Greenheart Project

Community-owned zero-emissions, sail-solar ship for poverty alleviation, sustainability, fairtrade, ocean monitoring and more!
Gavin Allwright
10 Team Members

Für Informationen auf Deutsch Für Informationen auf Deutsch     A los que hablan Español: espanol greenheart

Info in Japanese/Nihongo    日本語の情報        Aux francophones french info

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        $25 Perk - Add a $10 Shopping voucher
    $50 & $75 Perk - Add a $20 Shopping voucher

Supported by Haiti Projects, Global Exchange, AlterEco, Hope, Rapanui and more...

What if we had sea transportation that caused no environmental harm AND allowed many millions of underprivileged people to access profitable markets and fisheries?

How about a ship that produces electrical power, instead of just consuming fuel?

Gavin:  Well, a few years ago, we came up with an idea for just such a ship.  While we've been refining the idea and consulting with communities and relevant experts, we've confirmed that there is a large, and growing need for this kind of innovation. Large scale, high-volume ocean shipping is relatively efficient and adequate for the big players in globalization.  But for the hundreds of millions of poor that live along the world's coastlines, there is no cheap, safe way to get their products to global markets, or access fisheries that are just over the horizon.  This means that no matter how hard they work, they cannot get a fair price for their products.  For people who can earn only a few dollars per day, this kind of competitive edge makes the difference between misery and a decent lifestyle.

Pat:  Since these impoverished coastal and island communities will be the principal end-users of our ship, we designed her specifically with universally available materials, very low cost to build and maintain, operable along undeveloped shorelines, simple to run with minimal training & formal education, and of course, zero-fuel.

What we have is an elegant, simple, leapfrog technology, that can even the playing field a little for those coastal and riverbank peoples who live in poverty.  And one that may well lead the way towards cleaner technologies for all of us.

A Sail-Solar Hybrid Ship 

Pat: Meet Sailing Vessel (S/V) Greenheart, a small industrial ship that uses only sails and solar-electric for power.

S/V Greenheart

Displacement 220 tons                    Length 31.5m (103ft)

Beam 7.8m (25.5ft)                         Draught 2.2m (7ft)

Sail: 300 m² (3230 ft²)                    Solar (PV) array:125 m² (1313 ft²)

DC motors: 100kW x 2                   Battery: Lead/Acid traction

Hull speed: 10~11 kn                     Cargo: 3 x 20ft shipping containers

Jen: With your help the first ship, S/V Greenheart, will be launched in the middle of next year. The first ship shares it's name with our organisation, the Greenheart project. We are a registered non-profit staffed by a diverse group of small ship designers, avid sailors, sustainable development advocates and passionate volunteers working to make sail and sail-solar hybrids a sustainable sea transport solution for the future.

Pat: Here's what's attractive about a sail-solar hybrid vs. a conventional diesel vessel:

* No fuel.  That means no fuel costs, no CO2 or other emissions , and no need for refueling stops.  It means your primary operating cost is labor - a cost that varies appropriately with local economies, as opposed to fuel which is tied directly to a global market.

* Low maintenance.  Removing reliance on combustion-based engines means maintenance becomes infrequent and inexpensive.

* No range limits.  Combined with no fuel costs ticking away every minute of your time makes for considerable flexibility in operations.

Why small?

Gavin: Well, present-day solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are clean & efficient, but limited in power output.  They can provide the auxiliary power needs of a ship this size.  Not bigger.  Not yet. The main propulsion power is from the wind, and the solar-charged electricity is used to run the motors, the winches and capstans, the electronic communications and navigational equipment, and the 'house' power -- lights, refrigerator, watermakers.

It turns out that smaller ships make up most of the world's fleet and answer the needs of developing communities nicely.

Pat: Serving areas with minimal (or zero) infrastructure was a design priority:

* Purposefully shallow hull for beach landing and river system access.

* A tailgate-like roll-on, roll-off capability via a sort of drawbridge in the stern allows interesting cargo, fishing, and eco-tourism applications.

* Innovative combination mast-crane design that allows loading even when there are no port facilities at all  and especially low clearance (under low bridges and power lines)

* Cargo flexibility accommodating anything from burlap sacks to standard shipping containers.

 S/V Greenheart - Cargo/Beach

We've also focused on durability, repairability, and relative simplicity to operate and learn. ...and affordability. It doesn't matter how great your solution is if people can't afford to acquire one for themselves and make it their own.

Jen: We have devised a tool that screams out for innovative, entrepreneurial uses -- one that empowers local people and helps them become more resilient.

Trade between developing regions that skips the developed world entirely.  All kinds of ferry and mail services.  Fishing, ecotourism, floating machinist shops... The ships could even function as solar power stations when docked.  We anticipate not being able to anticipate all the uses creative people will find for them. 

