There’s an awful lot of political hot air out there – verbal thermals that quickly dissipate in the stratosphere.

Endless words, endless meetings, all those expensive reports soon to be shelved and yes, they maywell “raise awareness”. But they do bugger all to address the fact that our planet is dying.

It’s all very disturbing and distressing but there’s always hope, there’s always light ahead, but action is what’s needed, from all of us – choose your cause and make your move.

Our own green move is to harness the winds and change the way we use the seven seas. We’ve been doing it for 30 years. We started with small sailing boats, moved on to solar electric ferries, and now we want to shift containers without trashing the place, powering our cargo boats with sun and wind.

We’re combining the best of time honoured rigs with efficient modern technology. Freedom from fuel, we say! Rocket science it ain’t, practical it is. But the devil is in the detail and that’s the hard bit– our solution is one part inspiration, two parts experience, and three parts hard work.

While I have an abiding love of wooden sailing ships, our new electric clippers will be built in steel for a number of reasons, the main being that we want to mass produce them but more importantly,modern shipping runs on steel.

We’ll build them to last though, and while lithium batteries and solar collectors can be easily upgraded, a well designed steel hull should give decades of good service, and if it’s built locally, then all the better.

Which brings me to standardised production and our aim to work up digital building instruction manuals to tell the steel machines to roll this plate, cut that panel, weld this keel. So we can build them to last and build them fast, in Corpus Christi or Cairns.

We’ll be carrying passengers too, and they’ll want modern facilities, good food and a decent bowsprit for selfies with attitude.

They can use the ship’s boat too – a funky little lugger with an electric outboard. Just the thing for picking up fresh produce from that Pacific island inlet while the cargo is being loaded.

Out at sea in the trade winds the lucky passenger will still haul halyards, trim sheets, and steer by the stars, just as we have for millennia. Look, someone’s got to do it.

But don’t get me wrong here, one small sailing cargo ship in not going to make much of a dent in global shipping but a hundred? Or a thousand?

Ships will always be needed, so why not do it without belching noxious fumes or poisoning porpoises and people – we can treat our oceans with respect.

Just as electric cars and trucks are the future, ships will be following closely and within a few short years all transport will be electric.

So our small green – or should I say turquoise – steps are entirely future-focussed. We’re also working on much bigger ships but that’s still a proverbial drop in the ocean.

Still, we’ve made a start and many other teams are working hard on turquoise solutions but cautious steps are all very well, frankly mankind really needs to break into a run.

Email us if you want to be involved. Take action today – you’ll feel better in no time. Lastly, as far as sailing goes, Dylan was right- the answer really is blowin’ in the wind.

Derek Ellard is a designer and  builder of numerous boats including Perth’s solar-electric ferries. You can contact him here [email protected] and at

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