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Chickens and Eggs

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-WorldCruising.com 4 Dec 2019 22:00 UTC
3Di manufacturing at the North Sails sail loft in Minden, Nevada © Amory Ross / North Sails

You know the real answer is I have no idea whether the egg was before the proverbial chicken, or the other way around. Equally, I was not sure whether the 'end of life' boats triggered the thought train for this editorial, or perhaps it was the repurposing of sails in Chile. In the end, I cannot be sure because these special subjects are always sort of milling around together anyway, especially when I talk at length with a couple of my colleagues.

One thing I can be ultra clear on was that in speaking with the great Ken Read, President of the North Sails Group, this here ditty was just bound to happen. Sail fibres (Kevlar, carbon, Mylar, Dacron, and Dyneema), along with a million other things we make these days, cannot be recycled. Period. What they can be is repurposed after their life at sea is complete.

Read said, "Repurposing is what we are working on. We have had an Environmental Director for 18 months now, with the aim of eliminating single use plastic in our facilities. We are taking the plastic out of our packaging, and our clothing brand uses recycled materials and in the next 12-18 months the entire range will be from repurposed material. 1% of the revenue from this side of the business also goes to environment groups to help them do their thing."

"So yes, we have broad-based corporate practices making us a better global citizen. Eco Spindles is a Sri Lankan filament manufacturer that has teams who go up and down the beaches collecting bottles, separating colours and turning them into thread for repurposing. Inside the next 12 months, every sail bag, and we make 30k a year, and every sail tie will be made from these sources. So we have an entire factory that just makes these items alone, and so they will certainly be doing their bit."

"The hard part is the sails. We have the engineers who made the fibres, also now working on 'un-making' them, and have also funded a couple of programmes at European Universities. So they take apart old sails and establish ways to find what is reusable, and what types of industries it could go back into. The spread filament nature of the product means you have to work at the thread level, which is hard, but we are actively pursuing it."

"North Sails is also working with our supply chain to minimise our footprint. Overall, this is a problem and we need to solve it. The DNA of the company is that if someone says it is impossible, then we put all our people onto it to solve it - it's our rallying cry. We are looking at this as an industry solution and are willing to share our findings, so as to get more people involved."

"We have also donated sails to areas hit by Mother Nature for roofing and shoring up buildings. Yet the key is re-purposing raw materials, and not just for jackets, clothes and shoes, but also things like using strips of 3Di sails as rebar in cement. We are trying everything that might work at this stage, and there are no limits to what we can try, so if you have a good idea, then North Sails Group are all ears," said Read in closing.

A twist with a difference

Now here's something that works in well with all of that, plus offers up great gifts for the season that's upon us. Avid Chilean sailor and designer, Antonia Undurraga, created Cape Horn Sails, a little family business a few years back. She was keen to look at re-purposing sails, and given where she comes from, she added a great twist.

Undurraga stated, "Cape Horn Sails is a small family company from Chile dedicated to reusing discarded sails from yachts that have sailed the southernmost tip of the world, and have great stories to tell. You can see what that looks like in this video."

"We give these sail cloths a second life, by mixing them with the elegance of genuine leather and the look and feel of minimalist design, to create unique accessories, such as wallets, eyewear straps, keychain, and coasters. Cape Horn products are the ultimate storytelling tools, reimagining the world's most epic sailing expeditions from where two oceans collide at the southernmost tip of the world. Where journeys are so challenging that even today, more people have reached the summit of Mt Everest, than those who have dared sail around Cape Horn."

"More than just a product, it's a constant reminder to challenge your limits, to live your daily life with a sense of adventure and pride wherever you are, just like the fearless sailors of Cape Horn. Best of all, each Cape Horn product is unique, with quality standards that assure long durability."

If you are in the US you can check it out at amazon.com/capehorn, and elsewhere please go capehornsails.com

Tsunami on the way

For a good few years now, we have been looking at the problem of 'end of life' boats, and the people trying to, or already doing something about it. 'Think global, act local,' is always a good way to look at this issue of all the plastic boats from the 60s, and especially the 70s when things got seriously ramped up.

At ICOMIA recently, there was an address about responsible boat ownership that deserves a separate editorial. Suffice to say that the quantum we are referring to is like 80,000 vessels under 24m each and every year, and that is just one European study. So clearly the enviro impacts of that are way serious. Add in when Mother Nature wreaks her own havoc, and it is immense.

Now whilst boats may not be the biggest sector of the problem, they are immensely visual, and likely to be the whipping boy for any group that wants to take up the charge. So working in with other industries that are bigger concerns is going to be crucial.

We recently published a piece from Australia that looked at a "belligerent and selfish" New South Welshman who was buying up well tired boats and then leaving them to complete their journey to Davey Jones' Locker on moorings around the State. Hopefully his fine of AUD66k is enough to deter him and also anyone else contemplating such a business model.

I mean really?!

Now it is not totally related, but goes to extend that people are just not thinking, and can rationalise just about anything. During a Trans-Pacific run on a home made vessel, the sailor requested food and water not just once, but three times! Now he may have a float plan and a shore based brother who notified authorities of his issues, but really, how could one reasonably expect that other people were going to be held account for your lack of prudence? Two ships were diverted, and finally the USCG got him some 85nm off the California coastline. The cost of all of that needs to be repaid, but looking at the vessel I don't think they have the proverbial snowflake's chance of ever seeing a dime.

Today you will find that we have information for you about the Great Barrier Reef, ARC, the Red Sea, Nemo, the wonderful Jeanne Socrates, French Polynesia, coral, the new Bavaria C42, Mark Jardine talks with Knut Frostad at METS, Multihull Solutions to show the Neel 51 Trimaran, electric drive from Volvo, East and West with the Down Under Rally, repowering a gem with Nanni Diesel, Lisa Benckhuysen keeps us well informed as usual, NEX furlassist from Wichard Pacific, 70 years for Rolly Tasker sails, the Seychelles, new rules for entering New Zealand, as well as much more below.

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top of the Sail-WorldCruising home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-WorldCruising.com

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