In October last year I read about the Greenheart Project to develop a modern zero-emissions small cargo ship powered by wind and sun alone and able to land cargo on a remote beach using a mast which doubles as a crane. If you have been following my blog you will know that this sort of thing is right up my street so when I learned that they were crowdfunding on indiegogo I created an account and made a contribution of $100 in exchange for a ‘share’ in the maiden voyage. At the end of April it was announced to supporters that the building contract for SV Greenheart had been signed and a series of events was arranged to celebrate the occasion, the first of which was aboard the MS Stubnitz in London Docklands on May 16th. I wanted to learn more about the project anyway but the choice of venue clinched it because I had been aboard the Stubnitz once before and was curious to see her again. The first visit was back in 2005 after I had been on the G8 Bike Ride and decided to visit Amsterdam with four Americans who had also been on the ride. On our last night there was a big party on the Stubnitz with live music from the Seattle-based Infernal Noise Brigade
So I created an account at Eventbite and bought a £10 ticket. On the day of the event I took the train to Kings Cross and cycled out to Docklands where I had no trouble locating the vessel at Wood Wharf. On boarding the Stubnitz I realised that the Greenheart event was not the only thing happening, there was also an “Algorave” (see this report on Yoshizen’s Blog).
The Stubnitz is a two and a half thousand ton deep-sea fishing vessel that belonged to the German Democratic Republic before the fall of the Berlin Wall. If you want to know more about it you could start by watching this video based around an onboard interview with Captain Urs Blaser aka Blo.
The ship came in to London last year for the 2012 Bloc Festival at London Pleasure Gardens, which ended up being cancelled on its first night due to “crowd safety concerns”. As I understand it the cancellation had serious financial implications for the Stubnitz, which was left stranded in London because there was no money for fuel. However, after the best part of a year she finally left for Dunkirk on May 17th – here is a timelapse video of the first and last three hours of the journey.
OK, back to the main reason for my visit to Docklands. The event was organised by New Dawn Traders and a couple of dozen people turned up, including three guys in suits from the Indonesian embassy. This Indonesian presence was a bit of a shock since I have taken part in a number of protests against their continued brutal occupation and pillaging of West Papua and personally know Benny Wenda, an independence leader who was tortured in their jails before escaping to the UK (Free West Papua). Perhaps I should have told them how I felt but I decided that this was not the time and place to kick up a stink. While waiting for the presentation we had the opportunity to sample some fine rum that had been imported on the clipper Tres Hombres (which I visited at last year’s Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival).
The main speaker was Gavin Allwright, commercial director of the Greenheart project, who gave an introduction and progress report. The big news is that construction of the first ship is going ahead, although that is just the start of what is clearly a much more ambitious project. New sponsors are coming on board, including Iridium, who will be providing satellite communications for the ship, and Upsolar who will be providing solar panels.
After the presentation there was more time for socialising before the entertainment. First up was Jo Below and her concertina named Claudette who ended her quirky set with a haunting rendition of Low Lands, which you can hear in this YouTube Video (although it is of a different performance). Then it was the turn of The Imaginary String Band but I was tired and had to cycle back to Kings Cross so I only listened to a couple of songs before heading off, pausing to take some photos of Canary Wharf from the deck.