Satoshi:  In case you haven't guessed -- this is an open source project, too.  We want people to take our designs, modify them to suit their own purposes, and run with it.  Just let us know how you're doing, what's working well, and what can be improved.  The best way to find a better future is to look for it together. 

(For more project and technical information, check out our project PDF and our design pages.)

Greenheart's Plan - How you can help

Jen: We've spent the last few years thinking, planning, designing.  

Now we're ready to bring our ship from the naval architect's office to the water.

Our plan is to take the first one on a voyage around the world, testing the sail/solar hybrid concept in several different applications, including a good deal of time in the marginalized areas where a Greenheart ship will be most useful.

Gavin: We have a growing community of partners who want to work with us on our first trial applications. One such example is a groundbreaking project in Fiji to create a sustainable local shipping network in collaboration with leading NGO's (IUCN-Oceania Programme , World Wildlife Fund (WWF)- South Pacific Programme), local sailing groups (Fiji islands Voyaging Society , Sailing for Sustainability), academia (University of South Pacific) regional bodies (Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) , Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and shipping (B9 Shipping)

Many South Pacific island groups are faced with long blue ocean distances between them, limited resources of fossil fuel and existing shipping that is worn out, unreliable, polluting, dangerous and expensive to operate. The project involves locally trained crews from coastal communities on the Lau and Kadavu islands in Fiji. They will operate a number of smaller cargo catamarans along with a larger Greenheart ship that will service the larger island groups. This type of network will make communities more resilient in the face of climate change and be a model for the entire region.

Michele: We need your help to get started.

It is time to build the first ship.  One ship sounds like a small thing - but it will have an impact on thousands of lives.  And, it won’t be just one ship - it will be the first of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of ships like it all over the world.

We start with one. This first one -- S/V Greenheart -- we will sail around the world on a 60,000 mile voyage.  Take a look at the route map;  It's epic.  

 S/V Greenheart - Maiden Voyage Route

Jen: The idea is to test the ship in a wide variety of conditions, and in various applications.  We will be carrying freight for NGOs, buying and selling our own goods, experimenting with fishing under sail, visiting remote and impoverished communities to get input and feedback on the ship.  There will also be high-profile visits to our partners, port-of-call cities like Hamburg, Seattle, and Vancouver, for festive events and to show off the ship.  We will have scientists aboard, conducting experiments and we'll be doing our own trials as an eco-tour boat - visiting pristine regions.

Port-of-Call Festivities


More than just Perks -- Shares

Gavin: This Indiegogo campaign asks you to support us, and we have something special in mind for the Perks.  We are offering Shares in the maiden voyage of the first ship.   You will actually be purchasing a portion of the adventure - one that you can participate in, not just follow on a blog.  In the tradition of the great merchant/adventure/discovery voyages of the past, we will form a 'company' of partners in this first round-the-world odyssey. We already have cities and NGOs, scientists and equipment sponsors aboard. (see supporters pages in the gallery)  Now we want to crowdsource some of the crew, the supporters, and the stakeholders.

All supporters will get official invitations and discounts on the shipped goods for sale...

And for those who purchased the Shares, there will be something extra. These Shares are in the Maiden Voyage. 

S/V Greenheart - Maiden Voyage Share 

Gavin: Redeem these at any time during the two-year trip. You can:

  • Sail for a Day - Meet the Greenheart ship when she sails into a port near you and come out aboard her for the day (1 share) If you can't afford much time, but still want a taste of life aboard the ship, this is for you.

  • Join us on the Voyage - Each share is roughly equivalent to one day at sea, 3 shares ($250) allows you to join us as crew on a short hop while 7 shares ($500) will give you one week aboard and you can travel between many neighboring countries (or significant distances along the coasts of larger ones). At 15 shares ($1000) you get a fortnight that can take you across a continent or for the really adventurous join us for a month-long epic ocean crossing. Read more... (Details, route examples etc.)

  • Trading - Perhaps you will use your Share to trade a bit on your own (for example, buy paprika in Zanzibar, and have it delivered to you in Hamburg, or Boston). You can hand your Share over to our ship's bursar with your request on the goods you want to trade. We'll give you regular updates, product information and advice along the way.

  • Ship with Us – Got a cargo you want to send from one part of the world to another? Don't want to worry about any fossil fuel miles? You've come to the right place. These products will get our “Blue Sea Miles” zero-carbon label and we'll deliver it straight into your hands at one of our ports of call. You could even sell at our port events if you'd like. Alternately, if you’re not in a big hurry, we’re also happy to do things like help ship your bicycle overseas. One share is the equivalent of shipping 100kg, 500 nautical miles (nm) (exludes port fees, taxes etc.)

  • Donate - Some people might decide to donate their Shares to an NGO to help with their shipping needs. We will match every donation with an additional share. Just let us know which organisation you would like to give those to, and we will send them the shares and give them a chance to thank you in person.

Jen: Everyone will be part of the ship's Company and help make it a success -- twice. Once when you click to pay, and again when you redeem your Share however you like.

Satoshi: The Greenheart Project has always been open-source. By that we mean that we are not patenting any innovations, nor protecting any intellectual property. Our principal goal is to get the idea into practice as soon and as much as possible.

Now, we are opening the exciting first voyage of the first ship to the public, too. If this IndieGoGo campaign reaches our goal, we will do more in other languages, in other markets along our route. The optimal scenario is to have the first ship and her voyages entirely funded by Greeenheart supporters. All additional funds and trading revenue will be used to establish a non-profit, cooperative fund to help build subsequent ships worldwide.


Our Indiegogo Funding Goal is $120,000*


Gavin: $120,000 may seem like a suprisingly small amount to build a ship. So, here's a little detail on what we can do with that amount.

First, she is a remarkably low cost ship to build. Remember that we designed her for use by the people in the least-developed regions of the world. This is where our technology is most sorely needed. And where people can least afford it.

The S/V Greenheart can be built and fitted out for $500,000. ( We expect the cost of ships to trend downward as we increase production.) We are working with a shipyard in Bangladesh, and along with the funds and equipment/service support we already have, we are a fair way down the road to financing the ship. This $120,000 will help to push us over the top in getting the steel hull work done. Our designers, volunteers & crew will then be going to Bangladesh to complete the job. This way, we will all be well-acquainted with her details when it comes to sea trials.

Michele: If we can get additional funds, then outfitting the ship and getting her sea tested and prepared for her worldwide journey becomes a whole lot easier. With your support we can get construction under way with our goal to launch the ship in the middle of next year.

               $25 Perk - Add a $10 Shopping voucher

           $50 & $75 Perk - Add a $20 Shopping voucher


- NEW Perks -

Fair Trade and Ethical Shopping Vouchers


We'll send you a $10 or $20 voucher to buy any goods at the retailers listed below. There are no restrictions on what you buy with the vouchers, all we ask is you try to shop as locally as possible.

$25 Perk - Add a $10 Shopping voucher $50 & $75 Perk - Add a $20 Shopping voucher

We would like to thank the following Fair Trade stores and companies for their generous support.

We are planning to have more shops, as close as possible to everyone who has made a donation and we encourage you to take the voucher in and support your local Fairtrade and Ethical companies.

The vouchers will be sent out at the end of the campaign in November, in time for the holidays.


United States

Global Exchange [2 stores in San Francisco, Wash. D.C., Virginia]

Haiti Projects [Boston + Online Shop]

Traditions Café and World Folk Art [Olympia, Washington]


Rapanui Clothing (UK) [Isle of Wight Shop + Online Shop]

Tres Hombres [Netherlands – Rum and Madeira ]


Australia & New Zealand COMING SOON

Perk Alternatives

Gavin: You can have your name aboard the ship. We will be flying flags at every port.  Each port call will be an event - a festive event where interested locals, supporters, and media can come down, see the ship, talk to the crew, browse through the zero carbon goods people have shipped with us, meet other people interested in sail as serious transport, enjoy good music, food, and drink, etc.  Your flag can be among the many that festoon the ship.

Throughout this campaign we will also offer some additional perk options for you to use your donations and share certificates on if you so wish. These can be sent to you straight away, and we will find a way to offset the carbon, you can collect them yourselves, preferably by bicycle or under sail – decreasing that footprint or you can wait and have them delivered by us.
Some of these perk options are available now:

($50+) Masi Cloth from Moce, Fiji This is a gift set of beautifully handwoven cloth directly from the women making it in the village of Korova.  The village, a squatter encampment on the edge of Suva, is recognised as the cultural home of this craft in Fiji.  In addition to weaving, the Moce community living there is one of the last still keeping camakau sailing alive in Fiji. Many in the village are unemployed and sales by the women of Masi is one of the staple income earners they have. Read more...

($100+) A Cache of Zero-Carbon Rum and Wine - Our friends at Fair Transport have been sailing artisanal rum from the Dominican Republic and Madeira to Europe aboard their merchant brigantine, the Tres Hombres, for several years now. This is no grog we're talking about - it's the good stuff that belongs in a place of pride in the captain's quarters.  Though they have traveled thousands miles, these bottles have generated not a single ounce of CO2 - have the sea miles nurtured their flavor and character? It's up to you to find out. Read more..

($2500) A Handcrafted Bangladeshi Traditional Sail Boat Model - Our freinds at the Friendship Association and Taratari Shipyard in Chittagong, Bangladesh want to present to you two hand crafted, museum quality, 2-4ft long traditional sail boat models. A number of these beautifully made models are on exhibition in Paris Museum and the construction of these helps to pay local master boat builders and keep their traditions alive. A one-of-a-kind treasure, to be sure. Read more...

