Hilo Coast of the Big Island in 1984.
39 years ago, I thought the world would see the obvious desirability of energy-efficient sailing work boats such as my 56-foot Tropic Bird, and I’d design and build more. But the embargo and the rationing ended, and gas prices went down.
Although I made a good living fishing Tropic Bird because she was so inexpensive to operate, everyone else just gassed up their motorboats and kept on doing it the old way. That was 39 years ago. Now, we feel the world is not only ready for, but also in desperate need of this energy-efficient sailing work boat technology. That’s why we’re building the next generation of these boats.
And then we’re going to take you sailing! How are we going to do that? First, join the Splash community by signing up for our free newsletters in the right hand column, then help us fund Splash so she gets built faster; then, we take you sailing on Splash in Hawaii. Click on the blue text below to find out more about our “Splash” project:
Click on the blue text below to go to our “Boat Rides and Rewards” page and find out more about how you can help fund Splash, AND get a ride on Splash in Hawaii, or learn how to fish Hawaiian style, or sign up for a boat building or fishing internship: