Not long after returning from my Stonehenge trip I was away again for a wedding in Devon. I say a wedding but it was not one that would be recognised by UK law – indeed the ceremony included the words “fuck the state and it’s bits of paper”. The event took place at Landmatters permaculture project near Totnes, which I had heard about but never visited. There were around 200 guests camping for the weekend and I knew a lot of them (including the happy couple) from the 2005 G8 Bike Ride and Bicycology. For music and PA they were keen to use the bicycle towed sound system called Pedals that I helped build nine years ago for the G8 ride, so I agreed to fetch it in my van from its present home in a London and take it to Devon. I set off a day early to visit a friend Mike in Exeter and slept on his boat before continuing on to Totnes, from where I followed directions down increasingly narrow lanes to Landmatters.
At Land Matters
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
Infernal Noise Brigade on MS Stubnitz
I have a friend in the United States who has been involved in phytoplankton research for a while and spent a lot of time aboard ships sampling off Maine. About a week ago she recommended that I visit the sailing vessel Tara, which is currently docked in London having just completed a two and a half year, 70,000 mile voyage called Tara Oceans, investigating marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
Tara at St Katherine Docks
Back in 2007 I was involved in setting up a radical sailing collective called Learning the Ropes. About a dozen of us put some money in a kitty and in March 2008 we bought a 22 ft Kestral called Mary for £700 which came on a mooring in Exmouth. I have sailed in her three times and I reported on two of the trips in the Learning the Ropes Blog. The basic idea of the collective is to share knowledge and gain experience on a small boat with the aim of getting more people and money together to buy something much bigger which could then be used as a means of sustainable transport by the collective and a vehicle for promoting social and environmental justice. There is a lot of overlap in terms of both membership and philosophy between Learning the Ropes and Bicycology, another collective which I have been involved with since it formed in 2005. On the last weekend of July a crew of four sailed Mary down the coast to Brixham to visit the brigantine Tres Hombres. Apparently the crew of Mary were welcomed on board by the very hospitable crew of the much larger (32 m) Tres Hombres and some inspiring discussions were had about sustainable transport, lubricated no doubt by a bottle of something from the 35 ton capacity cargo hold. It is a bit of a trek to Exmouth for me and I was busy so I didn’t go but I learned that Tres Hombres would be visiting Great Yarmouth for the Maritime Festival and decided to see her there. In the meantime I enjoyed looking at these photos taken in Brixham.
Tres Hombres Figurehead