We will be posting a few more perk options as these become available during the campaign. When you make a donation, just let us know if you would prefer to take one of the options available and we will arrange that.

*Build & Sailing Schedule Changes

Pat: Building a ship is a major undertaking, and there can be unforeseen delays and departures from schedule. You will have to be flexible when it comes to redeeming your share certificates, and we will continue to do our best to keep on schedule.

In addition, shipping cargo and joining the vessel will be on a schedule that is dependent upon wind and other conditions. Our good friends at Fair Transport have agreed to back us up and supply a limited number of berths and cargo space on their cargo/sail brigantine, the Tres Hombres. These would be made available on their regular Europe-Caribbean-US-Europe route.


Find This Campaign On
raised by 137 people in 2 months
11% funded
0 time left
$120,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on October 31, 2012
Select a Perk
  • $3USD
    Postcard from the Crew

    We really want to share the excitement of the Maiden Voyage with as many of you as possible. The crew will send you a personal postcard from one of the ports we visit along the way. Check out our route in the Gallery.

    6 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2013
  • $10USD

    A Big Thanks from the Team PLUS - your name added to our supporters page, an invitation to ship port-of-call events and regular updates of the project.

    19 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2012
  • $25USD
    Name on the Ship

    All of the above. PLUS your Name on the Ship. We will have Commemorative plaques for all those joining our shore team + e-mailed photo of the plaque. PLUS either a $5 gift product at any port event - just come and collect it with the lowest footprint you can, (see Route for ports of call near you) or 5% discount on maiden voyage goods. (All fairly transported, zero-emissions.)

    21 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $25USD
    Shopping Voucher ($25-75 perk)

    NEW - Added to the other $25 perks, you get a $10 shopping voucher to buy Fair Trade and ethical goods from our partners either at their stores or online. At $50 and $75 you get a $20 voucher. AVAILABLE next month - just in time for the holidays! - see further details on the left.

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2012
  • $50USD
    Dress the Ship

    You get all of the above PLUS Select one of the signal flags carried by the ship, have your name added to the flag and be flown at every port call around the world. We will also add your name and photo message on a virtual 'dressed' ship page on our website. ALSO - as a valued member of our shore team, you'll get an invitation to get involved with hosting a port event

    19 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $75USD
    Welcome to the Party

    You get all of the $50 perks PLUS an invitation to join the crew party on board the ship at the port of call of your choice. PLUS - We will carry your flag or burgee to ports across the world – we have space for additional personal flags when we dress the ship at port events. Send us your personal flag, yacht club flag etc and we will also add your name and photo message on a virtual 'dressed' ship page on our website. PLUS increased to a $10 gift or 10% discount.

    3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $100USD
    Sail with Us!

    Come on board the ship - you will be issued a 'Share' in the Maiden Voyage - that is equivalent to 1-day sailing or shipping a limited amount of cargo with us. At all ports-of-call we will take day trips and you can join us. Please see the Share certificate section for more details.

    40 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2013
  • $250USD
    All Aboard - Join the Crew

    You will be issued 3 'Share' Certificates for the Maiden Voyage for a 3-day working berth on the ship and get a taste for life aboard OR ship some cargo with us OR do a little trading of your own. Please see the Share certificate section for more details.

    11 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2013
  • $500USD
    Ship's Company & Design Poster

    You will be issued 7 'Share' Certificates for the Maiden Voyage. Join us for a week on a country-to-country voyage. Please see the Share certificate section for more details. PLUS a copy of the ship design/concept poster – signed + personal thank you message (downloadable or by mail)

    6 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Across a Continent

    You will be issued 15 'Share' Certificates for the Maiden Voyage. A fortnight at sea will take you across a continent on a journey of a life time. PLUS - 10% discount on further Share certificate purchases. PLUS a copy of the ship design/concept poster – signed + personal thank you message (downloadable or by mail)

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2013
  • $2,500USD
    Epic Ocean Adventure

    You will be issued 35 'Share' Certificates for the Maiden Voyage. Over a month at sea on an Epic Ocean Crossing. PLUS - 20% discount on further Share certificate purchases. PLUS Premium hamper/ships chest of products from around the world - delivered at port of call near you.

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2013
  • $5,000USD
    Charter the Ship

    You will be issued 75 'Share' Certificates for the Maiden Voyage. PLUS you and your friends/family (10 people max) will be able to charter the ship for 1-day. PLUS - 20% discount on further Share certificate purchases. PLUS Premium hamper/ships chest of products from around the world - delivered at port of call near you. For $10,000 + perks - CONTACT US

    0 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2013
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